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WHO’S THE BOSS?
WELCOME TO BOISE
ANNUAL MANUAL Athens of the Sage-brush
lmost 110 years ago, legendary Chicago attorney Clarence Darrow came to Boise in defense of union leader William “Big Bill” Haywood, who was accused of acting as ringleader in the assassination of Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg. The judgment of the conspirators, in 1907, was billed by newspapers around the country as “the trial of the century”—that was obviously premature, but the case did bring international attention to the then-small city. Billeted in the Idanha Hotel, along with accused assassin Harry Orchard and coprosecutor William Borah, Darrow liked what he found in Boise. “As we neared Boise the scene changed,” he later wrote in his autobiography. “The ﬁelds were fresh and green, the orchards were luxuriant, the town was resplendent with lawns and ﬂowers, shrubs and trees; the houses were neat and up-to-date. The Snake River had been intersected with dikes, which irrigated the barren wilderness and made it a beautiful garden-spot. The landscape was most pleasing, and out beyond, a circle of mountains enclosed the little city; so that after
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the long, wearisome journey Boise seemed like a bright green gem in a setting of blue.” Darrow’s praise went beyond the landscape. “Boise had a pride in its town and people and culture, and could rightly be called the Athens of the sage-brush,” he added. In the century since Darrow visited, Boise and its surrounding communities have spread across the Treasure Valley, sprouting ﬁelds and orchards; pushing out tendrils of irrigation, roads and power lines; growing up and planting deep to establish and earn the title he afﬁxed to it. Every week, Boise Weekly chronicles the highs and lows of the story of this city and its region; but, once a year, with our Annual Manual, we have the chance to stand back and provide a higher-level view of the place we call home. This year, you’ll ﬁnd articles exploring community leaders, politics, transportation, education, outdoor recreation—what really makes the Treasure Valley tick—and why for both natives and newcomers, this place holds a powerful attraction.
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COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES WELLS COVER DESIGN BY EDWARD’S GREENHOUSE, EDWARDSGREENHOUSE.COM
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NER BRUN ELLE JENN
WHO’S (REALLY) THE BOSS?
If you want the job done right, ask a Citizen GEORGE PRENTICE | ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEREMY LANNINGHAM
utch is the guy who gets the governor’s mansion (even though he doesn’t stay there), and Dave is the man with the corner ofﬁce at Boise City Hall. But we have learned that a select group of men and women—artists, athletes, caregivers, creators, peacemakers, politicians, self-starters, scientists and more—are the ones who really get the job done. Of the hundreds of these people we have talked to over the years (some of them Idahoans, some of them visitors), here is a look back at a few. These are the real bosses, the people we call Boise Weekly Citizens:
In our opinion, the word “hero” is tossed around too liberally. But we would have no problem using it to describe Idahoan Lee Schatz. Schatz served the pursuit of peace as a U.S. embassy worker in Iran as that nation was crumbling during at the height of the 197980 uprising and hostage crisis. More importantly, he became part of what would be one of the most daring rescues in modern history: 10 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
an undercover CIA operative helped six Americans escape the embassy after it was overtaken by revolutionaries. Few people knew of the plan, including Schatz. That is, until the release of Argo, a movie directed by and starring Ben Afﬂeck, which won the 2013 Best Picture Oscar. We asked Schatz if he ever envisioned a day when he would return to Iran. “I watched the [U.S.] ﬂag being torn down on the embassy. And what I’ve always hoped I was going to have a chance to do in my career was to see an [American] ﬂag going up on a facility [in Iran]. Because I really do believe that these are two counties that should be talking to each other, rather than at each other.” Bishop Brian Thom is also a peacemaker. He’s a faith leader for 5,000 Idaho Episcopalians and he
BISHOP BRIAN THOM Citizen: 10-23-2012
oversees 30 congregations across Southern Idaho. We were intrigued by his comments regarding why some of our neighbors can be so cruel with their rhetoric on certain issues. “People are afraid, and they put walls up, speaking of immigration. And then they make things back and white, and that’s usually when somebody gets left out or gets hurt. I don’t know if it’s
intentional. But I do think they’re afraid; and when they can’t see a way out, they raise the walls up and put on their emotional armor. The church will be what God needs it to be. In terms of why it’s so hard to be a human being right now, I think it’s because people are afraid. I promise you that if you go out and serve other people, you will ﬁnd God in that.” Sally Jeffcoat served as CEO of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, which provides care for nearly 300,000 people a year, from 2009 until her promotion in July 2014 to the position of executive vice president CHE Trinity Health West/Midwest Group—Saint Al’s parent company. We wanted to know how she balanced faith and stewardship. “I see it as a sacred thing— caring with dignity. I get a little BOISEweekly
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philosophical about it at times. I think it’s really important to interact with as many people as possible. And part of that is being a faith-based organization. I hope that at least once every day somebody feels that I bring God’s presence into the room with me.” Keeping the peace as an ofﬁcer of the law is another matter altogether. As Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson counted down the ﬁnal weeks to retirement (scheduled for December 2014),
campus law, which was passed by the 2014 Legislature, was Wayne Hoffman, director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. We spoke to Hoffman in March 2011, and we were particularly interested in the relationship between the libertarian-leaning IFF and its own news organization, IdahoReporter.com. “I freely admit that I have a vision for IdahoReporter. com, but I don’t think having a
WAYNE HOFFMAN Citizen: 3-2-2011
vision means that I dictate what the stories look like. I want to cover stories that aren’t being covered or aren’t getting enough attention. I want to hold people accountable. I want to put issues to a truth test.”
MIKE MASTERSON Citizen: 3-16-2011
we looked at our March 2011 conversation with him and what he felt about something that was just being hinted at then: the possibility of allowing concealed weapons on our university campuses. “I think it’s a bad idea. I can only recall twice in the years that I’ve been here of instances where people have drawn a gun to prevent a crime. In one instance a do-gooder pulled a gun on a suspect, and a second citizen, not knowing what the situation was, pulled a gun on the do-gooder.” One person who staunchly advocated for the new guns-on12 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
The ACLU of Idaho has a deep interest in the truth. And Ritchie Eppink, its legal director, should never be underestimated. When we spoke to Eppink in July 2012, the Occupy Boise movement
and the tent city Occupiers set up near the Idaho Statehouse were making headlines— Eppink successfully argued in federal court that the Occupy BOISEweekly
movement had every right to be there. “In Idaho, we’re seeing state agencies that are getting instructions to cut and cut. And they’re cutting so close to the bone that they’re cutting out people’s rights. The Idaho government has used this historic circumstance to dial down the First Amendment as far as they can before they get stopped by the court.”
One man who pulls double duty in two thriving state agencies is Jeff Anderson. When we spoke to him in March 2013, we weren’t certain where to meet him: at the State Department of Liquor or the Lottery Commission—he’s the director of both. “Contrary to popular belief, they really are two full-time jobs. But I try to keep balance in my life. I came into state service from the business world. I’m not a career bureaucrat. The concepts are really not that foreign to me. You build good teams, clearly communicate your expectations, hold people accountable and do the work.” Ron Pisaneschi is at the helm of Idaho Public Television, another publicly funded state agency. He has been at Idaho PTV since 1985 but when we talked to him in September 2013, he was taking the reins as Idaho PTV’s new general manager. We asked Pisaneschi about the difference between today’s Idaho PTV and the day when he ﬁrst set foot in the door. “”Back in the day, it was a single channel. Now we have four digital channels, an additional BOISEweekly
cable channel for kids and online streaming, where people can watch anytime they want. We’re the most watched, per capita, PBS station in the country. We’ve been in the top 10 for the last 10 years.” Another guy who has reason to be proud is Curt Apsey, senior associate athletic director at Boise State University. Coaches have come and gone, but Apsey has been with the Broncos for 15 years, and he has seen plenty of wins and losses (mostly wins) on the Blue Turf.
“Without question, I love the people that I’m around. Every day I’m coming to work and I’m contributing to the development of these students. And when they walk away with a victory, and then they walk away with a college degree, that makes me feel pretty good. I can’t think of doing anything else.” Find more Citizens at boiseweekly.com.
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R JENNELLE BRUNNE
THE STATE OF THE REPUBLICANS
The internal disarray of the Idaho Republican Party GEORGE PRENTICE eing a Democrat in Idaho is tough, but try being a Republican—a dyed-in-thewool, elephantine political animal, steeped in what was once affectionately known as the Grand Ol’ Party. Sure, the GOP has been in full control of the Idaho Statehouse (ours is the second most Republican-controlled lower house in the nation, our Senate is the third most) and yes, Republicans control every state elected ofﬁce and the entire U.S. congressional delegation. But while the party may be old, it is far from grand. And whether Idaho Democrats are able to make any political hay over the Republican party’s muddle remains to be seen—even GOP party faithful were confounded by a string of 2014 ﬁascos: The May 14 GOP Governor’s Primary debate was must-see viewing if get your news from Comedy Central; the May 21 primary saw state GOP veterans kicked to the curb by the fringes of their own party; the circus that was the June state Republican Party convention with Rep. Raul Labrador as its ringmaster served as a national embarrassment for the Idaho GOP; and the confusion at Idaho Republican Party headquarters, where locks were changed and resignations the order of the day, culminated in July 2014 with former Party Chairman Barry BOISEweekly
Peterson suing several Republicans loyal to Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in a leadership dispute. “This onslaught is because the party would not bend over,” said state GOP Chairman Barry Peterson on KIDO radio June 20, adding that his far-right wing of the party was “praying that we have the strength to stand up against this onslaught.” But this “onslaught” can be tracked all the way back to the spring of 2010, when Republican leaders handpicked Vaughn Ward, a Sarah Palin-backed Marine and former CIA operations ofﬁcer to challenge incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick. Voters soon learned that Ward thought Puerto Rico was a nation, had failed to vote in the previous presidential election and had a nasty habit of plagiarizing other candidates, including President Barack Obama. Enter Labrador, a Canyon County immigration attorney who was elected to the Idaho House in 2006—and who was raised by a single mother in Puerto Rico,
which is an unincorporated U.S. territory. It seems like a distant memory now, but Labrador ﬁrst exercised his political muscle in 2008, when he, surprisingly and successfully, challenged Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s plan to raise taxes to fund Idaho roads and bridges. At the time, Labrador couldn’t even get a little love from the National Tea Party, which threw its endorsement to Minnick. But Labrador recruited fellow Idaho House Rep. Lawerence Denney (then-speaker of the House) as campaign co-chair, upset Ward in the GOP primary and upset Minnick in the general election (by a 10-point margin). In the meantime, Denney was also meeting resistance from power brokers in his own party. He was ousted from his speaker’s chair in early 2013 in favor of moderate Rep. Scott Bedke. But Denney positioned himself to have the last laugh: In May 2014, he pushed past a strong slate of challengers in the Republican primary to secure his party’s slot to run in
“Please pray for the Party during a difﬁcult time.”
for Idaho secretary of state, a job which includes oversight of the state’s elections. Meanwhile, the summer of 2014 couldn’t have ended soon enough for Labrador, after a brief but damaging debacle as chairman of the Idaho Republican Party Convention in Moscow, Idaho, in June. The meeting devolved into chaos when there were repeated attempts by the party to reject up to a third of its own delegates—mostly from the Treasure Valley and the moderate wing of the party. Labrador limped away from the affair leaving GOP leaders in the lurch. Some said that since Idaho Republican Party Chairman Barry Peterson hadn’t been re-elected at the convention, he was out of a job. Peterson rushed back to his ofﬁce in Boise’s Hoff Building and changed the locks on the doors for what he said were “security reasons,” insisting that he was still in charge. Idaho GOP Executive Director Trevor Thorpe resigned, as did ﬁnance chief Mary Tipps Smith. “Please pray for the Party during a difﬁcult time with no staff members and for the right people to come alongside and be successful in their endeavors,” Smith wrote on her Facebook page. Peterson dug in his heels by hiring a new executive director: Judy Gowen. But Gowen was the political director of Senator Russ Fulcher’s failed primary ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 15
challenge against Gov. Otter in May, which brings us back to that governor’s debate, which was televised live and featured Otter, Fulcher and two real Idaho gems: fervent anti-abortionist Walt Bayes, and biker Harley Brown, resplendent in his leathers. “Don’t think I’m crazy, because I’m not,” Brown said. “You might ﬁnd this offensive, but I hit everybody: Jews, Polish people, Irish, Italians, religious jokes and black jokes. I don’t like political correctness. … It’s bondage.” It turns out the free-for-all was exactly what Otter had hoped for. The sitting governor had insisted all of the fringe candidates participate in the debate. As a result, nothing substantive surfaced, and Fulcher, Otter’s chief opponent, was successfully marginalized, looking simply like another challenger. Meanwhile, the debate’s moderator and questioners looked foolish for not calling a halt to the circus. Idaho Public Television, in particular, was challenged for surrendering a legitimate platform to what turned out to be a national punchline. However, Idaho voters had the ﬁnal say in the May 20 primary, pushing a number of GOP incumbents aside, mostly in North Idaho. Chief among the casualties was Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, who carried much of Otter’s water across the bumpy road of Idaho Core Standards becoming a reality. Hayden Rep. Ed Morse said he lost due in large part to what he called a Tea Party groundswell in North Idaho. Other incumbent lawmakers were turned away by Idaho GOP voters in May as well, including New Plymouth Sen. Monty Pearce, Challis Rep. Lenore Barrett, Dover Rep. George Eskridge and Rexburg Rep. Douglas Hancey. But perhaps the most telling indicator of May’s GOP primary was that Otter lost Idaho’s three largest counties—Ada, Canyon (Otter’s home county) and Kootenai—as well as Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho, Jefferson, Latah and Oneida counties to Fulcher. Additionally, Idaho legislators Sen. Bob Nonini and Reps. Vito Barbieri,
Kathy Sims and Ron Mendive, all who had endorsed Fulcher over Otter, won their primary elections against Otterendorsed challengers.
