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Pomerelle Mountain Resort’s E-Z Rider triple chairlift carries skiers and boarders up the mountain Dec. 17, 2016.


Chris Gee dips Winnie Christensen as they go through the steps of their Salsa dance Wednesday during rehearsals for Dancing with the Stars of Twin Falls at Ground Control dance studio in Twin Falls.

Group that does serious good brings TV-inspired dancing competition to Twin Falls

TWIN FALLS — Voices Against Violence doesn’t deal in fun. But this week, the nonprofit that helps survivors of domestic violence will have people dancing.

And not just dancing. It’s the first-ever “Dancing with the Stars of Twin Falls.”

“Sometimes our cause isn’t fun to talk about,” said Jenny Reese, the community development coordinator with Voices Against Violence. “This is a nice way to engage with the community.”

“Dancing with the Stars of Twin Falls” will work just like the hit TV show — professional dancers train amateurs in a piece of choreography to win over judges and audience members. Expect classic ballroom dancing accompanied by flashy costumes and catchy music.

All of the proceeds go to Voices Against Violence, which provides shelter and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Twin Falls, Jerome, Gooding, Minidoka, Cassia and Lincoln counties.

Reese said 20 percent of the funds for organization’s annual operating budget is raised from events. Reese reached out to a variety of notable faces in the community to participate.

The contestants include Twin Falls Chief of Police Craig Kingsbury, KMVT News Anchor Brittany Cooper, Canyon Ridge High School Vice Principal Mike Gemar, YMCA PiYo Instructor Shawnee Kyle, Miss Africa Idaho Director Winnie Christensen and Twin Falls High School Vice Principal Ryan Nesmith.

Each has one week to train with a dancer from the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. They will learn dances ranging from salsa, swing, foxtrot and country two-step, said Jesse Maher, a founding member of the dance company. The dancers are trained to make sure that the routines they choreograph are exciting and accessible for the amateurs.


Chriss Gee spins Winnie Christensen as they rehearse their Salsa dance Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, during rehearsals for Dancing with the Stars of Twin Falls at Ground Control dance studio in Twin Falls.

“Most of the performers are nervous, they are trusting of the dancers to make this as easy as possible,” Maher said. “We are working with the best and brightest of the towns that we visit. We share a real bond with them during this week of training.”

The stars need more than good dance skills to win. Dancer’s final scores are made up of three factors: the score for their routine, how much they raised with their fundraising goal and votes purchased by the audience.

“Everyone should come ready to donate,” Christensen said. “All of us are putting ourselves out there. We’re doing this to help this organization.”

Christensen said that Voices Against Violence is an organization near to her heart and has helped people in her own life. Some friends teared up when they heard that she was part of this event. Like many of the contestants, she has the bare minimum dancing skills, but that isn’t stopping her from being part of the fundraiser.

“I’m trying to do things outside of the box,” Christensen said. “My motto lately has been ‘Put me in coach.’”

“Dancing with the Stars of Twin Falls” is at 8 p.m. Friday at the Orpheum Theatre.

There will also be routines performed by the professionals at Utah Ballroom Dance Company and students of Twin Falls Ground Control, Maher said.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door or at

PHOTOS: Twin Falls Dancing with the Stars, a benefit for Voices Against Violence

Chobani launches new products for kids, with some help from Twin Falls kids

TWIN FALLS — Chobani’s local plant is the company’s center of innovation, and the plant’s newest creation came about with the help of some local kids.

Chobani announces Thursday its first real foray into the kids’ yogurt market with the biggest product launch since the Flip. The new line of yogurt snacks, Chobani Gimmies, will start hitting the shelves nationally in the next couple of weeks, wherever Chobani is sold.

The new product line was developed by the company’s global research and development team in Twin Falls — with help from some of the employees’ children and research groups.

In fact, the children’s response to the product helped give the “Gimmies” their name, Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s chief marketing and commercial officer, told the Times-News.

“This is a very proud Idaho food-making moment,” McGuinness said.


The Chobani Gimmies Crunch will come in flavors such as Poppin’ Cotton Candy and Best Birthday Ever.

Chobani Gimmies will include 14 different products in four formats: Milkshakes, tubes, pouches and “Crunch” — which is like a kids’ version of the Flip. And each flavor features its own colorful character and packaging designed to attract kids.

“Yogurt is already a win for mom and dad, but it’s not a win unless kids want to eat it,” McGuinness said. “We think the kids’ yogurt market in the U.S. is vastly underserved and vastly underpenetrated.”


The Chobani Gimmies milkshakes come in flavors such as Cookies & Cream Crush.

The company says Chobani Gimmies are made with only natural ingredients and have less sugar and twice the protein as other leading kids’ yogurts.

“Options today are lousy or impractical,” Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said in a statement. “It’s either junk food that parents don’t want their kids to eat or food that’s designed for adults that kids don’t want to eat. We wanted to break that cycle and it’s a challenge we took really seriously.”


