July 13, 2014 in Idaho

Eye on Boise: Liam, Sophia most popular Idaho baby names

By The Spokesman-Review
 

If you’re a baby boy in Idaho, chances are your name may be Liam. A girl? Sophia. Those were the most popular names given to babies born in Idaho in 2012, according to the state’s latest annual vital statistics report, now out from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

For boys, the top 10 baby names, including Liam, were William, Mason, Jacob, Michael, Samuel, Wyatt, Logan, Ethan and Carter. For girls, after Sophia: Olivia, Emma, Ava, Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Emily, Zoey and Brooklyn. Among the unusual names given Idaho babies that year: Britannica, Versailles, Awesome and Truce.

The report also shows that Idaho births increased 2.8 percent in 2012, after three years of decreases; and out-of-wedlock births grew to a new high of 27.3 percent of births.

The number of marriages dropped to the lowest rate recorded in Idaho in the past 60 years, 8.2 per 1,000 population, down from 8.6 a year earlier; the historical high since 1950 was 24.6. The number of divorces also dropped slightly, down to 4.8 percent per 1,000 population from 4.9 a year earlier. Idaho’s highest divorce rate was recorded at 7.2 per 1,000 in 1978.

Idaho’s mortality rate – the number of deaths per 1,000 population – decreased slightly, and remained well below the national average. The top two causes of death in Idaho were heart disease and cancer, the same as the top two nationally; rates of suicide, Idaho’s eighth-leading cause of death, remained above the national average, at 18.7 per 100,000 population, compared to 12.3 nationally. Suicide was the 10th-most-common cause of death nationwide.

Ada County, the state’s most-populous county, had the most births and deaths by far; but it was edged by Kootenai County for the number of marriages occurring: 2,759 in Kootenai, compared to 2,664 in Ada. 

Johnson to head PTE

The Idaho state Board of Education has hired Dwight Johnson, most recently a senior administrator at the Idaho Department of Labor, as its new state head of professional-technical education. Johnson recently also was a finalist for the job of state director of legislative services, a position that went to longtime legislative aide Eric Milstead instead.

“Dwight’s experience in education and workforce development will be tremendously beneficial to the division,” said Mike Rush, the state board’s executive director. “With his 20 years of experience in senior administrative positions and his relationships with industry, legislators, educators and students, Dwight is ideally suited to lead PTE in Idaho.”

Johnson, 56, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University and a master’s in public administration from BSU. He will earn an annual salary of $104,998.

RNC says meeting counts

John R. Phillippe Jr., chief counsel for the Republican National Committee, has sent a memo headed “Update on Idaho GOP Chairmanship Vacancy” to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, saying the Idaho Republican Party’s central committee meeting on Aug. 2 will fill the vacancy for state party chairman and will comply with party rules.

Embattled state Chairman Barry Peterson has called a competing meeting for Aug. 9. “Mr. Peterson has no authority to call such a meeting since, as I advised earlier, he is no longer the state party chairman,” Phillippe wrote. “In any case, the meeting in Boise on August 2nd is the properly called meeting. If someone is elected chairman at the meeting, he or she will be eligible to attend the RNC Summer Meeting as a full voting member of the RNC.”

Just under two weeks ago, Peterson sent out a press release calling on Idaho Gov. Butch Otter to select a single date and bring the party together, saying “one phone call” from the governor would straighten things out. Otter subsequently announced support for the Aug. 2 date, and Sen. Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson chimed in with their support.

The question over the party’s leadership arose after the state party convention in Moscow last month ended in disarray, without any elections on leaders, resolutions or a party platform; instead, delegates spent the two days squabbling over whether to seat various counties’ delegations, before giving up in disgust. Peterson maintained afterward that he was still chairman, but his opponents said his term ended after two years and the party was left with no chairman.


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