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News >  Idaho

Democrats call for hearings on Nez Perce water pact

Compiled from staff reports The Spokesman-Review

Boise Idaho Democrats are calling for hearings in North Idaho on the water rights agreement by the Nez Perce Tribe, the federal government and the state of Idaho.

Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, said, “The judge’s gag order shut out the people’s opportunity to participate in the settlement, and now the people’s voices will be shut out again unless they can afford to leave work and pay for transportation and overnight lodging.”

The House Resources Committee has scheduled two days of hearings on legislation implementing the agreement for Feb. 22 and 23 in Boise.

Reps. Mike Mitchell and John Rusche, both Lewiston Democrats, said the state should set up interactive videoconferences to allow North Idaho residents to participate in the hearings more easily.

Marina in Bayview plans expansion

Bayview, Idaho A commercial marina in Bayview is planning expansion to include more boat slips, a boardwalk and new breakwaters, according to permit applications filed with the state Department of Lands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The proposal to expand the Vista Bay Marina calls for adding a 13-slip covered dock, extending the floating breakwater dock another 55 feet, building a 10-by-80-foot pier, building new breakwaters and a sanitary sewer pump-out station and constructing a 470-foot-long boardwalk, according to an application filed with the Corps of Engineers.

Construction would require driving steel pilings, excavating and backfilling about 27 cubic yards of lake-bed gravel to bury water and sewer lines and excavating another 22 cubic yards of lake-bed gravel for a toe trench to place 450 cubic yards of riprap for bank stabilization, according to the application.

Marina owner Robert Holland proposes to do the excavation work during low-water conditions and to surround the working area with a containment curtain to minimize disturbance to Lake Pend Oreille.

The Corps of Engineers is taking comments on the proposal until March 2.

Comments can be mailed to the Coeur d’Alene Regulatory Office, Idaho Panhandle National Forests Building, 3815 Schreiber Way, Coeur d’Alene 83815-8363.

Black named Prosecutor of the Year

Barry Black, a deputy Kootenai County prosecuting attorney, has been named Idaho Prosecutor of the Year for Juvenile Prosecution and Child Advocacy by the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas announced Monday.

Black was awarded the title Wednesday during a conference of the association.

Black, who has been chief of the county prosecutor’s juvenile division for 11 years, was nominated for the award by Douglas.

“Barry is recognized as an expert in his field by every juvenile agency in Idaho,” Douglas said in a news release. “He has shown compassion for kids and their families while ensuring accountability for bad behavior.”

Black, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, will be honored during a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today in the Kootenai County Administration Building, Room 1A.

Bill to cut DEQ oversight advances

Boise

Legislation that cleared a House committee Monday would remove the state Department of Environmental Quality’s authority to review plans for modification of existing sewer and water systems and to review certain new industrial operations.

Championed by House Majority Leader Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, HB143 was passed by the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee over the objections of the department.

Department Director Toni Hardesty told the panel the bill has wide-ranging implications.

“This would mean, for example, the Burlington Northern facility that went in up north would not be subject to DEQ review,” Hardesty told the committee.

She said her department is working on reducing backlogs in its reviews of water systems and offered to work with Denney on other ways to make the department more responsive.

“The public relies on DEQ to conduct those reviews of public drinking-water systems,” Hardesty told the committee, to ensure they’re both legal and safe.

In addition, the reviews are required for cities and other local agencies to obtain government grants and loans to do work on water systems, she said.

Denney said his bill would ensure public safety because a professional engineer still would have to certify that water system projects “meet minimum construction standards.”

The committee sent the bill to the full House for a vote.

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