Wednesday, June 15, 2005

WRHS stadium site for Dalai Lama visit

Dalai Lama tickets to be available in July

Express Staff Writer

Representatives organizing a visit by the Dalai Lama to the Wood River Valley in September announced this week that the Wood River High School football field has been chosen as the site for the exiled leader of Tibet's two public appearances.

Ketchum resident and prominent investment researcher Kiril Sokoloff is helping to sponsor the three-day visit, which is kicking off a short tour by His Holiness through the United States.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, His Holiness will deliver a "Message of Compassion and Healing," timed to commemorate the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast four years ago.

Organizers have said that "here in the high elevations of the Wood River Valley, far removed from urban noise and bustle, his words of hope and forgiveness will ring far and clear."

About 10,000 people are expected to be allowed to attend the ticketed, nonprofit event at the high school.

"We think it's the best venue for this event," said Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling. "It's more of a controlled area."

A 300-acre area near Silver Creek on private property near Picabo was also proposed, but Femling said after consultations with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security it was decided that the Hailey option was an easier place to ensure security.

The Dalai Lama will also deliver a "Children's Address," which was initiated by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, on Monday, Sept. 12.

"This uplifting talk also takes place at the beautiful Wood River Valley High School football stadium, and is intended for the middle- and high-school students of Southern Idaho," states a press release issued this week by event organizers.

"Sokoloff and His Holiness the Dalai Lama Visits Sun Valley Organizing Committee are working in tandem with the city of Hailey and the Wood River Valley Unified Command Group to ensure a safe and secure environment for the community event," the press release adds. "In an effort to minimize impacts on the environment, the committee encourages each attendee to perform an individual act of kindness by carpooling, biking or walking to the event locations. This will show support for His Holiness's message of compassion for all living things, and reap positive benefits for the community at large."

Tickets to the two public events will be available at three locations in the Wood River Valley by mid-July. Additional information regarding the events will be made available when tickets are released.

"We have a group now that's handling the event," Femling said. "We feel good about it. All area law enforcement will be involved."

Femling said security will be adjusted according to how the event shapes up in terms of numbers of people coming.

Chief Deputy Gene Ramsey is chairman of the planning committee for security at the event.

"We will bring in additional manpower as needed," he said. "Now that we have it up here in Hailey, I think it's going to be a great event."

The Blaine County School District board of trustees gave approval for the event to happen at the high school about two weeks ago. Femling said the event might be one of the largest that has ever occurred in the valley.

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