TWIN FALLS — Tuesday is a big Election Day for 10 south-central Idaho school districts.
They’re seeking $12.6 million in total to help pay for basic operating expenses, $82.25 million for school maintenance and $6 million for building projects.
Polling places are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Make sure to bring identification or be prepared to sign an affidavit before voting. You can also register to vote on Election Day at your polling place.
With 10 school districts seeking funding — about half of south-central Idaho’s districts — that’s significantly more than an average election. School districts have four election dates to choose from each year.
The Twin Falls and Jerome school districts are seeking renewal of 10-year plant facilities levies used for school building maintenance and renovation projects. The Shoshone School District is trying for a third time with a $6 million bond for facility projects.
Eight school districts are seeking a supplemental levy. Of those, six are a renewal, but Blaine County and Kimberly‘s measures are new. Supplemental levies are used to pay for basic operating expenses and require a simple majority vote to pass.
Here’s what school districts are seeking:
The Twin Falls School District is seeking a renewal of its plant facilities levy. It’s asking for more money, but if the measure is approved, the tax rate would drop slightly due to an increase in property valuation.
It’s seeking a 10-year, $4.75 million annual measure. It requires 60 percent voter approval to pass.
The district’s plant facilities levy approved by voters in 2008 is for $3.3 million each year and expires this year.
The new 10-year levy would help pay for school maintenance and facility needs. Some of the greatest needs identified by the school district are: a new roof at Bickel Elementary School, moving closer to having a mobile computing device for every student, upgrading desktop computers, security access controls for schools, HVAC and asphalt replacement at several campuses, new furniture and carpet at all schools, repairs to Sawtooth Elementary School‘s roof, a new roof for Twin Falls High School‘s Roper Auditorium, enlarging the cafeteria at Twin Falls High and replacing the Vera C. O’Leary Middle School roof within the next 10 years.
Compared with 10 years ago, the school district has half a million more square feet of building space to maintain. And with the exception of its four newest campuses — Canyon Ridge High School, Rock Creek Elementary School, Pillar Falls Elementary School and South Hills Middle School — the average age of school buildings is 53.
Twin Falls voters have supported plant facilities levies for 60 years, with the first in 1958.
The Jerome School District is also seeking renewal of its 10-year plant facilities levy. It’s asking for $650,000 annually for the first five years and $700,000 annually for the next five years — a total increase of $500,000 compared with what’s in place now. The measure requires 60 percent approval.
The current levy was approved in 2008 and expires this year. If voters approve the measure, the tax rate is expected to remain roughly the same.
The school district is seeking money for projects such as replacing roofs, upgrading high school plumbing, security updates such as adding a vestibule at school front entrances, energy efficiency upgrades, replacing windows and HVAC systems, and resealing parking lots.
It’s also looking for land to purchase for a future school to accommodate enrollment growth, but there are no plans for when construction could start.
The Jerome district has relied on a plant facilities levy for more than 40 years.
Shoshone voters will decide on two ballot measures Tuesday.
For a third time, the Shoshone School District is trying again with a $6 million bond for construction and remodeling projects. It’s also seeing renewal of a two-year, $300,000 annual supplemental levy.
In August and November 2017, Shoshone voters rejected a $6 million bond. The majority of voters said “yes” each time, but the tally fell short of the required two-thirds supermajority.
If approved, the bond would pay for remodeling the existing school, constructing a new multipurpose building — including a stage and gymnasium — and a new vocational building and small building with a couple of alternative-school classrooms.
The measure would likely cost taxpayers $6.67 each month per $100,000 of taxable value.
The supplemental levy amount has remained the same since 2010.
For the first time in recent years, the Blaine County School District is seeking a new supplemental levy to help with operating expenses. In exchange, it will ask for less plant facilities money for building and maintenance projects.
If approved, the measure would reduce the existing plant facilities levy from nearly $6 million annually to $2.99 million annually for the next two years.
It would also add a two-year supplemental levy for $2.99 million annually. In total, property taxes collected by the district will remain the same.
The supplemental levy will be used specifically to help maintain class sizes and specialty classes such as art, drama, music and world languages, provide a small salary increase for employees, and fund strategic plan objectives such as outdoor education for middle schoolers.
