Friday, August 17, 2007

Sun Valley hears funding requests

Nonprofit groups look to partner with city, improve community

Express Staff Writer

Nils Ribi

The city of Sun Valley has long been a bastion of mountain-town wealth, and according to the city's comprehensive plan, ensuring the success of posterity includes supporting local nonprofit organizations.

The City Council heard funding requests on Wednesday from La Alianza (The Alliance) Community Multicultural Center, Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society, Wood River Arts Alliance, Wood River Economic Partnership, Ketchum Area Rapid Transit and Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

La Alianza is a new nonprofit group whose mission, according to a letter to Mayor Jon Thorson from La Alianza Advisory Committee member Sarah Michael, is to "serve the unique needs of Blaine County's Latino community and ... foster cross-cultural relationships with the goal of better community understanding and collaboration."

Council members asked La Alianza to return at its Sept. 25 meeting with a proposed budget, a requirement for funds requests in Sun Valley. However, Councilman Nils Ribi said "it appears the council is looking favorably at this." Ribi went on to say that the city's Comprehensive Plan calls on it to partner with Blaine County and with educational, cultural and housing organizations to mitigate the challenges faced by the Wood River Valley, one of Idaho's fastest growing areas.

"The Hispanic community is vital to the economy of Sun Valley," Ribi said. "Otherwise Sun Valley would not be able to operate as a city."

The city also approved a $2,500 request from Wood River Arts Alliance. According to its mission statement, the Wood River Arts Alliance is dedicated to cultivating and promoting vibrancy in the arts and cultural life of the Wood River Valley through a network of arts advocates.

In the past year, the alliance has completed a study of the arts and their effect on the local economy, hired a part-time executive director, and set up an office partnership with Sun Valley Center for the Arts, said Claudia McCain, the group's chairwoman.

The Sun Valley-Ketchum Historical Society requested $5,000, and the city granted $2,500 with another $2,500 to be given if certain criteria are met. If Ketchum agrees to donate $5,000, Sun Valley will follow suit and match the donation. Or, if the Historical Society meets its fundraising goal of $40,000, the city will then donate the remaining $2,500.

The Wood River Economic Partnership requested $10,000. The city instead is seeking a contract of services with the group in lieu of a straight donation. The two will discuss the matter in depth prior to the Sept. 25 meeting, when the city plans to review an itemized list of services the organization can provide to the city.

Ketchum Area Rapid Transit's request for $9,200 is an extension of a request made in July for $380,000. The initial sum is for "equivalent level of service on town routes, as well as valley routes," stated Jason Miller, director of planning and market strategy, in a written request to the city. He stated that the "additional $9,202 is to help support an increased level of service up and down the valley." The city took no action on KART's request on Wednesday, instead postponing the item to Thursday's meeting.

Lastly, the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau requested $25,000—this is in addition to the $338,000 requested in July. The additional money would go toward improving the chamber Web site's analytical and information-processing capabilities, and for improved public relations software. The council took no action on the request.

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