Friday, March 15, 2013


Sun Valley drafts amendments to personnel policy

The Sun Valley City Council has unanimously given the green light to the city’s staff to draft two amendments to the city’s personnel policy. 

The first would protect city employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We’re Luddites to think we have an appropriate policy without that in there,” Council President Bob Youngman said at a council meeting on Thursday, March 7, during which the council members discussed specifically protecting employees from such discrimination.

The second amendment to the policy would, according to City Administrator Susan Robertson, provide an “avenue outside of the organization” for city employees to lodge complaints against the city or other city employees. Robertson said in an interview that the amendment would better protect potential whistleblowers from any retaliation they might face for “raising issues.”

Robertson said at the meeting that the drafts should be ready for council review and possible approval by April or May.


Resort to ‘Rock ’N the Sun’

Sun Valley Co. will kick off its annual springtime outdoor concert series at the bases of River Run and Warm Springs this weekend.

Lukas Nelson & the Promise of Real will launch the free, so-called Rock ’N the Sun series at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the River Run base. According to a recent resort news release, the base areas will feature “festive” outdoor bars and a beer garden during the concerts. The resort will serve barbecue and other picnic fare until 6 p.m.

The concerts will continue on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. through April 13, with Paranoid Social Club on March 23 at River Run, The Bernie Worrell Orchestra on April 6 at River Run and Diego’s Umbrella on April 13 at Warm Springs.


Local ranch is focus of documentary

“Heart Rock Ranch: A Conservation Story,” a 54-minute documentary chronicling one of the largest private stream restoration efforts in Idaho, will make its debut at the Sun Valley Film Festival tonight, March 15.

The film focuses on stream restoration at the Heart Rock Ranch, a private ranch south of Bellevue owned by Shirley and Harry Hagey. Restoration on the former Diamond Dragon Ranch started in spring 2011, as the Hageys worked with The Nature Conservancy and hydrologists, biologists and ecologists to bring the stream and riparian habitat back to health.

Kendall Nelson and cinematographer John Plummer will present the documentary today, March 15, at 1:30 p.m. at the nexStage Theatre, along with the Hageys and Laura Hubbard, the Western director of The Nature Conservancy.


F&G meeting to discuss wolves

The next Idaho Fish and Game Commission public hearing will be held on Monday, March 18, at 7 p.m. at the Fish and Game Headquarters at 600 S. Walnut St. in Boise.

Defenders of Wildlife will host a private reception for all members and their friends and family before the meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Nature Center, across from the commission’s meeting room. Defenders spokeswoman Suzanne Stone will be there to talk about the status of wolves in Idaho, and show the premier of a new wolf documentary called “Shades of Gray.”

Members of Defenders of Wildlife plan to testify about the state of wolves in Idaho and urge commissioners to follow “responsible” wolf management.


New air service proposed

Local homeowner and pilot Norman Nie is holding a meeting today, March 15, for locals to get more information on his proposed air service.

Nie proposes using Friedman Memorial Airport as a hub for a small fleet of Saab 340B aircraft that would provide nonstop flights to and from Seattle, Denver, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles for members of a yet-to-be created Sun Valley Aviation Association.

The association would be formed by people willing to fly a minimum of two round trips per year.

Nie said his fleet would not compete with commercial air service, but provide higher-end service with low-density seating, computer connections and complimentary food and beverages.

Those interested can come to the Wood River Community Y on Warm Springs Road in Ketchum today, March 15, at 9 a.m., or to the Atlantic Aviation terminal at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey today at 11:30 a.m.

Nie said that with enough interest, service could begin in time for next ski season.


Water meeting set for Tuesday

The Idaho Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey are partnering to develop a groundwater flow model of the Wood River Valley aquifer system, and representatives will hold a meeting next week to discuss the project and answer questions.

The meeting will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, at Wood River High School in Hailey. Idaho Department of Water Resources representative Sean Vincent and U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Jim Bartolino will talk about the ground flow model.

More details are available at


Stanton Crossing track is closed

A recreational motorcycle dirt track in the area of Stanton Crossing is no longer available for use due to an effort to reclaim the area with native vegetation. Off-road riders are reminded to heed closure notices and allow plant growth.

For many years, the Idaho Transportation Department held a mineral lease with the Idaho Department of Lands to use the site, about two miles west of the junction of U.S. Highway 20 and state Highway 75, to extract sand and gravel for road projects. The source has not been actively used by ITD for more than a decade, and over time an unauthorized motorcycle dirt track was created on the lease area.

Reclamation of the site is required by the Idaho Surface Mining Act as well as through terms of the ITD mineral lease, which expired in 2011. Reclamation could take several years until the vegetation is established.

Last October, ITD crews bulldozed disturbed areas of the site and planted native vegetation. The area has been posted with closure notification but unauthorized use has continued. Portions of the area will be fenced to restrict activities later this spring and information about the closure will be posted.

Those needing more information or who have questions about the closure are encouraged to contact the ITD office in Shoshone at 208-886-7809 or the Idaho Department of Lands office in Jerome at 208-324-2561.


Chef makes award semifinals

The James Beard Foundation has listed Taite Pearson, co-owner and chef at Della Mano restaurant in Ketchum, as one of 20 semifinalists for the foundation’s Best Chef: Northwest award.

“That’s the highest level of recognition, to be recognized by the James Beard Foundation,” Pearson said. “It’s a pretty cool deal.”

James Beard awards are popularly referred to as the “Oscars of the food world.”

Pearson said that the foundation considers about 5,000 restaurants in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming for the Best Chef: Northwest category.

According to Pearson, the foundation will announce four finalists on March 18. He said they will be invited to an awards ceremony in New York in May, during which the foundation will announce a winner.


Low water supply is likely

Two months of below-normal precipitation in most parts of Idaho are likely to affect water supply, according to a report released this week by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

Currently, the majority of streams in the state are forecast to flow at 70-90 percent of average. 

“We’ve learned from the past that when we get two dry winter months in a row, negative impacts on the water supply start to occur,” said Ron Abramovich, the agency’s water supply specialist for Idaho.

The agency reported that high-elevation snowpack is adequate and carrying the snowpack average. The low-elevation snowpack lacks volume and will melt out quickly as seasonal temperatures increase.

“Knowing what elevation your water supply comes from will help you prepare for this season’s water supply,” Abramovich said.

The complete March 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report is available online at by clicking on the “March 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report” link. The report includes snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supply information for specific basins.


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