IDAHO’S MOST SUCCESSFUL DEMOCRAT Idaho does have one Democrat who has gained popularity over the years— he’s about to begin his second decade in ofﬁce: Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. In spite of serving two-and-a-half terms in the Idaho House before beginning his ﬁrst term as Boise mayor in 2004, Bieter rarely wades into state politics… that is, until June 2013, when apparently he had heard a particular cliche one time too many. The “Great State of Ada” is often resurrected anytime Idaho legislators (mostly Republicans) want to wax on about how the Treasure Valley—Ada County in particular—get the lion’s share of the state’s resources and funding. For example, the Idaho Legislature used it as an argument to get a 2013 law passed, which now requires ballot initiatives to garner signatures representing 6 percent of voters in the majority of Idaho districts, instead of 6 percent of the state. In fact, when Otter signed the measure into law he said, “We can’t let these initiatives be pushed by the ‘Great State of Ada.’” Bieter had heard enough. “OK, so let’s take a look at that so-called State of Ada,” Bieter said, explaining that in reality, a “‘State of Ada’ would see more robust economic development and greater support for education [than the rest of Idaho].” His remarks received big cheers from Treasure Valley business interests. “But now, please don’t start tweeting that Bieter is calling for a secession,” he said to a laughing audience. He was expressing a rare political boldness that struck right at the heart of the Idaho GOP, and the politically astute Bieter knew better than anyone that what he’d said would light up Twitter. And indeed, it did. It didn’t launch a bid for statewide ofﬁce, but these things take time. Just ask Raul Labrador.
“So, let’s take a look at that so-called ‘State of Ada.’”
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JENNELLE BR U NNER
Learn where education money is going GEORGE PRENTICE f you live in Boise and you have kids, congratulations. You’re living in a school district that boasts diversity: More than 92 languages are spoken in our classrooms. You’re living in a school district that boasts academic success: A Washington Post study ranked four Boise high schools among the top 9 percent in the United States. You’re living in a school district that receives adequate funding: Voters regularly approve bond levies. Paradoxically, because you live in Idaho, you also have our deepest sympathy: The Gem State ranks last in the nation in the amount of money it invests per student. And while the Idaho Legislature might remind us it actually increased K-12 spending for the 2013-2014 school year by 2.3 percent, lawmakers may forget to add they were barely keeping pace with inﬂation. In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that, adjusted for inﬂation, Idaho’s per-pupil spending has dipped 15.9 percent since
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the Great Recession. Additionally, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems ranks Idaho 50th in the nation for the percentage of high school seniors who attend a two- or four-year college or university. In 2012, Jay Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post, told Boise Weekly that, considering the sad state of affairs when it comes to funding Idaho public schools, Boiseans may not
Boiseans may not realize how lucky they are. realize how lucky they are. “Overall, the Mountain West has been a disappointment,” said Mathews, who has been studying educational trends since the 1990s. “Idaho’s record is poor, with the exception of Boise with
all four its high schools on the [best] list. This is rare for any district of its size nationally but for Idaho and the Mountain West, it’s phenomenal.” So when the Boise School District saw an ever-increasing gap between what it was receiving from the Idaho Legislature and what administrators said they needed to keep standards high, they hit the bricks. In 2012, a grassroots effort, which was led by parents, organized an unprecedented campaign, with more than 400 volunteers going door to door, telling the story. They told how 57 percent of Boise’s high school graduates attend college compared to 46 percent statewide; how 83 percent of Boise’s graduates advance from freshman to sophomore year in college (higher than any other state in the country); and how the district refused to increase class sizes or make cuts to art, athletics or music programs. Ultimately, more than 20,000 Boise voters said “yes” to higher taxes for schools in the 2012 levy election, while around 8,000 said “no.” Meanwhile, school levies have been
repeatedly defeated across Idaho, decades as a teacher and principal in particularly in rural districts, where the Nampa district, the soft-spoken many homeowners say they can’t man had his eye on retirement when shoulder the extra burden. And with a he got a call, asking him to step up widening gap of spending-per-student and become Nampa School District’s in different Idaho school districts, interim superintendent—and to Gem State K-12 public education has clean up somebody else’s mess. What increasingly become a system of haves a mess it was. and have-nots. The disgrace surfaced in 2012 “We just can’t continue to operate when someone in the school at these levels,” Mike Ferguson, administration accounting ofﬁce former Idaho chief economist and suggested things were going recently-retired director of the Idaho swimmingly because the district Center on Fiscal Policy, told Boise showed a nearly $2 million surplus. Weekly in early 2013. But that simply wasn’t true, not by Ferguson pointed to the 30-to-1 a long shot. In fact, the district was gap between property tax values in operating on a $1 million deﬁcit. the McCall-Donnelly School District Ofﬁcials claimed that the problem compared to homeowners in the was “camouﬂaged” by doubleSnake River School District. Simply budgeted federal stimulus money. put, the exact same Making matters school levy of 1 worse, state percent would support for generate Nampa had “The past year $4,700 per been overhas not been pleasant. student in budgeted by a McCall nearly $1 I still shake my school while million. head.” raising only The river $153 per of red ink student in ran deep. Snake River. First came the And for those who argue that resignations of the superintendent and more comes out of their pocketbook his deputy; then came furloughs and to fund public schools, the Idaho layoffs; then school ofﬁcials thought Center for Public Policy reminds us they could save money by closing that during the 1980s and 1990s, down an entire school, shuttering the we spent 4.4 percent of our personal doors on Sunny Ridge Elementary. income on K-12 education but since But the district was still nearly $3 2000, it’s closer to 3.4 percent—a million in the hole. So next came full percentage point drop in the transportation cuts, fewer substitutes amount of our resources devoted to and shorter class schedules. public schools. “The past year has not been pleasant,” Koehler told BW. “I still WHO’S DOING THE MATH? shake my head.” Having inadequate funding for In July 2014, David Peterson took Idaho’s public schools is one thing. the reigns as Nampa School District’s But abusing the public’s trust by new full-time superintendent. He was mismanaging those funds takes the recruited from Belfair, Wash., where trouble to a whole new level. Ask he held the same title for the North anyone in Nampa, a school district Mason School District. still living with a fair amount of scar Koehler has since grabbed his tissue, following one of the worst ﬁshing pole and begun that longscandals in recent memory. delayed retirement—and it’s a fair bet “It just seemed, week after week, it that Koehler didn’t receive half the was like getting punched in the face accolades he deserved for helping save because there was another crisis,” Pete the Nampa School District’s bacon. Koehler told BW in the fall of 2013. But as Peterson prepared to help Koehler should know. After serving Nampa launch a new school year in
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 19
fall 2014, it was important to note a rather chilling report published in the June 29, 2014 edition of the Idaho Press-Tribune that revealed there are few ﬁnancial “backstops” from allowing the same ﬁnancial crisis to happen again. “Until you end up in a lot of trouble, it’s hard to tell whether or not you’re mismanaging your funds,” CPA Scot Phillips, a partner at Boise-based Eide Bailly, told the Press-Tribune. “And that’s a sliding scale of what somebody considers to be mismanagement.” Simply put, it turns out that auditors don’t test Nampa’s budgets. They only look to see if “the presentation of current ﬁnances is accurate,” according to the report. And that review is far from being a ﬁnancial safety net.
statewide electronic collaboration system, revamping the state’s accountability structure and improvements to literary proﬁciency were still in detention. And Luna’s political capital is kaput. Following the statewide defeat of the so-called Luna Laws in November 2012, which the superintendent insisted had been inappropriately shackled to him, Luna followed up with another embarrassment in 2013 when he tried to push through a sweetheart multimillion, ﬁve-year deal with Education Networks of America to equip Idaho high schools with wireless Internet access. Even lawmakers from his own party said Luna had shown “a lack of judgment.” Rupert Republican Sen. Dean Cameron went as far as to say the deal was, “certainly a stretch TIME FOR A SUBSTITUTE and perhaps borderline on a lack of No one knows what Tom Luna’s honesty.” Luna limped away from the second act will be and, quite honestly, deal, and the countdown to the end maybe no one cares. of his political tenure had begun. Following three years of One thing is for certain: There will political miscalculations and be a new substitute come January three controversial terms, the 2015, after the November 2014 face Superintendent of Idaho Public off between Democrat Jana Jones, Instruction had a rare moment of who served as the state’s chief deputy cognition Jan. 27, superintendent 2014 when he of schools said he would from 2004Even lawmakers not run for 2006, and from his own reelection. Republican “I’m Sherri Ybarra, party said Luna had going to be curriculum shown “a lack working hard director for of judgment.” for the next the Mountain 11 months, Home School not being District and distracted with a campaign,” Luna a political newcomer. Ahead of the told reporters, saying he was focused election, Jones looks, perhaps, like on convincing the 2014 Idaho the Democrats’ strongest contender Legislature to pass Governor C.L. for a statewide ofﬁce, raising “Butch” Otter’s education task force signiﬁcantly more campaign cash recommendations—all 20 of them. than their Republican challenger. As Luna didn’t have much luck with of press time (late July 2014), Jones’ that either: By mid-2014, none of campaign war chest had topped the recommendations had been fully $20,000 while Ybarra reported less implemented. than $300. Some, such as Idaho Core But no matter who wins Idaho’s Standards and ramping up top education job in the November public school high-speed Internet 2014 general election, the recurring bandwidth, had already been long themes of public funds—and the underway before the committee management thereof—will yet again was formed. But others, such as a deﬁne the new era.
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JENNELLE B R U NNER
Downtown Boise becomes a residential destination HARRISON BERRY oise’s expansion has been decidedly outward, with neighborhood tendrils reaching out to become subdivisions and workers commuting from as far as Emmett and Mountain Home to work in the capital. But as high-proﬁle mixed-use developments like The Afton (at Ninth and River streets) and Owyhee Place create more downtown living spaces, conditions ripen for an emerging trend: urban living. According to projections from the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, there were almost 4,000 people living downtown in 2014. By 2040, 6,929 people will be living there. The Owyhee, which opened in early July 2014, added nearly 40 condos to the mix. Part of the reason for the boom is jobs. Currently, there are about 20 jobs downtown for every person living there, but larger regional cities like Portland and Seattle have ratios closer to three-to-ﬁve jobs for every downtown resident. For downtown Boise, local organizations are seeing opportunity in cultivating a more metropolitan mix. “People are looking to live closer to urban environments—where you work, potentially,” said Karen Sander, executive director of the Downtown Boise Association. But jobs won’t be the only driver of 22 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
population growth. According to Mike Brown, whose L.A.-based company, Local Construct, was a partner in the Owyhee Place renovation, the growing neighborhood will be dominated by young professionals, downsizing Baby Boomers and seniors. While families with children will likely stay among the tree-lined boulevards of residential neighborhoods, developers are betting some empty nesters will seek smaller accommodations near restaurants, nightlife and a growing selection of grocery stores. For Brown, Boise is ready for a shift in who will be living downtown. “We sensed that Boise is right on the cusp,” he said. City planners have already begun creating infrastructure changes designed to make streets in the core safer. In 2013, the Ada County Highway District unveiled plans to convert seven one-way streets into two-way streets and add seven roundabouts downtown. From May to late June 2014, ACHD ran a pilot program that removed trafﬁc lanes on Capitol Boulevard and Main and Idaho streets, replacing them with dedicated bike lanes and bike boxes. Though the pilot program ended after 30 days, the reception among bike commuters was positive. The goal for some planners is a downtown with slower automobile trafﬁc
and safe, dedicated bike routes from the North End to the Boise River. All of this is part of a design to reconﬁgure how people use downtown Boise, turning it into a destination, rather than a thoroughfare. When the two-way streets proposal was announced in 2013, Boise City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg told Boise Weekly that the plan would turn city streets in a direction citizens and city planners wanted. “It’s back to the future. We always had two-way streets,” she said. “We changed them to one-way streets with the understanding that, somehow, we needed to move more cars through downtown. What we really need is to get people downtown.” While many of the changes required to accommodate a larger downtown neighborhood are currently in the works, necessary changes to another important aspect of urban living have already been made: access to grocery stores and markets. In 2010, BW reported on then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan’s keynote address at the Idaho Summit on Hunger and Food Insecurity, where she warned that societal costs of obesity, heart disease and diabetes on account of lack of access to quality, nutritious food will “cripple our nation if we don’t change our food environment.” At that time, downtowners had easy
access to the Boise Co-op, WinCo Foods, Albertsons and the Capital City Public Market. Now, a Whole Foods, a Trader Joe’s and the Boise Farmers Market are all part of downtown, as well. Boise City Councilwoman Lauren McLean said that Boise is “unique in that we were looking for locally sourced food before it was cool” and that in the past 15 years, the city’s outlook toward sourcing food and food availability has changed radically; but with growing demand for locally sourced food, expanding downtown neighborhood and the city’s Sustain Boise initiative, downtown is now at a food sustainability tipping point. “I expect we’ll see opportunities and availability take off,” McLean wrote in an email. Though the Sustain Boise initiative had yet to be ﬁnalized by mid-2014, its proposed food program would encourage community, urban and micro gardening to take the city’s food supply beyond restaurants and grocery stores. McLean said that a key component of the program would be to give homegrown food a more central role in Boise’s food portfolio— even downtown. “We’ll seek ways to increase access to urban farming so that all of our residents have more opportunity to source their food locally and affordably,” McLean said. BOISEweekly
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JENNELLE BRU NNER
CENTER OF GRAVITY
As Meridian booms, the jobs and population center of the Treasure Valley moves west HARRISON BERRY oise used to have a frontier, where farms and cattle ranches separated the capital city from agricultural hubs like Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell. Today, housing developments and burgeoning downtowns have spread across most of the vast land parcels that constituted these cities’ borderlands, and the Treasure Valley has become a nearly contiguous population center with tens of thousands of commuters ﬁlling the freeways to reach their places of work. This year, Meridian overtook Nampa as Idaho’s second-most-populous city— ﬁgures from the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho put Meridian’s 2014 population at 85,240, compared to Nampa’s 84,840. According to the U.S. Census, Meridian grew 11 percent between 2012-2013, making 24 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
it the 10th-fastest growing city in the United States. That trend is expected to continue—moving the Treasure Valley’s population growth further westward every year, taking with it the valley’s employment base. As commute times increase and residents ﬂock to western Ada County, it seems clear that the Treasure Valley’s center of gravity is shifting. COMPASS has pinpointed exactly where the locus of the valley’s population sits: the intersection of 10 Mile and Pine roads, in Meridian. In 2000, that point was nearly a mile to the east, at Pine Road and Main Street in Meridian, but Meridian’s population has grown nearly 80 percent since then. Meanwhile, in 2006, jobs in the valley were centered on Cloverdale Road. Today, that point lies east of Eagle Road
near where it crosses East Franklin Road—zeroed in, appropriately, on Commercial Street. The distance between those two points—the fulcrums of employment and population—is 2.8 miles; and, while it’s an abstract way of looking at jobs and residents, it helps illustrate larger trends. For instance, the average commute time in the Treasure Valley is 18 minutes. But as Meridian and Nampa continue to develop, and the valley’s economic center moves, commutes will lengthen. “[Those points are] spreading farther and farther apart, which means people are driving further and further to get to work,” said COMPASS Principal Planner Carl Miller. Each city has a comprehensive growth plan that projects the city’s population based on available and projected infrastructure. According to
