HOLLISTER — The skeleton of a bird lies just outside the upstairs fireplace. Regurgitated owl pellets litter the main floor. A green organic growth covers much of what might have been a rug, and rusted ceiling tiles hang precariously overhead.
But the banister and staircase joining the first and second floors are still intact, and, surprisingly, the old bank building doesn’t smell of mouse urine.
New owner Sal Ellis knows she has her hands full restoring the old Hollister Bank. As she waded through piles of trash Friday, the 57-year-old Spring Creek, Nev., resident tested her footing with each stop.
Although the interior may appear to be beyond hope, “the structure is in pretty good shape,” Ellis said.
That’s good news for Hollister residents, many of whom have fond memories of the structure way back when it was used as a school gym.
“I think it’s neat. It hasn’t had anything in it for years,” said Richard “Shorty” Self, a former mayor and husband of today’s Mayor Jayne Self. “More power to her.”
Henry Craven built the Hollister Bank — and the Craven Hotel on the second story — in 1912, at the southwest corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. The hotel, managed by C.W. Simpson, had hot and cold water in every room. Dr. W.A. Parrott had an office in the front of the bank, and the Salmon River Store occupied the west side of the building.
The bank closed in the early 1930s and the building fell to Twin Falls County. Several years later, the Hollister School District took ownership by paying the county $1,025 in back taxes, according to information gathered by Peggy Cristobal. The school then converted the second floor hotel into apartments for the teachers and the west side of the building into a gym. Basketball hoops are still attached at each end of the court.
In 1942, a tornado took the roof off the building, Cristobal said in her book documenting the school district’s history.
In the basement below the gym floor is a shooting range, her brother Richard Parrott said Wednesday. Their father poured concrete for the range, which was used by Hollister Boy Scout leader Charles Boss and Troop 99.
“We shot .22 rifles at paper targets against steel plates when I was a scout,” Parrot said.
Ellis wouldn’t reveal what she paid for the property, just that it was “below market value,” as she explained why she invested in the old building — and in Hollister’s future.
Ellis plans to turn the building into a community center, with a flea market in the basement, an ice cream and coffee shop, museum and library — and possibly a laundromat — on the main floor, and a bed and breakfast on the second floor. The building’s unique history is what will make Ellis’ project a success, said Julia Oxarango-Ingram, director of Southern Idaho Rural Development.
“I think it’s pretty wonderful,” Oxarango-Ingram said. “Data now shows that more people will come seeking a unique business in a unique place than will look for a business that that looks like all the rest.”
It just takes one business like this to plant the seed, she said. Small towns need to become inventive to stay viable.
“They’ll need to market (the Hollister-Rogerson area) as a region,” Oxarango-Ingram said. “I can see this area as a prime place for a tiny-house community, catering to people who work in Jackpot and to hunters and fishermen.”
The amount of work ahead of her doesn’t seem to faze Ellis, who operates a construction company that serves Ely, Elko and Twin Falls.
“I don’t like to be bored,” she said.
JEROME — With less than a week to go before the primary, the election is heating up in Jerome County, where two county commissioners face challenges from local businessmen.
The first campaign finance reports were due Monday. Perhaps unsurprisingly, businessman and entrepreneur George Panagiotou has outraised and outspent any other candidate in the county. His opponents — Roger Morley and John Crozier — lag far behind in fundraising.
But in the District 1 seat, Cathy Roemer and Ben Crouch have also raised more than $9,000 for their campaigns. So far, Roemer leads in her expenditures, but not in fundraising.
Here’s a breakdown of what each candidate has done so far in his or her campaign:
What she’s raised: $9,351
Of those contributions, one donor contributed $50, and the rest all came from loans Roemer made to her own campaign.
What she’s spent: $9,301
The largest of her expenditures were $3,705 at Standard Printing Solutions and $2,200 at Rinard Media.
What he’s raised: $9,800
Eight individual donors gave $100 or more to his campaign. Crouch’s largest donors were Idaho Association of Realtors and Teri Stokes, each contributing $1,000. Crouch also loaned himself $6,100.
What he’s spent: $7,989
Crouch’s biggest single expenditures were made at the Magic Valley Printers and Townsquare Media. But he also spent $415 at the North Side Journal; Crouch is the editor of that newspaper.
What he’s raised: $1,850
Morley’s report showed that Phillip and Barbara Morley, Herb Allen and “Realtors” contributed $500 each toward the campaign.
Other donors included Arlen and Darrel Crouch ($250) and LeRoy Craig ($100).
What he’s spent: $1,693.
Morley’s largest expenses have been at Votes Unlimited and the North Side Journal.
What he’s raised: $12,074
His campaign is largely self-funded, as he loaned himself about $8,674 and donated $1,000 to his campaign. The second-largest donation to his campaign was $300 from Tony Martins Cattle LLC.
What he’s spent: $9,738.
Panagiotou has spent more than $2,500 at yardsignwholesale.com and $1,861 at the Times-News.
What he’s raised: $1,266
His largest contributor is Petterson Properties, with $1,000 for the year-to-date.
