April 22, 2012 in Idaho

Eye on Boise: Welcome to our new Olivias, Williams

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – Idaho’s most-popular baby names in 2010, according to the newly published state vital statistics report: Olivia and William.

Placing second: Emma and Samuel, with Sophia and Logan right on their chubby little heels in third place. Rounding out the top names for girls, in order: Ava, Abigail, Elizabeth, Emily, Isabella and Ella, with Addison and Brooklyn tied for 10th place. For boys, the fourth-top pick was Ethan, followed by Jacob, Aiden, Mason, Noah, Alexander and James. Among the more unusual names selected by Idahoans for their new babies in 2010: Espn, Koal and Rootsy for girls, and Character, Hemi and Laugh for boys.

Really.

Jobs for tech-savvy teens

More than 40 summer jobs for low-income, tech-savvy teens around the state are open at their local libraries. Libraries are looking for teens for new grant-funded summer positions as “digital literary coaches” – teachers of basic computer skills to library patrons.

The participating libraries each have one or two positions. The jobs, which pay minimum wage, are for ages 16 to 21.

“The unemployment rate for Idaho teenagers last year was over 20 percent,” Idaho Commission for Libraries spokeswoman Teresa Lipus said. “These jobs offer a helping hand to young people, especially those from low-income homes, while at the same time help Idahoans from all walks of life navigate the computer world.”

More than 70 percent of Idaho’s libraries are the only free source of Internet access in their communities.

Teens interested in the jobs should contact their local Idaho Department of Labor Workforce Investment Act youth coordinator. A directory of local offices can be found on the upper right hand corner of the department’s website, labor.idaho.gov.

Libraries that haven’t yet signed up but would like to participate in the program can call the Commission for Libraries in Boise at (208) 334-2150.

Drug price settlement

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced a settlement with prescription drug maker GlaxoSmithKline for $2.6 million, settling charges of drug overpricing to Idaho’s Medicaid program.

Since 2005, this is the 14th such case Wasden has resolved, resulting in total recoveries of more than $20 million. Three more cases, naming eight other drug manufacturers, still are pending. After reimbursing Medicaid and covering the state’s investigative and legal costs, the settlement will send more than $620,000 to the state’s general fund.

Lawsuit over nuke plant

A Southern Idaho county is being sued for approving a proposed nuclear power plant that critics say was actually just a stock-fraud scheme. “Payette County failed to prudently represent the public interest and directly injured the hardworking neighbors of the purported power plant site,” the neighbors said in a statement. They’ve sued both the county and Alternative Energy Holdings Inc., along with the firm’s two leaders, Don Gillispie and Jennifer Ransom; they aren’t asking for damages – just that all approvals for the project be reversed.

The lawsuit, filed in 3rd District Court in Payette County last week, said the county’s approvals, including a comprehensive plan change, zoning change and variance, “materially aided the Defendants in the fraud scheme by which Defendants raised millions of dollars.”

The county’s approvals were the only sign of legitimacy for the project, the neighbors charge, saying, “Payette County allowed the Idaho Local Land Use Planning Act to be abused as part of a get-rich-quick scheme.” Notably, the plaintiffs’ attorneys include a firm that won the Alamar Ranch case in which Boise County was hit with a $4 million judgment for an improper zoning decision that violated federal law.

Unemployment falls again

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent in March for the first time in two and a half years, the Idaho Department of Labor reports. The drop to 7.9 percent was the eighth straight month that the state’s jobless rate fell; more Idahoans found work in March than in any other month since October 2006.

Eight Idaho counties remained above 10 percent unemployment, but that’s down from nine in February and 11 a year ago. In North Idaho, those included Benewah County, at 11.7 percent; Boundary County, at 10.2 percent; and Shoshone County, 11.4 percent.

Kootenai County’s unemployment rate for March came in at 8.3 percent, and Bonner County’s at 10.0 percent; Latah County was down to 6.5 percent.

Parks advisers needed

Idaho’s state Parks Department is looking for applicants for five advisory committees that review grant applications dealing with trails, recreational vehicles, waterway improvements, off-road motor vehicles, and land and water conservation funds. For more information, contact Angela Manning at (208) 514-2448 or angela.manning@idpr.idaho.gov.


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