State monitoring radiation
Idaho public health and environmental safety officials are closely monitoring the radiation release reported from Japan's damaged nuclear power facilities. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the situation does not pose a radiation health threat to the United States.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that it is monitoring information from its network of radiation detectors, called "RadNet." There are radiation detectors in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, along with additional non-EPA detectors being monitored by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality at the Idaho National Laboratory.
According to a news release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, none of the RadNet detectors has measured elevated radiation levels.
The department stated that it is concerned about inappropriate use of potassium iodide, an over-the-counter iodine supplement that can be taken orally to block the absorption of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland. The department stated that potassium iodide is not an "anti-radiation pill," and because of side effects, should only be used when someone has been in the immediate vicinity of a nuclear release. Information will be updated on the department's website, www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.
County Commission on hiatus
There will be no meetings of the Blaine County commissioners next week, as two of the commissioners will be out of town.
Commissioner Larry Schoen said the board normally meets four Tuesdays a month, taking the fifth Tuesday off if one occurs. However, due to spring break, the commissioners will take March 21 and 22 off and hold their regular meetings on March 28 and 29 instead.
Vice Chair Tom Bowman will chair the March 28 meeting, as Chair Angenie McCleary will be out of town. Agendas for the late-March meetings have not yet been set.
Public can comment on land use
The Sawtooth National Forest will hold two forums later this month to provide information on a proposed rule intended to give the Forest Service more flexibility on making land-use decisions. They will both take place on Tuesday, March 29, at the forest supervisor's office in Twin Falls. The first will be held from 2-5 p.m. and the second from 6:30-9 p.m.
The forums are meant to inform the public about the draft rule, but the agency will not be taking public comment there. However, comments can be submitted online at www.govcomments.com/.
Economic group to change name
The Sun Valley Economic Development Corp. plans to change its name.
The corporation is the "action arm" of the Sustain Blaine Advisory Board, charged with carrying out actions outlined in an economic strategy developed by the TIPS consulting firm in 2009.
Commissioner Tom Bowman, ex-officio board member for the corporation, announced in a county meeting on Monday that both the advisory board and the corporation would be under the "Sustain Blaine" moniker. The former advisory board will likely be referred to as the "Sustain Blaine Advisory Group," while the former corporation may be known as the "Sustain Blaine Board."
Evan Lawler, spokesman for both organizations, said the change was proposed to make the connection between the corporation and the advisory group closer. Lawler said no final decision is anticipated until the advisory group's next meeting on April 6.
ITD, ISP target impaired drivers
Using federal grant funds, the Idaho Transportation Department is again partnering with the Idaho State Police to fund education campaigns and high-visibility impaired-driving enforcement patrols from March 11 through March 21.
The goal of the project is to reduce motor vehicle accidents caused by impaired drivers by increasing law enforcement presence and increasing arrests. During the campaign, officers are watching for impaired drivers and checking for seat belt use.
In 2009, there were 12,327 DUI arrests in Idaho. Impaired driving caused 65 fatalities, 29 percent of all motor-vehicle fatalities. Seventy-seven percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts.