Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are e-readers the future of newspapers?

This year for Christmas, I bought Nicola a Nook, an electronic book reader from Barnes & Noble. It’s similar to its more popular counterpart, the Kindle, made famous by Oprah. It allows you to download books electronically and read them on a book-like computer screen.
I suppose it may seem odd to have a newspaper editor extol the virtues of such a device, but really, I’m completely on board, and I think these e-readers offer a glimpse of the future of newspapers.
First of all, these e-readers cut down on the cost of publishing. A typical e-book costs around $10, as opposed to $26 or more in a store. Of course, you eliminate the production costs — no paper, no book factory, no covers, no binding or glue. Then you eliminate delivery costs — no trucks, no fuel costs to take the book from the factory to the bookstore in Boise. Then you eliminate the overhead of the stores — the salespeople, the utilities, the rent, etc. Gosh, when you think of it, when you get rid of all those costs, you’d think a book would be practically free.
Now, I say these e-readers offer a glimpse of the future of newspapers. There are a couple of major differences between books and newspapers that keep e-readers unfeasible for the time for newspaper use.

You can read more about my take on e-readers and the future of newspapers in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kuna City Council members offer some relief to LID landowners

Kuna City Council members voted Tuesday night to ease the financial burden to the landowners participating in the local improvement district that’s funding the wastewater treatment plant.
Acknowledging that the new facility is oversized beyond service to the 2,700 acres of land in the LID, council members agreed to drop the price attributed to the LID and agreed to have the city pick up the remaining cost.
“We’ve discussed a balanced approach that helps the LID owners but also, unfortunately, puts a little bit of the burden on the city and a burden on the community,” council member Lisa Bachman said. “But given the way things have turned out, we didn’t have much choice.”
Based on preliminary assessment notices sent out in October, LID landowners are on the hook for about $27.4 million in construction costs for the sewer plant, which is in operation now near the southeast corner of Lake Hazel and Ten Mile roads.
Based on that assessment, a sewer connection costs $3,205.18. A landowner with 35 acres in the LID, for example, has a benefit of 105 sewer connections and an assessment of $336,543.90.
Under the new scenario approved Tuesday night, though, LID landowners are on the hook for only $25.3 million in construction costs. With that price tag, the 8,353 sewer connections promised in the LID would cost $3,028 each. So, for example, the landowner with 35 acres in the LID, would now be on the hook for $317,940.
The city also agreed to remove two pieces of property from the assessment roll totaling 253 sewer connections, dropping the total number of sewer connections to 8,100.
In the end, the city would need to make up the difference owed to the banks, which totals $2.8 million.
A revenue bond or judicial confirmation are two of the options for the city to come up with the money, Kuna Mayor Scott Dowdy said after the meeting Tuesday night.

You can read more of this story in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Freezing temps mean backyard ice rink

You couldn’t catch me complaining about our recent cold snap. Growing up in Upstate New York, I saw no shortage of below freezing temperatures during the winter. For those of you who do not know this, Upstate New York — the real Upstate New York, as in 5 hours away from New York City — is actually a province of Canada. As such, it was against the law to not play ice hockey.
The combination of freezing temps and the requirement of playing ice hockey led my dad one year to build an ice rink in our back yard.
The thought of a backyard ice rink has never left my imagination. And so it has come to pass this year that I have devised my own backyard ice rink. My son Luke, 7, and I had a blast all last week skating on the rink and slapping the puck around.

You can read the rest of this in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What do the people have to say about the Edward Jones building in Kuna?

It’s been almost exactly 75 years since the small white-brick building on the corner of Kuna’s Main Street and Avenue D has housed the Kuna State Bank, which closed up shop on Nov. 30, 1934.
But a requirement to repaint the “KUNA STATE BANK” letters on the outside of the building has sparked an interesting debate about whether the city of Kuna is taking historic preservation too far.
It’s one thing to require the building’s owner, Harry Knox, to restore the look of the outside of the building as much as possible to those days when people were driving Model T cars and Herbert Hoover was doing a good job as president. It is another thing to require the building’s signage to advertise a business that fell victim to The Great Depression.
So we put it to the people, with a Kuna Melba News online-only poll last week.

Find out the results in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Congratulations to Rich Cardoza and Doug Hoiland on Kuna City Council

We can now officially congratulate Doug Hoiland and Rich Cardoza, who were both confirmed as the top two vote-getters for two seats on the Kuna City Council after a recount last week.
A local businessman who runs an insurance agency on Main Street, Rich won re-election to a second four-year term. He has shown himself to be a contrarian voice on the council, voting against the streetlight fee, voting against annexations and seeking a closer review of the police budget. I think that’s what helped him get re-elected. Many residents, rightly, want to make sure there are some checks and balances on the council and that not everyone is simply rubber-stamping proposals placed before them.
I will offer that up as a suggestion and recommendation to newcomer Doug Hoiland. I put it to you, Doug, to make sure that you question decisions and proposals that are placed before you and hold them in skeptical regard. I ask you to remember that the city attorneys, the city engineer, the planning director, treasurer, etc., all work for the city residents and that you are our representation to them.