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JULIO CORTEZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS 

Employees demonstrate how air pillow machines work Nov. 16 at a packaging station in the backroom of a Target store in Edison, N.J. 


Local
Fitness boom? Twin Falls to welcome more workout options in 2019

TWIN FALLS — Planning to get fit in 2019? Your options are expanding.

As southern Idaho experiences a population boost, Twin Falls is poised for the arrival of more fitness studios and gyms. From a boutique yoga studio to a full-scale 24-hour gym, new businesses are capitalizing on what could be called a fitness boom.

Even the established gyms are welcoming the changes.

“The more the merrier,” says Hailey Barnes, general manager of Gemstone Climbing Center. “We’re not in a competition.”

Her rock climbing gym, which opened in November 2017, has been changing its offerings to include more yoga classes. And it’ll soon begin offering obstacle course race training for children and adults.

“When people say there’s nothing to do in Twin Falls, I don’t think that’s the case anymore,” Barnes said. “I think it’s come a long ways.”

Coming soon

Tayler Chapin didn’t plan on opening a yoga studio. But when she moved back to Twin Falls after college, she realized that the city was lacking something.

“I felt like Twin didn’t have an actual yoga studio,” Chapin said.

There were several gyms or studios that offered yoga as part of their services, but it wasn’t their main focus. Chapin was inspired by the growing diversity in Twin Falls’ fitness scene.

“Studio G has really kicked us all off starting with the boutique theme of fitness that’s not in a gym,” Chapin said.

On Wednesday, she intends to open Hive Hot Yoga, a yoga-only boutique studio at 834 Blue Lakes Blvd. N. The studio offers different styles of yoga but specializes in a hot yoga series that’s a power vinyasa flow. Hot yoga is performed in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity using infrared heating panels and a humidity machine. The exercise aims to detoxify the body, build flexibility, strength and balance.

“You start craving the heat,” Chapin said. “It’s hard. It’s challenging.”

Hive Hot Yoga has classes designed for people at all levels. It will offer five classes a day — ranging from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days, with earlier classes a couple of days a week. Members can pay by the class, get discounted class passes or get unlimited monthly or yearly passes. The studio also sells some yoga supplies and clothing.

Chapin hopes that, like the name, Hive Hot Yoga will be a gathering place for people who want to build the yoga community in Twin Falls.

“I love the concept of Hive being a community,” Chapin said. “The worker bees work together to create their home.”

Hive Hot Yoga isn’t the only new fitness option Twin Falls residents could expect to see in 2019. Planet Fitness has signed a lease to rent and remodel the former Hancock Fabrics building in Twin Falls. The business received a special use permit in August from the Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission, but a timeline for construction has not been provided.

Another vacant building, on Hansen Street, could also get a new life in 2019. Joshua and Rebekah Olsen have plans to renovate the former city office building into “The Circus,” which will offer classes for tribal-style dancing, fly-bungee and aerial silks.

How we got here

Twin Falls has long been a hub for outdoor recreation. The Snake River and Rock Creek canyons provide opportunities for biking, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, disc golfing and more. The city also has a Gold’s Gym and a YMCA gym. But in 2016, Gillian “Gilly” Funk sought to offer an indoor fitness option that wasn’t a big-box gym based on memberships.

“There wasn’t a lot of private and more personalized fitness classes out there,” Funk said.

That spring, she opened Studio G, a boutique fitness studio that aimed to offer yoga and fitness classes equally. Over time, however, it evolved to have mostly fitness classes. In 2019, Studio G will offer about 30 classes per week — and Funk will need to find a bigger space.

Like other fitness gurus, Funk believes Twin Falls’ population growth has been a big driver in getting more exercise options to come in. People who’ve moved here from bigger cities were used to having more options, and studios like hers are already close to capacity due to the growing demand.

“We’ve probably doubled the amount of classes we do, and we’re filling up,” Funk said.

Meanwhile, the city of Twin Falls has been taking a close look at its zoning ordinances, which currently mandate all indoor recreation facilities to obtain a special use permit — a process that set back Hive Hot Yoga by about five weeks. Those rules could become less stringent in the future.

Funk and Chapin have been excited to see more options come in over the past couple of years, each offering a unique service. Gemstone Climbing Center was Twin Falls’ first indoor climbing gym. Core Cycle Studio, open since Dec. 17, offers indoor cycling, Pilates and fusion classes. And Bull Moose Bicycles in downtown Twin Falls hosts bike rides and other events for the cycling community.

“I think we all bring something to the table,” Chapin said. “It’s just the preference of the client.”


