Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate


For the week of Dec. 29, 1999 through Jan. 4, 2000

1999: year in review


January

    Despite excellent early-season conditions, Sun Valley Co. reports only average skier numbers over the Christmas holiday season.
    Sun Valley spokesman Jack Sibbach calls the counts “a little disappointing” in light of the 54-inch base that had collected atop Bald Mountain.


                                  #

    The Blaine County Recreation District announces that in the coming year, its goals will be construction of a Hailey Community Recreation Center, community golf course, and completion of the Harriman Trail.
    “There’s a great need for a youth center in the Wood River Valley, a place where they’re always welcome,” recreation district director Mary Austin Crofts says.

                                  #

    The Sawtooth National Forest announces that it would change its highly controversial User Fee Demonstration Program in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Ketchum Ranger District to a per-vehicle pass at designated trailheads in the spring.
    For the previous two years, the forest officials had implemented a general-use pass.
    “We can say honestly to Congress and the public that (the general use) kind of pass will not be accepted in this part of Idaho,” Sawtooth National Forest spokesman Ed Waldapfel says.

                                  #

    Blaine County students scored high above state and national averages on standardized tests they took in October 1998, county assistant superintendent of schools and director of curriculum Jim Lewis announces.
    All grades tested in the district scored in the 60th percentile or above, which means they scored better than would be expected of 60 percent of students nationwide.

                                  #

    For the first time, Sun Valley Co. opens snowshoe trails on Bald Mountain.
    Six trails on both of the company’s ski mountains provide an alternative to skiing or snowboarding for those who want to enjoy the winter landscape without the hassle of equipment or the cost.

                                  #


    The city of Sun Valley is one of the first Wood River Valley communities to start talking about “Y2K.”
    At a January meeting, the city begins to discuss the “Millennium bug” and preventative measures it will take when the calendar clock turns to zeros. In over 100 letters to locations nationwide, the city asks for reassurance from its vendors that they will be up and running at the turn of the century.

                                  #

    Blaine County’s well-publicized gold coin dispute comes to an end when Fifth District Judge James May awards 96 old gold coins to Jann Wenner.
    Wenner is publisher of Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal magazines.
    In the fall of 1996, according to court documents, Wenner contracted with Anderson Paving, a local company, to construct a driveway on his property. During the course of the construction, Anderson employee Greg Corliss found a buried glass jar containing the coins.

                                  #

    It snows some more.
    By the end of January, several more storms have plowed through the Northwest and Idaho. Sun Valley Co. ski patroller Mike Lloyd reports that 15 inches had fallen in a few days and more is expected.
    “The skiing has been fabulous,” Lloyd says. “The bowls are great, the crud is good and the groomed runs couldn’t be better.”

                                  #

    A panel of local business owners agrees that inexpensive housing and recreational opportunities are the keys to attracting and keeping employees in the Wood River Valley.
    The panel was organized by the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce for an annual Economic Outlook Breakfast.
    “We know that the employee issue is a big concern for area businesses,” chamber executive director Carol Waller says.

                                  #

    A computer glitch combined with a backup-generator breakdown causes the evacuation of riders from the Greyhawk chairlift on Bald Mountain.
    About 25 skiers and snowboarders are evacuated from the lift, and no one is injured.     “We just hung out and had good conversation, says local resident Karl Weatherly, who was on the broken lift.
    The entire lift is evacuated in about an hour.

                                  #

    Renovation plans for Ketchum’s architectural keystone, the Lane Mercantile Building, are approved by the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission.
    It is a project the commission takes very seriously, sending architect David Hurtel back to the drawing board four times before granting approval.

                                  #

    A blizzard produces a slew of car accidents along state Highway 75, between Ketchum and Hailey as, yes, it continues to snow and snow and snow.
    “I don’t think people realized how slick it was,” Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling says. “Everybody just started flying off the road.”
    Eighteen vehicles fall victim to the icy conditions in one afternoon.

                                  #

    The Idaho Mountain Express examines the Blaine County Commission for a story on commissioners Mary Ann Mix, Leonard Harlig and Dennis Wright. Between them they have more than 35 years of experience in local government.
    “People don’t really know their government or understand how it works,” Commissioner Wright says. “Most people believe the majority of government wastes enormous amounts of money, causing the public to come away with negative, narrow perceptions about government mismanagement. I believe that about federal government to some extent, but I don’t believe that there’s a lot of waste in local government.”

