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For the week of June 26 - July 2, 2002


SV council endorses E-911, wilderness area proposals

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley council members stepped forward Thursday to endorse two long-stalled projects that would have far-reaching effects not only in Blaine County but also throughout central Idaho if ultimately completed.

The council voted to:

Support the proposed E-911 consolidated emergency dispatch system for Blaine County, which would add $1 to each telephone bill to cover costs of the modernized system, if approved by voters. The measure will be on the November general election ballot.

Support designation of the White Cloud and Boulder mountains—some 500,000 acres—as a wilderness area.

The E-911 emergency dispatch system for fire, police and emergency medical services would be a vast improvement over the present 911 system. With the E-911, emergency operators could instantly identify the address of an emergency call, unlike the present system, which relies on callers to identify their location. As proposed, it also would operate from a single communications center and serve all Wood River Valley and Blaine County communities.

The council was told by former Blaine County commissioner Leonard Harlig, who as a private citizen is helping promote the new E-911 system, that ultimately would be upgraded technologically to identify the location of cell phone emergency calls within 10 feet of the call location.

Annual revenues in Blaine County from the proposed $1 telephone surcharge would be an estimated $290,000. Launching the system initially would cost about $400,000, according to Sun Valley city administrator Dan Pincetich, and about $50,000 a year to maintain, according to Harlig.

The city of Ketchum has yet to endorse the proposed system. It will be discussed by the city council in July, according to Mayor Ed Simon. At issue in Ketchum is whether it wants to be part of a consolidated countywide emergency E-911, or maintain its own 911 service.

County voters must approve the system in November. If approved, billing on phones would begin in about February.

In endorsing the White Clouds and Boulder mountains wilderness area, Councilman Latham Williams, the new vice chair of the Idaho state Republican Party, said he was "proud" to make the motion to endorse the wilderness proposal, and pointed out that being supportive of the environment, as well as being a Republican, "is not mutually exclusive."

The attempt to make the area a wilderness area has been making the rounds in Idaho and in Washington since 1972. Tom Pomeroy, of the Idaho Conservation League, told the council that the White Clouds and Boulders are the largest roadless area south of Alaska without wilderness protection.

If designated wilderness, Pomeroy said no changes would occur inside the area, which is largely roadless.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.