GOODING — Thinking about security can keep any school superintendent awake at night, but the challenge is even bigger for Brian Darcy at the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind.
In addition to making sure students are safe while they’re in class at the Gooding campus, half of the student body, 40 to 45 students, live in on-campus cottages during the school week.
Like many other Magic Valley schools, ISDB is taking steps to improve school security. But it’s also looking at how to ensure children are safe at night when they’re on campus and away from their parents. It leaves school employees to fill a crucial role.
“Our kids are entrusted to us by families, and we take that very seriously,” Darcy said.
ISDB put in a request about two years ago to the state’s Permanent Building Fund Advisory Council seeking money for security upgrades on campus, as well as remodels to the cottages. It was approved.
Projects will be paid for by the Idaho Division of Public Works, the funding source for all of ISDB’s major facility projects.
The first phase of the project will be remodeling three cottages — which will cost about $625,000 — followed by the second three cottages. Other safety and security upgrades throughout the school campus will cost about $500,000.
A couple of weeks ago, the school found out it would be working with Hutchison Smith Architects. The Boise-based firm will be looking at project needs and putting together initial drawings.
There’s no timeline yet for when projects could begin. Darcy said he hopes work will be underway soon, but students living there during the school year makes that a challenge.
At the school campus, upgrades will include improving front office security. The state headquarters for Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind will also move to the infirmary, and the infirmary will move into the main school building.
The school has already taken steps to boost security. It recently implemented Raptor Visitor Management in its front office — the same system some other Magic Valley school districts, including Twin Falls, already use. Visitors present an identification card and their information is run through a computerized background check system before they receive a paper badge to wear while at the school.
As for the on-campus cottages, the first ones were built in 1983 and haven’t been renovated since. The school wasn’t necessarily thinking as much about safety and security back when the cottages were built, Darcy said.
When children are awake in the evening hours, there are at least two adults in each cottage. There’s one adult in each cottage overnight. Doors are locked during the daytime when students are in class and then again at night.
It’s a balancing act of wanting the cottages to be secure, Darcy said, while also ensuring they feel homelike.
Cottage renovations will include cosmetic updates such as replacing peeling wallpaper, bathroom fixtures, outdated countertops and cabinets, and windows. It will also include upgrading wiring to accommodate for modern technology and installing electronic key card readers to the outside entrance of each cottage.
Over the summer, a separate DPW project — a heating and ventilation system for the cottages — wrapped up.
As Darcy gave a tour Nov. 15 of cottage two — which houses nine high school girls — he pointed out spaces such as the living room and kitchen. Bedrooms, most of which are used as double occupancy, each have their own bathroom.
Near the dining area, there’s a blue light attached to the wall that lights up when the doorbell rings — a notification system to help children who are deaf.
A bulletin board in the main entrance shows a four-level system and which students are at which level. They can move to higher levels for having good behavior and showing responsibility.
The system dictates students’ privileges, like whether they can bring their cellphone into their room and what time they must have lights out. Level one is the most restrictive.
“It’s kind of like being grounded at home,” Darcy said, adding families like the system.
After school, students spend time at their cottage doing homework, recreational activities, chores like doing their own laundry, and having a family-style dinner, which is prepared in the school’s kitchen. Children learn social skills and responsibility.
“We create as much of a family atmosphere,” Darcy said.
Learning life skills is part of the school experience. Darcy said: “This is still part of their education, as far as we’re concerned.”
KETCHUM — The Argyros Performing Arts Center was still a concrete shell full of workers wielding blow torches and electrical saws when representatives of arts centers across the country began visiting Sun Valley for sneak peeks.
It opened to the public Saturday following a donor party featuring former Chicago vocalist Peter Cetera, who lives in Sun Valley. And, while many of the key pieces are still missing, it gave those who turned out for the opening an opportunity to see the possibilities the state-of-the-art facility holds.
“We’re being talked about all over the country because of the state-of-the-art features we’re putting in this building,” said Michael Hoover, the Argyros venue and events manager. “It’s flattering – and humbling – to have that recognition.”
The $15 million 25,000-square foot facility opened on the site of the former nexStage Theater across from the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum.
