The first half of 2013 saw many changes to the Kuna Melba News. The paper said goodbye to editor Laura Colvin and welcomed new editor Mark Barnes in February. Cosmetic changes to the design of the newspaper were slowly rolled out and in mid July we changed the front page nameplate (also called the flag or masthead) from the old KMN logo to the new Kuna Melba News one.
In this issue we’ll present the first half of 2013 and the January 1, 2014 issue will have the second half.
The Creekside Lounge and Perigrine Steaks & Spirits closed its doors January 13. Mayor Greg Nelson and his partner Swede Godfrey opened the restaurant in 2005. Nelson told KMN that he “wants to retire,” and “It’s time to slow down a bit.” It seems that while he may have retired from the restaurant, he doubled down on his time as mayor over the last year. If he did slow down, it wasn’t by much.
Kuna was awarded the “Capital for a Day” and received a visit from Governor Otter and other State of Idaho officials. City officials got to rub elbows with state dignitaries and then all enjoyed a lunch at El Gallo Giro.
Kuna resident Dave Case, former Kuna School Board trustee, Kuna Planning and Zoning Commissioner and local Republican Party leader was sworn in as an Ada County Commissioner and selected Chairman of the Board at the Ada County Commission.
Melba wrestlers competed at the Magic Valley Classic wrestling tournament in Wendell on January 11 and brought home a first place trophy with eight of 11 wrestlers placing in the top four of their weight classes.
In a land trade, the Canyon County Board of Commissioners acquired the historic Map Rock site, a 34 acre site six miles from highway 45 on Map Rock Road near Melba. The site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the most well-known petroglyph panel in Idaho.
It was announced that the BLM Gateway West Transmission Line Environmental Impact Statement would be delayed after changes to the routes were announced in late 2012. Debate arose after the route favored by the BLM was moved to go throught he Kuna city limits rather than through the Morley Nelson Birds of Prey, a route previously worked out by national, state and local officials.
Kuna wrestlers placed first at the Red Halverson Invitational on January 26.
Dave Magnum, Melba volleyball, track and basketball coach for 33 years was selected by the Idaho State Coaches Association as a “Distinguished Coach of the Year.”
Wrapping up January, the Melba Community Auction, in it’s 64th year and the oldest of its kind in the United States, raised $40,000 for the disaster relieve fund. Notable items included a Ford F-150 pickup for $1,000 donated by Dan Wiebold Ford, a cake for $865 and two birdhouses for $1,600. Most surprising was a pencil that sold for $1,000. Granted, the pencil was a memorial pencil from the 1963 Melba football team that went 10-0 that year, the only undefeated team in Idaho.
After a flood from burst pipes in January, Jimmy’s Uptown Coffee, who had been opened only for six months, reopened and celebrated a Grand Re-Opening. If you want to know what’s happening in Kuna, all one has to do is go for coffee in the morning and join the tables of old-timers.
The city of Kuna announced a new community garden directly across from city hall. Throughout the year, improvements were made, vegetables were planted and community gardening classes were held. Raised beds were built, old trees were removed and a simple fence was put up in front. What was once a trashy looking lot, the space has become a beautiful space for community residents to use. Next year should be even better.
Marty Nelson, the coordinator of the Melba Senior Center since 1994 retired.
The city of Kuna announced that it was going to modernize it’s billing procedures. The new billing procedure plan was announced to the water, sewer and trash billing that would combine all billing and allow residents to pay online.
The LID lawsuit settlement finalizing the negotiated agreement between the city, banks and properties that financed the North Wastewater Treatment Plant was settled.
“At $30 million, this is the biggest legal and financial issue this city has had to deal with,” said Kuna Mayor Nelson.
This agreement, negotiated during 2012, settled the LID lawsuit and defined the transfer of EDUs to Key Bank.
Properties, burdened with expensive costs associated with the former LID, became available at competitive prices once again for development. This opened up new building permits to be issued and pending construction projects to be able to proceed, hopefully reinvigorating development in the area.
Nicole Kirtley confessed to the murder of George Richardson Jr. that occurred on February 7. Just after 2 p.m. Thursday, Richardson was found with multiple gunshot wounds inside his bedroom at his Nampa home on South Powerline Road.
On Friday, the day after Richardson’s death, while detectives investigated the homicide, Kirtley appeared in court for sentencing on an unrelated burglary conviction. She was sentenced to eight years in prison for the burglary but all was suspended and was recommended to appear at a mental health court later. She was also arrested on an outstanding DUI warrant when she appeared in court for the burglary sentencing.
On Saturday, while still in custody, Kirtley was interviewed by detectives about the homicide and when informed of why she was being questioned, Kirtley invoked her right to remain silent.
While waiting in booking, Kirtley began having a conversation with a male inmate being processed for release.
