Monday, August 30, 2010

First day of school in the Kuna school district

Today was the first day of school — in more than one sense of the phrase. Luke, of course, is now a third-grader, so he's a veteran. But Robert went to school for the very first time today. Here they are heading out the door to Crimson Point Elementary. Luke has Mrs. Nixon, who has been teaching third grade for the past 33 years. Robert has Mrs. Patten, who has run the very popular Patten's Preschool for a number of years. Both boys had a great first day, and it was very touching to see them walking home together side-by-side chit-chatting about their days. We're all looking forward to a great year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kuna Planning and Zoning Commission votes to revoke permit for Ray's Dog House

Kuna Planning and Zoning Commission members voted Wednesday night to revoke the special use permit for Ray’s Dog House.
Dog House owner Ray Carrel made an impassioned though disjointed argument in an attempt “to defend myself and my business and my family.”
Carrel argued that he has been unfairly targeted over the past two years since opening his hot dog stand at 397 W. Main St., next to the 4-E’s Bar. He argued that he has been made to chase down a litany of one code violation after another for the sole purpose of attempting to shut down his business.
Carrel said he has been kept jumping from one complaint to the next, from fencing and stairs to a commercial kitchen ventilation system to metal studs in the walls to issues with his sewer hookup.
“If you could just give us a list of everything that needs to be done,” said Mary Carrel, Ray Carrel’s wife who also spoke before the commission. “Instead of having one thing come up, then another, then another.”
Both Carrels said that they would accomplish one task, at great expense, only to be told that they had another problem somewhere else.
But Kuna city building inspector Jerry Coulter told commission members that the problems started when Carrel attempted to expand his business just before Kuna Days in 2009 to include a seating area behind a fence behind the shed that served as his kitchen.
In inspecting that area, Coulter said, he noticed buckets of grease lying in the yard. He also noticed that Carrel was using a fryer for French fries and that the ventilation system was spewing grease onto the neighboring building. He required a special ventilation system, and had the support of Kuna Fire Chief Doug Rosin.
“At that point, we now have a public life safety issue,” Coulter told commission members, adding that the city “wouldn’t allow a McDonald’s to come into town” without the proper equipment.
“I’m sympathetic to Ray,” Coulter said. “I’m just not sure he fully understands everything that needs to be done.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kuna school board members vote to accept federal stimulus money

Kuna school board members Thursday morning voted unanimously to accept an estimated $812,477 from the Education Jobs Fund, a federal stimulus bill intended to offset the potential loss of teaching jobs from the economic recession.
Kuna superintendent Jay Hummel, at right, pointed out that the Kuna school district alone has seen a more than $3 million reduction in its budgets over the past two years because of funding cuts from the state. “Personal political beliefs aside, I agree that we should accept the money,” he said.
Idaho is estimated to receive a total of $51 million in federal funding from the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund that Congress approved and the President signed into law in August.
According to the federal guidance, the funding must be spent on salaries and benefits for employees at the school building level, according to state Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath. The funding cannot be spent on district-level administration, higher education or rainy day funds. State officials are asking districts to notify them by Sept. 3 if they intend to accept the money.
Kuna school board members will meet again on Sept. 3 to go over exactly how to use the federal stimulus money over the next two years.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kuna City Hall questions need to be answered

In the next few weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 election on a $5 million bond for a new Kuna City Hall, adjacent 11 acres of land and indoor pool, city officials will have their work cut out for them.
The average Kuna taxpayer is expected to pay an extra $70 per year in city taxes, if the bond receives a two-thirds supermajority on Nov. 2.
Up until then, though, the city has a lot of questions that will need to be answered in order to persuade taxpayers that this is the right thing to do at this time.
The city of Kuna should be commended for working diligently on its plans for a new city hall. I agree the city should own its own city hall, and I tend to agree that the current building doesn’t fit the bill for the future of the city. I also agree that now is probably a good time to look for something to buy.
However, one of the things I think the city needs to answer over the course of the next couple of months is whether $1.08 million for an 8,000-square-foot building is a good deal. Since the city did not analyze any other properties in terms of asking price, I would like to see some sort of cost-comparison analysis before I cast my vote on Nov. 2.
Let us also commend the city for their bold plans for 11 acres of parkland, 650 feet of Indian Creek greenbelt and an indoor pool. This is great stuff — plans that I think most residents could get behind, even for a price.
Increased parks and recreation and a community pool have most certainly been common refrains from the public, and I am overjoyed that the city is finally — finally — coming up with a way to provide it. But why did it take this flap over city hall to finally get it done? And why won’t the city consider buying just the 11 acres of land and building a pool at a lower cost while at the same time saving money at the current city hall? In the future, the city could even build a new city hall on the 11 acres of land, once they’ve saved up enough money to do so. I’ve heard a lot of people voice a desire for a community pool, but I honestly haven’t heard anyone say they want a new city hall.
Part of the answer, I think, lies in City Council member Doug Hoiland’s answer to me during a break at last week’s council meeting.

