Teachers in the Preston School District have a pair of benefactors in Avery and Irasema Jeffers. The couple has committed $60,000 to the Preston Education Foundation (PEF) to be given directly to teachers for use in their efforts to educate the district’s youth.
The couple moved to the Preston area just over three years ago when Avery accepted a job as a doctor at the Franklin County Medical Center. Irasema owns and operates her own consulting and marketing businesses: OnCall discovery and Notorious 208. They have a son who attends school in the Preston School District.
“My husband and I came from families that definitely didn’t have any wealth or family connections to get ahead. Poverty was real in our daily lives growing up, and working toward educational opportunities was how we found our path to a better life. With the PEF, we hope to build a similar path for what is the largest segment of our area’s population: children,” states Irasema Jeffers.
“Idaho teachers have the lowest salaries in the U.S, and the Preston School district often cited as an example for low per-student funding. Many school districts, like ours, rely on education foundations in an attempt to make up for the gaps,” state the Jeffers.
The couple decided to make the commitment after a trial period in which they have investigated and participated in a variety of charitable organizations in the Franklin County area.
“We looked specifically at how the organizations operated, the diversity of the members, and the ability to actively allocate funds to impact our community in the short and long-term directly,” she states.
They also donated $10,000 over the last two years to the PEF, which was made available to fourth and fifth grade teachers in the district.
“The 4th and 5th-grade teachers were terrific, using funds to bring about improved learning experiences in and out of their classrooms,” they stated. Those teachers:
• Purchased magnetic dry erase boards for classroom instruction
• Included tablets in classrooms for supplemental instruction
• Taken a field trip to an aquarium
• Purchased STEM kits
The couple’s commitment will be made $5,000 at a time, over the next several years.
“We realize that there are many ways to give. Our approach is to be active donors. Instead of general giving where one hopes that the funds go to a cause or need, we work directly with the foundations to ensure funds are given to those intended and will actively gauge the effectiveness of the donations.
“As active donors, we want to be part of the community, not just bystanders hoping things change or grow. After spending years as Marine Corps officers, it’s also part of our nature to lead from the front, observe the environment around, and act. This is just part one in multiple acts of charitable giving that will have a positive impact on the children, educators, and the Preston community we’ve made our home,” Irasema stated.
In the world of women hunters, a Franklin County girl is the Ultimate Extreme Huntress.
Linsday Christensen, Weston, was awarded the title Jan. 10 at a gala held in Dallas, Texas.
For much of the last year, Christensen has been involved in the competition. Winners of the Extreme Huntress contest from the last 10 years were interviewed a year ago, and four were chosen for the competition that was held last summer in Texas and Zimbabwe.
The complete competition was recorded and can be watched in 16 episodes at www.extremehuntress.com.
The women were judged 60 percent by judges, 30 percent by their skills and 10 percent by public voting. Christensen said competing against other champions was “way harder because the skill set between the women was a lot closer.
She feels it was her consistency that carried her to the top of the competition. She’s not one to show her emotions easily, and said she’s been told her serious demeanor can make her seem unapproachable, but on the other hand, people know what to expect from her.
And one of those things is her willingness to share what she knows.
She teaches Bow Hunter Education classes, 4-H archery classes, and has spent time with young women groups in the area as well. Part of her strength in the competition is the time she spends encouraging other girls to participate in hunting.
In addition to the classes she teaches, she plans to attend the Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City later this year and has interviewed with the Big Billy Kinder Outdoor Show, which can be heard around the country on the radio and on podcasts.
Christensen said the competition was a first for her in hunting Cape Buffalo, known as black death, due to their ferocity. It was also her first opportunity to hunt zebra. But she and her then fiancé, Chad Bassett, hunted eland and impala while in Africa two months earlier. They did so with a bow.
In Zimbabwe, Ruger provided arms to the contestants, a .375 for the larger animals, and a .65 Creedmore for the smaller ones. Meat from harvesting the animals was donated to villagers or used to feed the employees of Desfountain Safaris, which sponsored the competition.
Although she didn’t hunt elephants during the competition, for practice they did stalk one, said Christensen, which was a new experience. Being a bow hunter came in handy for that because she had already developed the skill of holding still — all one can do if the elephant notices you, she said, and the young bull they were stalking did turn to find them. Elephants watch for movement.
Christensen and Bassett were married in November and the ring he placed on her finger features the ivory from the biggest bull elk she harvested, she said. Christensen and Basset have known each other for a lifetime of archery tournaments, she said.
More tournaments are on the horizon, the first in Vegas, as is completing a doctorate in nursing practice, she said. Between a job helping to set up a new facility in Alaska for Maple Springs, a skilled nursing long-term provider, and the competition, she had to take a break from pursuing her degree last year.
Christensen feels “very humbled and honored” to have won the competition, due the fact that the other competitors were so good.
She hopes the title will help her “empower more women to get outdoors and hunt and convince non-hunters and anti-hunters that there is a place in the world for hunting.
