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Coming Up: 
 
Tuesday,
February 14th   
Governor Otter will speak at the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Idaho's 20th annual Commercial Real Estate Symposium at 7 a.m., 4th floor at the Boise Centre East.

Thursday, February 16th
Governor Otter and First Lady Lori Otter receive the annual report from the Silver Sage Girl Scouts at 2:30 p.m., Governor's Ceremonial Office.

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Tour of floods with Oregon Governor
 
I joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Friday, February 10th, to view the devastating floods along the Idaho-Oregon border. We flew in an Idaho National Guard helicopter over hard-hit areas of southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon to see the damage from massive snow accumulation and runoff this winter. Our tour confirmed the need for the state to help our local communities dig out and bail out from our worst winter storms in decades. And I'm asking all Idahoans to pull together and help one another through this weather emergency. One of the most remarkable moments of Friday's tour was watching as another Idaho National Guard helicopter conducted a rescue mission near Weiser. We recorded it all on our phones, and it now can be seen on my Facebook page at this link.  
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Payette Hosts 90th Capital for a Day

 
I want to thank the City of Payette and Payette High School for hosting my 90th Capital for a Day on Friday, February 10th. It was a great day with lots of participation from the local community. The city and county of Payette are facing a number of challenges from this winter's record-breaking storms - including flooding and the loss of millions of pounds of onions in storage sheds that were destroyed by snow accumulation. My Cabinet members joined me in hearing from local folks about the need for state assistance and relief from the disaster. We answered many challenging questions, and I hope our day in Payette helped ease some concerns for local citizens. Again, thank you to all who attended this successful Capital for a Day
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State of Disaster Emergency


More Idaho counties are being added to a growing list of county disaster declarations as local residents and leaders tally up the damage from this winter's devastating snowstorms. Snowmelt from warmer temperatures and valley rains now are causing severe flooding throughout the state. Cities and counties are struggling with such basic functions as trash disposal and snow removal. And that's besides the flood threats from swollen and often ice-choked rivers. I joined the citizens of Weiser at a town hall meeting on January 22nd to discuss how the State can help communities cope with the disaster. The next day I declared an emergency in Washington County to enable State resources to be used for disaster response. Since then I've added disaster declarations for Payette, Canyon, Custer, Ada, Boundary, Cassia, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties - and there's a good chance for more declarations to come.  
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Higher Education, Workforce Development Task Forces
 
Friday, February 10th marked the start of work for two task forces I've put together to help address Idaho's higher education and workforce development needs. The Higher Education Task Force is studying how best to ensure that at least 60 percent of Idahoans ages 25-34 have a post-secondary degree or professional-technical certification by 2020. That's an ambitious goal and the Task Force led by the Idaho State Board of Education and stakeholders from throughout Idaho will focus on evaluating strategies and identifying obstacles to overcome. Educators, administrators, business leaders and other Task Force members have my thanks for participating in this important effort, which follows up on our continuing work to improve the processes and performance of Idaho's K-12 public schools.
 
My Workforce Development Task Force also held its first meeting on Friday. The employer-driven panel is focused on helping Idaho address a "skills gap" that's leaving employers without enough qualified workers to meet the needs of Idaho's strong economic growth. Finding solutions to the shortage of skilled workers is an important part of my "K-through-Career" approach to improving education and training for all Idaho citizens. The Workforce Development Task Force plans an aggressive schedule of meetings in order to deliver its findings and recommendations to me and the Workforce Development Council by July 1. It will study best practices for funding workforce training, the role of businesses in that process and how best to allocate limited resources to the most in-demand career opportunities.
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Meeting with Consul Generals



I got to meet with two consuls general last week to discuss maintaining and
improving trade relations with Idaho. On Thursday, February 2nd, I met with the Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok of India. We had a very cordial, informative and topical discussion on the trade policies of our national governments and areas for potential growth in commerce between Idaho and India. 

