Friday, August 29, 2008

Kuna school board passes emergency levy

As the Kuna Melba News reported this week, school enrollment is up in the Kuna school district once again. Officials were still tallying the numbers when we went to press on Tuesday, and supertintendent Jay Hummel wasn't comfortable releasing definite numbers for this week's paper. Somewhat understandable. Jay got back to me yesterday and let me know that enrollment is indeed up by 203 students, from 4,508 to 4,711 students. Because of the increased enrollment, the Kuna school board early this morning passed an emergency levy of $807,364, which is the maximum amount allowed, or 0.0006 for every $1,000 of assessed property value in the district. The estimated September 2008 market value of all property in the school district is a whopping $1.346 billion. Yes, that's billion with a "b."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kuna Chamber of Commerce annual dinner

Nicola and I just got back from the Kuna Chamber of Commerce annual dinner, where Nicola was officially installed as the chamber president, taking over from Allen Gamel. Other board members installed tonight were Kerri Avery, Tammy Croft, Steven Ricks, Julie Combs, Bill Clark, Charlie Long and Gamel as past president. I think it's going to be a very interesting year for the Chamber, with a lot of new energy and positive input. I'm excited about what the Chamber can accomplish, and not just because my wife is the president. I think there's an excellent mix of minds on the board and a lot of good ideas out there waiting to bubble up to the surface and take shape. Also tonight, Kuna Lumber was named Business of the Year, based not only on owner Dave Browning's contributions as a board member but also for the Browning family's major investment and expansion into hardware with a new 4,000-square-foot showroom. Named Chamber Member of the Year was Steven Ricks for his contributions to the chamber as the government relations director. About 50 people attended the dinner at Castle Gardens. It was great food, great company, great conversation. Terrific night all around.

Another LDS church slated for Kuna

It looks like another LDS church is planned for Kuna, at the northeast corner of Ten Mile and Columbia roads. A proposal to annex a 5.77-acre property right on the corner was presented to the Kuna Planning and Zoning Commission last night. Commission members recommended approving the annexation with the expectation of the parcel becoming a new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building. The Kuna Stake just opened a new church building the first weekend in August on Linder Road, just south of Columbia Road. That building is large enough to be a new stake center but currently is being used to house Wards 7 and 11 in the Kuna Stake. At the time, Stake President Shane Beus hinted that some big changes are coming but he wouldn't let on. Is this a sign of a North Kuna Stake and a South Kuna Stake? President Beus told me that the Kuna Stake is bursting at the seams with about 5,800 members, that's up from about 5,300 last year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

First day of school exciting and sad

What is it about first grade? We sent Luke off on his first day in first grade today. It seems almost more poignant than kindergarten for some reason. We were sitting around the breakfast table this morning, and it struck me, "We are parents of a first-grader."
Things seemed to be going well at Crimson Point, where Luke goes to school. They tell me they took in about 100 more students than expected, and that enrollment was looking like 644 students. Crimson Point's capacity is 640. I'll be checking with the district on enrollment figures at all of the schools to see how we did. But based on Crimson Point's numbers, it looks like the school board will be passing another emergency levy, based on higher-than-expected enrollment. I'll keep you posted. Check back here and in next week's issue for the details.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't give away the store to developers

The time for being polite and begging developers to come to Kuna is over. Kuna needs to look out for Kuna, and all of the taxing bodies — the school district, the library district, the city, the fire district, etc. — all need to look out for its existing taxpayers.
Future development is going to have a huge impact on what taxes we pay. Our taxing bodies should be making sure that growth is paying for itself and that we, the current taxpayers, are not paying for new amenities created by future growth.
Let’s take, for example, the Vista planned community.
I remember first writing about Vista way back in 2006. It was around the holidays, and I needed something to fill a hole on a page during a slow news week. I put the Vista proposal story on something like Page 16, thinking that it was so far out of Kuna that it was of little consequence. How wrong I was.
Vista is a proposed 1,048-acre subdivision consisting of 3,110 residential lots, 257 common lots, a 42-acre town center lot, two, 2.5-acre neighborhood commercial lots, its own water treatment facility and its own wastewater treatment facility. The development is about one mile south of Kuna Mora Road and immediately west of South Cole Road — 10.6 miles from Kuna High. In addition, Vista is planning for 512,000 square feet of retail and mixed-use space.
The development is being proposed under the auspices of Ada County — not the city of Kuna. Ada County planning staff recommended approval as did the Ada County Planning and Zoning Commission.
However, after Kuna city officials and a Kuna library board member testified against the proposal at the Aug. 13 county commission meeting, the County Commissioners voted to table the proposal until Sept. 10, admonishing the developers to work with the city and the library board on resolutions.
One of the things that’s a growing trend is large-scale development. Instead of smaller, 80-acre developments here and there, developers are talking about massive 600- to 1,400-acre development with thousands — not hundreds — of homes.
That will make it even more important for the school district — and the school board — to be tough negotiators with developers. I, for one, will support the school district in telling developers no to insufficient compensation for the privilege of being in the Kuna school district.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Best Bath gets final approval from Kuna City Council

Kuna City Council members Monday night gave the final green light to Best Bath, paving the way for the company to move its entire operations from Boise to Kuna.
City Council members, on a split vote of 3-1, conditionally upheld a special use permit approved earlier this year by the Kuna Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I’m content,” Best Bath owner Gary Multanen said after the decision. “We will move forward to build our facility and move to Kuna. I am willing to accept the conditions that council placed on us.”

