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Coming Up:

I will participate in the ribbon cutting for a regional behavioral health crisis center, noon, 2195 Ironwood Parkway No. 100, Coeur d'Alene.


I will speak at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference, 8:30 a.m., Boise Centre, Boise.


I will participate in an "Hour of Code" computer science class, 10 a.m., Garfield Elementary School, 1914 S. Broadway Ave., Boise.

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Western Governors' Association 

The First Lady and I are in Las Vegas through Saturday for the Western Governors' Association winter conference. I'm meeting with my counterparts from other states in the West about such issues as cyber security, sage grouse and wildfires. I'm also moderating a panel discussion on transportation issues that are so important in the far-flung West. And we're hearing from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell about federal conservation goals, natural resources development and the skyrocketing annual cost of fighting wildfires on our public lands. The idea of the WGA is for governors to discuss challenges that we have in common and share best practices on critical public policy issues in our respective states.
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State Christmas Tree Lighting
The First Lady and I - as well as our family and Idaho's constitutional officers - were blessed with great weather on November 23rd for the annual Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Boise. The holiday season was in full swing as the crowd was entertained by the 25th Army Band, the Ambassador Honor Choir from Meridian's Cecil D. Andrus Elementary School, and the Weiser High School Choir. Guests enjoyed hot chocolate and hot cider provided by Lucky Perk, Meadow Gold the Meridian Fred Meyer, as well as cookies from the Meridian Walmart on Overland. Kevin and Brenda from 107.9 Lite FM radio were the masters of ceremonies as 15,000 LED lights were lit on the beautiful blue spruce in front of the Statehouse. My granddaughter Emma had the great honor of lighting the tree this year!
Afterwards, guests and hundreds of children flocked into the Capitol to get a free book from the First Lady and me. Children of all ages also received books provided by Scholastic Inc. We were joined by a great group of volunteers, including members of the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage. The girls joined the event this year to help us set-up, clean up, and pass out books - and we simply couldn't have enjoyed such a great event without their support! This year's crowd was larger than ever, and we want to especially thank all our wonderful sponsors. We're grateful for everyone who helped with this event, as well as everyone who turned out to join us. Last but not least, I want to extend a special thanks to Al and Jean Day of Boise, who donated this year's State Christmas Tree. Thank you all, and merry Christmas!
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Idaho School Wins $100,000 Farmers Insurance Challenge
Governor Otter stands with teacher Paula Brockman (pictured right).
You may remember reading recently about Idaho middle school teacher Paula Brockman. She's one of the thousands of dedicated Idaho schoolteachers who are making a difference. Paula and her students at Lowell Scott Middle School in the West Ada School District submitted an entry into the Farmers Insurance "Thank a Million Teachers" competition. She was one of 15 finalists nationwide who were selected to compete for a $100,000 Farmers Insurance grant. I'm very happy to report that Paula's success will bring $100,000 back to her school for a state-of-the-art outdoor learning center. Please join the First Lady and me in congratulating Paula, her students and Lowell Scott Middle School for this remarkable achievement.

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First Lady's Focus : Protect Idaho Kids
As First Lady of Idaho, I am proud of our beautiful state and all our wonderful non-profit organizations.  This holiday season I was asked to partner with The Protect Idaho Kids Foundation.  Protect Idaho Kids is a non-profit program whose mission to educate, inform and create an awareness of the resources available in our community to help keep our children safe.  Television station KTVB in Boise has joined Protect Idaho Kids as media sponsor, and together we're striving to make Idaho the safest state in the nation for our children.

The Protect Idaho Kids Foundation has an important message for all of us this holiday season.  Too many children are finding their dreams shattered by child abuse.  Research now shows that one out of every four girls and one out of six boys will suffer some form of abuse by the time they reach the age of 18.  That's simply unacceptable.  It's up to all of us to help fight this personal and family tragedy in our communities.  Let's do everything we can this holiday to ensure that our children have a safe and happy childhood.

Please go to the Protect Idaho Kids Web site at and see how you can make a difference.
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Spotlight Agency: Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission

Conservation the Idaho Way is a way of life for Idahoans, taking care of natural resources for future generations while maximizing their benefits to the state and our citizens.  It's good stewardship of the land and its natural resources. It's voluntary and non-regulatory, focusing on collaborative efforts with local people who know and work the land. Idahoans do Conservation the Idaho Way because they want to - not because they have to.

The State of Idaho dedicates significant resources to conservation through various natural resources agencies. Among them is the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Established in 1939 to address severe soil erosion, the Conservation Commission helped the federal government's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) form 51 locally led conservation districts throughout Idaho. Today t
he Commission, NRCS and local districts care for Idaho's soil, water, air, plants and wildlife, as well as conducting stewardship projects with farmers, ranchers and other landowners.
Fifty years ago a large dairy barn was built directly over the top of Whiskey Creek near Grace in southeastern Idaho. Manure contaminated the creek for years before new owner Max Nichols decided to do something about it. He called in Conservation Commission engineer Allan Johnson; Pauline Bassett, district administrator for the Caribou Soil and Water Conservation District; and Chris Banks, a water quality resource conservationist for the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts.
Banks and Bassett put together a large group of partners to fund and restore Whiskey Creek while Johnson engineered its new course down the steep slope of the Niter Bench. On the state's list of degraded waters, the Department of Environmental Quality supplied a water quality grant, and PacifiCorp, North Gem High School, the Caribou District and others stepped up to provide matching funds and in-kind contributions. Materials from the old dairy barn were donated to a boys and girls club, which used them to construct a new building.

It all turned out pretty well.

"It's the first time I've designed a creek from scratch," said Johnson. "I put in meanders, pools and flood plain features so it will slow down water velocity as the water moves downhill."
It likely won't be Johnson's last design job. The Whiskey Creek Project is just one example of state-sponsored projects under way all over Idaho.
Learn more about Conservation the Idaho Way and our state's oldest conservation movement in the Conservation Commission's monthly newsletter, Conservation the Idaho Way (sign up at
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Aquaculture Commission
Linda Lemmon - Hagerman
Bear River Commission
Gary Spackman - Boise
Capitol Commission
Eric Milstead - Eagle
Criminal Justice Commission
Judge James CawthonBoise
Chief Dan Hall - Jerome
Barry Wood - Boise
Developmental Disabilities Council
Alan Aamodt - Kuna
Driving Businesses Licensure Board
Robert Fenn - Boise
Early Childhood Coordinating Council
Ericka Jane Rupp - Boise
Endowment Fund Investment Board
Dean Buffington - Boise
State Historical Records Advisory Board
Max Black - Boise
Debbie Geyer - Caldwell
Jeffrey Bryant - Idaho Falls
Libraries Commission
David Mecham - Firth
Massage Therapy
Linda Chatburn - Boise
Aaron Warner - Star
PNWER Idaho Council
Brian Ness - Eagle
B arbara Cosens - Moscow
Suicide Prevention Council
Stewart Wilder - Boise