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Hunter finds missing woman's car, possible human remains in Camas County

CAMAS COUNTY — Camas County deputies have found a wrecked car belonging to a missing Buhl woman and what they say may be her remains.

The car belongs to Keri Anne Jensen, 36, who has been missing since Nov. 29, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Her white Hyundai Elantra was found Sunday by a hunter in the Chimney Creek area of Camas County.

Deputies previously searched the area but it was covered in snow.

The car seemed to have fallen between 75 and 100 yards after going over an embankment at a curve in the road, Camas County Sheriff Dave Sanders said.

A search of the surrounding area turned up what is believed to be human remains, the Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office said. Police are awaiting the results of DNA testing.

Jensen was last seen in Fairfield on Dec. 1. She has not been heard from since leaving her home on Nov. 29.

The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office previously described Jensen as a vulnerable adult who is “shy and uncomfortable around most people.” The sheriff’s office noted at the time of her disappearance that she may be suicidal.

In December, Jensen’s father offered a $1,000 reward to anybody with information leading to her safe return.


Jennifer Bingham escorts George Highwalking off the tarmac Monday during the Experiment Aircraft Association's biannual Young Eagles event held for students of the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind at the Gooding Municipal Airport. EEA's chapter from Eastern Idaho hosted the event, but pilots came from around the state to let students experience the thrill of flight.

These 14 nonprofits received grant money from the Twin Falls City Council

TWIN FALLS — Few got everything they had asked for, but all of them got something.

The City Council on Monday reviewed 15 applications from 14 organizations requesting Municipal Power Outsource Grants. The MPOGs are allocated every year through the city’s general budget as a way for Twin Falls to assist nonprofits in services that benefit citizens.

The groups had requested more than $181,000, but the city was able to grant only $110,000. To determine how to allocate the money, the Council was asked to consider financial need, collaboration and whether a service was one the city would provide if that organization didn’t exist.

Each group had 5 minutes to pitch its idea, and then the City Council posed its questions. Council members proposed their funding recommendations before coming to a consensus.

“All of the requests are definitely worthy of being funded,” Councilwoman Suzanne Hawkins said.

Mayor Shawn Barigar, however, had proposed not funding six of the 15 organizations because he felt those groups didn’t necessarily provide a service that was the city’s responsibility. He also questioned whether the City Council should continue the grant program in future years.

“I am hopeful we can have a serious discussion about whether this is an appropriate use of these funds moving forward in our budget, when we have internally identified needs the city could be providing,” Barigar said.

Grant awards were approved unanimously, with Councilman Chris Talkington not present. Here’s a breakdown of the awards:

Trans IV Buses

  • received $31,000 to fund its on-demand busing services for all Twin Falls residents — with an emphasis on seniors and people with disabilities. The organization has received significantly less federal funding over the past five years and had requested $45,000 from the city. Barigar disclosed that his wife is employed with the College of Southern Idaho, which oversees Trans IV Buses.

Voices Against Violence

  • received $12,450 to help cover the cost of a vehicle to transport individuals who have experienced violence. Hawkins disclosed that two of her family members were on this nonprofit’s board, but advocated for granting most of the organization’s $15,000 request because of the needed service.

Wellness Tree Clinic

  • received $10,000 to help pay for medical tools, X-rays and lab work to help people without insurance. Councilman Greg Lanting argued that this service is something the city could not do without. The organization had requested $14,000.

The Magic Valley Arts Council

  • received $9,000 for its children’s programs such as “Kids Arts in the Park,” which had its largest attendance in 25 years last year, with minimal cost to families.

Interlink Volunteer Caregivers

  • received $8,700 to reimburse volunteers for mileage driven on their own vehicles. The organization provides transportation to seniors and citizens with disabilities.

Court Appointed Special Advocates

  • received $6,450 for recruiting, training and supporting new volunteers. The program assists children in the foster care system.

Living Independence Network Corp.

  • received $6,400 to help with matching funds required for its transportation program. The organization is operating on a negative budget this year, Twin Falls Director Melva Heinrich said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Magic Valley

  • received $6,000 of its $17,900 request to help fund after-school youth programs for 120 children over 181 days. These included life skills and arts programs.

The Salvation Army

  • received $6,000 of its $20,000 request for its Keeping in Desirable Shape (KIDS) program. The 11-week summer program is for children ages 6-12.

Safe House

  • received $4,700 to help at-risk youth ages 11 to 17. Executive Director Val Stotts said the move to County West should increase Safe House’s ability to house up to 14 youth at a time.

