Meeting Minutes
July 22, 2009


  • John Bechtel
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • John Evans
  • David Ferdinand
  • Brad Holton
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Fred Tilman
  • Vicki Thurber
  • Margie Watson


  • Phil Bandy
  • Dave Bieter
  • Scott Dowdy
  • George Hyer
  • Nate Mitchel

Staff and Guests

  • Megan Laxalt-Mackey
  • Liz Paul
  • Vicky Runnde
  • Bill Larsen - Staff


Garret opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to Caldwell. He pointed to the College of Idaho's new baseball field as one of the nicer ones in the northwest. He stated the Idaho High School Athletic Association is considering holding some state tournaments at the new field.

Be Outside Initiative

Garret introduced Megan Laxalt-Mackey. The issue is before us is called Nature Deficit Disorder. We all grew up playing outside. Today's children do not do this any more. On average they spend 44.5 hours per week in front of some sort of screen, whether it be a TV or computer. This is causing a number of problems and children are suffering physically, mentally and emotionally from a lack of connection with the natural world.

There is a 17% obesity rate in children right now. Because of this, many children are suffering from adult onset health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This is exasperated these problems as they become adults.

Emotionally, we have more children who are being treated for childhood depression than we ever have. The largest increase in pharmaceutical treatment is in children under the age of five. And we have an increased rate of Attention Deficit Disorders in the schools. Research is showing that the cause is a lack of connection with the outdoors. This research is showing that children cope better if they are spending at least 30 minutes each day outside.

All of these things together has galvanized parents, educators, physicians, natural resource providers to try to get kids to spend time outside. The reason we hearing that children are not going outside is parents are concerned about children's safety.

According to the FBI, violent crimes against children have declined over the last thirty years. The media and the few high profile cases we see all the time on the news have influenced the perception of a lack of safety. It is more of a perception issue than it is a reality issue.

Another issue that we run into around the country is a lack of free space. In the Treasure Valley, we are not confronted with this issue, but a large portion of the country is. Also, we have neighborhood covenants that state you cannot draw on the sidewalk with chalk and these sorts of things. This does not make it easy for children to be outside.

The Idaho Children Nature Network was formed by a bunch of concerned citizens. A lot of what has been discovered is even though there are a lot of organized sports activities; there is very little unstructured time for children to play outside. These unstructured activities, like running through the sprinkler or playing kick the can, etc are the things the Network is striving to try to encourage again.

There are more than 100 entities in Idaho working on this issue. This is a loose network of organizations that are leveraging resources to encourage outside time in a variety of venues. A couple of years ago, Secretary Kempthorne gathered over three hundred leaders from around the country to address the issue. They agreed at this time to make a national push to attempt to get children outdoors.

The Idaho Children Nature Network has been partnering with schools throughout the state to provide education and information as well as to encourage the utilization of outside activities in the regular school curriculum. They are looking for more partners and participants. The Network is trying to build a bridge to cities and counties throughout Idaho and is hoping the Partnership members can help give them guidance.

Liz mentioned that they are looking at trying to raise awareness. They would like to know of and attend community-based events in the valley, as well as provide information to City Councils and County Commissions.

Tom stated that this goes hand-in-hand with the Playful Cities USA Program. It focuses on creating unstructured play time for children outside. It is a national organization that the Network should try to hook up with.

Weed and Seed Project

Bill stated he has been diligent in beginning the process of gathering the coalition necessary to write this grant. He met with Chris Allgood the Caldwell Chief of Police and his staff the previous week. They had applied for the Weed and Seed Grant several years ago but were unsuccessful. The Caldwell Police Department is running crime statistics on several different sections of Caldwell and should have a site picked out very soon.

It is fortuitous that we have this old grant application along with reviewer's comments. Bill has been working with Rafael Gonzalez of the USAO in identifying the sections of the old grant that needed improvement. One of the weak spots was the coalition of service providers and community members needed for the Steering Committee for the Project. Bill mentioned that so far, there has been tremendous response from the social service agencies and school districts.

Open Discussion

Bill pointed to the Retreat Agenda and asked for input on the Agenda items. He specifically wanted to generate some ideas for the Open Forum.

After some discussion, it was requested that we compress the Retreat Agenda to have all the sessions on Thursday. It was decided to move the Retreat to a full day on Thursday, September 17th. Bill felt that it would not be a problem to adjust to a full day schedule. He added that the Open Forum session sets the tone for future TVP meetings. He would make this session happen on Thursday evening.

David mentioned that they were submitting their letter to the DEQ on that very day. The Canyon County alternative plan would consist of voluntary emission testing for one year. They are asking that the emission-testing fee be spread through the auto dealers and auto mechanics in the County. They will be establishing a $50,000 hardship fund to be used to help people fix their cars if they fail the emission test.

David stated that he would send a copy of the letter to the Partnership members.

John felt that one topic is obviously legislative issues that both AIC and IAC feel might be coming up this legislative session. Bill indicated he would talk with them and identify what the potential legislative issues are.

David suggested we spend some time on how we get stimulus dollars into our communities.

Tammy asked how the Economic Recovery Funds are being disseminated that is being distributed to Counties. David stated that a letter has to go to the county requesting the use of those funds. There are also public money with an effective interest rate is only about 2%.

Brad indicated that the Idaho Board of Occupational Licensing are setting standards for water/sewer operators that the State of Idaho will be unable to bring up our own operators. Small communities will never have the experience there to make the hours to create the license. This then creates the need to bring licensed water/sewer contractors from out of state and will increase our operating costs two to three fold.

Fred stated that all rules promulgated by the Board of Occupational Licensing have to be approved by the Legislature. If the Board is not responsive then you can go to the Legislature to get them to be responsive to concerns.

Tom asked if we could get a report from the Division of Financial Management on what the forecasts for revenue are looking like for this fiscal year.

John suggested we have a discussion on the meeting dates for the Partnership meetings.

Air Quality Public Information Campaign

Bill pointed to a letter that Pete Wagner had drafted in response to a comment that was posted on the Air Quality Campaign Website. He would like this letter to come from the Partnership. John moved to approve letter as coming from the Partnership. Tom seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Bill provided a copy of a Twitter response that an individual had made. It was a feel good response in that the individual responded to our postings about ozone alerts and decided to ride his bike to work that day.

Bill also pointed to a report from DEQ that indicated we had one incidence of exceeding Ozone Standards. He mentioned that Pete was going to explain this in more detail at the retreat.

John asked if everybody was maintaining their membership contribution for FY 09-10. He indicated that the City of Eagle may be problematic due to budget problems. Bill indicated that he had spoke to the Eagle City Council the prior week, but has not heard of their decision.

Margie asked if Owyhee County had committed for the next fiscal year. Bill stated he had not heard but would follow up with a call to them. Bill added that he had received a call from the City of Homedale and had provided them with information on the Partnership and how membership dues are calculated. Margie added that her and John B. would be meeting with them on another issue, but would bring up the Partnership during that meeting.

Brad moved to approve the minutes and financial report for July. Margie seconded. Motion approved.

Meeting adjourned