Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Congratulations to Kuna's HOSA team

The Kuna High School’s Health Occupation Students of America team is only in its second year but has already racked up high placements in the state competition.
And this year, two students from Kuna finished in second place and will head to nationals this summer.
Joey Mills and Jake Young took second place in EMT competition and will head to the national competition in Anaheim in June.
In all, Kuna finished in second, sixth and eighth in the EMT competition, and eighth in medical photography.
In addition to Young and Mills, Zane Leigh and Randy Grooms took sixth and Jacob Rook and Jacob O’Brien took eighth in EMT competition, and Dani Peterson took eighth in medical photography.
The Kuna HOSA team is led by EMT teacher Jodi Zufelt along with adviser Wendi Tillman.
Kuna’s success is a testament to the growing student interest in Kuna’s EMT program, now in its third year at Kuna. When Kuna started the EMT program in 2008-09, there were eight students. In 2009-10, there were 17 students. This year, there were 22 students, and 28 students have expressed interest in taking classes next year, said Zufelt, who is also a volunteer paramedic with the Kuna Rural Fire District.
In addition to an EMT class, the EMT program at Kuna includes a health occupations class, medical terminology and fundamentals of health, which had three classes totaling 67 students this year.
Zufelt’s schedule was so packed this year, she didn’t have time for a prep period. “I just have to do it,” she said. “It’s pretty popular.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bar J Wranglers scheduled to return to Kuna in October

The Bar J Wranglers, who sold out a performance at the Kuna Performing Arts Center in October, will be returning to Kuna this October.
Because Bar J proved so popular in Kuna last year, organizers are considering a second show, KPAC Events Council member Marci Durrant told Kuna school board members this month.
Bar J Wranglers, based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., perform for 700 people nightly at the acclaimed Bar J Chuckwagon in Jackson Hole. During their off-season, the Wranglers perform all over the world with a unique combination of western music and comedy.
Bar J performed to rave reviews last year, one of the first big shows put on at the new auditorium at Kuna High School.
Tentatively, Bar J Wranglers is scheduled to perform in Kuna Oct. 19 and possibly 20.
In addition, Durrant announced that the KPAC Events Council will be bringing back the Summer Showcase sometime in August.
Then in September, Ada County Commissioner Vern Bisterfeldt is scheduled to give a lecture and discussion.
In December, the Meridian Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform a Christmas program in Kuna.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rep. Labrador helps Kuna man get his grandfather's WWII medals

The family of World War II veteran Pfc. Charles Lenz was presented with a series of medals earned by Lenz for his military service.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, presented Lenz’s family with the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal & Bronze Star Attachment, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, Expert Badge, Carbine Bar, and Rifle Bar.
The presentation of Military Decorations was held May 18 at Meridian City Hall.
Charles Lenz’s grandson, Matt Lenz, of Kuna, who is Quartermaster for Kuna VFW Post 7019, had been researching his grandfather’s military history and was running into a lot of brick walls.
Matt Lenz called Labrador’s office to see if they could help him obtain his grandfather’s medals and documents from the National Archives.
Matt Lenz believes that his grandfather went to his grave never knowing he had been awarded the Bronze Star, because none of his sons or daughters knew about it and Charles Lenz had only one medal, the Purple Heart, in his possession at the time he died.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Zone after-school program in Kuna wraps up a successful year