The Kimberly School District is also seeking a new supplemental levy — a two-year, $250,000 annual measure. If approved by voters, money will be used to preserve operations.
With an increase in market values, tax rates are expected to remain about the same.
The school district hasn’t had a supplemental levy in two years. During that time, it dipped into its contingency funds — $135,000 to $150,000 each year — to help cover basic expenses.
The Cassia County School District is seeking a renewal of its supplemental levy, but is asking for more money. Voters will decide on a two-year, $1.595 million annual levy — an increase $821,000 per year.
If approved, taxpayers would pay an additional $4.50 per month per $100,000 in property valuation.
The school district plans to the use the bulk of the money for safety and curriculum. That includes hiring a school resource officer and additional school nurse, adding cameras to school buses, making sure playgrounds meet safety codes, updating furniture, new math and English curriculum, and more library books.
The Buhl School District is seeking renewal of a two-year, $350,000 annual levy. It’s a reduction compared with the current levy, $400,000 each year, so the tax rate would decrease.
Voters will decide whether to renew a two-year, $300,000 annual levy for the Valley School District in Hazelton. It’s the same amount as what’s currently in place.
The Castleford School District is seeking renewal of a two-year, $350,000 annual levy.
The Richfield School District is seeking renewal of a two-year, $275,000 annual levy. That’s $50,000 more annually, which will be used for facility maintenance and improvement.
The school district has decided, though, not to seek renewal of a 10-year, $139,000 annual plant facilities levy. Voters approved it in 2008 and it expires this year. That means in total, property owners will pay $89,000 less per year — a 24.5 percent reduction in local taxes.
WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have completed a draft report concluding there was no collusion or coordination between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, a finding that pleased the White House but enraged Democrats who had not yet seen the document.
After a yearlong investigation, Texas Rep. Mike Conaway announced Monday that the committee has finished interviewing witnesses and will share the report with Democrats for the first time Tuesday. Conaway is the Republican leading the House probe, one of several investigations on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
“We found no evidence of collusion,” Conaway told reporters Monday, suggesting that those who believe there was are reading too many spy novels. “We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings. But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings or whatever, and weave that into sort of a fiction page-turner, spy thriller.”
Hours later, Trump tweeted his own headline of the report in excited capital letters: “THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.”
Conaway previewed some of the conclusions, but said the public will not see the report until Democrats have reviewed it and the intelligence community has decided what information can become public, a process that could take weeks. Democrats are expected to issue a separate report with far different conclusions.
In addition to the statement on coordination with Russians, the draft picks apart a central assessment made by the U.S. intelligence community in the months after the 2016 election. The January 2017 assessment revealed that the FBI, CIA and NSA had concluded that the Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, waged a covert influence campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with the goal of hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump’s campaign.
“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the intelligence community report reads, noting later that the Kremlin “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”
House intelligence committee officials said they spent hundreds of hours reviewing raw source material used by the intelligence services in the assessment and said it did not meet the appropriate standards to make the claim about helping Trump. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the intelligence material. Conaway said there will be a second report just dealing with the intelligence assessment and its credibility.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement soon after the GOP announcement Monday, saying it stood by the intelligence community’s findings. DNI spokesman Brian Hale said the office will review the findings of the committee’s report.
Democrats have criticized Republicans on the committee for shortening the investigation, pointing to multiple contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia and saying they have seen far too few witnesses to make any judgment on collusion. The Democrats and Republicans have openly fought throughout the investigation, with Democrats suggesting a cover-up for a Republican president and one GOP member of the panel calling the probe “poison” for the previously bipartisan panel.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, suggested that by wrapping up the probe the Republicans were protecting Trump. He called the development a “tragic milestone” and said history would judge them harshly.
Republicans “proved unwilling to subpoena documents like phone records, text messages, bank records and other key records so that we might determine the truth about the most significant attack on our democratic institutions in history,” Schiff said.
According to Conaway, the report will agree with the intelligence assessment on most details, including that Russians did meddle in the election. It will detail Russian cyberattacks on U.S. institutions during the election and the use of social media to sow discord. It will also show a pattern of Russian attacks on European allies — information that could be redacted in the final report. It will blame officials in former President Barack Obama’s administration for a “lackluster” response and look at leaks from the intelligence community to the media.