                                  #

    The first of last winter’s cougar-related mishaps begin near the end of January, when north Hailey residents report that between a half dozen and a dozen domestic cats had disappeared.
    “Every morning there are new tracks,” Hailey resident Katheryn Leach says of her backyard. Leach reports that a domestic cat from the household next door to hers was dismembered and placed next to a tree. The following night, she says, the cat’s fur was put on the fence that divides her yard from her neighbor’s.

February

    A partially-built Elkhorn home is destroyed by a conflagration that included 100-foot-long jets of flame that shot from an adjacent propane tank. The partially-built structure’s value is estimated at $650,000 to $700,000.
    Sun Valley Fire Chief Jeff Carnes says the propane tank “absolutely” could have exploded.
    “It scared me to death,” Carnes comments.

                                  #

    The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) receives permission from Blaine County for stream bed alterations associated with the removal of the state Highway 75 bridge over the Big Wood River at Greenhorn and construction of a new four-lane bridge. The commissioners unanimously approve the ITD’s application for the stream-alteration permit.

                                  #

    Between six and eight avalanches sweep down the south side of the East Fork drainage and deal a damaging blow to three empty homes that are in their paths.
    A week later, three avalanches released from the slopes of Della Mountain in Hailey spill snow and debris across the Big Wood River.
    No one is caught or injured in the slides, but no less than 20 deer become part of the Della Mountain avalanches’ jetsam. It is deemed likely that the herd of deer triggered the slide that swept them over a 200-foot cliff to their deaths.
    Highway 75 over Galena Summit is also closed by avalanches that week. Over 27 inches of snow fall in three days.

                                  #

    A cougar strikes again.     Ketchum resident Gary Vinagre reports that his prized hunting dog was killed by a cougar in his backyard. Vinagre then killed the cat with a shotgun blast, though he says he was attempting to issue a warning blast.

                                  #

    An ITD-hosted Highway 75 meeting goes without significant public participation.     Those in attendance hear a presentation about planned future projects that include: Ketchum city streetscape improvements, reconstruction and widening of the Greenhorn Bridge to five lanes as well as a portion of the highway between Alturas Drive and Timber Way, widening of Highway 75 adjacent to the St. Luke’s Hospital site and Highway 75 widening between Bellevue and Hailey.

                                  #

    Another massive structure is approved for construction in Ketchum.
    The 43,000-square-foot Private Residence Resort building, developed by Michael Burns, is approved to be built on the Snug building site, across the street from the Colonnade.

                                  #

    For the Mountain Express’ Valentine’s Day issue and corresponding person-on-the-street interview, Ciebar the dog says he’d “need a bone, a fire hydrant and a little French poodle” if the Y2K bug struck early and all the valley’s restaurants, candy shops and flower shops were closed.

                                  #

    Idaho Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, sponsors and helps pass transfer-of-development rights (TDR) legislation in the legislative session.
    TDRs are expected to help deal with diverse land use issues. In Blaine County, TDRs could be used to place development where supporting infrastructures exist, but the county must first formulate an ordinance.

                                  #

    Idaho’s First Lady, Patricia Kempthorne, makes her first public appearance before the Blaine County Republican Women’s Association at the Valley Club in Hailey.
    Kempthorne speaks of parenting and child-related issues faced in Idaho.
    “I want to spend the next four years dealing with children and families,” she says. “I want to talk openly and honestly about what children need.”

                                  #

    Snowfall last winter as of Feb. 24: October, 0 inches. November, 26 inches. December, 25.5 inches. January, 36 inches. February, 45.5 inches.

                                  #

    The Triumph Mine cleanup saga and the mine’s suspected health risks to Triumph residents, as well as impacts on property values in the area, reach their final stages.
    “After the remediation program is completed the Superfund stigma will be gone,” Triumph site manager Chris Pfahl says. “Triumph will be a nice, pretty green place, and folks can go back to life as normal.”

                                  #

    The U.S. Forest Service enacts a two-year moratorium on road building. The moratorium affects over 8 million acres in all but one of Idaho’s National Forests. A year prior to the moratorium Forest Service chief Michael Dombeck declared that roads are destructive and risky for water quality and fish, and one of the most controversial agency issues among the public.

March

    The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approves a controversial cougar hunting season in Unit 48, which spans the length of the Wood River Valley.
    Fish and Game spokesman Mike Todd points out that Fish and Game officials had considered a lion hunt in Unit 48 for three years prior. The commission’s decision was not based on the public outcry that surged from the Wood River Valley following last winter’s human-lion interactions, Todd says.