The Zone after-school program in Kuna is wrapping up a successful and busy year.
Since the beginning of the school year, The Zone had 1,500 individual visits, with 194 students having checked in at least once, according to Zone director John Hisel III.
During the winter, as many as 100 to 125 students will visit The Zone, with about 75 kids coming in the nicer weather.
Even though the weather was nice last Friday, dozens of students poured into The Zone, which held a “Safety Day” for the students, complete with a visit from the local police department, a barbecue courtesy of Paul’s Market and a bounce house that took up what usually serves as The Zone’s homework room.
“I like how we have all the fun games that I can’t get at my house,” said Curtis Abel, a Zone regular. “Like, pool tables, the gumball machine, air hockey.”
The Zone, housed in the Kuna Life Church building across the street from Kuna High School and right next to Reed Elementary, is benefiting this year from a pair of grants, one a $34,500 grant from the Idaho Department of Juvenile Justice and another $10,000 grant from the Fred Meyer grocery store chain. Because of a lack of funds, The Zone was forced to shut down during the 2009-10 school year, but reopened in September 2010.
The Zone, open from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the school year, gives kids a fun and safe place to hang out after school.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Melba levy vote close but not subject to automatic recall

As part of the new election consolidation legislation passed by the state Legislature this year, House Bill 275 expanded the rules for a recount to include all “supporters or opponents to all other ballot measures.”
Anyone “desiring a recount may apply to the county clerk within twenty (20) days of the canvass of said election by the board of county commissioners,” according to the new Idaho Code, Title 34-2301. The new legislation also contains an “emergency” clause, meaning it became effective immediately.
The Canyon County Board of Commissioners was scheduled to canvass the election results on Wednesday morning, May 25. That means that anyone who wishes to request a recount of the results must do so within 20 days of May 25.
It will cost the applicant $100 per precinct for which the recount request is made.
Although the unofficial results show only two votes separating the yes and no votes, the Melba supplemental levy election does not qualify for an automatic recount.
An automatic recount can be requested only “if … the difference between the yes and no votes on a measure, is less than or equal to one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total votes cast for that office,” according to the new state law.
In this case, two votes out of 596 votes equals one-third of one percent (0.336 percent).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Red Eye Saloon in Kuna should be back open in June

The Red Eye Saloon should be back open in the next couple of weeks, said owner Swede Godfrey. The popular Main Street bar is temporarily closed for renovations and repairs. Godfrey took back ownership of the bar at the beginning of May from Hoss and Khaseta Grigg, who bought it from Godfrey in 2006, when Godfrey and business partner Greg Nelson built and opened up The Creekside. Nelson becomes the sole owner of Creekside, and Godfrey goes back to being the sole owner of the Red Eye. Khaseta Grigg will continue to work at the Red Eye as the manager, Godfrey said.
“We’ll run it about the same as before,” said Godfrey, who bought the Red Eye 40 years ago, in 1971. “We want to keep the same customers coming in as before.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

City of Kuna gears up for budget season

A firm has approached the city with an interest in bidding for the city’s prosecutorial services, according to Kuna Mayor Scott Dowdy.
Currently, the city contracts with the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to prosecute cases that occur within Kuna city limits. The contract amount for 2010-11 was $49,209.
Kuna City Council members are tentatively scheduled to hear from the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office about next year’s contract on Tuesday, June 21, during the regular City Council meeting.
The city is getting ready to prepare next year’s budget, which must be certified by Sept. 8. The city’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
City Treasurer John Marsh has tentatively scheduled to following budget hearings:
• Monday, June 20, 5:30 p.m.: general fund revenue forecasts, solid waste fund revenue.
• Tuesday, June 21, 7 p.m.: Ada County Sheriff’s contract, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s contract.
• Monday, June 27, 5:30 p.m.: general fund labor and benefits; general fund operating expenses; solid waste fund expenses; latecomers fund; well mitigation fund.
• Monday, July 11, 5:30 p.m.: water fund, sewer fund, LID fund, irrigation fund, grant fund, City Council approval of tentative budget.
• Tuesday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m.: Budget public hearing, with final approval.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Check out Kuna High School's annual awards assembly tomorrow

Kuna High School will be holding its annual Oskars Academic Awards Assembly tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18, at 10:25 a.m., in the Kuna High School gym. Following an Academy Awards format, this assembly will honor outstanding students, with nominees and “Oskar” winners in each subject area. Also honored will be academic talents, a presentation of scholarship winners, students with perfect attendance, scholar-athletes, and students who have received academic awards throughout they year. The assembly will end with the awarding of the Teacher and Staff of the Year awards and the prestigious Mr. and Miss KHS award. The community is welcome to attend.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

