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Isaac Johnson gives his Speech Language Pathologist Mel Graber a thumbs up to confirm that she heard him correctly during his speech therapy session Oct. 26 at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls. ‘Never give up,’ Johnson says. ‘Eventually you get where you’re going.’

Idaho companies plan for trade mission to Taiwan, Vietnam

TWIN FALLS — Three Magic Valley manufacturers will head to Asia this month in hopes of finding new customers for cheese, cheese powders, erosion-control materials and insulation.

Commercial Creamery Co., Glanbia Nutritionals and Hamilton Manufacturing will be in Taiwan and Vietnam Nov. 10-18 as part of an Idaho trade mission coordinated by the state’s departments of Agriculture and Commerce. The trip includes 21 companies in agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“Exports are critical to Idaho’s agriculture economy,” Celia Gould, director of Idaho State Department of Agriculture, said in a statement. “These trade missions are very effective tools in expanding exports by strengthening customer relationships, growing business and establishing new buyer contacts.”

Taiwan is the state’s third largest overall export destination. Exports in 2016 rose 20 percent from the year before.

Vietnam is also seen as a significant opportunity for Idaho companies. Idaho exports to the country grew 55 percent from 2015 to 2016.

“The United States is now Vietnam’s largest export market and, conversely, Vietnam recently became the United States’ fastest growing export market,” said Megan Ronk, director of Idaho Commerce. “There could not be a more opportune time for Idaho companies to develop strengthened, meaningful trade relations in both Taiwan and Vietnam.”

This year’s mission will be led by House Speaker Scott Bedke. Meetings will take place in Taipei, Taiwan; Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam; and Hanoi, Vietnam.

Here’s what each Magic Valley company had to say about its plans for the trade mission:

Commercial Creamery

As Commercial Creamery is talking about another major expansion of its Jerome facility, President Michael Gilmartin is also keeping his attention on export opportunities.

He’s grown discouraged, however, by President Donald Trump’s actions to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“That actually would have helped us in Asia,” Gilmartin said. “It’s a shame the Trump administration won’t help. He has not been a friend of trade.”

Vietnam was one of the other member countries in the trade agreement.

“Vietnam struck me as extremely vibrant,” Gilmartin said after taking a vacation there.

The country had lots of young people and a pro-American attitude, which he found surprising given the history between the two countries.

“We are selling to Vietnam, but not much,” co-owner and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Megan Boell said.

Commercial Creamery hasn’t been active in Taiwan for years, Gilmartin said.

Boell said most of the company’s exports of cheese powders are for snack seasonings. State employees are helping set up meetings with foreign companies, she said.

“The products we make are very technical, so our process for selling them is pretty lengthy,” Boell said. “This is a good way to enter a new country and have people doing research for us.”

Glanbia Nutritionals

Glanbia’s Twin Falls facility exports cheese, lactose and whey proteins — but in Taiwan and Vietnam, the company will probably focus most on promoting cheese.

“Both markets are very fond of Western and U.S. products,” Vice President of International Sales Dave Snyder said. “We do business in both countries.”

Taiwan’s economy is more developed, so it’s a stronger market, he said. Glanbia hopes to sell cheese that will be used in shredded cheeses for restaurants, as well as processed cheese in food service and retail.

But Vietnam holds promise as a cheese importer, in part due to the French occupation that resulted in an affinity for a kind of processed cheese, he said.

The trade mission will help open doors as well as strengthen existing relationships.

“These trade missions compliments our efforts, and doing business in these countries … is largely dependent on developing good relationships with prospective customers,” Snyder said.

Hamilton Manufacturing

Twin Falls’ Hamilton Manufacturing will travel only on the Vietnam portion of the trip, Vice President Matthew Smith said. That’s mostly because the company is in its busy season.

“We’re very busy with domestic orders and production,” he said.

He’s already connected with several potential clients. Hamilton Manufacturing produces 90 percent of its products in Twin Falls.

The company exports soil remediation and erosion materials. These are made from recycled papers and cardboard, an environmental-friendly glue, fertilizer and water. They help stabilize soil and support germination.

Hamilton Manufacturing also makes fire-resistant insulation from recycled materials.

“Vietnam has a lot of potential,” Smith said.


