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Roundtable Discussions

Darrell Bolz, Caldwell, reported:
The Caldwell Plaza opened this year and is doing well.  The ice rink and ribbon are now open.  The ribbon is one of a very few in the U.S.

New jobs has been and continues to be the focus of economic development in the area.  New construction for businesses moving to the Caldwell area is moving along well.  Most of the new jobs are mostly related to food processing of metal manufacturing.

The County Commissioners just signed an ordinance updating an old one that provides for tax incentives for businesses investing certain amounts.  The incentives are primarily geared towards reduced property taxes with the first year being the most and then decreasing each year.

As new jobs are created and the population increases, infrastructure needs will increase and should be a priority.


Daryl Moser, USDA – Rural Development, reported:

  • Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee

As provided in the November 25, 2018, NOSA: USDA is accepting applications through September 30, 2019 (loan applications are processed as applications received)

What does this program do?

The Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program (Broadband Program) furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas.

Website for this program:  https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-broadband-access-loan-and-loan-guarantee.

  • Pilot Broadband Program.

As reported at the August IRP Board Meeting:

  • A new broadband e-connectivity pilot program was included in the FY 2018 budget signed by the President on 3/23/18.
  • $600 million was approved for the purpose of a broadband loan and grant pilot program.
  • Entities eligible for funding include rural telephone and broadband service providers, rural electric cooperatives, private firms (but not sole proprietors or partnerships), nonprofits and governmental bodies.
  • The program will be designed to focus on rural areas where at least 90% of the households to be served are located in a rural areas (defined as 20,000 or less) without sufficient access to broadband; for the purpose of this pilot program, “sufficient access” is defined as 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
  • USDA requested suggestions (which were due by September 10, 2018) on how to implement the e-Connectivity Pilot Program, including comments on the best options to verify broadband speeds and potential project benefits for rural industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, e-commerce, transportation, health care and education.
  • The program is now being finalized, with “roll-out” to follow.  At this point, it is anticipated that the program will be available, and applications requested, as early as January 2019.
  • Joe Bradley contact information (for information on Broadband programs, project discussion, application development, etc.).  It is recommended that anyone considering USDA Telecommunications Programs contact Joe as early in the process as possible.

Joe D. Bradley

USDA Telecommunications Program, Field Representative for; Idaho, Oregon and Washington

Email: joe.bradley@usda.gov 

Cell - 208-401-8090  Mountain Time

Telecommunications Program Website: 



Barbara Petty, University of Idaho, - Extension, reported:
University Idaho Extension is providing research-based education to the citizens of Idaho and beyond.  From November 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018, our 84 educators and 49 specialists made 425,128 face-to-face contacts with individuals, providing education and solutions to problems they were facing.  One of our most widely known programs is our 4-H Youth Development program.  For this upcoming legislative session, we are asking for funding for four area Extension educators in the area of 4-H STEM.  These faculty positions will be strategically located in the four Extension districts across the state.  They will have a geographic responsibility for the communities in their district and statewide responsibility for their subject matter expertise. The educator will work with communities to assess the STEM programs already available through the public library, the schools and other youth serving organizations. They will coordinate the STEM efforts and provide training to adults who will become skilled in teaching non-formal STEM education in the community, while increasing the access of STEM education to our youth. Our proposed work is not in competition with the STEM Action Center but actually will complement their work. We have a network reaching all 44 counties.  In many ways we are the boots on the ground to work hand in hand in delivering STEM programing.

There will be many opportunities throughout the state for you to engage with University of Idaho Extension. Farm and Ranch Financial Management School begins on January 9 and 10 at various locations, the FIRST LEGO League South Idaho Championship in on January 12 in Twin Falls, Family Forester Workshop is on January 18, and the International Potato Conference will be held in Pocatello on January 23 and 24.  If you are interested in learning how to preserve your own food, consider enrolling in the online food preservation class Preserve@Home https://www.uidaho.edu/extension/county/franklin/family-consumer/preserve-at-home.

To find more information about these opportunities and many others, the UI Extension calendar of events can be found at https://www.uidaho.edu/extension/news/calendar.

The last of November 139 Extension professionals gathered in Boise to write our Plan of Work for 2020-2024. We are reorganizing our work teams from 15 teams into seven teams addressing priority issues of: Food Production Systems, Forestry and Natural Resources, Horticulture and Small Farms, Nutrition, Health and Wellness, Water, Community Development, and 4-H Community Youth Development. Each team identified a goal they will be working toward which aligns with our vision of University of Idaho Extension: Leaders in building a thriving, prosperous, healthy Idaho. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the people of Idaho. We have a bright future!


