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Meeting Minutes
August 17, 2011

Attendees

  • Kelly Aberasturi
  • John Bechtel
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • David Ferdinand
  • Brad Holton
  • Vicki Thurber

Absent

  • Dave Bieter
  • Vern Bisterfeldt
  • Scott Dowdy
  • Nate Mitchell
  • Garret Nancolas
  • John Evans
  • Craig Telford

Staff and Guests

  • Karen Ballard
  • Aldus Garsvo
  • Rafael Gonzales
  • Doris Jones
  • Kathy Kirshner
  • Josh Shumacher
  • Nancy Taylor
  • Ann Wick
  • Harold Wilson
  • Garry Young
  • Bill Larsen

Kelly Aberasturi, the Owyhee County Commissioner, welcomed everyone to the Homedale Bowling Alley for the August meeting of the Treasure Valley Partnership.

SAUSA Project Update

Kelly introduced Ann Wick, the SAUSA for the Treasure Valley.

Ann stated that the big RICO case in March created a difficulty in accounting for the case-load because of the crimes taking place throughout the treasure valley and into Oregon. Since June, there have been four additional indictments. The indictments are a little below average during this time. She has been dedicating a great deal of time to the Rico case prosecution. The Rico Case is set for pre-trial on December 6. Of the large number of people involved in the indictment, one has pled guilty.

Ann stated that one individual that was set for sentencing during the last couple of months, fled jurisdiction and is now facing charges elsewhere. So far under the SAUSA Project 170 people have been indicted. There have been 133 people convicted and sentenced. Five people have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. 23 people are pending arrest or trial. The conviction rate for the project has risen a little bit to 94%.

The 133 convictions have resulted in approximately 487 years of sentences with an average prison sentence of almost 44 months each.

Ann pointed to a press release that discusses a case that involves counterfeiting, drugs and mail fraud case all rolled into one.

Ann gave a brief history of the SAUSA Project for those in attendance. Rafael added that the Project came as a result of a meeting of several Partnership members in the Governor’s Office in 2006. Since that time the Project has been very successful at addressing the gang problem in the Valley. Rafael continued that the make-up of how this SAUSA came about is unique throughout the country. It is real opportunity for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to be responsive to the needs of local communities.

Tom stated that they had their first gang shooting in years just this past week. When the Partnership first started talking to Governor Kempthorne, one of the motivating factors was the large amount of drive-by shootings that was occurring.

For the benefit of new jurisdictions represented in the room, David added that these people do not go into one of the County jails; they are sentenced to prison outside of the State. Ann stated that because these people are no longer in local incarceration, the chain of communication gets broken and is also a major side effect of the Project.

Rafael stated during the May meeting of the Partnership, there was quite a bit of discussion about expanding the jurisdiction to include Eastern Oregon. They want to make sure they make this bridge to ensure folks don’t just think they can escape prosecution by going to Ontario or Nyssa. The U.S. Attorney’s offices of Oregon and Idaho have continued to meet and are working on an enforcement strategy for Eastern Oregon.

Byways as Economic Engines

Kelly introduced Karen Ballard the Administrator for the Division of Tourism, which is housed in the Department of Commerce. They recognize that Scenic Byways are a useful marketing tool. They are an opportunity to get people off the interstate and into our smaller communities.

Scenic Byway committees exist in varying forms across the State. She is excited about the Western Heritage Byway and the Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway, as they are relatively new to the byway system in Idaho. In a recent report by the Idaho Department of Commerce called “Growing the Idaho Economy, a Futurists Report”. In this publication, Tourism shows up as an economic engine. Tourism right now is over $3 billion of the States annual $51, billion GDP. What is interesting about this figure is the bulk of this contribution is retail sales and not motels.

One of the things they have in the works deals with international tourism. They have joined forces with the States of Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota to market international tourism and are already seeing an increased market share of the international tourism market.

One of the big things is to not only get these tourists to Idaho, but also get them to stay longer here in the State. The Scenic Byway system is one way we can do that. The following link http://commerce.idaho.gov/about-us/travel/ will connect you to a lot of this information.

David mentioned that there are a couple thousand people scheduled to show up at the cutting horse events at the Idaho Center in Nampa. He put out a request to get marketing materials to set out at the event to steer people towards the local byways.

