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KAREN BOSSICK For the Times-News 

Shutterbugs can even get Baldy in the background while photographing trees along Trail Creek.


DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS  

Construction crews continue work on the city hall building Wednesday in downtown Twin Falls.


Local
$17M investment: City, URA prepare to finish downtown projects

TWIN FALLS — Just as work wraps up on the last two blocks of the Urban Renewal Agency’s Main Avenue project, city employees are preparing to move to a new home.

On Monday, desks will arrive at the future City Hall — the former Banner Furniture building at Main Avenue East and Hansen Street. The $5.7 million remodel is nearly complete, as contractors work to finish drywall, painting, grouting and exterior siding.

Meanwhile, police officers will move next week into their operations building at the $9.5 million public safety complex.

And it appears that both city projects are on time and on budget.

“They need about two weeks to put those desks together,” said Jason Derricott, project manager for Starr Corp. — the city’s construction manager/general contractor for both jobs. “They will be out of the temporary City Hall by the end of October.”

He expects city staff to begin moving into their new home in the last week of October — starting with utility billing on the first floor, and followed by administration on the third floor and engineering on the second.

The new City Hall will open in November, Derricott said.

While awaiting the completion of Main Avenue’s reconstruction, Julie Deters at Benno’s Fine Jewelry hopes the new City Hall next door will attract more people to Main Avenue. Her family-owned and -operated business has been downtown for 57 years.

Downtown Renaissance

For Deters, construction has gone about as expected on the block between Hansen Street and Idaho Street.

“They’ve made a lot of progress,” she said.

Work here is pretty much on schedule. Having begun in August, it will be complete by the end of October, Guho Project Superintendent Rob Cloninger said.

But not every part of the URA’s $6.4 million Main Avenue reconstruction has gone as scheduled. The final block, from Idaho to Jerome streets, won’t be complete until mid-November.

“We’re pretty close to being on target,” Cloninger said. “For a project of this size, to be as close as we are is pretty good.”

The good news: The project is under budget, thanks in part to savings on tree removal and brick pavers.

The festival blocks off of Shoshone Street took longer than the two months they were projected to.

“When we made that two-month commitment, that was before we had even put anything out to bid,” Cloninger said.

He’s been more than satisfied with the half-dozen subcontractors Guho hired, but he didn’t have the numbers of skilled manpower needed to complete the project as quickly as planned.

“Our problem throughout Idaho is skilled, qualified manpower is hard to come by,” Cloninger said.

The third block of the project — from Shoshone Street to Hansen Street — was opened Friday.

The delay didn’t discourage Tony Prater of Jensen Jewelers from making some improvements of his own. Prater, who served on an advisory committee for the Main Avenue reconstruction, decided to put his money where his mouth was.

On Oct. 3, his downtown business got a new $20,000 storefront and logo — part of a company rebranding.

“I wanted this to be the first place where we invested the money because of what’s going on downtown,” he said.

In time for Oktoberfest, he also brought in new display cases and about $200,000 worth of new merchandise.

And his is just one example of private investment made during construction. On that same block, The Gyro Shop owners opened an ice cream shop and Extreme Staffing began remodeling the former home of Toy Orphanage and Things.

“Overall, I think it went very well,” Prater said. “Oktoberfest was a good boost to business down here.”

Twin Beans Coffee owner Paul Graff said his business increased from last year — but he estimates that during construction it was down about 20 percent from where it could have been.

“I think we fared better than most,” he said.

The final piece of Main Avenue’s reconstruction will include paving Hansen Street from Second Avenue East to Second Avenue South. Some of that has been completed.

Cloninger hopes to have good weather through Thanksgiving, but if that fails, the project will be carried over in the spring. That’s the same time when construction of the $1.3 million downtown commons — a public plaza with a splash pad and restrooms — will resume west of the new City Hall.

Public safety complex

Police officers and administration should all be settled into their respective buildings at the public safety complex by the end of the month.

Starr Corp. led the project to turn the old City Hall into a police administration building, which was essentially complete and occupied in March.

Meanwhile, the former police station has been remodeled for general police operations and evidence storage. Everyone should be moved into their new working places in a couple of weeks.

“They’re trying to do a phased move-in to get everyone set,” Derricott said.

The public safety complex, City Hall, Main Avenue reconstruction and downtown commons represent a $17.2 million effort by the city and URA to revitalize downtown.


