State’s largest climbing gym opens in East Idaho

Gregor Peirce stands in the new Edge Climbing and Fitness gym at 2844 E. 14 N. at Ammon. The business, which is the biggest climbing gym in Idaho, offers a host of climbing walls and fitness equipment.

Gregor Peirce stands in the new Edge Climbing and Fitness gym at 2844 E. 14 N. at Ammon. The business, which is the biggest climbing gym in Idaho, offers a host of climbing walls and fitness equipment.

By Natalia Hepworth/East Idaho News

AMMON — New state-of-the-art, psychedelic cliffs are ready to be scaled at the largest climbing gym in the Gem state.

The Edge Climbing and Fitness at 2844 E. 14 N. in Ammon opened Jan. 17 and co-owner Jake Hartner says the community is ecstatic.

“We’ve actually had a really positive response from the community,” Jake says. “Everyone is loving it.”

The massive undertaking of constructing the largest climbing gym in Idaho wasn’t an easy task. The gym was predesigned to have 17,000 square feet of climbing terrain.

Jake, along with his brother, Ammon, say they were anxious to begin building and offer the area something it was lacking.

“If we were going to do it, we were going to do it right and we were going to make it great,” Ammon told EastIdahoNews.com in June.

Jake says they’ve worked hard at making the gym a family friendly place. He says there’s something to do for everyone at any level of climbing.

“We’ve really put a lot of effort into making routes for everyone here. Whether you’re brand new to the sport, or whether you’re a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone here,” Jake says.

The main walls of the gym stretch nearly 50 feet high. Walls for bouldering, or climbing without ropes on a shorter range, are 14 feet high.

Jake says facilities typically mark routes with tape but at The Edge, vibrant climbing holds show the way up the walls.

“We have colored handholds that direct you as you go, and we have professional routesetters that regularly change out the routes,” Jake says.

Jake says the gym will soon offer classes, summer camps and will have a climbing team. He also said they will be installing exercise equipment.

“You don’t have to have two memberships to get your full exercise,” Jake says.

Climbers can purchase a day pass, sign up for a membership, or utilize The Edge party room for get-togethers.

Current hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight.

Upon full completion, the gym will be open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight.

Find The Edge online at its website, or Facebook page. The phone number is 208-552-7625(ROCK).

A list of firework shows and parades throughout East Idaho

Several towns throughout East Idaho will host Fourth of July parades and firework shows this week. Here’s a rundown of events in each city.

Pocatello:

  • Pocatello’s Fourth of July parade will begin at 9 a.m. July 4 and will start at the corner of First Avenue and Center Street.
  • The Biggest Show in Idaho will be held at the Portneuf Wellness Complex on July 4. Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m.

Idaho Falls:

  • The Idaho Falls Fourth of July parade will begin at 9 a.m. July 4. The parade route will proceed west on Fourth Street from Holmes Avenue, turn south on Boulevard and end in Stonebrook.
  • Melaleuca Freedom Celebration Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. on the Idaho Falls River Walk on July 4. 

Rexburg:

  • Rexburg’s Independence Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. July 4. The parade will start on Main Street by Madison Memorial Hospital.
  • The firework show will be Saturday after the Whoopee Days Rodeo. The rodeo starts at 7 p.m.

Blackfoot:

  • Blackfoot’s Freedom Parade will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. The parade will be on Airport Road from Highway 91 to Jensen Grove.
  • Bingham Memorial Hospital Liberty Firework Show will be Saturday at 10 p.m. at Jensen Grove.

Rigby:

  • Rigby will host a fireworks show Saturday at Jefferson Lake.

Soda Springs:

  • The Soda Springs Fourth of July parade will be at 10 a.m. July 4. The parade will start by Farm Bureau on Highway 30.
  • The Spectacular Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. at Kelly Park in Soda Springs.

Lava Hot Springs:

  • Lava Hot Springs will have a fireworks show July 4 on Fireworks Hill. The fireworks will begin at dusk.

Montpelier:

  • A Fourth of July parade will be in Paris at 1 p.m. July 4. The parade will go down Main Street.
  • Montpelier’s firework show will be at Allinger Park and will begin at dusk.

Fort Hall:

  • Fort Hall’s Treaty Day Firework Show will be July 3 at the Fort Hall rodeo grounds. Fireworks will begin at dusk.

‘Star Wars’ group appears at Family Fun Day

(Photo by Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal)

(Photo by Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal)

By Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — Back by popular demand, the “Star Wars” Timberline Garrison made appeared at Family Fun Day at the Portneuf Wellness Complex on Saturday. Members of the “Star Wars” costuming group posed for photos to raise money for the Idaho Foodbank.

The Timberline Garrison is the local branch of the 501st Legion, an international “Star Wars” costuming group nearly 7,000 people strong.

Representing Idaho and Montana, the Garrison boasts roughly 36 members. Idaho makes up the majority of that with 26 members. However Southeast Idaho is home to only 12 members.

With no members in Pocatello, a small group drove to take part in Family Fun Day. This year featured three members dressed as Princess Leia, a Storm Trooper and an Imperial Officer.

“Darth Vader is busy,” said Garrison member Erin Atwood. “He couldn’t get off work.”

According to Atwood, all of the costumes are made by hand to ensure the best quality costume.