'One Night on Broadway' this week at Kuna High

The Kuna High School Choirs will present, “One Night on Broadway,” a musical review on Monday and Tuesday, May 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. in the Kuna Performing Arts Center at the high school, 637 E. Deer Flat Road. Tickets are $4.75 each including the online processing fee. They are available at www.kunaschools.org.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Craig’s List: The haven for dirtbags and criminals

Received from the Meridian Police Department today:
Meridian Police Make Burglary Arrest; Ask for Public’s Help
The Meridian Police Impact Team arrested Venyamin “Ben” ELIKH (18) of Meridian along with three (3) juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 for several residential burglaries.
The Impact Team is in its beginning phases and was made possible with a COPS Hiring Grant awarded to the Meridian Police Department. The Team is being developed to focus on specific criminal problems facing the Meridian community.
The Meridian Police Department believes this team of burglars targeted residences throughout the Treasure Valley.
The burglars would canvas neighborhoods handing out flyers for a lost dog and would knock on doors of residences. If someone answered the door they would tell them the story of the lost dog and hand them the flyer. If no one answered the door they would then check for an easy way into the house, such as an unlocked door, but at times they would force entry.
ELIKH and the others stole electronics such as computers and I-pods, cash, credit cards and really focused on gaming systems. They would then sell or trade the items through Craig’s List.
The group is believed to have been driving three (3) different vehicles. They were a grey 2003 Chevrolet Astro Van; a green 1995 Chevrolet Suburban; and a white 2000 Toyota Eco.
If you purchased anything from ELIKH or if you have one of the flyers distributed by the group or any other information in these burglaries, please contact Sgt. Stokes or Detectives Stoffle or Babcock at 888-6678.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Kuna has a great opportunity with Hubbard Reservoir

