December 25th, 2005

Idaho Offers Naming Rights to Donors for Governor's Mansion

By John Miller
Associated Press

The most generous donors to a campaign to renovate a new official residence for Idaho’s governor can have bedrooms, dining spaces and gardens on the property named after them.

Organizers say the incentive is part of a plan to raise $3 million to convert a home donated by a billionaire into an executive residence. So far, about $235,000 has been collected for the home, which will be known as the Idaho House.

Idaho is one of six states without a governor’s mansion. It has not had one since the former executive residence was sold in 1990 after it fell into disrepair and past governors refused to live in it.

Those who want to donate to have their names in the mansion are likely to be people and businesses in Idaho who “basically want to leave something that would be a legacy for the state,” said State Senator Brad Little, a member of the governor’s housing committee.

The 1980’s home, donated by J. R. Simplot, the founder of an agricultural business, will have 12-foot ceilings, a porte-cochere entrance large enough for a carriage or car to pass through, four or five guest bedrooms, a game room, a grand hall and dining space for 150 people. The house and property are valued at $2.1 million.

State leaders, including William C. Glynn, president of Intermountain Gas, who is leading fund-raising efforts along with Stephen G. Hanks, chief executive of Washington Group International, say they hope to have financial commitments of significantly more than that by February.

“This kind of campaign lends itself to people making commitments over several months or a year,” Mr. Glynn said. “It’s highly likely there will be in-kind gifts.”

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has said he expects to be the first governor to occupy the mansion, though some involved say completion of the work could be pushed back until after January 2007, when the next governor is due to be inaugurated.

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