                                  #

    A trail of snowmobile tracks and fur indicates that a snowmobiler intentionally hit and killed a coyote on private land in the Sawtooth Valley. However it is not illegal to kill a coyote by any means or at any time in Idaho. The only law the snowmobiler broke was to trespass on private land, an infraction for which no one is apprehended.

                                  #

    The city of Ketchum puts a quick halt to construction of a 100-foot-tall cellular phone tower and all similar towers.
    In an emergency meeting, Ketchum city officials approve a 120-day moratorium on construction of antennas and towers 35 feet or taller. The moratorium ends with an ordinance in place limiting antenna height to 35 feet.

                                  #

    Gov. Dirk Kempthorne stops in Hailey to sign the transfer-of-development-rights (TDR) and Sawtooth National Recreation Area special license plate bills.
    “To see such enthusiasm for this bill from such a broad base of individuals is amazing,” Kempthorne says of the TDR bill.

                                  #

    Blaine County Commissioner Dennis Wright pleads guilty to killing a doe deer in a bucks-only hunting unit. Wright is ordered to pay $521 in fines and costs and given a one-year hunting license suspension.

April

    Bellevue veterinarian Stephen Fairbrother wins a landslide victory in Bellevue’s mayoral election, garnering 75 percent of the votes. Monte Brothwell, George Moore and Larry Plott go uncontested for their city council seats.

                                  #

    Sun Valley Co. announces that it will extend the ski season by one week, closing the mountain on April 25.
    Sun Valley spokesman Jack Sibbach attributes the extension to high skier numbers, healthy hotel bookings and a benevolent Mother Nature. Sun Valley posts a 3 percent increase in skier numbers over the previous year, with 418,010 skiers, snowboarders and pinheads hitting Baldy and Dollar mountains for the 1998-99 winter.
    Winter snowfall totals 191 inches; an average winter garners 165 inches.

                                  #

    The Idaho Supreme Court hands the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners a significant defeat.
    In two decisions, the court denies the board the power to give ranchers preference in granting leases of School Endowment Fund lands.
    The decisions are a victory for Hailey conservationist Jon Marvel and his Idaho Watersheds Project. Marvel calls the court’s decision “another nail in the coffin of the good-old-boy policy of the West.”

                                  #

    In the wake of the killings at Columbine High School, Wood River High School administrators and faculty immediately implement crisis management strategies. School social worker Robert Payne asks faculty to devote the first hour of school to student concerns.
    “I wanted teachers to think about five questions and begin class by asking these questions, which all of the teachers did,” Payne says.
    One day after the killings, a Wood River High School student is arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at a 15-year-old girl and making threats. According to Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling, Jonathon Wilkins, an 18-year-old Hailey resident and a high school senior was charged with felony aggravated assault.

                                  #

    Local youths say there is a gang in the Wood River Valley schools.
    Josh Buell, a 17-year-old Silver Creek Alternative School student, and Jake Harris, an 18-year-old former Wood River High School student, claim to have been victims in a gang-related incident involving a gun that occurred in Ketchum on April 2. According to Buell and Harris, the alleged gang is known as the WAPs (White As Potatoes) and has been around for two years.
    Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling says his department has no knowledge of the incident.

May

    Winter is slow to leave the Wood River Valley in 1999.
    Unseasonably cold temperatures and late snows in May make the snow pack depth go up instead of down in the Big and Little Wood River drainages. Water content at Chocolate Gulch stands at 261 percent of normal in mid-May, leaving residents to ponder the likelihood of flooding.
    Bruce Lium of American Water Resources says predicting the possibility of flooding is like a roll of the dice, but warned that 1999 was a year to be cautious.

                                  #

    During a public hearing to consider a south county subdivision, farmers and ranchers charge the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission with unfairly restricting development in the Bellevue Triangle.
    At the heart of the ongoing controversy is the right of south county property owners to develop their land versus a mandate by the county’s comprehensive plan to preserve and encourage agriculture.

