Ketchum firefighters rescue train with Sun Valley and Wood River fire departments.

City of Ketchum
P.O. Box 2315
480 East Avenue N.
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
"Small Town, Big Life"

April 30, 2015
In This Issue
A Message From Mayor Nina Jonas: Springtime Should Be 'Firewise' Time

Mayor Nina Jonas: With the approach of summer weather and the possibility of wildfires, I've turned this space over to Fire Chief Mike Elle this week.


The saving of two homes from an East Fork fire last week, the charred tree skeletons along Highway 75 south of town, and the forecast for sunny days are a reminder that this year brings an early and lengthy season for wildfires.


It's also the traditional spring-cleaning time, and spring cleaning is an excellent time to take "firewise" precautions.


"Defensible space" is key. This means maintaining landscaping that reduces the chance of fire spreading between homes and surrounding vegetation. Defensible space not only makes it harder for a wildfire to spread from wild lands to homes or from one home to another; it also gives firefighters a staging area to protect your home. Clean your gutters, store firewood away from your home, and keep flammable items off decks and balconies too.


The best ways to prevent fires are by simply taking precautions that almost everybody knows but too often overlooks. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Clean lint screens every time you use the clothes dryer and clean the dryer exhaust vent leading outside once a year. Call the chimney sweep annually, or more often if you have frequent fires in the fireplace. Put ashes in airtight, metal containers.


If you're staining a deck or painting as part of spring cleaning, soak oily rags in water and then put them in an airtight container. Spontaneous combustion can occur in piles of oily rags. Lastly but most important, can firefighters see your street address from the road or street in front of your house?


We should all thank our elected officials for realizing the importance of being prepared to combat both wildfires and structure fires in the Wood River Valley. All we ask is that our residents do their part. An excellent checklist is available at


Be safe.


Chief Elle 


What can we do to encourage the Idaho Department of Transportation to build a bike path connector along Highway 75 between Saddle Road and downtown Ketchum? --Paul Tillotson

The issue is that if a bike path were to be constructed, it would have to be removed to provide the correct slope for drainage if the highway is widened. However, it could be decades before the highway is widened. Because of that, local agencies may want to add a bike path for safety, even though we know it may be removed at some future point. We'd like to hear from members of the community as to whether they feel this is a worthwhile expenditure.

Do you have a question for Mayor Nina Jonas?

Note: If you submit a question to "Ask Nina," your name may be published unless you request that it be withheld.


The city has hired Boise's ZGA Architects to analyze space needs and prepare cost estimates for a possible new civic center, identified as a top priority by the City Council last year. The analysis will evaluate the needs and location for city administrative offices, fire and police headquarters and council chambers that also could serve as a community meeting space.


The current City Hall is a former auto dealership built almost 50 years ago. In addition to being too small, the building is in deteriorating condition, City Administrator Suzanne Frick said in a report to City Council.


Second-floor offices can be reached only by an exterior stairway, and many other offices are inaccessible to people with disabilities.  The city first recognized the need to replace the facilities in 2001, and the problems have become more critical over the years.


Citizens, as well as City Council members, have identified a new building as a top priority. At the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency Visioning Workshop on Dec. 5, 2012, "Relocate City Facilities" was the top project selected by the public from a detailed list of ideas. 


Once the study is completed, the next step will be to present costs and possible funding options, including a bond issue in 2016, to the City Council. Once funding is secured, a request for proposals from architectural teams will be issued.


The city is committed to keeping the civic center downtown to serve the community. As one of the largest employers in Ketchum, the city brings employees and customers that support nearby restaurants and shops year round. "The future facility will be a true civic center providing the community and visitors with space for meetings, events and visitor information," said Mayor Nina Jonas.


Frick said ZGA is one of the few firms in Idaho with experience in designing public buildings and fire stations, and the city preferred a nearby firm to minimize travel costs. Funds for the $25,000 contract will come from the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency.



