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Friday, December 27, 2013

Brandon Hixon In Default to Wells Fargo Bank

It was reported to THE GUARDIAN, Idaho State Representative for Caldwell District 10 is once again in financial difficulty.  Rep. Hixon has a history of stiffing creditors and now this latest event as reported to THE GUARDIAN:

"Doesn't seem to matter much about a Representatives financial status but in legal ads today in Idaho Press Tribune page C12 Brandon Hixon of 919 North Plateau Drive Caldwell has not paid his house payment  of $1,625.80 since July"

A quick check of today's Press Tribune  Legal Notices on the right hand side of the page gave the details of this latest financial difficulty of Mr. Hixon.  Mr. Hixon is now more than $10,000 behind in his mortgage and late fees to Wells Fargo Bank.

Update: 12/28/2013.... THE GUARDIAN read the legal notice in the IPT again and noted Rep. Hixon's debt to Wells Fargo is $241,277.95 for his address listed as 910 N. Plateau Ave., Caldwell, Idaho.  A search of the Canyon County Assessor's data on the value of Rep. Hixon's home is $89,100.00.  Mr. Hixon managed to get Wells Fargo to give him 2.7 times the value of his home.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fruitcake; You Know You Reall like It and Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone and a prosperous New Year! 

I can remember well the smell of a well made fruitcake made by my God Mother, she did not spare the rum in her recipe and the goodies in it were amazing.  It was moist, chewy and loaded with dried fruit and pecans and walnuts.  It was a labor of love and doled out a small piece at a time.  I think it got a bad name when it was produced commercially.  The bean counters kept the price down and the quality suffered as a result.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Years Resolution: Quitting Tobacco

Every year the issue of resolutions comes up and this year is no exception.  THE GUARDIAN would offer for your consideration quitting tobacco.  I didn't say smoking as that does not cover the myriad of products that fall under tobacco use.  I have included a couple of graphic photos to help bolster your resolve to quit smoke and smokeless tobacco. 

I am probably one of the most ardent advocates of quitting tobacco and do so as a former smoker.  My last cigarette was in February of 1970.  I got started when I was in the Navy and cigarettes sold for a mere $1.10/carton of 10 packs of smokes, chewing tobacco was $0.25/can of Copenhagen.  A smoke break was a really good excuse to go topside and get some fresh air. 

All the bad news about tobacco and smoking was just starting to take hold with the public after the Surgeon General's Report of 1964 with a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.  Since that time it has been linked to a myriad of health issues.  Tobacco companies know the health issues and they know they are going to lose the battle in this matter but they want to lose it slowly.

My wake up call came when I was still in the Navy and was traveling to New London, Ct. for Submarine School in 1968.  I ran out of tax free smokes and bought a pack of Luck Strikes at JFK Airport for $0.93.  I was making $82/month at that time and it was not hard to do the math.  I could smoke or eat but could not do both on that income level. 

It was not until February of 1970 that I quit cold turkey.  Withdrawal is not a pleasant exercise and has been likened to kicking heroin in some of the journals.  It can be done, and there are millions who have come to grips with this challenge.  You can expect about three weeks of intense withdrawal before the urge to smoke begins to taper off.  It will be different for everyone who takes on this challenge.

Smoking is not something that sustains life, it costs a lot of money and will kill you off at least a decade or more as you continue to age. No matter how you do it, a lifetime of tobacco use will add up to around $100K.  THE GUARDIAN hopes you will consider giving yourself the gift of a longer life and resolve to try and quit the use of tobacco products.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Property Taxes Up 21% in Caldwell

The following is a letter to the editor of the IPT by Guardian reader Chuck Stadick.  He has outlined all the increases and where the money is going on property tax assessments this year.

"Just received my 2013 property tax bill, and it has gone up 21 percent vs. 2012. The major taxing agencies with increases were city of Caldwell, up $223; Highway District 4, up $34; Vallivue School District, up $147; and Canyon County, up $52.

Thanks Mayor Nancolas, school and highway officials, Canyon County commissioners, and last but not least, the urban renewal committees. I’m sure the feds will chime in and increase my Social Security by that amount once they find out, don’t you think?

* Chuck Stadick, Caldwell"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Medicare, Humana and United Health Changes You Need to Know

Each year those of us 65 or older can keep or change Medicare Advantage Insurance plans or simply stay with plain vanilla Medicare Part B, The cost for the basic Medicare is rounded off at $104/month and it comes right off the top of that meager Social Security check.  This year Humana and United Health have thrown a curve ball at Medicare recipients.