Did you happen to see the special on PBS the other night about the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted? He was a landscape architect and urban park planner in the mid- to late-1800s. He’s most famous for his work on New York City’s Central Park.
Once he became famous, he was commissioned to do hundreds of urban parks all across the United States, including parks in Portland, Ore., and in Seattle.
He also designed Seneca Park in Rochester, N.Y., where my family and I lived for five years before moving to Kuna. The paper I worked for, the Democrat & Chronicle, did a big story on Olmsted and how he designed Seneca Park.
As I was watching the PBS special, Hubbard Reservoir kept coming to mind.
You may have seen from time to time articles in the Kuna Melba News about Hubbard Reservoir and the group Friends of the Hubbard Reservoir.
The goal of Friends of Hubbard Reservoir is to elevate the public’s awareness of the vast potential held by Hubbard Reservoir.
The vision is to create what would be Ada County’s largest county park, a 377-acre recreation area just east of Kuna.
David R. Hubbard, the brother-in-law of fellow Kuna settler F.H. Teed, served on the board of directors of the Boise Valley Irrigation Association in the early 1900s, according to “Patterns of the Past: The Ada County Historic Site Inventory,” a book published by Ada County. Around the time of the approval of the Boise Project to bring irrigation water to the Boise Valley, Hubbard signed a contract to build several reservoirs in southern Ada County, according to the book. The contracting organization was the Idaho Lateral and Canal Company, organized mainly by subscription pledges of prospective water users. In addition to Hubbard Lake, Hubbard’s company was to build Painter Lake, Kuna Lake, Watkins Lake, Catherine Lake and Rawson Lake. The book states that all of the lakes would be connected by laterals. The book also states that all of the lakes, except for Rawson Lake, were actually built.
But then the project was dropped for fear of interfering with the larger Boise Project plans to irrigate the entire valley. All of the lakes later disappeared except for Hubbard Reservoir.
According to Ada County Parks & Waterways, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation purchased the facility in 1911 as part of the Boise Project. It is an earthfill structure 23 feet high creating a reservoir area of 450 acres with an active capacity of about 4,000 acre-feet. Water is delivered to the reservoir by the New York Canal. The dam and reservoir are operated and maintained by the Boise Project Board of Control as a reregulating facility for irrigation water deliveries in the adjacent area. It also provides emergency short-term storage for dewatering the New York Canal should a failure in the canal occur downstream.
Friends of Hubbard Reservoir has been working for the past couple of years, with
plans for the future that include a large parking lot, restrooms, an interpretive center, dedicated wildlife areas, paved walking and biking paths and regular environmental and wildlife education programs on the site.
Friends of Hubbard Reservoir encourages local government, business, schools and citizens to donate funds and time to improve the accessibility to and use of the site. There is enormous potential here for a beautiful nature preserve, strategically located in the middle of what will eventually be large housing developments, according to Parks & Waterways.
So back to Olmsted. I agree that this whole area one day will be covered with housing developments, for good or for bad.
I think Ada County and the city of Kuna, along with the city of Meridian, have an incredible opportunity in this moment to create what could become an Olmsted-like shining amenity for the entire region.
I suspect we’ll find out what the next plans are at the Hubbard Reservoir Open House, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12, at the Kuna High School Commons.
I would hate to see us just do what we always do — throw some gravel on the ground and call it a parking lot, put up a shed and call it an interpretive center, haul in a Port-A-Potty and call it restrooms.
I’d like to see plans for public spaces, lawns, trees, paved trails, rows of benches, a place where residents can go to relax and feel like they’ve gotten away from it all.
What’s it going to take? I know no one is going to want to hear this, but tax dollars. Donations and phantom developer dollars are not going to get something like this done. It’s going to require public dollars from Ada County, the city of Kuna and the city of Meridian. The question will be whether we as taxpaying citizens value something like this enough to pay for it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birds of Prey Festival in Kuna is this week

Registration for tour events at this year’s Snake River Birds of Prey Festival is now open! Tours include raptor identification, raptor banding, history of southwest Idaho, the ecology of golden eagles, and of course the very popular baby burrowing owl tour, which always sells out quickly.
To see what tours are still available, check the website at www.snakeriverbirdsofpreyfestival.com. You can download a registration form there and mail it to the address listed, or call Dave Lyon at (208) 861-9131 to register by phone with a credit card.
The Festival, now in its third year, will be held May 13-15 at Reed Elementary School at 1670 N. Linder Ave. In addition to the tours, for which registration is required, the festival features a number of events for children and adults alike, including lectures, movies, a table of children’s activities (including the ever-popular owl poop dissection), and, of course, lots of live raptors from wildlife and falconry experts in the area.
Lectures free with admission include falconry, wildlife photography with Monte Stiles, the Swainson’s hawk, the merlin, bats, raptor migration, and the effect of transmission lines on raptors. In addition, the winners of the Youth Art Contest will be announced Saturday morning at 11:50, including a presentation by the Ross Raptor Choir.
Other activities include the Saturday night banquet featuring an old-fashioned country barbecue catered by Big Daddy’s, and noted author Leon Powers for a presentation on his book Dead Owls Flying — part memoir, part wildlife adventure and part expose´ of a dark secret.
Admission is just $3 per person or $5 per family. Children are admitted free.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Big Kuna school board meeting tomorrow night

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, May 10, the Kuna school board will be meeting to go over a number of important topics. Among the items up for discussion will be next year's school calendar. Board members also will be discussing ongoing negotiations with the teachers union regarding next year's contract and rules for pay-for-performance.
I wonder if the district administration will attempt to discuss in more detail the district budget for the school board members. Judging from my own dealings with the school board over the past couple of years, it is my sense that the board still does not have a full picture of the district's budget, and the year-to-year operating expenses and revenues have never been fully discussed and disclosed in any school board meeting.
I would still like to see the district give more details, on a year-to-year comparison basis, of the full expenses and revenues.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kuna's ACT III puts on MacBeth this week

