Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BRIEFS


Campgrounds open for holiday
    Almost all campgrounds on the Ketchum Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area will be open for Memorial Day weekend.    
    Those include campgrounds in the Wood River Valley, Sawtooth Valley and Stanley Basin west of Stanley.
    Redfish Lake campgrounds will be open but the Mount Heyburn and Redfish Inlet campgrounds will be closed.    
    Campgrounds will be open at Alturas Lake, Pettit Lake and Stanley Lake.
    Baumgartner Campground on the Fairfield Ranger District will be closed.

Tour to show eco-landscaping
    A free home tour to learn about conservation-oriented landscaping will take place Wednesday, May 28, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at 208 First Ave. N. in Hailey.
    Learn about using xeric design elements, aesthetics, texture and species choice while saving water.
    Landscape designer Dean Hernandez will lead the tour, which is the second session of a four-part series on water conservation sponsored by the cities of Hailey and Ketchum and the Wood River Land Trust.
    For more information, see www.woodriverlandtrust.org/Events.
    
Burn activities prohibited on BLM land
    As the result of a 2014 Fire Prevention Order signed by acting BLM Idaho State Director Tim Murphy, certain potentially fire-causing activities are illegal on BLM lands from May 10 to Oct. 20.
    Those include fireworks, exploding targets, tracer ammunition, and burning any tire, wire, magnesium, plastic or explosive material (including exploding targets) that may cause a fire.
    “These prevention orders will reduce the number of unnecessary wildfires,” Murphy said. “The BLM appreciates your efforts to protect our public lands, one of our nation’s greatest treasures.”

Ketchum to hold business forum
    The city of Ketchum will hold a forum for business owners on Thursday, May 29, at 5:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center at 491 Sun Valley Road.
    Mayor Nina Jonas has invited all business owners to join her and other elected and appointed officials for informal discussions and keypad polling on a variety of topics.
    Topics to be discussed include how the city can better collaborate with its existing businesses, city communication with business owners, business training programs that would be helpful, opinions on permitting temporary vendors and whether Ketchum needs a new business organization.
    The title of the program is “Business Owners: What’s on Your Mind?”
    “Planning Commissioner Deborah ‘Burnsie’ Burns suggested the meeting, and we agreed that it is overdue,” Jonas said. “Some feel there has been a void in the business community since the dissolution of the chamber of commerce. We want to reach out to our business owners and see what the city can do to help.”
    Burns and Director of Planning and Building Joyce Allgaier will facilitate the polling and discussions.
    There is no charge to attend the forum. Refreshments will be served and no-host beverages will be available.
    Although the meeting is designed primarily for business owners, it is open to the public. To obtain additional information, contact Allgaier at jallgaier@ketchumidaho.org or call 727-5084.

Cities receive new rescue vehicle
    The city of Ketchum has acquired a new backcountry rescue all-terrain vehicle. The city said the vehicle is essential, as Ketchum firefighters now go to more backcountry rescues than structure fires.
    The increasing proportion of medical emergencies follows a nationwide trend, according to Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle. Fire/paramedic agencies across the country say 72 percent of the calls they respond to are medical. Wood River Fire & Rescue, which serves southern Blaine County, reports that 90 percent of its calls are for medical emergencies.
    The new Polaris Ranger, which cost about $25,000 fully equipped, has a litter on top and is equipped with tires in the summer and tracks in the winter. It is a donation to the Ketchum and Sun Valley fire departments from the Ketchum/Sun Valley Volunteer Firefighter Association. Previously, rescue teams had to pull a patient in a trailer attached to an ATV.
    Ketchum firefighters make about 10 backcountry rescues each year.


Firefighters install new flagpole
    The Hailey Fire Department, in conjunction with the Hailey Volunteer Firefighters’ Association and assistance from Bellevue firefighters, on May 14 placed into service a new fire station flag pole. The pole was purchased through efforts of the Firefighters’ Association and the Hailey community with donations and support. The new pole stands 30 feet and is top-lit by rechargeable LED lights for proper nighttime display. Funds were collected through donation containers at local businesses from November through January. The total cost for the project was just over $1,500.
    In honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter along with his staff were invited to lower the Fire Department’s new flag to half-mast. The formal dedication will be held June 19 during the Hailey Fire Department’s open house.