Gooding’s offense lines up for a play early in the first quarter in a 3A state quarterfinal game against Kellogg Saturday afternoon in Gooding.

Survey: 1 in 4 Idaho high schoolers have seriously considered attempting suicide

TWIN FALLS — Nearly 1-in-4 Idaho high school students have seriously considered attempting suicide — the highest rate in 10 years.

It’s one of the findings in the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The Idaho State Department of Education released results Oct. 24.

In Twin Falls, high schools use the data to identify trends and decide how to best help students. Statewide, it helps inform policy and program decisions.

“This data is critical as we focus on the factors that disrupt academic achievement,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a statement.

Students across Idaho take the survey, conducted by the Idaho State Department of Education, during odd-numbered years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the survey. Six categories are covered: behaviors that contribute to injury, tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, sexual behaviors, and diet and physical activity.

School officials take the results with “a grain of salt,” Twin Falls School District spokeswoman Eva Craner said. Some high schoolers may not take the survey seriously or be completely honest with their responses.

In total, 1,818 students at 53 public high schools completed the survey.

There aren’t specific Magic Valley results, though. That’s because participants aren’t tracked by school, school district or region, said Kristin Rodine, spokeswoman for the Idaho State Department of Education.

The education department has been working with schools to address behaviors reported in the survey, it said in its statement. That includes public service announcements and information available online about anti-bullying resources.

The department is also partnering with community and state groups for suicide prevention efforts.

Here are five of the key topics addressed in the survey:


Of the high schoolers surveyed, 22 percent said they seriously considered suicide within the past year. That’s the highest rate in a decade.

Whenever a Twin Falls school is told of a student who’s possibly contemplating suicide, “we take that very seriously,” said Krystal Koelling, student assistant specialist for Twin Falls and Canyon Ridge high schools.

Employees talk with the student, do a risk assessment and contact their parents — part of school district protocol to make sure a student is safe.

Depending on the severity, parents may be required to take their child to the emergency room to be assessed by a medical professional and to follow those recommendations so the student doesn’t have the opportunity or means to follow through with suicidal thoughts, Koelling said.

“We want students to be healthy and safe here at school,” she said.

School district officials would like to look into underlying factors behind the increase in the percentage of students who’ve considered suicide, Craner said.

She said she wonders if since suicide prevention is more widely discussed, if more students are comfortable making a disclosure in the survey.

“We’re seeing so many kids who are reaching out and are saying ‘I need help,’” said Donna Stalley, a licensed clinical professional counselor and president of Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho‘s local chapter.

She said she thinks people — including at schools, medical professionals and law enforcement officers — are becoming more educated about suicide prevention and warning signs.

But still, “I think there’s a fear that if we bring up suicide, will it glamorize it in any way?”

SPAN of Idaho wants to reach out to children at risk, Stalley said, and doesn’t want suicide to be something they think is normal or natural.

“Fortunately, numbers for completed suicides for teenagers is low,” she said, but there have been some recent ones in outlying areas of the Magic Valley.

The biggest increase she’s noticing is among those 50 and older, and U.S. armed forces veterans.

Another challenge: Websites that detail how to commit suicide, and some critics say a popular recent Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” romanticizes suicide.

“13 Reasons Why” is based on a bestselling young adult novel, published in 2007, that follows a high school girl who kills herself after creating a series of tapes for her classmates to play after her death. She gave the tapes to people who influenced her decision.

Following the airing of “13 Reasons Why,” the number of calls to suicide prevention hotlines increased significantly, Stalley said.

She encourages community members who see someone with signs and symptoms of being suicidal to talk with them and offer them help — and to talk with their parent or school counselor if they’re a child.


One-in-four students surveyed reporting being bullied at school and 20 percent electronically.

“Unfortunately, with cellphones, bullying has been made a little easier,” Koelling said, adding school employees try to teach students responsibility and how to use social media in appropriate ways.

The survey’s findings on bullying are reflective of what’s happening in Twin Falls, Craner said. “It can be hard to enforce rules about harassment when it’s hard to get proof of what transpires electronically.”

Koelling said: “Parents need to police that with their children.”

Drugs, alcohol and smoking

Only 16 percent of students surveyed said they’d been in a vehicle with someone who’d been drinking alcohol. That’s a big drop from 30 percent in 2007.

