2016: A continued look back at news involving county

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
AUGUST -- Becky Tantom goes over the rules of her classroom as students began their first day as first graders at McKenna Montessori Charter School on Monday. A total of 48 students were selected to attend the inaugural kindergarten and first grade school year at the new charter elementary school in Mountain Home.

Last week, the Mountain Home News looked at the top 10 stories of the year with a month-by-month breakdown of major stories from the first half of the year.

This week, the newspaper takes a look at the stories from the second half of 2016. To recap, the top 10 stories of the year were:

1) Continuing unrest regarding the Western Elmore County Recreation District that led to involvement by the state attorney general's office and threats of an injunction.

JULY -- An estimated crowd of more than 14,000 country music fans from communities across the United States came together during the Mountain Home Country Music Festival, which marked its second anniversary. Located in the vicinity of the Pine-Featherville turnoff, the three-day celebration virtually created a community whose own population was actually larger than Mountain Home itself.

2) Changes in the local political scene that saw two long-time state lawmakers lose their seats with voters selecting a new county sheriff and prosecutor.

3) The closure of the local Paul's Market store and its impact on the supermarket's 45 employees.

4) Efforts by the local Community Canvas group to renovate and beautify a portion of the city's downtown area with individual pieces of art.

AUGUST -- Following a four-year absence, the Three Island Crossing celebration resumed to honor the thousands of pioneers who crossed the Snake River near Glenns Ferry in the late 1800s. The traditional river crossing was called off after a horse drowned during an earlier practice.

5) Crime and punishment that included the arrests of a school principal, a local dentist as well as the head of the Catholic church in Mountain Home.

6) For the third time in three years, Elmore County was spared from major wildfires. At the same time, however, several families were displaced during several residential fires, including one arson and another in which two people died.

7) Ongoing plans to strengthen the local economy and foster job growth in Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry and other communities across the county culminated with a visit by the head of an international community development organization.

SEPTEMBER -- An issue over painted parking spaces at Mountain Home High School that flared up into a student-led protest came to an end as district officials and students reached a compromise. The controversy surfaced after senior Tamia Williams painted her space that included the phrase "#Black Lives Matter."

8) An issue over painted parking spaces at Mountain Home High School that flared up into a student-led protest.

9) The role Mountain Home Air Force Base played in helping bring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to combat-ready status.

10) Ongoing legal action regarding Idaho Waste Systems, which manages the Simco Road landfill that caught fire for the second time.

The following is breakdown of top stories by month, showing how the year unfolded in the second half of 2016.


Storm Woodin, a Mountain Home man linked to an arson case that caused significant damage to the Day Meadows Apartment complex in October 2014, was sentenced to five years in prison. He pled guilty to harboring and protecting a person who committed a felony.

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A recall petition seeking to unseat Art Nelson and Judy Mayne as directors of the Western Elmore County Recreation District lacked enough valid signatures.

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Father Victor Jagerstatter, the Catholic priest for churches in Mountain Home and Glenns Ferry, was arrested on charges of rape. He's accused of sexually assaulting an airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base.

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Attendance at the Elmore County Fair showed a significant increase compared to the past few years. County fair manager Rena Kerfoot said the entire week of events "surpassed our wildest expectations" for attendance.

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Plans to build a large scale alternative energy project south of Anderson Ranch Reservoir remained in doubt after the county planning and zoning commission voted against recommending different aspects of the project.


Elmore County filed a civil lawsuit against Idaho Waste Systems, in part, to recoup monetary losses after the Simco Road Regional Landfill caught fire and shut down the facility for six weeks at the end of 2015.

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Samantha R. Henretty, a former educator and coach with the Mountain Home School District, was arrested on charges that she sexually abused a 17-year-old teen. Henretty was working with the Bruneau-Grand View School District at the time of her arrest.

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Threats of a pending lawsuit against the city prompted Mayor Rich Sykes to temporarily reduce the presence of law enforcement in local bars. The owner of the Stockyard Bar threatened to file the suit, claiming the presence of officers in his bar significantly affected his business.


The flyover of F-15E Strike Eagles signaled the start of a local tradition as thousands of people in Mountain Home paused to pay tribute to the nation's military. Celebrating its 56th anniversary, Air Force Appreciation Day represented one way the local community honors those who serve this nation.

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The Western Elmore County Recreation District exceeded its legal authority by providing funds to local school sports teams and non-profit organizations in the Mountain Home area, according to a legal opinion released recently by the Idaho attorney general's office. State assistant chief deputy Brian Kane wrote the five-page opinion in response to a list of questions submitted to the attorney general's office by State Senator Bert Brackett, who represents Elmore County.

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Local dentist Dr. John Goodrich was arrested on three felony charges. He was initially charged with rape, incest and sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16 with two of those charges subsequently dropped.

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The city council approved the appointment of Capt. Mark Moore as the city's new fire chief. Moore is a 22-year veteran of the fire department and was one of four people under final consideration for the fire chief's position. He succeeded former fire chief Alan Bermensolo, who resigned in May 2016.


A week of friendly competitions between classmates and the crowning of this year's royal court were simply not enough to overcome Mountain Home High School's streak of bad luck on the gridiron. A recovered fumble during the opening kickoff seemed to be an omen of things to come as turnovers and lack of first downs proved costly as the Tigers fell to the Skyview Hawks in a 55-0 shutout.

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The Western Elmore County Recreation District directors faced possible legal action over allegations of misusing taxpayer dollars. Critics of the current board retained an attorney from Meridian after a recent legal opinion from the Idaho Attorney General's office indicated that the three-person board had exceeded its authority.


Voters in Elmore County threw their support behind Mike Hollinshead as the county's next sheriff while giving their unanimous support to Megan C. Blanksma and Christy Zito as their choice to represent the local legislative district at the state capitol. In addition, voters selected Daniel Page as the county's next prosecutor.

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The Air Force launched an investigation into what caused a piece of an air refueling tanker to come apart in midflight and prompted an emergency landing at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., was conducting training in support of a combat readiness exercise when the refueling boom separated from the aircraft near the Mountain Home Range Complex.


An early morning fire caused extensive damage to Pat's Desert Inn Cafe in Mountain Home. The fire was reported by a passing motorist with the building fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived on scene.

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The potential of basing the Air Force's most advanced fighter aircraft at Gowen Field has the potential to enhance the level of training members of the Air National Guard currently conducts with those from Mountain Home Air Force Base and other military installations. The Air Force named the Boise-based Air National Guard installation as one of five under consideration to receive the F-35 Lightning II.

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For the third time this year, luck descended on the Mountain Home area after a winning lottery ticket was sold here. A local resident won more than $192,000 after purchasing the winning ticket at the Sunset Super C Store.

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Elmore County is expected to remain the home of some of country music's biggest stars for at least the next five years after the county planning and zoning commission voted to extend the Mountain Home Country Music Festival's conditional use permit.

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Two people were killed after a mobile home on the north end of Mountain Home caught fire. The fire caused by the careless use or disposal of smoking materials and started on the couch area in the living room before it spread throughout the trailer.

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Five Mountain Home teens face possible felony charges in connection with a series of thefts and vandalism cases involving Christmas displays across Mountain Home.