Chobani Gimmies tubes come in flavors such as Creamy Orange Dreamy.

Aside from continuing its mission of “better food for more people,” McGuinness said, the company’s announcement will also benefit Idaho farmers.

“This is great for dairy,” he said. “Dairy needs innovative products. Dairy needs younger people to consume more dairy.”

Fire destroys Rupert mobile home, kills 2 dogs; 2 elderly sisters displaced

RUPERT – Family members of two Rupert sisters who lost their home in a fire on Nov. 27 are trying to get help for them.

Rupert Fire Chief Roger Davis said the department was called to a mobile home at 201 E. Sixth St. at 8:01 p.m.

“When we got there it was fully involved,” Davis said. “The mobile homes tend to go up fast. It is a very sad thing, they lost everything inside.”

Both women were home and they were able to save their vehicles, one of which was damaged.

The women, Vanae Catmull-Richardson, 70, and Elizabeth “Betty” Schroeder, 71, saved two of their four dogs, but two of their “fur babies” were killed in the fire, Catmull-Richardson’s daughter-in-law Mindy Arend of Rupert said.

“It really adds to their loss,” Davis said.

One of the dogs, Vinnie, became frightened and ran underneath the bed. Another, Riley, was later found hiding underneath a pile of laundry. The women were able to get out of the house with their two dogs, Avery and Taz.

“They could hear the dogs crying but there was nothing they could do to get them,” Arend said.

The women are in need of housing, clothing, shoes, household items, hygiene items and dog food suitable for small dogs.

“The furnace exploded and the house went up like a kindling box,” Arend said. “There was steam lapping up over their backs when they came out the door.”

Arend said the women are still in shock.

“They are feeling really stressed and are shaken up,” she said.

They did not have any insurance coverage, Davis said.

Arend said the women have temporary housing.

Nineteen firefighters responded to the blaze along with three engines. Crews returned to the station at 11 p.m.

Davis said the home is owned by Bud Whiting.

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.


Boise State running back Alexander Mattison (22) scores during the second half Friday night, Nov. 9, 2018, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Synthetic ice rink to open Friday in Downtown Commons

TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency will open its synthetic ice rink to the public Friday in time for the Festival of Lights.

The rink was set up Monday, with landscaping going in Tuesday to get the rink ready for opening at the Downtown Commons across from City Hall. AWOL Adventure Sports, which will be in charge of skate rentals, plans to open the rink at 4 p.m. Friday. The Festival of Lights parade starts at 6 p.m.

That evening, visitors can rent skates for free for about 30 minutes each, said Paul Melni, co-owner of AWOL Adventure Sports. After Friday, skate rentals will cost $5. The use of the rink is free.

“It is as slick as ice,” Melni said. “Anything you can do on ice skates you can do on this thing.”

Starting this weekend, AWOL will offer skate rentals on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Rentals will also be available on weekdays during the Christmas break. Hours are to be determined.

Melni’s goal with taking on skate rentals for the URA was to keep some of his dive and kayak business’ summer staff employed over the winter. A lot of them are college and high school students looking for holiday work, he said.

“We obviously knew this was not going to be a big money-maker,” he said.

AWOL will probably have one or two employees available during rental times; it has four altogether who have signed on part-time, he said.

The employees will manage skate rentals and will sweep the rink daily for pieces of plastic that come off from skating. During rental hours, the synthetic ice rink will be limited to a maximum of around 30 skaters, Melni said.

The rink will operate similarly to a city park, where users assume all risk and responsibilities. The public can enter the rink anytime, as long as they have ice skates. There is no age restriction, but skate rentals are limited to certain sizes.

The URA has the option to buy the rink after one month of renting it, Executive Director Nathan Murray said. The rink could then stay up through February, if the public requests it, but will be taken down for the summer for festivals and events.

Statewide bomb threat: Here's why Twin Falls School District didn't notify parents

TWIN FALLS — A statewide bomb threat to schools across Idaho this week went largely under the radar in Twin Falls, where the school district opted not to notify parents after learning the threat was not credible.

Twin Falls School District officials were alerted to the threat by local law enforcement at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, district spokeswoman Eva Craner said. Several minutes later, the district received an update: FBI investigators had determined the threat was a hoax.

The school day continued as usual, with no outward indication that anything had happened.

“Our team decided because there was no threat, there was no reason to interrupt the daily operations of our school day,” Craner said. “And because we didn’t interrupt operations, we also decided we didn’t want to cause any undue concern amongst our parents.”

Craner said the district didn’t want to cause parents to panic.

The lack of an announcement didn’t sit well with some parents, who learned of the statewide threat from media reports later in the day.

“Looking back on the situation, because of some of the misinformation that was put out yesterday evening it might have been helpful for us to explain what happened during the day later in the evening just so parents knew what happened,” Craner said Wednesday.

District officials will meet this week to evaluate the district’s handling of the situation, Craner said.