Humana is in the process of severing ties with St. Luke's in this area.  If you keep your Humana Medicare Advantage Plan  be advised if you go to St. Luke's you will be on the hook for out of plan costs.  The mutual separation is over reimbursements to St. Luke's by Humana for Medicare Advantage payments. You know... the charges sent to Humana generally get settled for a much lower price than "retail" prices charged by hospitals.

United Health (under the banner of AARP), is dropping thousands of doctors in 10 States according to a Wall Street Journal article in today's edition.  Again it is probably over reimbursements paid v. what the docs submit for their services. 

If you have anyone you know oblivious to these changes in Medicare you might want to give them a heads up.  Out of plan fees and costs can be a real shock to the wallet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Caldwell v. County Property Taxes

THE GUARDIAN had a nice chat with a friend in the Canyon County Assessor's Office this morning about various property tax levy rates.  The short version is best explained using the "net taxable value" of $100k on a home in the city v. the county.

The taxes due on average in the city of Caldwell come to $26 per $1,000.00 of net taxable value.  In the county they are $15 per $1,000.00 of net taxable value.

Caldwell property taxpayer would have to pay $2,600.00 in property taxes.
County property taxes would be $1,500.00 for the same net taxable value of $100k.  The difference is a significant 42% between the two properties with the very same net taxable values.

Another interesting piece of information is the homeowner exemption is no longer 50% up to $100k but is different each year and is a maximum of $82k this year.  The Legislature changed the law under the radar of homeowners several years ago.  It changes every year based on some arcane formula county assessors even have a problem understanding. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Caldwell Before the Blight

THE GUARDIAN received the picture you see in this post from a friend who sent it in a very nice note of appreciation.  It was a post card she purchased years ago at Pennywise Drug and I thougth I would share it with CALDWELL GUARDIAN readers.

The back of the card reads:
"Central district of a town made famous by unusual concentration of numerous mobile home manufacturers- also home of the College of Idaho located in a rich farming area on the interstate highway in west central Idaho - Less than one hours drive from fabulous hunting, fishing, camping and skiing area."

In juxtaposition to what we have for a downtown today, this card depicts Caldwell as a vibrant city with lots of businesses in our downtown.  We have TVCC, the creek uncovered but is Caldwell better off today than it was years ago. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mayor Casts Deciding Vote on $190K Carnige Library Purchase

The local paper had a story this week the City of Caldwell purchased the old Carnige Library from the Cadlwell School District for a mere $190K.  What the local paper did not say was how City Councilors voted.  A prompt from THE GUARDIAN did not get any response from the reporter who wrote the story.  His article left the readers to wonder how our elected folks voted. 

Here is the response I got late today from City Clerk, Debbie Geyer:

Ozuna, Hopper, Callsen..... voted for the purchase

Biggers, Pollard, Blacker......voted against the purchase

Mayor Nancolas cast the tie breaking vote to purchase the old library.

Why the local paper did not put this in their story is a mystery but here it is for GUARDIAN readers.  The other missing part of the story is where the $190K will come from. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Property Tax Comparisons For Your Enjoyment

THE GUARDIAN received the following property tax table from a friend in the County Assessor's Office.  I want to share it with readers as we approach the December property tax deadline for the first installment.

Urban areas of Canyon County are 41.7% higher than they are in Ada County.  We have the highest levy rates for both urban and rural parts of the county and there is no way to sugar coat this reality.

Chart VIII
Revised: 1/2/2013
ADA 1.767% 1.413% 1.722%
ADAMS 1.725% 0.948% 1.012%
BANNOCK 1.929% 1.012% 1.725%
BEAR LAKE 0.965% 0.588% 0.664%
BENEWAH 1.536% 0.948% 1.076%
BINGHAM 1.807% 1.140% 1.352%
BLAINE 0.797% 0.677% 0.755%
BOISE 1.370% 1.060% 1.091%
BONNER 1.184% 0.714% 0.813%
BONNEVILLE 1.693% 1.070% 1.500%
BOUNDARY 1.231% 0.893% 0.959%
BUTTE 1.782% 1.141% 1.257%
CAMAS 1.628% 0.988% 1.091%
CANYON 2.505% 1.484% 2.129%
CARIBOU 1.971% 1.025% 1.176%
CASSIA 1.382% 0.886% 1.025%
CLARK 1.285% 0.977% 1.020%
CLEARWATER 1.794% 1.038% 1.228%
CUSTER 0.574% 0.335% 0.373%
ELMORE 2.180% 1.110% 1.518%
FRANKLIN 1.239% 0.901% 1.053%
FREMONT 1.051% 0.706% 0.770%
GEM 2.001% 1.222% 1.435%
GOODING 1.747% 0.965% 1.135%
IDAHO 1.066% 0.589% 0.688%
JEFFERSON 1.876% 1.102% 1.226%
JEROME 1.726% 1.227% 1.521%
KOOTENAI 1.512% 1.001% 1.269%
LATAH 1.809% 1.387% 1.643%
LEMHI 1.249% 0.564% 0.718%
LEWIS 1.867% 1.202% 1.426%
LINCOLN 1.843% 1.066% 1.205%
MADISON 1.598% 1.331% 1.493%
MINIDOKA 1.356% 0.912% 1.075%
NEZ PERCE 1.995% 1.060% 1.662%
ONEIDA 1.548% 0.798% 0.969%
OWYHEE 1.531% 1.029% 1.103%
PAYETTE 1.491% 1.014% 1.309%
POWER 2.179% 1.375% 1.503%
SHOSHONE 1.727% 1.138% 1.367%
TETON 1.148% 0.907% 0.962%
TWIN FALLS 1.878% 1.200% 1.605%
VALLEY 1.344% 0.777% 0.956%
WASHINGTON 1.573% 0.835% 1.038%
Statewide: 1.631% 1.048% 1.379%