Reconstruction of the Wood River Trail, informally known as the "bike path," from Wood River Drive in Ketchum north to Adams Gulch Road will begin Monday, May 4. This is the second year of the project, with construction from East Fork Road and Highway 75 north to Hulen Meadows scheduled for this summer.


Work on the trail will be completed in distinct sections, which may not be contiguous because of summer traffic flows, according to the Blaine County Recreation District. Updates on section closures and progress will be available at or by calling the trail hotline at 578-9754.


Ketchum will post signs along Highway 75 and around the city cautioning motorists to be alert to an increased number of bicycles on the highway during trail reconstruction. The BCRD is also working with the Idaho Transportation Department to raise awareness of both motorists and path users to potential increased activity on the highway during key times of construction on the Wood River Trail.


A "Pick-Up Party" to clean dog poop and other trash from Warm Springs Ranch will be Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The site of former Warm Springs restaurant and golf course on Warm Spring Road has been open to the public free of charge for a number of years, and is a popular location for walking dogs and playing Frisbee.


"It is a huge asset for everyone," said Lara McLean, a lieutenant/medic with the Ketchum Fire Department. She also owns All Hail the Dog, a company that sells luxury dog beds filled with recycled plastic and is one of the sponsors of the event.


"The owner has been very generous in spending her own money to maintain the property, and we want to give back to her by helping to clean up the park we all know and love," McLean said.


The pick-up party will include contests for the best dog trick and Frisbee catch, as well as demonstrations of how to perform CPR and Heimlich maneuvers on dogs. The Ketchum fire department has special CPR masks for dog first aid, McLean noted.


She will bring her own dogs, Junebug and Rhylee, who often accompany her to fire safety talks to school children and demonstrate how to "stop, drop and roll" in case of fire and to find two ways out of every building.


The pick-up party is co-sponsored by Idahound, a local producer of raw dog food. Snacks will be donated by Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill, Perry's and Starbucks.


Nine firefighters, including four from Ketchum, are back from three days of intensive training in mountaineering skills with the Sawtooth Mountain Guides.


"As more people venture further into the backcountry, the need for rescuers to learn techniques for working on steep mountain terrain is growing," Capt. Miles Canfield said. The group practiced techniques for using crampons and ice axes, as well as rappelling, at the Williams Peak Hut, owned by the Sawtooth guides, near Redfish Lake.


Ketchum, Sun Valley and Wood River fire departments are the first responders to backcountry accidents along with Blaine County Search and Rescue, the Galena Backcountry Ski Patrol and Sun Valley Heli Ski. Sun Valley Heli Ski will transport rescuers to the scene if they are available. Most of the equipment has been donated by the Ketchum & Sun Valley Volunteer Firefighters Association, whose major fundraising event is the annual Firefighters Ball.


"We appreciate the cooperation of all the local agencies whose personnel make up the backcountry rescue team," Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle said. "Working together is critical for success in high-risk, low-frequency, backcountry rescue situations."



Ketchum will observe Arbor Day on Friday, May 8 with a free program from 3-4 p.m. at Atkinson Park to teach children and their parents about the importance of trees in the urban environment and proper tree-planting techniques. The speaker at the program at Atkinson Park will be City Arborist Juerg Stauffacher.


The ceremony will include planting a hardy fruit tree next to Ketchum's Watch Me Grow Garden and celebration of Ketchum's designation as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the 11th year in a row.


Although Arbor Day was celebrated in most of the country last week, communities are encouraged to set their own celebrations according to local growing conditions. Since Ketchum is a bit colder than most of the country, the date here has been changed.



Utility Underground Work to Begin

Construction work for undergrounding power lines along River Street starts May 4. We'll keep you updated on this work and other downtown projects.


Some traffic lanes will be closed starting Monday while excavators dig trenches for undergrounding power lines. Trenches will be located along River Street between Washington Avenue and Main Street, mid-block, under Main Street and on Washington Avenue between River and 1st streets.