Find out what he said on Page 4 of this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How a newspaper is like a farmstand

In interviewing Lee Rice a couple of weeks ago about the reopening of his Rice Family Farmstand, he asked me a question that I get a lot.
“So how’s the newspaper business?” he asked me. “It’s gotta be tough with the Internet taking away your business.”
I told him that the Internet only takes away your business if you give everything away for free on the Internet.
As we were standing in his farmstand full of fruits and vegetables, I could see the lightbulb turn on when I put it this way: Imagine taking a table of all your produce and putting it over there. When customers come in, you tell them everything in here costs money, but over there, it’s all free. What do you think would happen to your business?
And really, it’s as simple as that. Newspapers are losing a significant chunk of revenue from lost circulation because readers are getting it for free on newspapers’ websites. What’s worse, “aggregators,” or websites that “collect” information from other websites, are practically stealing newspapers’ hard work and making money off it themselves. So imagine someone coming to Rice’s farmstand, taking a bunch of melons and berries off the free table and walking across the street and selling them for 3 bucks a basket. You’d be infuriated.

I have more analogies in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The future of Kuna?

Here's a photo of my old stomping grounds in Carlsbad, N.M. I was referencing this a few weeks back about how Carlsbad neglected its historic downtown and turned into what you see here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kuna police blotter

Information from previous week’s blotter.
Monday, Aug. 2
7:06 P.M.: Man With A Gun 200 Block W Silverdale Ct - a report of a woman with a gun inside a home and a possible dispute there. Deputies responded. A couple had been arguing but there was no threat or criminal issue.
9:33 P.M.: Hold-Up Alarm 300 Block E Porter St – hold-up alarm accidentally tripped.
Tuesday, Aug. 3
11:44 P.M.: Sexual Assault, 300 Block E Screech Owl Dr – child abuse report filed; case is under investigation
Thursday, Aug. 5
7:13 P.M.: Assault W/ Deadly Weapon, 700 Block W Avalon St – caller reported he was riding and jumping bikes on the side of the street when a vehicle hit his bike and nearly hit him. Deputies responded and gathered information for report.
Friday, Aug. 6
10:55 P.M.: Assault W/ Deadly Weapon, N Avenue E & W Main St – high-risk stop of an individual deputies had reason to believe was armed. He is the subject of an on-going investigation.
Saturday, Aug. 7
3:32 A.M.: Bomb Device, 200 Block W Silverdale Ct – a man reported a possible explosive device left in the residence by a roommate. Deputies responded but the device had already been dismantled by someone at the home. It was not an explosive device.
11:37 A.M.: Explosion W Boise St & N Marteeson Av – caller reported hearing “large booms” that he suspected were caused by dynamite. Deputies responded but did not find any dangers in the area.
Sunday, Aug. 8
9:27 P.M.: Armed Subject, 800 Block N White Barn Rd – calling party reported seeing man outside a home cleaning a gun. Deputies responded and talked to the man. The gun was unloaded.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where is the city of Kuna's vision for the future?

The staff at the city of Kuna is to be highly commended for their work on the proposal to move City Hall to Lava Falls. City employees clearly spent a lot of time, energy, effort and resources on putting together floorplans, conceptual drawings and budgets for the proposal to move into a new city hall.
And based on the quality and detail of those plans, as city planning director Steve Hasson put it, there is a lot of talent among our city employees.
Frankly, I was amazed at what they were able to put together in just a couple of short months. It was clear from the presentation they made at an open house last month that this move to a city hall is something they were passionate about and classified as a very high priority.
What makes me wonder, though, is what the city could accomplish, given their currently available resources, on formulating a plan for downtown.

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

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Looks like plan to move Kuna city hall is dead for at least the coming year

It looks like the city of Kuna’s plan to move into a new city hall is dead for at least the coming year.
In going over budget numbers Tuesday night, City Council President Lisa Bachman questioned city treasurer John Marsh about not seeing increased rent or the cost of tenant improvements associated with a new city hall. Marsh said he hadn’t plugged those numbers into the working budget. Kuna Mayor Scott Dowdy then said that the city couldn’t move to a new city hall this year anyway.
And city planning director Steve Hasson said that it will probably staff’s recommendation to stay in the current city hall at least for another year.
For the past few months, city officials have been working on a plan to move city hall to a new location across town in a recently constructed building in the Lava Falls commercial complex next to the forthcoming Walgreens.
But the city is going to have to make a decision on its current lease by the end of this month, hardly enough time to make a decision and execute a major move to a new city hall. I suspect the issue will come up again. I just hope the city doesn’t put it on the back burner until it’s too late to thoroughly discuss it with the public. If the city wants to do it, start working on a plan now, not next summer.