Snow Angels

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

December 17, 2015
In This Issue
A Message From Mayor Nina Jonas: Born in a Snowstorm

Nina 1976
  Mayor Nina Jonas - 1976
My mother tells me I was born in a snowstorm so thick that she could not see out the windows. Perhaps that is why I have loved snow ever since I can remember.
I have a poster of W.A. Bentley's photographs of snowflakes on my office wall. It depicts types of snowflakes at different temperatures. My favorite, of course, are the stellar flakes because those are the flakes that make for the best powder skiing.
When City Administrator Suzanne Frick came to town from Long Beach last year, I gave her six different books on snow: scientific images of snowflakes, structure of avalanches, ski information and beautiful snow-filled landscapes. Simply, I think the stuff is pure heaven.
When it snows, the night becomes warmer, silence falls through the sky, the air is electrified by negative ions and the snow squeaks under my foot. Love it; I get excited about the coming skiing, the beautiful trees outlined in white and the clean covering of white everywhere.
Of course, I have to move it, which always starts out fun then turns into a chore. Still I know how wonderful snow is. As a skier, I notice that the lines are longer; as a restaurant proprietor, the sales are higher.
It brings to mind the old adage that snow is green, or as I say, snow is gold. We are firstly a silver mining town that now mines the joy brought by snow.

Happy Holidays!


This week's questions, as you might suspect, were all about snow, thanks to last week's storms. Here are the most frequently asked questions and the answers. Detailed answers are on the city website.

Why doesn't the city plow the alleys?
The city plows only paved alleys. Plowing streets is the top priority, and alleys are plowed when time permits. Unpaved alleys are not plowed because the equipment scrapes the surface of the alley and causes more maintenance issues. The city is pricing equipment and labor for removing snow in unpaved alleys in the future.

Why isn't the city out plowing during the day, especially when the snow is accumulating so quickly?
City crews worked round the clock during last weekend's storm. Their ability to plow is limited when cars are parked along the streets so they clear as best they can during the day. They have to wait for the cars to move before they can complete the job. The period from 5-9 p.m. is particularly problematic with people leaving work and or going out for evening activities. Cars are required to be off the streets from 2-7 a.m.

Why did it take so long for my street to get plowed?
City crews first clear the main thoroughfares, downtown business district and hilly streets and then move to residential areas. It took a little longer during this last storm to get to the residential streets because the main thoroughfares had to be plowed several times throughout the day.

Why can't the city clear the sidewalks in the community core?
I agree the city should! We are investigating the cost and management of this now.

We have to clear our sidewalks but where do we put the snow when we're asked not to blow it into the street?
When snow is placed or blown onto the street, cars get stuck in it, the snow gets pushed back when the plows come through and it's difficult to peel snow pack off the roads. In the community core, property owners are responsible for moving the snow from the sidewalks to the edge of the street, just off the gutter area but not in the travel lane. The city then moves the snow to the center of the street and hauls it away as quickly as possible.

Snow is being dumped on an empty lot in my neighborhood. The dump trucks are noisy and this will cause flooding in our homes in the spring. What can the city do to stop this?
The city has no authority over snow storage on private property. You may want to be sure that the owner of the property is aware that snow is being dumped.

There are small landscaping plow vehicles driving on city streets and in the way of traffic. Is this legal?
These vehicles are allowed to use city streets as long as there are appropriate warning signs on the back of the equipment. It is difficult for property owners to have their walks and driveways plowed without allowing such vehicles on the streets. Idaho law exempts these vehicle from registration. Slow-moving vehicles must abide by Idaho code's " Rules of the Road."

There is a huge berm of snow in front of my driveway caused by the plows. The city should remove it!
The city is not responsible for moving snow in front of driveways. The street crew makes every effort to avoid creating large berms while plowing the streets. It's impossible to avoid driveways, especially in cul de sacs and areas where there is a short turning radius.

The snow is piled so high on my corner that it's dangerous to pull out onto the highway. Can the city remove it?
Often, these piles are formed by property owners and landscapers. Property owners could be responsible for code violations if snow is placed in roadways. Please contact with concerns.

The drain is clogged near my home (or business). Can the city clear it out?
The city will unclog drains in order to avoid flooding and overflow when snow melts. The city has over 400 drains and is focused on those that are high-risk. If you have concerns about flooding, contact

What's the best way to solve the snow removal problems?
Big snowstorms during the day create the most problems because of traffic on the road. Take the bus, walk or carpool with a friend with a four-wheel drive vehicle and avoid getting stuck.

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.

Snow Infographic 
The next time you're sitting by the fire watching the falling snow after a leisurely dinner, think about Brian Christiansen, street superintendent. He's catching a nap on a cot above the city maintenance garage, waiting until 1 a.m. when it's time to start the snowplows.
Brian and other employees of the city's street division spent many hours - 432 to be exact - clearing streets after Sunday's storm that brought 20 inches of snow.
Not only is the street department busy, but so are people at businesses through this resort community. "When it snows, the phone rings," says Sun Valley's Jack Sibbach, director of marketing and public relations. Although the resort no longer releases specific skier counts, Sibbach said this year already is ahead of projections.  
Thanks to all of the people who work when the snow falls, the rest of us have favorite memories centering around snowy days. City Council Members Anne Corrock and Baird Gourlay shared these stories with us.
Anne Corrock: " The most epic powder memory of mine is skiing the bowls on Thanksgiving Day in 1973! It was unheard of for the mountain to open that early; mid-December was the norm. My brother Kenny and I were training in Lake Eldora, Colo., when we got the call to "come home, they're opening the mountain!" Bill Janss (then owner of Sun Valley) was towed over to the top of Lookout Bowl by snowmobile and got first tracks. The ski team kids traversed over and were right behind him. As memory serves me, they let us test the bowls before the general public to make sure it was safe! It was a very 'big' year."
Baird Gourlay: "My wife and I spent this past Saturday and Sunday night in the Honeymoon yurt at Galena Lodge. I spent most of the weekend shoveling paths to the wood pile, off the deck and to other areas. We snowshoed around 'Rip and Tear' trail and drove to Mushroom Ridge to harvest our Christmas tree. When we left Monday morning, the snow was half way up the doors on my truck, about 30 inches.   LOVE WINTER!"
Why do we love snow? Writer J.B. Priestly perhaps said it best, "The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found?" 