                                  #

    As the Save Our Open Spaces campaign intensifies in the month of May, Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, issues a challenge to Blaine County voters: “If you want to preserve open spaces, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.”
    The SOS concept is designed to purchase open space easements through a property tax increase. Earlier in the year, Jaquet paved the way for the SOS bond election by sponsoring legislation in the Idaho Legislature that allowed counties to issue bonds to purchase open space easements. The legislation was designed to preserve open spaces throughout the county, from agricultural resources in the south to recreation easements in the north.     As the May 25 election draws closer, however, confusion surrounding the selection criteria to determine what lands would be preserved clouds the campaign.

                                  #

    The U.S. Forest Service begins to enforce the newly revised user fee program at trailheads throughout the Ketchum Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
    Under the program, vehicles parked at certain trailheads are required to display a parking pass, at a cost of $5 for a three-day pass or $15 for an annual pass.
    Parking pass revenues are to go toward maintaining trailheads and trails and to fund projects to build new trailheads.

                                  #

    The old “frat house” at the corner of Fourth Street and First Avenue, once known as Sun Valley’s monument to the ski bum, is torn down to make way for the new Severn art gallery.
    The structure, also known in its heyday as Animal House and the Ketchum Zoo, served as a refuge for passionate yet poor ski enthusiasts since the mid-1970s. With rising rents and accelerating lift ticket prices, however, the once romanticized lifestyle of the ski bum may be a thing of the past in Ketchum—and the demolition of the frat house a signal of a dying breed.

                                  #

    The Save Our Open Spaces bond measure is voted down by Blaine County voters in the May 25 election. The measure, which required a two-thirds vote for passage, receives 1,028 “yes” votes and 1,234 “no” votes, an almost even split.
    Following the defeat, Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, says the biggest downfall of the SOS campaign was that properties to be purchased through the bond were not identified.     “You’ve got to show people what they’re going to get for their tax dollars,” he says.

June

    The Blaine County Commissioners impose an emergency 30-day moratorium on the construction of berms within the scenic corridor along state Highway 75.
    The action is taken in response to amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance proposed by a berm committee, formed by the commissioners to study and recommend action on berms, whose numbers have multiplied in recent years. Alleged violations of the berm moratorium would follow.

                                  #

    The corporate bean makes its way to Ketchum as two of the nations’s behemoths in the coffee business, Starbucks and Tully’s Coffee, prepare to open their doors in K-town.
    In a valley where coffee is a cultural fixation, many wonder if the arrival of Starbucks and Tullys would rob the Wood River Valley’s slow-paced lifestyle of one of its most enduring charms by driving small coffee shops out of business. Or would the loyal followings and down-home charms of longtime coffee houses triumph?

                                  #

    After a month-long trial, a jury in a federal court in Boise awards almost $30 million to plaintiffs Sandy and Quinn Kirkland in a medical malpractice suit over care received from nurses at the Wood River Medical Center and from two local doctors.
    The award was probably the largest personal injury award in Idaho court history.
    The Kirklands contended that irreversible brain damage to their son, Bryce, was caused by a medical procedure that punctured a fetal blood vessel prior to his birth by cesarean section.

                                  #

    Ketchum becomes the first municipality in Idaho to adopt night sky preservation laws and one of the few municipalities nationwide to have such a regulation.
    The Ketchum City Council unanimously approves an ordinance that limits light pollution by placing restrictions on street lighting, holiday lighting, landscape lighting and household and industrial flood lighting.

                                  #

    Increasing traffic on state Highway 75 leads to a variety of proposals for the Wood River Valley’s transportation future.     At a Blaine County Transportation meeting, Idaho Transportation Department engineer Devin Rigby declares that traffic between Ketchum and Hailey has become unmanageable for a two-lane highway and that widening the road will be necessary to allow it to function safely well into the future.     Alternatives to widening discussed by the committee include a bus from Ketchum to Hailey and the possibility of light rail in the Wood River Valley.

July

    Under a blazing sun, Mark Faulkner, of Faulkner Land and Livestock, gives the signal to the 2,972 sheep he is leading north on First Street in Ketchum.
    “Baaa,” he says, and the sheep begin to pad through town on their way to mountain pastures, another chapter in a valley tradition that has lasted more than a century.
    Faulker, who has trailed sheep all his life, says the present state of the sheep industry in Idaho is not what it used to be, however. There were more than two million sheep in Idaho, he lamented. Now there are less than 200,000.