Boise’s plan, the capital will have to reassess its strategies when population has more than doubled—from 217,730 residents today, to 439,000 residents sometime in the future. Meridian has a comprehensive plan to accommodate a staggering 355,000 people. Nampa expects to grow from 84,840 residents to 136,567 by 2035. Explosive growth in a smattering of locations has turned the Treasure Valley into a community of commuters, and that has stressed infrastructure. In April 2014, reconstruction began on the Meridian Road interchange. The structure, originally built in 1965, is being updated to include three lanes in each direction on Meridian Road, dual left-turn lanes for I-84 on-ramps and new trafﬁc signals. The project will be completed at a cost of about $40 million, but it’s not hard to see why the 26
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Idaho Transportation Department is conducting the upgrade: The 49-yearold interchange was designed to accommodate daily commuter trafﬁc of 15,000 vehicles. Currently, almost 130,000 people use the interchange every day. All of this is part of the yearslong effort to expand I-84 to four lanes in each direction, which has included replacing the Robinson and Black Cat bridges (2009) and the 2011 replacements of the Garrity and Ten Mile interchanges. Future projects include replacing interchanges at Broadway Avenue and Gowen Road, and widening State Street in Boise. Vehicle trafﬁc arteries are expanding because of a geographic imbalance in jobs across the Treasure Valley, with most jobs being located in its central and eastern regions. The top ﬁve employers in the Boise City-Nampa Metropolitan Statistical Area, employing nearly 27,000 people between them, have large presences in Boise and Meridian. They include, in order of size: St. Luke’s Health Systems, Micron Technology Inc., Boise State University, Meridian Joint School District No. 2 (renamed in mid-2014 to West Ada School District) and the Independent School District Boise City No. 1. Indicators like unemployment level and job growth show that the state as a whole is edging out of the Great Recession, but counties’ unemployment rates vary wildly. In June 2014, the state’s jobless rate hit 4.7 percent—the lowest it had been in six years, and a 1.6 percent decrease since June 2013. The announcement, made in July 2014 by the Idaho Department of Labor, included details about Idaho’s labor force participation rate—63.7 percent for people age 15 and older—and how for the ﬁrst time in six years, the number of jobless Idahoans had fallen below 37,000. Statewide, the number of employed people reached 741,800—the 10th record in as many months. In the Treasure Valley, the eastwest divide is stark when it comes to joblessness. Ada County’s unemployment rate dipped 1.5 percent between May 2013-May 2014, from 5.7 to 4.2 percent, but the rate for the BoiseNampa MSA was 4.6 percent. That’s because, while Boise and Meridian boast unemployment rates of 4.3 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, jobless rates in Nampa and Caldwell were, respectively, 5.4 percent and 6.2 percent during the same time. 26 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
The top employers in Ada and Canyon counties also reﬂect the asymmetry of the economies of the east and west ends of the Treasure Valley. In Ada County, St. Luke’s Health Systems is the largest employer, with 7,4007,499 employees, followed by Micron Technology and the West Ada School District (formerly, Meridian Joint School District). In Canyon County, the largest employer is the Nampa School District, with 1,500-1,599 employees, followed by J.R. Simplot Co. and Walmart. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the highest paying, fastest growing job sectors in the 10 counties of Southwest Idaho are registered nurses, pharmacists, dental hygienists, physical therapists and medical/health service managers. The other fastgrowing sector is technology, which has increased since 2010 and is forecast to continue an upward trend through 2020 in the areas of market research, analysis, network administration and software development. The rise of the medical sector is, in part, a response to the Treasure Valley’s aging population. Baby Boomers remain the region’s largest age group, and the economy is adapting to accommodate their changing needs. “We’re getting older at a pretty decent clip. We’re starting to see more of that older demographic, and that’s going to have some ramiﬁcations on the economy,” said Idaho Department of Labor economist Andrew Townsend. Though high-tech industries are growing in Boise, health care and the service sectors are ﬂourishing in the valley-wide, as well as across the state as a whole. In early 2014, the Department of Labor projected that the health care industry would add 6,682 jobs by 2015; between 2002 and 2012, the services industry grew from 448,504 workers to 506,048 workers. In 2022, the Department of Labor projects it will grow to 591,984 workers. “Even though we have a lot of efforts attracting high-tech, that service sector is going to grow very strong just to meet the need of our changing population,” Townsend said. Despite job growth, Idaho wages continue to lag behind the rest of the nation. The average annual wage in the Gem State is $36,363, compared to the national average of $49,000. At the beginning of the 2014 legislative session, Labor Department spokesman Bob Fick warned that though many lost jobs had been replaced after 28 BOISEweekly
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 27
proﬁts rose 1.8 percent. While business in the Gem State is getting stronger (and richer), its residents are earning less. “It’s kind of an open secret [that Idaho has low wages], and lower wages come with troubles,” said Townsend. Increasing wages has become an advocacy issue in Idaho. The state currently adheres to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but some groups argue that increasing the hourly minimum wage here would prove to be an economic boost. In December
2013, United Vision for Idaho and other groups mounted demonstrations pushing for a $9.80 minimum wage by December 2017. During the 2014 legislative session, Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) introduced a bill in the Senate State Affairs Committee to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $9.75 by July 2015, and afterward pegging it to the Consumer Price Index. United Vision for Idaho’s initiative never made it to the ballot, and Stennett’s bill never left the Senate, but
the push for higher pay continues. The Treasure Valley is divided— between home and work, rural and urban, rich and poor, and east and west. As its communities grow and deﬁne themselves economically, the schisms between them are only likely to widen. In 2014 and 2015, Treasure Valley residents will drive farther than they ever have to get to the places of their employment, and that shift will continue to realign—and redeﬁne—the state’s largest metropolitan area.
Data courtesy Compass
the Great Recession, “the challenge in this recovery continues to be in terms of income.” In fact, in the ﬁnal months of 2013, personal income statewide rose 0.2 percent (compared to 0.8 percent nationally), and in the ﬁrst quarter of 2014, wage and salary payments decreased 0.3 percent. The only other state to post such a decrease was California, while nationally, wage and salary payments rose 0.9 percent during the same period—all while business
COMMERCE STATS Source: Idaho Department of Commerce Boise labor force: 114,870 Boise job growth: 11.34 percent Meridian labor force: 38,709 Meridian job growth: 5.71 percent Nampa labor force: 37,901 Nampa job growth: 2.68 percent
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TOP FIVE EMPLOYERS BY COUNTY IN THE TREASURE VALLEY Source: Idaho Department of Labor
ADA COUNTY: St. Luke’s Health Systems: 7,400-7,499 Micron Technology, Inc.: 5,800-5,899 Meridian Joint School District No. 2/ West Ada School District: 2,400-2,499 Independent School District Boise City No. 1: 3,700-3,799 Boise State University: 3,200-3,299
CANYON COUNTY: Nampa School District No. 131: 1,500-1,599 J R Simplot Co.: 1,300-1,399 Walmart: 1,100-1,199 College of Western Idaho: 900-999 Vallivue School District No. 139: 800-899 TOP EMPLOYERS OVERALL: St. Luke’s Health Systems: 8,000-8,199 Micron Technology, Inc.: 5,900-5,999 Boise State University: 4,400-4,499 West Ada School District (formerly Meridian Joint School District No. 2): 4,300-4,399
GENERAL STATS Source: Boise Valley Economic Partnership Total population of Boise/Nampa Metropolitan Statistical Area: 632,000 Total workforce: 279,500 Workforce w/i 45-min. drive area: 330,000 Average age: 33.1 years Average commute time: 18 minutes
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Never Nothing to Do ~ August 2014-July 2015 Tour De Fat
Alive After Five (June-August)—This series of free, open-air performances from both local and touring bands is a big part of summertime fun for Boiseans and visitors alike. downtownboise.org
Caldwell Night Rodeo (August)—The Caldwell Night Rodeo, “Where the Cowboys are the Stars,” was founded in 1935. Now, 80 years later, the weeklong event is one of the top professional rodeos in the United States. caldwellnightrodeo.com
Hermit Music Festival (August)—This festival at Indian Creek Winery features regional and local blues, bluegrass, old-time tunes and singer-songwriters. It’s one of the new fests on the block but in a short time, it has managed to come out of its cave and hang with the big boys: Wayne “The Train” Hancock performed at Hermit Fest 2013. hermitmusicfestival.com
(August)—Now in its 15th season, New Belgium’s annual Tour De Fat starts with a costume parade of bikes and their riders winding through city streets, followed by a party in Ann Morrison Park, with “eclectic entertainment,” beer, a “bicycle revival,” beer, a be-carfree-for-one-year challenge, beer, brewing education and beer. newbelgium.com
Western Idaho Fair (August)—The Western Idaho Fair is nine days of carnival rides, competitions, demonstrations, exhibits, food, games and performances. Live concerts are a huge draw and free with admission. This year’s musical guests are ’90s altrockers Seether, country music duos Montgomery Gentry and Thompson Square, and rock icons The Doobie Brothers. idahofair.com
(May-September)—Each year, Knitting Factory Presents brings some of music’s biggest names to the Idaho Botanical Garden. Still to come in 2014 are Nickel Creek; David Gray; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. idahobotanicalgarden.org
Idaho Shakespeare Festival (June-September)—One thing says summer in Boise besides the sudden shift in temperature: the opening of Idaho Shakespeare Festival, which brings to life the drama, laughter, music and thrills of Shakespeare and other notable playwrights. “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” If the “good thing” is brilliant theater at ISF, go ahead and desire. idahoshakespeare.org
Boise Weekly Cover Art Auction (October)—Every week, an original work of art by a local artist graces the cover of Boise Weekly and each year, those works are auctioned off, with proceeds beneﬁting local artists and art organizations. That’s some full-circle stuff right there. boiseweekly.com
Library! Comic Con
Art in the Park
(August)—This is an event dedicated to comic books, graphic novels, all things sci-ﬁ and fantasy and the like; as well as to the artists who create it all and the people who love it. Citizens of Nerd-, Geek- and Fandom, rejoice! boisepubliclibrary.org
(September)—Boise Art Museum’s annual summer event, Art in the Park, is all about walking through shady Julia Davis Park looking at ceramics, jewelry and ﬁne art made by more than 200 artists from all over the country. boiseartmuseum.org
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Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series,
Bogus Basin Ski and Snowboard Swap (October)—This event provides a seemingly endless stock of vintage snow gear, and it’s the perfect opportunity to unload some retro gear—and make some extra beer money. Commissions beneﬁt the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation. bbsef.org/swap
The Cabin: Readings and Conversations (October-April)—It’s nice to know people still read books. We know this to be true because tickets to The Cabin’s series are usually sold out before we can say, “Author, author.” Still to come in the 2014-2015 season are Erik Larson, Chris Abani, Sherman Alexie and Karen Russell. thecabinidaho.org
Sun Valley Film Festival (March)—Sun Valley is not only a sanctuary for the rich and famous but home of the Sun Valley Film Festival, which has become a much vaunted event among both audiences and auteurs. It’s also a proving ground for ﬁlms that may lead to the kind of wealth and notoriety that make a hideaway necessary. sunvalleyﬁlmfestival.org
Treefort Music Fest (March)—Visitors are beginning to plan trips to Boise to coincide with this young multi-day festival that has already garnered national attention by ﬁlling venues all across downtown Boise with readings, ﬁlms and panels, as well as nearly countless performances by local acts and touring acts that stop in Boise on the heels of SXSW shows. treefortmusicfest.com
Race to Robie Creek (April)—Billed as the “toughest race in the Northwest,” this 13-mile run is an uphill battle both literally and ﬁguratively: Runners climb more than 2,000 feet in elevation during the race; and the 2,400 racing spots available are usually ﬁlled within 30 minutes after registration opens. robiecreek.com
Anime Oasis (May)—For more than a dozen years, local anime addicts, cosplay connoisseurs and manga maniacs have gathered at Anime Oasis to celebrate the popular Japanese cultural export. Anime Oasis runs sunup to sundown for three days and is so full of panels, games, ﬁlms, music and more, that even with no sleep, it would be nearly impossible to see everything. But it’s tanoshii to try. animeoasis.org
Bike Week (May)—We love our bikes so much we dedicate a whole week (actually nine days) to celebrating our two-wheeled transports. It is said that Boise got its name from a Frenchspeaking guide who, when his party saw the forested valley, exclaimed, “Les bois!” or “The trees.” Explorers discovering Boise today might say, “Las bicyclettes!” boisebikeweek.org
Modern Art (May)—For one day, the retro-cool Modern Hotel turns
its rooms over to artists and encourages them to let their creativity ﬂags ﬂy. Guest rooms are transformed into minigalleries ﬁlled with the work of visual artists, performers, writers, singers, dancers. One might be an all-white room where you’re invited to lie on the bed but say nothing for ﬁve minutes; another might be a circus-themed room ﬁlled with carnival games to play… all you have to do is make your way through the halls and walkways past the 3,000-plus people who attend each year. themodernhotel.com
Deli Days/Jewish Cultural Festival (June)—Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel is reported to be the oldest synagogue in continuous use west of the Mississippi River. Its congregation is dedicated to community-mindedness, generosity and willingness to advocate for marginalized groups. As if they weren’t already the best neighbors ever, they go and throw Deli Days, two days of incredible homemade deli deliciousness accompanied by musical entertainment and dancing. Beteavon, Boise. And toda, CABI, for everything you do for the Boise community. cabi-boise.org
i48 Film Festival (June)—This long-running competition gives auteurs 48 hours to make a short ﬁlm: conception, writing, ﬁlming, editing—everything must be done in those two days. Besides causing anxiety attacks for a few aspiring ﬁlmmakers, i48 also reveals, in living color across the big screen, the breadth and
wealth of talent living in this little burg. Plus, they win prizes. idaho48.org
Ironman 70.3 Boise (June)—For non-athletes, the Ironman 70.3 triathlon seems like insanity personiﬁed. Even for athletes, it’s extreme, but it’s also one of the most elite, exclusive competitions around. Participants swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles up and then down mountainous topography, ﬁnishing up with a 13.1 mile run. 1.2 + 56 + 13.1 = 70.3 punishing miles only men and women of steel can complete. ironman.com
Boise Twilight Criterium (July)—The heat is intense during this annual men’s and women’s road-cycling race, which attracts world-class cyclists who represent dozens of professional and semiprofessional racing teams. Not
only is the Boise Twilight Criterium hosted in July, but watching the riders zip around and around downtown Boise at mind-boggling speeds is one of the hottest events of the year— literally and ﬁguratively. Ask any of the 20,000-plus spectators. boisetwilightcriterium.com
Savor Idaho (June)—Hosted by the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission, Savor Idaho puts the spotlight on Gem State wineries and restaurants with a widely attended outdoor event at the Idaho Botanical Garden each June. savoridaho.org
Boise’s Funniest Person (July)—Asking amateurs to get on stage and tell jokes is as cringeworthy as watching Harley Brown speak at the 2014 Republican Governor’s Debate (zing!). Boise’s Funniest Person takes the cringe out and ups the worthy by pairing newbies with comedy pros, and it’s one of the best new events on the books… no kidding. boisesfunniestperson.com
Snake River Stampede (July)—The Snake River Stampede, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2015, makes spending four days at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa like a trip to Disneyland for cowboys and girls (there’s even a hotel or two nearby). The Stampede is chock full of events like breakfasts, truck shows, rope-and-run and slack competitions, and, of course, good ol’ bronc bustin’. Plus, each night is dedicated to raising awareness for important causes like breastcancer research or recognizing important people, like men and women in uniform. snakeriverstampede.com ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 31
Boise River Park revitalizes a once-dangerous stretch of water JESSICA MURRI
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hour weeks in the summer, running his Hawaiianthemed shop and building custom surfboards perfect for the wave mere yards away. Myers saw past the trailer parks and industrial companies on the banks of the river. He saw the lowhead dam and knew something better was coming. He talked the property owners into renting him the space and opened his doors in spring 2013. It was a quick turnaround; only a month after he signed the lease, he opened for business.