Santa Jack A few weeks shy of his 85th Birthday - coming up soon on Jan. 5, Jack Williams is happy to be known as "Santa Claus."
He got his start posing with visitors for photographs on Baldy. At one time, he made house calls, even traveling by horse and sleigh in the days that plowing the streets was not given the same importance that it is today.
If you've come to the Town Square holiday tree lighting, you've seen him too. It's been so long since he started greeting children at the town ceremonies that he can't even remember when he started.
The city tree-lighting ceremonies have changed over the years, although Santa still arrives on a fire truck to greet the children. Years ago, he rode through town on top of the fire truck, and ear muffs were necessary protection from the chilly wind generated by the moving truck. Santa now rides inside the cab where it is indeed more comfortable.
"It's wonderful to have the little kids welcome me and tell me their wishes," he said. "When I walk in the door of the Visitors Center beside Town Square to talk to the children, that's the most heart-warming part of the year. I even got a special peppermint latte this year."

Air Passenger Numbers Are Increasing; Arrive Early for Flights Next Week
The number of air passengers has increased significantly in the past two years, but has yet to return to the peak levels of 2008, Ron McNeil, air service consultant for the Fly Sun Valley Alliance told the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority at this month's meeting. These are the highlights.
  • Service to Seattle and Los Angeles is operating more months of the year, and there is an additional Seattle flight over the holidays.
  • There has been a 37 percent increase in seats, and a 44 percent increase in enplanements since 2012.
  • Average fares have dropped 10 percent over the past year.
Starting today, Fly Sun Valley recommends that travelers arrive at the airport two hours ahead of flights because of increased holiday service.
Higher Occupancy Rates Expected for Holidays
Lodging occupancy rates are expected to go up to 60 percent over the holidays, Visit Sun Valley reports. Last week's occupancy rates in Ketchum and Sun Valley were 28 percent, a drop of 5 percent over the same week last year. This past week's snowfall is expected to give a big boost to the local economy.
'Buy Local' Gift Tags Coming Buy Local Tags
Mayor Nina Jonas is delivering "Buy Local" gift tags and window decals to Ketchum merchants. This is a continuation of the popular program instituted last year. If you have not yet received yours, please contact

Outdoor Ice Rink Is Open
The Christina Potters Outdoor Ice Rink is open at Atkinson Park. Skating and loaner skates are free. All free and fun! Look for the rink on the other side of the snow walls!

We Are Pro Snow! 
The city of Ketchum joined Snowriders International's campaign to convince international leaders to reduce climate-crisis causing pollutants worldwide, thus protecting future snow packs. The recent Paris Agreement sets the bar for ambition high: to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius global average temperature rise, if possible. It also requires countries to return to the table every 5 years to propose more ambitious action, while holding countries responsible for measuring and reporting on their progress. This is most certainly a victory for the planet and a victory for the future of snow.

Stay Safe in Snow Territory 
Avalanche advisories, danger ratings, education and more information is available on the Sawtooth Avalanche Center website

Is There a Fire Hydrant Near You? 
Help the Ketchum Fire Department during the heavy snow fall and ski season. If there's a fire hydrant near your home or business, please take time to clear the snow so that firefighters
can access it quickly in the case of an emergency.
Pond Hockey Classic Set for Jan. 16-17
The 9th Annual Idaho Pond Hockey Classic will take place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17, at the Christina Potters Outdoor Ice Rink at Atkinson Park. Cost for each six-person team is $180. For additional information, contact John Kearney at or 726-7820, ext. 100.
City Saves $50,000 in Electricity Costs
The city has saved 1 million kilowatt hours and $50,000 in electricity costs as a result of conservation measures at the wastewater treatment plant over the past 18 months, according to Wastewater Division Supervisor Mike Mummert. The city joined the Idaho Power Wastewater Energy Efficiency Cohort to share methods of conserving energy with other cities. The latest change was to adopt new guidelines that enabled the city to reduce the use of a piece of equipment called a digestive blower from 24 hours to six hours per day.
Firefighter of the Year 2015 Schwartz Named Firefighter of the Year
Pete Schwartz, Ketchum volunteer squad leader, has been honored as the city's Firefighter of the Year. A member of the fire department for the past 14 years, he also is an emergency medical technician and instructor. Sun Valley firefighter Nate Galpin was also honored. 
Wider Shoulder Planned for Highway 75
The Idaho Department of Transportation plans to widen the shoulder on the east side of Highway 75 from 10th Street, just north of the Knob Hill Inn, to Saddle Road this spring. The 3- to 5-foot wide shoulder is expected to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. 
Too Hard to Find a Parking Place or Getting Stuck in the Snow? 
Take a free Mountain Rides bus to the ski lift or downtown. Winter schedules are now in effect. The "blue" route going between downtown and the Elkhorn and Warm Springs areas runs until 1:30 a.m.
In addition, Mountain Rides recently received three buses that were no longer needed in Utah from the Federal Transit Administration. The buses are expected to have a remaining year of useful life, and Mountain Rides believes that its strong preventive maintenance program can extend their life for another three to four years.

City Council 
Attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21. 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 Monday, Dec. 28 meeting has been cancelled. The next P&Z meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 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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