Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Briefs


Travel Council to meet in Boise

The Idaho Travel Council will hold its annual winter meeting in Boise at the Idaho Department of Commerce on Thursday, Jan. 27, and Friday, Jan. 28.

The agenda will include updates on the grant program and upcoming grant summit, international program, public relations, group tours, Idaho film office and Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism planning.

The public can stream Thursday's meeting by connecting to http://commerce.idaho.gov/business/idaho-travel-council.aspx.

Friday's meeting will consist of a joint meeting with the Economic Advisory Council and Innovation Council of the Idaho Department of Commerce and will focus on department program updates.

The Idaho Travel Council is an eight-member, private sector advisory board appointed by the governor. Members include Dick Andersen of Sun Valley Resort.

Name change in corporation's future?

The Sun Valley Economic Development Corp. may undergo a name change, County Commissioner Tom Bowman said Monday.

Bowman said the corporation is considering a change because the board feels the name is too close to that of the newly christened Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce.

"They're moving toward a more Sustain Blaine-type moniker," Bowman said.

The corporation was formed by Sustain Blaine, an organization dedicated to regional economic development. The corporation is charged with carrying out actions outlined in an economic strategy developed by the TIPS consulting firm in 2009.

The corporation is also in the midst of finalizing the contract of a new executive director. Corporation spokesman Evan Lawler said the contract is just awaiting one more vote of approval.

"We've approved the budget, we've approved the contract language and we need one more approval from the Department of Commerce," Lawler said.

Half of the cost of the position is funded by a grant from the Department of Commerce, funds that are matched by private donations.

P&Z Commission to elect chair

The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission will convene Thursday to elect a new chair.

The current chair is Ketchum resident Chip Bailey, who has served as commission chair once before his current one-year term.

Land Use and Building Services director Tom Bergin said Commissioner Pat Murphy, the current vice-chair, is one "candidate" for chair.

"He's expressed an interest, and often the vice-chair will step up to chair," Bergin said. "But there aren't campaign signs or anything."

Murphy has served on the commission since Nov. 2006 and was reappointed to another term during Monday's County Commission meeting.

A consideration of text amendments to the septic requirements is also on the agenda. The P&Z will convene on Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey.

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 Science on the mind

Students at Hailey Elementary School are using familiar things in unusual ways to explore and explain their world.  Balloons, uncooked spaghetti, marshmallows, cans of soda, live plants and 3-D glasses are being used to discover and depict theories on gravity, vision, electricity and much more. 

The students will present experiments and discoveries at the school Science Fair on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 6-8 p.m. in the gymnasium. 

A month of science learning was kicked off on Jan. 7 with Family Science Night, funded by Power Engineers. Volunteers from the Wood River High School Girls Basketball Team guided more than 100 children in hands-on experiments. Kids and parents learned about gravity, flight, chromatography, buoyancy and structure.  

"The goal was to get the kids enthusiastic about science, then give them help finding something they want to explore for the Science Fair," said Kathy Baker, chair of the Hailey Science Fair for the Hailey Parent/Teacher Association.   

For more information, contact Baker at 450-9323 or Wendy Barckholtz at 788-3034. 

Luke's gets anti-gravity treadmill

Thanks to community generosity, an anti-gravity treadmill is now available at the St. Luke's-Elks Rehabilitation Department.

Invented by NASA scientists, the Alter-G treadmill allows people to improve mobility and health, recover from injury and surgery more effectively and overcome medical challenges that limit movement in a "weightless" environment.

The treadmill is available for community use Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in Suite 104 of the Physician's Annex building adjacent to the hospital.

A community open house will be held Wednesday, Feb. 2, from 4-6 p.m., when people will be welcome to try the new machine for free.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Kristin Biggins at 727-8253.

Unemployment drops in 24 counties

Twenty-four mostly rural Idaho counties saw seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decline from November to December. But nearly all of them also posted losses in their local labor forces, suggesting that workers left the areas or stopped looking for work.

Statewide, December's unemployment rate rose a tenth to 9.5 percent in December, and for the first time in more than nine years eclipsed the national rate, which dropped four-tenths to 9.4 percent.

The Idaho Department of Labor reported that the improvement many Idaho counties saw in December likely reflected economic conditions that had deteriorated so much over 2010 that there was no room left for normal seasonal layoffs at the end of a year.

Seventeen counties, all but two of them rural, recorded double-digit unemployment rates in December, matching the number for November. Adams and Valley counties, both at 16.9 percent, remained at the top of the list, but each experienced a dramatic decline from November, likely a reflection of the financially beleaguered Tamarack Resort's opening its ski operation for the first time since 2009.

IRS unemployment tax forms on Web

The form that Idaho unemployment benefit recipients need for income tax purposes is now available on the Internet.

The Idaho Department of Labor began mailing Form 1099-G to more than 118,000 benefits recipients last week, providing information on the amount of benefits each received during 2010. The form will reach recipients no later than Jan. 31.

But recipients can view the information by clicking on the YearEnd 1099-G button on the IdahoWorks website, labor.idaho.gov/iw.

Claimants should be aware that their 1099-G will show repayment of overpayments but not the payment of any penalties since that money was never received by the claimant. It also shows the total of the $25 weekly supplemental payment that the federal government provided to active claimants prior to last June.

How unemployment benefits affect a claimant's tax situation is unique to each claimant. Information on that aspect should be obtained from the Idaho State Tax Commission at (208) 334-7660 or (800) 972-7660 or from the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-1040.

Learn about the healing arts

Company of Fools' members R.L. Rowsey and Denise Simone will explore methods of healing through the creative arts during a Brown Bag lunch presentation on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 12:15-1:15 p.m. at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center's Baldy Conference Rooms.

People with illness, caregivers, professionals in the healthcare field and those seeking optimal health are especially encouraged to attend.

All Brown Bag lectures are free and no pre-registration is required. Call 727-8733 for more information.




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