It will include at least 25 recommendations, including how to improve election security, respond to cyberattacks and improve counterintelligence efforts.
The report is also expected to turn the subject of collusion toward the Clinton campaign, saying an anti-Trump dossier compiled by a former British spy and paid for by Democrats was one way that Russians tried to influence the election. Conaway did not suggest that Clinton knowingly coordinated with the Russians, but said the dossier clearly “would have hurt him and helped her.”
He also said there was no evidence that anything “untoward” happened at a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and Russians, though he called it ill-advised. Despite a promise of dirt on Clinton ahead of the meeting, there’s no evidence that such material was exchanged, he said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating the Russian intervention, and is expected to have a bipartisan report out in the coming weeks dealing with election security. The Senate panel is expected to issue findings on the more controversial issue of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia at a later date.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, also investigating the meddling, is expected to release transcripts soon of closed-door interviews with several people who attended the 2016 meeting between the Trump campaign and Russians. It’s unclear if the Judiciary panel will produce a final report.
The congressional investigations are completely separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which is likely to take much longer and has already resulted in charges against several people linked to Trump’s campaign. Unlike Mueller’s, congressional investigations aren’t criminal but serve to inform the public and to recommend possible legislation.
BOISE — A bill to enact harsher penalties for trespassers while changing private property posting requirements passed in the House Monday with near-unanimous support from Magic Valley lawmakers.
HB 658, an updated version of an earlier bill, cleared the House with a 45-22 vote.
Lawmakers who debated for and against the bill agreed that current trespassing laws are murky and could use an update. But opinions differed on whether the new standards in HB 658 are the best way to address the problem.
Under current law, private property owners must mark their land with signs or orange paint every 660 feet. HB 658 would scrap the 660-foot requirement and instead introduce a “reasonable person standard”: a person is trespassing if he or she knows or has reason to know that he or she shouldn’t be there, whether because of signs, paint, a fence with marked corners, or because the land can be “reasonably associated” with a residence or business.
Supporters of the measure say it would strengthen the rights of private property owners in Idaho while acting as a deterrent to potential trespassers.
Opponents of the bill argue that the new posting requirements could inadvertently ensnare sportsmen and others who accidentally wander onto private land. Several outdoorsman groups are opposed to the measure.
Rep. Steve Miller, a rancher from Fairfield, urged his fellow lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill.
“Until I got to thinking about this, I’d never realized that for my most of my lifetime I felt like I was defending my property,” Miller said. “There is an inherent presumption of incidental trespass in our culture.”
People “have an obligation, we have a personal responsibility to know what were doing, to know where we’re at, to know what the law is,” Miller added.
Miller, along with Rep. Scott Bedke of Oakley, Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome, Rep. Lance Clow of Twin Falls, Rep. Clark Kauffman of Filer and Rep. Fred Wood of Burley, all Republicans, voted in favor of HB 658.
Rep. Sally Toone, a Democrat from Gooding, was the only Magic Valley representative to vote against the measure.
If you do one thing: Faulkner Planetarium will feature the showing of “Earth, Moon and Sun” and “Wall of China” at 7 p.m. at CSI’s Herrett Center for Arts and Science on North College Road in Twin Falls. Admission: $6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 children.
BURLEY — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have partnered with Cassia County Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho State Fire Marshal to bring the reward money offered on a downtown Burley arson fire and pipe bomb up to $15,000.
The Jan. 29 fire destroyed two adjacent buildings at 1222 and 1226 Overland Avenue.
Investigators are seeking the public’s help to supply additional leads on the fire and information on a pipe bomb found at the front door of a restaurant across the street from the fire, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
The ATF has kicked in a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or persons responsible. The fire marshal’s office is offering up to $5,000.
Anyone with information on the fire or bomb should call the ATF’s toll free hotline at 888-ATF-FIRE or 888-283-3473. Callers can also reach the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers at 208-878-2900, where callers can remain anonymous.
A tip can also be submitted through the ATF’s app available at reportit.com and at Google Play and the Apple App Store. Tips are confidential and can be anonymous.
The destroyed buildings are owned by Brian Tibbets and his partner Brek Pilling owns the restaurant across the street.
The bomb’s fuse had been lit but went out. The destroyed buildings are being demolished.
