TWIN FALLS — Lower contamination thresholds in China has made it impossible to recycle many plastics from Twin Falls.
At the end of 2017, PSI Environmental Services — the city’s garbage and recycling contractor — stopped accepting plastic containers with the recycling numbers 3-7. The change came just before new regulations in China took effect this year.
About 60 percent of recyclable materials in the western U.S. is sent to China, PSI Manager Jeff Brewster said. But now, there’s simply no market for plastics with high levels of contamination — such as containers for sour cream, margarine and cream cheese.
China’s new regulations mean there can be only 0.5 percent contamination in recyclable plastics, compared to the previous 1.5 percent contamination limit.
“They went from very challenging to almost impossible,” Brewster said.
PSI still accepts No. 1 and No. 2 plastics — essentially all plastic bottles. What isn’t accepted, generally, is anything with an opening that’s wider than the base.
Some companies won’t recycle plastic anymore because of the cost.
“We don’t even want plastic right now because of the market,” said Bobby Moore, assistant manager for Pacific Steel & Recycling in Twin Falls.
Magic Valley Recycling also recently changed its policies to accept only No. 1 and No. 2 plastics — bottles only.
PSI Environmental offers biweekly recycling pickup for residents in Twin Falls and just outside the city limits. The company can recycle the following items: cardboard, clean paper, newspaper, aluminum cans, tin cans and plastics Nos. 1 and 2.
Sadly, not everyone follows the rules. A lot of unacceptable items — plastics with numbers 3-7, leaves, trash and dirt — still end up in the load that’s shipped off to a Boise recycling center, Brewster said. While there, it’s sorted — and anything contaminated or unacceptable then gets thrown away.
“When we’re putting that in there, we’re paying to ship it and it ends up in a landfill anyway,” Brewster said.
And Twin Falls residents foot the bill. All residents pay for PSI’s recycling services whether they use it or not. Recycling for the past couple of years in Twin Falls has been an unprofitable and costly enterprise for the company and the city.
It costs PSI $100 a ton to recycle (versus $34 per ton to put in the landfill). That cost goes up even higher when PSI is fined for contaminated recyclables.
SHOSHONE — A 14-year-old girl who reported being raped by an older classmate in April at her Shoshone school is depressed, and her family is struggling, her mother says.
Federal court records say the girl was a student at Shoshone Middle School when a 17-year-old boy, who was “a prominent athlete at the school,” violently and forcibly had sex with the girl without her consent in a computer lab. The incident was apparently captured on a video recording.
The boy pleaded guilty to eight counts of felony lewd conduct in juvenile court.
The girl’s family filed a lawsuit Dec. 27 in U.S. District Court, alleging the Shoshone School District had a “deliberate indifferent response,” failed to appropriately investigate and respond, and subjected the victim to a “hostile environment and sexual discrimination that denied her an education in the District.”
“I don’t care about the money,” the victim’s mother, Silvia, told the Times-News Wednesday in a phone interview. “I’m not doing this for the money.”
The Times-News isn’t disclosing Silvia’s last name to protect her daughter’s identity.
Silvia said she’s pursuing the lawsuit because she believes the Shoshone School District was wrong to tell her daughter she couldn’t stay at school following the April incident. She says the perpetrator has been allowed to finish his education at the high school.
“I’m so angry,” Silvia said. “He can finish school, and nobody cares about the education of my daughter.”
Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite said Friday he has been encouraged to limit comments on pending litigation. But he said he urges people to understand the allegations that the school failed to investigate are “just a one-sided story.”
The school district is working with legal counsel to file a formal response by Feb. 1 that will be “vigorous and detailed,” Waite said. Then, he said, both sides of the story will be available.
Within 10 days of the incident in April, a Shoshone school administrator held a meeting with Silvia and her daughter and presented two options for schooling, the lawsuit says: Stop attending Shoshone schools “with no further remedial action of any kind” or be homeschooled, with the school providing homework assignments weekly.
“The principal told me and my daughter that we only had two options,” Silvia said Wednesday. “I’m still mad. I don’t think so — that you don’t have the right to tell my daughter what to do.”
Silvia, who speaks English as a second language, said she thought maybe the school principal wasn’t understanding her because of her English language abilities. Spanish is her first language.
“To be sure, I called the (Lincoln County) sheriff,” she said. “He came to the school office.”
Sheriff Rene Rodriguez helped interpret the conversation to ensure everyone understood what was said, Silvia said.
After that meeting, Silvia decided her daughter would be homeschooled. Her daughter received homework the first week, but not after that.
Now, Silvia and her children have been renting a house in Gooding for about four months. The girl and her brother attend school in the Gooding School District.
Silvia’s husband, a mechanic, is still living in their rented house in Shoshone.
“He has lots of cars he’s fixing,” she said. “It’s not easy to move all this stuff.”
The family is now paying rent on two houses.
The family has spent 19 years in the Magic Valley. They lived in Gooding for 17 years before moving to Shoshone two years ago.
Silvia said her daughter is undergoing mental health counseling.
“She’s a really high risk to commit suicide because she’s so depressed.” Her daughter’s therapist told Silvia she needs to ask her daughter every single day, “Are you planning to do something?”
