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Wanner and friends take third in Vegas derby

For years, Jessy Waner has smashed his way through one demolition derby after another.

“I’ve been doing them since I was 15,” says the 38-year-old Preston native. But he’s never had as much fun as he did Nov. 13-16 in Las Vegas at the Sin City Showdown Derby. And, his team come home with a third place win and $8,000 in prize money.

“That’s the coolest derby ever. It was so cool!” he laughed, recounting his adventure. He, Bronson Twitchell and Colter Wilker were asked to be on the team by Anthony Trippler, the team’s captain. They are all from Cache Valley.

Each took a car, tools and years of experience with each other in the demolition arena. It’s that time spent running into each other that Wanner thinks was their secret to their third place win, despite this being their first time to compete in the show and as a team.

What made the competition so much fun for Wanner, he said, were the people. “There are so many cool people. It’s just the way they fix their cars and the style they drive. They didn’t know what to expect and neither did we,” he said.

“You’ve got guys in there hiding and others hunting. We had sheep and wolves. It was crazy!” In the main event, there were 28 cars and it lasted over half an hour. “There were guys playing cat and mouse and then guys like me doing 100 mph across the arena, tipping people over. I’m the only person who’s tipped somebody over (at this derby),” Wanner laughed.

Drivers came from around the country and Canada. It was a Canadian that ended upside down under Wanner’s car. “I don’t think he liked it,” Wanner said.

“They all took down nice cars and came home with crushed tin cans,” said one of Wanner’s friends, Christa Pitcher. In fact, one of their cars required four new transmissions just to survive the derby.

He looks forward to returning next year. As one of the top eight placing teams, they have a place reserved for the 2020 Vegas showdown.

Despite the entertainment provided by the variety of people he met and saw in Vegas, Wanner said he was glad to come home. “People are weird... By the time we got home I’d had enough.”

Scheduling breaks for four-day week proves difficult

Principals of H.B. Elementary (MeLinda Royer) and West Side High School (Tyler Telford) as well as the head teacher of the Beutler Middle School (Julie Nash) gathered at the November meeting of the west Side School District to plan for the transition to a four-day school week.One such issue was that of lunch, more specifically how long until lunch.

The current plan for next year is that each period will take 58 minutes with the standard five minute break between classes. The first plan is that the nutrition break will remain between first and second period, with the middle school eating between fourth and fifth period and the high school eating between fifth and sixth period, as they do currently. The problem with this setup is that, with the longer periods, the high school students won’t begin eating until 1:20PM, and hungry teens are grumpy teens. It was then suggested that the Nutrition Break could be moved between second and third period, however some feared that moving the break to later in the day would negate the purpose and benefits of it being “breakfast” that close to “lunch.”After reviewing the daily elementary schedule and preliminary calendar the board decided to table the final decision of specific dates and times until Feb. Meanwhile they’ll keep brainstorming more options.

Principal Telford was also there to report on the training he received at a workshop called “Stop the Bleed, in which he was trained in the basics of first aid and many of the misconceptions about administering it. For example in cases of an open wound such as with a knife applying pressure externally, on the skin, is not enough; the person performing the aid may have to put their fingers inside the wound to be an effective plug otherwise the person may bleed to death internally.Another part of the training he received was in emergency management. The key point of which boils down to one basic principle, if you are the highest ranking or most experienced person in the room, you are in charge.

There was a brief discussion concerning using buses to evacuate in an emergency and possibly not having a bus driver. Superintendent Spencer Barzee said that in the event of an emergency any teacher would be able to drive a bus particularly with how simplified buses are becoming. “Just remember to turn wide,” he quipped.West Side requires faculty and staff to complete two online training courses in security. First is “ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) training.” In instances such as a school shooter the goal of ALICE is to ensure students are safely inside a classroom and the assailant outside in the hall. The other is “Safe Schools Training” which covers a variety of topics from CPR to spotting bullies and suicidal students and how to deal with them.This commitment to the life and well-being of the students of the West Side School District is undoubtedly the reason why during the recent parent survey 65% of all the returned forms marked that the school always “provides a safe and positive learning environment.”For budding fashionistas there is good news. The board unanimously decided that whether or not hats can be worn inside a classroom is now at the sole discretion of the teacher.The board voted to approve changes to its Security Camera Acceptable Use Policy. The school has security cameras installed in all the classrooms. Recordings from these cameras can be used to support or refute claims made in he-said-she-said type of issues. The change states that while the recording function cannot be stopped, how many or how few people have access to those recordings is also at the sole discretion of the teacher.A Financial Aid Night held Nov. 6. was helpful to 15 of the 20 students who attended completed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They are confident that more applications will be completed in the coming months.

