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

April 18, 2015
In This Issue
A Message From Mayor Nina Jonas: Setting Infrastructure Priorities

The federal government has been the catalyst for major investments in dams, education and roads to stimulate the economy. While city investment in infrastructure is not as complex, it is important to the community's welfare.   


Today, Ketchum's infrastructure investment focus is on developing assets that support the existing community and its growth goals: Bike and pedestrian elements such as sidewalks serve locals today and will attract the next generation, which desires multi-modal transit options. Investments in city parks and a future civic center are needed to create spaces for the visual and performing arts and recreation, as well as efficient workplaces. Energy and water investments are needed to conserve resources now and plan for growth.  


Deferred maintenance of streets, sidewalks and parks is a concern. We are currently prioritizing the maintenance needs of our existing assets. We have initiated new rights-of-way standards for safety, transit and long-term maintenance. Now, when developing new city assets such as parks, long-term maintenance of the asset is factored into the development costs.


It is important to plan, improve and maintain city infrastructure at standards characteristic of a world-class resort. These infrastructure elements add to the quality of life assets that keep us living here and support our investment in marketing to attract new visitors.  




Interesting articles on this topic:

Does the city of Ketchum have any plans to make it illegal for drivers to use their cell phones while their vehicles are in motion? I have noticed a significant increase in the number of drivers preoccupied with their phones and not paying attention to their driving. A serious accident is just waiting to happen.
--Chuck Abramo

We have explored this topic and confirmed with the city attorney that the state would allow a restriction on cell phone use while driving. In 2012, the city of Sandpoint banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving within city limits. Sandpoint is the only city in Idaho with a cell phone law. The fine is $10 and violations are subject to secondary enforcement such as under Idaho's "Inattentive Driving Law." This rarely enforced law allows police officers to list cell phone or texting as causes for an accident.


Police Chief Dave Kassner, who also is concerned about excessive cell phone use in motorized vehicles, feels we should act as this has become a serious problem. The chief recommended, before an ordinance is passed, that it would be appropriate to begin by expecting city staff to set the example. The city plans to incorporate this policy into its Personnel Handbook.


Distracted driving contributes to 25 percent of all fatalities and 24 percent of all crashes were caused by distracted driving. Youthful drivers under age 25 comprise only 15 percent of total licensed drivers, yet they account for 39 percent of crashes and 31 percent of fatal accidents attributed to distracted driving. More interesting statistics appear here.


Thank you for bringing up this important subject. We hope that by starting with city staff and representatives in our community, we can expand awareness and compliance outside our city limits and contribute to a positive reduction in the statistics.


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.

It's spring, also know as pothole-filling time for the Ketchum Street Department, where "slack" seasons are unknown. Winter days, especially the wee morning hours, are filled with clearing snow and ice from the streets. Spring is the time to fill potholes and remove the dust that accumulated from winter sanding. Summer is the time when temperatures are high enough for maintenance and repairs.


Suppose the power goes out on a below-zero January day -- no problem. Fire, police and other emergency services switch to an emergency microgrid powered by solar energy. At some point, the microgrid could be big enough to keep houses warm and prevent pipes from freezing in winter temperatures.


Ketchum representatives are back from a cutting edge electricity innovation workshop in which only 12 cities in the nation were invited to participate. The meeting was sponsored by the world-renowned Rocky Mountain Institute based in Snowmass, Colo. and was held in Sundance, Utah. 


"Ketchum's invitation to attend resulted from a highly competitive process. We feel very fortunate to have been selected and have access to such high-caliber expertise," Senior Planner Rebecca Bundy said. 


Participants included the Ketchum Energy Advisory Committee Chair Aimee Christensen, committee member and engineer Andy Castellano, senior planner Rebecca Bundy, and representatives from Sun Valley Co., Idaho Power and energy innovator NRG, who has offered to support our community in becoming a model for energy resilience.


The City Council last month set energy conservation goals for 2030, including:

  • Reduce per capita energy consumption by 30 percent
  • Generate 50 percent of energy locally
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 75 percent
  • Use 100 percent renewable energy

Other cities at the workshop included San Francisco, which hopes to have a microgrid to serve 200 key buildings in case of an earthquake, and Hoboken, N.J., which experienced lengthy power outages after Hurricane Sandy.


In addition, this month brings Earth Day and other new efforts toward a sustainable economy in the Wood River Valley.


Christensen also is a co-founder and executive director of the newly formed Sun Valley Institute for Resilience, which will be a center for public education, policy leadership and investment for resilience, with an early focus on energy, water, telecommunications, health and food.   


