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Burley's Hallie Cook, right, and Sydney Pilling embrace after defeating Century in the 4A state championship game Saturday evening at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.


Idaho Department of Correction Free2Succeed mentor Stephanie Ford listens to Jasmine Marquez's story Feb. 7 at the IDOC Probation and Parole office in Twin Falls.

Need shade at Sunway Soccer Complex? St. Luke’s and First Federal will provide it.

TWIN FALLS — St. Luke’s plans to build a pavilion at the Sunway Soccer Complex to celebrate 100 years of health care in the Magic Valley.

St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation hopes to dedicate the structure in late summer. And First Federal Savings Bank is planning improvements to its park at the Twin Falls soccer complex — including benches, shade structures, and paving the area between the splash pad and playground — by this summer.

The Sunway Soccer Complex is a popular place for families to watch their children play in soccer games and at the splash pad at First Federal Bank Park. But it’s often scalding hot or windy, and there’s a lack of shade. Projects aim to provide relief and a more pleasant environment for families.

For the St. Luke’s project, “physicians are really contributing to the majority of the fundraising efforts,” said Dawn Soto, executive director of the St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation. “It’s truly physician driven and for community health.”

The pavilion — which will be east of First Federal’s playground and splash pad — will cost about $150,000. It will likely include poles with outlets where people can charge their cell phones and a Wi-Fi hotspot, if possible.

The pavilion will be gifted to the city of Twin Falls and will likely open in late summer.

Conversation about a pavilion started three years ago when the city approached St. Luke’s about possibly pursuing a project at the soccer complex.

“St. Luke’s was interested in providing a shade structure that would help the community get out of the sun,” Soto said. There was also discussion about installing sunscreen dispensers.

Project organizers looked at off-the-shelf options for shade structures and small pavilions, but they looked like they wouldn’t last more than a decade, said Dr. Jonathan Myers, medical director of rehabilitation services for St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center. “We wanted something to last for several generations.”

Physicians come in contact with the community every day while providing for their healthcare needs, Myers said, but want to be a presence outside of the hospital setting.

Hummel Architects has been working on the project for almost two years and agreed to waive architectural service fees.

It’s a well thought out project, Soto said. Computer technology was used to determine where the maximum shade is during the day where parents can still watch their children playing.

In addition to the St. Luke’s pavilion, First Federal Savings Bank is planning to make improvements by this summer to its own park at the soccer complex.

First Federal Bank Park opened in 2015 and its adjoining splash pad opened in 2016. The 39-acre complex was built in honor of the bank’s centennial.

Improvements will be in honor of Alan Horner, who retired in January 2017 as the bank’s president and chief executive officer. A plaque will be added to the site with his name.

The project is still in the design phase and there isn’t a timeline for when construction will start, said Tom Ashenbrener, chairman of the First Federal Charitable Foundation. But it’s slated for completion by this summer.

The area between the splash pad and playground will be paved using a combination of materials, including concrete. Benches and shade structures will also be installed.

Right now, there’s an area that turns muddy as children run between the splash pad and playground. The mud ends up back in the splash pad and plugs up the filters, Ashenbrener said.

Changes will clean up the area, he said, as well as improve safety and provide a place for parents to take shelter from the sun.

Florida, angry and grieving, takes gun protest to streets

PARKLAND, Fla. — Thousands of angry students, parents, teachers and neighbors of a Florida high school where 17 people were killed demanded Saturday that immediate action be taken on gun-control legislation, insisting they would not relent until their demands were met.

The rally in downtown Fort Lauderdale gave a political outlet to the growing feelings of rage and mourning sparked by the carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Authorities say a former student who had been expelled, had mental health issues and been reported to law enforcement, used a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle to kill students and staff.

“Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again,” Delaney Tarr, a student at the school, told the crowd swamping the steps and courtyard at the federal courthouse.

The crowd chanted: “Vote them out!” and held signs calling for action. Some read: “#Never Again,” ‘’#Do something now” and “Don’t Let My Friends Die.”

Student Emma Gonzalez told the crowd politicians should stop taking donations from the National Rifle Association. “Shame on you,” she yelled, and the crowd repeated her.

“A lot of people are saying that these kids are activists, these kids need to be politicians,” she later told a reporter. “But a lot of us are just other students who figured there’s strength in numbers. And we want to be sure that we end up having our message sent across. And then we can get back to our normal everyday lives, you know.”

Laurie Woodward Garcia, the mother of a 14-year-old girl, echoed many in the crowd, who said they believed that this shooting would lead to change, though so many others had not.