“Most of us find that off-the-rack costumes aren’t as wearable,” said Atwood. “We try to be as screen accurate and professional quality as possible. We want to look like we walked right out of the movie.”

Members of a local Star Wars costuming group were back at Family Fun Day to raise money for the Idaho Foodbank over the weekend. (Photo by Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal)

Members of a local Star Wars costuming group were back at Family Fun Day to raise money for the Idaho Foodbank over the weekend. (Photo by Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal)

Atwood said the costumes can take anywhere from a few days to months to complete — depending on the complexity of the costume and the time a person is able to put into it.

“We are real people with real jobs,” said Atwood. “Unfortunately not flying around the galaxy.”

Due to the detail and time it takes to make these costumes, they often become community projects, according to Atwood.

“If I can sew and you can’t, I’ll help you,” said Atwood. “Some people can work with plastic so they’ll help with costumes like Storm Troopers. Everyone really helps out and that’s the great thing about this group.”

Atwood said most people only have one costume, generally their favorite Star Wars character. Others, like Atwood, will have multiple costumes.

The group poses for photos and talks to fans in an effort to raise money for local charities. On Saturday they were collecting donations for the Idaho FoodBank. (Photo by Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal)

The group poses for photos and talks to fans in an effort to raise money for local charities. On Saturday they were collecting donations for the Idaho FoodBank. (Photo by Cydney McFarland/Idaho State Journal)

“I have five now,” said Atwood, who was dressed as an Imperial Officer on Saturday. However her main costume is a TIE Fighter pilot.

The Timberline Garrison does specialize in Imperial Costumes, the bad guys in the “Star Wars” movies. Members use their costumes, and love of the films, for good. They attend local events, like Family Fun Day, and pose for pictures to generate donations for local charities.

On Saturday that was the Idaho Foodbank. But they often make hospital appearances through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and have helped charities like the Salvation Army, Museum of Idaho and Idaho Falls Domestic Violence Shelter, among others.

The group has been coming to Family Fun Day for over four years and are popular with young and old enthusiasts alike.

Local “Star Wars” fans, the Blakeslee family, came to Family Fun Day in costume to take photos with the Timberline Garrison.

“We have lots of ‘Star Wars’ costumes,” said Charity Blakeslee, the mother of four who makes all the costumes. “We just keep adding to the collection in different sizes.”

The Blakeslee kids — Jace, Paige, Tristan and Devin — range in age from 2 to 15 and they all dressed as the Jedi superheroes from “Star Wars.”

Getting their photos with the Timberline Garrison has become a tradition for the family, with many of them being featured in the Journal in previous years.

“We try to come every year possible,” said Garrison member Atwood. “We just love to be here helping the community and helping the Foodbank.”

2016 high school graduation schedule for Southeast Idaho

Magdalena “Maggie” Gunn gets a big hug from Loreen Fireech after Gunn walked through the graduation line at the New Horizon High School graduation Wednesday night at Holt Arena in Pocatello last year. (Photo by Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal)

Magdalena “Maggie” Gunn gets a big hug from Loreen Fireech after Gunn walked through the graduation line at the New Horizon High School graduation at Holt Arena in Pocatello last year. (Photo by Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal)

POCATELLO — Several Southeast Idaho schools will be having graduation ceremonies coming up, with most dates May 24 through 27. The schedule is as follows:

• Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25: Rehearsals and graduation ceremonies are all held at Holt Arena. Rehearsals are Highland High School May 25, 2 p.m., New Horizon High School May 25, 4 p.m., Century High School May 26, 7 a.m. with breakfast, Pocatello High School May 26 at 9 a.m. Graduation is New Horizon High School, May 26, 6 p.m., Highland High School May 26 at noon, Century High School May 26 at 3 p.m., and Pocatello High School May 26 at 6 p.m.

Other schools are:

• Shelley High School, Shelley, May 24, 7 p.m., at school gym.

• Snake River High School, Blackfoot, May 25, 8 p.m., in the gym.

• Marsh Valley High School, Arimo, May 25, 8 p.m., at the school.

• North Gem High School, Bancroft, May 25, 8 p.m., at the gym at the school.

• West Side High School, Dayton, May 25, 7 p.m., Dahle Performing Arts Center.

• Malad High School, Malad, May 25, 7 p.m., high school gym.

• Bear Lake High School, May 26, 7:30 p.m., Paris Tabernacle.

• Shoshone-Bannock Junior/Senior High School, Fort Hall, May 26, 6 p.m., at the school.

• Aberdeen High School, Aberdeen, May 26, 7 p.m., at the middle school.

• Preston High School, Preston, May 26, 8 p.m., in the new gymnasium at the school.

• American Falls High School May 27 at 7 p.m., at the school gymnasium.

• Soda Springs High School May 27 at 8 p.m., at Soda Springs High School gym.

• Rockland High School May 27, 7 p.m., at the school.

• Grace High School, June 1, at 7 p.m., at the school in Grace.

• Blackfoot High School, Blackfoot, June 3, 7 p.m., Blackfoot Performing Arts Center.

The most popular baby names in the U.S. are…

(Submitted Photo)

(Submitted Photo)

By Mary Clare Jalonick/Associated Press

When it comes to baby names, Emma and Noah reign supreme.

