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Here's How Idaho's Border Ended Up Looking Like Joe Biden

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Here's How Idaho's Border Ended Up Looking Like Joe Biden


Like Ed Sheeran, people have long been fascinated with shapes.

From clouds to mountains, our brains are naturally wired to identify patterns, trends, and meanings in the things we see and experience.

It’s called pareidolia, and our quirky tendency makes us see familiar shapes in random objects—like a mountain range that resembles a woman’s breasts, hence Idaho’s Grand Tetons.

Searching for shapes in random objects is nothing new.

Our pattern-seeking behavior dates back to our ancestors. Back then, it was a survival skill that helped them differentiate between threats and opportunities around them. Today, most of us find it fun when our brains pick up on cool pictures in nature and the emotions and associations they evoke.

POV: yours truly has a cute, tiny birthmark five inches above my left knee that looks like a heart, and I swear up and down it represents love and connection. Call me crazy, but I love my quirky birthmark. It’s unique, amusing and adds a touch of whimsy to my figure.

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You can see Hercules in the stars & Joe Biden’s profile etched in Idaho’s border.

Think about the shapes of the great constellations and their place in Greek mythology. The stroke of a creative mind’s pen transformed clusters of stars into complex, fascinating narratives passed down from the Minoan civilization of Crete that existed from about 3000 to 1100 BCE.

It’s not on the same level as the cosmos, per se, but the story behind how Idaho got its Joe Biden-looking shape. Love him or hate him, it’s a pretty interesting story. It’s also one of 10 fascinating Idaho facts in the gallery below.

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  • A look at how Idaho’s border ended up looking like Joe Biden

  • 11 laws & regulations we wish Idaho would adopt

How Idaho’s Border Ended Up Looking Like Joe Biden + 9 More Quirky Facts

Have you ever wondered why Idaho’s Montana border looks like Joe Biden’s side profile? Or how the Gem State got its distinctive, gun-like shape? Maybe you’re curious to know how Idaho got its nickname?

We’re explaining all that & more in the gallery below!

Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

11 Spectacular Laws We Wish Existed in Idaho

Pitching a fresh law might sound a bit overwhelming, but it’s a core part of how us regular folks get in on the democratic action. Here are 12 laws we would propose to Idaho lawmakers!

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Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

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  • 9 really weird & wrong ideas outsiders have about Idaho living

  • The to 8 reasons Idahoans are calling the cops on their neighbors

9 Really Weird & Wrong Ideas Outsiders Have About Idaho

Do you ever get the feeling that America thinks Idaho was born yesterday? Or that we’re nothing more than a giant field of potatoes? Do you ever get a little tired of the same old warn-out stereotypes?

Rather than complain, we decided to address nine of them and have a little fun along the way!

Gallery Credit: Ryan Antionette Valenzuela

8 Reasons Idahoans Call the Police on Their Neighbors

You could say calling the cops on your neighbors isn’t the most neighborly thing to do. But what about when it’s absolutely warranted?

Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

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Idaho

Marty and Max: Clagstone Ranch – The Spirit of North Idaho's Rugged Individualism

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Marty and Max: Clagstone Ranch – The Spirit of North Idaho's Rugged Individualism



EDITOR’S NOTE: Marty and Max are starting a series on unique places to purchase and live in North Idaho. Today we are looking at the Clagstone Ranch.

Fast forward to the present, and North Idaho’s Clagstone Meadows, open to the public since 2017, introduces us to our modern-day Wyatt Earp: Dan Baker. Thirty years ago, Baker envisioned a place where his family could enjoy space, safety, and the freedom to live out the rugged individualism that North Idaho offers. “The dream was living in a very harmonized way to include nature, family, and friends, living in harmony with common values that believe in God, Family, and Country,” explained Director of Owner Relations Causja LaVe-Wohletz .

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While it may not be Tombstone, Clagstone is a community north of Spirit Lake and embodies the essence of North Idaho living. Dan Baker’s vision culminated in Clagstone Ranch, conveniently located about 10 minutes from amenities like grocery stores and healthcare and roughly 40 minutes from Sandpoint and Costco. Spokane Airport is a 65-minute drive away, making Clagstone the hub of North Idaho’s growth and a burgeoning destination.

Entering the 420-acre Clagstone Ranch, visitors are greeted by a security gate, a large American flag waving proudly, and a community center in the background. Several times a year, community events feature live music, water slides, horses, and more, fostering a strong sense of camaraderie. The ranch consists of about 84 building lots, each owner enjoying a 5-acre parcel with power at the street, a community well with pristine aquifer water, and soil ideal for septic systems and construction.

Driving through the community with Causja, traveling down Wyatt Earp Loop to Doc Holliday Drive, it’s clear the sense of community is strong. Neighbors greeted her warmly, reflecting the supportive atmosphere. When asked what she loved most about Clagstone, Causja highlighted the community’s collaborative spirit, particularly evident during winter months when residents help each other navigate the sub-freezing temperatures.

