Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

State labor officials, the College of Southern Idaho and school districts in Mini-Cassia are partnering with local food and manufacturing industries on new training programs for high school students that will allow them to get on-the-job experience (and pay) before they graduate.

It is programs like these that will allow the Magic Valley to continue its economic growth by ensuring local employers are met with a steady, highly trained workforce. And it could help keep more youngsters in Idaho, in high-paying jobs.

The companies — Fabri-Kal, High Desert Milk and McCain Food — collaborated to develop the program. It’s also the first time the Minidoka County and Cassia County school districts have partnered on a project like this, the first of its kind on the Magic Valley.

Students in the program for machine operators, for example, will spend 114 hours training in the classroom and 2,000 more on the job. When they’re working, they’ll make between $10 and $12 an hour.

If the effort works well, the programs are likely to be expanded into other communities. We hope they are. And, perhaps just as important, we hope it inspires other agencies to think outside the box and seek new partnerships aimed at enriching Magic Valley residents and businesses alike.

Jeer

For the second time this year, governors in 19 Western states, including Idaho, have sent a letter to the federal Interior Department demanding more help stopping the spread of invasive mussels.

Despite their urgent requests, the governors are being met by mostly platitudes from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s agency.

“Stopping the spread of invasive species is a big concern of the Department and the Secretary,” one department spokeswoman said in an email to the Associated Press.

The governors don’t think the department or Zinke are appropriately concerned, especially because the feds aren’t taking the kinds of aggressive approaches to stopping mussels that have worked in states like Idaho.

Consider that Idaho alone spends $3 million a year in taxpayer money to fund checkpoints and inspection stations in an effort to keep zebra and quagga mussels out of our waterways. The damage-causing mussels accumulate on structures, and authorities are especially worried about the toll they’ll take on the West’s hydroelectric dams that supply millions of the region’s residents with electricity.

Zinke should recognize that most Western governors belong to the Republican Party of which he is also a member and could make significant trouble for the secretary should he continue to ignore their concerns. But mostly we think Zinke needs to do more on mussels because it’s the right thing to do.

Cheer

It’s almost hard to remember the building at 103 Main Ave. E. used to be a dated-looking concrete box.

Goodbye, Banner Building. Hello, new City Hall.

Public employees are still moving into their new digs, and construction crews are still doing some finishing touches, but the people’s building opened for service Monday.

The $5.7 million project to remodel the old furniture store building is projected to be right on budget and even finished a tad early.

Congratulations to city workers in their new surroundings. But, mostly, congratulations to Twin Falls residents, who now truly have a City Hall worthy of this special community.

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