Kirtley then admitted to the inmate that she had been questioned about the homicide and admitted to killing Richardson, saying “she wasn’t going to be raped again,” and did not feel bad about killing the person.
Richardson’s jeep was also recovered based on a tip from a passerby that reported it being seen about two miles from Kirtley’s home in Melba. The Jeep had a rock placed on the accelerator and had been partially submerged in the Snake River, apparently in an attempt to conceal it.
The Melba Varsity girls’ basketball team played in the 2A state tournament and finished fourth in the state winningn the Consolation Championship.
Competing in McCall, the Melba Mustang Dream Team finished second in district competition behind New Plymouth by only 12 points. “It’s a numbers game and we just didn’t have enough weight classes covered,” said Melba Coach Ron Johnshoy. Nine Melba wrestlers took their place on the podium and six claimed their own individual titles.
At the state competition in Pocatello, Melba wrestlers placed second overall with seven of the nine wrestlers placing and breaking state 2A and Melba High School records in the process. Coach Ron Johnshoy was named the 2A Coach of the Year.
Kuna wrestlers, entering the state tournament as the reigning state champions managed to take home a second place. Three Kavemen took home individual championships, four brought home second place finishes and four brought home consolation championships.
The Kuna History Center flooded due to ice breaking a toilet tank. Damage was primarily contained to the small bathroom and most items were spared from other damage.
In what was to become one of the driest years on record for water allocation, the city of Kuna began the process of fixing some old errors in how residents are billed for irrigation water. Due to errors and handshake deals over the last two decades, not all residents were paying their fair share. This caused rates to increase on those that do pay. Throughout the year KMN reported on changes and improvements as they happened. Several subdivisions were de-annexed from the Kuna Municipal Irrigation District as part of the correction.
Patrick Charles See, a 41-year-old Kuna man was shot by three Ada County Sherriff deputies and a Boise police officer in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 9 near the intersection of Cloverdale and Barker Roads after a short chase. The incident sparked a discussion by Ada County Sheriff regarding the lack of mental health care in Ada County. Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson said, “Idaho is 51st in the nation for mental health services.” He added that of the 900 inmates in the county jail, over 80 percent suffer some form of mental illness.
Plans were unveiled by the Idaho Transportation Department on the improvements to the Meridian Road and I-84 interchange. The 50-year old overpass is long overdue for an overhaul. The new bridge has been designed to handle traffic expected in 2035. Construction on this interchange, Broadway Avenue and Gowen Road will begin in early 2014 and is expected to be completed by fall of 2015.
The Kuna City Council and the Kuna School Board held their first combined meeting to share information and encourage more communication between the two entities. It was such a success they decided to hold the combined meetings on a quarterly basis.
The newest restaurant in Kuna opened in the old Creekside Lounge location. El Tesoro, a Mexican restaurant, took over the space in mid-month. Surprising, is that the owner is 21-year old Jannet Marin. Restaurants run in her family though. Her father opened up a popular chain of Mexican restaurants still thriving in the Treasure Valley.
The Kuna Cheerleading Squad brought home a 4A state championship after competing at the state cheer completion in Nampa.
Construction at Celebration Park was well underway in spring and completed in the fall. The new building will house a museum, house the Desert Studies Institute offering teachers, students and visitors a unique learning experience.
On March 25, Idaho Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher’s house on Linder Road received a visit from a man with a bullet hole in his leg. Around 10:30 a.m., a late 1990s or early 2000s dark Mercedes four-door dropped a 36-year-old man off on the road near Fulcher’s home on Linder Road. The man says he was in the car with three others and when he got out of the vehicle, the men inside shot four to five times at him hitting him once in the leg.
Kuna hired Stephen Rinaldi as it’s new fire chief importing him from Florida.
Dexter, a cat living near the corner of N. Ten Mile and W. 4th Street in Kuna, was out for a morning walk when someone shot him in the back of the head last week. The bullet entered the back of his head, narrowly missing his cranium and exited just above his nose. He survived his injuries and the Idaho Humane Society offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an animal cruelty conviction.
There was great weather for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Hundreds of folks came out to find eggs in the park.
The Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge released its Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Controversy surrounded the previous plan when it was released in 2011 with individuals, organizations and local governments raising objections to the planned changes to recreation at Lake Lowell. This time, though, it didn’t raise as many objections.
A 48-year old Boise man drowned at Swan Falls after attempting to swim across the Snake River. His body was found almost a week later. Alcohol was a factor.
On April 5, a car crash at the corner of Southside Blvd. and Bennett Road resulted in the death of 23-year old Benjamin Morse. His 13-year old sister and the driver of the other vehicle were treated and released.
It’s not often that new retail comes to either Kuna or Melba but Tossed and Found, a “Reloved Home Décor” store opened up on 4th Street in Kuna mid month. It has become a popular place to find interesting, repurposed items.