to create. She works with Friends of the Park, “a community recreation and environmental partnership,” raising funds for the wave. Markley said the dream started a decade ago, but it took that long to negotiate the park with two municipalities, Idaho Fish and Game, the Army Corps of Engineers, the DEQ and at least three irrigation companies. What park users think of as a wave is actually a structure that acts ﬁrst as ﬂood control and irrigation diversion, second as recreation for paddlers. The river itself is a valued commodity for interests from industry to agriculture, but it hasn’t always been easy to navigate between use and abuse. “The Boise River had a really sad history,” Markley said, “with butchers and rendering plants and concrete plants along the banks. Everyone just dumped everything into the river. It was so polluted in the ’50s that no one could swim in it. Now, it’s a beautiful resource.” Markley is beginning another huge project: raising funds for phase two of the park. Plans have been laid to build two more wave features less than a mile downstream of the current wave: One will be a rodeo-style hole, the kind popular in kayak competitions nationwide, and the other will be a friendlier beginner’s wave. The plan includes splitting the Greenbelt to keep commuter trafﬁc ﬂowing, connecting three ponds in the area so boaters can paddle to the top of the wave features, and building more spectator seating—all incorporating Esther Simplot Park, construction of which is slated to begin in fall 2015. The ﬁrst wave cost $3.7 million. Markley ﬁgures the second phase will cost double that and thinks it will take at least three years to raise the funds. But her biggest donations won’t come from paddlers. “Most of the donations are [from] people who are interested in the economic development it presents,” Markley said. “In cities with other whitewater parks, the impact to the local economy is in the millions.” She noted that of all the people who use the park, “only 10 percent actually get in the water. The other 90 percent are spectators.” What was once a forgotten bend of the Boise River is now one of the busiest sections of the Greenbelt. It has transformed from a site beset by pollution and tragedy to a safe, successful and beloved community resource. A memorial plaque was installed on the wave to honor Cassie Ray Conley. It also serves as a reminder of how far the river and the community that supports it have come. JENNELLE BRUNNER
ot long ago, only trees dipped their branches into the Boise River where its current swept over a low-head dam downstream of Barber Park-to-Ann Morrison Park. Then, the overhanging trees acted as strainers, and the dam created a dangerous and mostly unusable water feature. It was a deathtrap, really, with a hidden underwater hole that could suck a person in and never let go, which is what happened to 20-year-old drowning victim Cassie Ray Conley in August 2010. Now, that part of the river is completely different: It’s home to the Boise River Park, which includes a whitewater feature. “Before this [park] went in, it was kind of a forgotten area. No one thought twice about it,” said Walt McBrier, who worked as project manager on the park. Not only is the area no longer forgotten, it has transcended into a community gathering place—one that’s especially appealing for folks like McBrier. He discovered Idaho through a series of whitewater paddling trips and eventually moved only six blocks away from the thendangerous low-head dam. He envisioned something better. After helping to create, plan and build the adjustable wave that is the centerpiece of the BRP, McBrier bikes down three times a week during the summer, with his surfboard and his stout little play boat loaded on his bike trailer. He taught his wife to paddle and can’t wait to get his toddler son on the river for the ﬁrst time this summer. “This is going to be a family love,” McBrier said. “For the rest of our lives.” Boise River Park, near Quinn’s Pond, has revitalized the area beyond the waterway, as well. Bike commuters stop to watch kayakers and surfers from the repaved Greenbelt. Families picnic among strategically placed rocks while their kids swim in the eddies. Triathletes train in wetsuits, swimming the length of the pond while folks attempt yoga on stand up paddle boards. And a new ﬁve-lane road, dubbed Whitewater Park Boulevard, supports 30,000 cars a day. Local business Idaho River Sports made the gamble to move to the once-desolate area a decade ago, waiting for this change—it paid off. The BRP has become the lifeblood for another business on the Garden City side, too. In a small, turquoise-colored workshop, surfboards lean against walls and life jackets hang on racks. And Victor Myers is pretty much a permanent ﬁxture in his store, Corridor Paddle Surf Shop. Myers works 100-
“We had no expectations,” Myers said. “We didn’t even mention it to anyone.” But in 2014, Myers doubled the size of his store, and obtained the parking lot, which he opens as a food truck yard with a seating area, cooling misters and shade. When Myers closes shop in October, he travels the world, working as a river guide in places like Belize, Guatemala and Southeast Asia. “For someone who’s been a guide all over and lived in a lot of tourist destinations, it’s nice to live in a town that isn’t based around tourism,” Myers said. It’s not a big city, but it still has everything you need. It still has some of the most killer river kayaking in the world and no pretension. I’d say it’s the best whitewater city to live in in the country.” That is exactly what Beth Markley is striving
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NOT CLEAR TO PASS If you want to start an argument, mention bike lanes or roundabouts
JEN NEL LE BRU NNE R
f we say the words “controversy” and “streets,” is “transportation” the ﬁrst word you’d think of? If you live in Boise, it might be. It’s a politically volatile subject, and likely to remain so—especially as major changes unfold through 2014 and 2015. Tension between the city of Boise and the Ada County Highway District is nothing new. It was well characterized in a Boise Weekly report (BW, News, “El Alcalde Sin Calles,” April 30, 2014): Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was recalling a conversation he had with the former Socialist Basque president and his wife, who were visiting from Bilbao, Spain, for Boise’s 2010 Jaialdi festival. Bieter was explaining how he governed nearly all of Boise yet had little, if any, say over what happened from curb to curb on city streets. “El alcalde sin calles!” the president’s wife exclaimed. “The mayor with no streets!” It’s a funny anecdote, but it’s more telling than comedic. The gap between the city of Boise and ACHD has never been wider— literally and politically. In spring 2014, the dustup started with bike lanes. The ﬁrst whiff of trouble came April 23, 2014, when the Idaho Environmental Forum invited Bieter to break bread with ACHD Commission President John S. Franden. IEF emcee Chris Meyer said he received a cautionary email from ACHD General Counsel Steven Price. “Great job in getting these men to your event,” Price wrote. “But if this turns into a food ﬁght, it will be your fault.” Food was the least of their problems. During the next few months, discussions about a buffered bike lane pilot project deteriorated into a verbal demolition derby with citizens—particularly motorists and bicyclists—caught in the smashup. When Franden touted ACHD’s plan to introduce bike lanes to Capitol Boulevard, Main and Idaho streets for a trial period, Bieter pushed back, saying that the project was being “set up to fail” because of its limited time frame. When BW asked ACHD Vice President Mitchell Jaurena about Bieter’s concern, he insisted, “This is not being set up to fail, by any means.” Then he told BW something he would later backpedal on. “I think within 30 to 60 days, we can ﬁnd the information we need to see if the pilot is successful,” he said. That never happened. 36 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
As expected, the public ﬁrst bristled at the change, and ACHD interpreted that as an outright mandate on the issue. “I have heard nothing new,” Jaurena said June 6, 2014 when ACHD made it known the pilot was being wound down after a little more than a month, in spite of the dozens of pleas from cyclists and Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan, all asking that the pilot be extended a few more weeks. Social media lit up with commentary. Making matters worse, ACHD created a committee it called “42 stakeholders,” but didn’t include any City Council input. Crews descended on the bike lanes and, within a day or two, had scrubbed them from the roads.
Matt Edmond, ACHD’s senior transportation planner, had worked diligently with his colleagues and city planners, but the Boise City Council was now suggesting that downtown’s new roundabout be shifted to Grove Street. Edmond said the Third and Bannock roundabout had been on the city’s radar since December 2012. He wasn’t excited about going back to the drawing board. “I guess we could talk about it,” Edmond told BW. “I don’t know if taxpayers would be thrilled knowing we spent $67,500 on designing it, then not building it and having to design it for somewhere else.” Needless to say, ACHD commissioners weren’t pleased. They met in late June 2014 and shelved the entire project.
ROUND AND ROUND
FINDING OUR WAY
In the summer of 2014, BW began drilling into the Downtown Boise Implementation Plan, ACHD’s strategy to convert a number of Boise’s one-way streets into twoway streets and to introduce roundabouts to a number of intersections. The plan was the subject of several open-houses and community workshops, and in May 2014, ACHD said it was ready to move forward with downtown Boise’s ﬁrst roundabout, at Third and Bannock streets. Call it coincidence, call it bad timing, but right about the time the unpleasantness between the city and ACHD was reaching a fever pitch over the bike lanes, Boise thumbed its nose at the roundabout. “Signiﬁcantly, we are very concerned with the loss of approximately nine onstreet parking spaces and six mature trees in addition to the unanticipated timing conﬂict with the St. Luke’s and Fort Boise master planning efforts now underway,” the Boise City Council wrote to ACHD, going on to call the project “premature.” You could have knocked ACHD planners over with a feather. “We were supposed to start construction … in September,” said ACHD spokeswoman Nicole Pineda. “[I]t was ... very far along in the planning process.”
That was the bad news. Now, for some good news. By summer 2015, downtown Boise should be pointing people in all directions. In a plan that doesn’t require ﬁnal approval from ACHD, the Downtown Boise Association and Capital City Development Corporation are moving to introduce so-called “wayﬁnding” to the city—possibly by 2015. “The end result? More people will explore downtown, they’ll spend more time here, they’ll explore our businesses,” said DBA Executive Director Karen Sander. “This process has been fantastic. This has been one of the most vigorous responses to a project that we have ever had.” In a series of workshops, representatives from the public and private sectors huddled to craft a downtown wayﬁnding system. “For this city, we wanted to promote the walkability,” said Susan Jurasz, principal in charge with Oregon-based Sea Reach Ltd., tasked with designing the system. “These aren’t signs for motorists. We want people to get out of their car, so we present them at a pedestrian or bicyclist level.” The ﬁrst challenge: deﬁning “downtown.” “This was the fun part, because we started with all of these different maps, all
“For this city, we wanted to promote the walkability.”
the geography,” said Sander. “But then we have to bring in all of the new, different plans that will change downtown.” At least for the ﬁrst phase of the project, downtown Boise was framed from 16th Street east to Broadway and from the Boise River north to State Street. “That’s the ﬁrst area of this, but it’s growable,” said Sander.
