Property owners take it in the ...
Residential property along the Clearwater Middle Fork of the Salmon and Lochsa rivers enjoys a premium value of at least 20 percent, according to local realtors, because it lies within the Wild and Scenic River corridor. The conversion of U.S. Highway 12 into a high-and-wide corridor for mega-loads would wipe out that premium. One realtor recently told the Missoula Independent: "If these [the international corporations] in fact start hauling 200 some loads, it will have in my opinion a negative impact on property values ... As much as half of the value could be lost. And the losses ... won't stop at premiums for scenic easement."
If property values along Highway 12 in Idaho and Montana are negatively impacted by only 10 percent, the loss to property owners will be in the millions of dollars. The predicted losses of 20 percent to 30 percent, from Lewiston to Missoula, Mont., and up the Blackfoot River, could be staggering. This impact would also spread to realty sales and property taxes.
In approving the mega-loads, the state of Idaho--supposedly staunch defenders of private property rights--is requiring private property owners to assume this risk so the most profitable international corporation in the world can make greater profits.
First of all, let me say that your work never fails to entertain me. A fresh copy of BW always brightens up my day. I recently noticed the controversy over the SNUS ad that appears in each week's edition. I read the Note at the beginning of the Jan. 26-Feb. 1 edition, and I agree with you.
Why are people only complaining about a tobacco ad? Although it could be an influence to the nonsmokers or youth, so is the giant black "Warning: This stuff is bad for you."
While I personally do not support tobacco use, I think that if there is equal influence to both sides of the smoking/nonsmoking argument, then a tobacco ad is a viable sponsor of your publication. However, if there was a way to support a local industry that was controversy-free, then maybe this storm of angry opinionists could cease. Thanks for the newspaper.
Easy reading? Not so much.
George Prentice's recent report (BW, Citydesk, "Transportation Plan for Mega-loads is Heavy Readin," Feb. 1, 2011) on the U.S. Highway 12 mega-loads project was a very well-received, informative contribution to the increasingly heated debate over whether mega-loads should be allowed on our highways.
For months and months, I've heard opponents of shipments suggest that this major transportation project is poorly thought out, risky and dangerous. I was surprised to learn that the transportation plan is 700 pages long--200 pages longer than the Bible and 100 pages longer than Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Whether one agrees with these shipments or not, it's hard to make the argument moving forward that the companies involved in these shipments haven't done their due diligence. For my part, I'm far more comfortable with the safety aspects of this project today, knowing that so much thought and planning has gone into it.
Mr. Prentice deserves credit for going beyond all the back-and-forth and reporting on an issue that really speaks to the merits of this proposed project.
AEHI: just Starting
On Feb. 9, Boise Weekly reported on the outcome of a federal hearing regarding Idaho nuclear company Alternative Energy Holdings Inc. The background provided in the article was comprehensive, but the conclusion was misleading. The article stated that "simply put, AEHI is back in business." However, the outcome of the hearing is not that clear-cut.
After the hearing, the company's website declared that Don Gillispie and Jennifer Ransom would be back at work in a matter of days pending a board of directors vote of confidence. Instead, two board members resigned. No announcement of Gillispie and Ransom's reinstatement has appeared.
Furthermore, the release of AEHI's assets came with strict stipulations that suggest the judge deemed it necessary to keep a close eye on AEHI's conduct. Expenditures of more than $2,500 must be reported to the SEC and a monthly report must be filed with the commission. The court's decision to put the company on a short financial leash suggests a greater consideration for the SEC's concerns than for AEHI's business operations.
More importantly, the Feb. 3 hearing was not a trial. The main question--that of guilt or innocence--has yet to be decided or fully explored. Many of the SEC's charges against AEHI remain unanswered, and the SEC is still in the process of gathering and examining evidence. The public should be careful not to mistake a limited lifting of an asset freeze for an unequivocal endorsement of innocence--this case is just starting to heat up.
: --Lisa Reppell,Boise