Kuna man, 55, clinging to life after Indian Creek floating accident

A 55-year-old Kuna man is clinging to life after falling in the water Sunday, Aug. 17, while floating Indian Creek with a group of friends.
Police and paramedics were dispatched to the Indian Creek Greenbelt near the skatepark around 4:30 p.m., Sunday, for a report of a drowning.
Witnesses said the man, whom police are not identifying, entered the creek with a group of friends on inner tubes at Stroebel Road, according to Ada County Sheriff’s Lt. Kody Aldrich. At some point, the man became separated from his group of friends, who made their way back up the creek looking for him, Aldrich said.
His friends spotted the man unresponsive underwater in Indian Creek near the skatepark, pulled him out and called for help, Aldrich said.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived and found the man without a pulse, unresponsive and not breathing. Deputies began performing CPR until paramedics arrived. The man was transported to St. Luke’s, Meridian, where he was on life support Monday, Aldrich said.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kuna Farmers Market was packed today

The boys and Nicola and I just got back from the Kuna Farmers Market, and it was jammed. The Model T Club came to the market, and I think that drew a lot of new customers. Vogels sold out of their now-famous breakfast sandwiches by 9:30 a.m., just 30 minutes after opening. By 11:30 a.m., there was still a line about a dozen deep for folks lining up to get a $1 pulled pork sandwich. Debi Vogel said they were busy like that all morning long. Ione Zufelt over at Navajo Willow Farm said she was sold out of just about everything. We bought her last carrots. I chatted for a while with Don and Mary Johnson over at the Kuna Grange bake sale booth. Don and Mary were wearing matching Hawaiian shirts they bought over in Hawaii. They tell me they're planning another trip there in December. Chassidy Gaunavinaka, 12, performed a traditional Hawaiian dance for the crowd. She's the granddaughter of Neil Durham, who sells fruit at the Market. Great job and congrats to market organizers Cheryl McCord and Bill Clark. Well done. Hope to see some of the new faces back again in coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Don't believe the (negative) hype about media companies

Here’s a good example of why newspaper and media companies are getting a bad rap and are suffering under the unrealistic expectations of Wall Street.
I’ve written before about the shortsightedness of newspaper executives who fail to play to their strengths and listen unreasonably to the unfounded fears of Wall Street.
Today, the Associated Press reported a story on the second quarter results of Thomson Reuters, a financial information services company similar to Bloomberg and News Corp.
Here’s the headline: Thomson Reuters 2Q Profit Slides 54 percent.
Oh boy, here we go again, right? Another media company going down the tubes, right?
Here’s a closer look at the numbers: Net income (profit) fell from $377 million down to $173 million. Let me point out that it’s still a highly profitable company at $173 million. And that’s just one quarter!
Revenue rose 73 percent to $3.13 billion. What?!?! Revenue rose 73 percent? Why isn’t that the headline? $3.13 billion?!?! That’s a lot of money. A whole lot of money.
But what did Thomson Reuters’ shares do on Wall Street? They fell, of course.
Boy, with revenues at $3.13 billion and profits of $173 million, it sounds like it’s time for some layoffs and cost cutting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Walgreens could lead the way in Kuna

Last week's Kuna Melba News reported that Walgreens, the nation's largest pharmacy chain, is considering building and opening a store on the southeast corner of Kay Avenue and East Kuna Road.
Kuna's planning director, Steve Hasson, makes an interesting point about Walgreens' decision, which could prove to be a watershed in Kuna's commercial development growth.
Hasson notes that the folks at Walgreens, with thousands of stores nationwide and millions of dollars to conduct marketing and demographic research, have concluded Kuna is a good place to set up shop. Not only does that send a strong signal to other national retailers to consider Kuna, but it also helps smaller regional and local retailers make a decision about setting up shop in Kuna. Regional and local stores may not have the same marketing and demographic research budget as Walgreens, but they can ride Walgreens' coattails, knowing that Walgreens has done its homework, Hasson says.
And that could mean more commercial outlets will feel comfortable moving to Kuna in the near future.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kuna needs new post office now

Let me say right from the start that I love our cute little Kuna post office in its quaint little postage stamp spot along Main Street. I love taking the short walk from the Kuna Melba News office down to the post office to pick up mail and buy stamps. Invariably, you'll run into someone you know and end up spending a half-hour chatting. However, Kuna needs a new post office.
Kuna is the fastest-growing city in Ada County with around 15,000 residents. That's a far cry from 1985, when Kuna had just 1,800 residents.
My Editor's Notebook in the Aug. 6 issue of the Kuna Melba News tells you more about Kuna's post office and what you can do about voicing your opinion.