RUPERT— A Rupert couple is planning to feed 1,000 people free Thanksgiving Day dinners on Nov. 23 at the Rupert Elks Lodge.
This will be the 16th year Ron and Deb Anderson, owners of Alaska’s Best restaurant have hosted the meal designed to feed the hungry and offer fellowship to others on the day set aside for giving thanks.
“This community has been really good to us,” said Ron Anderson, who has watched the event grow over the years.
Last year, 700 dinners were served in the dining room or delivered to people in Mini-Cassia.
“We will deliver meals and give people rides to the Elks,” Anderson said.
To have a meal delivered or for a ride people must call 208-436-2447 prior to Thursday.
“We are the only ones in Mini-Cassia that we know of having a dinner this year,” Anderson said.
The traditional meal will include roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, dressing, yams, cranberries and for dessert pumpkin cake with whipped cream.
The event was held at the restaurant for the first couple years but soon outgrew the space.
For several years the Elks Lodge has donated its dining room and dozens of Elks members and people from the community donate or come by to help cook the food or deliver meals.
“I really like watching people come out and knowing they enjoyed a meal they might not have had otherwise,” James Smith, member of the Rupert Elks Lodge, said.
Smith will be one of the volunteers to help cook the turkeys on the Elk’s giant rotisserie.
“If they are about 12 pound birds we can get about 24 on there at a time,” Smith said.
The volunteers start cooking the turkeys on Wednesday and each batch takes about three hours to cook.
Anderson said Kat Kountry radio station holds a turkey drive each year and donates about 80 turkeys. They will need about 45 more turkeys to feed the expected crowds. Turkeys can be donated to Alaska’s Best during business hours but after Tuesday they can only accept fresh turkeys because there is not time to thaw them prior to cooking if they are frozen.
Anderson said they borrow a freezer truck to store the birds in before they are cooked.
Minidoka County school cooks will be making about 900 dinner rolls and other businesses also pitch in to help.
“We like to do it and it all comes back to us,” Anderson said. “Karma is a wonderful thing.”
If you do one thing: The College of Southern Idaho’s Harvest Time Festival is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the CSI Eldon Evans Expo Center on North College Road in Twin Falls. Admission is $3. Free for children 12 and younger.
TWIN FALLS — For Magic Valley residents who need substance abuse treatment, there are only a few options.
To help fill that gap, Kimi Recovery Center — a new mental health and substance abuse center —opened Nov. 1 in downtown Twin Falls.
Owners Gerlyn “Sam” Walker and Kelly Smothers, the center’s only employees, both have experience working with a criminal justice population and helping other agencies launch treatment programs.
Walker previously worked in law enforcement — specifically, dealing with narcotics — and said she couldn’t figure out at the time why people couldn’t just stop with their addiction.
The former undersheriff ended up studying addictions and it was an eye-opening experience. Working to overcome an addiction is an entire life change, she said. “It’s a tough road.”
Smothers, a licensed professional counselor, knows what that’s like. She battled an addiction and has been clean for 15 years.
“I have been in their place,” she said.
Kimi Recovery Center’s services include intensive outpatient treatment, mental health counseling and dual diagnoses, drug and alcohol assessments, driving under the influence assessments, an alcohol school with a victim impact panel, relapse prevention, domestic violence classes, anger management, help with parenting and co-dependency, and treatment for Department of Transportation public safety clients.
They’re encouraging anyone who needs help to come in — no appointment needed.
“If someone is in crisis or someone’s in trouble, just walk through our doors,” Smothers said.
The center is currently accepting self-pay patients. It’s in the process of getting set up to receive state funding to help pay for clients’ treatments and will also accept county vouchers.
And they’re working with clients who are court-ordered to complete treatment. Walker said she and Smothers understand what judges are ordering and can work with clients to help them through the process.
Walker and Smothers say their office on Gooding Street North is an ideal location — close to the Twin Falls County Courthouse, Advanced Drug Detection and next-door to the Twin Falls County Public Defender’s Office.
On Friday, Walker was working to set up her office with beach-themed decorations at the center. She’s a certified alcohol and drug counselor, and a substance abuse professional.
For those undergoing intensive outpatient treatment, it typically means coming in three days a week for three hours each time.
As the Kimi Recovery Center gets up and running, Walker and Smothers are also working to put together a live victim impact panel. It means those convicted of a DUI will have to interact with those affected by drunken driving — not just watching victims talk in a video.
The new center is helping to fill a need in the Magic Valley, the owners say. And it’s a way to help others.
Smothers said: “I want to help people gain what I’ve gained.”
TWIN FALLS — A hate crime at the Islamic Center of Twin Falls and a shooting at a church in Texas have raised concerns here locally about the safety of places of worship in the community.
The Twin Falls Police Department says church leaders have been asking questions about what they can do to protect their members. In light of recent events, police are inviting local religious representatives to attend a “Places of Worship Safety Forum” from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Council Chambers, 305 Third Ave. E.
Officer J.P. O’Donnell said this is the first step police have made to begin a dialogue about safety in places of worship.
“What we saw at the Islamic Center is obviously concerning to us,” he said. “That was obviously fresh in our minds.”
Police discovered in late October that a 4-foot cross draped in bacon, pig’s feet and a tongue had been left in the center’s parking lot. It’s still an active investigation, but police have not made arrests or released any updates on what they described as a hate crime. Muslims abstain from eating pork, under the rules of Islam.
Twin Falls’ only mosque has been vandalized and received threats in recent years.
Police also noted the Nov. 5 church shooting in Texas, when a gunman opened fire on worshipers, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others.
“Places of worship have a unique challenge when it comes to security and safety,” Police Chief Craig Kingsbury said in a statement. “It is important for us to make sure that every church, temple, synagogue or mosque within our community, are safe and protected.”
O’Donnell said police also stepped up to assist schools after national school shootings in recent years.
“Trends will change,” he said. “Obviously, we develop new policing tactics based on some of that. With these increases in what we’re seeing across the nation, we want to start a dialogue.”
Police can help religious leaders learn what they should or should not do when faced with an act of violence, he said. At the forum, they will be taking questions from church representatives.
“The Church has always been a place of hope, comfort, healing and sanctuary,” police said in a statement released Friday. “The realization that danger could lurk within our Churches is a frightful and upsetting prospect.”
Leaders of any faith-based organization in Twin Falls are invited to attend the forum. They can RSVP by emailing O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Community Outreach Unit at 208-735-3445.