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Idaho agencies prepare drivers for winter driving conditions throughout Idaho



Idaho agencies prepare drivers for winter driving conditions throughout Idaho

As winter approaches with its inevitable challenges, it’s paramount that drivers prepare themselves to navigate tricky road conditions and minimize unnecessary risks during inclement weather. In a united effort, nearly 50 law enforcement and public safety agencies across Idaho are launching a Winter Driving safety campaign to educate the public about winter driving and snowplow safety. Additionally, statewide emphasis patrols will look for seat belt and impaired driving violations.

Idaho State Police Director Kedrick Wills emphasizes the significance of a collaborative effort, “Every action behind the wheel carries the weight of responsibility that we all share. As law enforcement professionals, we urge every driver to navigate winter roads carefully, respect the conditions, and never drive impaired. Winter driving demands heightened vigilance, so every journey ends with a safe return home.”

The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) pledged increased funding to support local law enforcement in enforcing seat belt violations. Disturbing collision data between 2015 and 2019 revealed that over half of the vehicle occupants killed in Idaho were not restrained, and 1,207 unrestrained individuals suffered critical injuries. While seat belt usage has improved, more than one in ten Idahoans neglect to buckle up. In 2019, 72% of those killed in single-vehicle fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts, underscoring the importance of this life-saving habit.

Josephine Middleton, Highway Safety Manager at ITD explained, “We want drivers to make plans for a sober ride home before they start drinking and remember that wearing a seatbelt is the best defense in a crash. Police are there to protect us from dangerous drivers, but our roads are made even safer when people make good choices before getting behind the wheel.”


In addition to seat belt enforcement, extra patrols will focus on combating impaired driving. Despite being entirely preventable, over 11,500 people lost their lives in drunk-driving incidents across the United States in 2020, equating to one death every 45 minutes. In Idaho, 92 people were killed in impaired collisions. It’s essential to recognize that impairment extends to any substance that hampers the ability to drive safely – various substances slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times. While officers enforce the law, it’s everyone’s job to prevent impaired driving.

Here are some critical steps to consider:

  • Plan ahead – Don’t drive impaired.
  • Arrange for a safe and sober ride home in advance.
  • Seek an alternative mode of transportation if you consume any impairing substances.
  • If someone is impaired, do not allow them to take the wheel.
  • Always wear a seat belt, as it is your primary defense against impaired drivers.


As winter weather is unpredictable and treacherous, drivers should prepare for adverse conditions. Statewide, more than 16,000 accidents occurred during inclement weather between October 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, with many attributed to unsafe driving in snow, ice, and wet conditions.

When traveling, let others know your plans – especially if driving through areas without cell service – and check in on arrival. Make safe winter driving a habit:

Adjust your driving to handle changing conditions:

  • Reduce your speed and drive at a safe pace.
  • Avoid driving into a storm; find a safe place off the road and wait.
  • Stay in your vehicle until visibility improves, even if an accident occurs.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Exercise caution around stopped or slow-moving vehicles.
  • Only pass or change lanes when necessary.

Prepare your vehicle:

  • Ensure you have a full tank of gas and windshield washer fluid.
  • Equip your vehicle with all-season or studded snow tires.
  • Carry chains, a tow rope, cat litter, or cardboard for emergency traction.
  • Have a blanket, warm clothing, shovel, jumper cables, and a windshield scraper on hand.
  • Prepare a first aid kit with a knife, flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, and cell phone charger.

Avoid distractions:

  • Stay focused on the road and remain vigilant for potential road hazards like animals and trees.
  • Take necessary breaks to combat fatigue.
  • Be mindful of hidden dangers like icy overpasses and bridges, open ground blizzards, hills, stoplights, signs, and ruts that may collect water.

Every year, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) deploys over 550 snowplow operators to clear over 3.4 million miles throughout Idaho. Ensure their safety:

Give snowplows ample space to work:

  • The best roadway is a safe distance behind a working plow.
  • Never pass on the right.