She said her daughter has stomach ulcers and has been told she needs to see a doctor in Boise, but they don’t have the money to travel for an appointment.
“We’re having lots of problems with my daughter,” Silvia said. “She’s so depressed because she thinks she did something bad because the guy’s in school.”
Silvia said her daughter received a text message in February — prior to the incident at the school — from the 17-year-old perpetrator.
Silvia asked her son who the boy was. She then texted the boy and told him he wasn’t allowed to communicate with her daughter.
“He didn’t care,” she said.
Silvia said the video of the rape was painful to watch — particularly, how the boy treated her daughter.
While talking with a Times-News reporter on the phone, she began to cry. She said she still sees those images when she closes her eyes.
“Every single day I’m thinking, ‘How can this happen at school?’” Silvia said.
Silvia said she doesn’t know what happened with the boy’s sentencing. She asks the prosecutor’s office, she said, and they’ve said they’re going to call.
Silvia said she went to the emergency room with high blood pressure while stressed about what was happening with the boy’s case. Her daughter has started sleeping in bed with her and has nightmares about the boy.
“My daughter doesn’t want to go anywhere,” Silvia said. “She wants to be with me. She’s just scared. It’s sad because the family — it’s not only affected my daughter, but it’s affected my whole family. We used be really close.”
Silvia said the family can’t afford the gas money to travel between Shoshone and Gooding every day. When they go to Shoshone on the weekends, they’ve seen the 17-year-old boy around town. “Shoshone,” she said, “is a small town.
“What do we need to do, move to another state?” Silvia said. “It’s hard. It’s really hard.”
It’s painful, she said, because the family feels like they need to be hiding. “Every day we’re in the house. We don’t want to go anywhere because we see the guy everywhere.”
Silvia said her daughter doesn’t want to go to Shoshone to visit her father because she’s worried they’ll see her attacker.
“I don’t see my daughter smile,” she said. “I want to see my daughter smile again. She’s so scared.”
Over the summer, Silvia said they went to four therapy appointments each week: three for her daughter and one for her.
She said she lost her longtime job of 14 years cleaning a house for a Hailey family because she didn’t have the money for gas.
Silvia said her son wanted to continue playing soccer, so he lived with his aunt in Gooding before the family moved there.
But her daughter was scared to go back to school. She started going to classes in September — about a month after the school year began.
The family is relying on help with needs such as buying food. Silvia is picking up work cleaning houses — any jobs she can find. Her attorney helped her find a house to clean in Mountain Home.
At her previous job in Hailey, the homeowner gave Silvia old clothing, shoes and jewelry she no longer wanted. Now, Silvia is selling those items.
Silvia also makes tamales and has a taco stand — which is closed for the winter — that she hopes to reopen.
“I’m looking what I can do because I really need to…” she said, her voice trailing off. “It’s hard. It’s a really hard situation.”
“I don’t see my daughter smile. I want to see my daughter smile again. She’s so scared.”
“I don’t see my daughter smile. I want to see my daughter smile again. She’s so scared.” Silvia
If you do one thing: Teen craft activities will be available for students in sixth through 12th grades at 4:30 p.m. at the Twin Falls Public Library, 201 Fourth Ave. E. Free.
BOISE — An woman shot by law enforcement near Gooding on Tuesday afternoon has died from her injuries, authorities said Wednesday.
Gooding police and sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call near 1900 S. 2200 E. shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, where they found a woman armed with a rifle standing in the road.
After talking with the woman for several minutes, officers fired their weapons, injuring the woman. She was taken to North Canyon Medical Center, then transferred to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. No officers were injured.
The woman died Wednesday about 5 a.m., according to authorities.
To avoid a conflict of interest, the incident is under investigation by the Twin Falls City Police Department.
TWIN FALLS — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is traveling the state this week to tout an executive order aimed at letting insurance companies create new health care plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act.
He met Wednesday with the Times-News editorial board with Lt. Gov. Brad Little, framing the order as solving problems caused by the ACA and expanded access for Idahoans. The Department of Insurance estimates that the order could lead to 30 to 50 percent lower premiums.
“It’s a problem that was caused by somebody other than us folks right here in Idaho, and we’re going to do our best to level the playing field,” Otter said Wednesday.
Earlier this week, state lawmakers introduced legislation to apply for two federal waivers to the Affordable Care Act, a plan aimed at making health care coverage accessible to a chunk of the 78,000 Idahoans who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies.
The governor’s executive order, however, is directed at the estimated 70,000 people in the state who have left the insurance pool as a result of rising costs, Little said, as well as those who never entered the pool to begin with.
“Farmers are real susceptible because they can’t project their income,” Little said. “They might sell their crop one year, might sell it another.... And so people are dropping their insurance.”
The Department of Insurance estimates that as many as 100,000 people could take advantage of the new plans. It hasn’t been decided yet which requirements will remain under the new guidelines, but pediatric and chiropractic requirements won’t be included, Little said Wednesday.
The department hopes to establish the new guidelines by March.
“I think we’ve got an opportunity to make a big difference,” Otter said. “This is essential to cover an awful lot of folks.”