And don’t name your daughter Isis.

For the second year in a row, Emma and Noah top the annual list of top baby names in the U.S., according to the Social Security Administration. That’s the third year on top for Noah and the second in a row for Emma, which was also No. 1 in 2008.

The administration released its annual list of top baby names Friday, and the top five names for girls and boys in 2015 remained unchanged from the previous year. Noah was followed by Liam, Mason, Jacob and William. Emma was followed by Olivia, Sophia, Ava and Isabella. Ava and Isabella switched spots from 2014, with Ava climbing to number 4.

One major change was the girls’ name Isis, which had remained steadily in the middle of the pack of the country’s top 1,000 names for the last 15 years. In 2015, after the name had emerged as an acronym for the extremist group Islamic State, it dropped completely off the list.

That’s a dramatic shift, says Laura Wattenberg, baby name expert and founder of BabynameWizard.com.

“It’s actually quite rare for a name to be eliminated by issues in the news,” she says, noting that the name Adolph was still at No. 555 in the U.S. at the end of World War II when the Nazis and Adolf Hitler fell.

There’s another recent example, though: the name Hillary dropped off the list in 2009, a year after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic presidential primary to Barack Obama. The name was No. 721 in 2008. Hillary remained off the list this year, as did the name of her current Democratic primary opponent, Bernie, as in Sanders.

Barack has never appeared in the top 1,000 names, and the popularity of the name of Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, dropped slightly during his eight-year presidency, from No. 130 to No. 163.

The first name of this year’s presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, also dropped in 2015, from No. 418 to No. 441.

Wattenberg said that unlike in the past, parents avoid politics in name choices today. But names of past presidents remain popular. The girls’ name Kennedy, for example, is No. 57.

“We want our presidents out of office or preferably dead before we name our babies after them,” Wattenberg said.

Emma’s popularity soared in 2002, the same year that Rachel, a character played by Jennifer Aniston on the TV show “Friends,” named her baby Emma. Also boosting the name, actress Emma Watson played Hermione Granger in the popular Harry Potter movies.

Emma has been ranked among the top three baby names for girls since 2003, first reaching No. 1 in 2008. In 2013, Emma was No. 2 behind Sophia.

For several years, trends have favored names that are short and smooth — Mia, Liam and Noah — and that have a lot of vowels.

Two girls’ names that skyrocketed in popularity in 2015 were Alaia and Adaline, illustrating that vowel trend. Alaia moved up more than 2,000 spots on the list, from No. 2,676 to No. 664.

The reasons for Alaia’s rise aren’t clear.

“Perhaps this can be attributed to high-fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, or maybe it is because of Alaia Baldwin, the model/daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin,” speculated the Social Security Administration in a news release.

The name Adaline moved from No. 1,393 to No. 364. “The Age of Adaline” was a 2015 movie starring Blake Lively.

For boys, the top-rising name is Riaan, which moved from No. 2,286 to No. 926. It’s the name of the young son of a well-known Bollywood actor, Riteish Deshmukh.

The Social Security Administration’s website provides lists of the top 1,000 baby names for each year, dating to 1880. The top baby names that year were John and Mary. John is now No. 26, while Mary has fallen to No. 124.

___

Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

 

Study ranks Idaho as one of the worst states for working moms

By Idaho State Journal Staff

A study by a personal finance website found that Idaho is one of the worst U.S. states for working mothers.

According to WalletHub’s “2016’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms,” the Gem State ranked #44 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The methodology used in the study compared three key dimensions: 1) Child Care, 2) Professional Opportunities and 3) Work-Life Balance.

Though Idaho was ranked relatively high under Professional Opportunities (#17) and Work-Life Balance (#12), the state was ranked dead last (#51) for Child Care. The dismal Child Care ranking pushed the Gem State to the bottom 10 overall.

WalletHub also ranked Idaho last in daycare quality (#51), while access to pediatric services was near the bottom at #48. However, total child care costs, which were adjusted for median women’s salaries, were ranked 17th overall.

The study ranked the top 10 states for working moms as follows:

1. Vermont

2. Minnesota

3. Connecticut

4. North Dakota

5. Massachusetts

6. Illinois

7. Wisconsin

8. Colorado

9. Kansas

10. New Jersey

The states ranked at the bottom are:

41. West Virginia

42. New Mexico

43. Georgia

44. Idaho

45. Mississippi

46. Arizona

47. Alaska

48. Louisiana

49. South Carolina

50. Alabama

51. Nevada

The results of the study can be found at wallethub.com/edu/best-states-for-working-moms/3565/

Zoo Idaho opens Saturday in Pocatello

Zoo Idaho’s oldest grizzly bear, Stripes, looks in charge at the zoo exhibit. (Photo by Michael H. O'Donnell/Idaho State Journal)

Zoo Idaho’s oldest grizzly bear, Stripes, looks in charge at the zoo exhibit. (Photo by Michael H. O’Donnell/Idaho State Journal)

By Michael H. O’Donnell/Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — As the weather warms, animals in Pocatello’s Zoo Idaho — both wild and confined — are increasing their activities, and visitors will be able to take advantage of the zoo’s season opener Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

Because construction continues at the Lower Ross Park entrance to the zoo, visitors are asked to enter at the zoo headquarters building in Upper Ross Park near the Pocatello Animal Shelter at 3101 Avenue of the Chiefs.