Washington
AP
Trump's 2018: A year in a stranger-than-sitcom presidency

WASHINGTON — The stranger-than-sitcom American presidency opened 2018 with a big tease about mutual nuclear destruction from two leaders who then found “love” not war. It seems President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un were just playing hard to get.

The presidency ends the year saturated in tumult, with the government in partial shutdown and Trump tweeting a video of himself warbling a parody of the theme song from “Green Acres,” a television sitcom from the 1960s, to mark his signing of a farm bill.

Throw in a beer-loving and very angry Supreme Court nominee, an unhappy departing defense secretary, Trump’s parallel universe of facts and his zillion tweets, and you can see that the president’s world this year was touched by the weird, the traumatic and the fantastical.

There was no holding back the self-described “very stable genius” with the “very, very large brain.”

Some serious and relatively conventional things got done in 2018.

There was a midterm election. Many more Democrats are coming to Congress and not quite all of them plan to run for president. Divided government dawns in January when Democrats take control of the House; Republicans retain their grip on the Senate.

An overhaul of the criminal justice system was accomplished, and in an unusually bipartisan way, though it took a dash of reality TV’s Kim Kardashian West to move it along. Gun control actually was tightened a bit, with Trump’s unilateral banning of bump stocks.

Trump shocked allies and lost Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over a presidential decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, quickly following up with indications that up to half the troops in Afghanistan might be withdrawn, too.

Self-described “Tariff Man” started one trade war, with China, and headed off a second by tweaking the North American Free Trade Agreement and giving it an unpronounceable acronym, USMCA. He withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, putting action behind his Twitter shout: “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH.”

Trump placed his second justice on the Supreme Court in two years after Brett Kavanaugh, accused of alcohol-fueled sexual assault in his youth, raged against the allegations at a congressional hearing and acknowledged only: “I liked beer, I still like beer,” but “I never sexually assaulted anyone.”

There were frustrations and fulminations aplenty for the president, particularly about the steaming-ahead Russia-Trump campaign investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller (“special councel” in some Trump tweets).

He didn’t make much progress on his promised border wall. He took heat for a zero-tolerance policy that forced migrant children from their parents until he backed off, inaccurately blaming Democrats for “Child Seperation.”

It was a very good year for jobs. It was a check-your-smartphone-right-now, pass-the-smelling-salts year for the stock market. Trump, who assailed the unemployment rate as a phony measure when he was a candidate, couldn’t speak of it enough as Obama-era job growth continued on his watch. He went mum about the market, a prime subject for his boasting before it took a sustained dive.

Through it all, the mainstreaming of the bizarre proceeded apace and North Korea’s Kim set that tone right on Jan. 1 with his New Year cheer to Americans across the ocean: “It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office. All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

Trump responded the next day with a tweet about size and performance. “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Once they got that out of their system, things quickly improved, helped along by Kim’s letters to Trump, which the U.S. president called “beautiful.” There was no more talk about Trump being a “mentally deranged dotard” or Kim being a “maniac,” the musty insults of an earlier time. In June, they held history’s first meeting between a North Korean leader and a current U.S. president. “We fell in love,” Trump later said at a West Virginia rally.

Over the course of the year, Trump spoke at more than 40 campaign rallies, kept up his Twitter barrage (40,000 tweets since 2009 on his @realDonaldTrump account) and answered plenty of questions in infrequent but lengthy news conferences and sit-down interviews.

In July, Trump appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he stood by Putin’s side at a Helsinki summit news conference and gave weight to Putin’s denial that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, despite the firm conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that it had. “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia, Trump said.

But while it’s been hardly noticed in a capital consumed by the shutdown drama, Mattis, Syria and market convulsions, 2018 draws to a close as it started — with warnings of a nuclear Armageddon, this time from Putin.

Putin’s prompt was Trump’s intention to walk away from one arms control treaty and his reluctance to extend another.

That, said Putin, “could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet.”

Maybe he’s just playing hard to get.


If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.


DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO 

Declo's Keegan Duncan runs the ball against North Fremont during the 2A state championship game Friday night, Nov. 16, 2018, at the Holt Arena in Pocatello.


Crime-and-courts
breaking
Twin Falls woman pleads guilty to having meth in home where twin babies died

TWIN FALLS — A woman pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge Dec. 31 after police found meth in a home where 7-week-old twins died.

Haley Dawn Miller, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. She was initially charged with one count of meth trafficking and five felony counts of possession of a controlled substance.

“During a search warrant, the police found ... methamphetamine,” Miller said in court Monday. “It was a more amount than it was for personal use.”

