TWIN FALLS — Times-News Editor Matt Christensen is leaving his position March 2 to accept a promotion in Iowa.
Christensen — who has been editor since January 2015 — was named executive editor of his hometown newspaper, the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa. It’s the flagship newspaper of Lee Enterprises, which also owns the Times-News.
“I had no plans in the works to leave Twin Falls,” he said Wednesday. “But if there’s one reason to leave, it’s for an opportunity like this.”
Christensen grew up in East Moline, Ill., just across the Mississippi River from Davenport, and has family in the area. He starts at the Quad-City Times on March 5.
“I’m very excited for Matt and the opportunity for him to return to his hometown to be an executive editor,” Times-News Publisher Travis Quast said, adding those kinds of opportunities are few and far between.
Christensen has elevated news coverage at the Times-News, developed the Sunday “Big Story” initiative that has led to in-depth coverage of important community issues, and been an important voice on the newspaper’s editorial board, Quast said. “I can’t say enough about all the work he has done here.”
Times-News Managing Editor Alison Smith will be interim editor while a nationwide search is underway for a new editor.
Smith — who started at the Times-News in 2011 as a reporter and became managing editor in 2015 — is a capable and talented editor who will keep day-to-day operations running smoothly, Quast said.
Christensen said he’s comfortable knowing the Times-News is in excellent shape and will have a bright future.
He began his journalism career in 2005 at the Times-News as a features writer and natural resources reporter. After working as city editor in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and as editor in Montana for Lee Enterprises newspapers, he returned to Twin Falls.
For Christensen, it’s bittersweet to leave Twin Falls. It’s where he began his journalism career, where his oldest daughter was born, and where he and his wife have raised their two children since moving back in 2015.
He said, “I’ll always have roots in this community.”
TWIN FALLS — Veterinarians are warning dog owners of a potentially fatal virus that recently entered Idaho.
A dog in Boise was diagnosed this week with canine influenza, said Dr. Connie Ripple of Magic Valley Veterinary Hospital in Twin Falls. The disease is highly contagious and has spread to all but a few states.
Veterinarians recommend pet owners get their dogs vaccinated as soon as possible to protect them from the flu, which has similar symptoms to the virus that affects people. A booster shot is needed three weeks after the first shot. Dogs especially at risk are those that frequently come into contact with other dogs, such as in a dog park, boarding kennel or grooming salon.
The disease can be fatal if it develops into pneumonia.
Two strains of dog flu exist in the U.S.; the first was reported in 2009 in Idaho. The second is a newer strain first reported in 2015 in scattered areas across the country, according to DogFlu.com. The newer strain — H3N2 — has not been around long enough for dogs to have built immunity to it, Ripple said.
California had an outbreak of the new strain in mid-December, she said. In January, it jumped to Reno, Nev. More than a thousand cases of dog flu have been diagnosed across the nation since December.
Ripple heard about the infected dog Tuesday evening.
“The virus is very contagious,” she said. “Dogs can get it by direct contact, through the air, coughing and sneezes, even owners’ clothes.”
Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, a cough and runny nose, and a high fever. The coughing can last up to a month, but the infected dog can spread the disease for three weeks afterward.
Contrary to popular belief, the temperature of a dog’s nose doesn’t indicate illness, she said.
“We’re hoping it doesn’t come to Twin Falls,” Ripple said. “The more dogs we get vaccinated, the fewer cases we’ll see here.”