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Higher Ground volunteer fly fishing guide Sean Sullivan and Ketchum's Jennifer L. Smith

City of Ketchum
P.O. Box 2315
480 East Avenue N.
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
"The Original Mountain Town"

July 31, 2014
In This Issue
A Message from Mayor Nina Jonas: What Do You Think About City Salaries, Budget Priorities?

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The Idaho Mountain Express July 23 editorial questioned several items in the draft Ketchum budget. As mayor, I share many of those concerns. Others need clarification.


First, let's review how we adopt a budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The mayor and city administrator create a draft. We include choices requested by City Council members and citizens even though we may not support every item.

A major concern is a proposed 2 percent raise for city employees. The Express legitimately questioned this, given that local-option tax revenues are down. The Express said it well: "...when businesses suffer revenue losses, ...employees don't get raises even if the cost of living rises."

Unfortunately, the city's challenges are multi-fold. We face an 18 percent increase in health insurance premiums. The cost of all benefits already ranges from 29 to 110 percent of salaries. This is unsustainable. We must ask employees to pick up a greater share of benefit costs. For many, their net income will remain the same, even with a 2 percent wage increase.

The proposal to give firefighters a slightly higher cost-of-living increase also may seem out of kilter. However, it is less than half of their request in contract negotiations. The goal is to bring their salaries into parity as they did not have a cost-of-living increase in their first union contract.

Other issues that need clarifying are recommendations to add employees and to cut allocations to Wagon Days and Mountain Rides.

In terms of employees, Ketchum plans to make two three-quarters-time positions in parks and recreation full-time. Parks and recreation serves an increasing number of children and young families, a demographic Ketchum is trying hard to attract. Without adequate staff, we risk undermining this goal.

The department also has taken on new responsibilities, including assisting the Ketchum Arts and Ketchum Events commissions, in recent years. Past budgets have made no provisions for the extra staff time required. Events, as the Express noted, are critical to our economy.

In planning, we want to fill a vacancy. There will be a net savings, as a new person will start at a lower salary. In the fire department, a one-time federal grant previously funded three positions. We believe we need all three firefighters, and are debating whether we can afford this.

For the Wagon Days celebration, the overall budget will be approximately $5,000 less. Wagon Days has money in reserves, the government equivalent of a household savings account. We have asked Wagon Days to dip into its reserves, just as a family goes into savings when income is down. Wagon Days officials concur with this approach.

As to Mountain Rides, the proposal to cut funding has been dropped.

Finally, if local option tax revenues increase, we expect to invest the increase in capital improvements, particularly sidewalks.

We thank the Express for bringing attention to the questions facing the city. We want to hear from others, too. Please share your opinions with the City Council on Aug. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall or by email (info@ketchumidaho.org) or letter.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express. 
ASK NINA
Do you have a question for Mayor Nina Jonas? asknina@ketchumidaho.org

What is Ketchum doing about marketing and making it possible for a hotel? It would be nice if there were packages with new direct flights. - Linda Oken of Chicken Lipps store

We asked Arlene Shieven, executive director of Visit Sun Valley, to respond: "Visit Sun Valley will be encouraging packaging of hotels and flights via our new relationship with ski.com. Almost half of the bookings that ski.com fulfills include air. Ski.com will replace Vacation Roost as our third party accommodation provider as of today. Ski.com has a six-person, 24-hour air desk. They not only can sell packages including air, but they also can assist customers who may have to rebook because of cancelled flights. We are also offering a special incentive if people book a winter package including air and accommodations prior to Oct. 31. They will receive $100 off their airfare into Sun Valley from Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco or Denver."

Doing More Than Talking About the Weather
073114 The Wood River Valley may become a model for finding practical ways to deal with climate change, disproving the adage that "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

At least, that's the goal of the Climate Impacts Research Consortium, which expects to finish a preliminary study by the end of the year.

John Stevenson, regional extension climate specialist, and Allison Marshall, who is completing a graduate thesis on the topic, will finish meetings today with groups likely to be affected by an increasingly warmer climate.

"We have seen warmer temperatures and declining snowpacks throughout the Northwest, including the Wood River Valley," Stevenson said.

"A major goal for this study is not only to explore the range of change that may occur in the basin over the next 60 years, but also to work with people here to identify thresholds where new management strategies are needed. For example, at what point might there be so little snow that it becomes impractical to cross-country ski at current locations? When is the water shortage so severe that cities need to find ways to conserve water? When do farmers need to think about new ways to grow their crops or switch to new ones?"

"We also need to consider earlier melting of the snowpack," Marshall said. "With manmade reservoirs, we determine when we release the water. Nature determines when the snowpack releases its water. If temperatures continue to rise, the snowmelt will go down the river to the ocean earlier instead of providing water in late summer."

Much of the data is now available, and CIRC plans to create a web-based computer modeling system later this year. It is seeking opinions on additional research needed by specific groups, such as farmers, recreational businesses and conservation organizations.