What he’s spent: $1,726
His largest single expenditure was $450 at the North Side Journal.
Editor's note: Due to an error in paperwork, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Arlen and Darrel Crouch contributed $1,750 to Roger Morley's campaign, LeRoy Craig contributed $1,850 to Morley's campaign, and Herb Allen contributed $1,000 to Morley's campaign.
RUPERT — A Minidoka County judge bound Lauriano “Larry” Vega Jr. over to district court May 9 on one felony count of child sexual abuse by soliciting a minor under age 16 after he found sufficient evidence to support the charge.
Vega, 18, is a senior at Minico High School and formerly played football and basketball for the school.
He was brought into the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled.
Minidoka County Prosecutor Lance Stevenson asked the judge to dismiss, without prejudice, a second count of the same charge.
Vega also faces a third misdemeanor charge of battery, police say, which stems from unwanted touching of an 18-year-old woman on the same day.
Stevenson said the state is not required to present evidence at a preliminary hearing regarding misdemeanor charges.
A 14-year-old girl took the witness stand Wednesday. The eighth grader told the judge that she worked at a local coffee house that Vega had frequented several times during the week of spring break.
At the time of Vega’s arrest, according to court records, he was being monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet because of similar charges pending in juvenile court.
The girl periodically wiped her eyes and nose as she told the court that on March 30, after she finished her shift, she went out behind the coffee bar with Vega and other individuals, where there is a fire pit.
The girl had previously told Vega how old she was when someone made the comment that she was the girl for him. She said someone had told her Vega was 18 and she was aware that he played football.
At one point during the testimony, she started to cry, and Stevenson asked her why she was crying.
“I’m nervous,” she said.
Minidoka County Magistrate Judge Rick Bollar called a short recess so the girl could recompose herself.
When she returned to the courtroom she said Vega had started rubbing her leg near her ankle while they were outside and then “massaging” her upper thigh.
It was dark outside with only a few candles lit.
She moved farther away from him, and a few minutes later went inside to see when her ride would be leaving.
When the 14-year-old got up to leave Vega, tried to grab her buttocks but grabbed her thigh and the bottom of her buttocks, she said.
When the group was leaving the shop, Vega again grabbed her buttocks, she said.
The girl said one of the males with Vega that night at the coffee house told her mother what happened to her that night.
Her mother asked her about it the next day, she said.
A Rupert Police Department detective was also called to the witness stand and Stacey DePew, Vega’s attorney cross examined both witnesses.
Vega was the 4A All-Idaho football player of the year in 2017.
SHOSHONE — The mayor and former police chief of Shoshone have denied a bulk of the allegations included in a lawsuit filed against the city and department last month.
The wrongful termination suit, brought by former Shoshone police sergeant Michael Thompson, claims that Mayor Dan Pierson and former Chief Cliff Katona discriminated against Thompson, demoted him without due process, and blacklisted him to potential employers after he resigned in 2017. Katona and Pierson told a different story in an answer to the complaint filed Tuesday.
According to Thompson, Katona and Pierson demoted him to a basic patrol officer — a demotion that included a pay decrease — after Pierson overheard Thompson’s wife make a comment to a local shopkeeper about the way the department had handled a medical issue her husband was experiencing.
Pierson and Katona say Pierson never overheard any such conversation between Thompson’s wife and a shopkeeper. They also deny that Katona then visited the shopkeeper and told her she could no longer talk to the Thompsons, a claim made by Thompson in his complaint.
Thompson claims that Katona and Pierson called him into his Katona’s office after Pierson overheard the conversation, where they told Thompson to “control his wife” and accused him of saying negative things about them behind their backs.
The defendants say they did not call Thompson into Katona’s office to talk to him about his wife’s behavior, though they note that Thompson was reprimanded at least once for posting inappropriate things on social media in his nine years working for the department.
In the same meeting, Thompson says, Katona told Thompson he was not doing his job adequately because he was not able to be on call due to his medical issue. Thompson claims that at the end of the meeting he was given a sheet of paper outlining a broader “restructuring” in the department, which included a demotion for Thompson.
Thompson alleges in his complaint that he was not provided with any paperwork or further information about his demotion. He also claims that the “restructuring” included the promotion of two other previous subordinates to positions over Thompson.
Katona and Pierson acknowledge in their response that Thompson was demoted as part of a “restructuring.” However, they deny not providing Thompson with any paperwork or further information, and say no other officers were promoted to a position over Thompson.
The defendants also deny that Katona told Thompson he was not doing his job adequately due to his inability to be on call, though they say Katona did tell Thompson that he could not take a patrol car home with him at night if he was not on call.
Thompson resigned in August, citing an “intolerable” work environment in his complaint. He claims that after he left the department, Katona attempted to “blacklist” him from finding a job at other law enforcement agencies.
The defendants say they did not unlawfully interfere with Thompson’s job-hunting process after he left the department.
Thompson is represented by Litster Frost Injury Lawyers, a firm based in Boise. The defendants are represented by Nayor & Hales, P.C., also in Boise.