News
Pressure mounts for Vegas police to explain response time

LAS VEGAS — Pressure mounted Wednesday for Las Vegas police to explain how quickly they reacted to what would become the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history after two hotel employees reported a gunman spraying a hallway with bullets six minutes before he opened fire on a crowd at a musical performance.

On Monday, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo revised the chronology of the shooting and said the gunman, Stephen Paddock, had shot a hotel security guard through the door of his suite and strafed a hallway of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino with 200 rounds six minutes before he unleashed a barrage of bullets into the crowd.

That account differed dramatically from the one police gave last week when they said Paddock ended his hail of fire on the crowd in order to shoot through his door and wound the unarmed guard, Jesus Campos.

“These people that were killed and injured deserve to have those six minutes to protect them,” said Chad Pinkerton, an attorney for Paige Gasper, a California college student who was shot under the arm in the attack. “We lost those six minutes.”

Maintenance worker Stephen Schuck told NBC News that he was checking out a report of a jammed fire door on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay when he heard gunshots and the hotel security guard who had been shot in the leg peeked out from an alcove and told him to take cover.

“It was kind of relentless so I called over the radio what was going on,” Schuck said. “As soon as the shooting stopped we made our way down the hallway and took cover again and then the shooting started again.”

Gunshots can be heard in the background as Schuck used his radio to report the shooting, telling a dispatcher: “Call the police, someone’s firing a gun up here. Someone’s firing a rifle on the 32nd floor down the hallway.”

Campos also used his radio and possibly a hallway phone to call hotel dispatchers for help, police have said. It was unclear if and when the hotel relayed the reports of shots being fired to police.

Las Vegas authorities did not respond to questions about whether hotel security or anyone else in the hotel called 911 to report the gunfire.

“Our officers got there as fast as they possibly could and they did what they were trained to do,” Las Vegas assistant sheriff Todd Fasulo said previously.

The parent company of the hotel has raised concerns that the revised timeline presented by police may be inaccurate.

“We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline,” said Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM Resorts International. “We believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.”

DeShong declined to comment on a lawsuit filed Tuesday by lawyers for Gasper against the company, concert promoter, gunman’s estate and the manufacturer of the “bump stocks” used by the gunman to help mimic a fully automatic firearm.

Undersheriff Kevin McMahill earlier defended the hotel and said the encounter between Paddock and the security guard and maintenance man disrupted the gunman’s plans, but he would not comment on the revised timeline.

“MGM and the people associated with the MGM and people involved that night at the event did a fantastic job,” McMahill said.

The six minutes wouldn’t have been enough time for officers to stop the attack, said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director who has worked on SWAT teams.

Rather than rush in without a game plan, police would have been formulating the best response to the barricaded gunman, he said.

“Maybe that’s enough time to get the first patrolman onto the floor but the first patrolman is not going to go knock on that customer’s door and say ‘What’s going on with 200 holes in the door?’” Hosko said.


If you do one thing

If you do one thing: The College of Southern Idaho Theater Department presents “Galileo” at 7:30 p.m. in the CSI Fine Arts Theater in Twin Falls. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.


Local
Eden couple killed in Wyoming crash

LYMAN, Wyo. — Two Magic Valley residents died in a Monday morning crash in Wyoming.

Alan Peterson, 54, of Eden was driving west in a 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup on Interstate 80 when his vehicle slid on an icy bridge deck of an overpass at the Lyman interchange, said Trooper Mike Adams of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. The pickup spun to the right and slid off the north side of the roadway and down an embankment, rolling several times. The pickup landed on its roof, between the interstate and the westbound on-ramp.

Peterson’s wife, Silvia Peterson, 58, was a passenger in the pickup. Both were thrown from the pickup and died at the scene. Neither were wearing seat belts, Adams said.

Lyman is a small town about 40 miles east of the Utah border. The crash happened sometime between 1 and 5 a.m. in a two-way construction zone, he said. The wreckage was discovered at sunup.

“It had snowed (the evening before) until 1 a.m.,” Adams said. “(The accident) happened after it quit snowing.”


DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS  

Twin Falls’ Lexi Rierson and Madison Glascock embrace as their teammates gather around to celebrate a goal against Wood River during the Great Basin Conference title game Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, at the Sunway Soccer Complex in Twin Falls.