The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 396 more confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide today, raising the total since March to 38,743. Coronavirus was considered a contributing factor in another three deaths since yesterday, leaving the Idaho death toll at 454.

The state confirmed one more case in Blaine County today, leaving local totals at 613 confirmed and 29 probable. As of last night, the South Central Public Health District was monitoring 18 confirmed and 10 probable active cases in the county.

Read on for news of elections, the upcoming ski season, construction developments in Hailey and Ketchum, and other top news from Wednesday, Sept. 23.

• With just about six weeks to go until the November general election, the local debate season officially kicked off last Thursday night in Hailey. Incumbent Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, faced off against challenger Eric Parker, a Republican from Hailey, last week to touch upon a wide range of issues, including abortion rights, Black Lives Matter, gun control and Medicaid. They agreed on a few topics and disagreed on others.

Gretel Kauffman reviews the debate in detail here, highlighting both candidates’ positions on important issues.

• The Sun Valley Company hasn’t completely finalized its rules for this coming ski season, but plans are shaping up. The resort recently announced that it will not require reservations to ski and snowboard this winter. The move is in opposition to protocols recently announced by Vail Resorts. Sun Valley is a partner in Vail’s Epic Pass program, but those who use the Epic Pass at Sun Valley will follow different rules than at Vail-owned mountains. Much has yet to be confirmed as far as the Sun Valley ski season is concerned, but this announcement is telling nonetheless.

• The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve a design for a 12-unit residential development built largely from refurbished metal shipping containers. The three-building, two-story affordable housing project will go on a vacant lot north of the forthcoming Silver River Residences development on River Street.

• A recent survey conducted by the city of Ketchum yielded generally positive feedback on its partial closure of Fourth Street to vehicular traffic. Despite those results, the city council revealed plans to fully reopen the street to motorists by October.

• The Ketchum City Council is considering allowing a developer to fulfill the affordable housing requirement for a larger, downtown housing project with affordable housing outside the city limits. The developer has requested to satisfy that housing requirement by buying property in Sun Valley. Councilwoman Courtney Hamilton and Mayor Neil Bradshaw expressed opposition to what would be an unprecedented move by the city.

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

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