"Here in the Wood River Valley, greater resilience can strengthen our ability to reduce the impacts and bounce back from harm to our economy, whether from fires, poor snowfall or global economic conditions. The Institute will be a partner by helping to inform the community of priorities and attract additional resources for the prosperity and well-being of our region," Mayor Nina Jonas said.


In keeping with these themes, the Idaho Conservation League, the Environmental Resource Center and the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience are sponsoring the Wood River Valley Green Expo on Wednesday, April 22, Earth Day, from 4-7 p.m. in Town Square, East Avenue between Sun Valley Road and Fourth Street. The same organizations are hosting an expert panel discussion on these topics at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at the Community Library, 425. Spruce Ave. 



The interim zoning ordinance, which will go before the Ketchum Planning & Zoning Commission for a second hearing on Monday, April 27, is designed to correct more than 130 errors and inconsistencies and bring the code into compliance with federal and state law.


It also defines numerous permitted land uses that currently lack formal definitions. No substantial regulatory changes have been recommended for the interim zoning ordinance.


During the coming two to three years, code revisions are planned to address additional issues identified in the Comprehensive Plan adopted in April 2014. This was first major update of the plan in more than a decade, and is the product of comments from hundreds of individuals.


Phase 1 of the process is to address the known inconsistencies and to make it easier to understand the zoning code. Phase 2, which may take months or possibly even years, will focus on bringing the zoning code into conformance with the Comprehensive Plan. Phase 3 will address how proposed zoning amendments impact other city ordinances such as streets standards and water and sewer requirements.


"We urge all community members to help us create a zoning ordinance that addresses our most challenging issues, focuses on sustainability and provides direction for implementing the Comprehensive Plan through thoughtful regulations," said Micah Austin, city planning and building director.



Requests for mail-in absentee ballots for the May 19 special election on water revenue bonds must be received at the Blaine County Courthouse by May 13, or you may vote in person at the courthouse until Friday, May 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Polls will be open at Hemingway School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 19.


If you are not registered to vote, you have until Monday, April 24 to pre-register. Register in person at Ketchum City Hall, 480 East Avenue North or the Blaine County Courthouse, 201 First Ave., S., Hailey, or by mail. You may also register at the polls on Election Day with proof of residency.


Forms to request an absentee ballot or to register are available online.


Passage of the $450,000 bond issue will enable Ketchum to discontinue use of aging portions of the water system. Parts of the community core and the Lewis Street industrial area use pipes installed by Ketchum Springs Water, a private water system that the city acquired in the 1980s.


Estimates are that the decrease in maintenance expenses would offset the bond repayment costs, said Robyn Mattison, public works director and city engineer. A simple majority of voters would need to approve the proposal, which is expected to reduce maintenance costs, increase reliability and encourage conservation.


Click to read press release and updates.



Mick Mummert has been named wastewater division supervisor for Ketchum. Mummert, who has worked for the city for 13 years, is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations at the wastewater treatment plant.


A member of the Team Sludge cycling group, he and his wife, Betty Ann, also frequently ride their tandem bike. They have been married for 35 years and have two children and six grandchildren. Most of his spare time, he said, is spent "doing all the regular grandfatherly things like going to sporting events and band and orchestra concerts and being a back-up chauffeur." He also is a church volunteer youth leader. In addition, Mummert recently retired from the Idaho Army National Guard as a master sergeant after 32 years of service.


He replaces recently retired Dave Taylor. "Dave has been with the city for 20 years. His smiling face and funny sense of humor will be greatly missed," said Robyn Mattison, public works director and city engineer.


Jeff Vert has been promoted to Mummert's previous position, wastewater treatment plant lead operator. 



How Does Visit Sun Valley Allocate Its Budget?

How does Visit Sun Valley spend its money, what is its marketing strategy and what services are provided for the local businesses? Representatives of the marketing organization joined Ketchum and Sun Valley city councils at a joint meeting to answer these questions and discuss more about procedures.  


Visit Sun Valley will make an additional presentation to the City Council on Monday, April 20, at the 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall. It also will hold its semi-annual community meeting on Tuesday, April 21 at 9 a.m. at the Wood River Community YMCA, 101 Saddle Road. The meeting is open to the public, but reservations are requested.    


BAH Set for April 29

This month's Business After Hours will be Wednesday, April 29, from 5-6 p.m. at Thunderpaws Pet Shoppe and Nourishme, adjacent stores at 151 and 171 Main St. It will include a free raffle drawing for a $1,500 ad package from Neuhoff Communications. For additional information, contact Gary Hoffman, 725-5522.


