Preparing one column each month means leaving behind many worthy stories. So as 2018 expires, here’s a hit parade of people and organizations deserving of a full tribute this year:
▪ The residents of the Blue Heaven Trailer Park in Boise. Their intelligent, witty and compelling protest of a proposed fuel depot next door prompted the Planning and Zoning Commission to take their side – a brave decision by the commission. Were he around to update his 1943 “Freedom of Speech” painting, Norman Rockwell could illustrate that democracy is still very much alive using this one story.
▪ The Boise Bike Project. Engaging prison inmates to recondition bicycles for refugees this year was surely one of the smartest of this organization’s many contributions over the years.
▪ The St. Vincent de Paul Society. In 2018 the society and cooperating churches welcomed back into the Treasure Valley 576 newly released state prisoners. It does this in a home-visit, faith-based way. And surely this compassion in action is vastly more cost-effective than the state’s expensive criminal justice system.
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▪ Andy Scoggins. This Albertsons executive and his wife refused to sell to CVS the apartments they own near 16th and State Street in Boise when the drugstore giant came calling. Instead, rents will remain low for dozens of tenants, while rising rapidly elsewhere as California corporations swoop into Boise.
▪ Nampa Republican Rep. Christy Perry. When criticized for championing medical insurance for the uninsured via Medicaid expansion, Perry told the Idaho House: “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me. I am here to represent my people ... who have cried” to have some progress made on health care. Idahoans overwhelmingly supported her cause in November.
▪ Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas. Since taking office in 1997, Nancolas has transformed Caldwell from one of the worst cities in Idaho to a job-rich, vibrant community. This year made clear that Caldwell’s downtown is rocking and its industrial zones thriving.
▪ The United Way of Treasure Valley. United Ways typically just give out grants in useful but often scattershot fashion. This one digs deep into big problems and takes the lead. Example: Working with the city of Caldwell, its school system and the YMCA, a consortium is steadily improving everything from early childhood education to college readiness for Caldwell children and families often left behind. Boise’s most challenged schools are benefiting as well.
Jerry Brady is a former newspaper publisher and a member of Compassionate Boise. firstname.lastname@example.org.