Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Briefs


'Downwinder' resolution introduced

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch introduced a resolution last week to help Idahoans adversely affected by nuclear fallout from arms testing during the Cold War era.

The resolution, passed Nov. 16, is intended to bring more attention to the "downwinders" who were exposed many years ago.

The legislation designates Jan. 27 as a national day of remembrance for Americans who worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites during the Cold War.

Crapo and Risch reintroduced legislation earlier this session to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide expanded restitution for Americans exposed to atomic weapons tests, in addition to former workers in uranium mines.

Among other things, the RECA amendments of 2010 would build upon previous RECA legislation by further widening qualifications for compensation for radiation exposure, qualifying post-1971 uranium workers for compensation and expanding the downwind exposure area to include seven states.

St. Luke's nurse wins award

A St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center nurse has been named Nurse of the Year by the March of Dimes.

Karen Morrison, manager of the hospital's Learning Services Department, was presented with the award for nurses in the medium facility category. The award recognizes nurses whose leadership and contributions have had a significant impact on their community.

Morrison oversees educational opportunities for staff and in the community. She helped get simulation training to emergency responders in the area and supported a group of new nurses. She has been an active member of the St. Luke's Health System Research Council, and as one of the Wood River research fellows, contributed to an integrative medicine research project that will soon be published and presented.

"Karen is regarded as a collaborative leader with members of the medical staff and has implemented a long list of effective projects developed to benefit the medical center, the EMS system and the community at large," Sharon Kensinger, St. Luke's Wood River's vice president of rural patient care services and chief nursing officer, said in a news release.

The award was announced during the March of Dimes Idaho Nursing Excellence awards event Nov. 12 in Boise.

Ketchum to host ski group

The city of Ketchum wants to make sure that attendees of The National Brotherhood of Skiers' annual Meeting and Challenge Cup next year have fun, spend money and come back year after year.

Ketchum City Council members Monday discussed hiring an event coordinator to ensure the group has a good experience.

"It's much more professional and we won't miss anything," Councilman Baird Gourlay said of hiring outside help.

About 1,000 people are expected for the summit, scheduled for Feb. 25 to March 3.

Lisa Horowitz, Ketchum's community and economic developer, said a professional planner likely could be hired for that event for under $5,000.

"The goal here is we want to roll out the red carpet," said Mayor Randy Hall. "If we do a good job, they'll want to come back."

The topic will be put on the council's Dec. 5 agenda for possible action.

Councilman to stay on Rides board

Ketchum City Councilman Curtis Kemp was reappointed to his position on the board of directors of Mountain Rides.

The City Council confirmed the appointment at their Monday meeting.

Kemp is an architect with degrees in economics and architecture.

The transportation agency is overseen by a seven-member board with representatives from Blaine County and Wood River Valley municipalities. It operates as a public agency under a Joint Powers Agreement partnership that includes the cities of Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley and Blaine County.

"It's a great entity to have in our community," said Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall.

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Ketchum sour on Sun Valley parks contribution

The Ketchum City Council Monday approved a parks and recreation services contract with the city of Sun Valley, but not before expressing frustration with the lower amount the neighboring city is providing for the department.

"I think we better start having some conversations about what we're going to do," said Mayor Randy Hall.

Sun Valley is contributing $20,000 this fiscal year to the department. Previously, the city allocated $30,000. Sun Valley doesn't have its own public parks, so it chips in to Ketchum's parks and recreation department so its residents can use the services and facilities there.

Hall said the reduced figure means Ketchum taxpayers have to make up the rest.

"We'll take the $20,000 ... and then start figuring out what our levers are," he said.

Ketchum OKs police contract

Ketchum city leaders are happy with their agreement with Blaine County for police services and voted to extend the arrangement for another year.

The City Council on Monday approved this fiscal year's law enforcement services agreement with the county, in the amount of $1,244,300. That's $23,000 less than last year's, although the contract will remain essentially the same. The savings were a result of cost control measures, according to a staff report.

The contracting agreement has resulted in higher morale, good community policing initiatives and major financial savings, said City Administrator Gary Marks.

By next fiscal year, he said Ketchum will have saved about $1 million with this arrangement.

"I don't see how that could possibly be construed as a bad thing," said Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall.

Jobless rate falls another two-tenths

Employers across Idaho's economy maintained payrolls at higher levels than typical for October, pushing Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down another two-tenths of a point to 8.8 percent, the lowest level in nearly two years.

It was the second straight month that Idaho's jobless rate has been below the national rate, which fell just a tenth of a point to 9 percent. Unemployment in Idaho has declined six-tenths of a percentage point in the last three months and eight-tenths from the record 9.7 percent in December through March.

In Blaine County, 1,098 of the estimated workforce of 12,190 people were unemployed in October, putting the county unemployment rate at 9 percent. That's down from 9.7 percent in September.

Unemployment fell to 66,400, the lowest level in 22 months. The decline of 1,700 is the second largest monthly decrease in unemployment on record. The 1,900 decline in September was the largest, and combined, September and October rival the drops in unemployment during the fall of 1983, a year after the end of the severe double-dip recession of the early 1980s.

The number of Idahoans in the labor force also rose modestly from September, breaking a three-month slide and suggesting some renewed optimism about job opportunities.

Still, the number of workers without jobs remained higher than at any other time before the 2007-2009 recession.

Hailey Public Library to offer eBooks

The Hailey Public Library and seven other LYNX Consortium libraries are expanding services to include 400 shared eBook and eAudiobook titles.

The service is powered by OverDrive, a leading full-service digital distributor of electronic media. Soon, the library's card holders will be able to check out eBooks and eAudiobooks via the library's designated OverDrive webpage, known as Ideate.

"We're taking small steps. At first, only adult titles will be available," said LeAnn Gelskey, director of HPL.

Gelskey said that unlike on-demand services that allow many users to download or view materials simultaneously, only one patron can check out an eBook title at a time. 'Holds,' or requests for popular titles, can be made online.

Users will need to install free software. For eBooks, users will need Adobe Digital Editions; for eAudiobooks, OverDrive Media Consol. Titles can be transferred to a variety of devices, including Kindle, iPod, Sony Reader, Nook and many others. Since titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, there are no late fees.

For more information about borrowing eBooks, contact the Hailey Public Library at 788-2036. Also, visit www.haileypubliclibrary.org.

Kiwanis to host Winter Wonderland

The annual Winter Wonderland for Kids will be hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Hailey and the Wood River Valley at the Idaho National Guard Armory, 701 S. Fourth St. in Hailey, on Saturday, Dec. 3, from noon to 3 p.m. The price to cover expenses is $5 per child. Santa will be there along with crafts, ornaments, gifts, and gingerbread-house making. This year, sponsors include Albertson's, Copy & Print and The Weekly Sun. Kiwanis International is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. For more information, call 721-7246.




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