“We made a conscious effort to strike a balance in our improvements during the offseason,” said Peter Pruett, Zoo Idaho Superintendent. “We wanted to make sure to enhance our visitors’ experience and also improve the lives of the animals who call Zoo Idaho home year-round.”

Because the opener will push visitors to the upper part of the zoo, the first exhibit will be the facility that holds grizzly bears Shoni and Stripes. Shoni is a 4-year-old female brought to Pocatello two years ago after she was captured on the Shoshone National Forest near the Pahaska Tepee Resort outside of Cody, Wyoming. Stripes is more than 30 years old but still rules the roost at the bear exhibit.

“Shoni still gives the old bear plenty of space,” said lead zoo keeper Jim Beinemann.

Additional fencing has been added around the grizzly bear exhibit that will allow guests to have a better view of both bears in the outdoor portion of the exhibit.

Beinemann has been preparing some of the new changes at the zoo, including a new enclosure for the bobcat and another space for “Pokie” the porcupine.

The raccoons have moved into a newly renovated exhibit next to the turkey vulture, and for the first time this spring, “Lambchop” the baby bighorn sheep will be on display.

Responding to lead zoo keeper Jim Beinemann’s whistle, two raccoons at Zoo Idaho in Pocatello come running for snacks on Thursday afternoon. In the photo below, Zoo Idaho’s oldest grizzly bear, Stripes, looks in charge at the zoo exhibit. (Photo by Michael H. O'Donnell/Idaho State Journal)

Responding to lead zoo keeper Jim Beinemann’s whistle, two raccoons at Zoo Idaho in Pocatello come running for snacks on Thursday afternoon. In the photo below, Zoo Idaho’s oldest grizzly bear, Stripes, looks in charge at the zoo exhibit. (Photo by Michael H. O’Donnell/Idaho State Journal)

Beinemann made the rounds Thursday to check on the displays and toss a few snacks to the animals. Using a whistle to get their attention, Beinemann provided some snacks to a pair of raccoons and the reclusive porcupine.

As Beinemann made his way through the zoo complex, Canadian geese and rock chucks dodged across the access road in front of his service truck.

Rock chucks, or yellow-bellied marmots, emerge early in the lava rock formations of the park.

“We saw the first ones on March 1,” Beinemann said.

Unlike many zoos in the country, Zoo Idaho accepts only animals that would be found in the habitats of the Rocky Mountains. It’s why a pair of buffalo graze a large area with a small herd of elk and some pronghorns.

Beinemann said the zoo is hoping to establish a special area for the antelope in the near future and potentially convert an existing pen area to house mountain lions.

“We are continually making improvements,” he said.

A sheep at Zoo Idaho in Pocatello. (Photo by Michael H. O'Donnell/Idaho State Journal)

A sheep at Zoo Idaho in Pocatello. (Photo by Michael H. O’Donnell/Idaho State Journal)

Work also is continuing on the zoo’s entrance along South 2nd Avenue. A new ADA pathway is scheduled to be in place by mid-May while landscaping will go into the summer months. Another new walkway will be constructed from the entrance to the bighorn and mountain goat exhibits. Officials also say construction will begin this spring on new exhibits for the golden eagle and bald eagle, with construction expected to wrap up in the summer.

During the month of April, Zoo Idaho will be only open during the weekends. Admission is $5.75 for ages 12 to 59, seniors ages 60 and up are $4.50, children ages 3 to 11 are $3.75; and infants to age 2 get in free.

In May, the Zoo will be open daily through October and guests can resume using the South 2nd Avenue sometime mid-month.

“We’re an extremely economical option for entertainment and education,” Pruett said. “A family of four can spend a day at Zoo Idaho for less than $25.”

For more information on Zoo Idaho, visit zoo.pocatello.us or call 208-234-6264.

ZooImage

Zoo Idaho officially opens for the season April 2

ZooImagePOCATELLO — Zoo Idaho’s 2016 season will get its start this weekend. On April 2 at 10 a.m. the gates will be opened, officially welcoming visitors for the new year.

Enter through the Zoo Education Building at 3101 Avenue of the Chiefs near the Pocatello Animal Shelter. Admission is $5.75 for ages 12 to 59, $4.50 for seniors ages 60 and older and $3.75 for children ages 3 to 11. Infants ages birth to 2 get in free.

This year will mark the debut of several improvements at Zoo Idaho. Additional fencing has been added around the grizzly bear exhibit that will allow guests to have a better view of the bears, Shoni and Stripes.

The raccoons have moved into a newly renovated exhibit next to the turkey vulture. Also making a move was the bobcat who now calls the old lynx exhibit home.

Work is also continuing on the zoo’s entrance along South Second Avenue. A new Americans with Disabilities Act pathway is scheduled to be in place by mid-May while landscaping will go into the summer months. Another new walkway will be constructed from the entrance to the bighorn and mountain goat exhibits.

Officials also say construction will begin this spring on new exhibits for the golden eagle and bald eagle, with construction expected to wrap up in the summer.

