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Alabama running back Najee Harris scores against Ohio State during the College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 11 in Miami Gardens, Fla. 

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Historic Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite gets a makeover

HANSEN — The historic Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite has a new look.

The Idaho State Historical Society has unveiled the latest historic preservation project to enhance visitors’ educational experience at the 156-year-old stage stop. The wooded site was a popular resting place on Rock Creek for hundreds of thousands of immigrants on the Oregon Trail in the 1840s, ’50s and ’60s.

Volunteers with the nonprofit Friends of Stricker spent much of the past year spiffing up the place while the country was shut down due to COVID-19.


New displays for self-guided tours are seen Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite south of Hansen.

In addition, 11 new interpretive signs now tell the history of the site, which was home to the only trading post on the Oregon Trail between Fort Hall and Fort Boise. Also, a new pavilion, with a large screen showing on-demand historical videos, was constructed next to the site’s 10-year-old interpretive center.


A recently completed pavilion at the historic Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite is seen Wednesday. Visitors may activate the screen to view videos produced by the Friends of Stricker and the Idaho State Historical Society.

Volunteers also re-chinked log buildings at the site, painted interior walls, refinished hardwood floors and rearranged displays in the Stricker home, volunteer Rich Russell said Wednesday as he guided a group of women through the buildings.


A child's bedroom, part of a 1916 addition to the historic Stricker 'mansion,' is seen Wednesday at the Rock Creek Station and Stricker homesite south of Hansen.

The 1900 Victorian mansion, which houses many artifacts once owned by Herman and Lucy Stricker, also got a new roof, as did the infamous wet and dry cellars that still stand near the old Rock Creek Store, Russell said.

The wet cellar, built next to a now-missing saloon, held liquor and other bottled goods. The dry cellar next door, which once held dry goods such as flour and sugar, doubled as a jail when needed and also served as protection from attacks.


Rich Russell gives a tour Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the historic Rock Creek Station and Stricker homesite south of Hansen.

The oasis in the southern Idaho desert saw renewed life in 1865 when “Stagecoach King” Ben Holladay built a home station there on his Overland Stage route. Soon after, Holladay sold out to Wells Fargo.

The Kelton Freight Road, which ran the same course as the Holladay’s Overland Stage Route, carried lumber and other building supplies from the train station at Kelton, Utah, through Rock Creek and on to Boise.


Herman Stricker's safe is seen Wednesday at the Stricker Store during a tour of the historic Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite south of Hansen. Stricker ran the store for 20 years.

The store, built and operated by merchant James Bascom, sold provisions to westbound travelers. Herman Stricker purchased the store from Bascom in 1876.

Nearly a century later, Stricker descendants donated the site to the state historical society. It is operated cooperatively by the Friends of Stricker.


New displays for self-guided tours are seen Wednesday, June 9, 2021, of the Rock Creek Station and Stricker homesite south of Hansen.

Educational upgrades to the site were made with the financial support of the Janice Seagraves Family Foundation, Maurice Bowers Charitable Trust, and the Grace Smith Keveren and Kenneth A. Keveren Foundation. State funding through the Department of Public Works Permanent Building Fund Advisory Committee was used to stabilize and restore the wet and dry cellars, Rock Creek Store and the Stricker family home.

PHOTOS: Tour of the Rock Creek Station and Stricker homesite

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He took a girl’s life in Boise stabbing rampage. He’ll spend the rest of his in prison

BOISE — After five hours of emotional testimony and a tense court hearing Thursday — which included a victim’s mother needing to be restrained — the man who killed a child at her birthday party in Boise as part of a stabbing rampage learned his fate.

Nearly three years after he stabbed nine people and killed 3-year-old Ruya Kadir, Timmy Kinner Jr. was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, as a judge handed down two consecutive life sentences for murder and aggravated battery.

For other crimes related to the June 2018 mayhem, 4th District Judge Nancy Baskin handed down sentences totaling 120 additional years in prison, where Kinner will spend the rest of his life.

Numerous victims addressed the court and detailed the horror of what they survived, as well as the trauma that’s likely to plague them forever.

Bifituu Kadir, Ruya’s mother, addressed the court through a translator and choked up as she spoke, tears in her eyes. She questioned what would cause someone to kill a small child. Kadir said that she will outlive Kinner, and when he is buried, she will spit on his grave.

“I wish he killed me instead,” she said.

