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FC CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Tuesday, March 31

As things change daily due to the effect the coronavirus has in our FRANKLIN COUNTY community, they will be posted here. Please contact us (208-852-0155 or copy@prestoncitizen.com) if you have an event that has been postponed or canceled or, if you need help or have ideas or services that can help others. We will share them here on a daily basis.

Tuesday, March 31

• Idaho is reporting 525 verified cases of COVID-19. No cases have been confirmed in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Bonner (1), Kootenai (30), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (9), Adam (1), Canyon (53), Gem (3), Owyhee (1), Payette (1), Ada (195), Elmore (3), Valley (2), Blaine (192), Cassia (1), Jerome (2), Lincoln (2), Minidoka (1), Twin Falls (5), Bannock (4), Bingham (2), Bonneville (2), Custer (2), Fremont (1), Jefferson (3), Madison (4), Teton (2). Nine deaths have been confirmed in Idaho.

• Cache County has confirmed 7 cases of COVIC-19.

• Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses is set to go sometime between April 2- April 6. Zion’s Bank, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Ireland Bank, Altabank are all participating with the Small Business Association in this program. Advantage Plus Federal Credit Union will not be participating. (Watch www.prestoncitizen.com for article to follow with details.)

• Idaho State Parks offers opportunities to explore Idaho online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhQKe_AhXL4. See related article at www.prestoncitizen.com for additional links.

Monday, March 30

• Idaho is reporting 415 verified cases of COVID-19. No cases have been identified in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Bonner (1), Boundary (1), Kootenai (27), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (7), Canyon (48), Gem (3), Owyhee (1), Payette (1), Ada (151), Elmore (1), Valley (1), Blaine (148), Cassia (1), Jerome (1), Lincoln (1), Minidoka (1), Twin Falls (5), Bannock (3), Bingham (1), Bonneville (2), Custer (1), Fremont (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Teton (2). Six deaths have been confirmed in Idaho.

Sunday, March 29

• Idaho is reporting 310 verified cases of COVID-19. No cases have been identified in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Kootenai (13), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (4), Canyon (40), Gem (30), Owyhee (1), Payette (1), Ada (113), Valley (1), Blaine (115), Cassia (1), Lincoln (1), Twin Falls (2), Bannock (3), Bingham (1), Bonneville (1), Custer (1), Fremont (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Teton (2). Six deaths have been confirmed in Idaho.

• Bear River Health Department has identified six cases of coronavirus in Cache County.

Saturday, March 28

• Idaho is reporting 261 verified cases of COVID-19. No cases have been identified in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Kootenai (13), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (4), Canyon (22), Payette (1), Ada (88 ), Valley (1), Blaine (114), Cassia (1), Lincoln (1), Twin Falls (2), Bannock (3), Bingham (1), Bonneville (1), Custer (1), Fremont (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Teton (2). Five deaths have been confirmed in Idaho.

• Bear River Health Department orders closure of fitness center, spas, entertainment venues, surgery centers in Cache County.

Friday, March 27

• Bear River Health Department has identified five cases of coronavirus in Cache County.

• Idaho is reporting 230 verified cases of COVID-19. No cases have been identified in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Kootenai (11), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (4), Canyon (23), Payette (1), Ada (75), Valley (1), Blaine (99), Cassia (1), Twin (2), Bannock (3), Bingham (1), Custer (1), Fremont (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Teton (2). Four deaths have been confirmed in Idaho.

• Utah Gov. Herbert asks Utahs to stay home.

Thursday, March 26

• Idaho is reporting its first deaths due to COVID-19. Two men from Blaine County, one over the age of 80 and one over the age of 60, and another man over the age of 70 from Canyon County. The state has confirmed 189 cases of coronavirus in the state. No cases have been identified in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Kootenai (9), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (4), Canyon (21), Payette (1), Ada (53), Valley (1), Blaine (82), Cassia (1), Twin (1), Bannock (2), Bingham (1), Custer (1), Fremont (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Teton (2).