The CIRC, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, selected the Wood River Valley for the study because it is experiencing not only changes in the climate but also in population, the economic base and land use, Stevenson said. The area south of Magic Reservoir is significantly different from the northern area in terms of climate and population density. The economy also varies, relying heavily on agriculture in the south and tourism and recreation in the north.

Once this study is completed, CIRC plans to use it as a model for additional studies throughout the Northwest.

The study covers what is known as Basin 37, which consists of the Big Wood and Little Wood rivers and their basins, It includes land in Blaine, Lincoln and Gooding counties. The Climate Impact Research Consortium is a federally funded research consortium studying the impacts of a changing climate to landscapes and water resources in the Pacific Northwest. It hosts scientists from four universities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington and is administered by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University.

Jen Smith: "Enjoying Life to the Fullest"
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Jennifer L. Smith loves recreation that "helps people enjoy life to its fullest," whether they are children learning to draw, veterans with disabilities skiing down Baldy or adults playing soccer.

Director of Ketchum's Parks & Recreation Department, Smith, came here because of her interest in adaptive sports. This passion developed almost by chance. Her high school alpine ski coach in Corvallis, Ore., asked Smith, who also grew up water skiing and sailing, to assist with an adaptive water sports program.

"I loved it," she said. Helping with adaptive alpine skiing was next. Smith had moved to northern New Mexico after college and answered an ad for volunteer adaptive instructors. The volunteer job ended up as a paid position at a disability sports advocacy organization in Santa Fe. She was then invited to teach in Sun Valley.

Like many, Smith first cobbled together jobs teaching skiing in the winter and doing park maintenance in the summer. She also served for three years as the volunteer president of Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, now called Higher Ground.

Before being named head of the Parks & Recreation Department in 2010, she served 10 years as parks superintendent and city arborist. Smith is a certified municipal specialized arborist. She specialized in wilderness and wild and scenic rivers management when she earned her degree in natural resource recreation management at Oregon State University, making her a particularly good choice to lead the efforts for the city's proposed River Park at Sun Peak.

She still finds time to help with adaptive sports and recently spent a week with a female veterans group at Middle Fork Lodge within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

This time, after 30 years as a volunteer in adaptive sports, she went as a supporter for her own veteran. It was a "transformative experience," both for her personally and for the participants. "I gained a brand new appreciation of recreation as restorative therapy and recovery," she said.

"I've had a choice of career paths between adaptive sports and city parks and recreation," Smith said. "The public sector is a better fit for me. Public service has its own rewards, even though the pros of civil service can feel fleeting at times. It's the 'service to others' concept that inspires me the most and keeps me working toward a better future."  

History Buff? New Hours, Exhibits at Local Museums
073114 It's a good summer for history buffs with the renovation and weekly opening of the Ore Wagon Museum, as well as the renovation of the Sun Valley Museum of History.

New interpretive panels have been installed at the Ore Wagon Museum, which contains the six original Lewis Fast Freight three-ton ore wagons used in the 1880s to haul ore from back country galena mines to the former Philadelphia Smelter on Warm Springs Road.
 
The official dedication of the panels will be Sunday, Aug. 31, but locals can get a preview at the next Business After Hours, to be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the museum.

The panels, each 3.75-feet by 4-feet, show historical photographs of migratory native tribes, local stores, ore wagons and mule teams on the trail, miners at work, the smelter, sheep at the railhead and early skiers. Others contain mine diagrams, maps and photos of vanished towns, all tracing Ketchum's evolution from an economy based on mining to sheep to tourism. 
The panels can be seen at any time under the covered porch at the museum, located at Fifth Street and East Avenue. The museum itself will be open Fridays in August from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The ore wagons, a gift from the Lewis family, are the grand finale of Ketchum's Wagon Days parade. A 20-mule team on a "jerk line," so-called because the muleskinner controls the team by jerks on the line, pulls the wagons down Main Street.

The panels at the museum were prepared with the assistance of former state Rep. Wendy Jaquet; Norma Douglas, one of the researchers and the writer for the original exhibit created in 1986; and Sandra Hofferber, librarian of the regional history department of The Community Library.

Evelyn Backman Phillips of Quigley Map Studio designed the display panels, and Windy City, a Wood River Valley sign company, printed and mounted the panels. The display was funded by grants from the city of Ketchum and the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency.

The Sun Valley Museum of History, now part of The Community Library, reopened this summer after renovation. The 1933 building in Forest Service Park at First and Washington streets is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1-6 p.m.

You can also take a free one-hour "Sun Valley Story Tour" with a guide on Mountain Rides buses every Friday. Register at the Visitors Center at Sun Valley Road and East Avenue before the 10:15 a.m. departure.

Looking Ahead at Energy
073114 Did you miss last week's Town Hall on energy? You would have learned that Blaine County average energy consumption is almost 20,000 kilowatts per hour, compared to a national average of slightly more than 12,000.