“That means we’re doing a little bit better job educating kids,” Koelling said.

There are extensive programs — such as the nationwide Every 15 Minutes — to educate students about the dangers of drunken driving, Craner said, adding that can have a profound impact on students.

But 47 percent of survey respondents said they sent text or email messages while driving a vehicle during the previous 30 days.

As for smoking, the percentage of students who’ve tried it dropped 20 percent over the last decade, to 28 percent this year.

There are many public service announcements to address teen smoking, Craner said, as well as Red Ribbon Week. “I think all of that work over the course of a decade has shown results.”

A trusted adult

About 72 percent of students reported having at least one teacher or adult at school they feel comfortable talking with if a problem arises.

That’s huge, Koelling said. “We work really hard to develop relationships with staff and students to make sure it’s a trusting environment. As relationships develop, that helps address other issues that come up in the survey.”

Post-high school plans

Of those surveyed, 78 percent of students said they’d “probably” or “definitely” complete a program beyond high school, such as college, vocational training or enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces.

AP finds hackers hijacked at least 195 Trump web addresses

WASHINGTON — Four years ago, well before the furor over allegations Moscow meddled in the 2016 election that put Donald Trump in the White House, at least 195 web addresses belonging to Trump, his family or his business empire were hijacked by hackers possibly operating out of Russia, The Associated Press has learned.

The Trump Organization denied the domain names were ever compromised. But a review of internet records by the AP and cybersecurity experts shows otherwise. And it was not until this past week, after the Trump camp was asked about it by the AP, that the last of the tampered-with addresses were repaired.

After the hack, computer users who visited the Trump-related addresses were unwittingly redirected to servers in St. Petersburg, Russia, that cybersecurity experts said contained malicious software commonly used to steal passwords or hold files for ransom. Whether anyone fell victim to such tactics is unclear.

A further mystery is who the hackers were and why they did it.

The discovery represents a new twist in the Russian hacking story, which up to now has focused mostly on what U.S. intelligence officials say was a campaign by the Kremlin to try to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and benefit Trump’s.

It is not known whether the hackers who tampered with the Trump addresses are the same ones who stole Democratic officials’ emails and embarrassed the party in the heat of the campaign last year. Nor is it clear whether the hackers were acting on behalf of the Russian government.

The affected addresses, or domain names, included,, and They were compromised in two waves of attacks in August and September 2013, according to the review of internet records.

The attacks took place as Trump was preparing to travel to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, which was held on Nov. 9, 2013, at a property owned by a wealthy Russian real estate developer.

Many of the addresses were not being used by Trump. Businesses and public figures commonly buy addresses for possible future use or to prevent them from falling into the hands of rivals or enemies. The Trump Organization and its affiliates own at least 3,300 in all.

According to security experts, the hackers hijacked the addresses by penetrating and altering the domain registration records housed at, a seller of web addresses.

Accounts at GoDaddy, like at any site that requires a user name and password, are often subject to malicious messages known as phishing attacks, which are designed to trick people to reveal that personal information to hackers.

Computer users who entered or clicked on one of those Trump addresses probably would have had no idea they were redirected to servers in Russia.

Within days after the AP asked the Trump Organization about the tampering, the affected web addresses were all corrected.

The White House referred questions to the Trump Organization. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.

GoDaddy spokesman Nick Fuller said the company had no breaches of its system in 2013 and has measures in place to monitor for malicious activity. Fuller would not discuss any customers in particular.

Some cybersecurity experts said there is an outside chance the tampering was a probe — an attempt to test security for an eventual effort to gather information on Trump or his business dealings. But those experts were only guessing.

There was no evidence the hackers ultimately broke into server computers at the Trump Organization or other Trump interests.

“This is beyond me,” said Paul Vixie, CEO of the San Mateo, California-based internet security company Farsight Security Inc. “I have simply never seen a benefit accrue from an attack of this kind. I’m at loss, unless it’s a demonstration of capabilities.”

Vixie said the Trump Organization’s apparent failure to detect what was happening probably suggests inadequate cybersecurity at the company.

“There’s no way something like this could go by in the Bloomberg empire without this being seen,” Vixie said.