Catching up on the news from while I was gone:
STATE WEBSITE HACKED: Idaho officials are currently working to restore a government website that was hacked with a message that claims to support the Islamic State terrorist group, the AP reports. A page on Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane's website was hacked Sunday that included the message: "I love the Islamic state." Crane said Monday that evidence of the cyberattack is not obvious by visiting the government website. However, the hack has been confirmed internally and officials are investigating how the hackers were able to deface the website. No public, private or office-related data is believed to have been compromised. The same message infiltrated government websites across the country Sunday, the AP reports.
FIRE SEASON ARRIVES: It’s wildfire season again. In addition to the big fires burning in Utah, California and elsewhere, wildfires have begun igniting in southern Idaho. Last night, a lightning storm set off a dozen fires in the Treasure Valley; as of this morning, they ranged from 5 acres to 3,800 acres, according to the BLM’s Boise District. All are staffed and being actively fought. The largest are the Yeti Fire about 11 miles northwest of Grandview; the Ditto Fire and Breeze Fire, both about 14 miles northwest of Mountain Home; the nearby Lock Fire; and the Beet Dump Fire, about 2 miles east of the Mountain Home Air Force Base.
GIANT SEQUOIA MOVED: A 98-foot-tall, century-old sequoia tree was successfully moved from a site on the St. Luke’s Hospital campus in Boise to a new spot just under two blocks away; the previous location was in the way of a planned hospital expansion. The tree was grown from seedlings sent by naturalist John Muir to Emile Grandjean, an Idaho forester; the move cost $300,000.
PAYETTE LAKE CABIN SITES AUCTIONED: The Idaho Department of Lands on Friday auctioned off 14 cabin sites on Payette Lake; 12 of them went to the current lessees, who own cabins on the sites, for the appraised value; while two of the lower-priced lots went to non-lessees for $9,000 and $45,000 above the appraised value; those winning bidders also must pay the current lessees appraised value for the improvements on the sites. The auction raised $7.9 million; lot prices ranged from $60,000 to $1.3 million. The move is part of a continuing effort to get the state out of the business of renting cabin sites on which cabin owners build and own homes; the money goes to the state endowment.
BALUKOFF MULLING ANOTHER GUV RUN: Boise businessman and longtime school board member A.J. Balukoff told the Associated Press on Thursday that he’s considering another run for governor of Idaho as a Democrat in 2018. Balukoff said he’ll make a final decision in the fall. “I think I would have a better chance this time than when I ran against a popular incumbent,” Balukoff, 71, told the AP. So far, the only other Democrat who has filed to run for the governor’s seat is Troy Minton, a homeless Boise man. GOP candidates in the race include Lt. Gov. Brad Little, 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, and Boise businessman and physician Tommy Ahlquist.
ECLIPSE EMERGENCY? Washington County Commissioners have passed an Emergency Declaration ahead of the August 21 solar eclipse, figuring that they’re likely to get tens of thousands of visitors and could end up with risks to public safety, financial damage or property damage as a result. The declaration would allow the county to seek state assistance if needed. The eclipse will be the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the U.S. in nearly a century; Washington County is within the “path of totality” and among the first locations in Idaho where the total eclipse will be seen that day.
PONDS STILL NOT OPEN FOR SWIMMING: The popular swimming and paddleboarding ponds at Boise’s new Esther Simplot Park, including Quinn’s Pond, closed to public use after unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria were detected there last week, and they remain closed; daily testing hasn’t yet found them safe to reopen. This as Boise sweated through a big heat wave that’s now started abating. City swimming pools remain open.