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Hemingway in Sun Valley
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For the week of Apr. 12 through Apr. 18, 2000

The valley’s playbills

A riddle: What are black and white, look like the old school reading list you managed to ignore an entire summer, and can leave people sorry if they don’t use them?

Answer: Legal notices.

They’re the stuff printed in the back pages of every paid newspaper. A majority are summarized in every free Idaho Mountain Express and Guide.

They look official. They look boring, but the two local newspapers’ Legal Notice sections are bulletin boards, the places where playbills are posted for valley dramas acted out every week in Blaine County’s five city halls and its courthouse. Most playbills can also be found in a summary published by this newspaper on the Internet at

Current dramas playing in the valley include:

"Downtown," a magic show in which the Ketchum City Council tries to stuff the development genie back in a bottle;

"The Battle of Bellevue," featuring Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer fronting for a rich developer trying to outmaneuver a little town of working people;

"Bring on Da Noise, Bring on Da Freeway?" with a talented cast of thousands;

"Married to the MOB," what happens when a small valley’s rural atmosphere is threatened by a hulking medical office building (MOB).

Unlike stage plays, these dramas are acted out scene by scene on different days of the week on different stages. None of the endings are written in advance. All can take surprising twists and turns. Best of all, people who show up for the performances may become players with speaking parts and may help write the endings.

Lots of people would prefer that these town dramas play to empty houses. Only legal notices can ensure they do not. Only legal notices give residents a chance to form a chorus to object to a plot. Only legal notices stave off surprise endings in which the bad guys win.

However, if notices are to work, residents must read them, record the dates of important meetings and participate.

The Express gives readers "heads up" on public hearings on most big local issues, but reading the legal notices is the only way to be sure not to miss an act. Participating in public hearings is the only way residents can personally help prevent the valley’s "Sound of Music" backdrop from morphing into something that looks more like the set of "Road Warrior."

To ignore the playbills and the local dramas is to risk unhappy endings that cannot be rewritten.


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