Richard Berndt, Regional EDR and Interim EDR for Idaho, DOC/Economic Development Administration, listed some of the grants EDA had awarded in Idaho in 2018, including:

  • $1.5 million to Lewis-Clark State College for state-of-the-art equipment to use at their new training center.
  • $1.4 million to Idaho Rural Water Association to construct a technical training center.
  • $675,000 in i6 Challenge funds for North Idaho College’s Venture Center: Experiential Entrepreneurship and Proof-of-Concept Lab
  • $660,000 to Lewiston School District for state-of-the-art equipment to support its student-to-work Career and Technical Education (CTE) training programs.


Art Beal, Southwest Resource Conservation and Development, reported:
He is an elected soil conservation district supervisor who represents the district with the Southwest Resource Conservation and Development or RC&D area which covers southwest Idaho.  Beyond this is where I volunteer, because of the RC&D representation I also am the Vice Chair of the State RC&D.  And because of this, I was asked and appointed to serve on the partnership as representative for Idaho’s RC&D’s. All of this meets the needs of the district where we are to take available technical, financial, and educational resources, whatever their source, and focus or coordinate them so that they meet the needs of the local land user for conservation of soil, water, and related resources.  This includes getting the produce to market.  A good infrastructure is part of the related resources and a good reason to support broadband.  Land users need to access to information to compete in the world market.

The RC&D’s were established originally through the USDA with funding for a coordinator whose function was to find funding and promote projects.  They were set up as 501©-3 entities to receive grants with a percentage going to the RC&D.  We have learned since the withdrawal of funding for a coordinator that it takes about 10% of the grants to maintain this coordination, along with sponsor dues.

The RC&D’s are assisting the USDA in monitoring their use of various programs with the help of the districts and the Idaho RC&D.  If the evaluation process works well, the regional RC&D’s will have a part of the data gathering.

On the watershed side, the Boise Forest Coalition and the US Forest Service have been challenged at three different levels in the courts.  So far the management recommendations, with the coalition support, have met the challenge and are moving ahead with forest health restoration and harvest. 

Late this summer the Emmett Ranger District had a massive Tussic moth infestation that defoliated about 40,000 (60 square miles) acres between High Valley and the Little Weiser River including Tripod Basin.  The issue will be education of the wood cutters that the tree may not be dead.  Some of the dead looking may put out needles next spring if they are left alone.  It has taken some of the cover from the watershed so snow packs may leave a little earlier and will change the water patterns.   


Ken Frederick, Bureau of Land Management, reported:
Idaho BLM has advanced three important phosphate projects in eastern Idaho.  These include two new phosphate mines and the expansion of one existing mine.  These projects are important because they provide stable, high-paying employment for hundreds of workers in the Pocatello, Soda Springs, and Blackfoot areas.

Along with several other western states, Idaho just released a set of land use plan amendments and supporting environmental analysis related to managing sage grouse habitat.  These plan amendments will better align federal and state management of the species. 

Jim Werntz, US Environmental Protection Agency, reported:

  1. Waters of the U.S.:  On December 11, 2018, EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule that provides definition and clarity for the jurisdiction of surface waters under the Clean Water Act.  The public now has an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rule.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-and-army-propose-new-waters-united-states-        definition

  1. US Ecology, Grandview, ID:  On November 30, an explosion killed one worker and seriously injured three others.  The explosion occurred in a building where wastes are neutralized so that they can be safely disposed of.  EPA provided Emergency Response personnel, along with Idaho agencies, to stabilize and secure the site.  OSHA is now conducting an investigation.  
  1. 2018 Clean Up Work in the Coeur d’Alene Basin, ID:   Significant progress in clean-up of contamination in the Silver Valley was accomplished by local, state and federal agencies and two Tribes.  The partnership resulted in $27 million in funds for clean ups, employing over 300 full and part time workers.  Over 500 road segments were paved as part of the remedy.  Contamination at the Success Mine was remediated, with over 52,000 cubic yards of contaminated material removed and disposed of in repositories.  
  1. EPA Organizational Changes:   EPA is in the process of “realigning” the 10 EPA Regions in the U.S., to require identical Regional Office structures.  The realignment will not significantly change the size or staffing in Region 10 Operations Offices, including the Idaho Operations Office in Boise.



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