                                  #

    The ITD unveils a state Highway 75 corridor study that calls for dramatic changes to the Wood River Valley’s primary transportation vein.
    The presentation is made at an open-house meeting sparsely attended by Blaine County residents. The study proposes to widen the highway to five lanes from Timmerman Hill to Saddle Road over the next 20 years at a cost ranging from $35 million to $57 million.
    Design options identified in the study include the installation of 15 additional stoplights along the corridor and a 36 percent increase in the width of the highway at its current widest point. ITD officials say they are disappointed by the sparse turnout and want to see more public interest in the project.

                                  #

    The Blaine County Recreation District discusses the possibility of adding a hot springs pool in Ketchum and sports fields at Ohio Gulch to a bond measure originally intended to fund a $3.5 million Community Recreation Center in Hailey.      Though the inclusion of the two projects would raise the cost of the bond to over $12 million, rec district board members view the addition of the north valley projects to be a means of attracting county-wide support for the measure.

                                  #

    At the 1999 Council of State Government-West’s annual conference in Sun Valley, the Western water policy committee dives right into one of the Northwest’s stickiest issues—salmon migration—as members reveal contradicting views and whether to breach or not to breach dams.
    Many scientists around the West have endorsed partial removal of Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams as the most effective way to save the Salmon River’s ailing salmon runs. However, Karl Dreher, director of Idaho’s Department of Water Resources, says the scientific debate for breaching the dams is, at best, ambiguous. Dreher suggests that the flow of the Snake River has not changed significantly since the dams were built and points to other factors such as high water temperatures in the four reservoirs, fishing in international waters and oceanic predators as responsible for declining salmon runs.
    Nez Perce tribal executive Jaime Pinkham alludes to the contest between the economic benefits that dams produce and the ecological survival of a species of fish that has been native to this continent for thousands of years.

August

    A local substance abuse treatment provider declares that the adolescent drug and alcohol problem in the Wood River Valley is getting worse and that the community needs to step up to the plate and support the issue.
    Kevin Boender, director of Project Respect, points to a D.A.R.E./PAL survey that indicates the percentages of high school students in Blaine County experimenting with drugs and alcohol exceeds state and national averages. Boender says that despite the scope of the problem, a lack of funding and community support for the juvenile substance abuse treatment and intervention program has it struggling just to stay in existence. It’s time for the community to totally support the issue, Boender says.

                                  #

    Public land users disenchanted with the U.S. Forest Service’s National Recreation Fee Demonstration Program take part in a nationwide protest of the program. Dubbed “Recreation Fee National Protest Day,” residents of the Wood River Valley make the rounds of local trailheads to collect petition signatures from those who oppose the fee demo program. The day is organized as a vehicle to combine and convey citizens’ unified voices as they gather together against paying fees to use public lands.

                                  #

    Two sockeye salmon make it back to the species’ historic spawning grounds beneath the shadow of the Sawtooth Mountains after negotiating over 900 miles of the Columbia, Snake and Salmon rivers, eight dams and numerous natural perils along the way.
    Sockeye once returned to the lakes of the Sawtooth Valley by the tens of thousands. In 1998, only one sockeye made it back to Redfish Lake and only 16 have returned since 1991.

                                  #

    Ketchum Mayor Guy Coles undergoes quintuple bypass surgery at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise.
    “I’m 75 years old, and after this I’ll be in perfect health,” Coles says from his hospital bed. A few weeks after the surgery, Coles returns to Ketchum City Hall and resumes his duties as mayor.

                                  #

    A handful of Wood River Valley locals finds themselves in a very dangerous situation when a devastating tornado touches down in Salt Lake City.
    Ketchum resident Alyson Wilson is on the Wasatch Front for an annual summer outdoor retail show when the violent, swirling funnel cloud hits the downtown district. The sky started doing strange things, Wilson says.
    “We saw the sky turn green—a wild lime green, almost a neon color,” she says. “We saw the clouds start to circle and gather and then the center of the spiral started to drop toward the ground.”
    The tornado kills one person and seriously injures 12.

                                  #

    A wolf from the Jureano Pack near Salmon is shot after killing a calf belonging to ranchers on the Diamond Moose allotment.
    The incident marks the second time a wolf has been shot for preying on livestock in Idaho since the wolves were reintroduced in 1995.


September

    Local advocates of DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) protest fervently after a funding shortage threatens the program in Blaine County. The shortage follows nationwide studies that show the program, in fact, has no long-term effect on substance abuse. Blaine County Commissioner Dennis Wright says that despite the studies, many adults have bought into the program so heavily they’ve become closed minded and are unwilling to consider alternatives.
    “It’s almost become a religion for DARE advocates and parents that support the program,” he says.
    Apparently as a result of protests, county commissioners agree to increase funding, but not to the degree the program’s advocates had demanded.