Know before you go:

  • Check the weather forecast before embarking on your journey.
  • Stay informed about Idaho Department of Transportation (IDT) winter road conditions at and monitor National Weather Service updates at

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Southeast Region Winter Feeding Advisory Committee Meeting



Southeast Region Winter Feeding Advisory Committee Meeting

Date:                 Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Address:           Idaho Fish and Game Southeast Region Office, 1345 Barton Road, Pocatello, ID

Call-in Number: 208-236-1280

Members of the Southeast Region Winter Feeding Advisory Committee (WFAC) will meet to assist Idaho Fish and Game with the assessment of winter conditions and observations related to big game animals (movements, depredations, activity on roadways, body conditions) in the Southeast Region.


The committee is made up of five local citizens from around the region whose input helps to inform Fish and Game’s winter-feeding decisions.

Committee members meet several times each winter as they monitor local weather, wildlife distribution, and landscape conditions. Committee members also serve as sounding boards for citizens in their communities and communicate with Fish and Game staff on a regular basis.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting in person or call-in, but please note that meeting rules do not allow for the public to provide comment or ask questions during the meeting.  The public is welcome to provide comments to the WFAC members or to the Idaho Fish and Game any time before a meeting convenes.

Follow this link to learn more about winter feeding in Idaho.




●  Welcome (Jennifer Jackson, IDFG)

  • Please note that any members of the public who have called in or are attending in person are welcome to listen to the discussions and official business of the WFAC. However, members of the public are not allowed to provide input or ask questions anytime during this meeting per rules guiding the official business of the WFAC.  That being said, members of the public can ask questions or provide comments for consideration via phone calls, emails, or texts to both Fish and Game staff and committee members outside a WFAC meeting.
  • As a friendly reminder, WFAC members and IDFG staff are asked to please identify themselves before speaking.

●  David Priestley, Chair of the WFAC

  • Welcome.  Call for any new agenda items?
  • Announcement of this year’s committee members and the areas represented by these individuals.

●  Dan Garren, IDFG Regional Supervisor, to share purpose of the WFAC committee as well as the guidelines and process for making decisions regarding emergency winter feeding.

●  IDFG staff to share data and information about deer/elk going in to this winter: winter conditions in general as compared to last year at this time, body conditions of animals, depredation issues, efforts to manage any conflicts so far this fall and winter, etc.

●  Regional Round-up (reports, observations, issues, concerns, comments, etc.) from each Committee Member and participating staff.

●  Other items? Concerns?  Questions?


●  Discussion of possible action items.

●  Schedule next meeting.

●  Adjourn.

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Idaho law forced women out of state for abortions. They detail ‘grim’ experiences. – East Idaho News



Idaho law forced women out of state for abortions. They detail ‘grim’ experiences. – East Idaho News

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details of pregnancy loss.

KUNA — (Idaho Statesman) — The early weeks of Rebecca Vincen-Brown’s pregnancy were filled with excitement: pulling her toddler’s old items down from storage in the attic; sharing the news with family and friends; explaining to her 2-year-old daughter, Winter, that she’d soon have a baby brother or sister. At that point, in November 2022, she and her husband had tried conceiving for nearly a year.

But by February, the excitement had turned to anxiety. Routine genetic testing indicated Vincen-Brown’s baby likely had a chromosomal abnormality that would almost certainly be fatal, the 31-year-old Kuna woman told the Idaho Statesman in an interview.

“And that’s when the tone of the conversation started getting a little bit more serious and grim,” she said.


She waited a month for an anatomy scan that confirmed the worst: Her baby had severe developmental issues and would likely die soon after birth. What’s more, Vincen-Brown could develop life-threatening preeclampsia or hemorrhaging.

Vincen-Brown and her husband made the decision to terminate the pregnancy. As the reality of the situation hit them, another realization emerged. Idaho’s abortion laws prevented the couple from having the procedure in state.