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guardian And Others Attend Voting Machine Accuracy Testing

Every candidate in this election in Canyon County got a personal invitation to come to the County Elections Office and witness accuracy testing of our voting machines.  Brad Jackson, Deputy Clerk for Canyon County walked all of us in attendance through the process. 

Your votes maintain a high degree of security from the time your ballot is filled out to the time it is counted electronically by the voting machine.  Write-in ballots are automatically segregated from ballots that have printed names on them.  There are only two write-in candidates in this election, one in Caldwell and one in Notus. 

Early voting ends Friday and the election happens Tuesday of next week on the 5th of November.  It is predicted to be another low turnout election for an off year round voting.  (3,000 people voted in the last Mayoral Election in Caldwell.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jim Ogstad Working For Me At 10th and Chicago

The picture in this post is a shot of my good friend Jim Ogstad.  He has returned to the streets of Caldwell once again with his sign campaign; this time to help me get elected mayor of Caldwell.

 Those of you who drove through town during the Jail Bond campaigns will remember Jim and his signs to Vote NO on the Jail Bond elections.  He is a man of his convictions and his support is remarkable given the time and effort it takes to stand out there every day on various corners holding his sign in support of my effort to become the next mayor of Caldwell.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bicycle Hit And Run Accidents

The CALDWELL GUARDIAN has long suffered the indignities of getting from home and back again on my bicycle.  I have taken to picking the times of day that afford a minimal amount of vehicular traffic when I ride.  That said, those who ride to and from work or school don't have that option.  I can't remember how many recent bicycle hit and run accidents there have been in the Boise area recently but KTVB had a story with all the sites where then have happened lately and it is alarming to say the least. 

I do not think drivers target people on bicycles but I do think bicycle riders are not taking enough due caution to make themselves seen in the early morning, dusk and night times.  Dark clothing and other dark colored items like backpacks don't help motor vehicle drivers see bicyclists at the aforementioned times and can be a problem in the shade provided by all the trees along roads during daylight hours.

When a car hits a bicyclist it can be hard for the driver of a car or truck distinguish from a bump in the road and they keep driving.  Nearly all of the hit and run drivers have come forward and turned themselves into law enforcement and face some pretty nasty charges that are now a   FELONY in nature.  We can only wonder what steps the bicycle riders took to prevent these accidents but making yourself visible is the first step in defensive bicycle riding.

The CALDWELL GUARDIAN has long advocated bicycle riders heed the same approach as pedestrians by riding into oncoming traffic.  At least you have some kind of a chance to get out of the way of a vehicle about to hit you.  The laws for bicycles in Idaho require bicycles to be going with the flow of traffic and for the life of me I can't understand this requirement.  Riding into oncoming traffic may actually prevent bicycle/vehicle accidents.  If you have any insight into this please post your thoughts.  Every year we seem to have a spate of bicycle/vehicle accidents and I don't think they are due to inattentive drivers anymore than bicycle riders not taking a reasonable degree of caution.   One exception are the people who insist on texting while driving and they need to go straight to jail.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nancolas Not A Good Fit Anymore

I got this photo from a friend and just had to post it on my blog.  I know I said I would not be doing any posts until after the election but this was just too good to pass up. 

Mayor Nancolas has been our Mayor for 16 years and served on the City Council for another 8 years.  Some have suggested he has served so long that it is now time for a vacation.