CLANG, CLANG, CLANG Boiseans should be hearing a lot more about a streetcar in 2015 as well. Wait. Sorry. We’re not supposed to call it a streetcar. We meant to say “circulator.” In September 2013, BW ﬁrst reported on the city’s new efforts to revitalize the streetcar conversation, which stumbled in 2008 when an east-west route became a political hot potato. The new dialogue appeared to be heading in another direction. “What we learned is that maybe we need to be looking more at a north-south route that would take us to Boise State and beyond, possibly, to the Depot and maybe out a bit further, maybe to the airport,” said director of the city’s Public Works Department, Neal Oldemeyer, in September 2013. “That’s not to say that, at some point in time, the east-west doesn’t come into play. There is a longer vision. Granted, we’re focused on the downtown circulator, but you can’t look at that in isolation.” The city reached out to URS Corporation, which served as the engineer of record for in-operation lines in Portland, Ore., and Seattle, and under-construction projects in Atlanta, Ga., and Tucson, Ariz. To date, URS has been awarded nearly $500,000, most of it coming in the form of federal funds, to conduct what is technically known as an Alternative Analysis. Nowhere in the professional services contract does the word “streetcar” appear, rather, the project is referred to as a “downtown circulator.” Ofﬁcials don’t want the public picturing an antique streetcar clanging through downtown. Instead, they want people envisioning a functional loop circulating people through the inner city to the university district, to the Bench and, perhaps, the Boise Airport. The public is expected to participate in workshops concerning the proposed streetcar… oops, circulator... in late 2014 and early 2015. BOISEweekly
NEVER STOP E X PL O R I NG
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ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 37
JENNELLE B R U NNER
Boise’s thriving international refugee community JESSICA MURRI hirteen-year-old Sajjad Alswaeidi seemed timid when he spoke about home on a sunny summer day in Ann Morrison Park. He rocked back and forth, staring at the ground as he talked about coming from Iraq in the summer of 2013 and what it’s like adjusting to being in Boise, which he described as a calm, quiet place “with rules.” The adjustment to Boise has been easier for Alswaeidi than for his parents. He said English is easy for him to learn and he picked it up quicker than his parents. “I do help them a lot. I have,” Alswaeidi said. Maybe his transition has been easier because he participates in programs not offered to adult refugees, like the Boise International Summer Camp. Twice each summer, the camp, founded in 2012 by Boise Parks and Recreation and the Idaho Ofﬁce of Refugees, takes two dozen kids—half American-born, half refugees—and brings them together for two weeks, every weekday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. It costs $150 per child, with scholarships available, and participants take trips to places like the Discovery Center and the Natatorium. And they are encouraged to share their histories, cultures and languages. The 2014 summer program included kids from Guatemala, the Congo, Nepal, Thailand, Colombia, Kenya and China. Camp organizers say the goal is for U.S.-born students to help refugee kids integrate into the culture and learn about opportunities Boise offers for children. Amaya Gambrell, 11, is short-haired 38 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
and contemplative. She’s a student at the International Sage School, and she joined the summer camp to meet refugee children and show them her hometown. “I would really like to go around the world and meet people around the world, so I was excited for this,” she said. “I think it’s neat how there’s different ways to communicate with people.” According to the Agency for New Americans, 600 refugee children have come to this area since 2011. That has put a stress on school districts, because most of the kids don’t speak English and need special attention. But those who work with refugee populations underscore that these new arrivals are part of the future fabric of Boise—especially the children, who will grow up to become homeowners, business owners and voters. Still, more refugee students means more work for local educators. “We kind of ﬁgure they’re more than one student, because their needs are so high,” said Jolene Lincoln, federal programs consultant and English language learner advocate at the Boise School District. She said the school district receives a refugee school-impact grant to help shoulder the costs of hiring more teachers devoted to teaching English. Hillside Junior High and Borah High School offer bridge programs for refugees and non-English-speaking students: Instructors teach the same subjects as other grades, like life science and math, but do so in a more visual way with more
opportunities to practice English. “I always tell these kids, ‘You all have a story that the world needs to hear,’” Lincoln said. “‘Don’t be quiet. Tell your story.’” Belma and Reﬁk Sadikovic won’t ever stop telling their stories. Belma came to Boise at 16, as a refugee from Bosnia. Her husband came when he was older, after graduating from high school and ﬁghting in the 1992-1995 Bosnian War—a time when Boise saw an inﬂux of refugees from that region. Now, they both work as instructors at Boise State University and put special emphasis on encouraging other refugees to pursue higher education. Belma said most children of refugees never see higher education as a possibility. “You have this sense of, ‘I have to help my parents.’ So you go out and get a job,” said Belma, who worked through high school pushing carts at Albertsons to bring in extra money. She never considered going to college. “It was a math teacher of mine who actually saw some potential and encouraged me to keep going,” Belma said. She went to Boise State, earned her doctorate degree and now teaches education courses and core classes. Reﬁk agreed with Belma: Refugee kids aren’t encouraged to get college degrees. “Most of these parents work two jobs,” Reﬁk said. “They get off one, and they go to their second one, usually cleaning, and often they take their children with them and their children think, ‘OK, I don’t have to go to school to do this.’ Parents don’t really know BOISEweekly
or understand the purpose of education. “Some children don’t understand their They come over here and they don’t grandparents at all. When children know how to help their children.” speak to their grandparents, they’re Reﬁk and Belma organize events not even nice to each other anymore to help adult refugees become because there’s misunderstanding and nontraditional students as well. cultural issues.” Some 20 refugees showed up for the To combat this, Reﬁk teaches Sadikovics’ ﬁrst seminar in the spring a Bosnian language class for eight of 2014. After the seminar, four of the students in the summer. He said that’s refugees who attended signed up at the only way some of these kids will Boise State and three at the College of ever know Bosnia. Western Idaho. Though longtime Boiseans, Belma Reﬁk said it’s important to get and Reﬁk said they’ll never stop refugees in higher education and on a identifying as refugees. career path. “That’s how I came to the United “If you help them for a couple of States and that’s important for who I years, they’ll help you for the next 40 am and who I have become and who or 50 years,” he said. “If you don’t help I am going to be in the future,” Belma them, you’ll be paying for them for the said. “It’s the beauty of knowing how to next 40 or 50 years.” navigate both worlds.” The couple has made an effort Reﬁk feels the same. to vote in every election since they “I would always identify myself became U.S. citizens. They own a as a refugee, because not identifying home and hope to stay in Boise as myself as a refugee, I’m abandoning long as employment every single refugee opportunities that’s coming or allow. Belma’s might come to “I always tell these parents live this country,” kids, ‘You all have a here, too, he said. “My story that the world needs but she said point is to she had a always keep to hear. Don’t be quiet. much easier giving hope Tell your story.’” time as a to other teenager refugees so integrating they would into American say, ‘Look, he’s a society than they did. Her mother refugee and he’s teaching. He was able works as a manager at WinCo, but her to make it, so I can try.’” father is still culturally disconnected As for Sajjad Alswaeidi, the teenager and still doesn’t speak English. from Iraq, his shyness melted away as Sometimes the assimilation of he jumped into a soccer game with his refugee children can go too far and fellow campers. He laughed and ran the hurt families, according to Reﬁk. length of the ﬁeld, like any other happy, He said he sees kids that don’t speak carefree kid. Bosnian anymore. “Yes,” Alswaeidi said. “I will live here “We have an issue now,” Reﬁk said. a long time.”
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friendly, personal customer service, experience & expertise ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 39
R NE UN
BR LLE NE
FOR ART’S SAKE
Treasure Valley cities increase spending on public art HARRISON BERRY he sculpture looks like a huge metal dandelion, and seemed to spring up overnight at the corner of Eighth and Broad streets in BoDo. It’s title is“Litharacnium,” and it was designed by artists Margo and Dennis Proksa and architect Bruce Poe to resemble its titular single-celled aquatic protozoan—a reminder of biological diversity and the interdependence of life. It cost $42,000, paid for by the city of Boise’s Percent for Art program, the Capital City Development Corporation and Idaho Greenworks. That’s a sizable investment and indicative of the sizable emphasis Boise puts on its public art—a growing fact of living in Boise, thanks to a network of public art programs designed to beautify the city. In Idaho, many cities are beginning to invest in public art as a way of improving their citizens’ quality of life. Meanwhile, funding
40 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
for statewide organizations has stagnated, leading to a reduction in ﬁnancial support for the arts and to communities adopting ways to make their own investments in public art. From 2013 to mid-2014, programs and agencies like the Percent for Art program, run by the Boise City Department of Arts and History; the CCDC; Mayor’s Neighborhood Reinvestment grants; and Parks and Recreation Department spent more than $500,000 on works embellishing the City of Trees. That level of funding is unmatched anywhere else in the state, but in the Treasure Valley— home to the three largest cities in Idaho—a few municipalities are catching the public arts fever. The Meridian Arts Commission drew $20,000 from the city’s general fund and other resources from grants during ﬁscal year 2014. Nampa has budgeted $12,850 through community funding, grants and fees in 2014.
JOIN BALLET IDAHO’S Funding for percent-for-art programs is on the rise as well. Seven cities across the state—Coeur d’Alene, Hailey, Ketchum, Rexburg, Twin Falls, Moscow and Boise— have established taxes of varying size on capital development projects to fund public artworks. In Boise, the 1.4 percent tax has been in effect since 2001. At 5 percent, Ketchum’s is the highest such tax in the state (it applies to qualifying CDPs valued at less than $1 million). Since its inception, Boise’s Percent for Art program has enhanced Boise’s public spaces with nearly $3.3 million worth of art. The reason so many Idaho cities, and Boise, in particular, have invested so heavily in public art is that it makes ﬁnancial sense: Quality of life indicators like access to recreation, public spaces and the arts have indirect impacts on commerce. According to a survey conducted by Americans for the Arts in 2012, nonproﬁt arts and culture is a $48 million industry that supports more than 1,600 jobs in Boise alone. While that may seem like an oversized proportion for a city with around 200,000 residents, note that
more than half that dollar ﬁgure comes from spending at places like hotels, restaurants and retail stores. All told, that spending generates an estimated $4.5 million in state and local tax revenue. While municipalities across the state look inward to ﬁnd ways of supporting public art projects, they also look to the Idaho Commission on the Arts, which has long served advisory and curative roles in the arts scene statewide. ICA’s operating budget of $740,000 is in the ballpark of what Boise agencies spend on public art, and that has meant adapting its strategies in order to fulﬁll its mission of supporting the arts in Idaho. In the past, ICA disbursed grant money to artists and arts organizations. In the wake of stagnant state funding, ICA has begun to consolidate the grants and place more emphasis on assisting cities, programs and artists in becoming sustainable. “Our budget is pretty stable, but the trouble is, it’s just not growing,” said Artist Services Program Director John McMahon. “Our role is primarily to assist local organizations.”
BOISE’S PERCENTFOR-ART TAX: 1.4 percent
For tickets visit BalletIdaho.org
NEW DANCE... UP CLOSE
KETCHUM’S PERCENTFOR-ART TAX: 5 percent
NOVEMBER 14/15 & NOVEMBER 21/22 AT ESTHER SIMPLOT PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY
IDAHO COMMISSION ON THE ARTS’ ANNUAL BUDGET: $740,000
DECEMBER 19/20/21 AT THE MORRISON CENTER
TOTAL VALUE OF BOISE’S PUBLIC ART COLLECTION: $3.3 million
THE NUTCRACKER MOSAIC/ RUBIES/ PIRATES! FEBRUARY 13/14 AT THE MORRISON CENTER
NEW DANCE... UP CLOSE MARCH 6/7 & MARCH 13/14 AT ESTHER SIMPLOT PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM APRIL 10/11 AT THE MORRISON CENTER
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 41
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ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 43
We roll up our sleeves to sample some of Boise’s famous ﬁnger steaks
TARA MORGAN | PHOTOS BY KELSEY HAWES AND TARA MORGAN
inger steaks are a point of Idaho pride. Like some of the world’s most delicious foods, it’s a scrappy way to make the most of what you’ve got. Steak strips, generally from a versatile cut like the sirloin, are battered then deep fried. What emerges is a tender, crunchy, juicy handheld snack primed for dunking in sauce—generally cocktail with enough horseradish to singe your nose hairs. Perhaps even more than its Southern cousin, the chicken-fried steak, the ﬁnger steak has shrugged off all pretense associated with the word “steak” in order to make its home in plastic baskets at some of the state’s dingiest dives. Widely credited as the father of the ﬁnger steak, Milo Bybee is purported to have invented the delicacy at his Torch Lounge in the mid-1950s. But ever since the joint stripped down to a boobie bar, ﬁnger steak enthusiasts across the Treasure Valley have been seeking someone to carry on the torch, so to speak. Cookoffs have even been held, in which locals competed to make the most authentically Torch-y ﬁnger steaks. So it’s no surprise that when Boise Weekly published a Facebook post asking where to ﬁnd the best ﬁnger steaks in town, we received an outpouring of enthusiastic comments (215 of them)—more than a few of mentioning The Torch. We compiled a graphic of those responses on Page 46, then went out and did some hard-hitting snacking. Here are some vital stats and subjective rankings on this highly varied, quintessentially Idaho fried food.
