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Big Story preview: Prison mentor program reduces Idaho recidivism rate

When state lawmakers passed the Justice Reinvestment Act in 2014, vowing to put money into rehabilitation programs instead of building new prisons, the Free2Succeed prison mentor program was born.

The program pairs up people who were recently released from prison with mentors who ease the former inmate’s transition back into society. Unlike many mentor programs, Free2Succeed does not prohibit mentors from having criminal histories, instead embracing those volunteers’ experience.

While the sample size is still small, early returns indicate the program may be pivotal in reducing Idaho’s recidivism rate.

State law makers in 2014 passed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which put money into rehabilitation programs instead of into building new prisons.

Watch for reporter Laurie Welch’s story in the Times-News and on

And see more of the Times-News’ best reporting now at

Mini-Cassia domestic violence shelter needs new office as Boys and Girls Club comes to town

RUPERT — Mini-Cassia’s only women’s shelter is looking for a new home for its office.

The shelter’s safe house, which harbors women survivors of domestic violence and assault, isn’t going anywhere. But the office staff has to vacate its space in a city-owned office building to make way for the new Boys and Girls Club of Magic Valley clubhouse.

Rupert officials hope other governments in Mini-Cassia will step up to help out.

“We are not kicking the shelter office to the curb,” Councilman Craig Swensen said. “We are committed to helping them find a permanent place and not have any disruption of services.”

Meanwhile, the Minidoka County School District and the city of Rupert are working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Magic Valley to bring the club to Rupert. The club will serve children in kindergarten through fifth grade in Minidoka County.

“We have been well taken care of by the city of Rupert,” shelter director Lynda Brennen said after a presentation by shelter and city officials at a Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center board meeting on Tuesday.

The shelter has operated from 323 First St. for years rent-free, and the city gives the shelter a discounted utility rate. The city also takes care of the maintenance at the building and donated the land for the safe house.

Swensen said the city has not given the shelter a deadline for leaving and is committed to helping the office staff find a permanent home somewhere in Mini-Cassia, but the city wants the building available in time for the Boys and Girls Club summer programs.

“We may not meet that goal,” Swensen said.

The shelter lost federal funding in 2016 and has since operated on small donations from the two counties, community donations and fundraisers.

Laurie Welch Times-News / LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS  

Lynda Brennen, executive director for the Mini-Cassia Shelter Inc. Advocates Against Violence talks about the upcoming office move.

“The shelter serves all of Minidoka County and Cassia County,” Minidoka County Prosecutor Lance Stevenson said. “At some point we’re going to need an additional safe house because the others in the area are always full.”

In the past two years, the shelter has provided housing for 135 people and taken 2,000 calls on its crisis line. The shelter office needs space for two offices to meet privately with clients, a reception area and a conference room, and there must be 24-hour access.

Of the victims helped by the shelter, 73 percent are from Cassia County, Brennen said. Minidoka and Cassia counties each chipped in $1,000 for the shelter this year.

“The community has kept the doors open,” Brennen said. “That, and the fact that we have a fundraiser about once a month.”

ITD invites public to view 3-D animation of new interchange

JEROME — The Idaho Transportation Department will host a public hearing to present the preliminary design of the Interstate 84 South Jerome Interchange reconstruction. You are invited to attend anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Idaho State Police Region Four office, 218 Yakima Ave., Jerome. A three-dimensional animation will provide a bird’s-eye-view and driver’s perspective of the divided-diamond design. The new interchange is scheduled for construction in 2020.

Project staff will be on-hand to answer questions, and a hearing officer will be available to take oral or written testimony. Spanish translation services will be provided.

ITD hired J-U-B Engineers and The Langdon Group to work cooperatively with local stakeholders in meeting the following objectives:

  • Improve traffic operations and safety
  • Minimize the impact to properties and the natural environment
  • Provide smooth traffic flow on I-84, on/off ramps, Lincoln Avenue, East Frontage Road North and Bob Barton Road
  • Safely accommodate pedestrian and bicycle travel
  • Reduce travel time
  • Provide efficient movement of goods and services

Comments must be received by March 8 to be considered in the official comment period. More information: call ITD Project Manager Nathan Jerke at 208-886-7809 or email or go to

Persons needing an interpreter or special accommodations are urged to contact 208-334-8119. TTY/TDD users: dial 711 or call 800-377-3529 to use the Idaho Relay System.

District Court to fill 1 judgeship by end of February

TWIN FALLS — The fifth judicial district will fill one of its vacant judgeships by the end of the month.