• Gov. Little and public health department officials will answer questions about COVID-10 live on Idaho Public Television today at 8 p.m. 

Wednesday, March 25

• Idaho has confirmed 123 cases of COVID-19 in the state. None are in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Kootenai (9), Idaho (1), Nez Pece (1), Canyon (8), Payette (1), Ada (37), Valley (1), Blaine (52), Cassia (1), Twin (1), Bannock (3), Bingham (1), Fremont (1), Jefferson (2), Madison (2), Teton (2).

• FCMC Transitional Care (nursing home) unit has banned visitors and is asking family to contact loved ones through video chat.

• FCMC has restricted visitors or caregivers to those over the age of 18 and one per patient.

• Lava Hot Springs has closed for the time being.

• Gov. Little issues state-wide stay-at-home order.

• Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints close to all ordinances worldwide.

• Preston City closes city offices to public except for 12-4 p.m. through the drive-up window. Cancels April 8 P&Z meeting and April 13 council meeting.

• Idaho State Parks remain open for day use recreation but camping will end on Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m., in keeping with stay-at-home order.

Tuesday, March 24

• Idaho has confirmed 73 cases of coronavirus within the state. None in Franklin County.

• The Heritage Home has banned visitors under the age of 18, multiple visitors, and visiting in the public areas. Visitors will be checked for a temperature upon arrival.

Monday, March 23

• Southeastern Idaho Public Health has confirmed two cases of COVID-19 in Bannock County. This brings the total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Idaho to 52. None in Franklin County. Other counties with confirmed cases include Kootenai (3), Canyon (4), Ada (15), Valley (1), Blaine (21), Twin (1), Bingham (1), Madison (2), Teton (2).

• Preston City offices are conducting business from the drive-up window and payment box only. The public may meet with employees by appointment only.

• Until further notice, Southeastern Idaho Public Health WIC offices are now conducting all WIC appointments by phone instead in person appointments.

• Preston Drug requests the public to call in or utilize its app for refills and use the drive through to help protect people who are more susceptible to the coronavirus.

• Wendy’s to operate as drive-thru restaurant only beginning March 24.

Idaho State Board of Education directs soft closure of all Idaho schools until April 20.

Friday, March 20

• 42 cases of COVID19 have been confirmed as of 5 p.m. today, in Idaho. None in Franklin County. Counties with confirmed cases include Ada (11), Bingham (2), Blaine (21), Canyon (1), Kootenai (3), Madison (1), Teton (2), and Twin Falls (1).

• Tax preparation deadlines can be adjusted to accommodate to disruptions due to the coronavirus, notes Travis Kunz, local CPA and tax preparer. Taxes owed must be paid by July 15, 2020.

• DEQ is asking the public to only flush toilet paper to avoid costly damage to private and public sewer lines and treatment systems as more Idahoans stay home.

Paper towels, wipes, napkins, Q-tips, and feminine hygiene products, even those marked as flushable, can clog sewer lines and cause sewage backups.

• Some missionaries have returned home from their missions due to the coronavirus. Others will begin their mission training at home.

Kelley Family Dentistry, following American Dental Association and the Idaho Dental Society recommendations, has decided to cancel all elective procedures through the end of next week. They will re-evaluate on a week by week basis. The doctors will be available for emergencies as needed, and someone at the front desk to answer non-emergency questions or concerns.

Thursday, March 19

• Eleven cases of COVID19 have been confirmed in Idaho. None in Franklin County. Counties with confirmed cases include Ada (3), Blaine (5), Madison (1), Teton (1), Twin Falls (1). Update: as of 5 p.m., 23 cases had been identified in Idaho

• Franklin County officials issue a new policy for conducting business at county offices. Anything that can be done online should, otherwise appointments may be made by calling 208-852-1090 first. For additional details see http://bit.ly/3b8hjrv

• Stokes Market implemented a policy last night to limit purchases to two of any item except produce, which are limited to 10 (bags potatoes are limited to 1).