RESTAURANT: Lindy’s Steak House, 12249 W. Chinden Blvd., 208-375-1310
STEAK TYPE: Culotte, top cap of the sirloin BATTER: Flour batter mixed with garlic and pepper; double breaded FRY METHOD: Deep-fried under pressure SAUCE: Cocktail with medium horseradish heat and chili BACKGROUND: For the past 18 years, Lindy’s owner Tom Criner has gotten to work at 4 a.m. to hand cut the beef for his Chinden Boulevard steakhouse. Criner’s son, Lance, said one of the secrets to Lindy’s perfectly crunchy, awesomely tender, still-pink-on-the-inside ﬁnger steaks is a method called deep-frying under pressure, or broasting. “It’s a fryer, sort of, and they add pressure to it by closing a lid and screwing it down tight,” Lance said. “Not only does it help with the crispiness, but it also helps with the non-absorption of oil into the 44 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
product. So they’re not as greasy as fries.” Lindy’s serves its ﬁnger steaks with a classic cocktail sauce, which has a nice horseradish bite but isn’t overwhelming. “I’ve even seen people put honey mustard or A1 on it, but normally they’re served with cocktail sauce,” said Lance. According to Lance, his father “basically patterned” his ﬁnger steaks after The Torch’s famous recipe. “That’s what we’re famous for is our ﬁnger steaks, it’s the No. 1 selling item on the menu,” he said. “When we hand cut them, we put them through a tenderizing process so they’re real tender—you can almost cut them with a fork.” TASTING NOTES: The crisp, fried chicken-esque batter has a nicely seasoned garlic kick to it. The steak is perfectly tender and cooked to a still-bloody, pinkish medium. These are, by far, the best ﬁnger steaks we sampled. READER RANKING: 1 BW RANKING: 1 RESTAURANT: Crescent “No Lawyers” Bar and Grill, 5500 W. Franklin Road, 208-322-9856 STEAK TYPE: Shoulder tender, or mock tender BATTER: Wet tempura batter FRY METHOD: Deep fryer SAUCE: Spicy, housemade cocktail sauce BACKGROUND: With a life-sized courtroom mural and legal-themed
dishes—like “Lawyer fries,” a.k.a. Rocky Mountain oysters—this eclectic sports bar attracts regulars and happy hour hounds in equal measure. Though Crescent’s ﬁnger steaks have a number of ﬁnger buddies—pork ﬁngers, calamari ﬁngers, portobello ﬁngers, chicken ﬁngers, zucchini ﬁngers—the juicy, still-pinkinside steak is where it’s at. “We hand cut them to about an ounce-or-so-size pieces and then we’ve got a wet tempura batter that we batter ’em in and fry ’em up,” said cook Nick Romans. “There’s seasons and stuff in there, but that’s a secret.” Though the Crescent serves its ﬁnger steaks with the classic horseradish-andketchup cocktail sauce, they also stand up nicely to a plunge in fry sauce.
“They’re real popular. In a typical night, [we sell] 20 or so [orders] on average. They are fresh and cooked to order and we hand cut them, so not frozen or anything like that,” added Romans.
TASTING NOTES: Fried to a deep, golden brown, these ﬁsh-and-chippy ﬁnger steaks have a great crunch and retain a lovely pinkness on the inside. The tempura batter could use a bit more seasoning to make it sing. READER RANKING: 4 BW RANKING: 2 RESTAURANT: Burger ’n’ Brew, 4295 W. State St., 208-345-7700
STEAK TYPE: Hand-cut tri-tip BATTER: Seasoned ﬂour batter FRY METHOD: Deep fried SAUCE: Tangy barbecue and fry sauce BACKGROUND: Burger ’n’ Brew lures in soccer dads and grown-up softball teams from the nearby Willow Lane Athletic Complex with its two namesake offerings. Brews pour from multiple taps as burgers and baskets of fried morsels ﬂow from the kitchen. Terri Bigelow, wife of owner David, said Burger ’n’ Brew has been using the same ﬁnger steak recipe for the past 35 BOISEweekly
years: hand-cut, bite-sized tri-tip hunks are tossed in well seasoned ﬂour batter, deep fried and served with both fry sauce and barbecue sauce, which has a tangy vinegar bite. The ﬁnger steaks’ smaller-than-average size lets you dunk freely. “It’s more of a ﬁnger food, rather. You dip once and then you’re not worried about double-dipping,” said Bigelow. Perhaps that’s why Bigelow says ﬁnger steaks are Burger and Brew’s No. 1 seller. “There’s friends that have lived in Boise and moved away and as soon as they come into town, they come here ﬁrst for ﬁnger steaks,” said Bigelow. TASTING NOTES: Though they’re bite-sized, these ﬂuffy ﬁnger steaks pack some of the best ﬂavor in town. Plus the barbecue sauce is an awesome pairing for those weary of the cocktail sauce song-and-dance. READER RANKING: 5 (Tied with Busters on Broadway and The Torch) BW RANKING: 3
toast and a side of classic, not-too-spicy cocktail sauce. “A lot of people pre-cook their meat and then deep-fry them, so it makes them a little chewy,” said McCullough. “Ours is deﬁnitely the melt-in-yourmouth, really good.” TASTING NOTES: Westside’s long, tubular ﬁnger steaks are cloaked in a corn-doggy tempura batter that’s perfectly crisp, yet remains ﬂuffy on the inside. The thin strips of steak are cooked completely through, but not chewy, and the cocktail sauce is subdued but serves its purpose. These ﬁnger steaks are like a vanilla milkshake—classic, but not that interesting. READER RANKING: 2 (Tied with Ben’s Crow Inn) BW RANKING: 4 RESTAURANT: Dutch Goose, 3515 W. State St., 208-342-8887
RESTAURANT: Westside Drive-In, 1929 W. State St., 208-342-2957
STEAK TYPE: Teres major, part of the shoulder BATTER: Tempura seasoned with Chef Lou’s seasoning salt, garlic and pepper FRY METHOD: Deep fried SAUCE: Classic cocktail BACKGROUND: Chef Lou Aaron’s drive-thru institution is famous for a few uniquely Idaho classics—including the cocoa-dusted ice cream potato and baskets of golden brown ﬁnger steaks. To make the latter, Westside Drive-In Line Cook Zack McCullough cuts a shoulder slab into strips, coats them in a tempura batter mixed with Chef Lou’s seasoning salt, garlic and pepper, then deep fries the ﬁnger steaks. “It’s usually maybe ﬁve minutes tops—that’s from putting them into the batter and into the fryer,” said McCullough. “We try to shoot for well-done, not cooked all the way through but it’s still juicy on the inside. And then we just want to make sure the tempura batter’s cooked all the way through.” Westside’s ﬁnger steaks are served in 5-ounce portions with a hunk of Texas
STEAK TYPE: Shoulder, butchered in house into 5½-ounce portions. BATTER: Signature beer batter FRY METHOD: Deep fried SAUCE: Housemade fry sauce spiked with horseradish BACKGROUND: On a quiet weekday night, Dutch Goose cook Kenny Lancaster submerged hunks of steak into a drippy beer batter then plopped them into the dive’s deep fryer with a loud splatter-pop. “You have to make sure that none of the batter is sticking or falling off your ﬁnger steaks so that you have a complete ﬁnger steak and it’s not peeling off,” he explained. “You have to leave it in there just long enough so that the breading is crispy but it’s not a chewy piece of steak, either. You want it to be a nice juicy steak with a crispy outside.” After a short while, he scooped the puffy, deep brown steak pillows onto a bed of french fries and called the order into a microphone dangling over the wooden bar. In the year and a half that Lancaster has worked at Dutch Goose, he estimates he’s made 4,000 to 5,000 ﬁnger steaks. “A lot of people, they don’t know how we do things here,” said Lancaster. “They’ve had ﬁnger steaks elsewhere and they’re frozen, it’s like 46
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 45
45 jerky coming out. All of our stuff’s fresh, handmade.” TASTING NOTES: Though the horseradish-ﬂecked fry sauce was a nice change of pace, the greasy beer batter slid easily off the steak, which was a tad chewy. READER RANKING: 3 BW RANKING: 5
RESTAURANT: Pinnacle Sports Grill, 2902 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-884-4400
Pinnacle’s ﬁnger steaks—which are fried to a shiny, medium brown—are available in a 4½-ounce appetizer size and a 5½-ounce dinner portion served with seasoned curly fries. TASTING NOTES: Though the thin strips were greasy and had a little too much breading, they packed a nice crunch. Both the seasoning and the cocktail sauce were nothing to write home about. READER RANKING: 9 BW RANKING: 6 RESTAURANT: Crooked Flats, 3705 Idaho Hwy. 16, 208-258-6882
STEAK TYPE: Sirloin BATTER: Dixie fry with soda water FRY METHOD: Deep fried in canola oil SAUCE: “Pinnacle Kickin’” horseradish cocktail sauce BACKGROUND: Though Pinnacle has a chain vibe, with TVs ﬂashing sports from every wall and table, the sprawling bar and restaurant is locally owned. It also makes its ﬁnger steaks to order from scratch. “We cut ’em into little strips and then we drop them into ﬂour into a mixture or batter—it’s called a Dixie fry,” said line cook Jesse Walker. “It’s just that and soda water. It’s a little bit ﬂufﬁer; it almost gives it that tempura batter kind of look to it. But the soda water helps it crisp up really nice, so they stay crispy pretty long.”
STEAK TYPE: Elk tenderloin BATTER: Seasoned ﬂour FRY METHOD: Deep fried for a minute or less SAUCE: Chipotle aioli with fresh cilantro and lime. BACKGROUND: Though Crooked Fence Brewing’s new beer compound wasn’t a reader-suggested ﬁnger steak destination, we made the trek to the former winery to check out the kitchen’s unique-sounding elk ﬁnger steaks. “I like to go a little bit outside of the box but still keep it traditional,” said
FINGERSTEAK TOP 10
Kitchen Manager Ajay Dechambeau. “It’s Idaho, we’re blessed with an awesome amount of wild game and things like that so I think it’s fun to use it.” Dechambeau cuts elk tenderloin into strips then brines them for a day in buttermilk and seasonings. From there, the strips are dredged in seasoned ﬂour and submerged in the fryer for a minute or less. The lightly battered elk ﬁnger steaks are served on a bed of heavenly hand-cut Idaho potato fries seasoned with garlic pepper and tossed in white trufﬂe oil. The dish is served with a side of tangy, cilantro-ﬂecked chipotle aioli, but Dechambeau also offers a “killer cocktail sauce.” Though the elk ﬁnger steaks have been a popular dish, Dechambeau plans on experimenting with other interesting variations, like duck ﬁnger steaks. “We will always have ﬁnger steaks on the menu, it’ll just be a different variety of unique meat,” said Dechambeau. TASTING NOTES: With a thin, slightly soggy coating, Crooked Flats’ elk ﬁnger steaks play second ﬁddle to their amazing garlic trufﬂe fries. And while the zippy chipotle aioli goes great with the ﬁnger steaks, it’s an odd pairing with the fries. We’ll deﬁnitely be back to try the duck ﬁnger steaks. READER RANKING: N/A BW RANKING: 7 RESTAURANT: Ben’s Crow Inn, 6781 Warm Springs Ave., 208-342-9669 STEAK TYPE: Frozen BATTER: Frozen
CARRYING A TORCH
“Boise folklore: The Torch of course...” Samuel Goff
14 Ben’s Crow Inn
“They used to be at the Torch but now all you can get there is breasts and thighs.” - Corey Rider Tidwell
13 The Dutch Goose 12 The Crescent “No Lawyers” Bar and Grill 9
Burger ‘n’ Brew
Buster’s on Broadway
Quinn’s Restauraunt and Lounge
Sockeye Grill and Brewery
“My House” - 6 people voted for this “Irish Seattle” - Lucan N Amanda “The Lucky Wishbone in Tuscon Arizona” - Hauns Olo “Saint Alphonsous Cafeteria”- Quinn Johnson
46 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
with persistent horseradish heat BACKGROUND: Known for its bucket of clams, Warm Springs shack Ben’s Crow Inn attracts swarms of thirsty cyclists from the nearby Greenbelt. Though most folks ﬂock to the patio tables, if you pull up a stool next to the regulars perched at the long, dark bar you’ll get the real Crow experience. The service is just as no-frills as the food. Frozen ﬁnger steaks “from North Idaho” are pulled from the fridge in pre-portioned green baskets and dumped into the deep fryer. TASTING NOTES: This is how you’d imagine ﬁnger steaks tasting if you’d never had them before. Ground meat is compressed into little ﬁnger shapes that’s evenly coated in a dark batter, which hardens in the fryer. The searingly hot cocktail sauce masks the blah steak. We’re going to assume the high reader rating has something to do with their appetites after a grueling bike ride. READER RANKING: 2 (tied with Westside Drive-In) BW RANKING: Last place.