The following steps will be taken to minimize inconvenience to the public:

  • Idaho Power will give notices to all residents who will be affected by this work.
  • No power outages are expected.
  • Cox Communications will need to shut down service briefly to reconnect cables. The reconnection will take place around 2 a.m., although the date has not yet been determined.
  • Contractors will make every effort to keep one travel lane open at all times.
  • Trenches will be filled or plated at night so travel lanes can be reopened.
  • There will be no work during Memorial Day weekend.
  • Completion is scheduled by June 25, although contractors are optimistic that work can be completed sooner. Idaho Power and Cox Communications will work together to minimize the length of the project.
  • The nearby Forest Service Park will remain open.

In other downtown construction activity, the sidewalk on the southeast side of Main Street at the intersection with Sun Valley Road will remain closed through May 3 while contractors complete the work of switching the building's water service to the newer Ketchum system. (See earlier item on water revenue bond election.)


Excavation on Washington Avenue between 5th and 6th streets will close the east sidewalk and consume two parking spaces. No travel lanes will be affected. The project is expected to be completed by May 1.


Sidewalks are going in on the corner of East Avenue and First Street. No lane closures are in place during this first phase of the project. During the week of May 4, excavation in the street will cause a lane closure. However, there will be flaggers directing traffic so it continues to flow. This project should be completed by May 12.


2014.07.17 Mayor Nina Jonas
The Look of Love Is in the Dog's Eyes

Michael David, City Council President
Headwaters Economics study summarizes research on trail system value

Rick LeFaivre, member, Advisory Committee of the PNNL Energy and Environment Directorate and Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee
Liquid Batteries for Solar and Wind Power 

Airport to Reopen May 20

Friedman Memorial Airport will reopen May 20 following closure for construction work on a taxiway. Alternative transportation suggestions are on the airport website.


Blaine County Wants Your Opinion

There's still time to participate in two Blaine County surveys, one on recreational needs and another on use of the county GIS system


Mark Your Calendars for May 19 Water Revenue Bond Election

Mark your calendars for the Tuesday, May 19 water revenue bond election that will allow Ketchum to discontinue the use of a system that is 90 years old in some places. Estimates are that the decrease in maintenance expenses would offset the bond repayment costs. Requests for absentee ballots must be received at the Blaine County courthouse by Wednesday, May 13. Additional information is available at


KEAC Chair Speaks at Major Conference

Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee Chair Aimee Christensen, also executive director of the newly formed Sun Valley Institute for Resilience, spoke at the recent Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles on the "Economic Implications of Climate Change." Fellow panels members were Gérard Araud, French ambassador to the United States; John Cochrane, professor of finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and senior fellow at Hoover Institution; and Mark Tercek, president and CEO, the Nature Conservancy.

Join Clean Sweep on May 2

Join the Environmental Resource Center in the volunteer, valley-wide trash pickup day, "Clean Sweep," on Saturday, May 2. Ketchum volunteers meet at Atkinson Park at 9 a.m.


'Happy Hour' with Idaho Gives on May 7
Idaho Gives, a statewide, 24-hour day to give to your favorite charities, will sponsor a "happy hour" in Town Square on Thursday, May 7 from 5-7 p.m. In
2014, the event raised more than $780,000 from more than 7,500 donors in 24 hours.   


Learn About Water-Wise Landscaping

A series of four water-wise landscape workshops, co-sponsored by the city of Ketchum, begins Thursday, May 14.


What's Permitted in City Right of Way?

City staff will hold a meeting on Thursday, May 28, at 9 a.m. in City Council chambers on new policies on what is permitted use in rights of way. All are welcome. RSVP, appreciated but not required, to or 726-7801. 


Hearing Scheduled for Boulder-White-Clouds Bill

Rep. Mike Simpson's bill to protect wilderness in the Boulder-White Cloud mountains will be heard this summer. Click here to read more.  


City Council 
Attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 4. 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, May 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 Your input and engagement is encouraged. All comments will be reviewed. 
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