TWIN FALLS — A fire that engulfed an RV early Monday afternoon claimed the life of a 2-year-old girl, authorities say.
Cassandra Luckey is the only known victim of a blaze that destroyed a trailer just south of Twin Falls, according to the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies and the Salmon Tract fire department were dispatched to 3344 U.S. 93 shortly before 1 p.m., police say. The RV was already engulfed in flames when they arrived.
A neighbor down the road described seeing “lots of smoke” and fire trucks around that time.
Three hours later, the scene of the tragedy was quiet. What remained of the trailer, tucked away behind yellow tape next to a house surrounded mostly by fields, stood charred and crumbled in from the top down. A lone red Salmon Tract firetruck remained on the property, a few firefighters still at work in the freezing air as cars zipped by.
Agencies didn’t respond to messages Monday requesting more information on the fatal blaze. It was unclear if anyone else was in the RV at the time of the fire, but a spokesman for the Red Cross said the organization is providing help to the child’s family.
The cause of the fire is unknown and is under investigation by the fire marshal, according to the sheriff’s office.
CASTLEFORD — Castleford teenager Keegan Myers started learning to weld in junior high school and now wants to pursue it as a career.
He’s already getting a head start.
“I like it,” Myers said. “I think it’s a pretty well put together program. It’s supposed to be one of the best around here.”
By the time the school year ends in May, he’ll have a basic technical certificate from CSI. He plans to continue in the program next school year to earn an associate degree.
Myers is among three high school seniors in CSI’s new Expanded Technical Dual Credit program, which launched this fall.
It allows students to earn a technical certificate or start along that path by the time they graduate from high school. There are four program options: autobody technology, welding technology, drafting technology or food processing technology.
It’s among a few new initiatives CSI is pursuing to help high schoolers accelerate their education. The college is adapting to a changing student body, with high schoolers making up nearly half of its total enrollment.
Some of CSI’s technical programs aren’t full and the college’s overall enrollment has dropped following the economic recession, but there’s a big need among Magic Valley employers for skilled workers.
“Statewide, there’s a need for more students to be in CTE field,” said Melissa Chantry, CSI’s career and technical education coordinator. “There’s a variety of initiatives going on to promote that.”
CSI’s program gives high schoolers, particularly in rural areas, the opportunity to come to the CSI campus, Chantry said. They’re enrolled in dual credit classes, meaning they’re earning high school and college credits simultaneously.
But unlike most dual credit classes — which are taught by high school instructors on high school campuses — students spend half their school day at CSI’s campus.
This semester, two high schoolers are in CSI’s welding program and one is in autobody technology.
CSI is looking to potentially add a couple more program options for high schoolers, depending on interest and funding levels, Chantry said.
The college also wants to boost the number of participating students to 15-20 among the four programs and eventually expand from there.
“Once more interest is generated, we may be able to open up sections reserved for high school students,” Chantry said.
Interested high schoolers must meet with their school counselor to get a letter of recommendation and look at their progress toward high school graduation.
Through the Expanded Technical Dual Credit program, high schoolers can typically finish a basic technical certificate in one year. The exception is drafting, which offers an intermediate technical certificate, and requires more time to finish.
After that, students they can either go into the workforce or continue on to earn an associate degree from CSI.
Myers said his mother saw a news story about the Expanded Technical Dual Credit program and told him about it.
“I applied for it because I was thinking about pursuing my career in welding after high school,” he said.
Myers went through a phone interview with CSI and received an email over the summer saying he’d been accepted.
Myers takes English, math and physical education classes each morning at Castleford High. Around lunchtime, he drives to Twin Falls to attend CSI’s welding class from 1-4:50 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Earlier in his high school years, Myers took the welding classes offered in Castleford. He also participated in welding competitions last school year, including at Idaho State University and in Buhl through FFA.
That has helped him at CSI.
“I think coming into the program with welding abilities before makes it a lot easier,” he said, adding the lessons were “pretty basic in the beginning.”
To pay for classes, high schoolers use money through the Idaho State Department of Education’s Advanced Opportunities program. Each public school student has $4,125 available to use from seventh through 12th grades.
It covers $75 of the $130 per credit fee at CSI for the Expanded Technical Dual Credit program. The remaining tuition money is bundled with the cost of tools and equipment, and families are responsible for paying half of that.
CSI is also trying out another new program for high schoolers this fall, the Dual Credit General Education Academy. It allows students from Magic Valley high schools to earn 40 college credits over two years.
For this year’s high school juniors, applications are due in April or early May for next school year. This summer, instructors will choose the next cohort of students.
As for Myers’ career options, he’s interested in possibly starting a mobile welding business or working for a local welding shop.
He said he’ll likely stay in the Magic Valley, but there are welding opportunities he’d consider elsewhere, such as for Nevada mines or North Dakota oilfields.