During the month of April, Zoo Idaho will be only open during the weekends.In May, the zoo will be open daily through October, and guests can resume using the South Second Avenue sometime mid-month.

For more information on Zoo Idaho, visit zoo.pocatello.us or call 234-6264.

Indian Hills students brighten orphans’ smiles

Students at Indian Hills Elementary school in Pocatello held a special charitable event to bring smiles to orphaned children in the Philippines. They identified three orphanages that badly need toothbrushes and helped supply them. (Submitted Photo)

Students at Indian Hills Elementary school in Pocatello held a special charitable event to bring smiles to orphaned children in the Philippines. They identified three orphanages that badly need toothbrushes and helped supply them. (Submitted Photo)

By Idaho State Journal Staff

POCATELLO — A group of Filipino orphans have brighter smiles thanks to students at Indian Hills Elementary school.

It all began when fifth-grade teacher Susan Chandler started sharing stories about family members who have worked at orphanages in the Philippines and the amazing lack of simple oral hygiene items including toothbrushes.

This information was shared with the student council at Indian Hills, and it launched an effort to help, according to Patty Fonnesbeck, who is a social worker at Indian Hills and helps supervise the student leadership group.

An assembly was held, and student body officer and fifth-grader Carter Felde urged students to pitch in and help the orphans. Pocatello dentist Mike Sutton explained the importance of good oral health to the students. And fifth-grade teacher Alisa O’Berry shared stories about conditions at Philippine orphanages where children had to share toothbrushes.

A drive to collect toothbrushes was launched.

“We gathered 1,678 toothbrushes in three days,” Fonnesbeck said.

For students who couldn’t afford to buy a new toothbrush, the school accepted donations of 25 cents. That brought in another $50.

“The kids were so excited,” Fonnesbeck said. “It was nice.”

The donations were packed up and made a trip to the Philippines last week.

Twin Utah moms each give birth to their 2nd set of twins

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Identical twin sisters from Utah each recently gave birth to identical twins — again.

Kerri Bunker and Kelli Wall delivered twins within weeks of each other at a hospital in Orem, south of Salt Lake City. Years ago, they gave birth to their first sets of twins, now 4- and 5-year-olds, at the same hospital a few months apart.

Bunker’s newest twins arrived Feb. 13. Wall’s youngest twins were born about three weeks earlier.

Ryan White, spokesman for Timpanogos Regional Hospital, says some of the twins were conceived through in vitro fertilization.

The 36-year-old women say they aren’t just sisters but best friends, neighbors and co-workers. They say all nine kids will grow up together.

Bunker also has a 2-year-old child.

No new info released on school district threats

Pocatello High School. (Submitted Photo)

Pocatello High School. (Submitted Photo)

By Idaho State Journal Staff

POCATELLO — Police released no new information Wednesday about the suspect identified in connection to announced threats made against the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District this past weekend.

Pocatello police announced Tuesday that a suspect had been identified and interviewed, but a name was not released.

Schools were placed on heightened alert Tuesday due to a threat that Pocatello police said surfaced on social media.

Pocatello Police Spokeswoman Dianne Brush said it’s not known when the threat was originally posted, but police became aware of it this past weekend.

In a press release issue Tuesday, Pocatello police reported that the suspect was identified and interviewed, and the threats had been resolved.

Brush said the individual is not a student in District 25 and the unnamed suspect lives outside of Pocatello.

It is still unknown if the suspect will face charges related to the threats.

Brush said the case is still under investigation by the Pocatello Police Department.

Pocatello police have suspect in School District 25 social media threat incident

Pocatello High School. (Submitted Photo)

Pocatello High School. (Submitted Photo)

By Idaho State Journal Staff

Pocatello police have identified a suspect in the School District 25 threat incident that prompted a visible police presence at some District 25 schools Tuesday.

Pocatello police released the following statement at 3:18 p.m. Tuesday: “A suspect has been identified in the threats made towards School District 25. The suspect has been interviewed and the threats have been resolved. The case is still under investigation by the Pocatello Police Department and no further information will be released today.”

Police provided no information on the identity of the suspect or whether the suspect is a District 25 student. It’s also unclear if the suspect will face any charges.

Neither school district nor police officials would comment on the nature of the threat except to say that it was a threat made via social media against the school district.

Pocatello police said they received the threat over the weekend and decided Tuesday morning to increase their presence at District 25 schools as a result. District 25 schools were closed Monday for Presidents Day.

District officials said the increased Pocatello police presence was at some of the schools in Pocatello but not all of them. Police and district officials have not specified which schools were threatened.

The Journal learned about the increased Pocatello police presence at the schools Tuesday morning from district parents.

Chubbuck police said Tuesday morning that they had discussed the threat with Pocatello police and as a result Chubbuck officers increased their patrols of District 25 schools in Chubbuck. Chubbuck police said from what they understand about the situation the social media threat was against District 25 schools in Pocatello, not Chubbuck.

District officials told the Journal that everyone who entered a District 25 school on Tuesday was asked to present their ID and state their business before being allowed to access the school.

District officials described the threat level as “heightened awareness.” No District 25 schools were put on lockdown Tuesday and no students were sent home because of the threat.

