In mansion debate, Simplot's presence still felt

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Associated Press

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 2 at 9:03 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Potato mogul J.R. Simplot may be four years dead, but his larger-than-life presence continues to influence debate over just what to do with the hilltop home he donated in 2004 to be Idaho's gubernatorial mansion.

The Governor's Housing Committee that oversees the mansion held its first formal public hearing on the home's fate Tuesday, to give residents a chance to weigh in.

Ballooning costs, as well as the unoccupied home's regal posture above Boise's skyline, have spurred demands it be jettisoned.

Boise resident Barbara Kemp told the panel Simplot himself would have seen the place as a financial drain.

But one person, Michael Kostanecki, warned selling the home would be a slap in J.R.'s face.

The five-member committee aims to meet again within the month, as it mulls the mansion's future.

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