2014.07.17 Mayor Nina Jonas
Experts say ranching done right improves the environment and wildlife habitat

Michael David, Ketchum City Council President
Complete Streets Are a Bargain
How Thoughtful Street Design Is Helping Communities and the Economy

Lynne Heidel, Wood River Valley resident and former member of the boards of the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District
What the New York Times - and everybody else - gets wrong about California's water crisis. 
FYI - 2010 estimates show that 81% of Idaho's water use is for irrigation.

Council Meeting on Monday, April 20 

City Council will provide public opportunity to express budget priorities and consider a proposed contract for civic center space planning at 5:30 on Monday, April 20 at City Hall. Public comments are encouraged. If you cannot attend the meeting, please submit your comment to 


New Art for City Council Chambers

Council chambers in City Hall will feature fiber works on loan from local artists Leslie Rego and Janet Starr. This is the second year of rotating exhibits in City Hall.


'Ketchum Cruisers' to 'Balance Assists" for Ice Skating Program

The 'Ketchum Cruiser' metal walkers placed around town and on city property as part of an anonymous April Fool's joke have been gathered by the city for use as "trainers" for beginning skaters at the Christina Potters Outdoor Ice Rink at Atkinson Park. The city parks and recreation department also will reuse the poles that attached orange flags to the walkers, as well as the collateral material pockets. The city will save about $400 by eliminating the need to purchase "balance assists" for the skating program next year.


Tree City for 12 Years in a Row

Ketchum has been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the 12th year in a row. Arbor Day this year is Friday, April 24.


Tell County Your Opinions on Recreation

What is your favorite recreational activity? Blaine County asks all local residents to take its survey as part of the County's Comprehensive Plan update.


Pump Park, Athletic Fields Now Open

The Ketchum Pump Park for bicycles (see photo at top of newsletter), across the street from Atkinson Park, is now open, and so are the lower softball and Little League fields at Atkinson Park. The park also features a 235-square hopscotch course this spring.


Safer Main Street

Flashing pedestrian beacons have been installed at the crosswalk at Fourth and Main streets.


Wastewater Treatment Plant Supplies Irrigation Water

The Ketchum wastewater treatment plant is again supplying reuse, "gray" water for irrigation to the Weyyakin housing development. Also, reuse water will be supplied to Sun Valley Water and Sewer District for irrigation at the Elkhorn Golf Course. The golf course is expected to use up to 750,000 gallons per day and Weyyakin, approximately 350,000 gallons per day. The water is pumped from the treatment plan via an underground pipeline to the main pond at Weyyakin and to Sun Valley storage tanks on top of Dollar Mountain. 


Apply Now for Wastewater Job

The city has an opening for a maintenance worker for the wastewater division of the public works department. Apply online.


Reminder: Turn Off Holiday Lights

Remember that Ketchum's Dark Skies ordinance requires outdoor holiday lights to be turned off after April 15.


Airport Closure Starts April 26

Friedman Memorial Airport will be closed April 26-May 20.


Kenyans Study Local Construction Practices

Mayor Nina Jonas and Building Inspector Jeff Egan recently showed local homes under construction to a visiting delegation from Kenya, here to study the construction industry. The Idaho Division of Building Safety arranged the tour in conjunction with the National Construction Authority of Kenya.


Ketchum Named 'Must-Visit' Small Town

House Beautiful recently featured Ketchum as one of the "must-visit" small towns across America. 


Green Expo for Earth Day

The Idaho Conservation League will sponsor a Green Expo on April 22, Earth Day, from 4-7 p.m. in Town Square, East Avenue between Sun Valley Road and Fourth Street. (See earlier story on conservation efforts in the city.)


Meeting April 22 for Groups Using City Recreation Fields

Groups using city soccer and other fields are asked to send representatives to the city's annual field use meeting at the Atkinson Park Recreation Center on Wednesday, April 22, from 5:15-6:15 p.m. Please contact the Ketchum Parks & Recreation Department at 726-7820 for more information.


Piano Festival Starts Next Week

The Sun Valley Artist Series International Piano Festival runs April 22-25 at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood. Performances are free.


Clean Up Your Favorite Park

The Environmental Resource Center "Clean Sweep" will be Saturday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


'Water-Wise' Landscaping Workshop May 14

The first in a series of four free "water-wise" landscaping workshops, co-sponsored by the city, will be Thursday, May 14, at 5:30 p.m. at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden. Native or drought-tolerant lawns can save 50 to 60 percent on water use.
City Council 
Attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 20. 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, April 27 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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City of Ketchum