“We sat there with one baby sleeping in the Pack ‘N Play on the other side of the wall and my other (stillborn) baby laying on the bathroom floor.”

Almost all abortions are banned in Idaho. The only exceptions are when the pregnancy risks death of the patient, or was due to reported incest or rape. Earlier this year, the Idaho Legislature also passed an exception to the abortion ban that clarified the prohibition doesn’t apply to ectopic or molar pregnancies. But lawmakers blocked an effort to include exceptions when a pregnant patient’s health is at risk.

RELATED | Idaho legislators pass contentious bill that adds clarification language to abortion ban

Vincen-Brown, who was 17 weeks pregnant, traveled to Portland with her family for the abortion. Around midnight the day doctors induced dilation, she began experiencing painful contractions that were 30 seconds apart. Vincen-Brown said she stifled her cries to avoid waking her daughter, who was sleeping in the family’s hotel room. The contractions continued until her water broke. She gave birth to a stillborn baby on the floor of the bathroom, she said.


They had called the clinic’s on-call doctor only to learn he was in Seattle. They had several hours until the Portland clinic opened. Their car had been parked off-site by the hotel valet, and Vincen-Brown said she was bleeding too heavily for her husband to retrieve it. An ambulance would cost thousands of dollars since they were out of state.

“We sat there with one baby sleeping in the Pack ‘N Play on the other side of the wall and my other baby laying on the bathroom floor,” she said. “And for four hours, there was nothing that we could have done about it any differently. … The whole thing was barbaric.”

Months after Vincen-Brown and her family traveled to Oregon for the abortion, she joined three other women to sue the state of Idaho over its restrictions.

The lawsuit, filed in September, seeks to clarify what circumstances qualify for emergency exceptions to Idaho’s abortion law. Next week, a court will hear arguments over the state’s motion to dismiss the case entirely.

Health problems spur terminations of pregnancies

Jennifer Adkins, of Caldwell, is suing Idaho over its strict abortion law. Adkins, a mother, found out her pregnancy was not viable and threatened her health. She obtained an abortion in Oregon. Watch her speak about the lawsuit in the video above. | Sarah A. Miller

Like Vincen-Brown, the other three women named in the lawsuit terminated wanted but unviable pregnancies, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit provided details into what they experienced:

Jennifer Adkins, a 31-year-old Caldwell woman and the lead plaintiff, sought an abortion in Portland after doctors told her she would likely miscarry and, if she continued the pregnancy, develop a life-threatening condition. Her trip to Oregon put so much financial strain on the family, they were unable to pay their mortgage for a month.

Kayla Smith, a 31-year-old former Nampa resident, found out her baby had one of the most severe genetic heart conditions pediatric cardiologists had ever seen and was unlikely to survive. She was 19 weeks pregnant. Her family took out a $16,000 loan to travel to Washington for her procedure, where she delivered a stillborn baby.

Jillaine St. Michel, 37, of Meridian, sought an abortion after learning her baby had severe developmental conditions affecting multiple organ systems and was unlikely to survive. St. Michel traveled to Seattle for the procedure, which wasn’t covered by her insurance because it was considered out-of-network.

Doctors feared they could be prosecuted under Idaho’s abortion ban for referring patients to states where abortion is legal. Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador in March issued a legal opinion that said referrals were illegal under the law. Two Idaho family doctors sued, and a federal judge in August blocked Labrador from seeking criminal penalties for referrals.


The Idaho Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP), a trade organization with 656 members and a plaintiff in Adkins’ lawsuit, said many members are “afraid to have open and frank conversations” with patients about the options available to them, including when there’s a pregnancy complication.

“(The doctors) had to be extremely careful about how they were speaking to me. It was almost like we were talking in code.”

Adkins told the Statesman that once during her pregnancy, her mother accompanied her to a doctor’s appointment. After the appointment, Adkins’ mother told her that she couldn’t follow the “bizarre” conversation that took place.