Discussions covered the proposed back-up power line to the valley, as well as renewable energy possibilities such as hydropower, solar power, wind energy and geothermal energy. Here's where you can learn more: 
BUSINESS NEWS
Chip Sealing Finished
Chip sealing was completed ahead of schedule this year, even with rain on the second day. Because the contractor was available only this week, the city elected to work on residential streets in West Ketchum rather than disrupt summer business by chip sealing downtown this year.

Ski Passes Bring in Tourists, Benefit Local Employees
The Fly Sun Valley Alliance is selling transferable employee ski passes to local businesses. Sun Valley Resort donates the passes and proceeds support air service. Several pass options are offered, and all include alpine skiing on Baldy and Dollar mountains, along with Nordic skiing at the Sun Valley Nordic Center.

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June 2014 Local Option Tax 
$87,366.76

WHAT WE'RE READING

Director of Parks & Recreation Jennifer L. Smith

Ryan Waterfield, editor, FOCUS Sun Valley
AROUND TOWN
Deadline Extended for Winter Event Sponsorship Applications 
The Ketchum Events Commission has extended the deadline for grant requests for winter and spring events until Aug. 29. Events scheduled from November 2014 through May 2015 may apply for city sponsorship grants of up to $30,000. Read full press release.

Ketchum Honored for Healthy Smiles 
073114 Ketchum has received the Smile of Excellence Award from the International College of Dentistry Idaho Chapter in recognition of its ordinance banning smoking in public places. Read the ordinance by clicking the icon below.

It's Symphony Season 
The Sun Valley Summer Symphony's "In Focus Series - Made in America" continues tonight at 6 p.m. at the Sun Valley Pavilion and the season opens officially next Monday, Aug. 4. Ketchum benefits, too. See previous newsletter for a story on why Concertmaster Jeremy Constant loves Ketchum, and a video of Time for Three, the lively group that gave a pop-up concert at Ketchum's Velocio earlier this week. The Community Library will show the film "A Late Quartet" on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 6:30 p.m. All are free.

Summer Outdoor Music Continues 
There's still a month of free music on summer evenings and Town Square is about to get more shade, thanks to some generous donors. "Town Square Tunes" is Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. in Town Square, East Avenue between Fourth Street and Sun Valley Road. Tonight is Jimmy Robb on the guitar, and vocalist Izzy Taylor is next week. "Ketch'em Alive" is Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. in Forest Service Park, 131 E. River St. Lucia Comnes brings Irish folk music from San Francisco on Aug. 5 and Polecat from Bellingham, Wash., will be there Aug. 12 with Americana roots music.

Big Wood Single Fly Starts Saturday 
The inaugural Big Wood River Single Fly Event runs for 24 hours starting Saturday, Aug. 2, at 1:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit Trout Unlimited's Big Wood River Home Rivers Initiative.

Artisans Invitational Show Opens Friday 
The Artisans Invitational Show is Friday, Aug. 1, through Sunday on Fourth Street between East and Walnut avenues. Janet Dunbar of Dunbar Interiors has selected approximately 35 participants, who will donate 10 percent of their sales revenue to Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center near Bellevue.

Sun Valley Arts & Crafts Festival Starts Aug. 8 
The 46th annual Sun Valley Arts & Crafts Festival, featuring 100 artists from around the country, will be in Atkinson Park, adjacent to Hemingway School, Aug 8-10. Art Fair Source Book rates this as one of the top 100 fine arts fairs in the country.

Business After Hours 
The next Ketchum/Sun Valley BAH will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 27, from 5-6 p.m. The ore wagons will be out of the museum so the event will be hosted inside the Ore Wagon Museum (see story earlier in the newsletter) at East Avenue and Fifth Street. A donation of $5 per person is suggested. For more information, contact Gary Hoffman at ghoffman42@yahoo.com or 725-5522.

Kids Adventure Games Coming Aug. 30 
The city is a co-sponsor of Kids Adventure Games, to be held here Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30 and 31, for kids ages 6 through 14. Teams of two will navigate their way through "wild" terrain to find predetermined checkpoints to complete their journeys.

Thinking About Winter? 
Looking for winter and spring activities? Ketchum Parks & Recreation, "The FUN Department," has after-school programs for children, ice-skating, Nordic skiing, tennis, hockey and swimming. The brochure is now available online. 
MEETING INFORMATION
City Council
Attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 4, and give your input on the city budget. City Council meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of each month in Ketchum City Hall. Click here to see the agenda and staff reports or scan the QR code.

Planning and Zoning Commission
Planning and Zoning Commission meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. The next P&Z meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug 11, in Ketchum City Hall. Click here for agendas and staff reports or scan the QR code.

Public Comment
If you cannot attend the Council or P&Z meetings and have an opinion, please submit your comments via email to pzcomments@ketchumidaho.org. Your input and engagement is encouraged. All comments will be reviewed by the Mayor and Council.
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