Pocatello police investigating social media threat against District 25 schools

Pocatello High School. (Submitted Photo)

Pocatello High School. (Submitted Photo)

By Idaho State Journal Staff

There was a visible Pocatello police presence at some District 25 schools Tuesday morning because of a social media threat.

Neither school nor police officials would comment on the nature of the threat except to say that it was directed at the school district.

Pocatello police said they received the threat over the weekend and decided Tuesday morning to increase their presence at District 25 schools as a result. District 25 officials said the increased Pocatello police presence was at some of the schools in Pocatello but not all of them.

The Journal learned about the increased Pocatello police presence at the schools Tuesday morning via district parents.

Chubbuck police said Tuesday morning that they had discussed the threat with Pocatello police and as a result Chubbuck officers would be increasing their patrols of District 25 schools in Chubbuck. Chubbuck police said from what they understand about the situation the social media threat was against District 25 schools in Pocatello, not Chubbuck.

District officials told the Journal that everyone who enters a District 25 school on Tuesday will have to present their ID and state their business before being allowed to access the school.

District officials said they’re describing the threat level as “heightened awareness” as a result of the threat being investigated by Pocatello police.

As of noon Tuesday no District 25 schools were on lockdown and no students had been sent home because of the threat.

 

$25,000 in free dental care provided to area kids

About $25,000 in free dental care was provided to area youths through Southeastern Idaho Public Health and Idaho State University recently during the Give Kids a Smile Event. (Submitted Photo)

About $25,000 in free dental care was provided to area youths through Southeastern Idaho Public Health and Idaho State University recently during the Give Kids a Smile Event. (Submitted Photo)

By Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Southeastern Idaho Public Health and Idaho State University had another successful year for the Give Kids a Smile Event recently at ISU’s Dental Hygiene Clinic.

Dental professionals provided 93 income eligible kids (preschool age-fifth grade) more than $25,000 in preventative services. These services included dental cleanings, sealant placement, fluoride varnish, oral hygiene instructions and a thorough examination by a dentist.

Officials said 52 of the 93 children were in need of restorative work (fillings, extractions, root canals, etc.). Those youths have been referred to partnering dentists in Southeast Idaho to receive their follow-up care at no cost to the family.

Area dentists donated about $40,000 in restorative work at last year’s Give Kids a Smile Event. This year we referred more children and we expect donations to increase for 2016.

‘Give Kids a Smile Day,’ is a national event sponsored by the American Dental Association that is held every year in Pocatello in February.

The following local groups donated time and services to this year’s event: Southeastern Idaho Dental Society, Idaho State University Dental Hygiene Department, Idaho State University Dental Residency Program, Southeastern Idaho Public Health, the Idaho State Dental Association & over 20 area dentists.

Breastfeeding bill brings talk of ‘milking’, babies in coal mines

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A proposal to require businesses to accommodate breastfeeding mothers at work has passed the Utah Senate despite concerns from one lawmaker who wondered if it would lead to babies in coal mines.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that another lawmaker compared pumping to milking on Tuesday.

The idea is sponsored by Republican Todd Weiler, a senator from Woods Cross who says 16 other states have similar the protections.

He told Republican Sen. David Hinkins of Orangeville that the plan would grant reasonable requests like extra breaks, and would not allow workers to feed babies in coal mines.

Weiler explained that babies don’t have to be present because women can pump for later. Republican Sen. Scott Jenkins from Plain City said he and his wife called that process milking.

The bill passed the Senate 18-9.

Inflatable playground opens in Pine Ridge Mall

Steve Brown, left, and son Brandon started a new play place at the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck called Jump In. It has an area with several bouncing toy structures and a place where youths can work on climbing skills. (Photo by Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal)

Steve Brown, left, and son Brandon started a new play place at the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck called Jump In. It has an area with several bouncing toy structures and a place where youths can work on climbing skills. (Photo by Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal)

By Sarah Glenn/Idaho State Journal

CHUBBUCK — An otherwise quiet corner of the Pine Ridge Mall is now filled with the sound of fans and the red-faced squeals of kids young and old.

This winter, cousins Steve and Brandon Brown filled thousands of square feet of empty mall space with inflatable bounce houses, ball pits and obstacle courses. Their newest business, Jump In, welcomes all ages to run, jump, roll and play on more than seven inflatable indoor playgrounds. Their most recent addition is a rope course (named the “gravity pit” and designed for older children) that dangles over a sea of black and red foam blocks.

“My favorite experience is watching dads go through the bounce houses with their kids and just have such a great time,” Brandon Brown said. “Recently a woman came in who was turning 80 and she wanted to go through the obstacle course with her daughter.”

Jump In has opened its doors to every age from pre-school groups to Idaho State University students.

“We wanted the whole family to be able to come,” Brown said.

The joint venture adds to the lengthy list of enterprises the Browns have supported across the area. Steve Brown is a Pocatello City Council member and Brandon Brown is a known name in local insurance.

More than a business venture, Jump In aims to financially support the Brown’s involvement in the P.A.S.S. (Perfect Attendance Spells Success) Program. Over the past six years, Brandon Brown says the program has boosted local graduation rates by 5 percent and encouraged students from 33 different area schools to achieve a perfect attendance record. This year, the program aims to give out about 450 mountain bikes to youths who have perfect school attendance.