“We need it for our animal populations to thrive. For example, in Zimbabwe, we were hunting in the Save Valley, which has 1,500 elephants there. But the land can only support 800. So the elephants are starving, but they are also eating all the food that the plains game would eat, like zebra and impalas, and even the birds. So those population are dying quickly.
“We need to manage the area so plants, animals, insects and humans can survive together. The ethical way to do that is hunting,” she said.
The Jan 13 meeting of the Preston City Council saw a changing of the guard in regards to a new mayor and a new city councilman being sworn in.
The council meeting was actually two council meetings in one event. The first saw Daniel Keller sworn in as the new mayor for a four year term. It was followed in rapid succession by the swearing in of new council member Brent Dodge, and Terry Larson, who will be serving his second term. Both are four year terms. City Clerk Linda Acock officiated over the swearing in ceremony.
Outgoing council member Brad wall spoke briefly, thanking the rest of the council as well as the citizens of Preston and the city employees for the opportunity to have served as a member of the council. The short speech was warmly received, and received applause by the entire city council and audience, which filled the council chamber. Council member Todd Thomas presented a small parting gift bag to Wall from the entire council.
Former Mayor Mark Beckstead was not in attendance.
A half-hour breakwas declared, and all present enjoyed sandwiches and finger foods prepared for the occasion.
The second half of the meeting began when Mayor Keller reconvened the council meeting. The first order of business was a brief introductory statement by all three of the newly sworn in members, which emphasized their thanks to the community and a reaffirmation to continue to make the city a vibrant and peaceful place to live. The mayor made assured that the city would continue to operate within the bounds of the regulations as written.
The first action item that the council addressed was presented by Terry Larson who proposed that the office of President of the Council should be a one year term, voted on by all members of the council every January. The President of the Council presides over the mayor’s council meeting duty in the event that the elected mayor is unavailable.
The proposal was adopted unanimously, and was swiftly followed by a vote to install Allyson Wadsworth as this year’s president.
Mayor Keller reappointed three city staff members, as required by statute: City Clerk Linda Acock, City Treasurer Kelly Mickelson, and City Attorney Lyle Fuller. All three were simply continuations of jobs that they currently hold. The only modification was a request for Lyle Fuller to routinely attend the city’s planning and zoning meetings so any legal questions can be discussed on the spot.
A new business license was issued to Amber Hollingsworth of 550 North 8th East for The POP Shop, LLC. It was passed unanimously.
The sale of five acres of city owned land was requested by the owner of the surrounding property. The five acres is located on West Oneida — the long abandoned city municipal dump and land fill — it’s only function for decades has been to be a weed patch and is surrounded by private land and is landlocked. The council will examine the issue in two weeks, at the next city council meeting. The delay is to check the legality of selling the property because of possible ground contamination.
Scott Beckstead received final plat approval for Countryside subdivision, phase one, located in the vicinity of 700 East 800 South. It will be developed into 16 lots.
A Special Use Permit was granted to Production Technologies to build on about 10 acres facing HWY 91, just west of town. The Special Use Permit is required because the area is zoned as a transitional area. All similar commercial applications have also been required to have them.
The final action item on the agenda was a request for a short-term lifting of a cap on comp time due to the requirements for snow removal. The council granted the request which was made by Public Works Director John Balls. The change will remain in effect until May first of this year.
The Franklin County Commissioners meeting of Jan. 13, was a brief one, with no major or contentious issues in discussion. Commissioner Dirk Bowles was out of town on personal business, but attended a portion of the meeting by telephone from out of state.
County Building Inspector Randy Henrie spoke to the commission regarding a building variance for a house that will be built in the general area of the county landfill. There were no major problems with the proposed building, and the variance quickly passed.
Assessor Doug Wallis, accompanied by Lynn Sant, gave a quick review of the new building activity in the county for the year 2019. The county has had about 100 new buildings erected during the year, both residential and commercial. The county continues to grow rapidly, as does the rest of the state, with Idaho being among the fastest growing states in the nation.
During the last commissioners meeting, preliminary approval had been given to grant short term Property Tax Exemptions for two new businesses in the county. This meeting finalized the process. The first was for Doug Day for Spring Up Builders and Day Mountain Ranch, with locations on Cub River and Preston. The exemptions are temporary in nature, and the builders or owners must fit into a tightly controlled series of parameters to be eligible. The exemptions are granted to encourage new business in the county.
They must provide a certain number of jobs that will significantly improve opportunities for the labor force, with jobs that will be permanent, and well above minimum wage. The subject businesses must be able to grow the overall tax base for the county, and sustain the growth of the population with high quality jobs.
The second business granted the exemption was Production Technologies, to be located in Preston. Production Technologies does metal fabricating and powder coating for various kinds of metal fixtures used in solar power applications. Brett Sharp is the owner of the business.
The balance of the meeting was devoted to routine county business, and was adjourned by 11 a.m.