Miller and 32-year-old Sylvia Tapia, both of Twin Falls, were arrested on Oct. 18 in Utah after police found drugs in the home they shared with a roommate’s two infant boys who died less than a week earlier.

Police were called on the afternoon of Oct. 12 to the 200 block of Morningside Drive for a report of unresponsive children. First responders were not able to save the babies.

While searching the home after the infants’ deaths, investigators found methamphetamine, hydrocodone, hydrocodone bitartrate, oxycodone, oxycodone hydrochloride and hydromorphone hydrochloride in a room shared by Miller and Tapia, according to court documents.

Police said they discovered more than 500 grams of meth in a safe in the women’s room after Tapia called the police station and said she did not want officers to search the safe. The meth was divided up into nine different packages, one of which was labeled “Ours,” according to court documents.

The prosecutor’s office is recommending a sentence of eight years as part of Miller’s plea agreement, according to court documents. She would become eligible for parole after four years.

A sentencing hearing for Miller is scheduled for Mar. 11.

Tapia, who waived her right to a preliminary hearing but has not signed a plea agreement, faces one count of meth trafficking. She will be arraigned in District Court on Jan. 7.


Gretel Kauffman / PHOTO COURTESY OF TWIN FALLS SHERIFF'S OFFICE  

Miller


National
AP
House Democrats have a plan to re-open government

WASHINGTON — House Democrats unveiled a package of bills Monday that would re-open the federal government without approving funding for President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, establishing an early confrontation that will test the new power dynamic in Washington.

The House is preparing to vote as soon as the new Congress convenes Thursday, as one of the first acts after Democrats take control, according to an aide who was not authorized to discuss the plan and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Democrats under Nancy Pelosi are all but certain to swiftly approve the two bills, making good on their pledge to try to quickly resolve the partial government shutdown that's now in its second week. What's unclear is whether the Republican-led Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will consider either measure — or if Trump would sign them into law.

"It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported," Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement late Monday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The package does not include the $5 billion Trump wants for the wall on the southern border.

The president told Fox News Channel in an interview Monday that he was "ready, willing and able" to negotiate. He added: "No, we are not giving up. We have to have border security and the wall is a big part of border security."

McConnell spokesman Donald Stewart made it clear Senate Republicans will not take action without Trump's backing. "It's simple: The Senate is not going to send something to the president that he won't sign," he said.

Republican senators are refusing to vote on any bills until all sides, including Trump, are in agreement. Senators were frustrated that Trump had dismissed their earlier legislation to avert the shutdown.

House Democrats did not confer with Senate Republicans on the package, but the bills are expected to have some bipartisan support because they reflect earlier spending measures already hashed out between the parties and chambers.

One bill will temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels, with $1.3 billion for border security, through Feb. 8 while talks continue.

The other will be on a measure made up of six other bipartisan bills — some that have already passed the Senate — to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown. They would provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to Sept. 30.

The House is planning two separate votes for Thursday. If approved, the bills would go to the Senate.

Senate Democrats support the measures, according to a senior aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, tweeted that without funding for Trump's wall, the package is a "nonstarter." He said it "will not be a legitimate answer to this impasse."

But as the shutdown drags on, pressure is expected to build on all sides for a resolution, as public parks and museums close, and some 800,000 federal workers are going without pay.

Trump could accept or reject either bill, and it's unclear how he would respond. The president continued to insist Monday he wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, despite assertions otherwise of three confidants.

"An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED," Trump tweeted Monday. "Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides)."

Trump's comments came after officials, including his departing chief of staff, indicated that the president's signature campaign pledge to build the wall would not be fulfilled as advertised. White House chief of staff John Kelly told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sunday that Trump abandoned the notion of "a solid concrete wall early on in the administration."

"To be honest, it's not a wall," Kelly said, adding that the mix of technological enhancements and "steel slat" barriers the president now wants along the border resulted from conversations with law enforcement professionals.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., emerged from a Sunday lunch at the White House to tell reporters that "the wall has become a metaphor for border security" and referred to "a physical barrier along the border."

Graham said Trump was "open-minded" about a broader immigration agreement, saying the budget impasse presented an opportunity to address issues beyond the border wall. But a previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of "Dreamers" — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — broke down last year as a result of escalating White House demands.

The partial government shutdown began Dec. 22 after Trump bowed to conservative demands that he fight to make good on his vow and secure funding for the wall before Republicans lose control of the House on Wednesday. Democrats have remained committed to blocking any funding for the wall, and with neither side engaging in substantive negotiation, the effect of the partial shutdown was set to spread and to extend into the new year.