“We are hoping this can help pay for the bikes,” Brown said of Jump In’s revenues. “The idea is to help sustain it in the long-term and participate in our community.”

Each year, the P.A.S.S. Program hosts a carnival that uses the Brown’s bounce houses. And while Jump In originally began as a way to put those bounce houses to good use year-round, the Browns discovered that many were too tall to fit inside the mall — meaning a major new investment in custom inflatables.

According to Brown, what customers will mostly see are inflatables that have been specifically designed to fit the space. With a wide array of playgrounds to chose from, Jump In will occasionally swap out its offerings and new inflatables will appear.

The business officially opened on Nov. 13, signing a year-long lease with the mall. The Browns hope that once Jump In gets off the ground, they will be able to sign an extended five-year lease for the space.

While a mall-based bounce house emporium is a one-of-a-kind business in Southeastern Idaho, mall management said that the Browns were not the first to think it was a profitable idea.

“He kind of brought it to our attention,” said Tia Lloyd, general manager for the Pine Ridge Mall. “There were several other parties with the same intention, but he was the first to get the ball rolling on it. … I hadn’t heard of it before in any of the malls I’ve researched, but it’s a great idea and it seems to be catching on.”

The Browns hope that the relationship can be beneficial not only for local families looking for family-friendly indoor fun, but also for the mall.

“We saw an opportunity to have a symbiotic relationship,” said Steve Brown. “We can help to drive traffic and they can help us have a great business.”

Jump In is open during regular mall hours, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

An hour of jump time in the main bounce house area costs $7 per person. An extra $3 is added if customers want to play in the gravity pit (designed for older children).

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, anyone ages 6 and under can play for up to 2 hours for $4. Day passes and party packages are also available. Day passes cost $13 or $16 if the gravity pit rope course is included.

Eventually, the squeals and giggles of children will become louder than the fans that power the inflatables — the Browns are covering the fans with specially-designed sound-muffling boxes to cut down on the noise.

Visit facebook.com/FunJumpIn for more information.

Free dental care at Give Kids a Smile 2016 in Pocatello

By Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease found in children: it is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

The social impact of oral diseases in children is substantial because more than 51 million school hours are lost each year. Children in low-income families are absent nearly 12 times more than children from higher-income families. Because of pain and suffering from oral diseases, children may have problems eating, speaking and learning, which can negatively affect school attendance and participation.

Give Kids a Smile Day is a national event sponsored by the American Dental Association that will be held locally in Pocatello on Feb. 5 and 6 at the Idaho State University Dental Hygiene Clinic, 999 Martin Luther King Drive (Building #37). The following local groups are donating time and services to this year’s event: Southeastern Idaho Dental Society, Idaho State University Dental Hygiene Department, Idaho State University Dental Residency Program, Southeastern Idaho Public Health, the Idaho State Dental Association and many local dentists throughout Southeast Idaho.

Dental professionals will provide eligible Pocatello and Southeast Idaho children, who are preschool age through fifth grade, an opportunity to receive dental exams and treatment at no cost. All children seen will receive a thorough examination by a dentist and preventive services (tooth cleaning, fluoride varnish, sealants and oral hygiene instruction). If restorative care is needed, families will be referred to area dentists that are donating services to Give Kids a Smile. More than 20 dental offices are participating in this year’s event.

This event is targeted toward families that have limited access to dental care. WIC income guidelines establish the criteria needed for a child to receive services; however, families do not need to be on WIC to participate in the event. Proof of income (e.g., pay stub, last year’s taxes) is needed to participate.

Families that have children in need of dental services and that fit the eligibility guidelines are encouraged to make an appointment as soon as possible by calling Dana Solomon at Southeastern Idaho Public Health at 239-5256. If more information is needed, call April Guidinger at 478-6314.

The other mothers on this day

By Billie Johnson

For me, Mother’s Day is a day of remembrance. During a visit to New England last summer, I caught up with my mom’s old college roommate. I love to hear people’s stories about my mom. Her friend Kaye told me how excited my mom was to become a mother — how there “never was a more wanted child.” Mom’s former co-workers have told me how she displayed my report cards at work, kept everyone apprised of any athletic accomplishments and how she always called me “my Billie.”

My mom herself told me that when she encountered my dad at a bar in Hailey, Idaho, the booming of her biological clock was deafening. After meeting his children from his second marriage, she decided he “had good enough genes,” and they were married six weeks later at the Elko, Nev., courthouse. I came along three and a half years into their marriage, and they divorced before I turned 4.

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Part of a crew

Pocatello Community Charter School

Pocatello Community Charter School

Danna McCoy, president of the Pocatello Community Charter School Parent-Teacher Organization.

Danna McCoy, president of the Pocatello Community Charter School Parent-Teacher Organization.

By Danna McCoy
For The Journal

Be Kind. Work Hard. No Excuses. Seek Excellence.

This is the motto of the small school at the south edge of town. At first glance it doesn’t look all that different than any other school. Once you look more closely, a few things start to stand out.

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Men step up to volunteer at Edahow Elementary

By Michael H. O’Donnell
modonnell@journalnet.com

POCATELLO — On a normal day Edahow Elementary only has two adult males in the entire building: principal Nick Muckerman and a custodian. That will change several times during this coming school year because of the WATCH DOGS Program.