Verl Jarvie, state fire marshal investigator, said someone had made an effort to ensure the building burned. The fire was set inside the building using paper and rags and a fire accelerant was used throughout the building. The adjacent building was destroyed by water damage.
TWIN FALLS — The two-week filing period ended Friday for candidates in local 2018 elections.
The primary election is May 15. In each race, the candidate with the most votes for each political party will move forward to the general election in November. Independent candidates go straight to the general election.
Here’s a list of everyone who has filed:
Terry Kramer, a farmer from Castleford, is running for re-election to the Twin Falls County Commission District 1 seat. This district encompasses the western half of the county, including Buhl, Castleford, Filer and Hollister.
Kramer was first elected in 2006 and is running for a two-year term.
Also running for the District 1 commissioner seat is Brent Reinke, who lives a couple of miles outside of Twin Falls. Reinke has 28 years of public service in city, county and state government. He is a former director of both the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and the Idaho Department of Corrections.
Reinke was previously on the Twin Falls County Commission from 1994 to 1997. Both he and Kramer are Republicans.
Jack Johnson, a Republican serving District 3, has filed to run a four-year term. District 3 encompasses the eastern part of the county — including Kimberly, Hansen and Murtaugh.
Johnson is from Murtaugh and was first elected to a two-year term in 2016. He has more than 30 years’ experience in law enforcement.
Kristina Glascock, a Republican, has filed for re-election as the clerk of the district court for a four-year term. She has been county clerk since first being appointed in 2003.
Gene Turley, a Republican, has filed for re-election to serve a four-year term as county coroner. Turley has been in the job since 2014.
Rebecca “Becky” Petersen, a Republican, has filed for the county treasurer’s spot. Petersen was the chief deputy treasurer for Twin Falls County before she was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Debbie Kauffman, who retired in August. The county treasurer is elected to a four-year term.
Bradford Wills, a Republican, has filed for a four-year term as the county assessor. Wills, a Twin Falls builder, was appointed to the position a few months ago, after longtime assessor Gerry Bowden retired.
Wills said in a statement that he is reviewing how farm properties are assessed in the county, with plans to develop a more realistic formula, as past assessments have been too high.
Ben Crouch will run against incumbent Cathy Roemer for the District 1 commissioner’s seat. Both are Republicans.
Two will challenge incumbent Roger Morley for the commissioner’s seat in District 3: John Crozier and George Panagiotou.
Incumbent Michelle Emerson will run for Clerk of the District Court. Current county assessor Rick Haberman and coroner Gerald Brant are also seeking re-election.
Wayne Schenk and Carl Hanson are facing off for the Republican bid for the commissioner’s seat in District 1. The seat is held by Bob Moore, who is not seeking re-election.
Republican, Sheryl Koyle is seeking another term for the commissioner’s District 3 seat.
Tonya Page, also Republican, will run for the office of clerk. She was appointed to fill the remainder of Patty Temple’s term when she resigned last year.
Lavonna Staker, is seeking the seat in the treasurer’s office. Treasurer Laura Twiss is not seeking re-election. Janice West is running for assessor’s office. Assessor Max Vaughn is not seeking re-election. Both Staker and West are Republicans.
Randall S. Harris, of Burley, Leonard M. Beck, of Burley and Jeff Jarolimek, of Burley, will vie for the Republican nomination for the commissioner’s seat in District 1, occupied by Paul Christensen, of Burley, who is not seeking another term.
Christensen took office in January 1995.
Kent R. Searle, of Burley, is challenging incumbent Tim Darrington, of Declo, in the May election. Darrington holds the commissioner’s seat in District 3 and was elected in 2016.
Cynthia Moyle, of Burley, and Laura Greener will be facing off for the Republican nomination for the treasurer’s office.
Incumbent Patty Justesen is not seeking re-election. She was elected in 2010.
Joseph W. Larsen will seek re-election for third term as county clerk, Dwight W. Davis will seek another term in office of assessor and Craig Rinehart will run for the coroner’s seat. All three are Republicans. Davis was first elected in 2010 and Rinehart has served as coroner since 2010 when he was appointed to fill the remainder of a term.
Four people will compete for the District 1 commissioner’s seat: incumbent Larry Schoen, retired high jumper Dick Fosbury, Mick Halverson, and Debra Hall. Schoen and Fosbury are Democrats. Halverson is a Republican and Hall is running as an independent.
