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Courtesy of KIVI-TV

New West Daily Roundup for Sept. 6, 2016

Today in New West news: $180M general obligation bond for College of Western Idaho (CWI) to be on November 2016 ballot, hops in Bozeman, and “hive-to-plate” in Utah.

The College of Western Idaho (CWI) Board of Trustees has approved an initiative to ask Ada and Canyon county voters whether they’d approve a $180 million bond to expand their Nampa campus and build another permanent campus in Boise. Voters would decide on the November 2016 ballot; a two-thirds majority would be required for the initiative to pass. According to the Idaho Statesman, it would cost property taxpayers $22.31 per $100,000 of taxable value. Total interest on the bond would be approximately $78 million, based on 2.84 percent interest rate. From the Statesman:

The bond would cover construction of a health sciences building and a student center on the Nampa campus, including a library and classrooms. In Boise, CWI would build a classroom building at the corner of Whitewater Park Boulevard and Main Street.

CWI officials say they need the buildings because of growth and to get the school out of leased classroom space, which costs it about $2 million annually.

“This is good news,” said Mark Dunham, a trustee speaking about the cost to property taxpayers. “This is going to be less than going to Red Robin for my family.”

Expanding the two-year community college will help the local economy by providing students with the skills and knowledge to be employed, said Stan Bastian, a trustee. “I believe we are providing a great value to Ada and Canyon counties.”

According to KIVI-TV, this is the first time the college has approached voters for a bond. Among the issues and projects the bond hopes to address:

-A State-of-industry health career training on the Nampa campus to support high-demand jobs including nursing, medical and surgical technicians, and emergency response professionals.

-A centralized infrastructure facility serving all current and future campus buildings, including utilities, roadways and campus commons “that will save the College money and prepare for future campus growth,” according to a CWI news release.

-A Student Success Center that will serve as a central hub for supporting students, staff and the community. Services and resources would include a Library Learning Commons, a center for clubs and organizations to meet, as well as a designated community meeting space.

-Additional Career Technical facilities would centralize and expand program support for high demand agriculture, horticulture and truck driving career-ready programs.

Over in Montana, recent Montana State University graduate Jake TeSelle has decided, after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering, to take a different career path and explore his first love: hops. Or more precisely: beer. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, TeSelle returned to his family’s farm off Gooch Hill Road, which has been growing wheat and alfalfa for five generations to start growing hops after witnessing a friend grow hops in his backyard in San Diego. TeSelle’s project is decidedly bigger. From the Chronicle:

Early last year, with the help of childhood buddy Colt Sales, TeSelle dug up an acre of his family’s land, installed several dozen 15-foot posts connected at the top by wire, planted handfuls of 4-inch hop roots and trained the plants to climb upward using lengths of coconut twine.

The 1-acre test plot, which had previously been used as a motorcycle course, was so rocky and “garbage” that many of the posts skewed at odd angles, giving TeSelle and Sales the name for their new operation: Crooked Yard Hops.

“It’s a lot of work, but I love it. It’s like a big garden,” TeSelle said.

A perennial vine grown around the world, hops can survive through the winter but are sensitive to heat, and around half of Crooked Yard’s original crop died out during a hot spell last summer. But the business partners still collected about 150 pounds of robin egg-sized cones during their first harvest several weeks ago.

Despite a high return on investment (more than $10,000 of revenue per acre compared to a couple $100 for wheat), hop farming is made difficult by the need for specialized infrastructure. Along with the twine, posts and wire, harvesting the plants requires a large machine that strips the buds from their stems, as well as equipment for drying and preserving.

“The market is there, but the infrastructure is complex. The harvesting and processing is a huge barrier,” TeSelle said. “People think it’s: ‘Oh, I grow the plant and get money,’ but there’s so much in between.”

To offset the startup cost, TeSelle went to Blackstone LaunchPad, MSU’s business incubator, which directed him to a Montana Department of Agriculture grant program that ended up covering most of the cost of the harvester. And at Blackstone’s urging, TeSelle and Sales decided to expand their operation.

“It was going to be a hobby. I thought maybe I’d build 2 acres someday, but they gave me a kick in the pants and shot in the arm,” TeSelle said.

Blackstone may have had an ulterior motive in spurring TeSelle and Sales on. Indeed, TeSelle is one of only two hop farmers in the state of Montana. The other, Glacier Hops Ranch, is located in Whitefish; TeSelle told the Chronicle he’s already been receiving advice from owner Tom Britz.

Others have taken notice too. TeSelle has already delivered a test batch of his hop crop (150 pounds) to Bozeman-based Bridger Brewing, which plans to wet-hop a batch of their Vigilante IPA. While TeSelle acknowledged, “everyone wants Montana hops,” he has no plans to expand beyond six acres (the largest plot TeSelle and Sales can manage on their own) and that his harvest for the next few years is already locked up by Bridger Brewing.

Finally, down in Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, Ryker Brown, executive chef of Powder at Park City’s Waldorf Astoria, has been experimenting with “hive-to-plate” cuisine: harvesting honey from the hives he keeps on-site in an undeveloped area of the Astoria. It’s become one of his (and Powder’s) signatures, serving as addition, glaze, and sweetener in a variety of dishes and drinks. The best way to enjoy it? Raw. From the Tribune:

But the best way to sample the honey is on Powder’s signature charcuterie plate. A generous dollop of raw honey — still containing a bit of the honeycomb — is scraped onto the center of a wood serving board and surrounded by sliced meats, Utah cheeses, dried fruits and pickled mustard seeds.

Brown describes the raw, unprocessed honey as “simple, elegant and understated,” the same characteristics he strives for when preparing food at Powder or at home. “I really enjoy it because of its simplicity,” he said, noting that while he loves to experiment with honey recipes, his favorite way to eat it is straight off the honey frame. “The raw honeycomb really showcases what it’s all about.”

When he’s not at work, Brown cares for several beehives — as well as a large garden — at his home in Heber City, which he shares with his wife and four children.

It’s no surprise that the chef gets excited to talk about the honeymaking process and the industrious work ethic of bees and their importance for food production and the environment. “It’s all connected to what I do,” said Brown, a native of Southern California who moved to Utah in 2008. Before taking the job at Powder, he worked as executive chef at Promontory Ranch Club and Sundance Mountain Resort, which also has hives.

His interest in bees was helped along by a nearly century-old book about beekeeping, written by his wife’s great-grandfather — an Idaho farmer who was one of the largest beekeepers west of the Mississippi. Brown called the distant relative “a bee whisperer” who kept a meticulous daily diary of how to start and keep a thriving bee colony. “I don’t think it was ever published,” Brown said of the booklet, “but copies were passed down to the family.”

He is lucky enough to have one and refers to it regularly.

At Sundance, Stephen Bell, the fleet and grounds manager, sets up 18 to 20 hives each spring in the mountains surrounding the resort. Bell keeps some of what is produced for his family, but sells the bulk of the light wildflower honey to the resort restaurants.

‘It’s been a nice fit,” said the beekeeper, “because Sundance uses so many products that are local and involved the mountain.”

The Tribune story also includes two tasty recipes that involve honey: Rhubarb Bee’s Knees Cocktail and Ryker’s Seared Scallops with Honey-Lime Dressing and Utah Corn Ragu.

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