Karen stated she would get some literature to the event. She added that they do have money to bring in event decision makers if they are trying to choose a site in Idaho to hold an event like the Cutting Horse Event. There is lots of competition in the West to attract these events from places like Las Vegas. Anything the Div. of Tourism can do to help tip the scale in favor of an Idaho placement of these types of events, they are interested in looking at.

Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway

Karen introduced Garry Young as the former Director of the Byways Program for the State of Idaho. As a result of the Inter-modal Service Transportation Efficiency Act of1991, the Idaho Transportation Department was given the responsibility of establishing the byway program. He started the program and organized a committee to serve as an advisory group. Last year there was $40 million nationally for the byway program. The money they receive goes to byway brochures, websites and create corridor management plans.

The Corridor Management Plan is the first thing that needs to be done in order to create a byway. For enhancements along the byway, there is money available. The money that is available, is for road enhancements such as turning lanes, bike paths and for creating access to recreational opportunities.

Idaho has been very successful at obtaining the 80% Federal dollars for creation of byways. The Dept. of Tourism has been providing up to half the local match requirement for the byway projects.

The whole idea behind the byway program is to preserve the intrinsic qualities that an area has and to provide marketing to help bring people into the area. He envisions a byway like a string that has numerous pearls on it. Each byway has a number of sites worth seeing. The Idaho Byway brochure (http://www.idahobyways.gov/) are printed up and sent out all over the world.

The Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway is established for scenic and agricultural reasons. Other byways will have historical points of interest.

Nancy Taylor stated that they have completed the Corridor Management Plan on the Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway and they have a very active committee. The Byway runs from near Nyssa to Walters Ferry. Right now, they are in the process of putting up the byway signs and a map board. In the future they are planning interpretive signs along the byway.

They have been working on developing a partnership with the grape growers and wine commission. They are hoping to co-locate signs and kiosks along the highway that show where the wineries are.

She has worked on a number of byways. In her experience, it is the locals that are active and helpful to the byway initiative.

Brad stated that this is a home-run program. He would like to the Partnership to take Byways on as a pet project to pay attention to and participate with. It helps all of our communities and it is a win-win activity for the Partnership.

Karen Ballard stated they do have a very supportive grant program for these byway committees. They support the marketing of scenic byways. One of the restrictions of the grant money is signage. They cannot help with paying for signage for the byway. This really might be where the Treasure Valley Partnership might come in.

Kelly asked what the ideas for bringing the Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway in to Owyhee County. Nancy stated that Marsing has expressed interest in participating in the byway and so they would like to just extend the loop through Homedale to Marsing.

Kelly stated that because Map Rock Road is part of it, just across the river on Hwy. 78 you have Givens Hot Springs, which is something that would seem logical.

Western Heritage Historic Byway

Aldus Garsvo mentioned that a couple years ago, they extended the Western Heritage Byway from Ada County all the way to Walter’s Ferry. The actual plan was to take it down Highway 78 through Homedale and Murphy. The original grant plan was to Silver City at one point. They approached the Owyhee County Commission at that time but the idea wasn’t met favorably.

Kelly stated that he understands the pushback from the Silver City community. They are protective of their little valley.

Aldus played a video on the byway, which is a 30 second spot for broadcast. The Western Heritage Historic Byway is a short byway only 35 miles long. It is one of four byways in Idaho that have received a “Scenic” designation. Their byway starts on Meridian Road and travels into Kuna, down Swan Falls road by Swan Falls Dam and finishes in Canyon County.

The reason people come to their byway is because of the Birds of Prey area. Kuna is considered the gateway to the Birds of Prey. They try to pull people in as much as they can to sign their guest book at the kiosk. The statistics indicate that more than 100,000 people annually travel through Kuna to visit the Birds of Prey. According to the guest book, a lot of these people are coming from Europe. It is not just Idahoans and people from the U.S.

The secondary reason besides the Birds of Prey area, for the establishment of the Western Heritage Byway was that this section has some wonderful history. For example, there is the fledgling power system started at Swan Falls Dam in 1901 to provide power to Silver City. Idaho Power has done an excellent job of preserving the powerhouse and now has a museum and interpretive center where visitors can learn more about the early periods in electricity generation.

