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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bought a Snowblower This Year!

We put up with snow of all kinds and depths for 40 years.  We have a triple wide driveway and a corner lot and after last year we decided it was finally time to get a snowblower.  I got it on deal at model 88640 with a 24" wide capability and electric start.  (I also saw a Honda with tank type treads on it but the price was over $3K and not necessary unless you have hills to clear.)

We got up this morning and even though the snow was minimal, I was determined to give the new snowblower a go.  I gassed it up and put a 110v power cord to the starter and it took right off.  I have to admit I was a bit clumsy with it for the first few minutes but the learning curve was very short.  What used to take a considerable amount of time to do our driveway and nearly 400 ft. of sidewalk was done in about 7 minutes.  I think I could do it in much less time the next time around.  I was amazed at how powerful the 208cc engine worked.  Granted this snow was not much of a test but nonetheless it gave me a sense of power behind this engine.

Using 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had bought one of these wonderful machines years ago.  They come in all shapes and sizes and after more than a lot of research I bought the Sears Craftsman model 88640.  It was on deal back in early November and they would deliver it free of charge to my local Hometown Sears Store on the Caldwell Nampa Blvd. 

My wife and I are now in our 70's and no longer need the exercise shoveling snow once provided. There are some wonderful things out there for homeowners like line trimmers, leaf blowers, zero turn mowers.  I have now added my new snowblower to the must have list of items every Idaho homeowner should have.

Just make sure you buy ethanol free gas and treat it with fuel stabilizer. I spoke with David Woods at Woody's Outdoor Power and he related to me that 90% of his shop work is related to bad gas and gas with ethanol allowed to sit for extended periods of time.  Ethanol is hygroscopic and will absorb water over time rendering the fuel not usable for these engines after prolonged storage.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Commishes Wisely Reconsider $198MM Jail Project

Today's local paper above the fold has a very good article on the fact our County Commissioners have come to the conclusion $198 million for jail bond would not likely pass muster with voters.  Voters have already shot down three previous attempts to pass a jail bond to build a new jail. Here's a link:

Another issue is how Sheriff Donahue states we are in "crisis mode"with our jail as he can find no other places to board inmates outside of Canyon County.  On page A4 of the Idaho Press Tribune there is a article about Jerome County trying to find an entity to rent 50 jail beds.  Jerome County is 126 miles from Caldwell. Here's a link to this story  posted on KTVB News:

 Sheriff Donahue and County Commissioners can't seem to agree on the best way forward.  I was invited to the DLR Group meeting at the Commissioner's meeting room several weeks back when the price tag of $198 million was presented to those in attendance. You could almost hear the oxygen leave the room when this price for a new jail was presented.

Additionally, before Comm. Dale was elected, there was a proposal by Commissioners Rule and Hanson to add onto the existing jail for something less than $20 Million with most of it paid for with existing fund balances.  Candidate Dale said he would issue a stop work order if this project was started.  That proclamation was all that was needed for the Caldwell City Council to refuse a special use permit for the proposed jail addition.  So, the addition died on the vine.  Commissioner Hanson was replaced and now we have Commissioners Dale and White in lock-step with one another on how to proceed with the need for more jail space.  Meanwhile Commissioner Rule is a voice in the wilderness on jail matters.

It will be interesting to see what the Commissioners come up with next.  It has been reported to The Guardian the Vanburen School property is in the final stages of purchase by the County Commissioners.  I am part of a fact finding group and saw a very good presentation of how the Vanburen property along with other property adjacent to the school would amount to 23 acres that could be used to build a jail.  This could be done in piecemeal steps or all at once.  It would remove the need for transporting inmates from the Notus Hwy. site into town for court appearances for in custody inmates.

Lastly, the issue of the commissioners seeking judicial confirmation to bypass voters was mentioned by Mr. Dale.  It is very unlikely this could happen given this same request was denied in Sandpoint, Idaho several years ago.  Also, in summary it would appear the words "crisis mode" often used by our sheriff just is not the case when there are jail beds for rent in Jerome County.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Canyon County Concerned Citizens Meet on Jail

This past week a group of Concerned Citizens of Canyon County met at the Nampa Public Library to discuss the cost and necessity of a $198MM jail project.  The meeting was held on the 7th of December at the Nampa Public Library and had an excellent turnout.

It was generally agreed more jail beds are needed but not at a cost of $198MM.  The group consisted of citizens along with current and former elected officials of Canyon County, Caldwell and Nampa.

It was brought out previous polling at our County Fair disclosed citizens did not want to see a jail built out on the Notus Hwy. 20/26 property, their overwhelming choice of a jail site is at the Courthouse Campus.  Also, there was some concern why the addition to the current jail proposed by Comm. Steve Rule was not pursued after the no vote on a special use permit by the Caldwell CIty Council.  The costs to taxpayers along with the eventual absorption of property around the current Courthouse Campus would be negatively impacted if the County would not be allowed to grow in place without Caldwell issuing special use permits for future expansion efforts.

Debt service would mean $132/$100k of net taxable value for 20 years.  The expansion proposal made by Comm. Rule would have cost $13MM and would have come from existing fund balances.  (There is some disagreement on how much is there for this purpose.)  At any rate $13MM is a lot less than $198MM. The impact of $198MM on taxpayers along with other pressing needs for schools, water and sewage treatment (Nampa is looking at $200MM to comply with the Clean Water Act) and other cash intensive projects makes the $198MM jail project unworkable for most taxpayers.

Also discussed was the lack of multiple RFP's for a jail project. Why $250K was spent on this study when there are already studies on jail needs in the County files left a lot of unanswered questions on the table.

I was asked by the group to be Co-Chairman along with former Canyon County Comm. Kathy Alder.  We have taken on the task of delving into a series of questions raised at the jail meeting. A board of directors of this group is also in the formation stages.

More on this as information becomes available.