Governor brings capital to Aberdeen for a day
When students from Joe Ingersoll's AP government class at Aberdeen High School entered the city council chambers on Tuesday, Gov. Butch Otter immediately acknowledged them.
During a lull in taking questions from the audience at Aberdeen's Capital for a Day, he encouraged them to ask their own.
Eventually Carl, one of the students, asked about what tax liabilities and benefits he could receive if he started his own landscaping business.
A member of the governor's staff from the Department of Commerce pointed the student to a publication called "Starting Your Own Business" available through its Website.
Ingersoll, speaking for his students, asked what the governor expects to be the key issues during the legislative session which starts in January.
"The budget will always be a big item," Otter told his audience. "There will be some revisit of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 as well as the healthcare exchange and Medicaid expansion."
Otter and the heads of several state agencies spent six hours in Aberdeen.
The governor noted it was the 60th capital for a day since he first took office. He said the visits are to smaller communities so he can hear the voice of the people.
Mayor Morgan Anderson noted that the closure of the Simplot plant in May of 2014 will take away half of the city's tax base.
Otter said that while the state can't pick winners and losers it can help Simplot's employees with workforce development, continuing education and the like.
The Department of Commerce spokesman noted that when Simplot closed its plant in Heyburn, it deeded the property to the city.
"You can seek grants for help in marketing the property," he said.
Otter noted, too, that several elements of the plant, including its utility lines, etc., have value to many companies seeking new facilities.
Other audience members asked about dealing with such weeds as sticky nightshade and flowering rush, about how the federal Clean Water Act affects irrigation and education funding for charter schools.
Celia Gould, director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture, said one of the challenges with dealing with the federal government on issues such as weeds and clean water is that many of the rules regarding them haven't been written yet.
Fred Ball, administrator for the Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center and Idaho Science and Technology Charter School, said Bingham Academy has received a large federal grant, but its having difficulty getting approval from the state Charter School Commission.
He noted the Academy, which will feature a high school curriculum, passed muster to receive the highly competitive grant from the feds, but can't get approval from the state.
The Blackfoot School District passed on its opportunity to approve the school as allowed by state law.
Mike Rush from the State School Board took the school's information and promised to expedite its application.
All three county commissioners and the three state legislators were among those in attendance.
Commissioner Ladd Carter pointed out that the state is spending $12 million to renovate the Crystal Springs Hatchery. That facility will begin raising sockeye salmon smelt next summer.
"We're looking for it to play an important role for economic development for the county," Carter said.
"We're excited to be here and part of the community," said Idaho Fish and Game director Virgil Moore.