Local lawyer Ben Cluff will be sworn in on Feb. 28 to fill the vacancy left by now-Idaho Supreme Court Justice Richard Bevan, district trial court administrator Shelli Tubbs said Tuesday.

Cluff has been a partner with the Twin Falls law firm Coleman, Ritchie & Cluff since 2010. Before that, he was associated with Hepworth, Lezamiz & Janis. He is a graduate of Twin Falls High School, Brigham Young University and the University of Idaho’s College of Law.

The seat, which opened up when Bevan was appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court last year, has been vacant since late September. Since then, the district has relied on current and retired district judges to cover Bevan’s duties.

Gov. C.L. Butch Otter announced at the end of January that he had chosen Cluff as Bevan’s successor following a three-month application process.

The swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 28 will fill one of two vacant judgeships in the fifth judicial district. The other, created by the death of Judge Randy Stoker last month, will be filled through the district judge election in May.

The filing period for that election begins on Feb. 26, but one interested candidate has already announced that he intends to run: Twin Falls County Magistrate Judge Roger Harris. Harris has served as a magistrate judge since 2005.

Idaho House approves restoring Medicaid dental benefits

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Idaho House has narrowly approved restoring non-emergency dental benefits for Medicaid recipients.

The legislation to restore coverage to more than 30,000 Idaho Medicaid recipients passed Monday 36-32, The Spokesman-Review reported. The bill still needs Senate approval before being sent to the governor.

The benefits were reduced in 2011 to cover only emergency extractions. Lawmakers had promised to restore the benefits when the economy improved, and restored them for children and people with major disabilities two years later.

Poor dental hygiene can lead to significant health consequences, which became apparent during the two-year period without any coverage, said Republican Rep. Fred Wood, a physician who chairs the House Health and Welfare Committee.

“I do think that the savings will be real here, and I do think that the health of this population will be significantly improved by restoring these benefits,” Wood said.

Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel told legislators that by cutting the benefits, “it was understood that this was likely to lead to serious downstream medical conditions.”

Restoring benefits is expected to cost $1.24 million, although some lawmakers have projected other health savings would add up to $2.5 million.

Others reject that notion because Medicaid costs have continued to increase.

“We continue to spend money without seeing any savings anywhere,” Republican Rep. John Vander Woude said.

Stocks of local interest

AlliantEg s 1.34f 21 38.80 -.73 -8.9

Aon plc 1.44 35 142.46 -.84 +6.3

BallardPw ... ... 3.57 +.05 -19.0

BkofAm .48 21 32.33 -.09 +9.5

ConAgra .85 20 36.20 -.33 -3.9

Costco 2.00 30 190.20 -2.61 +2.2

Diebold .40 18 15.85 +.45 -3.1

DukeEngy 3.56 17 76.33 -1.59 -9.2

DukeRlty .80 20 24.83 -.58 -8.7

Fastenal 1.48f 29 55.42 -.64 +1.3

HP Inc .53 14 23.52 +.06 +11.9

HomeDp 4.12f 25 184.98 -3.48 -2.4

Idacorp 2.36 20 82.45 -1.46 -9.8

Keycorp .40f 17 21.16 -.02 +4.9

Lee Ent ... 5 2.35 -.10 ...