Preston School District prepares to ask public for extended levy

Preston School District is preparing to go back to the public to renew a plant facility levy for the district’s upcoming efforts to meet the demands of growth. For the last four years, the district has funded the completion of several projects with $900,000 per year from the five-year-levy.

In that time, the district has spent $3.2 million to add classrooms, a gymnasium, lunchroom and cafeteria to the Pioneer Elementary, begun remodeling classrooms to be secure in the Oakwood Elementary, added classrooms to the high school and built a crows nest and upper concourse for the football field, improved parking lots and playgrounds, and built a new maintenance shop, said district superintendent Marc Gee.

“I’ve been in three or four schools with basketball traveling around, and … they have same problems we do — old areas of school, ruts in parking lots, we’ve done a good job. Hats off to our crew who are working internally. They are doing good job,” said board member Brandon Roberts.

District leaders feel there is much left to do to either maintain or improve the district’s facilities, and they say it can be done without increasing current taxing levels.

With new plant facility levy funds, they plan the following at each of the district’s schools:

Pioneer: Replace the HVAC system.

Oakwood: Remodel classrooms to provide better security, such as doors.

Preston Junior High: resurface broken pavement where the busses park, eliminate the disparity between classroom temperatures and add air conditioning, add two new classrooms, and an additional music room, and additional parking in front of building.

Preston High School: renovate classrooms in the original section of the building, improve the HVAC system in the classrooms and auditorium, replace the roof on the original section of the school, replace the district’s deteriorating track and add privacy fencing, replace the sprinkling system there, level out the soccer field, build bleachers at the football field, replace interior door locks and replace damaged bleachers in the new gymnasium.

Although the district is asking for more money from the community, board members hope the community sees the value of its investment when it comes time to vote.

“We are the most financially solvent district in the state,” said outgoing board member Fred Titensor, who has served the school board for the last 12 years. “Our house is in order.”

“We need this (new plant facility) or your house will not be in order in another five years” said board chair, Joy Christensen.

In other business, the district discussed ways to improve accountability for funds and ways to prevent opportunities for fraud or embezzlement. Board members offered several ideas from their experience of operating their own businesses and farms. The district is currently in the process of prosecuting a former employee for embezzlement.

That being said, the district is thankful for the integrity they have noted in most of their employees, especially those currently working for them, said Gee.

Future Farmers of America

Representatives of the PHS FFA delegation thanks the board for their support in taking 17 students on a trip to the National FFA Convention back East in October. In addition to meeting with 65,000 youth from around the country at the conference, PHS students were able to visit a variety of venues, from the Indy Motor Speedway race track to the St. Louis Archway, Anheueser Busch factory with his teams of Clydesdale horses, Nauvoo and its historical sites and Caterpillar’s showroom.

“We took 17 kids. It is a beneficial educational opportunity for years to come,” said advisor Katie Wells.

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to go back there this year,” said student Tori Benoit. She also reported that she and other members of the PHS Poultry Judging team took 18th in the nation while at the convention.

New high school Spanish teacher, Dakota Atkinson asked the district for support in providing an opportunity for his students to discover the world through international travel. He described the experiences he has had taking students from Century High, were he last taught, to Costa Rica, Europe and other places.

“The goal and desire of my classes is to (have the students) speak it (Spanish). As I’ve done these trips, it is amazing to have kids come and say that they were able to ask for something and understand the answer,” he said. “I had one kid say, with tears in his eyes, ‘you were right this is the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life.’”

He hopes to create trips with teacher from other disciplines a the school as well, to incorporate science, history or art in the experience.

