One of our jobs is to point out when we see troubling developments or circumstances we fear could impede progress in the Treasure Valley and Idaho. Another of our jobs is to celebrate the successes and cheer the victories with our community and our readers.
And there has been much to praise this year. We congratulate all the individuals, agencies, volunteers, planners and contributors who worked together to make us better and safer. No list like this captures everything, so pass along your kudos in an online comment, a Letter to the Editor, or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Idaho Air National Guard First things first. The 124th Fighter Wing left home and family in April to put themselves in harm’s way on a deployment to Turkey. We’re thankful more than 200 of the estimated 500 have returned safely from the mission so far. Our best wishes to them and those still deployed. Thanks for your service!
Homeless Initiatives Just a year ago the city of Boise had to take action against the homeless encampment at Cooper Court. We all wondered what would come next. Something did — the initial steps of a Housing First plan that secured funding and now will break ground on homeless housing alternatives early next year. Though there is much more to do, the city of Boise and a host of partners deserve credit for identifying islands of solutions amid a sea of chronic problems.
Refugee Empathy The day Idaho stops welcoming and nurturing refugees is the day we turn our back on our history and heritage. Though we witnessed some cold and callous reactions at times last year, we are encouraged that most of Idaho gets it — none better than Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish descent and founder of the Chobani yogurt company with a huge plant in Twin Falls. Ulukaya ignores death threats and critics who say he hires too many refugees, and doubles down by signing the Giving Pledge and promising to give away a majority of his fortune to assist refugees.
City Center Plaza A hole was filled in Boise’s profile when the Eighth and Main building became reality a few years back, and now City Center Plaza has been upgraded with a transit center, a beautiful new addition to Boise Centre and other improvements — thanks to Gardner Co., the Greater Boise Auditorium District and Valley Regional Transit. At least three new hotels, some opening soon, will boost convention and tourist numbers that will benefit the entire region.
Skate Park The $1.3 million renovation of Rhodes Skate Park reminds us that fun belongs on the menu of Boise attractions.
Education Matters Though the College of Western Idaho did not win approval of its bond in November, we appreciate the accessible and affordable niche it has created for students, the way it reached out to ITT students who wanted to transfer credits when the tech school closed, and how it has become a key conduit in the success of the Idaho State Board of Education’s Advanced Opportunities program — which allows for dual credit for high school kids who wish to get a head start on college.
Response to Table Rock Fire Though the blaze left us shocked and scarred, we were proud to see the way the firefighters and community responded — and have since considered ways to keep it from happening again.
Health care First, thanks to Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong for his candid and passionate pleas on behalf of Idahoans in the health insurance gap. Second, we look forward to the broader and greater services that will result from expansions at our two major hospitals: St. Luke’s, after getting approval for its Downtown Boise expansion; and Saint Alphonsus for breaking ground at its new facility in Nampa.
KudosFort It was another good year for the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, and we look forward to March 2017. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the successful return of the Mountain Home Country Music Festival as well, y’all.
Great Grapes Idaho After a somewhat diminished harvest in 2015, the 2016 harvest of Idaho grapes was abundant in quantity and flavor. Our reward will come soon in bottled wine.
Travelin’ Trophy Great news that Boise added its 20th nonstop flight this year — this time to Dallas.
AROUND THE STATE
K-12 Funding We think it’s great that Idaho is keeping its promise and making progress on upping the funding for our schools. With a sizable tax revenue surplus projected — as much as $139 million — we look forward to even more support for education in 2017.
Bowls of Success We are all happy the Boise State Broncos and the University of Idaho Vandals are going bowling this month, and that former BSU star Matt Paradis won himself a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.
City (and State) of Trees We are blessed to be the City of Trees, and because the Payette National Forest here was the source for the Capitol Christmas tree, which is on display in Washington, D.C.
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