Since I’ve been a Times-News reporter since only November, this “looking back on 2017” column is going to be a bit different than my fellow reporters’.
It’s been a hectic first month getting to know the Magic Valley area and settling into the rhythm of breaking news — of which there is no shortage in the Magic Valley. In the weeks since I touched down in Twin Falls, I’ve met countless friendly faces, seen more breathtaking nature than in 23 years on the East Coast, and cut down a tree against my will.
Although I don’t have many to choose from, a couple of stories in particular from these first few weeks stand out.
Most recently, this past Monday, I had the opportunity to spend Christmas in the Jerome County Jail. I was expecting, truthfully, a somewhat depressing experience — but found just the opposite. I was blown away by the ability of the men and women inside to find some joy in the little blessings of the day — free phone calls to families, a nicer meal than usual — despite their circumstances.
Another story stands out not because of the joy in it, but the immense sadness.
On Dec. 5, a call about a trailer on fire came over the scanner. In the days that followed, we learned that the blaze — started accidentally by a pet cat — had taken the life of 2-year-old Cassandra Luckey, who recently moved to Idaho with her parents and older sister after the family lost their home in Hurricane Harvey.
It was impossible to imagine the pain that Shawn Luckey and Meredith Menard — wonderful people by all accounts — must be feeling. But the response from their new neighbors, including the emails that poured into my inbox from concerned readers asking how they could help, struck me as a testament to the strong community in Twin Falls and the surrounding area.
I look forward to getting to know that community better.