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Mine waste, air pollution on Idaho agency's expense concerns

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The director of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality says the agency needs money to clean up or contain past mining waste. John Tippets told the Legislature's powerful budget-setting committee on Friday that among the problems is another collapse at the abandoned Triumph Mine. The state is financially responsible after agreeing to take control as part of a mining company's bankruptcy deal. Tippets also said the U.S. Department of Energy is ending a $500,000 annual payment to the state involving air pollution monitoring at the Idaho National Laboratory. Tippets says that money paid for a third of the state's air quality program.


Former Boise group home employee charged with rape

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a former employee of a Boise group home with rape and attempted rape because they say he confessed to abusing two disabled residents. Twenty-four-year-old Christopher Bleily of Meridian was arraigned Thursday in 4th District Court. He has not yet entered a plea and court records do not show if he has obtained an attorney. Prosecutor John Dinger says Bleily sought out police officers to confess the crimes, allegedly committed while he worked at the group home in 2014.


Idaho school board unknowingly violated open meetings law

ARIMO, Idaho (AP) — A school district board chairman says the board has unknowingly violated the Idaho open meetings law for years after conducting its entire annual superintendent evaluation behind closed doors. Idaho State Journal reports that the Marsh Valley School District board chairman said the board recently discovered approving the superintendent's evaluation and contractual changes in one motion in executive sessions was a violation. The chairman says the board first learned it was committing a violation when it was notified by state Department of Education attorneys last month that approving the superintendent's evaluation, contract extension and pay increase behind closed doors in December was against the law.


Power still out, no school for some as storms continue

SEATTLE (AP) — Hundreds of people without power for as long as a week were slowly seeing their lights come back on after storms that brought feet of heavy snow to Western Washington, while thousands in Southern Oregon lost power in a snowstorm Thursday. Puget Sound Energy estimates that power to hundreds in the Washington mountain towns of Gold Bar and Skykomish could finally be back Friday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and others sent supplies to the area by convoy earlier this week while the state highway remained closed. In southern Oregon, over 9,000 customers remained without power Friday after a Thursday storm. Winter weather and multiple crashes caused the Idaho Transportation Department to temporarily close roads Friday.


Idaho House expels member convicted of fraud by Texas jury

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho House of Representatives has expelled one of its members a day after he was convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government. The House voted 65-0 Thursday to expel Republican Rep. John Green of Post Falls. Green was convicted Wednesday on charges stemming from helping a wealthy Texas couple hide assets to avoid paying income taxes. Green maintains his innocence. Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke made the motion to declare Green's seat vacant, and it was seconded by Republican House Majority Leader Mike Moyle. A process to replace Green now begins that requires the involvement of Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little.


Jerome man dies in avalanche near Ketchum

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) — Authorities say one person was killed in an avalanche in central Idaho on Wednesday afternoon. The Blaine County Sheriff's Office says the victim, 50-year-old Kirk Douglas Rongen of Jerome, was snowmobiling with another person near Ketchum when the slide occurred. The second snowmobiler was able to locate Rongen because of his transponder, but Rongen was unable to be revived and died at the scene.

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