Kuna High School’s ACT III is putting on a production of “Macbeth” on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, May 9-11, at the Kuna High School Performing Arts Center, 637 E. Deer Flat Road. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. Cost is $5 for the general public. Children 6 and under are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at kunaperformingartscenter.org
Macbeth is a play of contradiction and ambition. Driven to becoming King, Macbeth will kill any and all that get in his way. He puts his faith in the words and prophesies of three witches. ACT III is putting a spin on the play with a samurai theme. The play is directed by Nancy Link, Jessica Rudy and Kameron Manker.
This show promises to be ACT III’s best, full of tragedy, murder, betrayal, witches and love. It’s a show not to miss!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Who will be Kuna High's Senior Stud this year?

Kuna High School Senior Stud Night is tonight, Saturday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in the high school commons. Come watch these talented men of Kuna High School as they compete for the coveted prize of being the KHS Senior Stud. Each contestant will present a talent, walk the runway in a tuxedo and be auctioned off for a date. All money raised will go towards the Kuna High School senior all-night party. Tickets are available at the door for $2 or $1 with student ID.
Above, from left, Mike Quintana, Seth Raver, Braden Andrus, Cameron Packham, Chase Hernandez, Joshua Garcia, Michael Gordon, Matthew LaManna, Gage Welfley. Not pictured: Heath Curtis.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Go to the Kuna Farmers Market, go to the Kuna Farmers Market, go to the Kuna Farmers Market Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 7) is the opening day of the 2011 season for the Kuna Farmers Market. The Market will be open from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday until the fall.
For the first time, the Kuna Farmers Market will be located at the Kuna city park, under the water tower. The market had been located in the parking lot at Sandstone Plaza for the past six years.
Market organizers and vendors decided to move the market location in an effort to help improve visibility, provide shade and more seating for their customers and to capitalize on the energy and foot traffic already taking place at the Col. Bernard Fisher Veterans Memorial Park.
The market vendors will now be set up at the concrete pad fronting Main Street, between the gazebo and the playground area. The new location offers plenty of parking and easy access.
If you’ve never been to the Kuna Farmers Market, now is a great time to check it out. If it’s been a while since you’ve been, you won’t want to miss the new location and reconnect with what’s happening. If you’re a market regular, you should be pleased with the new location and amenities, and perhaps you’ll be able to hang out at the market a little longer than usual.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Free clothes swap happening in Kuna this week

A Free-4-All Clothes Swap will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. this Saturday, May 7, in the Kuna High School Commons, 637 E. Deer Flat Road. So go through your closets, and any clothes that are gently worn and you are willing to get rid of, bring them to the Kuna High School front office this week. Welcome are clothing items of all ages, sizes and genders, along with shoes.
Then on Saturday, May 7, the community can come pick through the donated clothes and update their wardrobe for free. It’s open to everyone! For more information, contact Corrina Steinbach at csteinbach@kunaschools.org or call 955-0200 ext. 2117.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pay for performance proves sticking point in Kuna teacher negotiations

