Top 20 stories of 2012 — #18

# 18 Pingree couple grand marshals


BLACKFOOT - The Eastern Idaho State Fair’s board of directors named Gary and Muriel Judge of Pingree as grand marshals of the 2012 Eastern Idaho State Fair. They led the annual Fair Parade down Shilling Avenue.
“Gary and Muriel are no strangers to the Eastern Idaho State Fair and I can’t think of two more deserving people to represent us this year as grand marshals,” said George Hamilton, president of the EISF Board. “Their lifelong contributions to Eastern Idaho’s agriculture community and to this Fair have been outstanding. I can’t remember a Fair without them.”
For decades, both Gary and Muriel have been actively involved in numerous aspects of the Fair. For 33 years, Gary was the swine superintendent, a position from which he retired in 2011. The Fair has been a part of Gary’s life since he was eight years old as a 4-H youth exhibitor.
In the 52 years since, he has missed the Eastern Idaho State Fair only three times, when he was away in college.
As swine superintendent, Gary was been involved with the 4-H Market Hog Sale, ensuring delivery of the hogs and overall floor responsibility.
Through the years, he and Muriel have continued to exhibit products from their 300-acre farm, including swine and malt barley.
He has helped the agriculture exhibit areas by laying the grain sheaves.
“It is a real honor for Muriel and me to represent the Fair as grand marshals. I look forward to seeing the parade this year since I won’t be responsible for the pigs as I’ve always been in years past,” said Gary. “Every year, I enjoy the Dutch Oven cooking barbeque dinner at the Fair, so I’m looking forward to that, as well.”
Outside of the Fair, Gary is former president of the Southeast Idaho Pork Producers Association. In 1986, he was recognized as Idaho’s up-and-coming pork producer and represented the state of Idaho at the National Pork Producers Council.
For 43 years, Gary served as a 4-H leader in his community, including president and secretary of the 4-H Bingham County Council; Muriel also has served in 4-H leadership for 29 years. He also is president of the Bingham County Farm Bureau.
Originally from Coeur d’Alene, Muriel first experienced the Fair in 1974, soon after she and Gary were married. Muriel began exhibiting swine alongside Gary, and she later exhibited in the quilting and baking categories.
As a substitute teacher with an interest in educating children, Muriel has brought “fun” to the swine department. For youth, she created an educational packet with pork-related games and activities designed to teach kids about the pork industry. Alongside Gary, Muriel has been responsible for the swine department’s bookkeeping; each year, fairgoers and exhibitors enjoy her signature “Pig Sugar Cookies,” which she bakes from a favorite recipe.
“It’s such an honor for us to represent Eastern Idaho in being the grand marshals,” said Muriel.

#19 Charter high school coming

By Leslie Mielke

BLACKFOOT - The corner of Riverside Plaza has been home to the Plaza Twin Theater, Bradbury College, the Blackfoot Bookstore and before that, sports cards were traded there.
Coming Fall 2013, plans are for a new charter school, Bingham Academy , to fill the corner space at Riverside Plaza.
Fred Ball, project director for the charter high school and administrator of the Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center, said the board has received authorization from the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.
The proposed Bingham Academy would be a four-year high school with an emphasis on college and career readiness.
Greg Sigerson, chair of the Bingham Academy Founding Board, acknowledged the $199,680 check presented to Bingham Academy on Nov. 30. This three-year start grant was awarded through the Charter School Program of the U.S. Department of Education. For three years, Bingham Academy will receive this amount of money on the condition that the charter high school is approved.
Bingham Academy is the only school in Idaho to ever receive a direct federal start-up grant. It hopes to open its doors next fall.
“This is a strong indication of the solid organization and quality we will offer in our curriculum,” said Sigerson.
“We are in the final stage of presenting our petition to the idaho Public Charter School Commission for approval,” he said. “This approval is necessary in order to secure the grant.”
Money from the start-up grant can only be used for software, computers and curriculum needs, said board member Pat Kolbet.
The start-up grant will also support the administrator’s salary for his/her first year.
Kolbet wrote the application for this grant.
“I scan the federal register every few days for every grant I can find,” she said.
Nearly 700 schools across the U.S. applied for this grant, Kolbet said.
All eligibility requirements were met by 68 schools but only 18 schools in seven states received these grants. Six schools were in Oregon; Bingham Academy was the only school in Idaho to receive this grant.
An additional $200,000 grant is available from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation once the charter is authorized.
Plans are to lease space in the Riverside Plaza and to renovate the 17,000 square foot space into classrooms, locker space and a small gymnasium.
Zac Fillmore of MBA Construction in Blackfoot will be in charge of renovation.
Speaking of the need for a charter high school, Sigerson said, “I’m really doing this for my son, who is a second grader. “He is in a charter school now and I love the interaction the teachers have with my son, my wife and me.”
Brian and Angelina Thelin were two people who worked to bring in a charter school to Blackfoot.
“We started this project because I know enough people who needed it,” said Angelina Thelin.
“Parents deserve a choice,” said Brian Thelin. “One size does not fit all.”

#20 Truck crash awakens citizens


BLACKFOOT — Don Dewey and his wife Charlene live near exit 93 off Interstate 15.
About 2 a.m. on Oct. 3 they were awakened by two explosions.
“We thought the Sinclair had blown up,” Don said. “We thought one of their tanks had blown.”
The Deweys live about one block from the Snake River Sinclair station on U.S. Highway 26.
Don got up and made his way to Anytime Fitness where he and others watched the fire caused when two semi-trucks collided. He said several people working out at the gym had to have witnessed the explosion.
Eyewitness Alisa Coles works the midnight to 8 a.m. shift at Motel 6. She called 911 after she heard the crash and saw the explosion.
“I happened to be standing by a window when I heard a crash,” Coles said. “About 30 seconds later, there was an explosion.
“It was pretty big,” she said. “I backed away from the window in fear it might break.”
There were three fires, Coles said. The semi-truck cab was on fire. There was a fire on the embankment and the third fire looked like debris from the two semis.
“The driver who was hit, George, was brought to the motel,” she said. “ISP paid for a room for him for the night.
“The other driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries,” Coles said.
“George said if the driver had come by five or 10 seconds later he would have been dead because he was walking alongside his truck,” she said. “He said he saw the semi hit his truck and then side- swiped the length of the trailer.
“The driver had 30 seconds to jump out,” she said. “When he was jumping out of the truck is when his truck exploded.
“It was a scary sight to see,” said Coles.
The ISP report indicated that George Riedel, 57, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, had stopped on the shoulder of the interstate to check a flat tire. While he was calling for help, another semi, driven by Peter Spicer of Pocatello, rear-ended Riedel’s truck.
Spicer’s truck then tipped over onto the side of the road and both semis caught fire.
Spicer was taken to Bingham Memorial Hospital.
According to the Idaho State Police report, troopers and other emergency personnel responded to the fire which blocked the northbound lanes of the interstate. Those loans were closed and with traffic flowed through Blackfoot much of the day.
Blackfoot Fire Department and EMS personnel assisted ISP. at the scene and Idaho Transportation Department officials were involved in the crash investigation.