  
On Monday, February 6th, I had the privilege of meeting with Israeli Consul General Andy David. Again we disused the status of Idaho's trade relations with Israel, including products being imported and exported, and differing strategies for getting the most from our respective agricultural sectors. Expanding trade relationships with foreign countries is imperative to Idaho's future economic growth, and I can report that good progress was made in cementing those ties with both consuls general.  
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F-35 Mission at Gowen Field



Idaho is advancing efforts to secure Air Force support for locating a new flying mission at Boise's Gowen Field, featuring a unit of new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike fighters. Idaho is among five finalists for the F-35 assignment from across the country. On January 27th I met with Idaho National Guard Adjutant General Gary Sayler and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter to discuss our strategy for convincing the Pentagon that Gowen Field is the best choice. The Idaho Air National Guard soon will be losing its flying mission focused on the A-10 "Warthog" close support aircraft, but Idaho's facilities, personnel, airspace, training ranges, public support and other factors put us in a good position to host the F-35s. Idaho has a long and proud history of support for our military missions and personnel. This is another great opportunity to prove that we have the right stuff!
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STEM MATTERS! Celebration

 

I was excited to participate on January 24th in the STEM Matters! Celebration at the Capitol. It was a great opportunity to engage with students, teachers and educators in a hands-on learning experience that was both fun and informative. Highlighting the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is a crucial element in our efforts to improve Idaho's education system. I was happy to see many Idaho legislators and education leaders taking part. My part involved creating a high-tech cartoon with some of the students. The Celebration featured displays showing how STEM can be, not only educational but, entertaining and enlightening. We still have a lot of work to do to bring STEM education to all our classrooms, but I'm pleased and proud of how far we've already come.
 
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Idaho Chamber Alliance

 
Speaking to the Idaho Chamber Alliance in Boise on January 23rd gave me the chance to bring local business and civic leaders throughout Idaho up to speed on my efforts to enhance workforce development needs in our communities. I also took the opportunity to talk about Idaho's tax policies and our strategies for helping existing businesses grow while attracting new employers and capital investment in Idaho's future. It was a great chance to network with and hear from some of the folks who make a real difference in our local economies all over the state. My thanks to the Chamber Alliance and its individual members for their continuing support not only for improving their hometown business climate but for making sure Idaho is the best place in America to live, work and start or grow a business!
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Idaho Press Club Breakfast

 
On Tuesday, February 7th, I responded to an hour-long series of questions from members of the news media at the Idaho Press Club's annual legislative breakfast in downtown Boise. The snow was falling heavily outside while I fielded questions ranging from the future of health care and the status of faith healing legislation to improved vetting of refugees and immigrants and conflicts with the federal government over protecting sage-grouse. It was a stimulating give-and-take, and I appreciate the Press Club for providing a forum for public discussion of these important issues.    
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Boy Scouts Report of the State
 


On February 8th I met in my Ceremonial Office with Boy Scouts and their leaders from throughout Idaho to receive an annual report on their activities. The Scouts gave me a great presentation, and I couldn't be prouder of all the hard work and commitment that each young man showed. Their efforts not only are enriching their lives now, but also will pay off in brighter futures for themselves and their communities. Remember: Be Prepared! 
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Boise State University Day
 
 
 
January 24th was Boise State University Day at the Capitol, where I signed a proclamation for the event and had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with BSU student leaders. The proclamation celebrated Boise State's commitment to providing a high-quality higher education to more than 23,000 students and its dedication to meeting the evolving needs of our region's economy though advanced graduate studies. The university had a banner year for technology licensing in 2016 and launched five start-up companies using or planning to use technology developed by campus researchers. I'm proud to be among the many Boise State alumni who make their homes in Idaho and who understand that their alma mater is one of the reasons Idaho is such a great place to live, study and pursue a career. 
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College of Western Idaho Day
 


February 6th was College of Western Idaho Day at the Capitol in Boise. The proclamation signing was a celebration of the incredible growth that CWI has experienced in just a few short years - from about 1,200 students in 2009 to nearly 25,000 today! Idaho's newest community college is doing more than providing an affordable alternative for many students. It also is providing answers for Idaho businesses in search of customized education and training support to meet their employment needs. Whether you're getting started with your post-secondary educational endeavors or looking to retrain and prepare for your next career opportunity, CWI has the answers. Congratulations to President Bert Glandon and his team at CWI for all their success.
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National Heart Month/National Wear Red Day



A February 3rd proclamation signing gave me the chance to recognize National Wear Red Day and the month of February as National Heart Month. Raising awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an extremely important endeavor. The more education we can provide the better chance we have of prevent and effectively treating CVD. I was joined by officials from the American Heart Association to help promote awareness of CVD, which causes one death every 40 seconds in the United States. That number is even more tragic when you consider that 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented. It's up to us and events like this to inform citizens about how to prevent CVD.
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First Lady Focus
 


On February 10th, I had the privilege of joining Homestead Ministries, the Boise Rescue Mission and The Ambrose School in Meridian at their Feed the Need event. This event incorporates crops grown in the Pacific Northwest and packaged by 500 students in one day. 
 
