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TONI R. MILANO, tmilano@elkodaily.com  

Jose de Jesus Segundo-Huizar appeared in Elko District Court Monday to change his plea.


(COURTESY PHOTO)  

Streling


Tiffani Streling disappearance timeline

May 16, 2015: Tiffani Streling and her new boyfriend James McLaws retrieve her belongings from her father’s house so she can move in with McLaws. They find Tiffani’s ex-boyfriend and her deceased baby’s father, Jordan Defilippis, hiding in the closet. After a confrontation between McLaws and Defilippis at a boat dock near Bedke Boulevard, Tiffany, who was at McLaws’ home, is not heard from again.

May 17: McLaws reports Streling missing at the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office.

May 23: Defilippis and another person report finding Streling’s clothes at “the tree” in Heyburn. The clothes are given to a private investigator hired by the family and they are given to the sheriff’s office.

May 24: A search by law enforcement, family and friends are held at the tree where her clothing was supposedly discovered, but nothing is found. McLaws has dinner at Tiffani’s mother, Melissa Belt’s, house where the family questions him on his confrontation with Defilippis and Tiffani’s disappearance.

June 2: William Streling and Stephanie Albert, Tiffani’s stepmother, offer a $5,000 reward for information on their daughter’s whereabouts.

June 6: William Streling and Albert organize a search in Twin Falls.

June 10: William Streling and Albert begin raising funds for future searches. They begin selling shirts that say “Bring Tiffani home.”

June 30: Dave Haley, former attorney for McLaws, says his client is a “person of interest” in Streling’s disappearance because he was the last person to see her.

July 6: McLaws, serving probation for unrelated charges, takes off his ankle monitor and flees to Twin Falls. He hits a car, jumps out and runs from police but is later found. He is arrested and admits to smoking marijuana and methamphetamine.

Dec. 16: Family holds a candle light vigil in Burley for Tiffani.

May 3, 2016: McLaws is sentenced in Twin Falls to 4-15 years in prison for possession of a controlled substance.

May 10: McLaws is sentenced during a probation violation status hearing in Cassia County to 2-4 years in prison for possession of a controlled substance.

May 14: Tiffani’s family holds a candle light vigil at Lex Kunau Park.

May 13, 2017: Family and friends gather at Lex Kunau Park to remember Tiffani.

May 16, 2017: Two year anniversary of Tiffani’s disappearance.

Nov 17, 2017: Human remains are found in a rural part of Jerome County

Nov. 27, 2017: Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall confirms that the remains found in Jerome County were Tiffani Streling.


Local
Chobani’s getting a new look. Here's how the company hopes it will promote wellness

TWIN FALLS — Chobani is celebrating a decade of redefining the yogurt aisle — by giving its products a brand-new look.

It’s been nearly 10 years since Chobani went from supplying a few regional customers in upstate New York to becoming a national brand. Now, on the heels of what’s shaping up to be its most successful year, the company is pursuing a marketing strategy that will promote universal wellness through food.

This week, grocery stores across the nation will begin rolling out Chobani products that have new packaging, and the Twin Falls plant will get new signage in the next couple of months.

“As a modern food company, you’re going to see us evolve into more of a wellness company,” said Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s chief marketing and commercial officer. “We’re a food-based company that uses food as a force of good.”

The company is also “evolving” its mission to: foster healthier lifestyles through nutritional well-being; promote social well-being in communities; and use a food system that protects and ensures the planet’s environmental well-being.

The food industry has been “lagging, not leading” innovation, McGuinness said.

“We want to fuel the food evolution in a purpose-based, value-based way,” he said.

The company will continue donating to food banks and disaster relief and take part in community events.

The new packaging is Chobani’s new visual identity, McGuinness said, and was designed in-house. Inspired by 19th-century American folk art, the packaging features water-color fruit images he described as creative but slightly imperfect. A bolder, unique font with a lower-case “c” is meant to appear friendlier.

“We are all excited to go for this new step and show Chobani in an elevated fashion,” said Kai Sacher, the vice president of the company’s research and development team in Twin Falls.

COURTESY OF CHOBANI  

The new design for the Chobani Flip is meant to promote the product as an all-day snack, Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Peter McGuinness said.