“If there’s something that we can unite on as Democrats and Republicans and Independents, it’s our children. So it will happen,” she said.

The rally came as new details emerged about the suspect, Nikolas Cruz.

From a mosaic of public records, interviews with friends and family and online interactions, it appears Cruz was unstable and violent to himself and those around him — and that when notified about his threatening behavior, law enforcement did little to stop it.

Cruz’s mother died in November and his father died years ago.

He reportedly left a suburban Palm Beach County mobile home where he had been staying after his mother’s death because his benefactor gave him an ultimatum: you or the gun.

The Palm Beach Post reports Rocxanne Deschamps said, “He bought a gun and wanted to bring it into my house” in public comments that have since been removed from her Facebook page.

Chad Bennett, a friend of Deschamps’, said Cruz “chose the gun and he left.”

He then went to live with another family.

Earlier, Florida’s child welfare agency investigated after Cruz cut himself in an online video, but found him stable, according to state records.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida’s Department of Children and Families investigated when Cruz posted a video on the social media network Snapchat showing him cutting his arms in 2016. The agency was called to investigate. Cruz, then 18, was listed as an “alleged victim” of medical neglect and inadequate supervision; his adoptive mother, then-68-year-old Lynda Cruz, the “alleged perpetrator.”

“Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in August 2016, the paper reported. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for.”

According to the paper, DCF’s investigation was completed that Nov. 12. The agency concluded Cruz had not been mistreated by his mother, was receiving adequate care from a mental health counselor and was attending school.

Mental health center staff “came out and assessed the (victim and) found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized,” the DCF report said.

At school, Cruz routinely fought with teachers, was accused of swearing at staff and was referred for a “threat assessment” in January 2017, two months after the DCF investigation concluded, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing school disciplinary records it obtained.

The records show he was suspended several times in the 2016-17 school year and was frequently absent. They also show Cruz attended at least six schools, including a school for students with emotional problems, the newspaper said.

Cruz had been diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that often leads to social awkwardness and isolation, and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

The FBI said a person close to Cruz called the FBI’s tip line and provided information about Cruz’s weapons and his erratic behavior. The caller was concerned Cruz could attack a school. The agency acknowledged the tip should have been shared with the FBI’s Miami office and investigated, but it was not.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his office had received more than 20 calls about Cruz in the past few years.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: The Jerome Senior Center will hold a potluck and a dance with Music Melody Masters from 2 to 5 p.m. at 520 N. Lincoln St. in Jerome. Cost is $5.


Oakley's Jaclyn Wybenga pulls down a rebound against Prairie defenders during the 1A-DI state championship game Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

ITD schedules meeting to answer questions about urban planning

TWIN FALLS — The city still has five years before it’ll need to form a group for long-term transportation planning.

When the federal Office of Management and Budget designated Twin Falls and Jerome counties as a metropolitan area last year, city officials initially feared it would push their deadline up sooner. But after hearing from the Idaho Transportation Department, they breathed a sigh of relief.

“There were a lot of people that leapt to a lot of conclusions,” Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler said. “What we learned is the OMB bulletin is more of an internal communications piece. It appears that that original planning work is still valid.”

But it’s still only changed the when, not the what, he said.

So what is a metropolitan organization and why will Twin Falls need to create one? ITD plans to answer those questions and more at an inter-agency and public meeting Thursday. The state’s duty is to play an educational role and assist cities in the creation of a metropolitan planning organization, public involvement coordinator Adam Rush said.

What triggers it?

In August, the OMB released a bulletin stating Twin Falls and Jerome counties were a “metropolitan statistical area” — given to areas with 50,000 people or more.

“When they turned us into an MSA, it really is for statistical purposes,” Idaho Department of Labor Regional Economist Jan Roeser said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will begin tracking the counties’ wages and employment data differently in 2019. This means the area will now be included in reports that use only metropolitan areas.

But it doesn’t have any effect on transportation planning, said Maranda Obray, senior transportation planner for ITD. What will? The actual population — gauged by the April 2020 U.S. Census.

“Typically the data is released about two years after the deadline,” Obray said.

The 2010 Census listed Twin Falls and Kimberly together as an urban area, with less than 50,000 people but more than 5,000 people. The next Census could give the two cities (or a similar area) a new designation if they have more than 50,000 people — which is likely.

It’s that new population-based status that would fall under a federal law that requires those areas to have a metropolitan planning organization — sometimes called an MPO. If one isn’t created within a year of the data release, the cities could lose their federal road funding.

