Friday, September 2, 2011


Lifts set to close after Labor Day

Monday, Sept. 5, will be the final day for daily lift operations and lift-access mountain biking on Bald Mountain. The gondola will operate on weekends only after Labor Day: on Sept. 10-11 and 17-18. Ticket prices will be reduced to $20. The Roundhouse Grill will be open for lunch through Sept. 5 and then remain open on the weekends of Sept. 10-11 and 17-18.

The River Run ticket office will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 5 and on the weekends of Sept. 10-11 and 17-18.

Winter ski-pass sales will continue online and at the Sun Valley Village Recreation Office.

AAA: Gas prices to hold steady

Idahoans planning to hit the road during the last three-day holiday of summer will find that the high, but steady, gas prices to which they have been accustomed for the past couple of months will hang around for a few more days, AAA Idaho stated.

Based on AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the state's average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.68, within a few pennies of where it has been for most of the summer and six cents higher than the national average. Idahoans are paying 69 cents a gallon more than a year ago.

"The recent run-up in gasoline futures prices suggests a price surge at the pump may be around the corner, but we do not expect any major movements in Idaho pump prices prior to or during the Labor Day weekend," said AAA Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson.

Historically, August is the slowest news month of the year for crude oil and gasoline markets. But an earthquake and a hurricane, not to mention stock market volatility and a historic downgrade in U.S. debt rating this month, have all affected petroleum prices.

Oil traded at nearly $100 a barrel in late July, falling to $79.30 by Aug. 9. But none of that mattered at Idaho pumps, where prices stayed stubbornly fixed at about $3.67 for the month. Nationally, the average price dropped from $3.71 to start the month before falling all the way to $3.57 by the third week of the month. Today, the U.S. average price is $3.62.

Idaho loses ground on wages

Though wages in Idaho have risen during the recession, they lost ground relative to those in other states. The average wage fell from 37th in 2008 to 38th in 2010 among the states while the median wage dropped from 35th to 39th.

The latest survey of wages under the Occupational Employment Statistics program put the average wage for all jobs in Idaho at $18.56 per hour in May 2010. That was 15 percent below the national average wage for all jobs.

The median wage, which is the point where half the workers are paid more and half are paid less, was $14.54 an hour in 2010, 12 percent below the national median.

By comparison, the average Idaho wage in 2009 was $18.23 an hour, 14.6 percent below the national average, while the median wage was $14.44 an hour, 10.5 percent of the national median.

Idaho began to feel the recession in earnest in the fall of 2008. That year, the average Idaho wage was $17.94 an hour, 13.3 percent below the national average, while the median wage was $14.32 an hour, 8.7 percent of the national median.

Most of the urban and rural areas of Idaho saw similar increases in the gaps between their average and median wages in 2010 and the nation's average and median.

The exception was the eastern Idaho area outside of metropolitan Idaho Falls. The gap actually closed between the regional and national average and median wages, primarily because of the stability of the Idaho National Laboratory in rural Butte County.

West Nile virus case confirmed

Health officials are reminding people to take precautions following the first indications of West Nile virus activity in 2011:

( A man in his 50s was hospitalized in southeast Idaho last week with a West Nile Virus infection.

( The Gem County Mosquito Abatement District recently reported a positive test for the virus in mosquitoes collected from the Emmett area.

( A Nevada resident potentially contracted the infection while recently visiting Ada County.

"As Labor Day approaches, we want to remind people to include mosquito repellent in their outdoor plans," said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist.

West Nile virus is usually contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact. Symptoms of infection often include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. In some cases the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people over the age of 50.

Last year, three Idahoans were reported with the virus. In 2006, Idaho led the nation in West Nile illnesses with almost 1,000 infections, which contributed to 23 deaths.

People are advised to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when they are most active. People are also asked to reduce standing water on their property.

Although there is no vaccine available for people, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to keep their horses vaccinated annually.

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