Inspired by the 283-seat Strand Theater in San Francisco, it features a performance hall, a café and a smaller studio that can be used for intimate performances, private luncheons and other gatherings
The main theater features 210 red-upholstered seats manufactured in Belgium that can be retracted to allow the main theater to be turned into a cabaret or even a gala dinner. And it has been configured to allow for an additional 250 seats when the occasion calls for it.
A Meyer Constellation sound system still to be dialed in transforms acoustics so the theater can reverberate as if a choir is singing in St. Andrews Cathedral or give musicians a Kennedy Center-like concert hall experience.
Fifty-plus microphones will pick up and amplify the voices of those on stage so no one need use a handheld or lapel mike.
“We’ll be just the fifth performing arts center west of the Mississippi to own this,” said Hoover.
A 4K quality projector offers such brightness and resolution that audiences will be able to see exceptional quality images with the shades up. The projection system runs so hot that it has its own air conditioning system on the roof to keep it cool.
The lighting designer will be able to walk out on a tension grid catwalk so strong it can hold an elephant to hang curtains and lights. In most theaters, Hoover said, the light apparatus is lowered to the floor for the desired number of lights to be affixed and then the lighting designer has to climb a ladder to turn the lights where he or she wants them.
“I can create a thousand different colors to illuminate the stage,” said the center’s technical director, Samuel Mollner, as he pressed an orange button on a color chart, then dragged his finger around the center of a computerized lighting display to turn the orange different shades of orange.
There is a resilient, or sprung, dance floor with shock-absorbing cushioning to reduce the impact on joints.
And the lobby will feature a café tentatively scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week with coffee, beer and wine in addition to grab-and-go food.
Eighty-five dates have already been booked in the center’s first 110 days, said Hoover.
Upcoming shows include a performance by America Ballet Theatre dancer and Sun Valley native Isabella Boylston and The Mystical Arts of Tibet, which features Tibetan monks sharing their culture.
Groups planning to use the center this coming year include the Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley Wellness Festival, TEDxSunValley, Sun Valley Opera and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts for its performing arts and lecture series.
And the Sun Valley Summer Symphony plans to hold its first ever Winter Festival – all free, just like its summer concerts – Feb. 19-24.
More national and international acts will be booked as the center gets fine-tuned, said Hoover.
Tim Mott is a board member of Sun Valley Performing Arts, which oversaw the fundraising and design of the building. He said the center will augment the world-class venues in Sun Valley that include the Sun Valley Pavilion where the Sun Valley Summer Symphony plays and Sun Valley Ski Resort’s Bald Mountain.
“I think people will be thrilled when they hear the sound system,” he said. “It’s extremely high quality and high fidelity and the reproduction of the range of sound is just astonishing. It has to be heard, it has to be experienced.”
If you do one thing: Comedian Heath Harmison performs at the Weston Wayne Robertson Cancer Benefit Show at the Orpheum Theatre, 146 Main Ave. W., Twin Falls. A silent auction begins at 6:30 p.m. with the show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
TIJUANA, Mexico — Hundreds of migrants approaching the U.S. border from Mexico were enveloped with tear gas Sunday after several tried to make it past fencing and wire separating the two countries.
Earlier in the morning, a group of Central Americans staged a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed up the asylum claims process, but their demonstration devolved as they neared the crossing with the U.S. and some saw an opportunity to breach the border.
According to an Associated Press reporter on the scene, U.S. agents shot several rounds of gas after migrants attempted to penetrate several points along the border. Migrants sought to squeeze through gaps in wire, climb over fences and peel back metal sheeting to enter.
Children screamed and coughed in the mayhem of the tear gas. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away, not attempting to enter the U.S.
Yards away on the U.S. side, shoppers streamed in and out of an outlet mall.
Honduran Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw other migrants open a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.
“We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters flew overhead, while U.S. agents held a vigil on foot beyond the wire fence in California. The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings have been suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at both the East and West facilities. All northbound and southbound traffic was halted.
Earlier Sunday, the group of several hundred migrants pushed past a blockade of Mexican police who were standing guard near the international border crossing. They appeared to easily pass through without using violence, and some of the migrants called on each other to remain peaceful.
They carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags while chanting: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”
Migrants were asked by police to turn back toward Mexico.
Around 5,000 migrants have camped in and around a sports complex in Tijuana after making their way through Mexico in recent weeks via caravan. Many hope to apply for asylum in the U.S., but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.
Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied the migrants for weeks as part of the aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the aim of Sunday’s march toward the U.S. border was to make the migrants’ plight more visible to the governments of Mexico and the U.S.
“We can’t have all these people here,” Mujica told The Associated Press.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday it would immediately deport Central American migrants who tried to “violently” breach the border with the U.S. just south of California and that it would reinforce the border.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday that U.S. authorities will continue to have a “robust” presence along the Southwest border and that they will prosecute anyone who damages federal property or violates U.S. sovereignty.
U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday to express his displeasure with the caravans in Mexico.
“Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer),” he wrote.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday the country has sent 11,000 Central Americans back to their countries of origin since Oct. 19. It said that 1,906 of them were members of the recent caravans.
Mexico is on track to send a total of around 100,000 Central Americans back home by the end of this year.
BRUSSELS — After months of hesitation, stop-and-start negotiations and resignations, Britain and the European Union on Sunday finally sealed an agreement governing the U.K.’s departure from the bloc next year.
So much for the easy part.
British Prime Minister Theresa May must now sell the deal to her divided Parliament — a huge task considering the intense opposition from pro-Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers alike — to ensure Britain can leave with a minimum of upheaval on March 29.
It’s a hard sell. The agreement leaves Britain outside the EU with no say but still subject to its rules and the obligations of membership at least until the end of 2020, possibly longer. Britons voted to leave in June 2016, largely over concerns about immigration and losing sovereignty to Brussels.
EU leaders were quick to warn that no better offer is available.
“I am totally convinced this is the only deal possible,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “Those who think that by rejecting the deal that they would have a better deal will be disappointed the first seconds after the rejection.”
For once, May was in complete agreement.
“This is the deal that is on the table,” she said. “It is the best possible deal. It is the only deal.”
Acknowledging the vast political and economic consequences of Brexit, May promised lawmakers their say before Christmas and said that it “will be one of the most significant votes that Parliament has held for many years.”
She argued that Parliament has a duty “to deliver Brexit” as voters have demanded.
“The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit,” she said. “They want a good deal done that fulfills the vote and allows us to come together again as a country.”
Not all agree. Main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called the deal “the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds,” and said his party would oppose it. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party is the third-largest in Parliament, said lawmakers “should reject it and back a better alternative.”
Pro-Brexit former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said May should insist on new terms because the deal “has ceded too much control” to Brussels.
On the EU side, the last big obstacle to a deal with Britain was overcome Saturday when Spain lifted its objections over the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
So it took EU leaders only a matter of minutes at Sunday’s summit in Brussels to endorse the withdrawal agreement that settles Britain’s divorce bill, protects the rights of U.K. and EU citizens hit by Brexit and keeps the Irish border open. They also backed a 26-page document laying out their aims for relations after Brexit.
Still, the event was tinged with sadness on the European side at Britain’s departure, the first time a country will leave the 28-nation bloc.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her feelings were “ambivalent, with sadness, but on the other hand, also some kind of relief that we made it to this point.”
“I think we managed to make a diplomatic piece of art,” she said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the deal — the product of a year and a half of often- grueling negotiations — was regrettable but acceptable.
“I believe that nobody is winning. We are all losing because of the U.K. leaving,” Rutte said. “But given that context, this is a balanced outcome with no political winners.”
May said she wasn’t sad, because Britain and the EU would remain “friends and neighbors.”
“I recognize some European leaders are sad at this moment, but also some people back at home in the U.K. will be sad at this moment,” she told reporters, but insisted that she was “full of optimism” about Britain’s future.
The European Parliament, meanwhile, will be in full campaign mode a few months ahead of the EU elections when Europe’s lawmakers sit to endorse the agreement, probably in February, but perhaps as late as March, according to the assembly’s president, Antonio Tajani.
Still, Tajani said a “large majority” of European parliamentarians support the deal.
Many predict it will fail in the British Parliament. No one can be sure whether that would lead to the fall of the government, a new referendum, a postponement of Brexit or a chaotic “no deal” exit for Britain.
But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he thought May’s chances of getting the agreement through Parliament were strong.
He said British lawmakers would see that “the alternative is a no deal, cliff-edge Brexit, which is something of course that we all want to avoid.”
“Any other deal really only exists in people’s imaginations,” he added.