Wildlife has roamed these lands for centuries, and Clagstone’s unique position, surrounded by state lands on three sides, honors this heritage. Bonner County partnered with the ranch to create a moose and deer path with 25-foot landscape setbacks where owners are asked not to clear trees or fences within that area, providing wildlife a 50-foot corridor of privacy.

Prospective buyers can build their own homes, use their builders, or opt for one of the community’s approved builders. Clagstone Construction is available to assist with affordable home site pads, driveways, septic systems, and lot clearing. Buyers should be aware of the area’s heavier snowfall compared to Coeur d’Alene and come prepared. The community manages road plowing, park maintenance, gate security, and water services, all for a reasonable $640 per year. Law enforcement officers and military personnel receive discounts that can be applied toward construction costs or price reductions.

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Wyatt Earp helped pave the way for North Idaho, and the region’s low crime rates continue to attract new residents. While Earp might find it challenging to mediate another gunfight today, as most locals are skilled marksmen, Idaho’s balanced budget and surplus also draw people to the state. In the 1800s, people came to Idaho seeking their dreams, family values, and opportunities. Over a century later, Dan Baker alongside Chad and Alison Baker offers the same at Clagstone Ranch, taking us “Back to the Future.” Both the Baker’s and Wyatt Earp lived their futures in North Idaho, and it’s not too late for you. As the Christopher Lloyd character Doc Brown from Back to the Future said, “Your future hasn’t been written yet.”

If you know of a unique and special area, please reach out. We’d love to feature many of the great places to buy in North Idaho.

For more information, contact Marty Walker at marty@21goldchoice.com. This article was not written by and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Coeur d’Alene Regional REALTORS® Source Reuters & CDA MLS



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New revelations, new wrinkles in Idaho Supreme Court hearing on Phoenix sale • Idaho Capital Sun

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New revelations, new wrinkles in Idaho Supreme Court hearing on Phoenix sale • Idaho Capital Sun


This story was originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on June 13, 2024.

(UPDATED, 3:56 p.m., with comment from Trudy Fouser, the State Board’s lead attorney.)

An Idaho Supreme Court justice Thursday floated a new and confounding question about the proposed University of Phoenix acquisition: Did the State Board of Education pay $1.5 million for consulting before greenlighting the deal?

State Board officials were quick to say they never paid for due diligence work, which would have been covered through tax dollars.

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The due diligence question came up during oral arguments, as the Supreme Court took up an open meetings lawsuit against the State Board. Attorney General Raúl Labrador has argued that the board broke state law when it held three closed-door meetings to discuss the University of Idaho’s $685 million plan to purchase Phoenix. The State Board gave the purchase the go-ahead in an open meeting on May 18, 2023.

Labrador’s lawsuit — rejected in an Ada County district court — has nonetheless thrown a monkey wrench into the bid for Phoenix, a giant for-profit online university serving some 85,000 students nationally. And if the Supreme Court sides with Labrador and against the State Board such a decision would further imperil the deal.

The Supreme Court took the case under advisement after a 70-minute hearing. It’s unclear when the court will rule.

Did the Idaho State Board of Education pay for due diligence?

It sounded that way, at least in Thursday’s hearing.

During a line of questions, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Moeller clearly suggested that the State Board had spent $1.5 million on due diligence. And he said the spending indicated that the Phoenix talks had progressed beyond the “preliminary negotiations” that can be held in a closed meeting.

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Moeller’s questions also seemed to draw a distinction between the State Board’s due diligence and the U of I’s consulting contracts, which have been a matter of public record for months. The U of I has spent roughly $11 million on Phoenix-related consulting — and as Idaho Education News reported in February, $7.3 million of this work went to U of I President C. Scott Green’s former employer, Hogan Lovells, an international law firm.

So did the State Board spend $1.5 million?

During Thursday’s hearing, the State Board’s outside attorney did not dispute Moeller’s claim, and said the magnitude of the Phoenix deal justified due diligence.

“(It’s) not an unreasonable action,” Stephen Adams said.

When State Board spokesman Mike Keckler was reached for comment Thursday morning, he questioned Moeller’s version of the facts.

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“Neither the board nor the board office spent funding on due diligence,” Keckler said in an email. “Given that we are in a board meeting today we weren’t able to listen to this morning’s oral arguments, so we can’t comment any further on Justice Moeller’s line of questions.”

The board has been meeting in Pocatello since Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting running through today. No board member or State Board staff member attended Thursday’s Supreme Court hearing.

The lead attorney representing the State Board, which operates as the U of I’s governing board of regents, corroborated Keckler’s account. In an email Thursday afternoon, Trudy Fouser said the board never paid for consulting or due diligence.

Familiar — and less familiar — legal arguments

Thursday’s legal arguments revolved around two snippets in the open meetings law, pertaining to the negotiations process and competition.

The State Board justified its closed meetings under a little-used piece of the law, covering “preliminary negotiations … in which the governing body is in competition with governing bodies in other states or nations.”