The DOGS stands for Dads Of Great Students, and it is a voluntary effort to get more male role models to spent at least one day visiting and helping out at their child’s school. The group recruits fathers, grandfathers and uncles and it is beginning its second year at Edahow Elementary.
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Report: Higher percentage of Idaho children lived in poverty in 2012 than in 2005

By Journal Staff
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals both positive and negative trends for our nation’s kids with continued erosion of economic well-being here in Idaho.
The Data Book assesses states on 16 indicators of child well-being, organized into four categories: Family and Community, Education, Economic Well-Being, and Health. Idaho ranks 21st in overall — a one-spot drop from last year. .
Idaho continues to slide in its national educational rankings, falling to 33rd overall from 29th last year. Idaho has dropped seven spots to 33rd in fourth grade reading scores with 67 percent reading below proficient reading level. It ranks 47th nationally for preschool participation with 65 percent of Idaho’s 3-to-4 year-olds not attending. This near last-place ranking in preschool participation is especially alarming for Idaho’s future, according to Idaho KIDS COUNT Director Lauren Necochea.
“If we can get kids off to a strong start, they will enter school better prepared to learn,” Necochea said. “We know that the benefits of early learning translate to more success in school and later in life. When our youngest students fall behind early, it becomes more and more difficult for them to catch up.”
Idaho ranks highest in the Family and Community domain, coming in at 11th position overall. Despite an increase in the percentage of kids living in single-parent families from 23 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2012, Idaho ranks second for this indicator.
Nationwide, 35 percent of kids live in one-parent homes. Idaho has also experienced a positive trend with teen births, which have declined significantly since 2005.
Idaho’s children and families continue to struggle in economic areas, with worsening trends in every indicator measured.
The rate of children living in poverty rose from 18 percent in 2005 to 21 percent in 2012 with 87,000 Idaho kids now living in poverty. Additionally, in 2012, 120,000 Idaho children, or 28 percent, lived in families where neither parent had secure, full-time employment.
Idaho made its greatest strides in the health domain, where the state leaped eight spots to 20th nationally. Idaho made large gains in the percentage of children covered by health insurance, although the state still ranks 34th on this indicator. Idaho’s rate of teen drug and alcohol use continues to be among the nation’s lowest at 6 percent.
The report includes the latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. This information is available at the KIDS Count website, http://datacenter.kidscount.org. The site also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of other measures of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.

Children are ready to learn now

By Beth Oppenheimer
Parents of children younger than 5 might be tempted to think that education won’t be a priority for a few more years. During the summer, when we’re all thinking about breaks and vacations, putting off education is even easier.
But for families with young children, the time is right to start turning everyday experiences into learning experiences. It is never too early to start preparing your children for school. We all benefit.
From the moment a baby’s eyes open, it begins learning by leaps and bounds. Ninety percent of our brain development happens in the first five years of life. During this window, children begin building the essential social, behavioral, emotional and cognitive skills they’ll need the very first day of school and throughout the rest of their life.
Learning can be limitless; it’s not confined to the classroom.
Teaching children to spell their name, count and recognize letters will help build literacy skills in addition to simply reading to and with children. This everyday activity can enhance behavioral and critical thinking skills. You can pick out a word in the book to discuss or ask your child open ended questions. Try to have them describe characters.
Social and behavioral skills will also develop as children get immersed into routines, modest chores like picking up toys and joining playgroups.
Not all children enter school at the same level as their peers; many aren’t prepared. These gaps in social skills and behaviors as well as with subjects like literacy and math can hold back classmates, teachers and your children—it prevents children from reaching their full potential.
In 2011, only 56 percent of Idaho kindergartners were at grade level upon entering kindergarten. According to the Treasure Valley Education Partnership, 42 percent of students entering kindergarten do not reach the benchmark for learning to read.
More than 37 percent of Idaho children were not ready for first grade based on cognitive assessments.
Early exposure to chronic stress, abuse or neglect can harm a child’s development and ability to learn.
Not only does this expand the drastic difference in grades, comprehension and test scores, but also translates into a widening range of income levels for Idaho. Lack of learning experiences for kids reflects on education in Idaho as well as on our economy.
On the other hand, school-ready children have experienced quality learning at home, in preschool or through childcare. Studies show these children are less likely to need remediation and are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and gain employment.
One of the most important things parents or caregivers can do is to recognize that school readiness is more than learning numbers and letters.
It is about supporting the emotional, social, and cognitive development of a child. It is about providing a safe, secure environment that promotes healthy development.
But only 35 percent of thee and four-year-old Idaho children are enrolled in some form of pre-school or enriched daycare.
Early education is better—and less expensive—than remediation. Communities investing in childcare that emphasizes education, such as NAEYC accredited programs or IdahoSTARS rated programs, reduce long-term costs for special education, crime, child welfare, and other social programs. Saving are estimated at $11 for every $1 invested in early education.
Communities can support early learning initiatives and public policies by promoting quality early care, education and supporting working families. To learn more, please visit www.IdahoAEYC.org
Beth Oppenheimer is the executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, a non-profit organization working to promote excellence in early childcare and education throughout the state of Idaho.