MicronT ... 10 48.60 +.62 +18.2

OrbitATK 1.28 23 131.65 -.23 +.1

Sensient 1.32 22 72.82 -.79 -.5

SkyWest .40f 18 56.05 -1.30 +5.6

Teradyn .36f 34 44.76 -.76 +6.9

Tuppwre 2.72 ... 50.84 -1.38 -18.9

US Bancrp 1.20 16 55.01 -.83 +2.7

Valhi .08 53 5.80 -.09 -6.0

WalMart 2.08f 20 91.52 -1.60 -7.3

WashFed .68f 18 35.60 -.40 +3.9

WellsFargo 1.56 14 59.21 -.76 -2.4

WestRck 1.72 20 66.66 -.67 +5.5

ZionsBcp .80f 21 55.79 -.51 +9.7


Oct Live Cattle 117.600 116.200 116.350 S 0.150

Aug Feeder Cattle 147.525 145.750 146.550 S 1.000

Oct Feeder Cattle 150.975 149.025 150.250 S 1.300

Aug Lean Hogs 76.800 76.400 76.400 S -0.050

Oct Lean Hogs 82.675 81.925 82.025 S -0.275

Jul Wheat 465 460 463 S 3

Sep Wheat 479 473 477 S 4

Jul KC Wheat 490 481 489 S 11

Sep KC Wheat 505 496 504 S 11

Jul MPS Wheat 600 594 596 S 0

Sep MPS Wheat 615 608 609 S -0

Jul Corn 371 367 370 S 2

Sep Corn 379 376 379 S 2

Jul Soybeans 1044 1031 1038 S 3

Aug Soybeans 1056 1043 1049 S 3

Jul BFP Milk 14.10 13.96 14.06 0.09

Aug BFP Milk 14.15 13.94 14.12 0.16

Sep BFP Milk 14.29 14.11 14.25 0.13

Oct BFP Milk 14.79 14.66 14.76 0.11

Nov BFP Milk 15.34 15.27 15.33 0.12

Jul Sugar 13.69 12.96 13.01 S -0.65

Oct Sugar 13.44 12.84 12.87 S -0.56

Jun B-Pound 1.4006 1.3865 1.3924 -0.0050

Jun J-Yen 0.93755 0.92975 0.93260 -0.00390

Jun Canada Dollar 0.78955 0.78370 0.78410 -0.00475

Jun Euro-Currency 1.23620 1.22365 1.22490 -0.00785

Jun Swiss Franc 1.0701 1.0634 1.0666 -0.0012

Jun US Dollar 90.435 89.620 90.290 D 0.500

Aug Comex Gold 1343.8 1320.4 1325.2 -13.2

Oct Comex Gold 1346.4 1326.7 1330.8 -13.5

Sep Comex Silver 16.720 16.340 16.435 -0.187

Dec Comex Silver 16.815 16.440 16.540 -0.173

Sep Treasury Bond 144 143 143 1 -0

Sep Coffee 122.10 120.30 121.10 S -0.80

Dec Coffee 124.25 122.55 123.30 S -0.75

Jul Cotton 81.75 81.00 81.76 S 0.06

Mar Cotton 82.95 81.82 82.79 S 0.04

Aug Unleaded Gas 2.0062 1.9773 1.9831 -0.0197

Aug Heating Oil 1.9935 1.9618 1.9684 -0.0191

Jul Natural Gas 2.702 2.633 2.684 -0.002

Aug Crude Oil 46.43 45.16 46.20 0.54

INTL FCStone Financial Inc.

208-733-6013, 800-635-0821

Fax:208-575-0350, ICE Chat: Jcarr3

195 River Vista Place, Suite 301, Twin Falls, ID 83301


Valley BeansPrices are net to growers, 100 pounds, U.S. No. 1 beans, less Idaho bean tax and storage charges. Prices subject to change without notice. Producers desiring more recent price information should contact dealers.

Open market prices established by Kelley Bean’s Idaho locations: pintos, $21; great northerns, $21; small reds, $28; blacks, $27; pinks, ask. Quotes current Feb. 26.

Valley Grains

Prices for wheat per bushel mixed grain, oats, corn and beans per hundredweight. Prices subject to change without notice.

Wheat, $3.45, new barley, $6.00 (cwt) corn, $7.00 (cwt) oats, $5.45 (cwt). Prices are given by Rangen in Buhl. Prices current Feb. 26.

Corn, $7.30 (cwt) barley, $5.30 (cwt) wheat, $3.90 (bushel). Prices quoted by JD Heiskell. Prices current Feb. 14.


Barrels $1.47 NC Blocks $1.53 +0.5 Prices current Feb. 27.

Snow pack

Today’s Median

Salmon 103%

Big Wood 73%

Little Wood 72%

Big Lost 81%

Little Lost 104%

Henrys Fork/Teton 112%

Upper Snake Basin 110%

Goose Creek 63%

Salmon Falls 62%

Today’s median peak compares water content with what is normally seen on this day.

As of Feb 27.

5th District Court News: Twin Falls County

Twin Falls County

Tuesday arraignments

Erika Lynn Perttula, 24, Twin Falls; driving under the influence—excessive, bond previously posted, private counsel, pretrial April 10.

Timothy Lee Yenne, 40, Jerome; grand theft by possession of stole property, petit theft by possession of stole property, own-recognizance release, private counsel, preliminary hearing Feb. 23.

Brandee Johan Grimsman, 44, Kimberly; grand theft, forgery, own-recognizance release, public defender appointed, preliminary hearing Feb. 23.

Melissa Diaz, 35, Bliss; providing false information to an officer, driving without privileges—second offense, public defender appointed, pretrial April 10.