Unemployment rate continues falling
     Idaho employers maintained traditional hiring levels in April, continuing the state’s economic recovery and driving the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down another two-tenths of a percentage point to 5 percent, the Idaho Department of Labor reported. The last time the rate was at or below 5 percent was July 2008.
    In Blaine County, the unemployment rate in April is estimated at 4.3 percent, down from 5.6 percent in April 2013.
     The steady pace of job creation—more than 20,000 since January—pushed the economy near its pre-recession job peak. More than 1,500 people entered the labor force in April, the largest one-month increase since the beginning of 2010. Employers reported more than 15,000 new hires during April, more than half to fill new jobs.
    Total employment hit yet another all-time high, reaching 740,000 to mark the eighth straight monthly record. About 14,000 more people were working in April than a year earlier, the largest year-over-year gap since mid-2012.
    Idaho’s unemployment rate has fallen one and four-tenths percentage points in the last year.

Verizon installs new cell tower
    Communications giant Verizon announced last week that it has installed a new cellular tower near Ketchum. The new facility replaces one lost in a fire last winter that burned the Flying Squirrel ski lift and a communications facility on the north side of Baldy. Cell service was limited in some areas after the fire.
    Verizon reported that the new facility will actually improve service in the Ketchum area. The new cell tower has increased 3G and 4G LTE coverage in areas around Ketchum, a Verizon official said.
    “Verizon still has plans to rebuild its tower on Sun Valley’s property. We are working with the ski resort on a timeline,” company representative Meagan Dorsch said.

A better view of Shoshone Falls?
    Idaho Power Co. announced last week that it will make improvements to its Shoshone Falls hydroelectric facility beginning in June and continuing through fall 2015.
    “The project will not reduce flows over the falls, and the end result will be a better view of the Magic Valley’s most popular scenic attraction,” a company news release states.
    The construction activity this summer and fall will take place on the north side of the river, where water flows into Idaho Power’s hydroelectric project.
    “Idaho Power’s intent is for these improvements to create a more enjoyable view of Shoshone Falls while making our hydroelectric facility safer and more economical to operate,” said Idaho Power Engineering Leader Jerrod Vaughn, who is overseeing the project.
    Shoshone Falls, three miles northeast of Twin Falls, is 212 feet high and provides spectacular views from the park on the south side of the Snake River. It began producing electricity in 1907 and currently has a capacity of 12.5 megawatts.
    As in past years, Idaho Power will ensure a minimum scenic flow of 300 cubic feet per second over the falls from April 1 through Labor Day. However, construction activity will shift the flow and require the reservoir behind the dam be lowered by a foot for the safety of crews working below the dam, the company said. When the project is complete, viewers will see fewer structures at the falls.

Learn how to dodge diabetes
    St. Luke’s Center for Community Health will present a Brown Bag Health Talk called “Dodging Diabetes” from 12:15-1:15 p.m. Thursday, May 22, in the Baldy Rooms of St. Luke’s Wood River, south of Ketchum.
    Nancy Dettori, registered nurse and certified diabetes educator, and Sarah Seppa, registered dietitian, will discuss the best preventative measures and the most effective treatment strategies.
    All Brown Bag lectures are free and no pre-registration is required.
    Call St. Luke’s Center for Community Health for information on this or other educational programs: 727-8733.

Ketchum welcomes new firefighters
    Five Ketchum volunteer firefighters and one new staff firefighter were sworn in Monday before the Ketchum City Council. The cadets are Kyle Ray, Craig Huettig, Jasmine Furnish, Brenda Johnson and Gerad House. The new member of the Fire Department is Steve Southward. Fire Chief Mike Elle reminded audience members that the cadets are the next generation of the department, who are willing to be on call for the welfare and safety of Ketchum residents.




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