Soldier Mountain is in good hands and headed in the right direction

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I snowboarded at Soldier Mountain near Fairfield on Thursday, Jan. 31 with Soldier president Will Varin. It was great to get back on the mountain, which is entering a new era. We talked about the difference between a for-profit ski area and a non-profit, which Soldier now is, and the differences between the ski area being controlled by locals rather than a company located far away. Varin had nothing bad to say about former owner Bruce Willis, who donated the ski area last summer. Willis' company operated Soldier at a loss for several years, but kept it open regardless, and took a substantial financial hit when Willis decided to donate the ski area rather than sell it. His company made sure it went to the right people who are in it for the right reasons. He made a good decision. The hill was staffed with friendly folks, and it operated smoothly from the lifts to the kitchen. Varin said the number of ski visitors is above expectations despite a mediocre snow year, so word is getting out. I will have a full story on the "new" Soldier Mountain on Feb. 14, but if you haven't been there, it's worth checking out.

Idaho Reports: Idaho's 'Rec Tech' industry includes some innovative and adventurous souls

If you didn't catch last night's Outdoor Idaho premier, you can watch it on demand here.

This was my first stab at the show, and we had a great time putting it together - hearing some amazing stories from longtime outdoor innovators like jet-boat designer Darell Bentz and 40-year Scott engineer Charley French - as well as some newer additions to this world like Kate Schade, who turned her homemade energy bar into a business that is now a growing employer in tiny Victor, Idaho.

1359739631 Idaho Reports: Idaho's 'Rec Tech' industry includes some innovative and adventurous souls Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Idaho contractors back Otter's state-run exchange, press case for sovereignty

The Idaho Associated General Contractors of Idaho is hoping to boost Gov. Butch Otter's fight to make Idaho one of a handful of states with Republican governors to establish a state-run online insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

Most GOP-controlled states are leaving the job to the federal government, a move Otter says is a threat to state sovereignty and an argument echoed by AGC. The plan, introduced this week as

Renewable groups pull out of conservative lobby group

The American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association dropped out of the American Legislative Exchange Council, because of what they say are its efforts to wipe out state level clean energy programs.

The American Legislative Exchange Council has become a clearing house for conservative and so-called free market legislation. It brings together businesses and about 2,000 state lawmakers from around he nation, who then introduce the legislation.

Idaho high school football player makes PARADE All-America Team

Fruitland High senior Joe Martarano was chosen as an honorable mention selection for this season's PARADE All-America Team.

The complete team will be released in this Sunday's issue of PARADE magazine inside the Idaho Statesman.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker had 50 solo tackles, 84 assisted tackles, four interceptions, two sacks and one fumble recovery for the 3A state runner-up Grizzlies this past fall.

Idaho Sen. Rice counters Sen. Fulcher on health law: We'll lose our noses, still have exchange

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, responded Thursday to Sen. Russ Fulcher's argument that Idaho should resist establishing a state-based health insurance exchange because the Affordable Care Act is more likely to fail if states let the feds run the online marketplace.

"Sen. Fulcher is trying to create a circular firing squad," Rice told me Thursday. "It's a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face strategy."

1359681611 Idaho Sen. Rice counters Sen. Fulcher on health law: We'll lose our noses, still have exchange Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

UPDATED: Oldies radio notes: AM station to debut in Treasure Valley; KJ Mac finds new FM home

Oldies are coming back to the Treasure Valley's AM airwaves.

Barring any unforeseen hitches, Ontario, Ore., AM country station "KSRV 1380 The Bull" will switch formats to "Oldies 1380" on Feb. 15 and spin music from the late '50s through early '70s.

1359672640 UPDATED: Oldies radio notes: AM station to debut in Treasure Valley; KJ Mac finds new FM home Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

McCarthy steps down after long conservation career

To timber mill workers, loggers, Boise Cascade executives and rural county officials in the 1990s, John McCarthy was the face of the enemy.

McCarthy, then the public lands director of the Idaho Conservation League, was the man they saw on local television speaking out against timber harvests he considered damaging to water quality, fisheries, endangered species and future wilderness. He was the voice on National Public Radio speaking against the logging that was at the heart of their livelihoods and culture.

Citing law's 'evil genius,' Fulcher emerges as key opponent of Otter's Idaho-run health exchange

Sen. Russ Fulcher doesn't go as far as Sen. Sherlyl Nuxoll's likening the law to the Holocaust, but he makes a similar argument: That the "evil genius" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is luring the private insurance industry's support.

1359681764 Citing law's 'evil genius,' Fulcher emerges as key opponent of Otter's Idaho-run health exchange Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Idaho media high school girls basketball poll (final)

First-place votes in parentheses

Records are through Tuesday

5A W-L Pts. Pvs.

1. Post Falls (9) 19-1 49 2

2. Coeur d'Alene 16-4 36 1

3. Highland 16-2 29 3

4. Rocky Mountain (1) 18-2 26 4

5. Lewiston 15-5 5 5

Others receiving votes: Mountain View 4, Meridian 1.

4A

1. Middleton (10) 20-0 50 1

2. Skyview 15-5 32 2

3. Bishop Kelly 14-6 25 5

4. Burley 16-4 23 4

5. Twin Falls 14-6 16 3

Others receiving votes: Century 3, Pocatello 1.

3A

1. Snake River (7) 18-2 45 1

2. Filer (2) 17-4 39 2

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