Although the trips would not be school sanctioned, the board supported his idea. Atkinson plans the trips for summertime and invites parents to participate as well.

“It is super exciting. Thanks for taking initiative to do it,” Titensor told Atkinson.

New board members

Titensor and Roberts were thanked by Preston Education Association representative, Camille Jensen, for their leadership on the board. Both are ending their terms in December. They will be replaced with uncontested candidates, Darren Cole of Whitney and Kayla Roberts of Fairview. Because Cole and Roberts ran unopposed, the county chose to save money by not printing their names on the ballot during the recent election, said Gee.

“We want to tell Mr. Titensor and Mr. Roberts how much we appreciate what you’ve done for us (teachers),” said Jensen.

Kristin Skinner reported on the district’s after-school program, stating that 59 students now participate in the program at Preston Junior High. She is working to expand it to the elementary school as well.

Board member Jody Shumway noted that he was impressed with the way Preston’s youth have “risen to the occasion,” as they have competed against larger schools in their sports division. He also noted the efforts of Preston’s coaches have made “to help kids compete at this level. Our girls have 12 years competing at state and boys team finished second for the second year in a row, and the girls finished seventh. I’m just impressed with what they do with opportunity,” he said.

Titensor expressed his admiration for auto mechanic teacher Kasey Keller’s program. When Titensor visited the class, Keller “had a group of kids up to their elbows in grease. They were getting phenomenal instruction. That program, for years was a shining star — it was our alternative school. Now it is getting back to good numbers. I was really impressed,” he said.

Board member Joy Christensen said that it was important that the story of education is told. “Eighty percent of the workforce in the United States are public school graduates. We’re doing ok.” She noted that the time frame the public school system uses to educate students thasn’t change ed in 100 years, “but the subject and information that is required to cover has increased immensely,” she said. “We do need to do a better job of telling our story” and remember that “You can’t run schools like a business.”

Altercation with police leads to shooting

On Nov. 19, at approximately 8:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to a call from Stokes Marketplace for help with a suspicious individual in the store.

Menjivar-Saabedra, of El Salvador, but who has been working at a dairy in the Grace area, entered Stokes Market at about 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 19. His suspicious behavior prompted employees to contact police. Officers from both the Preston Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department responded, and escorted him out of the store. They spent over an hour trying to negotiate with him, but the situation escalated, when Menjivar-Saabedra pulled a knife on the officers. They deployed a taser, but when the taser didn’t stop Menjivar-Saabedra, fatal shots were fired, said authorities. Menjivar-Saabedra died at the scene.

The case is being investigated by the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Team, with the Pocatello Idaho Police Department taking lead. Local law enforcement agencies employ the critical incident team to investigate whenever an officer-involved shooting occurs in Idaho.

Other agencies that responded to the scene were the Idaho State Police, Bannock County Sheriff’s Department and Chubbuck Police Department. Officers from all of those agencies were on the scene at Stokes, investigating for several hours following the shooting.

The names of officers involved in the incident will not be released by the Pocatello Police Department, said Lt. Anderson of the Pocatello Police Department. They have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation has been completed.

Pirates raid Vandals 14-13 to become 2A champs

The West Side Pirates brought home the Idaho State 2A Football trophy Saturday night, Nov. 23.!

It was a tough game against McCall-Donnelly and just one point separated the two powerhouse teams. In the end, it was the Pirates, 14-13. And the Pirates’s win was the Vandal’s only loss of the year. The game gave both teams the same win-loss record of the year 12-1.

This is the second straight year the Pirates have stolen the state bid from McCall-Donnelly. Last year, they took the wind out of the Vandal’s sails when they stopped their advance in the playoffs. WS Coach Tyson Moser and his team knew the game would be tough, remembering the 11 returning players they battled last year. The Vandals were bigger, but not better, and definitely worthy foes on the field.

Game announcers attributed the win to West Side’s defense. “It was a defensive battle. Both defenses played very well,” said Coach Moser. The Pirate’s speed was also a factor.

This is the third championship Coach Moser has lead the Pirates to since 2010, and the sixth overall for West Side. The school took second one year, as well.

“They’ve expected it every year and it played out this year,” a game announcer continued.