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Douglas C. Pizac 

In this undated file photo, the Upper Gulch section of the Escalante Canyons within Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument features sheer sandstone walls, broken occasionally by tributary canyons. 

Comfort in chaos: Teen develops kits for young crash victims

BURLEY — A crash on a cold November night 14 years ago changed a 3-year-old’s world forever, but the kindness hospital staff offered afterward inspired him to find a way to encourage other children to be brave when faced with scary circumstances.

Burley High School student Paytan Fairchild, 17, developed comfort kits with a soft blanket, fuzzy teddy bear, bottle of water, ChapStick and a toothbrush and paste in a little bag to donate to Mini-Cassia hospitals, fire and police stations for children involved in car crashes or other traumatic events as part of his senior project on accident prevention.

A card attached to the bag explains why.

Laurie Welch Times-News / LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS  

A note attached to the comfort kits tells the story of Paytan Fairchild saving his family as a toddler.

It was dark and snow lay on the ground Nov. 14, 2003, when Paytan’s father, Corey, his mother, Desiree, and his 8-month-old brother, Breyden, drove from Burley to their Rupert home in their soft-top Jeep Wrangler.

As Corey drove along a canal bank near Minidoka Memorial Hospital a tire came off the Jeep. The vehicle rolled three times into the canal landing on its top. Corey was killed, and Desiree thrown from the Jeep into the snow, a spinal injury paralyzing her.

“I could hear the baby crying,” Desiree said Wednesday, as Paytan delivered the first batch of a total of 160 kits to Cassia Regional Hospital.

The remaining kits will be delivered to Minidoka Memorial Hospital, Rupert Police Department and Burley Fire Department.

Sending her toddler off into the night by himself to find help was their only hope.

Desiree zipped up Paytan’s little coat and asked him to bring her the baby, which she cuddled on her chest.

At first Paytan, who was afraid of the dark, was reluctant to go.

“There were no lights anywhere, it was pitch black, and when he stepped away from the headlights I couldn’t see him anymore,” Desiree said. “I didn’t have any idea which way to even tell him to go or if the road was to the left or the right of us.”

Somehow he made his way up and out of the canal and traversed several hundred yards through snow to tap on Freddy and Stacie Cantu’s door.

Desiree met the Cantus for the first time on Wednesday when they arrived at the hospital to witness Paytan’s donation.

Laurie Welch Times-News / LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS  

Desiree Fairchild, right, meets Stacie and Freddy Cantu on Wednesday at Cassia Regional Hospital. The Cantus helped her son 14 years ago after the Fairchild family was in a vehicle crash.

“There was this light knock and we opened the door and saw this little guy standing there,” Stacie Cantu said.

Freddy said Paytan just walked right in the house and said his mom needed help.

“He just pointed to a dark field covered in snow,” Freddy said.

Stacie said they couldn’t see the Fairchild’s vehicle upside down in the ditch.

Paytan refused to go back outside so he stayed with the Cantu’s children while the Cantus went to investigate.

When they found the Jeep, the battery was wearing down and they could barely see Desiree lying in the headlights. No one knows for sure how long she’d been there or how long it took Paytan to find the house.

“The baby was really cold,” Freddy said.

Burley Firefighter and first responder Justin Jensen said it was one of those calls he can’t forget.

He has been Paytan’s mentor for his senior project.

“If he hadn’t gone for help, it would have been a very different situation,” Jensen said. “They probably wouldn’t have been found until morning.”

Cantu said it was unbelievable that a child so young was able to do what he did.

“He told us his father brought him to the house,” Cantu said, prompting tears to cascade down Desiree’s cheeks as she listened.

“I’ve never heard their story,” she said. “Today has been so good for us. We are able to finally put the pieces together.”

For Paytan, many of the memories of that night faded but he vividly recalls the hospital staff afterwards as they rallied around the family providing kindness and a Christmas that year.

Maria Hoggan, emergency room and EMS manager at CRH said providing a bit of comfort can really help a child cope with a trauma.

Laurie Welch Times-News / LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS  

Cassia Regional Hospital Emergency Room Manager Maria Hoggan, right, looks over the items in the comfort kits donated by Paytan Fairchild on Wednesday.

“It especially helps when a child has been in an accident and their belongings were thrown out into the road. It is really nice for them to have a little blanket or something,” Hoggan said.