For now, he said he’s gaining a lot of knowledge through CSI’s welding program. And that will help him prepare for his next step.
If you do one thing: The College of Southern Idaho Symphonic Band will perform a “Secret Santa” concert at 7:30 p.m. at the CSI Fine Arts Auditorium in Twin Falls. Admission is free; donations to the CSI Music Scholarship Fund are welcome.
SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump on Monday took the rare step of scaling back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, declaring that “public lands will once again be for public use” in a move cheered by Republican leaders who lobbied him to undo protections they considered overly broad.
The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections. Tribal and environmental groups oppose the decision and began filing lawsuits Monday in a bid to stop Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Trump made the plan official during a speech at the State Capitol, where he signed proclamations to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Both monuments encompass millions of acres of land.
State officials said the protections were overly broad and closed off the area to energy development and other access.
Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts, including ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.
Trump argued that the people of Utah know best how to care for their land.
“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said. “And guess what? They’re wrong.”
Roughly 3,000 demonstrators lined up near the State Capitol to protest Trump’s announcement. Some held signs that said, “Keep your tiny hands off our public lands,” and they chanted, “Lock him up!” A smaller group gathered in support, including some who said they favor potential drilling or mining there that could create jobs. Bears Ears has no oil or gas, Zinke told reporters, although Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal.
“Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away,” Trump said. “I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens.”
Bears Ears, created last December by President Barack Obama, will be reduced by about 85 percent, to 201,876 acres.
Grand Staircase-Escalante, designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres to 1,003,863 acres.
Both were among a group of 27 monuments that Trump ordered Zinke to review this year.
Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah’s Republican U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land.
Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, “You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land.” He said the decision would “give back your voice.”
“Public lands will once again be for public use,” Trump said to cheers.
Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when “you talk, this president listens” and that Trump promised to help him with “federal overreach.”
Earthjustice filed the first of several expected lawsuits Monday, calling the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante an abuse of the president’s power that jeopardizes a “Dinosaur Shangri-la” full of fossils. Some of the dinosaur fossils sit on a plateau that is home to one of the country’s largest known coal reserves, which could now be open to mining. The organization is representing eight conservation groups.
Native American leaders said they expect to file a lawsuit challenging the Bears Ears decision soon.
Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said the outdoor-apparel company will join an expected court fight against the monument reduction, which she described as the “largest elimination of protected land in American history.”
No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.
Trump’s move against Bears Ears, covering lands considered sacred to tribes that long pushed for protections, marks his latest affront to Native Americans.
Trump overrode tribal objections to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. He also used a White House event honoring Navajo Code Talkers to take a political jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat he has nicknamed “Pocahontas” for her claim to have Native American heritage.
“One week ago today, our Code Talkers were disrespected. And one week later, we get this,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez, referring to the monuments.
Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review the protections, which Trump is able to upend under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.
This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.
But the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban, announced by President Donald Trump in September. Lower courts have continued to find problems with the policy.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the White House is “not surprised by (Monday’s) Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism.”
Opponents of this and previous versions of the ban say they show a bias against Muslims. They say that was reinforced most recently by Trump’s retweets of anti-Muslim videos.
“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret. He has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter. It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. The ACLU is representing some opponents of the ban.
Just two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, noted their disagreement with court orders allowing the latest policy to take full effect.
The new policy is not expected to cause the chaos that ensued at airports when Trump rolled out his first ban without warning in January.
The ban applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Lower courts had said people from those nations with a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be kept out of the country. Grandparents, cousins and other relatives were among those courts said could not be excluded.
The courts were borrowing language the Supreme Court itself came up with last summer to allow partial enforcement of an earlier version of the ban.
Now, those relationships will no longer provide a blanket exemption from the ban, although visa officials can make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
The justices offered no explanation for their order, but the administration had said that blocking the full ban was causing “irreparable harm” because the policy is based on legitimate national security and foreign policy concerns.
In lawsuits filed in Hawaii and Maryland, federal courts said the updated travel ban violated federal immigration law. The travel policy also applies to travelers from North Korea and to some Venezuelan government officials and their families, but the lawsuits did not challenge those restrictions. Also unaffected are refugees. A temporary ban on refugees expired in October.
All the rulings so far have been on a preliminary basis. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, will be holding arguments on the legality of the ban this week.
David Levine, a University of California Hastings law school professor, said that by allowing the ban to take effect just days before the appeals court arguments, the justices were signaling their view.
“I think it’s tipping the hand of the Supreme Court,” Levine said. “It suggests that from their understanding, the government is more likely to prevail on the merits than we might have thought.”
Both appeals courts are dealing with the issue on an accelerated basis, and the Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch.”
Quick resolution by appellate courts would allow the Supreme Court to hear and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.