Prosecutors played a 911 call placed by a then-8-year-old child, who phoned after he was stabbed by Kinner. The child tried to warn others before calling police.

“I’m hurt in my belly, he stabbed me,” the child said to a 911 dispatcher.

Prosecutor Dan Dinger called Kinner’s rampage one of the “most violent crimes this community has ever seen.” He said children who survived that summer night have lasting trauma that includes the fear of even going to the bathroom safely.

Kinner, 33, was dressed in a white polo shirt with dark pants and a rosary around his neck as he entered the Ada County courtroom Thursday morning. Near the end of the hearing, he addressed the court, something he said he’s looked forward to doing. He repeatedly said that he never meant to hurt people.

“I hate that this situation occurred,” Kinner said. “I’m so sorry for the pain I’ve caused.”

While prosecutors were describing his brutal stabbing of Ruya, Bifituu Kadir, threw a metal water bottle at Kinner and rushed toward him, causing deputies and court marshals to restrain her. She was taken out of the courtroom while calling out, “Ruya, Ruya, Ruya!”

The incident caused a brief recess. Once the hearing reconvened, Baskin told the court that Kadir and other family members would watch the remainder from the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office.

Baskin asked Kinner whether he was struck by the water bottle, to which he replied, “thankfully, no.” Kadir had lashed out at Kinner before, yelling and asking why he killed her daughter during a hearing in August 2018.

David Smethers, a defense attorney, told the court that Kinner committed the crime while in the middle of a psychotic episode, and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Though he asked for concurrent sentences, Smethers acknowledged that there was not really an outcome other than life in prison.

“He will never leave ISCI (Idaho State Correctional Institute) for the rest of his life,” Smethers said.

Baskin said she didn’t believe Kinner could be released back into society safely at any point, referencing his inconsistent management of his mental health. She ultimately opted to abide by a plea agreement the defense had struck with prosecutors.

On March 30, Kinner pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, eight counts of aggravated battery, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of use of a deadly weapon in the attack. After he was arrested and charged, Kinner faced the death penalty, but following his guilty pleas in March, prosecutors said in court filings that they would not pursue capital punishment.

The rampage took place on June 30, 2018, at an apartment complex just off State Street, on Wylie Lane, that was home to many refugees who had escaped violence in their home countries before coming to Idaho. Kinner had been staying there with a resident.

Kinner was ruled incompetent to stand trial on different occasions after his arrest — and even called “dangerously mentally ill” in an order issued by Judge Baskin. His competency was later restored and he was deemed able to proceed to trial.

The first to testify during Thursday’s lengthy hearing was Juliet Yackel, a mitigation specialist for capital punishment cases who conducted hundreds of interviews with Kinner’s family and others who came to know him over the years. She detailed Kinner’s childhood and difficult upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee. Yackel told the court that both of Kinner’s parents were crack cocaine users when he was young, and some of his siblings also have a history of mental health problems.

Kinner mostly has been held in the Ada County Jail since his arrest in 2018, with the exception of a stay in a state prison to help with mental health treatment. He will be transferred to the Idaho Department of Correction to serve his sentence.

PHOTOS: Vigil for Ruya Kadir

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CSI partnering with Lewis-Clark State College on education degree program

TWIN FALLS — College of Southern Idaho students will have the chance to complete a bachelor’s degree in education while remaining in the Magic Valley through a new partnership between CSI and Lewis-Clark State College.

Through this agreement, students will complete three years worth of credits through CSI and one year through Lewis-Clark while obtaining a degree in elementary education. Students can focus the degree on either English or special education.

In a statement announcing the agreement, CSI President Dean Fisher said the partnership will help address a teacher shortage.

“It’s no secret that Southern Idaho is facing a critical teacher shortage,” Fisher said in a statement. “This partnership with LCSC will significantly expand access for aspiring teachers to get the training they need to enter the field of education at an affordable price and without having to leave the local area.”

CSI already offers two-year associate’s degrees in education, after which students have to move on to a four-year school to complete their education. But not all students successfully complete that transition.

Tracey Meyerhoeffer, the head of CSI’s education department, said about 75% of the students who earn associate’s degrees in education transfer to a four-year college or university. Out of those students, only 60% then finish that degree.

Meyerhoeffer said this agreement with Lewis-Clark is designed to address this issue. CSI staff and teachers will continue to support and guide students through the four-year program, even as classes through Lewis-Clark are introduced into the student’s coursework.