MPOs are formed by the cities, counties and agencies involved. They have their own public boards and directors, which create a long-term transportation improvement program.

The area covered by an MPO is determined once the organization is set up, but its transportation plans won’t affect state highways, Rush said.

A helping hand

ITD receives federal funding to help Idaho cities and counties create their planning organizations, Obray said. It’s also the pass-through agency for federal money that funds the MPOs.

“We’re five years in advance of doing all this and we’re trying to calm the waters,” Transportation Planning Project Manager Sonna Lynn Fernandez said.

The first step the state has taken is to host an educational meeting in City Hall, 203 Main Ave. E., on Thursday. Registration for the meeting begins at 8 a.m., and is encouraged but not required. You can also register at

The inter-agency meeting between cities, counties and highway districts takes place from 9 a.m. to noon and is open to the public. However, members of the public will get an extra opportunity to ask questions during an open house from noon to 1 p.m.

More information about MPOs can be found at under the “MPOs” tab.

Trump adviser: Russian meddling 'incontrovertible'

MUNICH — President Donald Trump's national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an American investigator have upended the political debate over his inquiry.

The statement by H.R. McMaster at the Munich Security Conference stood in stark contrast to Trump's oft repeated claim that Russian interference in his election victory was a hoax.

"As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain," McMaster told a Russian delegate to the conference.

The detailed document presented the most compelling public evidence to date that the Russian operation was elaborate, expensive and real. Citing emails and conversations by the perpetrators of the plot, it also demonstrated that the ongoing probe may have access to explosive intelligence material gathered on the Russian operations.

McMaster also noted that special counsel Robert Mueller's team had shown that the U.S. was becoming "more and more adept at tracing the origins of this espionage and subversion."

Just minutes before, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had dismissed the indictment as "just blabber."

"I have no response," Lavrov said when asked for comment on the allegations. "You can publish anything, and we see those indictments multiplying, the statements multiplying."

But Lavrov did not say what he specifically disputed in the indictment.

Trump tweeted late Saturday that McMaster's mention of Russian election meddling forgot to include that the election results were not changed by the Russians efforts. And he said McMaster should have noted the only collusion was between Russia, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Trump frequently has tried to turn the tables on who tried to work closely with Russians.

McMaster and Lavrov addressed the annual conference of world leaders, defense officials and diplomats, giving more general back-to-back opening remarks. But both were immediately hit with questions about the U.S. indictment and the broader issue of cyberattacks.

In Russia, news of the indictment was met with more scorn.

"There are no official claims, there is no proof for this. That's why they are just children's statements," Andrei Kutskikh, the presidential envoy for international information security, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

McMaster also scoffed at the suggestion that the U.S. would work with Russia on cyber security issues.

"I'm surprised there are any Russian cyber experts available based on how active most of them have been undermining our democracies in the West," he said to laughter. "So I would just say that we would love to have a cyber dialogue when Russia is sincere."

Lavrov argued that U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have said no country influenced the U.S. election results.

"Until we see the facts, everything else is just blabber. I'm sorry for this not-very-diplomatic expression," Lavrov said.

The indictment charged 13 Russians with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign combined with on-the-ground politicking aimed in part at helping Trump defeat his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

It outlined the first criminal charges against Russians believed to have secretly worked to influence the U.S. election's outcome.

According to the indictment, the Russian organization was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov denounced "this irrational myth about this global Russian threat, traces of which are found everywhere — from Brexit to the Catalan referendum."

Russia's former ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, similarly dismissed the detailed allegations contained in the indictment as "simply fantasies." Kislyak's name has come up in the FBI and congressional investigations of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Pressed on the election interference that is alleged to have occurred while he was Russia's envoy to Washington, Kislyak said, "I'm not sure I can trust American law enforcement to be the most precise and truthful source of information about what Russians know."

"I have never done anything of this sort, no one in my embassy did," he said during a panel discussion at the Munich conference. "So whatever allegations are being mounted against us are simply fantasies that are being used for political reasons inside the United States in the fight between different sides of the political divide."

Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak before Trump's inauguration.

In Russia, one of the 13 people indicted said the U.S. justice system is unfair.

Mikhail Burchik was quoted Saturday by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying that "I am very surprised that, in the opinion of the Washington court, several Russian people interfered in the elections in the United States. I do not know how the Americans came to this decision."

Burchik was identified in the indictment as executive director of an organization accused of sowing propaganda on social media to try to interfere with the 2016 election.

He was quoted as saying the Amercians "have one-sided justice, and it turns out that you can hang the blame on anyone."