Stephanie Curtis, spokeswoman at CRH, said the hospital gets many donations.

“But this one is probably one of the most meaningful,” she said.

For Paytan the project means more than just a grade.

Laurie Welch Times-News / LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS  

Paytan Fairchild, front, and his brother Breyden Fairchild wait to donate the comfort kits to Cassia Regional Hospital on Wednesday.

“I remember how I felt,” he said. “I knew I would be fine but I had help from a lot of people.”

After graduation he plans to attend Brigham Young University — Idaho and become a physical therapist.

“I tell him all the time that he’s my hero,” Desiree said. “He saved both of us.”

McConnell: No government shutdown this week over immigration

WASHINGTON — Testing the resolve of Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Sunday there won’t be a government shutdown this week over the question of protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, describing it as a “non-emergency” to be addressed next year.

“There’s not going to be a government shutdown. It’s just not going to happen,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

House GOP leaders unveiled a short-term plan over the weekend to avert a shutdown and keep the government open through Dec. 22. The measure would buy time for bipartisan talks on a bigger budget agreement that would give the Pentagon and government agencies significant relief from a pending budget freeze.

Congress faces a Friday deadline to fund the government through the end of next September.

Democrats and a few Republicans have suggested they may not vote for government funding without the protections for tens of thousands of young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” who are currently protected by an Obama administration program. That program is set to expire in March.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are divided over what programs the government should pay for, and how much.

GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida has joined Democrats on the immigration issue, while Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he received commitments from party leaders and the administration to work with him on restoring “Dreamer” protections in exchange for his vote early Saturday on the tax overhaul bill.

President Donald Trump backs the immigration safeguards despite issuing an executive order reversing the Obama-era protections, officially called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Talks on a budget agreement are likely to restart this week after a setback last week when top Democrats pulled out of a meeting with Trump after he attacked them on Twitter.

On Sunday, McConnell insisted the GOP-controlled Congress will be able to keep the government running, calling the demand for action on DACA by year’s end “ridiculous.”

“I don’t think the Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address anytime between now and March,” McConnell said. “There is no crisis.”

Still, Republicans are not entirely unified, with GOP conservatives concerned they are being set up for a massive pre-Christmas spending deal they won’t like. That raises the likelihood that some Democratic votes will be needed to approve new funding to keep the government open.

On Sunday, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was equivocal about shutdown prospects, but said he didn’t think it would happen even with a “broken” system of spending.

“It’s funny to see now that the Republicans are in charge I think there’s a group of right-wingers in the House who say they want to shut the government down. There’s a group of Democrats who want to shut the government down over DACA. And there’s a group of lawmakers from some of the hurricane states who want to shut the government down until they get what they want,” he said.

“This just sheds light on the fact that the appropriations, the spending system is broken when any little group can sort of hold the government hostage. We need to get beyond that,” Mulvaney added.

The proposal from House GOP leaders also contains a short-term fix to prevent several states from running out of money to operate a popular program that provides health care to children from low-income families. The Children’s Health Insurance Program’s authorization ran out Oct. 1 and states have been limping along using carry over funding since then.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., says the new stopgap funding measure “will allow for additional time for a deal to be reached on top-line spending levels for this fiscal year. Once this agreement is made, my committee will rapidly go to work with the Senate to complete the final legislation.”

Separately, McConnell expressed confidence that House and Senate negotiators will work out differences on the tax overhaul bill after the Senate approved its version on a narrow 51-49 vote early Saturday. Acknowledging the plan won’t provide a tax cut to all middle-class families, McConnell said it was “impossible” to craft legislation that could guarantee that.

“What I can tell you is that every segment of taxpayers, every category of taxpayers on average gets significant relief,” McConnell said.

Trump appeared to inject uncertainty into the tax plan over the weekend, when he suggested Saturday he may be willing to negotiate changes to the corporate tax rate, setting it at 22 percent compared with the 20 percent rate that he has pushed for with House and Senate Republicans.

But on Sunday, Mulvaney downplayed Trump’s comments, saying he didn’t expect “any significant change in our position on the corporate taxes.”


Boise State quarterback Montell Cozart (3) runs for the end zone Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Trump lashes out at FBI in a series of tweets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump launched a fresh attack Sunday on the credibility of his own FBI, responding to revelations that an FBI agent was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election meddling because of anti-Trump text messages.

