Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Logging trucks active near Fairfield
    Logging traffic near the city of Fairfield is expected to increase in the next few weeks due to a forest-thinning project in the Chimney Creek drainage northwest of the city.
    According to a news release from the Bureau of Land Management, timber from the West Camas timber-thinning project was sold in an auction to Boise Cascade Wood Products. There will be about 100 truckloads hauling 500,000 board feet to LaGrande, Ore., over the next few months. Trucks will travel the 1100 Road south to U.S. Highway 20. Recreationists in the Chimney Creek drainage should drive with caution as there will be logging traffic on the roads.
    The project is designed to remove diseased trees, promote resistance to insects, reduce threat from uncharacteristic wildfires, establish new regeneration, increase forest production and increase structural diversity.
    For more information, contact Frank Marsh at 208-384-3389.

More workers enter labor force
    Idaho’s labor force increased by 1,100 workers last month, the largest number in over a year, pushing the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from 6.1 percent in April to 6.2 percent for May.
    Blaine County’s rate was estimated at 5.7 percent, the same as in April.
    The state experienced its first monthly increase in unemployment since June 2011, when the rate hit 8.5 percent, just short of a post-recession high of 8.8 percent, before beginning a steady two-year decline.
    The number of workers off the job rose 900 to 47,500, erasing April’s decline.
    The tenth of a percentage point increase in the Idaho rate matched the uptick in the national rate to 7.6 percent in May. But Idaho’s rate was still more than a percentage point below the May 2012 rate of 7.3 percent, and May marked the 140th straight month that Idaho’s rate has been below the national average.

Early summer looks strong for mountain destinations
    With the ski and snowboard season now in the rearview mirror, warm temperatures and good economic news are nudging Western mountain destinations in the direction of a record-breaking summer for lodging properties in 17 communities across the West.
    The assessment is based on the most recent data released by Denver-based DestiMetrics.
    A year-over-year 14.6 percent increase in hotel occupancy was recorded for May. The trend for June is also positive with on-the-books occupancy as of May 31 up 5.7 percent compared to the same time period last year. The next six months, June through November, also look promising with a 6.7 percent increase.
    “The twin wildcards of economy and weather are working in our favor at this early stage of the summer season,” said DestiMetrics Director Ralf Garrison. “Forecasts for a hot, dry summer provide an inducement for city dwellers to make a trip to the cooler mountains, while mountain resorts have continued to expand and enhance their lineup of special events and activities.”

Republican to challenge Simpson
    U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has a Republican primary challenger for Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District seat with 11 months to go until the election.
    Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to be Simpson’s opponent in May 2014.
    Simpson has been in office since 1998 and has beaten primary and general election opponents that include tea party-backed candidate Chick Heileson during the last two contests.
    Smith, a Heileson supporter who helped him raise money, has taken a role in Idaho Falls affairs, including criticizing former City Attorney Dale Storer, who quit last September after acknowledging he overbilled the city for his legal work.
    The 51-year-old Smith said he will make a formal announcement Thursday.
Grants awarded to Caritas Chorale
    The Wood River Valley-based Caritas Chorale has received Arts and Culture grants from the Idaho Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts for $3,043, as well as from the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation for $1,500. According to a news release from the group, the money will be used for the production of the “Messiah” with professional orchestra and soloists next spring.
    Rehearsals will begin this fall. Anyone interested in participating should call 578-9648. 

Hailey creates citizens committee
    The city of Hailey is inviting citizens to join a volunteer committee to review design information for a sludge dewatering facility to replace the current deteriorating tank in Woodside. The committee will work with consulting engineer HDR Engineering in preparation for a bond election in May.
    The committee will meet periodically with city staff and the consultant to review design information, pilot test results and discuss the direction of the project. Members will be asked to be present during presentations to the City Council to address any questions from the mayor and council members.  
    Interested citizens should contact Public Works Director Tom Hellen at 788-9830, ext. 14, or  

National Guard to conduct communications training in Hailey
    Thirty men and women will conduct training on the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability today, June 26, at 1 p.m., at the Hailey National Guard Armory.
    The JISCC allows civilian and National Guard first responders to have sophisticated emergency communications capabilities during and after a disaster. Deployed in each state by the National Guard Bureau, the equipment can be loaded into a trailer to be either towed or airlifted to a disaster site within an hour.
    Experts will be at the armory to answer questions.
Spruce budworm outbreak hits firs
    Western spruce budworm is now defoliating conifers, including Douglas firs, in many parts of southern Idaho. According to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service, defoliated trees turn reddish-brown during the summer and can become more vulnerable to bark beetle infestations.
    This insect population began to increase in 2004 and is now at outbreak levels in many areas of Idaho.  More than 2 million acres have been affected.  Impacts from defoliation can be worse in years when the weather is warm and dry, such as this one.
    Control options are limited over large areas. Dense tree stands are impacted more severely than open stands. For backyard trees, defoliation can be reduced by killing the budworm larvae; several chemical and biological insecticides are available. Treatments are most effective when larvae are small and have just begun to feed, typically in early summer. Recent field assessments indicate that direct treatments should begin now and continue over the next several weeks.
    More details on Western spruce budworm can be found at
Ketchum bridge players win titles
    Jim Siegel of Ketchum has been named a gold life master in bridge, a rank that puts him in the top 5 percent of bridge players in the nation. In addition, Jo Murray, also of Ketchum, has been named a bronze life master.
    Siegel has more than 2,500 master points, or points earned by winning competitive bridge games and tournaments. He won the final points for his new rank in Gatlinburg, Tenn., which hosts the largest regional bridge tournament in the country each year.
    Murray has more than 500 master points. She won the final points needed for the rank in a recent tournament in Twin Falls.
    A life master is described by the American Contract Bridge League as “the most highly sought level of bridge achievement.”

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