“We know that for students, the relationships they build lead to retention,” Meyerhoeffer said.

The college will base the program on the modules CSI uses for its nontraditional educator program, which certifies students with bachelor’s degrees not in education. This program focuses on classroom experience under the guidance of a qualified mentor.

CSI began working with Lewis-Clark on this agreement last fall. Meyerhoeffer said the program could expand into a degree in secondary education in the future.

US consumer prices surge

WASHINGTON — American consumers absorbed another surge in prices in May — a 0.6% increase over April and 5% over the past year, the biggest 12-month inflation spike since 2008.

The May rise in consumer prices that the Labor Department reported Thursday reflected a range of goods and services now in growing demand as people increasingly shop, travel, dine out and attend entertainment events in a rapidly reopening economy.

The increased consumer appetite is bumping up against a shortage of components, from lumber and steel to chemicals and semiconductors, that supply such key products as autos and computer equipment, all of which has forced up prices. And as consumers increasingly venture away from home, demand has spread from manufactured goods to services — airline fares, for example, along with restaurant meals and hotel prices — raising inflation in those areas, too.

In its report Thursday, the government said that core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food costs, rose 0.7% in May after an even bigger 0.9% increase in April, and has risen 3.8% over the past year. That is the sharpest 12-month jump in core inflation since 1992. And it is far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for annual price increases.

Among specific items in May, prices for used vehicles, which had surged by a record 10% in April, shot up an additional 7.3% and accounted for one-third of May’s overall price jump. The price of new cars, too, rose 1.6% — the largest one-month increase since 2009.

The jump in new and used vehicle prices reflects supply chain problems that have caused a shortage of semiconductors. The lack of computer chips has limited production of new cars, which, in turn, has reduced the supply of used cars. As demand for vehicles has risen, prices have followed.

But higher prices were evident in a wide variety of categories in May, including household furnishings, which rose 0.9%, driven by a record jump in the price of floor coverings. Airline fares rose 7% after having increased 10.2% in April. Food prices rose 0.4%, with beef prices jumping 2.3%. Energy costs, though unchanged in May, are still up 56.2% in the past year.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for the sixth straight week as the U.S. economy, held back for months by the coronavirus pandemic, reopens rapidly.

Jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 376,000 from 385,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of people signing up for benefits exceeded 900,000 in early January and has fallen more or less steadily ever since. Still, claims are high by historic standards. Before the pandemic brought economic activity to a near-standstill in March 2020, weekly applications were regularly coming in below 220,000.

Nearly 3.5 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits the week of May 29, down by 258,000 from 3.8 million the week before.

From the cereal maker General Mills to Chipotle Mexican Grill to the paint maker Sherwin-Williams, a range of companies have been raising prices or plan to do so, in some cases to make up for higher wages they’re now paying to keep or attract workers. This week, for example, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it was boosting menu prices by roughly 4% to cover the cost of raising its workers’ wages. In May, Chipotle had said that it would raise wages for its restaurant workers to reach an average of $15 an hour by the end of June.

Andrew Hunter, a senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, noted that the price category that covers restaurant meals jumped 0.6% last month. He took that as evidence that labor shortages at restaurants, hotels and other service sector companies are beginning to fuel wage and price increases.

The inflation pressures are not only squeezing consumers but also posing a risk to the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession. One risk is that the Fed will eventually respond to intensifying inflation by raising interest rates too aggressively and derail the economic recovery.

The central bank, led by Chair Jerome Powell, has repeatedly expressed its belief that inflation will prove temporary as supply bottlenecks are unclogged and parts and goods flow normally again. But some economists have expressed concern that as the economic recovery accelerates, fueled by rising demand from consumers spending freely again, so will inflation.

The question is, for how long?

“The price spikes could be bigger and more prolonged because the pandemic has been so disruptive to supply chains,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. But “by the fall or end of the year,” Zandi suggested, “prices will be coming back to earth.”

So far, Fed officials haven’t deviated from their view that higher inflation is a temporary consequence of the economy’s rapid reopening, with its accelerating consumer demand, and the lack of enough supplies and workers to keep pace with it. Eventually, they say, supply will rise to match demand.

Officials also note that year-over-year gauges of inflation now look especially large because they are being measured against the early months of the pandemic, when inflation tumbled as the economy all but shut down. In coming months, the year-over-year inflation figures will likely look smaller.