While shopping at Fred Meyer on Saturday, Sacher was pleased to see the newly designed Flips already on the shelves. For the cups, what was most important to him, he said, was a shift from a sterile white to an off-white color.

“Chobani always was promoting all-natural ingredients and minimal ingredients,” Sacher said.

The pure white, he said, didn’t represent this well. Even the sugar Chobani uses isn’t white because it is unrefined, Sacher said.

The rebranding also aims to express Chobani’s fight for “happily ever after” — a paradise where food is natural and accessible for everyone.

“It’s not enough, I think, just to make the best yogurt,” McGuinness said. “I think modern brands have a role to play beyond the product they make.”

“We believe not only our look is beautiful; who we are inside is beautiful,” he said. “And that includes our product and our people.”

Here are a few highlights of Chobani’s success over the past 10 years and its plans to launch into its next decade.

Milestones

Chobani purchased its first plant in South Edmeston, N.Y. in 2005.

Two years later, product began hitting the shelves through a few regional customers.

In early 2008, the company became a national brand.

Chobani opened its Twin Falls plant in 2012 — the plant is nearly 1 million square feet and is the world’s largest yogurt manufacturing facility. Chobani recently announced it will build an innovation and community center on site.

‘Never been stronger’

The company has surpassed Yoplait as the No. 2 yogurt manufacturer in the U.S., McGuinness said.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, Chobani creates seven to 10 jobs for every person it hires directly — creating 14,000 direct and indirect jobs in Twin Falls and South Edmeston, N.Y.

Chobani holds 20 percent of the overall market in the yogurt category, McGuinness said.

Twin Falls products are ‘absolutely on fire’

COURTESY OF CHOBANI  

The outside of the Twin Falls plant will feature the new logo, shown in this image provided by Chobani.

The Flip is projected to have 40 percent growth this year, with similar growth projected in 2018, McGuinness said.

Drinkable yogurt is right on trend, and “our projects have never performed better,” he said.

Sacher said the Flips will be organized by color on a shelf, with different colors representing indulgent tastes with chocolate and caramel; nostalgic tastes such as cookies and pies; and morning starters such as cereals and seeds.

More marketing

Chobani will increase its marketing expenses by 30 percent next year, especially in the first six months.


Crime-and-courts
Man who beat friend with shovel, dumbbell in Twin Falls pleads guilty to aggravated battery

TWIN FALLS — An eastern Idaho man accused of beating another man with a shovel and dumbbell in 2013 pleaded guilty on Monday to a felony count of aggravated battery.

James Ernie Marquez, 41, was first charged in early 2013 after attacking Michael Flynn, during a dispute at Marquez’s then-home in Twin Falls. Flynn suffered severe internal injuries from the Jan. 23 beating and was placed in a three-day medical coma as a result.

The initial charge against Marquez — aggravated battery causing great bodily harm or disability — was dismissed by prosecutors for unknown reasons later that spring. In October of 2015, prosecutors filed a new charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and issued a warrant for Marquez’s arrest. He was arrested the following August.

On the night of the assault, Twin Falls police responded to Marquez’s home on Arrow Wood Court, where they found Flynn covered in blood with large, open wounds on his head and face. He told police that he and Marquez had gotten into a fight after Flynn tried to break up a domestic dispute between Marquez and Marquez’s wife. During the fight, Flynn told police, Marquez had bludgeoned him repeatedly with a shovel and a dumbbell weight.

Flynn told investigators that Marquez had thrown the first punch, rendering him unable to fight back, and told him during the attack that “he was going to kill him.”

According to Marquez’s version of events, as told to police at the time, Flynn punched him first. Marquez told police that he used the weight and shovel to fight Flynn off.

The blood evidence indicated that Flynn’s claims were more accurate than Marquez’s, a detective noted in a sworn affidavit.

At a hearing on Monday, Marquez’s attorney, Samuel Beus, said that while Marquez still maintains that some of the beating was done out of self-defense, he admits he “went beyond what would qualify as reasonable force.”

“That night ... I got in a fight with a man that used to be my friend, and I beat him up pretty bad,” Marquez told Twin Falls County District Judge Randy Stoker at the hearing. “I’m here to make things right.”