Melba teen Samantha Rodriquez got to give a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. in favor of immigration reform and the DREAM Act.
A Meridian teen was arrested for calling in multiple bomb threats at schools across the Treasure Valley including Kuna High School. In all, there were 17 threats made.
In light of the Sandy Hook massacre that happened in December, 2012, school safety was on the minds of many. Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue got into a bit of a tussle with the Melba School superintendent and school board over his offer to help the district form a school safety plan. While Melba schools did improve their safety situation by installing phone lines to all schools that could be used to notify teachers in the event of an incident, the school district did not take up the sheriff on his offer of help.
News broke that Kuna School Superintendent Jay Hummel was being looked at for the Ashland, Oregon superintendent position. Hummel, having been involved in the Kuna School District off and on for 33 years, ended up being offered the job in May.
In what seemed a rash of sexually related crimes happening in the area, April brought us Courtney Sue Reschke, 35, who pled guilty to six felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor the previous fall.
A 23-year old Nampa man as arrested for having sex with a 14-year old girl at Kuna High School. Luke Allen Inman met the girl on a social media website. Investigators discovered that Inman had tried to contact nearly 200 girls in the area since March. All were between 14 and 16 years old. None were older than 18.
The Kuna Booster Club raised over $40,000 during the annual Football Banquet. They had hoped to raise $15,000 for uniforms, safety equipment and training equipment.
The Environmental Impact Statement was released for the Gateway West Transmission Project and no changes were made to the recommendation to go through the city limits of Kuna and other private property on the segment of the line that cut through Ada County. Open houses were scheduled so that the public had an opportunity to review and comment. Due to the feedback, the final decision on where the portion of the line in Ada County was put on hold.
Melba Mayor Doug Sturges announced his resignation after accepting a job in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Kuna School Board of Trustees hired Kuna School District Assistant Superintendent Wendy Johnson to be the new Superintendent replacing outgoing Jay Hummel.
Kuna High School had a three-way tie for valedictorian between Sarah Nicole Haley, Gileann Tan and Malia Dawn Peck.
The Merlin Pointe development was announced that will over the next few years improve the 53 acres located inside “the curve” on Meridian Road as people drive in and out of Kuna. The development will have some residential but most of the acreage will be commercial for retail and box stores.
The dire nature of the summer water shortage was taking place as it was announced that the irrigation allotment would be scaled back. It was anticipated that irrigation would be cut off by mid summer.
It was announced by the U.S. Census that the population estimate for Kuna topped 16,000 people for the first time.
The Melba School District got in a bit of hot water over accusations that school officials including Melba Superintendent Andrew Grover may have broken the law while investigators looked in to sexual conduct allegations regarding a student at Melba High School. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office was asked to investigate alleged witness tampering and failure to report charges by the school board.
The city of Kuna launched their new website. The colorful and dynamic site rolled out new sections that allow residents to have more interaction and input to city hall.
Almost all of the fish died in Sego Prairie Pond after well water that was supersaturated with gas was pumped into the irrigation pond. The small bubbles affixed themselves to the fish’s gills and suffocated them. For most of the summer there weren’t any fish but Idaho Department of Fish & Game restocked the pond in the fall.
Most fish killed in the Sego Prairie Pond were small, less than 10 inches, but this large catfish was found floating near shore.
July began with a bang after record breaking temperatures on July 1 tied for the highest temperature on record of 109 degrees.
Kuna passed a smoking ban in city parks within 50 feet of playground equipment or athletic facilities.
Kuna Middle School received a $891,200 grant to explore innovative technologies in the classroom. This money will be used to fund Chromebook laptops as part of the pilot program to test techniques prior to the state investing in technology for all Idaho public schools.
As part of a Kuna High School project coordinated by the senior class, the blue water tower, the tallest object in Kuna, was scheduled for a facelift. Three proposals, one white, one gold and one black, were proposed along with a large “K”. Bids were requested and finally the project was completed in the fall in time for Homecoming. Kuna lost its old blue water tower and gained a bright white one.
Outgoing Melba mayor nominated City Council President Chris Hinderliter to take his place as the new mayor.
The Ada County Highway District began a series of public workshops to gather public input as to where an overpass crossing both Indian Creek and the Union Pacific Railroad line. The long-discussed project has been a dream of many for years to alleviate issues with emergency services having access to the North and South portions of Kuna in the event that a train is blocking both main street level crossings. Eventually, by December, four sites were selected for further analysis.
A huge underage drinking party was busted up south of Kuna on July 20. Sixty minors were at the scene and 19 individuals were cited. There were also two DUIs, 3 open container citations, 2 infraction citations and 5 underage drinking violations. Numerous cars headed to the party were turned around on Swan Falls Road.