Trump, two days after his former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, again denied that he directed FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating Flynn.

The Republican president offered a running Twitter commentary Sunday amid renewed focus on Mueller’s probe and Flynn’s decision to cooperate with the investigation as part of his plea agreement. Democrats said the developments suggested growing evidence of coordination between Trump’s circle and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel is beginning to see “the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice” against Trump.

“I think we see this in indictments ... and some of the comments that are being made. I see this in the hyperfrenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets,” Feinstein said. “And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of Director Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice.”

In a series of tweets, Trump questioned the direction of the federal law enforcement agency and wrote that after Comey, whom Trump fired in May, the FBI’s reputation is “in Tatters — worst in History!” He vowed to “bring it back to greatness.” The president also retweeted a post saying new FBI Director Chris Wray “needs to clean house.”

The president seized on reports that a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent was removed from Mueller’s team last summer after the discovery of an exchange of text messages that were viewed as potentially anti-Trump. The agent, Peter Strzok, also had worked on the investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, said Mueller removed Strzok from the team “immediately upon learning of the allegations.” He would not elaborate on the nature of the accusations. The person who discussed the matter with The Associated Press was not authorized to speak about it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump tweeted Sunday: “Tainted (no, very dishonest?) FBI ‘agent’s role in Clinton probe under review.’ Led Clinton Email probe.” In a separate tweet, he wrote: “Report: ‘ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE’ Now it all starts to make sense!”

Strzok’s removal almost certainly reflected a desire to insulate the investigators from any claims of political bias or favoritism. Trump and many of his supporters have at times sought to discredit the integrity of the investigation, in part by claiming a close relationship between Mueller and Comey and by pointing to political contributions to Democrats made by some lawyers on the team.

Following the tweets, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned the president to tread cautiously. “You tweet and comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril. I’d be careful if I were you, Mr. President. I’d watch this,” Graham said.

Mueller has been investigating whether Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, and Strzok’s background in counterintelligence would have been seen as particularly valuable for a secretive FBI probe examining foreign contacts.

Mueller’s investigation so far has netted charges against four people, with the most recent criminal case brought Friday when Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he “had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

The tweet suggested that Trump was aware when the White House dismissed Flynn on Feb. 13 that he had lied to the FBI, which had interviewed him weeks earlier. Comey has said Trump the following day brought up the Flynn investigation in private at the White House and told him he hoped he could “let this go.”

Amid questions raised by the tweet, Trump associates tried to put distance Saturday evening between the president himself and the tweet. One person familiar with the situation said the tweet was crafted by John Dowd, one of the president’s personal attorneys. Dowd declined to comment when reached by the AP on Saturday night.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said given that Mueller could have charged Flynn with more crimes but instead limited it to just one offense, “Bob Mueller must have concluded that he was getting a lot of value in terms of Gen. Flynn’s cooperation.”

“I do believe he will incriminate others in the administration. Otherwise, there was no reason for Bob Mueller to give Mike Flynn this kind of deal,” Schiff said, adding, “Whether that will ultimately lead to the president, I simply don’t know.”

The City Council will discuss new goals Monday for Twin Falls' strategic plan

TWIN FALLS — It’s been five years since the city last declared what it wanted to achieve by 2030, and it’s time for an update.

The City Council on Monday will have a roundtable discussion on what its priorities are for an updated strategic plan.

“It governs every single action we take,” City Manager Travis Rothweiler said.

The city has used the plan in its budgeting process and in prioritizing items for the next five and 10 years. For example, one goal it made five years ago was to reinvest and reinvigorate downtown. The reconstruction of Main Avenue and the new City Hall are a result of that commitment.

The plan will also help the city look forward with regard to the need for pedestrian and bicycle access and open space. The main eight focus areas will not change, but the goals and objectives beneath them will be reviewed every five years, Rothweiler said.

The Council meets at 3 p.m. Monday at Council Chambers, 305 Third Ave. E. The mayor will decide whether to seek public input at the meeting. Phil Kushlan with Kushlan Associates will lead the discussion and present the city staff’s requests — as well as the results of more than 200 conversations with citizens.

The collaborated strategic plan updates will come up at a future City Council meeting with opportunity for public input.

“This is not the final step,” Rothweiler said.