For Marilyn Tarkalson, mother of three boys, ages 6, 4 and 2, Southern Idaho is an even better place to live the second time around. The stay-at-home mom, who has another baby on the way, was raised in nearby Kimberly and lived in Twin Falls, but moved away 15 years ago with her family. They resided in North Carolina and Nebraska, but they recently returned home for good.
A Great Place to Call Home
“We have family in the area, and it’s just beautiful here,” Tarkalson says. “It’s a well-kept, growing city and so close to so many activities. In 30 minutes you can be in the mountains for skiing or hiking. Or you can visit the hot springs. This summer we picked areas nearby for mini vacations because of the economy and found so much to do without having to go very far.”
With the benefit of four full seasons, Southern Idaho makes the most of its natural resources for families from pools and parks for hiking, biking and fishing to the programs offered by community resources like the Herrett Center for Arts & Science, Boys & Girls Clubs of Magic Valley and the YMCA.
Tarkalson’s sons take advantage of recreational activities offered in the community, including T-ball, soccer and swim lessons. “The best part is that we can have the boys in a number of activities, and they’re so inexpensive it doesn’t cause a financial burden on the family.” Karee Parenti, a PTA mom by day and waitress/bartender by night, also spends a lot of time outside with her kids, an 8-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy.
“We go fishing all the time,” she says. “It’s our favorite thing to do.”
After 25 years in the Las Vegas area, Parenti packed up and moved to the area about three years ago on the recommendation of a friend.
“He told me it was a great place to raise a family, and I came here and loved it,” she says. “The people here are really nice, there’s no traffic and it’s so family oriented. I was used to living in an adult playground, but here it’s really about family, and I love it.”
Great School System
In addition to the indoor and outdoor activities in the area, Parenti is most excited about the school system. “The teachers are great, the school district is great and it’s really inspired me to be involved with the school.”
Education is priority No. 1 in Southern Idaho. In 2006, a levy was passed to fund construction projects such as the new Canyon Ridge High School.
“We have over 7,600 students at 13 total schools,” says Beth Pendergrass, community relations specialist for the Twin Falls School District. “Our graduation rate is over 90 percent, which is quite high. In our high schools, we offer academies that give students the opportunity to earn college credit and explore or specialize in the curriculum they’re interested so they’re more prepared for college.”
The school system also offers dual credit classes that give students high school and college credits at the College of Southern Idaho. And younger students can benefit from CSI’s College for Kids summer camps and classes, where they can learn about a broad range of subjects such as cooking, music, crime scene investigation, judo or Spanish. Students are also able to experience various cultures without leaving Southern Idaho.
“We have a refugee center in our community, and our schools house students from all over the world,” Pendergrass says. “Over 26 languages at a time are being spoken in our district and our students integrate with these cultures and get exposed to new languages as well.”
Read about more community activities in Twin Falls, ID.