• Blue Cross of Idaho has waived all cost-sharing for doctor’s office and urgent care visits related to testing for COVID-19.

Wednesday, March 18

• Nine cases of COVID19 have been confirmed in Idaho.

• Stokes Market closed its hot bar by the deli. The deli itself remains open.

• The Franklin County Fire District has temporarily stopped renting the public space at the Preston station. Those with standing reservations will not be able to use the public space. For more information, call 208-852-3111.

• The Preston Aquatic Center has suspended all group classes, including water aerobics and swim team. There are new hours for those wanting to walk or lap swim: 5:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m.

• “The first cases of COVID-19 have been officially detected in Cache Valley as a Logan couple tested positive for the virus, but health officials are stressing that it isn’t cause for additional alarm.

“Individuals who may have had close contact with confirmed cases will be notified by the health department,” Bear River Health Department stated Wednesday afternoon,” states the Logan Herald Journal.

• The Preston Community Food Pantry will open as usual on Friday but has modified its method for dispersing food. Only five individuals will be admitted at a time, as they plus volunteers will meet the 10-person limit requested to slow possible spread of the coronavirus. Other patrons are requested to wait in their vehicles until invited in, said director Steve Aust. Additional measures will be explained on site.

Tuesday, March 17

• The Worm Creek Opera House has closed until April 3. The Call of the Wild will be shown the week of April 3.

• As noted on The Preston Citizen last night, March 16, both school districts have closed until after spring break, which ends March 30.

• Because the public has been asked to not gather in groups of 10 or more, the Preston Senior Community Center will continue to prepare meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but will not be serving them in their dining room. Meals will be delivered to patrons in a drive-up fashion.

“Please call us at 208-852-2844 or 208-852-2727 and we will bring the meal out,” said director Carol Parker.

• The Idaho Transportation Department is encouraging people to take advantage of their online DMV services instead of coming into the Sheriff’s Office. Those services are: Driver’s license renewal (not for first-time Star Card), acquiring a replacement driver’s license or identification card‡, paying driver’s license reinstatement fees‡, purchasing a driving record, vehicle registration renewal‡, ordering personalized license plates, checking status of vehicle plates and titles, commercial vehicle oversize/overweight permits‡, and commercial vehicle registrations.

Dominion Energy has announced that is will not disconnect natural gas customers for non-payment. “Customers should not have to worry about losing service during this critical time. The company has suspended all service disconnections for non-payment. Residential customers previously disconnected due to non-payment may contact the company for assistance reconnecting service,” states the press release.

• Willow Valley Medical Clinic is offering drive-up tests for patients that suspect or develop coronavirus symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath). To use the system, patrons must call 208.904.8932 in advance to schedule the drive-up screening, which will be completed from the patron’s vehicle. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“At this time, the coronavirus does not have a prescribed medical treatment. We ask patients that do NOT require oxygen or other hospital needs to self-isolate at home with proper rest and hydration,” states the clinic’s post.

• Big J’s & Pizza Villa have modified their services to take-out only. Orders may be placed at the Preston restaurants or called-in, but the dining room will be closed for the time being. Their menu may be found on their facebook page.

• Bear River Health Department announced the first case of COVID-19 confirmed in Box Elder County, today, March 17. There are NO confirmed cases in Idaho’s Health District 6, of which Franklin County is part, state officials.

• The Slice in Preston is operating on a take-out basis only. Pizza can be ordered during their regular business hours.

• Stokes Market has implemented a new schedule beginning tomorrow March 18, to allow its team “to clean the store, restock the shelves and rest.” The new store hours will be 7 a.m. — 9 p.m. Monday — Saturday in the main store, and 7 a.m. — 7 p.m. Monday — Saturday in the True Value section. The store will remain closed on Sundays.

• AmeriGas/V1 Propane is closing its store until further notice. Energy assistance customers or those needing a tank recertified may call for appointments. All other business can be conducted online, including ordering propane or paying a bill. For more information, call 208-852-0579 (Preston) or 208-237-4140 (Pocatello) and leave a message.