16 Lindy’s Steakhouse 14 Westside Drive-In
FRY METHOD: Deep fryer SAUCE: Outlandishly spicy cocktail sauce
READERS SAY “10th Grade” - Truman Bishop “Can you please just make a list and email these to me? My finger is getting tired of hitting the like
“Used to be the Torch until they lost their collective minds and yrashed (yes they said yrashed) the joint in the name of greed!” - Carolee Russell Hall
button and my mouth wants steak.” - Daniel Talich
“The best finger steaks left Boise when The Torch stopped serving food.” - Jake Totter
plate.” - Lindy Hiebert
“According to my 93 year old awesome Granny they were served at the restaurant that used to be where the torch 1 is now” - Sarah Stovall
“The ones in your mouth, in your hands or on your “My belly.” - Jose Pepe “On my hands.” - Joseph McMillin “What’s a finger steak?” - John Rexroat
“Before it became a strip club....The Torch!” - Jay Parker
“Trick question: nowhere” - Melissa Thom
“Quinn's Rest. The last week, I have had two seperate customers come in and tell me how they are looking for the best Finger Steaks, and miss The Torches Finger Steaks. They ordered are FS and love our FS, and said they would be back with friends. True story”
“Your mom’s house” - Sterling House
“My house or my food truck when it opens but until then i'd say the durch goose i believe they have the torches old recipe” - Jimmy Colorisian Meyer
“Why go finger steaks when you can get fried bacon at the saladman” - Daniel Hemmert “My house right after deer season” - Clayton Boren “I miss finger steaks, no one has heard of them on the east coast!” - Adam Pk
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 47
ometimes, it’s about ice cream. For all of the complaints, suggestions and wish lists—concerning jobs, parks, crime and sustainability—that surfaced in a ﬁrst-of-its-kind meeting in June 2014, one male resident said that, above all, Boise’s Vista neighborhood was in desperate need of a frozen treat. “You know what we need? An ice cream shop,” he told a city economic development team (Boise Weekly witnessed the man bring up the ice cream idea in two other discussions). And while no one disputes the magic of ice cream, the episode was more interesting not for what the man was saying, but that he said he was thrilled that someone was actually listening to him. Years, perhaps decades, from now, Boise may look back on that ice cream conversation and dozens more—about public safety, housing and transportation, which all occurred at that June meeting—as part of a better way to invest in neighborhoods. It was a beautiful early summer evening—the kind of twilight that gives residents every reason in the world to be anywhere but inside a crowded neighborhood community center. But come they did—in fact, they packed the Whitney Community Center to participate in something called “Energize our Neighborhoods.” At ﬁrst glance, the title of the program looked like so many others that have come
48 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
and gone for decades— Those 90 minutes represented uncharted government-driven efforts to territory: the ofﬁcial launch of a program revitalize communities. But on this particu- that Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and City lar June evening, something was different: Council members have already shown Citizens did most all of the talking. It was support for. Boise Weekly readers ﬁrst met “old school” engagement, but refreshing. Guiles in April 2014 (BW, News, “ A New If successful, the EnerWay to Look at Boise,“ gize Our NeighborApril 9, 2014) as hoods program she solicited is designed to Boise lawmakers’ create a dynamic support for the “What does a mapping tool for data-gathering livable neighborhood public ofﬁcials to project. use before dedi“I think this mean to you?” cating valuable is the mother resources. Ideally, lode,” the mayor future investments enthused at the in neighborhood time over the housing, transportation, public safety and project’s potential. “Let’s go ahead and try sustainability will begin and end with prithis in one of our neighborhoods.” orities set by the neighborhoods themselves. Standing before the packed room at Easier said than done—and it’s not as the Whitney Community Center, Guiles if city ofﬁcials weren’t more than a little explained the purpose of the program to its skittish about what was about to happen pilot neighborhood. that evening. “I know that we, at City Hall, talk a lot “I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little about making Boise the most livable city nervous,” said AnaMarie Guiles, Boise’s in the nation and that sounds great; but reHousing and Community Development ally, what does that mean?” she said. “Our manager, looking at her watch as the mindiscussions with you should begin with us utes ticked closer to the start of the 7 p.m. asking, ‘What does a livable neighborhood neighborhood meeting. “I hope people mean to you?’ We really don’t want this to actually show up.” be about the city imposing things on you.” Ninety minutes later, she was quite Her comment was met with a roomful content. of nods. “I’m thrilled,” she said, before an exhale “I’ve lived in this neighborhood since of relief. 1999. Better yet, my husband grew up in
this neighborhood and he insisted that we live here,” said Barbara English. “What can I tell you? I even know all the dogs’ names.” More importantly, English knows the kids’ names. She’s a youth recreation specialist with the city and, to the person, everyone BW spoke to at the neighborhood meeting said English was the person who makes the youth center, right next to Whitney Elementary School, tick. “To be honest, the city built this community center here because there’s a great need,” said English. “This is a very active center, particularly for teens. The number of teenagers who come through these doors every day is rather stunning.” English described a daily scenario where up to 40 middle- and high-school students ﬁll the teen center each afternoon during the school year. Even during the summer months, dozens of teens call the center their home away from home—a safe oasis offering recreation, nutrition and (don’t tell them) appropriate supervision. “Yes, there are quite a few at-risk kids here. But we try to keep them pretty busy and provide some healthy nutrition; that’s pretty important,” said English. Indeed, BW learned that Whitney Elementary has the city’s second-highest rate of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Additionally, the Idaho Reading Indicator score, measuring a student’s level of reading skills, reveals that Whitney Elementary’s kindergarten is 51 percent at, or above, grade level compared to a city-
One Scoop at a Tim e: A new w ay to bui ld G EORGE P RENTIC
wide rate of 62 percent. Whitney’s thirdgrade reading scores reveal 67 percent at or above grade level, compared to a citywide rate of 82 percent. That’s reason enough for the neighborhood center to offer tutoring, a reading club, activities in a community garden, open gym and mentoring from neighboring high-school students. All told, including elementary, middle- and high-school students, as many as 150 kids are at the center each afternoon during the school year. “Here, let me show you something,” said English, leading BW to her ofﬁce. A few seconds later, she rolled out a pushcart that was so overpacked with books that if one spilled off of the stack, surely a dozen more would follow. English proudly calls this her “mobile reading club.” “I wheel this around until we ﬁnd a little quiet place,” she said. “That’s usually when a kid grabs a book, sits down and the magic begins.” But it’s not as if English can’t use some help conjuring that magic. “I’m not really sure what to expect here tonight,” she said June 10, 2014, as a steady ﬂow of adults walked through the doors of the center, ﬁlling the same rooms and halls where English shepherds kids every day. “I guess the city is sending the message that it wants to reinvest in the neighborhood. Wouldn’t that be great?” Dusty Benner agreed. He said he’s
E | PH OTO
S BY PA TRI
a better CK SW EEN
usually taking the pulse of the neighborlack of sidewalks in front hood as pastor of Sojourn Church, which of their homes; at another table, coincidentally uses the same community parents were advocating for more organized center for its Sunday morning services. recreational activities for their kids; at an“What can I tell you about our neighother table, homeowners poured over data borhood? Well, for one, we have a lot that identiﬁed the age and size of each of the of diversity. For instance, my wife and I neighborhood’s homes; and yes, over in a have an adopted 4-year-old daughter from corner where an economic development disEthiopia,” said Benner. “Our neighborcussion was being held, there was that man hood has its share of issues. But we have a talking about ice cream and how it would lot of neighbors caring for neighbors.” make a great niche business for an entrepreFor example, the neighborhood’s neur looking for an anxious clientele. numerous churches bond together to offer For the record, city ofﬁcials didn’t blink; a free Friday evening meal at a different in fact, they made a point of writing down location each week. Equally signiﬁcant is his ice cream suggestion. the fact that the Society of St. Vincent de “I have to tell you, I’ve attended quite Paul, just a few blocks from the coma few community meetings over the years, munity center, keeps the doors of its food and many of those meetings were about pantry open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, much more contentious issues, but no one Fridays and Saturdays. would show up. And now, look at this “And there’s usually a huge line tonight,” Deputy Chief William there every one of those Bones, with the Boise days,” said English. Police Department, In spite of that told Boise Weekly “This might be a harsh reality, as he looked out optimism deﬁned at a room full of new model for us to try with the Vista meeting citizens. other neighborhoods. This as neighbors Bones and two spread out to sit fellow ofﬁcers has huge potential.” at one of a series sat at yet another of tables, each table, listening to representing a difpeople talk about ferent discussion. In what it takes to keep one corner, residents talked to city and Ada the peace in the Vista neighborhood. County Highway District ofﬁcials about “This is very encouraging. I like to think speed limits on residential streets or the that this might be a new model for us to
Boise n ei
try with other neighborhoods. This has huge potential,” he said. But the real heavy lifting hasn’t even begun. Guiles told BW that she wants at least a few more opportunities—maybe two or three more meetings—to listen to Vista neighbors and business owners. “Believe me, we have no desire for this to be just another well-written plan that sits up on a shelf,” she said. “Yes, this plan is about reasonable planning, but it’s mostly about execution. We’ve got to get things done, but only after we understand what the neighborhood wants. The entire implantation? We don’t want this stretched out. We’re talking about one to three years.” The city plans to hire a full-time project manager to oversee the project—the Boise City Council has already given its preliminary endorsement for the next ﬁscal year. A mere 90-minute meeting may not solve anything—let alone for anything so complex as an historic neighborhood with contemporary, nuanced needs. But it wasn’t a terrible place to start, giving the city and its residents the opportunity— and the structure—to deﬁne how they see their community, block by block. By 8:30 p.m., as neighbors said their goodbyes and streamed out into what was left of the summer evening, the general consensus was that something fresh, yet familiar, had just been served up—almost like, well, ice cream.
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 49
~Metropolitan & More~
Photographs by Tressa Mae
The Idaho State Capitol: Home of the Gem State’s “citizen legislature.”
From the neon entertainment complex of Edwards 22 (left), to the classic Lee’s Candies (center), to the shady Morris Hill Cemetery (right), the Bench captures Boise old and new.
~Metropolitan & More~
ee’s Candies originally opened downtown next to where McU Sports is now, in 1947. In 1972, it moved up to the Vista Village. Owner Curtis Nokleby has been with it since the beginning, when his dad opened the shop almost 70 years ago. Nokleby has watched the business change as Boise has grown and population has shifted. Once the mall was built, all the big-name stores beside him moved away, taking the foot trafﬁc with it. The candy industry has changed, but the shop’s brightly lit crown sign and the way Lee’s make its chocolates have stayed the same. “I’m the one that makes every single piece of chocolate in here,” Nokleby said. Every morning, he hand-rolls the centers of each chocolate and hands them off to his chocolate dipper, who has been with the business for over 40 years. Nokleby said other candy companies “are all automated, with big machinery. They don’t handcraft their chocolates like I do.” The ingredients used in his chocolates is a point of pride for Nokleby. He said he uses the very ﬁnest chocolate, but he said he has also watched chocolate prices go “out of sight” in the last few years. He’s convinced his customers can taste the difference and, he relies on mostly repeat business—especially the samples of curry coconut cashews and dollops of chocolatecovered sea salt caramels. The hours are long, and crafting such artful chocolates its hard work. “It’s destroyed my body,” Nokleby said. As far as who will take over the little candy shop someday, Nokleby said all ﬁve of his kids are chasing dreams of their own. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’ll probably just fall and die in the kettle.”
deﬁne downtown Boise in different ways. PForeople some, it’s the bars and
Since 1947, Lee’s Candies has been turning out handmade, one-of-a-kind sweets.
Some of the oldest names in Idaho history can be found in the Morris Hill Cemetery.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Edwards Boise Stadium 22 & IMAX Morris Hill Cemetery Lee’s Candies
From arcade games to blockbuster movies, Edwards 22 is an entertainment destination. 50 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
restaurants of Old Boise. For others, it’s the commercial spires that make up the city’s every-changing skyline. Or it’s the Grove Plaza, with kids splashing in the fountain, an Alive After Five concert or the annual Christmas tree lighting. Maybe it’s the Capitol dome, the shops in BoDo, the reborn Owyhee, the turret of the Idanha, or the twoheaded musical monster that is The Record Exchange and Neurolux. Whether the boundaries are drawn from State Street in the north, St. Luke’s in the east, Boise State University in the south and Garden
City to the west, or focused tightly on the core, downtown Boise is a feeling as much as a place. Lauded by nationally recongized city planners and urban mobility experts as one of the highest functioning, pedestrian-friendly downtowns in the country, to visit the heart of Boise is to experience the most vital and g rowing real estate in Idaho. Massive redevelopment projects like the City Center Plaza will make the Grove an even more powerful center of activity, as condos and apartments draw in residents who don’t simply want to visit—they want to call it home.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Moon’s Kitchen Cafe Boise Centre on the Grove Eighth and Main Tower Idaho State Capitol Photographs by Tressa Mae
Moon’s Cafe (left) is an institution, while the Eighth and Main Tower (center) has quickly deﬁned Boise’s skyline. But nothing says “Boise” like kids playing in the Grove (right). BOISEweekly
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 51
~Metropolitan & More~
The Boise Co-op’s distinctive sign (left) acts as an unofﬁcial symbol of the North End. Access to Camel’s Back Park (center) draws everyone from casual hikers to athletes in training.
~Metropolitan & More~ Soccer players and fans get a big kick out of the 161-acre Simplot Sports Complex.
outheast Boise has grown rapidly over the years, with new subdivisions pushing Sfurther and further along the Boise River.
Goody’s Soda Fountain and Candy Store (left) is where you might stop in for some refreshment after a rousing volleyball match at Camel’s Back Park (right).
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Hyde Park Boise Co-op Harrison Boulevard Camel’s Back Park
But it’s not all cul-de-sacs—the cluster of businesses known as Bown Crossing offer Southeast Boiseans upscale dining, drinking and shopping options close to home, while the nearby river, parks and Warm Springs Golf Course offer plenty of outdoor opportunities—which include taking in an open-air performance at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival Albertsons Stadium at Boise State Ben’s Crow Inn Simplot Sports Complex
neighborhoods are more held up as “quintessential” of the FCityewoftenofBoise Trees, but—at least as far as trees go—the North End more than lives up to its reputation. Blocks of picture-perfect bungalows line the streets beneath some of the biggest and most well-kept trees in the city. The Hyde Park district offers a minidowntown of shops, bars and restaurants, while nearby Camel’s Back Park offers some of the easiest and most popular access to the Boise Foothills.
The only thing more famous than Boise State’s Broncos is Albertsons Stadium’s blue turf.
Attending Idaho Shakespeare Festival is a rite of passage for citizens and visitors alike.
Food, drink, shopping and recreation are out in the open in Hyde Park. 52 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
~ ATTRACTIONS ~
Ben’s is all about the B’s: beer, burgers, a big backyard and buckets of clams. Photographs by Tressa Mae
Iconic burger joints like Fanci Freez (left) and Westside Drive-In (right) are as much a part of Boise’s landscape as the Foothills.
~Metropolitan & More~
Street used to be little more Slandtate than a thoroughfare, a no-man’s of unremarkable buildings. It is now a vibrant, thriving place, with new, creative shops and dining destinations that complement the charming, iconic businesses that have called State Street home for years—or even decades. Stop by Jerry’s 27th Street Market for a candy bar or some chicken masala. No kidding.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Jerry’s 27th Street Market The Fruit Stand Fanci Freez Westside Drive-In Boise River Park Who else has something like Boise River Park right in the middle of their city?
Thomas Abel, is well-suited for The Fruit Stand. “I love talking to people and eating fresh fruit,” he said. Photographs by Tressa Mae BOISEweekly
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 53
~Metropolitan & More~
The 44-acre Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve is a safe habitat for birds and animals, but the trailheads and overlook spots make it clear humans are always welcome, too.
~Metropolitan & More~
If you had a dollar for every car trip made on Chinden Boulevard in a day, you’d have enough to buy a nice new car and join in.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Chinden Boulevard Les Bois Park Ranch Club
arden City, a city within a city, is a study in variety with its G riverfront properties, nightclubs, trailer parks, art galleries, car lots, music venues, ﬁne-dining and casual restaurants, the racetrack, secondhand stores, the fairgrounds, coffee shops, service businesses and more, more, more.
The Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Boise’s mosque is one of hundreds of houses of worship representing religions from around the world.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Golden Wheel Drive-In Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Boise Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve
est Boise is teeming with activity from the hundreds of commercial W businesses in the area: small serviceoriented companies, Boise Towne Square Mall (Idaho’s largest), the striking Mormon Temple, the Ada County Jail, the Boise Watershed and enough restaurants to be able to eat a different kind of food every day for weeks.
Since the 1950s, cool kids in their bent-eight chariots have burned rubber to get to Golden Wheel for eats that are still the cat’s pajamas. 54 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
It’s a day at the races at Les Bois Park.
Head to the Ranch Club (left) “dining, dancing and entertainment” to celebrate after a day at Les Bois Park (right). Photographs by Tressa Mae BOISEweekly
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area has a name worthy of its 485,000 acres, which support one of the world’s largest raptor populations.
~Metropolitan & More~
18 miles southwest of AAs themere Boise, is the little city that could. story goes, it takes its name from a Native American word translated as “end of the trail,” which makes sense since Kuna started life as a railroad stop outside Boise. Whether or not the origin of its name is true, it’s certainly not the “end of the trail” anymore. Kuna’s population nearly tripled from 2000-2013 to an estimated 16,500, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Boasting natural features like the legendary Kuna Caves, Indian Creek and ready access to the Snake River, Kuna is a draw for many wanting a small town lifestyle with easy connections to Idaho’s most urban areas.
MEDIAN OWNEROCCUPIED HOME VALUE $134,900 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012)
NUMBER OF SCHOOLS Elementary: 7 Middle: 1 High: 2 Charter: 1 Technical: 1 (Idaho State Department of Education)
NUMBER OF CITY PARKS 10 (City of Kuna)
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Kelsey Hawes
Kuna Caves Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area Though spelunking is verboten, Kuna still cares about its Caves. BOISEweekly
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 55
~Metropolitan & More~
The Eagle Foothills are one of the area’s best-kept secret. So, shhhhhh.
ocated on the banks of the Boise River and shot through with a network of Lsmaller waterways, Eagle has become
MEDIAN OWNEROCCUPIED HOME VALUE $310,600
a much desired suburban destination boasting some of the highest property values in the Treasure Valley. With a tony downtown and proximity to Eagle Island State Park, shopping, dining and recreation opportunities belie the city’s relatively small population of just under 20,000.
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012)
Rembrandts Coffee House: where a cup of coffee is a work of art.
BIGGEST EMPLOYER Eagle High School 150-200 employees Albertsons 150-200 employees
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Rembrandts Coffee House Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe Eagle Foothills
(Idaho Department of Labor)
Rembrandts is housed in a converted church where coffee prayers are answered.
NUMBER OF CITY PARKS 7 State parks: Eagle Island State Park (Eagle Parks Department)
Getteth thineself to Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe when thou dost haveth a craving for a sugary confectione.
Even outside, Rembrandts knows it’s the little things that count.
The girl on the sign is smiling because she got to go to Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe. Photographs by Tressa Mae
56 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015 | 57
~Metropolitan & More~
The Julius M. Kleiner Memoral Park is a ﬁtting tribute to a man whose philanthropy and dedication to his adopted home state improved the lives of so many.
MEDIAN OWNEROCCUPIED HOME VALUE $194,800 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012)
BIGGEST EMPLOYER Meridian School District No. 2/ West Ada School District: 3,719 employees The fountains at The Village at Meridian are an urban oasis.
(Meridian Chamber of Commerce)
was a time not long ago when Meridian was considered a farm town, given over to ﬁelds and backcountry roads. That was then. Meridian has experienced meteoric growth Tsincehere the turn of the 21st century, growing nearly 80 percent since 2000 to become the 10th-fastest growing city in the United States and, in 2014, surpassing Nampa as the second largest city in Idaho. Heavy reinvestment in the downtown area in recent years has helped build an urban identity, though still studded with parks like the Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park and Settlers Park. The Village at Meridian is Meridian’s largest recent development, living up to its name as a “village” with everything from shops to a public square and sprawling entertainment venues like Big Al’s. Roaring Springs Water Park and Wahooz bring families from around Southwest Idaho looking to beat the heat and plays some games, while Meridian Speedway—a longtime favorite attraction—continues to play center stage for some of the communities biggest gatherings. It might be Idaho’s second city, but its largescale entertainment opportunities are ﬁrst rate.
NUMBER OF SCHOOLS* Elementary: 31 Middle: 9 High: 11 Charter: 3 Technical: 3 *Includes Eagle (Idaho State Department of Education)
NUMBER OF CITY PARKS 19, plus ﬁve in the design or construction phase
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ The Village at Meridian Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park Settlers Park Generations Plaza Roaring Springs Waterpark Rock of Honor Memorial Meridian Speedway
(Meridian Parks Department)
Father and son enjoy catching a big one at Settlers Park.
The Village at Meridian: you’ll never want to leave. Photographs by Tressa Mae
58 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
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Mr. Kleiner himself would be proud to know Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park (left-right) is a favorite destination for family fun.
~Metropolitan & More~
C o n t’ d
Settlers Park is anything but settled: With the Adventure Island Playground (second from right), the Splash Pad, a nine-hole disc golf course, the Little City of Rocks, the Sound Garden (far right), tennis and horseshoe courts, the Leighton Family baseball/softball complex and CableOne Movie Nights, it’s like Disneyland in the heart of Meridian.
John Burns, a WWII Navy veteran, stands next to Kleiner Park’s Rock of Honor Memorial (center) a monument to fallen soldiers, which Burns helped make a reality. Photographs by Tressa Mae
60 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
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~Metropolitan & More~
Nampa, one of the largest cities in Idaho, has the charm of yesteryear with places like Pete’s Tavern (far left), the appeal of modern-day expressions like Puffy Mondaes (center left) and an emphasis on history, found at places like the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho (center right). Oh, yeah, and fun with the Nampa Rollerdrome (far right).
the low-slung, brick-rich buildings of historic downtown and you might VnotisitNampa’s get the sense that you’re standing in the heart of the third-largest city in Idaho. Spend some time there and you’ll discover that Nampa’s past as a thriving railroad town is every bit as vibrant as its present. From live music venues like the Flying M Coffeegarage and an ample bar scene, to more than two dozen city parks—including sprawling Lakeview Park, which sports a suspended F-89B Scorpion ﬁghter jet—the Train Depot Museum and a bustling farmers market, Nampa is ripe for a casual stroll.
MEDIAN OWNEROCCUPIED HOME VALUE $166,000 (Build Idaho, 2014)
BIGGEST EMPLOYER This mural in the Hispanic Cultural Center honors the importance of Hispanics to Idaho’s history.
Nampa School District No. 131 1,500-1,599 employees (Boise Valley Economic Partnership)
NUMBER OF SCHOOLS Elementary: 16 Middle: 4 High: 7 Charter: 4 Colleges and Universities: 2 (Idaho State Department of Education)
NUMBER OF CITY PARKS 25 (Nampa Parks Department)
The Train Depot Museum is a stately reminder of the past. 62 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
“I want to ____.” If you ﬁll in the blank with draw, knit, paint, print, spin or sculpt, you need Puffy Mondaes.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho Pete’s Tavern Nampa Train Depot Museum Puffy Mondaes Nampa Rollerdrome Pete’s Tavern: where they’re happy to know your name. Photographs by Tressa Mae
TAKE A JOURNEY! FOOD AND SCENIC BYWAYS OF IDAHO Snake River Canyon Scenic Byway
Sawtooth Scenic Byway
South to north, the byway route begins on Idaho 45 at Walters Ferry and ends at the intersection of US 20/26.
Beginning in Shoshone and ending in Stanley, this byway passes through the beautiful Wood River Valley and over the Galena Summit.
Orchard House Fill up with great food made from scratch before, during or after tasting wines on the famous Idaho wine loop.
CK’s With the charm inspired by French farmhouse restaurants, you will find no limitations of flavor at this intimate Hailey restaurant.
Brick 29 Finish up the byway tour back in Nampa with a dinner you’ll never forget of sensational comfort foods.
Payette River Scenic Byway
Pioneer Saloon A family owned restaurant for over 36 years, the “Pio” is a must stop for Prime Rib in Ketchum.
Thousand Springs Scenic Byway
A beautiful drive year-round traveling north from Boise on Hwy 55 reaching New Meadows.
Shore Lodge A beloved resort since 1948, set on the southern shore of Payette Lake in McCall. Five restaurants to choose from.
Rupert’s at Hotel McCall A cozy, boutique restaurant located on the main corner of town. Noted by people all around the world, “This is a spectacular find”!
Beginning at Bliss, the byway drops down into the canyon providing a grand entrance for visitors. Following through Twin Falls and on to Hagerman where the Thousand Springs burst out of the canyon walls.
Snake River Grill Tucked in the heart of the Hagerman Valley, enjoy such local fare as fresh trout and sturgeon.
Elevation 486 Perched on the south rim of the canyon, breathtaking views are being served up along with an enticing menu.
Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway Begin in Boise following Idaho 21 through the historic mining town of Idaho City, proceeding over Banner Summit, then descending into the town of Stanley.
Donna’s Place In Idaho City where the mountain air is clean and fresh, you’ll find a fragrant hint that something yummy is being dished up at this byway stop.
Bridge Street Grill Just past Stanley is Lower Stanley and the extra 0.8 mile is worth the drive to dine right on the river. Good Idaho “meat & potato” dining.
SUPPORTING LOCAL RESTAURANTS
Western Heritage Historic Byway From exit 44 of I-84, follow Idaho 69 southbound to Kuna. Follow signs to Swan Falls Dam, then Celebration Park and on to Idaho 45 to the Snake River.
El Gallo Giro Offering authentic and tasty Mexican cuisine, this local treasure is bustling from noon to nightfall.
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~Metropolitan & More~
This bridge crosses Indian Creek, a vital part of revitalizing downtown Caldwell.
MEDIAN OWNER-OCCUPIED HOME VALUE $106,600 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012)
Indian Creek is for the birds, too.
BIGGEST EMPLOYER ~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Sundowner Motel Indian Creek Main Street The College of Idaho
JR Simplot Company: 1,000-1,049 employees (Idaho Department of Labor)
NUMBER OF SCHOOLS Elementary: 6 Middle: 2 High: 3 Charter: 3 (Idaho State Department of Education)
NUMBER OF CITY PARKS 14 (Caldwell Parks Department)
The College of Idaho is one of the highest ranked liberal arts colleges in the country. Consistently.
66 Photographs by Tressa Mae
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See the World
Caldwell Fine Arts!
The exhilarating itinerary includes: Sept. 26—Moira Smiley & VOCO, a cappella Oct. 8—Repertory Dance Theatre Company Oct. 28—Orpheus and Eurydice with Boise Opera, Boise Baroque, & Ballet Idaho Nov. 11—Anthony Kerns of the Irish Tenors Dec. 9—Eugene Ballet NUTCRACKER Feb. 21—McManus and Me, a new comedy March 7—Dancing with the Caldwell Stars, a Hollywood showcase April 24—Metales M5 Mexican Brass, wit & Latin American charm Tickets start at $10! Save 20% when you order online at
caldwellﬁnearts.org Use coupon code boiseweekly tickets: 459-5275 ofﬁce: 459-5783
Even closed, the Sundowner Motel looks like it belongs on a movie set.
~Metropolitan & More~
C o n t’ d
boasts a rich past. Once the home of Idaho power brokers and Csitealdwell of the prestigious (long gone) Hotel Saratoga, this city on the Treasure Valley’s western edge has experienced its highs and lows. But home to the College of Idaho—one of the highest-ranked liberal arts colleges in the country—a growing wine industry and enjoying an ongoing downtown reinvestment, C-town is on an upward trend.
For many, when the train stopped in Caldwell, they’d found their home. Photographs by Tressa Mae
Art abounds in Caldwell, from the C of I campus (left) to the architecture of downtown (right). 66 | ANNUAL MANUAL 2014-2015
~Metropolitan & More~
The Star River Walk is as tranquil and lovely as its name.
to Star Deputy Clerk Hutton and she’ll TtellalkKathleen you that “Star used to be all
The Star Mercantile: a thriving reminder of the good ol’ days.
farm land. It used to be three bars and three gas stations. Now there’s so many new homes.” There are also four news parks where there were none, providing ample bird-watching and sports opportunities—especially with the Hunters Creek Sports Complex, still under development. Of course, the Star Mercantile has stood through it all, acting as an unofﬁcial community gathering place.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ Star Mercantile Co. Star River Walk
MEDIAN OWNEROCCUPIED HOME VALUE $176,700 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012)
BIGGEST EMPLOYER Star Elementary School: 42 employees (Star City Hall)
At Steve’s Auto Care, the parrots aren’t certiﬁed to give quotes on repairs. BOISEweekly
Photographs by Tressa Mae
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~Metropolitan & More~
The view driving into Emmett looks like an impressionist’s painting.
hen most area residents think of Emmett, they conjure images of farms W and orchards, rolling hills and, of course,
MEDIAN OWNEROCCUPIED HOME VALUE $122,700 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012)
BIGGEST EMPLOYER Community Partnerships of Idaho: 100-149 employees Gem County: 100-149 employees Walter Knox Memorial Hospital: 100-149 employees (Idaho Department of Labor)
the Emmett Cherry Festival. They’re not wrong, but there’s more to this small town on the northern fringe of the Treasure Valley. Located on the banks of the Payette River, rafters and kayakers routinely visit to ply the waters. Events like the Gem/ Boise County Fair and Rodeo in August, First Wednesday activities and the annual Harvest Festival in October, round out the summer-autumn calendar.
~ ATTRACTIONS ~ HeBrews Coffee J.Hill Artisan Felt Studio Emmett Cherry Festival Photographs by Tressa Mae
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current. cool. costs less eagle lewiston pullman
model home F U R N I S H I N G S model home quality at builders cost
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Our Guide to Life, the Treasure Valley and Everything.