Meanwhile, District 3 commissioner Angenie McCleary, a Democrat, will face off against independent candidate Mickey Garcia.
Two will compete for the assessor’s seat: Jim Williams and Kyle Kunz, both Democrats.
Current coroner Russell Mikel, treasurer John David Davidson and clerk JoLynn Drage will run again unopposed.
Susan Bolton and Dennis Rogers will compete for the District 1 commissioner’s seat. Both are Republicans.
Ron Buhler and John Elliott, both also Republicans, will run for the District 3 seat.
Three will run for county clerk: incumbent Denise Gill, Crystal Spackman, and Gillian J. Minter. Gill and Spackman are Republicans; Minter is a Democrat.
Two candidates have filed for coroner: Jase Stockham and Ronnie Geer, both Republicans.
Treasurer Christina Wines and Justin Baldwin, both Republicans, will run again unopposed.
Current commissioners Bill Davis and Travis Kramer, of Districts 1 and 3, respectively, will run again unopposed.
County clerk Korri Blodgett, treasurer Gayle Bachtell, coroner Wesley Walker and assessor Lynn McGuire are also seeking re-election.
Twin Falls County District Judge Eric Wildman, Jerome County District Judge John K. Butler, and Minidoka County District Judge Jonathan P. Brody are all seeking re-election.
Four will compete for the seat left vacant by the death of Judge Randy Stoker in Twin Falls: Samuel Beus, Theodore Booth, David W. Gadd, and Roger B. Harris.
Incumbent Sen. Bert Brackett, a Republican from Rogerson, will seek a seventh term in the District 23 Senate seat, having previously served two terms in the House. He will run against Mark Rhatigan, a Republican from Mountain Home.
Sen. Lee Heider, a Republican from Twin Falls, will seek a fifth term in the Senate. He is chairman of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee. Heider will run against Jay S Waters III, also a Republican from Twin Falls.
Rep. Lance Clow, a Republican from Twin Falls, is seeking a fourth term in House Seat A. He is vice chair of the House Business Committee. Clow will run unopposed.
Four will compete for the seat currently held by Rep. Stephen Hartgen: Anthony Tompkins of the Constitution Party, Democrat Deborah Silver, Republican Rocky Ferrenburg, and Hartgen’s wife, Linda Wright Hartgen, who is a Republican. All live in Twin Falls.
Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls is seeking a third term in the Senate. Patrick previously served three terms in the House, from 2006-2012. He is chairman of the Senate Commerce & Human Resources Committee.
Terry Edwards, a Republican from Jerome, will challenge Patrick for his seat.
Three will run for House Seat A, currently held by Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome: Laurie Lickley, B. Roy Prescott, and Glenneda Zuiderveld. All are Republicans from Jerome.
Rep. Clark Kauffman, a Republican from Filer, is seeking a fourth term in House Seat B. He will run against Lyle Johnstone, a Republican from Twin Falls.
Sen. Michelle Stennett, a Democrat from Ketchum, will seek a fifth term in the Senate. She is the Senate Minority Leader.
Also running for the Senate seat is Julie Lynn, a Republican from Ketchum.
Rep. Steve Miller, a Republican from Fairfield, is seeking a fourth term in House Seat A. He will run against Democrat Muffy Davis, a Paralympic athlete who lives in Ketchum.
Rep. Sally Toone, a Democrat from Gooding, is seeking a second term in House Seat B. She will run against Mike McFadyen, a Republican from Fairfield.
Sen. Kelly Arthur Anthon, a Republican from Burley, is seeking a third term in the Senate. He will run unopposed.
Rep. Scott Bedke, a Republican from Oakley, will also run unopposed for House Seat A. Bedke is seeking a tenth term in House Seat A. He is Speaker of the House.
Rep. Fred Wood, a Republican from Burley, is seeking a seventh term in House Seat B. He is chairman of the House Health & Welfare Committee.
Running against Wood is Kevin Williams, a Republican from Elba.
Steve Pankey, a Republican from Twin Falls, is the only Magic Valley candidate for governor.
Jim Fabe, a Democrat from Sun Valley, will run for lieutenant governor.
Peter Rickards, a Democrat from Twin Falls, will challenge incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson for the District 2 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.