In exchange for Marquez’s guilty plea, the state has agreed to dismiss the enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 9.


Alex Riggins / (COURTESY TWIN FALLS COUNTY JAIL) 

Marquez


Crime-and-courts
UPDATE: Remains found in Jerome County identified as Tiffani Streling

BURLEY — Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall confirmed Monday that partial remains recovered in Jerome County belong to Tiffani Streling, who went missing on May 16, 2015.

McFall said the identity of the bones discovered at a construction site a couple of weeks ago was confirmed by the Ada County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The remains were found in the eastern part of the county.

“It’s been a rough couple of weeks,” Tiffani’s father, William Streling, said.

Streling said the family recently buried his grandmother and they found out the remains were Tiffani’s on Saturday.

“We are doing OK,” said Melissa Belt, Tiffani’s mother. “We are still upset but we are also relieved that she was found.”

Belt said police told the family they suspected it was Tiffani.

“It will be good to bring her home,” Belt said. “It was really hard not knowing where she was. Now we know and of course it was the worst case scenario but I’m so relieved to at least know where she is now.”

William Streling said at this time the family does not have plans for a memorial service.

“It depends on how long it takes. We want to wait for her remains to be returned to us,” he said. “If it takes a long time we may go ahead and hold a memorial service and lay her to rest.”

McFall said the remains were found “in a rural area,” but the sheriff’s office is not revealing the exact location to protect the site in case further investigation is required.

The Jerome County Sheriff’s Office took the lead in recovery of the remains but the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office will handle the criminal investigation, McFall said.

The remains were identified through dental records, and DNA evidence has been sent to a federal lab for processing.

No clothing or other items were found along with the body, he said.

“At this time we do not have a determination on the method or cause of death,” McFall said.

Cassia County Undersheriff George Warrell said his office is continuing to investigate the case “as a possible homicide.”

“Finding the remains is of great importance to the case and leads us in the direction we need to go,” Warrell said.

Finding the remains confirms for the sheriff office that there was a death and it is not a missing person case, he said.

He declined to say whether there is a suspect in the case.

“We are following up on every lead and every bit of information,” he said.


Gary Kazanjian, Associated Press  

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien looks for running room against Fresno State’s Kevin Atkins, left, during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday.


State
Female Idaho lawmakers call for sexual harassment training

BOISE — Female state legislators are calling for mandatory sexual harassment training inside the Idaho Statehouse, according to letter sent to top legislative leaders.

“Like many professional women, I’ve had my own experiences with inappropriate behavior,” said Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy said Monday in a phone interview. “The Idaho Legislature is near and dear to my heart. While I have only been treated with respect during my time there, I think we need to remain diligent in preventing sexual harassment because Idaho is not immune.”

Troy, a two-term Republican from Genesee, says she was inspired to write the letter following the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations surfacing in governments and businesses around the country.

Troy said 13 other female lawmakers have signed the letter asking for better training to prevent inappropriate behavior. The list includes Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett of Ketchum and Republicans Sen. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint and Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome —who co-chair the state’s influential budget-setting legislative panel. The letter was only sent to the state’s 31 female lawmakers — who make up 29.5 percent of Idaho’s 105-member Statehouse.

“Sexual harassment is inappropriate in any workplace setting. It would be especially disappointing if it were to take place in the Idaho Legislature — where each year we gather to conduct the people’s business,” wrote Troy, in a letter to House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill on Nov. 21

Hill says legislative leaders were already planning an anti-harassment training course for the beginning of the 2018 session.

“We’re still ironing out the details but we will have officials with the state’s human resources department and the Attorney General’s office,” Hill said. “It will be required for lawmakers, pages and interns but we hope that lobbyists and the press attend too. We’re all watching out for everyone.”

There have been no reports of sexual harassment by Idaho politicians in the context of the recent allegations. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and First Lady Lori Otter recently come out in support of the popular “me too” social media campaign, pledging to bring awareness to stop sexual assault and harassment and are encouraged Idahoans to also step up in their efforts.

In 2012, state Sen. John McGee was forced to resign after being accused of sexually harassing a Senate aide. McGee eventually pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace. Currently, Idaho also faces multiple pending and ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits across state agencies and executive offices.

