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Coming Up:

January 9th  
Governor Otter will give the State of the State Address, 1:00 p.m.,
  House Chambers, Capitol, Boise.

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Idaho Cross
On November 30th, it was my pleasure to award three outstanding members of the Idaho National Guard with the Idaho Cross for their acts of heroism.  SSgt. Asa Eslinger, SSgt. Melanie Galletti, and Sgt. Daniel Bistriceanu went beyond the call of duty on July 5th, 2016, when they responded to a serious car accident on Highway 21. The three soldiers took immediate action and were instrumental in rescuing the crash victim. I was humbled by the selfless acts of these three individuals, who are truly deserving of the honor. 
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Hour of Code

On Wednesday, December 7th, I joined Ms. Shafter's fourth-grade class at the Barbara Morgan STEM Academy for an "Hour of Code." The Hour of Code is a global movement dedicated to introducing students to computer science and computer programming. Thousands of Idaho students are participating. They're being introduced to coding through games using popular movie characters - making the learning experience fun and exciting. It was even fun for me!
Computer science and technology already are playing a big role in shaping the future of Idaho's economy - and it will only get bigger. The Hour of Code program is just one step among many toward preparing our students for success.
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Twin Falls Crisis Center   

On Monday, December 12th, I participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Twin Falls Behavioral Health Community Crisis Center. The event capped months of hard work and collaboration between the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Twin Falls community leaders, health care providers, and many others.  
With crisis centers already operating in Coeur d'Alene and Idaho Falls, opening the third crisis center is a great milestone in improving access to mental health and substance abuse services in Idaho. So far almost 2,000 Idahoans have received care from one of the centers, and state and local governments have saved an estimated $3 million by reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
The crisis centers already have become invaluable to their communities. I'm grateful to the Idaho Legislature for funding these facilities and another now in the works in Boise. And I look forward to working with legislators to keep improving our community-based behavioral health services statewide.  
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Associated Taxpayers of Idaho

I had the opportunity to speak last month at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho's (ATI) 70th annual conference in Boise. ATI members include businesses, professional associations and individuals from throughout Idaho who actively participate in developing Idaho's tax policies. In my remarks, I talked about the importance of Idaho maintaining a tax structure that's sustainable, predictable and fair to all Idaho businesses and residents. I reminded ATI members and a number of elected officials on hand that government spending should never grow faster than the economy, and that our focus should be on improving government services - not expanding them.  Overall, the conference was a resounding success, and as always it was a privilege to be invited.  
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Land Board Check Presentation
The choir from Boise's Capital High School performed Christmas songs in the Capitol Rotunda on December 20th as my fellow Idaho Land Board members joined me in presenting a check for $36,724,800 to Idaho public schools.
The money was generated during the past year from Idaho's management of 2.4 million acres of State endowment trust lands. The Land Board, which I chair, provides direction to the Idaho Department of Lands and the Endowment Fund Investment Board in the management of the lands and their earnings.
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First Lady's Focus: Peregrine Elementary School
This month it is my pleasure to recognize Peregrine Elementary School for its success in the 2016 Scholastic Book Fair Summer Reading Challenge. The children of Peregrine Elementary read for a total of 1,021,856 minutes in just 124 days!
Every summer kids throughout the world participate in the Scholastic Book Fair Summer Reading Challenge. In 2015, students from 28 countries participated, and 1,401,239 kids read for a total of 286,611,349 minutes!
The students of Peregrine Elementary have been setting and exceeding their goals since 2013.  They have done so well that these students ranked first in all of Idaho with the most minutes read for the fourth year in a row. By exceeding 1 million minutes in 2016, Peregrine Elementary placed 23rd among schools nationwide.
Teresa Miller is the librarian at Peregrine Elementary and has been the driving force behind the students' accomplishments with the reading challenge. Each year Mrs. Miller and the principal at Peregrine Elementary promise the students that if they exceed their reading goal for the summer they will get to choose something for the principal to do in front of the students.

In 2015, the principal had to eat a bug in honor of the students surpassing 600,000 minutes! What will the principal have to do this year? That will be decided at the school's upcoming awards assembly, where Scholastic Book Fair Field Representative Jennifer Gravel will present the students with a plaque.
Great job, Peregrine Elementary School! Keep up the great work!     
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All recent appointments will be covered in my next newsletter.  
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