                                  #

    “Alternative worlds” is the theme of the fourth and biggest year of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. The week-long gathering at Sun Valley and the Community School includes 39 authors, journalists and other lecturers, from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jane Smiley, to—as poet Mary Karr puts it— “doll baby of America” Frank McCourt, to award-winning filmmakers Freida Lee Mock, Jesica Yu, Nicholas Clapp and John Kaye.
    The conference is a time for attendees to compare notes, enjoy the sound and art of the written word and commune with peers in a beautiful setting. Novelist Anne Lammott perhaps sums it up best when she tells aspiring writers to “wear comfortable shoes and throw away your tight pants. You cannot create if you feel cramped and shamed.”

                                  #

    Blaine County Commissioners set a final budget early for the fiscal year 1999/2000 at $11,929,138, but leave open an option to lower that figure due to a protest over a proposed increase in the prosecuting attorney’s budget.
    While proposing an increase of over $50,000 for his office, county prosecuting attorney Doug Werth says, “You can’t compare legal issues and litigation in other counties on planning and zoning and civil issues with Blaine County. Comparing Blaine County to other rural counties is like comparing apples and oranges.”
    Protesting private attorneys, however, say they are perplexed.
    “This is an unholy, unwarranted increase in budget,” Keith Roark says, in light of the caseload handled by the prosecuting attorney’s office.
    The commissioners say they will hold a special meeting to discuss the matter further.

                                  #

After foul weather predictions, the sun comes out over Labor Day weekend and the Wagon Days Big Hitch Parade shines.
    Members of the Richfield American Legion, dressed in Union Army uniforms, sound the start by firing two thundering volleys from a Civil War cannon. An estimated 15,000 spectators gather along Ketchum’s Main Street to watch the country’s largest horse-powered parade.
    Rodeo queens, marching bands, clowns and cowboys wave, strut and smile. The spectacle is consummated as Moj Brodie and his team of 12 spectacular percherons, pulling rumbling ore wagons, powers its way down Main Street, with spectators following, hoping to get one last glimpse of the ghostly wagons rolling through history.

                                  #

    Airport personnel and Hailey residents report seeing a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane buzz the airport’s runway and surrounding neighborhoods late in August. Airport operations specialist Terry Lafleur says in a written statement, “In my opinion, the aircraft looked to be making maneuvers more fitting for a low-level racing course than a traffic pattern by a residential neighborhood.”
    The pilot accused of making the flight, Bill Rheinschild, denied being at the airport that day. Airport Authority chairwoman Mary Ann Mix says she can’t comment on Rheinschild because of a pending investigation. However, she says, he’s “one of those folks that really causes us a problem.”

                                  #

    Postmaster John McDonald tells the Ketchum City Council that a new post office will be built on the corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue, behind Perry’s restaurant, according to a plan presented to the council on Aug. 16.
    “We had to get through the Postal Service approval, and it was a challenge to do so,” Postal Service real estate manager Ed Bavouset wrote to the Ketchum mayor. “It was a challenge because of the cost.”
    Construction of the $7 million project is scheduled to begin this spring.

                                  #

    A week after cougar season opens, there are no reported kills by humans in the Hailey area. The lions, however, had been more successful, with two domestic rabbits eaten, one dog maimed and another killed, according to residents.
    “We live in Idaho. Cougars come with the territory,” says Broadford area resident Roberta Kay.
    Wildlife biologist, Maurice Hornocker, however, says lions and people don’t mix. Eventually, he adds, someone’s kid could be attacked.

                                  #

    The Ketchum and Sun Valley city councils unanimously vote to subsidize Horizon Air for up to $30,000 in losses in exchange for service between Friedman Memorial Airport and Boise. Shortly afterward, Horizon’s competitor, Air Ketchum, announces it will cease scheduled operations.     After questions about the guarantee’s legality, Ketchum pulls out of the deal, while Sun Valley moves forward.
    Air Ketchum’s owner, Leonard McIntosh, accuses the city of “laundering” the subsidy through the chamber of commerce so council members couldn’t be accused of breaking the law.