As was probably expected, the issue of pay for performance is proving to be a sticky issue in this year’s teacher contract negotiations in the Kuna school district.
As part of the new “Students Come First” legislation, teachers will be paid based on their performance. Part of the formula will be based on students’ test scores, and the state will divide a pot of money among the school districts based on the test scores.
But the school districts must have a policy in place by Sept. 1 that establishes what criteria will be used to give money to teachers.
A school district negotiations team composed of a few teachers, Superintendent Jay Hummel, district business manager Bryan Fletcher and board members Ginny Greger and Kevin Gifford have been meeting the past couple of weeks in open session, another tenet of the new legislation.
The issue of pay for performance took up most of last week’s session.
Hummel said he was most concerned about the narrowing of the curriculum with pay for performance. In other words, if teachers are rewarded simply based on test scores, teachers would tend to teach for the tests. Further, since the Idaho Standardized Achievement Test measures only such subjects as language, reading and math, where does that leave, say the physical education teacher or the ag teacher who teaches welding? What about orchestra or even U.S. history?
My take is that the intent of some of this legislation is to get school districts to run more like a business, particularly in the area of pay for performance, a common practice in the business world.
So let me share what I think is a pretty typical experience in the business world and see if it might apply to how the school district sets up its pay for performance criteria. It turns out the district is already using performance evaluations, which I think should be the basis for merit pay.
From my own experience at my last employer, a large, corporate-owned newspaper, our raises were all dependent on our performance evaluations. Our immediate supervisor was responsible for our evaluations. As a supervisor, I was responsible for the evaluations of a half-dozen or so reporters who reported to me. Reporters’ evaluations were different from editors’ evaluations, but the basic concept was the same. Employees were scored on a wide variety of categories, such as time management, writing, reporting, accuracy, etc. Each category had subcategories, for which an employee would receive a score, such as “needs improvement,” “poor,” “average,” “excellent,” or “outstanding.” You tally up the individual scores, then give an overall score for that category. Then you take all the categories and come up with an overall score.
A “needs improvement” would trigger some sort of disciplinary or probationary period that could lead to firing. “Poor” would generally result in no raise. “Average” would be a cost of living raise, “excellent” would get you more money, etc. I’m kind of ballparking here, because I don’t remember the specifics, but you get the idea.
I think this kind of scoring system could work for teachers, as well. Yes, it tends to be subjective, but that’s kind of the point. The biggest complaint I’m hearing from teachers and administrators alike is that using test scores is just too objective, that it doesn’t take into account for variables that make a teacher a good teacher. Supervisors, whether it’s a department chairman or building administrator or principal, would have the best handle on those variables.
As Jay Hummel put it himself: “I want to see if we can find a way to validate the incredible efforts of our staff without objective quantifiable measures.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dustin Curtis Memorial Scholarship to be awarded tonight

Head out to the Kuna High School baseball diamond at 5 p.m. today for a special presentation of the first awarding of the Dustin Curtis Memorial Scholarship.
The Kuna varsity baseball team is playing Columbia today, and it's Senior Night, honoring the team's seniors. I was tremendously honored to serve on the committee that selected this year's winner. With a great group of seniors, it was not an easy decision.
I had the privilege of covering Dustin Curtis when he was the starting catcher on the varsity team his junior year in 2007. He was a standout on the team, a leader who was always helping his teammates and younger players.
It was tragic news to report that summer when Dustin was killed in a car accident. I think this memorial scholarship is a great way to honor his memory.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Custom Rx in Kuna hosts after-hours tomorrow night

Custom Rx Pharmacy in Kuna invites you to celebrate its 1-year anniversary with an after-hours event starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 3. Custom Rx Pharmacy is located at 173 W. 4th St. in Kuna (corner of Avenue A and 4th Street) and is owned by Travis and Tina Walthall. All Kuna Chamber of Commerce members, current and future patients, and physicians are invited to have a free chicken dinner (including cole slaw, beans, bread and dessert), enter to win door prizes and enjoy kids entertainment.
Bring the family, have dinner on us, and let us say thank you for a fabulous first year!
The event is a great opportunity to learn more about Custom Rx and to network with other businesses in the community.
For information about the Chamber’s First Tuesday events, call the Chamber office at 922-9254, email information@kunachamber.com or visit www.kunachamber.com.
The Kuna Chamber…making Kuna a great place to Live, Work and Thrive!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Summer concert series in Kuna is a great idea

Are you a musician or part of a musical group and would like to perform this summer? If so, there is an effort under way to launch a series of free public performances in Kuna. If you’re interested, contact Ken at 922-5952.