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Negotiations. Chief Justice Richard Bevan seemed to set the tone for Thursday’s hearing with the court’s first question to Joshua Turner, Labrador’s constitutional litigation and policy chief: “When do preliminary negotiations cease and final negotiations begin?”

For much of the hearing, the justices grilled Turner and Adams about this question. Not surprisingly, the two attorneys saw the issue differently.

Turner argued that the preliminary talks end — and the public debate must begin — when there is an offer on the table. And Turner suggested that this must have happened sometime during the board closed meetings, in March, April and May 2023.

Adams said preliminary negotiations don’t end with an offer; they end when the parties begin work on a contract. And he said the preliminary phase ended with the State Board’s open meeting on May 18, 2023; that’s when the board agreed to pursue a contract, setting a $685 million purchase price.

Competition. This was the centerpiece in the Ada County trial in January, when District Judge Jason Scott ruled in the State Board’s favor. Scott said board members had reason to believe the U of I was vying against other public suitors, such as the University of Arkansas. (However, Arkansas’ board of trustees voted down a Phoenix purchase in April 2023, almost a month before the State Board endorsed a U of I-Phoenix affiliation.)

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But this turned out to be a secondary issue Thursday, as the court and the competing attorneys spent relatively little time discussing competition.

Adams defended State Board members, saying they worked diligently to make sure their closed meetings were legal. And he said everything the board heard in private confirmed the U of I was in the middle of a competitive bidding process.

Meanwhile, Turner took a jab at Scott. By focusing on whether board members had reason to believe the U of I faced competition — rather than proof of actual competition — Scott used a subjective measure. As a result, Turner said, Labrador’s team had no choice but to spend hours deposing individual board members for their read on the market for Phoenix.

Transparency vs. competitive advantage

The State Board’s May 2023 vote blindsided Idahoans who knew nothing about a potential Phoenix purchase, Turner said. And that preempted the process the open meetings law is designed to protect. “The public wants to be able to enter the conversation and have a seat at the table.”

In response, Adams said the board was not trying to shut out the public. Instead, he said, the board was working “to get the best deal possible for the people of the state of Idaho.”

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On Thursday, the court publicly wrestled with this question of balance.

Justice Colleen Zahn said the Legislature made its objectives known, with a law designed to allow the government to negotiate behind closed doors. “It’s clearly got to be to provide the state a competitive advantage.”

Moeller acknowledged that closed-door negotiations are a great way to run a private business. “The debate I’m having internally is, is this a good way to run a state?”

The case, in broader context

The case before the Supreme Court is legally narrow: an open meetings dispute.

Its implications run deeper.

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Labrador’s lawsuit, filed nearly a year ago, has prevented the U of I from financing a Phoenix purchase. The Supreme Court appeal has also kept bonding on hold.

As long as the lawsuit is active — and on Thursday, justices floated the possibility of kicking the case back to district court for another hearing — the Phoenix purchase remains in limbo.

And as EdNews first reported in May, Phoenix’s owner, Apollo Global Management, has said it now wants to talk with other prospective buyers. The U of I could receive “breakup fees” from Apollo if its Phoenix purchase falls through.

More reading: Click here for more in-depth, exclusive Phoenix coverage from Idaho Education News.

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Idaho State Department of Education increases minimum school days

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Idaho State Department of Education increases minimum school days


NAMPA, Idaho — On Wednesday the State Board of Education made a change to instructional day minimums in response to the increasing number of 4-day schools.

  • The minimum number of instructional days in a school year has been increased to 152.
  • The Department found that schools on a five-day calendar averaged 172 instructional days. That’s 26 more days than the four-day calendar average of 146 instructional days.
  • At the end of this school year the Nampa School District became the next, and largest, school district in Idaho to make the switch to a four-day school week.

RELATED| Impacts for the YMCA and Nampa Police Department as Nampa Schools move to four-day school weeks

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

At the end of this school year the Nampa School District became the next, and largest, school district in Idaho to make the switch to a four-day school week. On Wednesday the State Board of Education made a change to instructional day minimums in response to the increasing number of 4-day schools.

State Superintendent Debbie Critchfield and the Department of Ed team worked with education stakeholders to adjust the minimum number of instructional days in a school year to 152. The Department found that schools on a five-day calendar averaged 172 instructional days — 26 more days than the four-day calendar average of 146 instructional days. During the most recent legislative session, two bills were signed into law requiring schools to meet a minimum instructional hours to be eligible to receive state funding.

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Back in January, Superintendent Critchfield outlined her opinions on four-day school weeks in an open letter.

Critchfield saying she “doesn’t support 4-day weeks if they are being considered as a money-saving alternative… little to no money would be saved in the long run.”

In that letter she also urged districts to do what’s best for students rather than what is desired by the adult workforce.

I’ve been following Nampa’s schedule shifts this year for you and I’ve also spoken with the Vallivue School District that spans across Nampa and Caldwell and, while they explored a four-day week in 2020, they decided it was not in their students’ best interest and have no plans to explore it in the future.





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