October

    Perhaps sensing the inevitability of progress and the loss of tradition that often accompanies it, record crowds line Ketchum’s Main Street on a mid-October weekend to catch a glimpse of history in the form of hundreds of bleating sheep trotting through town on their way from the mountains to lower pasture.
    “The Trailing of the Sheep Festival is a way for families in the sheep industry to share their experiences with newcomers to the valley so they have a sense of the community they live in,” festival founder Diane Peavey tells the Idaho Mountain Express.

                                  #

    Three lost deer hunters spend a subfreezing night in the local backcountry in mid-October, finally emerging the next afternoon not far from Warm Springs Road. The trio were experienced hunters from Wickenburg, Ariz., about 55 miles northwest of Phoenix.     Apparently, the only injuries sustained are to the hunters’ pride. Still, in relatively high spirits after the ordeal, one hunter recounted a telephone call made just afterwards to his wife: “She assumed we were all dead and eaten by mountain lions.”

                                  #

    Following more than a year of bumpy roads, the Blaine County Housing Authority commits 14 “affordable” units at the Fields at Warm Springs to qualified applicants.
    “This is a particularly historic night here in Ketchum,” housing authority member Steve Pruitt says. “This has been a special project so far, and we hope it will become more a part of the tradition of this area so we can all work and live in the same community.”
    Some local residents, however, are not so pleased. At least one of the applicants claims to have received an anonymous phone call during which the caller said, “If you can’t afford to live in the Sun Valley area, then leave.” In light of the comment, the applicant says she thinks people are confused about the housing.      “They think this is subsidized, low-income housing,” she said, “which it’s not.”
    Applicants are expected to purchase the $235,000 market value units for $135,000.

                                  #

    Just before Halloween, the new owner of the historic Odd Fellows hall in Bellevue discovers a human skeleton hidden in a drawer in the century-old building.
    “My wife’s not too happy about it,” he says.
    Halbert Hatch, 92, one of the few remaining members of the Bellevue Odd Fellows says in a telephone call from Twin Falls that Odd Fellows dedicate themselves to the “betterment of mankind,” which includes swearing to “bury the dead.”     “We’re strictly a beneficent organization,” Hatch says.     County coroner Russ Mikel says he is surprised the group kept a skeleton, and that he isn’t sure how to proceed after the discovery.
    “We’re going to have to find out a lot of things,” he says.

November

    A roving church—most recently Louie’s restaurant—creeps through the north valley on a Monday morning as it is hauled by truck to Ketchum’s park & ride lot from its original location on the corner of Sun Valley Road and Leadville Avenue.
    “These are treasures, and you need to hold onto that,” says one spectator visiting from Boston. “It’s the heritage, and we’re losing so much of that.”
    The old church, one of the valley’s original structures, will be stored at the lot until spring, when city officials hope to find a new home for it.

                                  #

    A natural gas explosion demolishes two houses in Elkhorn in early October, injuring three people, one seriously. Fire officials and witnesses say it was remarkable no one was killed.
    “I heard this horrendous explosion, like someone clapping their hands over your ears,” says neighbor Susan Parkinson, 53, who was in her back yard. “I looked up and saw the roof flying through the air.”
    Dave Nelson, an Intermountain Gas Co. technician who was working in the area to stop a gas leak, is burned on his arms and back in the wake of the blast.
    “It happened so fast,” Nelson says from his hospital bed in Salt Lake City, where he was being treated for first- and second-degree burns. “When I came to, everything was on top of me.”

                                  #

    During county and city elections on Tuesday, Nov. 2, voters defeat a nearly $11 million community recreation bond.     The bond would have brought to Blaine County a north valley community pool and hot springs, a community recreation center in Hailey and south county recreation projects.
    In Ketchum, incumbent councilwoman Sue Noel is ousted by newcomer Maurice Charlat. Richard Davis steps easily into an uncontested Hailey City Council slot, and Craig Adamson returned to the Carey political scene after beating Corienne Marks in the race for a seat on the city council.
    Following a month of political pot shots between opponents and advocates of the Wagon Days Blackjack Ketchum Shootout on Main Street, voters, casting advisory ballots, agree to let the performances continue .

                                  #

    Only one week from Thanksgiving—and the planned opening of Sun Valley Co.’s Bald Mountain ski runs—the resort faces a dilemma: unseasonably warm temperatures and an extreme lack of snow.
    On a typical, cold autumn day, Sun Valley’s snowmaking system pumps 3 million gallons of water onto the slopes in the form of icy snow, Wes Roberts, Sun Valley Co. night shift snowmaking supervisor, says during a tour of the mountain. By mid-November, however, high temperatures had allowed less than 1 million gallons to be pumped through Baldy’s 522 computer-controlled snowguns.     When asked if the area would open for Thanksgiving as scheduled, Roberts says, “I think we’ll have something open, but it’s hard to say how much.”