Idaho lawmakers undergo mandatory ethics training every year. Troy says it could be feasible to add a sexual harassment component to that training for lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers.

Following allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, harassment complaints have arisen in at least 11 state legislatures.


Business
AP
Senators consider automatic tax hikes if revenue falls short (copy)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are considering a trigger that would automatically increase taxes if their sweeping legislation fails to generate as much revenue as they expect. It’s an effort to mollify deficit hawks who worry that tax cuts for businesses and individuals will add to the nation’s already mounting debt.

The effort comes as a second Republican senator, Steve Daines of Montana, announced Monday that he opposes the tax bill in its current form. Previously, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said he opposed the bill, leaving Senate Republicans no room for error as they hope to vote on the bill this week.

Both senators complained that the tax bill favors large corporations over small businesses. Republicans have only two votes to spare in the Senate, where they hold a 52-48 edge and anticipate Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.

At the White House, President Donald Trump maintained that the bill would help all Americans.

“I think it’s going to benefit everybody,” the president said. “It’s going to mostly benefit people looking for jobs more than anything else, because we’re giving great incentives.”

Senate Republicans indicated that they still had a way to go to secure the votes.

“We’re making progress, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. But we’re not there yet,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. Pressed on timing, he said the expectation is a vote this week.

A new congressional estimate says the Senate tax bill would add $1.4 trillion to the budget deficit over the next decade. But GOP leaders dispute the estimate, saying tax cuts will spur economic growth, reducing the hit on the deficit.

Many economists disagree with such optimistic projections. The trigger would be a way for senators to test their economic assumptions, with real consequences if they are wrong.

“Do we have realistic numbers and is there a backstop in the process just in case we don’t?” asked Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.

“We should build in the ‘What if?’ What if this doesn’t work?” Lankford said. “What changes might be needed in the tax code in the days ahead to be able to adjust in what scenario?”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the Trump administration and Senate Republican leaders are open to some kind of a trigger to increase revenues if the tax plan falls short.

Neither Corker nor Lankford spelled out exactly how the trigger would work, noting that senators still are working on the proposal. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the trigger is possible. But, he added, the proposal could run afoul of the Senate’s byzantine budget rules.

Trump and Senate Republicans scrambled Monday to make changes to the bill in an effort to win over holdout GOP senators and pass a tax package by the end of the year. Corker said he spoke to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and economic adviser Gary Cohn throughout the weekend, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was at his Senate office Monday.

“Very possible,” Corker said when asked if he might vote “no” in the Senate Budget Committee today if the revenue issue isn’t settled. “It’s important for me to know we’ve got this resolved,” he said.

Johnson told Wisconsin reporters Monday, “If we develop a fix prior to committee, I’ll probably support it, but if we don’t I’ll vote against it.”

Trump and Senate leaders are trying to balance competing demands. While some senators fear the package’s debt consequences, others want more generous tax breaks for businesses. In a boost for the legislation, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would back the measure.

Trump hosted Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee Monday at the White House. GOP leaders still were trying to round up the votes in the Senate to pass the bill.

Whatever the Senate passes must be reconciled with the House version of the tax bill.

Trump suggested he is open to making unspecified changes to the way millions of “pass-through” businesses are taxed, a sticking point for some lawmakers. These are businesses in which profits are passed onto the owners, who report the income on their individual tax returns. The vast majority of U.S. businesses, big and small, are taxed this way.

Both Daines and Johnson said the current bill doesn’t cut business taxes enough for these types of partnerships and corporations. Johnson gets substantial income from such companies, including a manufacturer he helped found in Wisconsin and a commercial real estate company, according to his financial disclosure statements.

Johnson said Trump has assured lawmakers there will be changes. Trump is to travel today to Capitol Hill to lobby Republican senators personally.

The overall tax package blends a sharp reduction in top corporate and business tax rates with more modest relief for individuals.

In signaling his support, Paul wrote in an op-ed on Fox News: “I’m not getting everything I want — far from it. But I’ve been immersed in this process. I’ve fought for and received major changes for the better — and I plan to vote for this bill as it stands right now.”