The Twin Falls Senior Center

  • received $3,800 — between two grant requests — to install new granite countertops in its restrooms and stainless steel countertops in its kitchen.

Jubilee House

  • received $3,500 for new program materials to help 10 resident women, many of whom come from jail, to get counseling and services to reintroduce them to the workforce.

Orton Botanical Garden

  • received $1,000 to help build a walkway to its gazebo. The garden has an estimated 2,000 visitors per year.

The Magic Valley Symphony

  • will receive $1,000 toward its concert series. The organization had asked the city to sponsor a concert for $2,500.

St. Luke’s Magic Valley gives $284K in grants to 36 nonprofits including the Mustard Seed and Sleep in Heavenly Peace

TWIN FALLS — Across the Magic Valley, 36 organizations are getting a financial boost to help expand their programs and services.

Over the last year, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center has distributed $284,000 through its Community Health Improvement Fund grants. Each group received anywhere from $1,915 to $20,000.

“We’re incredibly proud to be associated with your organizations,” St. Luke’s Magic Valley administrator Mike Fenello told nonprofit leaders during a recognition luncheon Monday at the Twin Falls hospital. He thanked them for the work they do.

Among the recipients are five organizations receiving CHIF grants for the first time: Ageless Senior Citizens in Kimberly, Filer School District, Heritage Academy in Jerome, Mustard Seed Ministries and Twin Falls Optimist Foundation.

Twin Falls County-owned Magic Valley Regional Medical Center created the fund in 1998.

When the hospital was sold to the St. Luke’s Health System in 2006, St. Luke’s agreed to continue the program and has distributed more than $2.8 million since then.


Sarah Cameron, volunteer coordinator for the College of Southern Refugee Program, speaks during a luncheon Monday, May 7, 2018, in Twin Falls. St. Luke's Magic Valley awarded $284,000 to 36 different organizations as part of St. Luke's Community Health Improvement Fund grants.

This year, priority for grants was given to proposals addressing needs identified in St. Luke’s 2016 community health needs assessment: improving the prevention, detection and treatment of obesity and diabetes; addressing mental health and reducing suicide rates; and improving access to affordable health care and insurance.

During Monday’s luncheon, nonprofit representatives talked about the work they do and how they’ll use the grant money. Here’s what seven of them shared:

Kids Count Too!

Kids Count Too! focuses on supporting children ages 6-17 who experience bereavement when a loved one dies.

“Kids Count Too! provides support services to let kids know they’re not alone,” board chairman Revis Turner said. The group helps guide them through the journey of grief, he said.

The nonprofit is using grant funding for its summer and day camps, and evening grief sessions for children and families.

Mustard Seed Ministries

Mustard Seed Ministries is moving into the direction of expanding food distribution to those in need, executive director Liz Mandelkow said. It will use the grant money to put in a commercial kitchen.

It also wants to educate people about how to eat more nutritionally with the limited food they receive, she said, and is working groups such as University of Idaho Extension’s Eat Smart Idaho.

Plus, the nonprofit wants to look at how to revamp food donations in order to have healthier items to distribute. Currently, Mustard Seed receives a lot of leftover bakery items such as cake and donuts.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Sleep in Heavenly Peace — which was featured in February on “Returning the Favor,” a Facebook series hosted by television celebrity Mike Rowe — has built single beds and bunk beds for children for six years, and now has more than 40 chapters nationwide. It will use grant money to buy wood and tools.

“Our motto is, ‘No kid sleeps on the floor in our town,’” director Luke Mickelson said.

The organization receives an average of one application every day for a bed.

“It’s a big need we try to solve,” Mickelson said.

Stanton Healthcare

Stanton Healthcare provides services such as testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, and prenatal and parenting resources.

“Our goal is really to promote healthy families,” said Traci Jackson with Stanton Healthcare. Grant money will allow the nonprofit to provide parenting classes in Spanish.

Twin Falls Senior Center

Over the last six months, the Twin Falls Senior Center has served a record number of meals, director Jeanette Roe said. Just during April, it served 5,031 meals to homebound seniors and 1,400 at the senior center.

The grant money will be used for a new initiative: serving meals to a younger population, ages 50-60, who have medical issues or disabilities and are at 130 percent of the poverty level.

