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Gooding growth: With May election, the library wants to expand its free membership and the hospital wants room to grow as nonprofit

GOODING — If you live in Gooding or the surrounding areas, you could see changes soon on your property tax bill.

Voters will weigh in during the May 15 election on two ballot measures involving taxing districts: North Canyon Medical Center wants to dissolve its district and the Gooding Public Library wants to create one. Each measure requires a simple majority vote to pass.

Here are the details:

Gooding Public Library

Only residents within city limits can get a free library card. Others have to pay $30 per year. There are some exceptions for low-income residents and some offerings, such as the summer reading program for children, are free for everyone.

If approved, Gooding Public Library’s taxing district would expand to include rural areas, generally those with a Gooding address, outside city limits, allowing about 1,000 more people to have access to a free library card.

“It definitely impacts a lot of our community,” library director Cindy Bigler said.

Residents within the proposed boundary can vote during the May election. If a taxing district is approved, the library would also use money to expand its offerings, such as providing e-books to check out and extending library hours.

Each year, property owners would pay an estimated $29.25 per $100,000 in valuation. It’s not a huge tax burden, Bigler said. “You couldn’t buy two hardcover books for that price,” she said, or take your family to see a movie.

Library and Gooding County elections officials told the Times-News they don’t know when the taxing district would go into effect, if voters approve it.

There has been discussion for about four years about the potential for a taxing district, said Cora Caldwell, board chairwoman for the Gooding Public Library.

The library has reached the maximum level of funding the city of Gooding can provide, she said, but noted city leaders have been supportive.

The nonprofit Gooding Public Library Foundation — formed about a year ago — seeks grant funding and donations, but “we need to have a stable source of income,” Caldwell said. “We’ve been looking at ways of amassing some more resources.”

Gooding streets were fairly quiet Friday afternoon during spring break. But inside the library, children were building LEGO creations, doing art projects and looking for books.

“We’re not a silent place,” Bigler said. “We’re very much an educational center.”

The library offers children educational activities and a safe place to go, she said, including when school isn’t in session.

An April calendar of library events shows something planned just about every day for children or adults. Offerings include robotics, coding, story times, art, book clubs, music and movement, science and math-related games, chess club, ladies’ night out with a metal stamping activity, children’s tea party and knitting.

In nearly five years since Bigler started as library director, the number of people coming into the library has grown at least 20 to 25 percent, Caldwell said, and the number and variety of resources to check out has increased. “We’ve been very, very pleased with the changes we’ve been seeing in the library.”

North Canyon Medical Center

If approved by voters in Gooding County, North Canyon Medical Center’s taxing district will be dissolved. Instead, the hospital will be governed as a nonprofit organization, like many hospitals in Idaho and nationwide, including the St. Luke’s Health System.

In September 2017, North Canyon filed a budget request with Gooding County to eliminate tax revenue from its operating budget. It means taxpayer money hasn’t been collected since then, and if voters approve a ballot measure in May, that change would be permanent.

The taxing district was created in 1987 and has collected about $800,000 each year. Money was originally intended to subsidize clinical services the hospital is required to provide to those who can’t afford it.

“With that tax revenue gone away, the hospital has still continued to provide those services,” said Tim Powers, chief executive officer of North Canyon Medical Center, and it’s a requirement as a nonprofit. “While it was a significant amount of money, the beat goes on with us meeting that commitment with supplying those services.”

The community has greatly supported the hospital and has done its part, Powers said. “It’s time for the hospital to really return the favor.”

A couple of years ago, North Canyon’s board members were looking at the hospital’s financial situation and started talking about the possibility of eliminating tax revenue. It wanted to grow its facilities and services beyond Gooding County.

“We were somewhat restricted by receiving those tax proceeds from carrying out that strategy,” Powers said.

North Canyon has operated for nearly a decade and took over Gooding County Memorial Hospital. A new hospital opened in 2010, a medical plaza opened in 2016 and a groundbreaking ceremony was held last week for a clinic in Buhl, slated to open this summer.

It’s an independent hospital and is locally-controlled by a board of directors — the vast majority of whom are Gooding County residents.

'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' event raises awareness for sexual assault

TWIN FALLS — Voices Against Violence will host its second annual Walk a Miles in Her Shoes event on April 14 at the Twin Falls Visitor Center.

The gimmick for Walk A Mile in Her Shoes is simple. Male participants just have to walk a mile in her shoes — meaning high heels. Donna Graybill said that last year she was impressed with how many high-profile men in the community showed support by wearing heels.

