Idaho Newsreader - 12.10.08

Suspicious suitcase nets a fine for Rigby man • Blind woman claims unfair treatment in Twin • Blaine County hit by unemployment increase • Eagle count soars in Coeur d'Alene • National parks impact on Utah's economy

Suspicious suitcase nets a fine for Rigby man

Rigby resident Barry Woodhouse hadn't dusted off his green suitcase since a 1998 LDS mission to New Mexico.

The suitcase caused quite a stir when it fell of his trailer as he was headed to the dump last week.

North Yellowstone Highway was closed, homes were evacuated and the Idaho Falls Bomb Squad was called in to help with the suspicious case.

To pay for the $53 fine he got for littering, Woodhouse has put the suitcase up on Craigslist.com.

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Blind woman claims unfair treatment in Twin

A blind woman who recently moved to Twin Falls says some merchants could stand to be more accommodating to the needs of disabled people.

Marianne Schmidt says she was denied access to the handicapped section of a Greyhound bus and that she's also encountered resistance from five or six Twin Falls businesses during the past couple of months.

The Times-News reports that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to ensure that people like Schmidt and her service dog have equal access to all places everyone else in the public is allowed to go.

"It's a disappointment to me," American Council for the Blind Spokesman Ronald Milliman told the paper. "We hear these things more often than what we should."

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Blaine County hit by unemployment increase

The Idaho Mtn. Express reports on new unemployment statistics that show the unemployment rate in Blaine County jumped to 5 percent in November, compared to 2.2 percent for the same month last year.

However, the county and the rest of the state continue to fare better than the national average.

The recession has left a record 44,100 Idaho workers without jobs, sending the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to a 15-year high.

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Eagle count soars in Coeur d'Alene

The Spokesman-Review reports that the number of bald eagles seen in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene has increased significantly in the past week.

Bald eagles from around the region are attracted by the kokanee that spawn in the bay from November through December.

A weekly winter survey found 127 eagles in the bay on Monday, up from 88 last week. A record 156 eagles were counted in December 2004.

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National parks impact on Utah's economy

For many reasons, it's a shame Idaho is without a national park.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on a new study that shows that national parks infuse more than 11,000 jobs and nearly $485 million into the Utah economy.

At Arches National Park, visitors flock through the gates at a rate of 2,500 to 3,000 a day in the busy summer months. That adds up to about 1,000 hotel rooms and $60-per-person spending a day.

Nationally, the parks accounted for 188,000 jobs and more than $18 billion in economic activity.

"When you add that up, you get a sense of the economic impact national parks have across the country - and it's significant," Park System Director Mary A. Bonar said in a news release.