Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Defending the credibility of the Kuna Melba News

Kuna City Council member Doug Hoiland is leveling some pretty serious charges against the Kuna Melba News in his guest opinion piece in this week's Kuna Melba News. I felt compelled to respond in-depth to what I consider serious accusations against the integrity and credibility of this newspaper.
The two main accusations are:
• The newspaper practices yellow journalism by distorting, exaggerating or exploiting the news to create sensations or attract readers.
• The newspaper intentionally omits background and details in an effort to mislead our readers or give them an incomplete picture of what’s happening.
First, Mr. Hoiland specifically cites my editorials accusing the city of “making decisions behind closed doors.” Mr. Hoiland is misinformed. I did not accuse the city of making decisions about city hall behind closed doors, which is a violation of open meeting laws. I took the city to task for simply meeting behind closed doors. Many times, I have recognized and even defended the city’s legal right and necessity to go into executive session. However, in this case, I made the argument that, while certainly legal, executive session was just bad government. I continue to maintain that the city should have involved the community from the beginning, with a city hall task force, a site selection committee, a real estate appraisal on the building and land, interviews with other cities and experts about how to run an indoor pool, analysis of future costs and liabilities, etc. Unfortunately, none of that took place.
I do take comfort, though, in knowing that the vast majority of our thousands of loyal readers would find laughable the notion that the Kuna Melba News distorts, exaggerates or exploits the news. If anything, the Kuna Melba News has been accused of toning down some of the divisive rhetoric of the past. In addition, the editorials to which Mr. Hoiland is referring could be found on Page 4, hardly a scream from the rooftop.

You can read the rest of this editorial as well as Hoiland's full opinion piece in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Walgreens in Kuna, Idaho, opening set for Oct. 15

The new target opening date for the Walgreens in Kuna is now Friday, Oct. 15. To celebrate, Walgreens will host a grand opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, at the new store, at the corner of West Kuna Road and Kay Avenue, across from Paul’s Market. The public is invited to attend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Idaho Central Credit Union prepping its site in Kuna, Idaho

For those of you who noticed the work being done out at Deer Flat and Meridian roads recently, it’s no cause to get too excited quite yet.
The construction is in preparation for a new Idaho Central Credit Union branch office at that location, but the building likely won’t be coming for another two to three years, said Dustee Woolstenhulme, facilities department supervisor for ICCU.
In 2008, Idaho Central Credit Union purchased a 56,000-square-foot lot fronting Deer Flat Road just west of Meridian Road.
The lot was part of the so-called 78-acre Profile Ridge development, which included plans for a big-box store, along with several commercial lots and houses. But the declining economy took its toll, and the site’s developers couldn’t find a taker for the big-box location. The development went into foreclosure, and lender Syringa Bank took over the property.
ICCU was the only one to purchase a lot on the site. Les Schwab had designs on a lot next to ICCU, but they waited to see what would happen with the rest of the property. When it became clear nothing was going to happen in the foreseeable future, Les Schwab, at the suggestion Kuna planning director Steve Hasson, changed its plans to a location on East Kuna Road near Kay Avenue, next to Walgreens. Both of those stores are expected to open for business soon.

Read the rest of this in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Improving Kuna Melba News sports coverage

Starting with this week’s issue, we are making some changes in the way we cover local sports. Your complaints about over-coverage of football and not enough coverage of other sports have not gone unnoticed.
From here on out, we will be featuring a different sport each week with photo(s) and a fuller story. We will still provide at least summaries of the other sports each week with game/match/meet results and as many individual statistics as possible.
When my wife and I bought the paper four years ago, there wasn’t any coverage of local sports at all. Requests for coverage of Kuna football was probably the biggest request we received back in the height of football season in September-October 2006. So I started going to the Kuna football games. To be honest, covering football games is relatively easy. Games are on Friday nights, when no public agency holds any meetings, so I’m available to go to the games. Covering football also offered the greatest bang for the buck, as generally hundreds of people show up for varsity games.
As seasons get closer to playoff time, I keep an eye out for teams that are headed to state playoffs. That first year, I wrote a front-page story about the volleyball team heading to state. I’ve traveled to Pocatello for the state softball tournament. I covered the state championship game when the Kuna girls soccer team made it. I covered the boys baseball team’s journey to the state tournament.
But I recognize that I need to do a better job of covering more sports during more of the season. I am committed to doing that.
But I am going to need help. I remember a recent phone call from an angry parent who chewed me out about not providing enough coverage. She asked me why I didn’t send one of my reporters out to more of the games.
The simple answer is that I don’t have any reporters. I’m it. I’m the only reporter on staff. Not just sports, mind you. Everything. Education reporter? Me. City government reporter? Me. Features reporter? You get the idea.
What that means is that on any given night of the week, I’m at a city council meeting, a school board meeting, a planning and zoning meeting, the Grange public speaking contest, the Kuna FFA auction, at someone’s home interviewing them for a feature story, etc. This is not a complaint. I enjoy covering this community. But I want you to know that if I’m not at the volleyball game on Tuesday night, it’s not because I hate volleyball. It’s because I’m across town at City Council or the school board meeting.
I am really honestly and truly doing my best to balance coverage of everything that should be covered in Kuna. Not to mention trying to balance a healthy work and family life.
OK, so here’s where the help comes in. I now have four easy ways that coaches — and parents, for that matter — can submit results to the Kuna Melba News:
• By phone: call 922-3008. If I’m not in, leave the results on voicemail.
• By fax: 922-3009.
• By email:
• Through our website, There is now a brand spanking new form, under “Send News Of:” labeled “Sports.” It’s an easy form to fill out and gets sent right to my inbox. There’s also a new form on the site, right under sports, to submit photos.
So I ask that you be patient with me but continue to let me know how I can improve this newspaper. If you like what we’re doing, let others know and encourage them to subscribe. Heck, if we get enough subscribers, maybe we’d be able to hire another reporter.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kuna, Idaho, man in three-car crash on I-84

On Saturday, Sept. 11, at approximately 10:11 a.m., Idaho State Police investigated a three vehicle crash. John L. Brenton, 57, of Kuna, was driving westbound on Interstate 84 at approximately milepost 49.5, just west of the Cole/Overland exit. Brenton's 1999 Chevrolet Malibu was struck by a 2007 Kenworth semi driven by Frank Mannarino, 39, of South Lyon, Mich. After
being struck by the semi, the Malibu spun out into traffic and was struck again by a 1996 Volkswagen Passat driven by Philip Sansotta, 25, of Boise. Sansotta's car then struck the jersey barrier. Three westbound lanes of traffic
were blocked for approximately an hour and half.
Brenton was transported to St. Alphonsus where he was treated and released for minor injuries. All occupants in the three vehicles were wearing their seat belts.
The crash is under investigation by Trooper Higley, with the assistance of Master Corporal Robertson. The Boise Police Department along with the Boise Fire Department and Ada County Paramedics also assisted with the crash.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kuna Melba News offers new way to share photos and sports results

This week, we posted two new forms to our website, One form is a form for coaches and parents alike to post sports results. It's an easy form to fill out and should take just a couple of minutes. I'm also happy to report that readers can send us their photos through the website. You can now upload photos directly through another form at These can be your classified ad photo, your sports photo, your wedding photo, etc. Both of these new forms can be found in the far left column on our website, under "SEND NEWS OF." The sports form is labeled "Sports" and the photos form is labeled "Photos."
We'll have more details in next week's issue about the Kuna Melba News sports coverage, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Downtown is the key to Kuna's future

This week’s column is going to be about downtown Kuna. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I’m going to keep writing about it until the city does something about it, or at least until they convince me why they shouldn’t do anything about it.
I’ve stated my case on the importance of downtown and why I think the city needs to take the lead on it.
For those of you who continue to argue that downtown is just fine the way it is, I’m not buying it. You can make an argument that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used, and I’ll respect that. But, please, don’t try to argue that downtown is just fine the way it is. It’s not, and I’m sorry if someone gets offended or hurt by that, but I’m not backing down from that pretty obvious observation.
For downtown to succeed, you need to attract people to come downtown. You have to offer a unique experience.
Let us embrace change and welcome new businesses and foster growth. Let us encourage chain stores and restaurants and service businesses. But now is also the right time to kickstart downtown revitalization.
We have come to a fork in the road. Both paths, in my opinion, lead to development of chain stores and restaurants and big-box stores in Kuna. That part is inevitable, in my view.
But one path ends with a derelict downtown and a reputation as a dump of a city. The other path, though, leads to a revitalized and vibrant downtown and ends with a reputation as a strong and beautiful city.
Which path do we want to go down?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Kuna school board to meet tonight on emergency levy

Kuna school board members will meet this evening to review this year’s enrollment numbers and to possibly vote on an emergency levy, if the district has a higher-than-expected enrollment.
School board members may also discuss exactly how to use federal stimulus money over the next two years.
Kuna school board members on Aug. 26 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 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.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kuna High grad and Hoonah, Alaska, police officer Matt Tokuoka dies in shooting

Matthew Tokuoka, a 1989 Kuna High School graduate and police officer in Alaska, was killed in the line of duty Saturday, Aug. 28, in Hoonah, Alaska.
Tokuoka, 39, a police officer with the Hoonah Police Department, was shot and killed along with Hoonah police Sgt. Anthony Wallace when they were ambushed by a lone gunman, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page website.
Tokuoka, who was off-duty, was in his car with his family when he stopped to talk to Wallace, who was standing outside his vehicle, according to the website, Wallace was shot first, and Tokuoka went to render aid and was then shot, according to the website. Tokuoka died early Sunday at a local clinic and Wallace died during surgery in Juneau.
Tokuoka was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had worked for the Hoonah Police Department for 18 months. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

LID lawsuits against city of Kuna progressing slowly

The wheels of justice turn slowly indeed. This week, we have a minor update on the lawsuits pending against the city of Kuna brought by some of the landowners in the local improvement district that’s been billed $26 million for the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant.
Last week, the lawyers representing the city of Kuna, KeyBank and multiple LID landowners met behind closed doors for about an hour to discuss, presumably, scheduling. They then met with Fourth District Court Judge Timothy Hansen — again behind closed doors — to discuss a motion to disqualify Hansen as the judge on the case.
Hansen is still considering the motion to disqualify him, according to Fred Shoemaker, a lawyer representing a contingent of landowners who own about half of the acres in the LID.
Apparently, KeyBank, who is sitting on the side of the city of Kuna, is opposing Hansen as the judge and wants to find another judge. Shoemaker said he’s happy with Hansen, and he doesn’t see any reasonable justification to disqualify Hansen, such as conflict of interest from being related, for example, to any of the parties or having a vested interest in the LID or wastewater treatment plant.
Shoemaker said he fully expects Hansen to rule against disqualifying himself. He said he expects that ruling in the next couple of weeks.
After that, supposedly, we’ll be able to get into more of the meat and potatoes of the case. Still, even if the case goes to a trial, Shoemaker said a trial wouldn’t start probably for another year. In the meantime, both sides will do discovery and take depositions and affidavits in preparation for a trial.