“My advice to men is to go thrift store shopping now,” Graybill said. “If you have unusually large feet, go online to find some high heels.”

The event is intended to help further educate the public on rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. All funds go to Voices Against Violence, the Magic Valley’s only 24/7 emergency shelter for women and children affected by domestic violence or sexual assault.

There will be several prizes at the event including largest team, most community activists on a team, highest heels, most funds raised, best dressed team and best dressed individual.

Graybill said there will not be a prize for fastest walker.

“Speed is not valued in high heels,” Graybill said.

Wearing heels is not an easy task. Chief of Police Craig Kingsbury participated last year and said his feet hurt for a week after.

“As someone who doesn’t wear high heels it was pretty painful,” Kingsbury said. “Victims pain runs so much deeper than that.”

As another sign of support the Twin Falls Police Department will be unveiling a domestic violence awareness patrol car Kingsbury said. The car will have purple instead of the standard blue, with a phone number on the side for victims to reach out and a quote that says “Break the cycle.”


School Resource Officer Steven Gassert, center, walks with other members of the Twin Falls Police Department on April 22, 2017, during the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event at the College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls, Idaho. At the event, dozens of men walked a mile in high-heel shoes to raise awareness about rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

Filer man dies in I-84 rollover crash

MOUNTAIN HOME — A Filer man died Tuesday morning after a rollover crash on Interstate 84 west halfway between Boise and Mountain Home.

Samuel McCormic, 46, died at the scene of the crash, Idaho State Police said in a statement.

Shortly before 5 a.m., ISP investigated the crash at milepost 77. Amy Beer, 33, of Mountain Home was driving a Toyota Camry when she went off the left side of the road and overcorrected.

The vehicle rolled and came to rest on the right shoulder of the road.

Beer was transported by ground ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. McCormic, the passenger in her vehicle, was ejected from the car and died at the scene. Beer and McCormic weren’t wearing seat belts.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: Indie Lens Pop-up features a free screening of “Look and See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky” at 6:30 p.m. at Twin Falls Center for the Arts’ Sligar Auditorium, 195 River Vista Place. A moderated discussion follows the film. Free slice of pizza is provided at 6 p.m.


University of Idaho athletic director Rob Spear speaks at the Twin Falls Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015.

Associated Press file photo  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his last public appearance April 3, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn. The following day King was assassinated on his motel balcony.

Idaho GOP candidate supports death penalty to stop abortions

BOISE — A Republican lieutenant governor candidate on Tuesday softened his stance that women who get an abortion should be punished if it is ever criminalized in Idaho, a day after saying the punishment should include the death penalty.

“Prosecutions have always been focused on the abortionist,” said Bob Nonini in a statement. “There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty. The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal.”

Nonini first raised eyebrows on the divisive social issue during a Monday candidate forum in Moscow hosted by the conservative Christian podcast CrossPolitic.

“There should be no abortion and anyone who has an abortion should pay,” Nonini said.

Pressed by moderators on the nature of the punishment, Nonini nodded in agreement when asked if he supported the death penalty as a possible outcome for abortion.

Nonini, a three term state senator from Coeur d’Alene, confirmed that position in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

However, several hours later, Nonini issued a statement seeking to take back his strict stance.

“I strongly support the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Nonini said. “That would allow states like Idaho to re-criminalize abortion as a deterrent. However, it is my understanding that in the history of the United States, long before Roe was foisted upon this country; no woman has ever been prosecuted for undergoing abortion. That is for practical reasons, as well as for reasons of compassion.”

Nonini added that his wife, Cathyanne, does not share his endorsement of the death penalty even though both are devout Catholics.

It’s common for Republican candidates to express their anti-abortion positions in GOP-dominant Idaho. Typically, many stress the importance of educating women on alternative options to an unplanned pregnancy or making access to abortion clinics more difficult rather than focus on possible punishment for the woman.

A handful of anti-abortion advocates have begun increasing their call for stricter penalties for women and providers.

Last year, Abolish Abortion Idaho launched a ballot initiative seeking to charge both abortion providers and women with first-degree murder — but it is unclear if the group will have enough signatures to make it on the ballot in November.

Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Dan Foreman attempted to introduce legislation that would also classify abortion as first-degree murder for mothers and doctors, but the proposal never received a hearing.

Nonini was joined at Monday’s forum by two other Republican candidates: Idaho Falls businesswoman Janice McGeachin and former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates.

Five Republicans are running in the May primary election after incumbent GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little announced he would run for governor, but only Nonini, Idaho Falls businesswoman Janice McGeachin and former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates were invited to attend the forum.

Both McGeachin and Yates say abortion is murder, but stopped short of supporting charging women with first-degree murder for undergoing the procedure.

“No, I cannot support a woman facing the death penalty for having an abortion,” said McGeachin. “What we should do is prevent that.”

Yates downplayed that criminalizing abortion would result in fewer women seeking the procedure.

“In terms of criminalizing things, I have no problem with that except that doesn’t always solve the problem,” Yates said.

Nonini’s comments echo similar rhetoric said by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign. In 2016, Trump came out in support of “some sort of punishment” for women who get abortions, but the campaign later backtracked that he believes abortion providers should be the ones punished.

Impatient for wall, Trump wants US military to secure border

WASHINGTON — Frustrated by slow action on a big campaign promise, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants to use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his promised border wall is built.

Trump told reporters he’s been discussing the idea with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“We’re going to be doing things militarily. Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said, calling the move a “big step.”

It was unclear exactly how the proposal would work or what kind of troops Trump wanted to deploy.

Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S., unless specifically authorized by Congress. But over the past 12 years, presidents have twice sent National Guard troops to the border to bolster security and assist with surveillance and other support. An official said the White House counsel’s office has been working on the idea for several weeks.

Trump has been annoyed by the lack of progress on building what was the signature promise of his campaign: a “big, beautiful wall” along the Mexican border. He’s previously suggested using the Pentagon’s budget to pay for building the wall, arguing it is a national security priority, despite strict rules that prohibit spending that’s not authorized by Congress.

The Department of Homeland Security and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. At the Pentagon, officials were struggling to answer questions about the plan, including rudimentary details on whether it would involve National Guard members.

But officials appeared to be considering a model similar to a 2006 operation in which President George W. Bush deployed National Guard troops to the southern border.

Under Operation Jump Start, 6,000 National Guard troops were sent to assist the border patrol with non-law enforcement duties while additional border agents were hired and trained. Over two years, about 29,000 National Guard forces participated, as forces rotated in and out. The Guard members were used for surveillance, communications, administrative support, intelligence, analysis and the installation of border security infrastructure.

In addition, President Barack Obama sent about 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2010 to beef up efforts to battle drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

Texas has also deployed military forces to its 800-mile border with Mexico. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now serving as Trump’s energy secretary, sent 1,000 Texas National Guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley in 2014 in response to a sharp increase in Central American children crossing the border alone.

Trump met Tuesday with top administration officials, including Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to discuss the administration’s strategy to address what White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders described as “the growing influx of illegal immigration, drugs and violent gang members from Central America.”

In addition to mobilizing the National Guard, Trump and senior officials “agreed on the need to pressure Congress to urgently pass legislation to close legal loopholes exploited by criminal trafficking, narco-terrorist and smuggling organizations,” Sanders said.

The meeting and comments came amid a flurry of tweets by the president on the subject over the last several days.

Trump has been fixated on the issue since he grudgingly signed a spending bill last month that includes far less money for the wall than he’d hoped for.

The $1.3 trillion package included $1.6 billion for border wall spending — a fraction of the $25 billion Trump made a last-minute push to secure. And much of that money can be used only to repair existing segments, not to build new sections.

Trump spent the first months of his presidency bragging about a dramatic drop in illegal border crossings, and indeed the 2017 fiscal year marked a 45-year low for Border Patrol arrests. But the numbers have been slowly ticking up since last April and are now on par with many months of the Obama administration. Statistics show 36,695 arrests of people trying to cross the southwest border in February 2018, up from 23,555 in the same month of the previous year.

Trump appeared to take credit Tuesday for halting a caravan of about 1,100 migrants, many from Honduras, who had been marching along roadsides and train tracks in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

“I said (to Mexican officials), ‘I hope you’re going to tell that caravan not to get up to the border.’ And I think they’re doing that because, as of 12 minutes ago, it was all being broken up,” he said.

But the caravan of largely Central American migrants had never intended to reach the U.S. border, according to organizer Irineo Mujica. It was meant to end at a migrants’ rights symposium in central Mexico later this week.

The caravan stopped to camp at a sports field in Oaxaca over the weekend. Mexican immigration officers have been signing them up for temporary transit visas, which would allow them to travel to the U.S. border, possibly to seek asylum, or to seek asylum status in Mexico.