Farms reel from harsh winter
A combination of record snowfall and cold snaps has caused millions of dollars in damages for Treasure Valley farmers. At least 16 onion storage sheds and packing plants collapsed under heavy snow, slashing the onion supply and raising prices. Canyon County vineyards may lose half of their fruit-producing buds due to nights in January reaching -13 and -21 degrees.
Calf and cattle operations racked up atypically high feed bills as animals were stressed by the snow and cold. Purple Sage Farms near Middleton lost five of its 13 produce and herb greenhouses to heavy snow.
Boise Cascade CEO dies
John Fery, CEO at Boise Cascade from 1972 to 1994, died Feb. 12 of acute leukemia. He was 86.
Fery, who took over after the company reported losses for two years, returned Boise Cascade to profits by focusing on the core businesses: paper and lumber. He was a leading philanthropist in the Treasure Valley, supporting more than a dozen causes. Fery donated $2.5 million to the Treasure Valley Family YMCA’s youth camp at Horsethief Reservior and was directly responsible for raising $18 million of the $23 million project.
Idaho dairy owners seek immigration reform
Idaho dairy owners fear that that a crackdown promised by President Donald Trump on the campaign trail could decimate their workforce and threaten the industry. Owners say they rely on immigrant labor, including undocumented workers, and already face a work shortage.
The Idaho Dairymen’s Association has collected more than 2,400 signatures asking the state’s congressional delegates to push for a year-round visa program.
Business groups laud Trump’s regulations order
The Idaho chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses says President Donald Trump’s “one in, two out” executive order to reduce regulations is a “good first step,” But the Idaho Conservation League calls it “governing with bumper-sticker slogans.”
The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce says it generally supports reducing regulation. All four of Idaho’s congressional delegates support the order.
Les Bois Park eyes return of racing
The operator of the Garden City race track hopes to bring back live, simulcast and historical horse racing this summer, after shutting it down for two years. Signs point to the revival in spite of the Idaho Legislature’s repeal of a law that permitted controversial historical-racing betting machines.
Treasure Valley Racing plans to ask the Idaho Racing Commission for permission to start historical racing, which is also known as instant racing. The commission met to discuss a temporary rule that would govern where, and how, historical-racing terminals can be offered to the public.
Micron CEO Durcan to retire
Mark Durcan, the CEO of Micron Technology Inc., says he will retire when the company finds a replacement. Durcan, 55, has worked at Micron for 32 years and became CEO when his predecessor, Steve Appleton, died in 2012 when the small plane he was piloting crashed near the Boise Airport.
Durcan had planned to leave Micron until Appleton’s death. Micron is now the third-largest memory-chip maker in the world, Idaho’s largest publicly traded company and the largest for-profit employer in the Treasure Valley.
Durcan says he will focus on philanthropy after retiring.
Texas billionaire Wilks brothers reach out
Representatives of the billionaires who bought more than 200,000 acres of Idaho land are hoping to improve their relationship with state and county leaders.
DF Development — the Cisco, Texas, company owned by Farris and Dan Wilks — sent representatives to meet with House Speaker Scott Bedke and Idaho Department of Lands Director Tom Schultz in November.
Outdoors enthusiasts worried the land would become off-limits under the new owners. Public access is on the way. The company is selling Valley County a parking lot and trailhead that supports the public trail system between Smith’s Ferry and Cascade.
Holly Lane fined $1.2 million for violations
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a $1.23 million penalty against Holly Lane Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Nampa for being out of compliance with federal laws for several months.
The nursing home is now following health and safety rules. It came under scrutiny after inspectors discovered patients being neglected and subject to abuse.
Development planned in West End
Development company 2 North Homes is advancing plans to remake the lots south of Stewart Street between 27th and 28th streets in Boise.
The plan calls for five townhomes and a four-story building with about 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 23 apartments or condos on the upper three floors.
The project would take the place of the Islamic Center, which plans to relocate, and the longtime Jerry’s 27th Street Market, which closed last year.
Homeowners now run Tamarack Resort
Stable ownership is bringing new hope to the bankrupt and unfinished Tamarack Resort near Donnelly.
A group of homeowners purchased the resort. Unencumbered by debt, they are slowly forming plans to fulfill the resort’s vision of becoming a high-end resort for skiers flying in from around the world. That plan would mean finishing The Village, now wrapped in plastic to keep out the elements.
Bigelow Tea to retrain workers
The tea company, which is based in Connecticut, received a $59,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Labor’s Workforce Development Training Fund.
The money will reimburse the company for training employees whose positions would otherwise become obsolete due to automation. The workers will earn an average hourly wage of $18.51 after the training.
Balsam Brands takes over Rose Room
A company best known for its artificial Christmas trees is turning the Downtown Boise event venue into offices.
Balsam Brands will move its local offices from Meridian to South Capitol Boulevard and Idaho Street this summer. The 17,000-square-foot space includes the Rose Room event venue.
“For the past 20 years, the Rose Room has hosted weddings, concerts, meetings and until recently, the Fettuccini Forum,” property owner Kenneth Howell says. “Balsam Brands will bring a new chapter, new people, and new memories to this historic ballroom and building.”
Albertsons won’t buy Price Chopper
That was fast. Albertsons is no longer in talks to buy the Price Chopper grocery chain, according to reports by industry publications including Supermarket News.
Reuters reported less than two months earlier that the Boise-based Albertsons chain was mulling a $1 billion purchase of New York-based Price Chopper, which has about 100 stores in the Northeast.
As Boise booms, transit ridership stagnates
Boise’s population grew 37 percent between 1995 and 2015. But its bus ridership fell 7 percent in that time — from 1.32 million to 1.23 million.
That runs contrary to national trends and to high transit ridership numbers in similar metro areas. Public transportation ridership grew 39 percent nationally in that period, almost twice the rate of population growth.
Current and potential ValleyRide passengers blame the low ridership on the transit system’s limited routes and hours. There is little or no service at night when many workers head home.
Landowners seek competition in oil, gas drilling
Some of the owners of Idaho’s largest tracts of private land seek to increase competition and transparency in the state’s budding oil and gas drilling industries.
Houston-based Alta Mesa controls Idaho’s single well that produces oil. The company’s taxes on the well more than doubled in one year, signaling to landowners that the value of the oil that could potentially be taken from under their property may be greater than Alta Mesa is letting on.
The landowners want the Legislature to change rules to increase public disclosure. Alta Mesa says it complies with all laws and would benefit from increased competition.
Osteopathic school lacks residencies, accreditation
Backers of the proposed for-profit Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine in Meridian have touted the school’s promise of 78 new medical residency positions as evidence of its ability to ease Idaho’s shortage of primary-care doctors.
But the Associated Press in January found the residency spots do not yet exist, and an accreditation board has denied the first step in the process of creating them. A separate accreditation board also deferred a decision on whether to pre-accredit the proposed Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine.
This briefing appears in the February 15-March 14, 2017, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine.