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Peggy Ripley smiles as Kyle Bulkley, of Bulkeez Blossoms, delivers Valentine's Day flowers ordered by her son Tuesday at her home in Twin Falls.

Twin Falls florists prepare for slew of Valentine's Day deliveries

TWIN FALLS — Peggy Ripley was half expecting to receive flowers. Samantha Watts was not. And Sheryl Hanson said it had been a long time.

But all three women got an early surprise Tuesday when Bulkeez Blossoms made a Valentine’s delivery from someone who cared.

“This is awesome,” Hanson said as she examined her small bouquet arranged in a heart-patterned mug. “I’m just so overwhelmed.”

Hanson’s flowers were delivered personally by Kyle Bulkley, whose wife, Taylor, owns Bulkeez Blossoms. The Bulkleys have rented a duplex from Hanson for more than a year, and they wanted to give their landlord something to thank her for her kindness.

“For Christmas, she gives me and my wife gift cards for pedicures,” Kyle Bulkley said.

Bulkeez Blossoms may have gotten a head start on its Valentine’s Day deliveries, but Wednesday, florists around town will tackle what could be their busiest day of the year.

“We don’t go home until the job’s done,” said Michelle Heidemann, owner of Absolutely Flowers.

She said pre-orders were about normal, but Heidemann has heard that Valentine’s Day is better for florists the farther it is away from a weekend. That’s because more people are staying in town for the day, and many floral deliveries will go to workplaces.

Idaho Flower Co. owner Karen Hunter also expects it to be a good year.

“We’re getting pretty full,” she said. “But we’re trying to stay on it.”

Absolutely Flowers, Bulkeez Blossoms and Idaho Flower Co. are all taking last-minute orders.

“Most guys — if they’re anything like me — they’ll be in tomorrow,” Kyle Bulkley said Tuesday.

This is Taylor Bulkley’s first Feb. 14 as a florist in Twin Falls; she just opened her shop in September. But having managed a flower shop in Utah that made 500 deliveries on Valentine’s Day, she believes she’s prepared to handle it.

Still, a few of her customers decided to beat the rush and get their flowers delivered early. One of these was Stanley Watts — Taylor Bulkley’s father. But this was unusual for Watts, his daughter explained.

“Valentine’s Day is stupid to him,” she said.

Normally, her father doesn’t do much for his wife, if anything, Taylor Bulkley said. But this year, one of Bulkley’s large floral arrangements changed his mind.

“He just stood there and he just kept looking at it,” she said.

On Tuesday, Samantha Watts was pleasantly surprised to see the arrangement appear in her office at Campus Park Housing.

“I figured he would probably do something little,” she said.

When she asked a coworker “Did you see this?” the woman joked about how it would have been hard to miss. The arrangement included four pink roses — one for each of the Watts’ children.

Ripley, who’d received the first delivery of the day, wasn’t all that surprised to see flowers and a balloon bouquet from her “wonderful son.” But she still looked incredibly pleased. Ripley said her son sends her flowers pretty frequently.

Later that morning, Katie Impomeni didn’t know yet who had sent her a bouquet to her workplace. But the second grade teacher at Pillar Falls Elementary smiled as she accepted the gift from Kyle Bulkley and followed her students back to class.

As of Tuesday morning, Bulkeez Blossoms already had 40 deliveries scheduled between Tuesday and Valentine’s Day. Some of these might even be delivered using the florist’s 1974 mail carrier Jeep. The Bulkleys planned to be open from 8 a.m. to around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Still need to make a last-minute order? You can schedule a delivery, but Bulkeez Blossoms will also have some pre-made arrangements for pickup at 201 Hansen St. E.

“Most of the florists aren’t going to tell you no,” Taylor Bulkley said. “They’re going to work until 11 o’clock to get it done.”


Owner Taylor Bulkley talks about her business Tuesday at Bulkeez Blossoms in Twin Falls.

Didn't make dinner reservations? Make memories instead

TWIN FALLS — By the end of the day, Americans will spend billions of their hard-earned money on cards, candy, jewelry, flowers, followed by dinner.

You say you didn’t make dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day? No worries. Some of the happiest couples around don’t make a big deal about the holiday.

“I always remember to get my sweetheart nice flowers and a card,” Filer electrician Steve Westphal said. “I used to get Cynthia roses, but the last few years they wilted too quickly.”

The two have been married for 29 years.

Orpheum Theatre owners Larry and Stephanie Johnson have been married for 32 years.

“Stephanie and I have never done anything special for Valentine’s Day,” Larry said. “Then again, every day is Valentine’s Day for us.”

Twin Falls’ mayor and first lady, Shawn and Camille Barigar, feel the same.

“Those romantic moments are more authentic when they spontaneously happen on warm summer nights,” Camille said. She and Shawn have been married for 18 years.

Twin Falls County Commissioner Jack Johnson and his sweetheart, Rhonda, have been married for 32 years.

“Probably in 1985, because of diet fads, I decided to put a little twist on a box of chocolates,” Jack said. “I removed the chocolate, cut up vegetables and fruits and put them in the chocolate wrappers. The box of fruit and vegetables was a hit.”

Diane and Charley Stevens of Twin Falls have been married for 15 years.

“Charley picks out the most amazing cards, and writes the sweetest most loving sentiments in them,” Diane said. “He makes me cry every time!”

Brenton Black and her man, Twin Falls BASE jumper Sean Chuma, have been together for more than four years.

One Valentine’s Day morning, Sean surprised her by loading their snowmobile into their truck.

“I climbed in and there was a rose on the passenger seat, and wine and a picnic basket” she said. They rode over snow all afternoon, then stopped on top of a peak overlooking the South Hills.

“We opened our basket of wine and goodies, strawberries and snacks, poured wine, and sat on the sled just taking in the view and having a fun special moment together,” Brenton said. “We’d rather make a memory together than receive flowers.”

Twin Falls County Assessor Brad Wills and his wife, Lucy, have been married for four years.

“We are super thoughtful of one another on a daily basis, so when Valentine’s Day comes around it’s just a typical day for us,” Lucy said. “We never wait for a holiday to do nice things for one another, whether it’s Christmas, birthdays or Valentine’s Day. We are just so happy to be with one another every day of the year and we celebrate it every moment we can.”Martin King, brewer at Von Schiedt Brewing in Twin Falls, and his wife, Sierra Scheidt, have been together for nearly seven years. Early in their relationship, the two decided on a candlelit dinner at home, with marinated pork chops and red wine.

“We opened the bottle of wine and wished each other a happy Valentine’s Day and dug in,” Martin said. They ate in silence while giving each other funny looks.

“The pork chops are a little rough,” Sierra told him. He chuckled and gave her a nod.

“The wine was not our greatest choice either,” he said Tuesday, still laughing about it. “That was almost six years ago, and to this day we still refer to a dinner that didn’t turn out as ‘it’s not as bad as the pork chop dinner.’

“She is my one in seven billion,” Martin said, “my truest darling.”

What if you don’t have someone special?

Twin Falls skateboarder Shawn Black said he hasn’t dated in a few years, but he treats himself to something special on Valentine’s Day.

“I sleep in, (eat) good food, followed by skateboarding and some disc golf and more good food,” Shawn said. “Living life to its fullest is a true gift we can give ourselves.”

A Twin Falls teenager is going to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology

TWIN FALLS — Kylie Hansen grew up gazing at stars through the telescope at the College of Southern Idaho’s Centennial Observatory.

For as long as she can remember, the 18-year-old has been interested in science. She’s curious about the world around her and loves asking questions.

That sparked an interest in astronomy and astrophysics. And that led to participating in nationwide science programs and ultimately, a seat at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Hansen, a senior at Twin Falls High School, will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., this fall to study physics. It’s one of the toughest schools in the country to get into, with just a 7 percent acceptance rate.

She found out around mid-November she’d been accepted. Her parents were out of town that weekend, but she shared the good news with them via Skype and celebrated with her brother.

“It was just like super exciting,” she told the Times-News on Tuesday during her advisory class at Twin Falls High, wearing an MIT sweatshirt. “I wish there was confetti to throw, but there wasn’t.”

In addition to majoring in physics, Hansen hopes to study Japanese in college. Her mother is from Japan, but “I haven’t had a lot of exposure here” to the language, she said.

Ultimately, Hansen wants to become an astrophysics researcher or professor. She’d love to be among the first humans to go to Mars someday, whether through NASA or a private aerospace company such as SpaceX.

Nancy Jones, who has been Hansen’s advisory teacher at Twin Falls High for two years, described her as a “self-starter” who is extremely motivated, yet humble. “She’s one of the few kids in her generation who truly believes she can change the world.”

Twin Falls High physics and calculus teacher Candace Wright — who has had Hansen in classes for three years — said her student is “just a great all-around person” and an enthusiastic learner in all aspects of her life.

“It’s mind-blowing how much she has accomplished, but also not surprising because she’s dedicated and passionate,” Wright said.

Hansen has already been exposed to intensive science programs. Over the summer, she participated in a six-week program — Research Science Institute — at MIT. Her mentor was a professor at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Harvard University used to be Hansen’s dream school. But after her experiences this summer, she had a new goal: to get into MIT. And she did.

Last month, Hansen was among 300 high school seniors nationwide — and the only one from Idaho — named a scholar in the nationwide Regeneron Science Talent Search for her work in gravitational microlensing. She received a $2,000 scholarship and Twin Falls High received $2,000.

Hansen spent most of her childhood in Twin Falls after living in Hawaii, Oregon and Massachusetts. Her father is a local pediatrician.

“(My parents) never pushed science on us, which is really interesting,” she said. Growing up, though, her family went to star parties the CSI Observatory. She met observatory manager Chris Anderson, who became her mentor.

Hansen and her brother started volunteering at the Herrett Center for Arts & Science in 2014, including for a springtime astronomy day and spring break craft classes for children.

“They’re both just exceptional kids,” Anderson said. There aren’t a lot of people in that age group who “have their head screwed on that well and are that focused.”

They’re mature and aren’t afraid to work hard, he said. “I fully expect that Kylie is going to be one that some years down the road, she’s going to get in touch with me and tell me what research she’s working on or just got published.”

During her sophomore year of high school, Hansen persuaded Anderson to let her into a telescope operator training class. It’s usually for adults 18 or older. Hansen became certified and has volunteered at the observatory since then.

In 2016, Hansen started doing research about transiting exoplanets to present the following year at an eastern Idaho science fair and she qualified for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.

Beyond her scientific pursuits, Hansen will be one of the speakers at TEDxTwinFalls in April at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Twin Falls. She plans to speak about going from a girl who thought “Twin Falls didn’t have much potential for me” to accomplishing amazing things, she said.

At Twin Falls High, she’s a member of the quiz bowl team, president of science club for several years and competed in a science Olympiad event, is president and co-founder of Japanese club, and is a member of the school’s environmental club.

Hansen also enjoys writing. She has entered essay contests, and wrote a sci-fi/drama novel “Yumeda,” an e-book.

“I like to be productive,” she said. “It’s probably one of the best feelings for me.”

A bull escaped from the auction yard, stormed the Burley High School campus and was killed by police

BURLEY — Burley High School was locked down for about 15 minutes on Feb. 13 when an enraged bull stormed the campus.

Police shot and killed the animal, and no people were injured.

“It was a little like the Old West around town today,” Sheriff Jay Heward said.

Heward said the black Angus bull escaped from the Burley Livestock auction yard in north Burley and rampaged across town, trampling signs and charging at people.

The bull traveled around the College of Southern Idaho and Cassia Alternative High School before making its way to the high school.

“We couldn’t corral it or stop it,” Heward said. “So in light of public safety we ended up putting it down.”

The officers followed the bull off the school grounds, and no shots were fired on the campus, he said.

The bull was shot the first time west of the high school and shot a second time and killed along the railroad tracks near Cassia Regional Technical Center, Heward said.

BHS Principal Levi Power said the school received a call from the sheriff’s office at 11:20 a.m. asking them to lock down the school because the bull was on the campus.

“They told us there was a vicious, angry bull loose on the campus, and they didn’t want anyone hurt,” Power said.

The new school security system allowed the school’s exterior doors to be locked using a phone app.

“We were able to lock down quickly,” he said.

Students had just been dismissed for lunch period, but staff got the school secured and stayed near the front door to tell parents coming to the school what was going on, he said.

“We were directing people to stay away,” Power said.

Heward said property damage includes some pedestal signs the bull ran over.

Study: Idaho public defenders get just 4 hours a case

BOISE — Idaho’s’s public defenders spend a fraction of the time they need to provide proper representation to poor people caught in the criminal justice system, according to a draft study by the Idaho Public Defense Commission.

The Associated Press obtained an early version of the study through a public records request. The study has not been finalized or publicly released, though Commission Executive Director Kimberly Simmons said Tuesday the numbers won’t change when the final version is released at the end of the month.

The study found that public defenders on average spend about four hours on each felony case even though they reported needing roughly 38 hours to provide effective counsel. A separate group of private attorneys in the survey told researchers nearly 68 hours should be spent on felony cases.

The draft report cautioned that every case an attorney handles is different in nature. “Therefore, one cannot expect all cases of the same type to take the same amount of time,” it said.

While lawmakers and criminal justice officials have long agreed that Idaho public defenders face high caseloads, the commission’s study is the first comprehensive look at how little time public defenders have to provide effective counsel.

“If this is an accurate representation of the actual state of affairs, then these results are extremely problematic,” said Shaakirrah Sanders, an associate law professor at the University of Idaho College of Law. “There needs to be some sort of assistance from the state, rather than just finding people to sign a public defense contract and not providing the adequate funding or resources.”

Sanders added that judges in Idaho have recently been given recommendations on how long certain cases should take to move through the court system.

“If we can give judges recommendations on how long each case should take, I don’t see why we can’t give similar recommendations to our public defenders,” she said.

The results come at a time when Idaho is facing a class-action lawsuit over allegations the state’s public defense system is faulty and violates the 6th Amendment rights of its citizens.

On misdemeanor cases, public defenders reported their workload on average only allows them to spend little more than two hours, but said they should be spending about 18 hours. The separate panel of private attorneys estimated misdemeanor cases should take 22 hours each.

Similar results were reported for appeals, family and juvenile cases.

Researchers tracked more than 10,000 cases involving 101 public defenders from 27 counties over a 12-week period.

The study was conducted by the state’s Public Defense Commission with the help of Boise State University at the request of the Idaho Legislature.

Vanessa Fry, with BSU’s Idaho Policy Institute, warned against reaching conclusions from the draft. “Drafts often include mistakes, placeholder data, and language that must be corrected or replaced before a report is finalized,” she said in a statement provided by the commission.

The results of the study will be used by the commission to determine maximum caseload standards for Idaho’s public defenders. Ultimately, the state could be forced to spend more money to ease workloads.

Idaho delegates the responsibility to pay for and provide public defenders to county governments. That has resulted in a patchwork system of public defenders, with high caseloads, little funding and no set standards or policies across the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Idaho, which is representing the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, recently received a copy of the workload study because of the AP’s public records request. Previously, the commission was going to wait until the final version was finished before providing the ACLU with the results.

The ACLU has brought similar cases over public defense systems in parts of Michigan, Washington state and other regions. However, attorneys in Idaho say this is the first such case against an entire state.

The ACLU did not immediately return a request for comment.