Magic Valley Rehabilitation Services

Magic Valley Rehabilitation Services helps people who have disabilities find employment. An obvious benefit of the work services program is people who receive that assistance rely less on social services, executive director Charles Kelly said. But another major benefit, he added, is when people get a paycheck, they have a sense of self-worth and a smile on their face. “They’re just excited to be employed and contributing members of society.”

Grant money is used to help provide services to those who can’t pay.

The Salvation Army of Twin Falls

The Salvation Army of Twin Falls is using grant money for youth programs, including an 11-week summer program. Lt. Troy Cook thanked St. Luke’s, as well as other nonprofits in attendance.

“Every year,” he said, “I’m blown away by all the helping hands coming together in the Magic Valley to help those in need.”


Twin Falls' Kaylee Jones tees off of hole 10 during the Great Basin Conference tournament Monday at the Rupert Country Club.

Policy likely separates migrant parents, kids

WASHINGTON — All immigrants who cross the border illegally will be charged with a crime under a new “zero-tolerance” border enforcement policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday in a crackdown that could overwhelm already-clogged detention facilities and immigration courts with hundreds of thousands of new cases.

Sessions also said that families who illegally cross the border may be separated after their arrest, with children sent to juvenile shelters while their parents are sent to adult detention facilities. Until now, border agents tried to keep parents and their children to the same detention site.

The new policy is expected to send a flood of deportation cases — and legal challenges — into federal courts. It also could put thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and children in shelters, and is likely to strain an immigration system that has struggled to keep up with a surge in enforcement under President Donald Trump.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions told a law enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you.

“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions said.

Families seeking asylum and presenting themselves at official U.S. border crossings will be allowed to stay together as they seek protected status, according to a U.S. official familiar with the new policy.

But people caught crossing illegally will be charged with a crime and their children sent to refugee shelters, even as agents interview them to evaluate their asylum claims, as required by law.

Immigration activists denounced the new policy to separate parents from children, and said they expect to see it challenged in court. Past court decisions have put severe restrictions on the government’s ability to detain children for immigration violations.

“It’s clear this administration wants to use families who are fleeing violence as a pawn in a larger strategy to end immigration to the U.S.,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group.

“They’re making a decision any parents would make in rescuing their kids,” he said. “For this administration to say, we will then separate you from your child, is morally corrupt.”

The stepped-up enforcement comes during a documented shift in immigration patterns, with fewer Mexicans crossing the border to find work in the United States, and an uptick in children and families fleeing violence in Central American countries and asking for U.S. asylum.

The Trump administration has called for a change in federal immigration law to close what it terms “loopholes” that allow people who file asylum claims to be released while waiting, sometimes years, for their cases to be heard in the nation’s overloaded immigration courts.

For now, the latest iteration in immigration processing will dramatically impact Border Patrol operations on the border, and potentially require major new funding from Congress.

Individuals who cross illegally will no longer be apprehended and simply bused back over the border without charges, as the Border Patrol has done in the past, especially for people without criminal records or prior immigration violations.

Under the new policy, everyone crossing illegally will be detained and prosecuted — a vast undertaking.

So far this fiscal year, Border Patrol officers have detained about 288,000 people. But only about 30,000 of those were charged with a crime for crossing the border, and only about 12,000 were charged with the more serious crime of re-entry, which is a felony. The rest were sent back across the border.

Likewise, the administration is trying to push asylum seekers away from dangerous border crossings in the desert and along the Rio Grande, and to authorized ports of entry where they can be processed.

But many border stations are ill-equipped to take care of a surge of new cases, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“They are strongly incentivizing serious bottlenecks at the ports of entry, and maybe they’re doing that on purpose,” she said.

Meissner called the new policy an “overreaction,” and said the administration is using a blunt-force prosecution approach to address complicated problems in the asylum system.

Administration officials have described illegal immigration as a growing crisis that requires extraordinary new enforcement measures. The White House has sent National Guard troops to the border, sought a huge surge of Border Patrol officers, and pushed Congress — so far unsuccessfully — to appropriate billions of dollars to build a wall across most of the Southwest border.

The number of border apprehensions more than tripled in March and April, to 101,220, compared with the same two months last year. But the total is generally comparable to previous years and still below the surge of minors that overwhelmed the system in 2013.

The Trump administration is convinced that detaining more border crossers will serve as an effective deterrent. When agents in El Paso, Texas, started apprehending more families in 2017, the number of illegal crossings dropped by 64 percent, a Homeland Security official said.

The Justice Department last week announced plans to send 35 additional prosecutors to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico to help handle the expected surge.