Donald Trump Jr. Smiley Creek

Donald Trump Jr. (center, kneeling) and his partner Kimberly Guilfoyle (center, standing) stopped off to visit with voters at Smiley Creek last night on their way to an event near Stanley. For more on that, look for the Friday edition of the Mountain Express.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 283 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 today, raising the total to 36,093. According to the state, coronavirus resulted in six more deaths today, raising Idaho’s death toll to 429.

Blaine County gained no new cases of the virus today. The state did update the county’s probable cases by one, however, but that number was reported by the South Central Public Health District yesterday. Blaine County has experienced a total of 596 confirmed and 21 probable cases of the virus since March. Of those, the health district is monitoring 11 active cases.

Read on for updates on the local coronavirus situation, discussions on the undergrounding of an Idaho Power transmission line, and the fate of WRHS’s homecoming festivities. Here are the top stories from Wednesday, Sept. 16.

• Before those stories, here are some quick updates on fire and smoke. The Badger Fire near Oakley has grown to 28,000 acres, 149 personnel are on site and containment is expected Oct. 31. The Grouse Fire near Fairfield is 23 percent contained at 3,922 acres. Click here to view the federal wildfire map.

With much of the west in flames, smoke continues to blanket the state. Ketchum’s air quality was rated “unhealthy” by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality all day. Breathing the air for extended periods of time could cause health problems. Click here to view the DEQ’s air quality map.

• When COVID-19 first arrived in Idaho, Blaine County promptly became one of the nation’s coronavirus hotspots. Fast-forward six months, and Blaine is once more anomaly. This time, it’s for all the right reasons, according to representatives from St. Luke’s. Mask ordinances and a general willingness to follow recommended hand-washing and social-distancing protocols seemed to have helped flatted the curve.

• In the past couple of weeks, the Blaine County commissioners held two public meetings to discuss whether and how to pay for the undergrounding of an Idaho Power transmission line along state Highway 75. As those meetings failed to achieve any firm consensus on the matter, the commissioners are planning a third meeting in the coming weeks.

• An investment group known as Ix-Nay Investment Trust and backed by unidentified individuals has plans to build a private airport on a 1,600-acre private ranch property in Camas County. If approved, the airport would have the capacity to handle modified private-use commercial Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Due to previous involvement with the area and proposed airport construction, actor Bruce Willis is widely speculated to be involved.

The Camas County Planning and Zoning Commission plans to hold a series of public hearings on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 22, to consider the necessary rezoning, conditional-use permit and comprehensive plan map revision.

• Despite COVID-19, the Wood River Valley and the surrounding areas saw a massive spike in tourism. Now, multiple counties and organizations have joined together to address the litter left behind on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

“It’s great that people are out enjoying their national forests and doing weekend road trips. But we have folks parking next to ‘Do not park’ signs, local residents finding human waste in the backcountry and motorcycles on nonmotorized trails,” Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson told the Mountain Express. “It’s been very eye-opening.”

• Wood River High School has indefinitely postponed all homecoming festivities, with the single exception of tomorrow night’s homecoming football game. Wood River will kick off against Minico at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Phil Homer Field.

Yesterday, the school district confirmed at least two cases of COVID-19 among Wood River High School staff.

For more local and regional news, pick up a copy of today’s Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.

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