For this event to take place, Homestead Ministries drives a trailer from Colfax, Washington, full of beans, peas, and lentils along with spices, bags and stickers. Students from kindergarten through high school work in shifts throughout the day to mix spices, package the beans, label the bags, and pack boxes. The Ambrose School students and other volunteers assemble 10,000 soup mixes throughout the day.  At the end of the day, the Boise Rescue Mission truck is loaded with the 10,000 bags that will be distributed to Treasure Valley foodbanks and church pantries.
 
To be included in this type of event makes me proud to be a part of this community. According to the Idaho Foodbank, one in six Idahoans are "food insecure" and depend on foodbanks and church pantries.  Events like Feed the Need play an important role in shining a light on situations that need the extra attention.
 
Good work Homestead Ministries, Boise Rescue Mission and The Ambrose School - you are setting a great example not only for our community, but for all of Idaho!
 
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Agency Spotlight: 
Office of Species Conservation/USBWP

  
The Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program (USBWP) works to protect and restore the region's significant fish habitats through a partnership approach that respects working landscapes and improves the Idaho way of life. The Idaho Governor's Office of Species Conservation (OSC) assumed administrative responsibilities over USBWP in 2010. Together, OSC and USBWP take on projects that benefit anadromous fish by removing passage barriers, increasing streamflow, and addressing riparian zones, while also providing irrigation improvements to landowners that enhance their agricultural operations.  
 
USBWP and its partners are currently working to reconnect the main stem Lemhi River with its headwater tributaries to improve spawning and rearing habitat for chinook salmon and steelhead, two ESA-listed anadromous fish species. Hawley and Eighteen-mile creeks are two important headwater tributaries to the Lemhi River. Both tributaries have been disconnected from the Lemhi River for decades, in part due to irrigation withdrawals and diversions, which act as barriers to fish passage.
 
However, this changed in the spring of 2015 when the Upper Hawley Creek Water Transfer Project was completed. The project opened 1.4 miles for fish passage by replacing an unscreened irrigation diversion with a new, fish friendly diversion and screen installed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The Lemhi Soil and Water Conservation District installed Irrigation pipeline in the existing open ditch and upgraded an inefficient irrigation system. The landowner realized increased water efficiency on his hay crop, decreased diesel usage, and added 5.3 cubic feet per second of water in Hawley Creek was kept instream.
 
Two additional barrier removal projects were completed to improve fish access to Eighteen-mile Creek in 2015. The Eighteen-mile Creek Culvert to Bridge Replacement Project and the Eighteen-mile Intercept Removal Project restored an additional 2.2 miles of fish passage. In 2016, USBWP will implement two irrigation projects, one stream restoration project, and two barrier removal projects to bring full functionality to the Hawley Creek Watershed. Hawley Creek will once again be connected to the Lemhi River and accessible to chinook salmon and steelhead for all of their life-cycle stages.
                                                               
 
The unscreened diversion on Upper Hawley Creek prior to removal. The diversion completely captured Hawley Creek, pushing streamflow down the irrigation ditch to the right.  
 
The new point of diversion was implemented just upstream of the old structure.

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Appointments
 
Commission on Aging, Administrator
Judy Taylor - Boise
 
Bingo-Raffle Advisory Board      
Dennis Duehren - Montpelier
Amber Larna - Carey
 
Endowment Fund Investment Board      
Warren Bakes - Hayden
 
Energy & Minerals Resources, Administrator    
John Chatburn - Boise
 
Health Insurance Exchange Board           
Dr. John Rusche - Lewiston
 
Historical Records Advisory Board          
David Matte - Boise
 
Juvenile Justice Commission     
Courtney Keith - Boise
 
Pardons & Parole Commission 
David Moore - Blackfoot
 
Peace Officer Standards & Training        
Chief Scott Haug - Rathdrum
Henry Atencio - Nampa
Sheriff Ben Wolfinger - Coeur d'Alene
 
Permanent Building Fund Advisory        
Rep. Robert Anderst - Nampa
 
Public Charter Schools Commission        
Nils Peterson - Moscow
 
Public Safety & Security Information     
Charlie Spencer - Meridian
 
Sexual Offender Management Board    
Paula Garay - Meridian
 
State Insurance Fund Board       
Rep. Terry Gestrin - Donnelly
 
Suicide Prevention Council
Pam Oliason - Eagle
  
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