Can Idaho doctors be prosecuted for providing emergency abortions? Court says yes

Adkins later said she explained to her mom what happened: Her doctors were hinting that, if she wanted to terminate her pregnancy, she would have to leave the state, and they could not provide any more help.

“They had to be extremely careful about how they were speaking to me,” Adkins said. “It was almost like we were talking in code.”


With new pregnancies, women worry about health care

Idaho’s restrictive abortion laws have been the catalyst for an exodus of reproductive health care providers from the state.

Of the nine maternal fetal medicine specialists who practiced in Idaho before the state’s abortion ban took effect, only four are left, according to the Idaho Medical Association. Two rural hospitals have closed their labor-and-delivery centers, and medical leaders say they’re struggling to recruit new staff.

More doctors may follow. A physician survey conducted by the Idaho Coalition for Safe Reproductive Health Care found that half of obstetrics and gynecologists surveyed were considering leaving Idaho. Ninety-six percent of those said they would reconsider if a health exception was added to the state’s abortion laws.

RELATED | Idaho asks Supreme Court to let abortion law that penalizes doctors to take full effect

The impact has rippled to pregnant patients across the state. Dr. Julie Lyons, another plaintiff in the lawsuit, said it now takes longer to get patients a diagnosis, and even routine procedures like ultrasounds are delayed.


Lyons said the federal block on criminal penalties for abortion referrals hasn’t alleviated health care providers’ concerns around abortion. Without a health-based exemption, treating pregnant patients becomes a minefield of separating life-threatening risks from otherwise severe conditions.

Lyons noted that abortion isn’t just an elective procedure. She said in the case of many pregnancy complications, it’s the medically necessary option.

“I think people understand what abortion means in a very different way,” Lyons said. “And our values may shift when we realize that it’s more complicated than just a decision.”

Three of the women suing Idaho are pregnant again, according to the lawsuit, including Vincen-Brown.

For Vincen-Brown, the experience has been vastly different from her two previous pregnancies. Though genetic testing confirmed her second baby had triploidy, which is not hereditary, she said she has approached this pregnancy with restraint. She didn’t step into the nursery in her home until 20 weeks into her pregnancy, she said.


Her baby girl is due in March. Vincen-Brown said she’s also concerned for the reproductive health care her daughters will need in the future. Another plaintiff, Kayla Smith, moved to Washington out of concern for her daughters’ future health care, according to the lawsuit.

Adkins said she hopes to become pregnant again, but she’s afraid that there won’t be specialists in Idaho to care for her if she experiences complications again.

“Who’s going to be left to care for us?” Adkins said. “That’s the part that scares me the most about having another baby here.”

RELATED | Citing staffing issues and political climate, North Idaho hospital will no longer deliver babies

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Remains found in Bannock County identified as local man – East Idaho News



Remains found in Bannock County identified as local man – East Idaho News

BANNOCK COUNTY — Law enforcement agencies have confirmed the identity of remains found earlier this year in Bannock County, according to a news release from the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office, Bannock County Coroner’s Office and Idaho State Police Forensic Services say the remains are those of Michael Winward.

Winward, 86, had been missing since Oct. 2, 2022.

Searchers with The Banncock County Sheriff’s Office found partial skeletal remains on May 5, according to the news release.


RELATED | Sheriff’s office seeking help finding missing and endangered man

“The remains were found on a property adjacent to Winward’s, which is located on Treaty Highway north of Fort Hall,” officials said.

A driver’s license and credit cards belonging to Winward were found with the remains.

The remains were sent to the Idaho State Police Forensic Lab for testing. DNA testing matched Winward’s profile with very high certainty.

RELATED | Where is Michael Winward? He’s been missing 85 days and investigators need help finding him


“This was not the outcome we hoped for when Michael went missing. We know this news will be painful for all who loved Michael, but we are thankful his family has answers now,” Bannock County Sheriff Tony Manu said.

Manu also expressed his gratitude to the community for their help and support in the search for Winward.

As with all unattended deaths, an autopsy is being conducted, but foul play isn’t suspected.

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