They are interested in taking the Western Heritage to Murphy and are hoping to have a good reception from the Owyhee County Commission. Kelly stated that going to Murphy is great, but feels like they are missing the biggest attraction in Owyhee County by not going all the way to Bruneau. You would be missing the CJ Strike Reservoir and Bruneau dunes. He sees a lot of potential. As for the Ada County people getting off the road….they have the same problem with those from Canyon County.

Tammy stated that she agreed with Brad that the Treasure Valley Partnership should look at these byways and have further discussion on what we can bring to the table from our communities and our counties. In Meridian, they are looking at the south Meridian area and how they can better tell the story. For example, they have one of the oldest saddle makers in the State in their downtown.

Aldus stated that some byways have co-opted together to create what is called driving loops. These are one, two or three byways hooked together. He indicated that he and Nancy have discussed making a grand driving loop of the southwest Idaho experience. You could come down the Western Heritage byway and end up in Nyssa, thus experiencing all of Southwest Idaho.

Karen stated that the trick is getting people to stay one more day. By doing so, the revenue streams are incredible.

Snake River Water Trail

Kathy Kirshner stated that Celebration Park has benefited from being a part of a byway. Over the last four years that she has been managing Celebration Park and because of the byway more and more people are finding and visiting the Park. Talking about international visitors. Just in the last month, Celebration Park has had visitors from Australia, Germany, France to name a few.

Kathy stated that almost two years ago they got a technical assistance grant from the National Park Service to explore a water trail along the Snake River. This water trail has existed a long time and people have been using it. The idea was that they would create a plan to formalize this water trail.

This trail starts at Glenn’s Ferry and goes all the way to Farewell Bend in Oregon. The Cities of Glenn’s Ferry and Payette have gotten on board with the committee working on this water trail, and see this as an opportunity for economic growth.

They are in the process of putting together the Water Trail plan and are looking for December to have it completed. In December, the National Park Service grant goes away and then comes the tough part, implementing the plan.

They see the water trail as an educational opportunity for water safety as well as being observant of private property. There are some cultural and historic attractions along the way that they would identify and point out for visitors.

David stated that he believes that the archeological site at Celebration Park probably the only such site in the world that is electrified by solar power.

Open Discussion

Bill stated that the upcoming meeting with Senator Crapo was moved ahead a couple of hours. It is set in stone at 11:30 on the 29th at the Nampa City Hall. Bill stated that he felt Senator Crapo wanted to talk a little about the Lake Lowell situation and federal rules. But he felt the topics of discussion during the meeting are wide open at this time.

Tammy stated that one topic she wanted to see discussed was NPDES activities. Bill stated he would alert the Senator’s staff to this topic.

Bill pointed to the draft retreat agenda. He thanked David for the suggestion to talk the Tamarack Resort about meeting space. Bill indicated that he went up and looked at the meeting spaces that were available. Even though they are shut down, their costs are expensive. He said that after looking at the options, he settled on a four-bedroom house that would be a comfortable place to hold the retreat and indicated this house was a favorite of St. Lukes as they have used it for several meetings this past year.

Bill indicated that he still had room on the agenda for one topic of interest and asked if the members had any input. Tammy and David suggested that NPDES Permitting issues remains as one of the biggest issues for our communities. Bill indicated he would get that set up.

David said he is on White House inter-governmental phone calls every other week. The thing that keeps coming up during these calls is the need to tell the White House when we have regulatory problems that are killing us. To spend $100 million in Meridian, Nampa or any of our cities to reduce phosphorous by a half of one percent, is ridiculous.

Vicky indicated they are opening bids on their wastewater treatment plant the next day. Some of the little picky details they have had to go through is insane. Brad added that they are just a little ahead of Middleton. He continued that if the City of Boise had to do what the City of Greenleaf is being required to do, based on population, the cost to the City of Boise would be over $900 million.

Rafael stated they are talking about a refugee committee. He was wondering if any other communities besides Boise and Meridian are having refugee issues either positive or negative. If the other communities are experiencing refugee concerns, he would like to hear about them so their committee can be fully informed about the issues as it relates to the entire valley.

John moved and Brad seconded approval of the minutes and financial report. Motion approved.

Meeting adjourned.