• Deseret Industries is temporarily shut down. DI will not be accepting donations during this closure.

• Magnolia Road is shutting down until April 6.

• Wendy’s is open in the drive thru, and dining room is takeout only.

Bear River Archers is closed this week and pending for next week.

Monday, March 16

• Preston City cancels town meeting.

• Preston and West Side school districts close schools for the rest of the week, lengthening spring break by three days. School officials will determine whether the school closing will continue past spring break (March 27) on Thursday, March 26.


Preston
Preston schools look for ways to teach online, levy passes

During their March meeting, Preston School District’s board of trustees were apprised that teachers are preparing to take their classes online in the event coronavirus concerns keep kids out of class.

“All teachers are working on curriculum that can be delivered to parents,” said district superintendent Marc Gee. They are utilizing Canvas, a system already in place at Preston High School and Preston Junior High. Mastery classes are already internet-based.

At the elementary level, teachers are trying to stay away from creating packets of information for each child due to the logistics of such an effort. Some programs, such as math and reading can already be accessed online from home, as well.

The district will decide, Thursday, March 26, whether or not classes will resume in-school on Monday, March 30 or not.

If classes are not, a system will be also developed to provide school lunch Mondays — Thursdays for district children, ages 1-18, for free.

“It will be distributed in a grab and go situation,” but exactly where those meals would be available was yet to be determined, Gee said. He invited district patrons to respond to a survey available on the district’s website to gather interest levels in the lunch program.

The survey is also intended to help the district determine the level of assistance families will need to help their children continue to learn online. “Parents need to think about how to schedule work with the devices they have,” he said. The district is considering sending personal devices home based on need, and are talking to Diret Communications to set up some hotspots in town where materials from school may be downloaded.

Classes requiring hands-on instruction are being discussed as well, in regards to how to accommodate students.

The district also noted that the levy they asked their patrons to vote for on March 10, passed. Of the 1,291 votes that were cast, 837 were for the levy, 454 were against. They levy is like one that is just ending, and will provide $900,000 over a period of five years.

Each precinct in the school district approved the levy except Mapleton. There, 45 of the 75 voters disapproved of the levy. Then in Mink Creek, the votes were almost evenly split, 27 for-20 against, and in Worm Creek, the votes were 47 for-29 against. The rest of the district’s 14 precincts voted for the levy by two and three times as many as noted against.


Preston
Water report puts 2020 just above average

As of March 1, the Bear River Basin had received near-normal precipitation during February, and water-year precipitation ranges between 74% and 105% of normal.

Despite dry conditions in the second half of February, the Bear River Basin snowpack is around normal (about 105-110%) for Mar. 1. Precipitation in February came from just a couple intermittent storms which were separated by warm and dry periods. Although there wasn’t consistent precipitation, these storms have kept the basin snowpack within the 50th percentile of historic data.

Snowpack at the following sub-basins with respect to normal levels are: Cub River 100%, Mink Creek 103%, Malad River 94%, and Montpelier Creek 118%.

Bear Lake is 70% full and 153% of average. Streamflow forecasts are near normal for the primary runoff period and range from about 85% to 110% of normal.

The water outlook is promising for agriculture as well as recreation throughout the Bear River basin.

Twin Lakes Canal Company could not be reached before press time.

“If you get the water report that has them all averaged together, the Franklin Basin which feeds the Cub River, was at 101% of normal,” said Lyle Porter of the Consolidated Irrigation Company said. The company provides water for over 480 share holders who irrigate about 16,000 acres in Franklin County.

He also said that the Immigration Summit station, in Mink Creek, was 96% of normal. “Snowpack can still change, but its a pretty average year. If the early part of the summer is hot and dry, then water will go a little faster then,” he said.

All of CIC’s reservoirs will be full by the middle of May, said Porter. The company manages the water in the Glendale, Foster, Lamont, and Johnson reservoirs.