                                  #

    Just three days before its scheduled season opening, Sun Valley Co. announces that Bald Mountain, if only small parts, will open for skiing on Thanksgiving Day. That means lower River Run lift would be operating for sure, with an 80-percent chance the Greyhawk chairlift on Warm Springs would open, according to a Sun Valley Co. press release.
    Resort spokesman Jack Sibbach says Sun Valley Co. called its expected guests to tell them about the less-than-optimal snow conditions.
    “I think our honesty has paid off for the community,” Sibbach says. “People will be going to the movies and heading to town and helping to boost the economy.”

December

    Discontent with an alleged surplus of local phone books erupts in violence. The Hailey Police Department is searching for a man with a white goatee who allegedly walked into an office shared by the Sun Valley Directory and Hailey Dry Cleaners at 700 N. Main Street and threw a phone book at a woman he apparently believed was a directory employee.
    According to police, the book cut the woman’s head. Police chief Jack Stoneback says the man yelled obscenities at the woman, complaining about the large number of phone books printed, and then accused the company of “killing the trees.” However, directory manager Sarah Gardner says in an interview that the company runs out of directories each year. “We’ve never had a surplus of books,” she says.

                                  #

    December hits and skiers still wait for snow. Unseasonably warm temperatures continue to wreak havoc on Sun Valley’s ability to make snow, and Mother Nature has yet to dump a significant snowfall on the Wood River Valley.
    After Sun Valley general manager Wally Huffman announced a week earlier that there was a 100-percent chance the Greyhawk chairlift on Bald Mountain would open by week’s end, there wasn’t enough snow to make it possible. “In these current conditions, it would be possible for skiers to go through the snowpack to the ground,” a resort press release says.

                                  #

    Wilderness past, wilderness present, wilderness in the future and wilderness as an intangible state of mind.
    During the first Frank Church lectures, a group of wilderness philosophers, defenders and policy makers converge on Elkhorn Resort to discuss those issues and the political reality of designating and maintaining wilderness as a physical place.
    The event was organized and sponsored by the Ketchum-based Environmental Resource Council. Dr. Roderick Nash, author of Wilderness and the American Mind, is a featured speaker during the event. He concluded his talk by saying there is no environmental problem. “The problem is human.”

                                  #

    Contractors for the new St. Luke’s hospital ask for the “best of both worlds” by applying to the county for a permit to trench across the Big Wood River while maintaining an existing permit to bore under it. During a meeting with Blaine County commissioners, St. Luke’s planner John Gaeddert says the hospital had originally planned to bore in October “based on two good contracts at the time,” but that the hospital had experienced contractor difficulties since then.
    The commissioners, however, deny the application, saying they are uncomfortable giving the hospital a “blank check,” and because the application was incomplete.
    Hospital contractors must resolve the dilemma before combustible construction can begin on the new St. Luke’s complex south of Ketchum.

                                  #

    Following months of negotiation, the Blaine County Recreation District announces the signing of a development agreement with Quigley Canyon property owners to build a golf course east of Hailey.
    In the agreement, the rec district says it will construct an 18-hole golf course and pathways for non-motorized vehicles within a planned subdivision to be built by the property owners. To fund the golf course and pathways, the rec district says, it is considering the following options: a lease program allowing an individual or organization to build the golf course and then lease it from the rec district; or incorporating a nonprofit organization in which individuals could invest in the golf course.

                                  #

    Following an investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration accuses pilot Bill Rheinschild of performing dangerous, high-speed maneuvers over the city of Hailey, including Friedman Memorial Airport, last summer in a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane.
    During the flight, the FAA alleges, Rheinschild—a highly regarded contender in the annual Reno air races—violated six FAA regulations. Included, the agency alleges, was creating a potential “undue hazard to persons and property,” an offense for which the FAA proposed grounding Rheinschild for 40 days. During a telephone interview, Rheinschild’s Washington, D.C.-based lawyer refuses to comment on the investigation because, he says, previous coverage by the Idaho Mountain Express had been “damaging” to his client.

 

Back to Front Page
Copyright 1999, 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.