Friday, August 30, 2013

Wagons then, jets now

    Ketchum’s Wagon Days Parade on Saturday will not only commemorate the Sun Valley area’s history, it will celebrate the fact that the future is looking better.
    Officials made the right decision to carry on with the parade instead of panicking when the Beaver Creek Fire came calling. They trusted the firefighters who contained the fire and quelled its threat.
    Along with consigning the Beaver Creek Fire to the history books, residents and visitors can celebrate a new air link with San Francisco, Calif., that will begin in December. Sun Valley Resort and Fly Sun Valley Alliance successfully engineered a deal with United Airlines for seasonal daily direct flights of regional jets to Hailey from the big city by the bay.
    It’s a landmark deal.
    It links our resort economy with a third major U.S. city and a third international airport. It brings a third major commercial air carrier into a market now served by Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
    Passengers from the new flights will inject revenue into an economy that’s floundered for six years, crippled by the effects of a poor national economy, difficult air access and uncertainty that surrounded the future of Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport.
    The Airport Authority worked with the Federal Aviation Administration to resolve airport issues and to accommodate state-of-the-art regional jets.
    When mining was king, the Big Hitch ore wagons drove the economy. Today it’s become driven, in part, by regional jets.
    This fall, Ketchum and Hailey voters will be asked for the second time to approve funding to stabilize air service and to become reliable and true partners in our own success.
    This weekend, though, we should celebrate our communities’ labors, accomplishments and the fact we survived to look forward to a rosier future.

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