Some residents in Kuna were notified that their subsidy for cheap water was going away and that by 2019 all residents would be paying the same for potable water.
Kuna Days by all opinions was a success, if somewhat quiet. According to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, there were no major problems to report during Kuna Days. There was some concern about the numbers of people crossing Main Street, which was opened to traffic after the parade unlike in years past.
Irrigation water was turned off on August 21 in one of the shortest irrigation years most farmers can remember.
Kuna women continue to dominate the Caldwell Night Rodeo pageant with this year’s winner and runner up both from the city. Chelsi Horton, 22, and resident of Kuna was named Miss Caldwell Night Rodeo. She is a 2009 graduate of Kuna High School taking over for Dusti Olson, also a resident of Kuna.
El Gallo Giro celebrated it’s 15 year anniversary in August.
After a strong start against Nampa, the Kuna Kavemen football team dropped two to Skyview and Bishop Kelly. While they would meet up again with Bishop Kelly in the first round of the playoffs, the rest of the season they dominated their opponents.
Ada County Highway District presented the top four options for the Kuna Overpass at an open house on September 5. The four included a crossing of Ten Mile Road, an East-West Avalon to Avalon bridge, a North-South Linder to Swan Falls Road bridge and an extension of Meridian Road south. It also presented the option selected by resident participants of locating a second emergency station south of the tracks.
After working on getting a permanent school, the Falcon Ridge Charter School broke ground on their news building at West Avalon and South Ten Mile Road in Kuna.
It was announced that for the next two-year cycle, the Kuna School Dristrict would remain as a 4A school when it comes to sports and competition. Winning their appeal, the school district petitioned the Idaho High School Activities Association to remain in the 4A division after the student count was 1.5 students over the limit putting it in the 5A category for the 2014-2016 cycle. It is very likely, that without the IHSAA changing the population levels that KHS will move up into the 5A category after 2016.
Kuna won a $150,000 grant from Blue Cross of Idaho for the Idaho High Five Children’s Health Collaborative program. The money will be used to educate and help prevent childhood obesity while promoting healthy programs for children.
The next phase of the Kuna Greenbelt began construction east of Swan Falls Road.
The Kuna Gold Marching Band dominated in multiple band competitions in the fall. Winning in every competition they participated in, they often beat out 5A schools.
The city sold 107 acres off land. City Councilman Richard Cardoza opposed the deal citing that the land should be saved for future generations of residents.
The Kuna School Board named Sallie McArthur as a new trustee for Zone 3.
ACHD put up new bike path signs all over the city of Kuna. These signs not only give distances to local schools and parks, but estimated time it will take someone on a bicycle to ride there.
The Kuna water tower painting project was finalized along with a big black ‘K’.
During the month of October several debates and candidate forums were held for the two open city council seats in Kuna. On election day, Pat Jones and current city council President Richard Cardoza topped the ballot boxes to win seats. Voter turnout was very low. In fact, compared to other municipalities in Ada County the Kuna voter turnout was the lowest.
Melba elected Martin Luttrell as the new Mayor. Chris Hinderliter had been appointed to fill the seat by outgoing Mayor Doug Sturges but ran for his old council seat and easily won. Ron Johnshoy also won a city council seat.
On November 8, during a first round playoff game against Bishop Kelly, Kuna’s Boone Bartlome suffered a broken neck which left him severely injured and possibly paralyzed. The severe injury, rare in football, made national news and brought not only the community together in comfort, aid and prayers for Boone, but the entire region as well. Moments of silence were held by other teams as they moved through the playoffs. Notable celebrities visited Boone in the hospital to encourage him and his recovery. Fundraisers were held by businesses, organizations and individuals raising thousands for Boone and his family during this difficult process of recovery. Currently, Boone is in Denver at a rehab facility where he is receiving top notch care and doing great. While his injuries continue to be severe, progress has been made. Most recently KMN posted a video of Boone standing. He is moving his arms and legs and the prognosis is good.
The new billing went in to effect for the city of Kuna utilities. A few residents were confused but now that it has been explained and the kinks worked out, the city is real happy with the new billing program.
On the morning of December 5 a Kuna school bus was struck at the corner of Deer Flat and Happy Valley roads. Daniel Cook, a 6th grader at Crimson Point Elementary was killed at the scene and several other students were injured and taken to area hospitals. The Idaho Department of Transportation has not issued its findings of their investigation of the cause of accident.
The long awaited opening of Ridleys finally occurred on December 14. This gives Kuna a second grocery store along with another hardware store. The development at the corner of Deer Flat Road and Meridian Road will continue to add retail and restaurants over the next few years. It is a sign that development has returned to Kuna after several years of being stagnant.
As a final Christmas Present in 2013, the city of Kuna raised water and sewer rates for residents. It sounds bad but it is only a one percent raise that amounts to about 45 cents per month per household.