The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported three new cases of COVID-19 in Blaine County today, leaving totals at 526 confirmed and 12 probable cases. Twin Falls County gained 27 cases today, surpassing Blaine's confirmed case count for the first time.
Law enforcement officers get ready for a busy weekend, issuing warnings to drivers ahead of the Fourth of July. Plus, Senior Connection is reopening its kitchen. Here are the top stories from Thursday, July 2.
• Ahead of the Fourth of July, the Idaho State Police have increased their patrols on highways and roads statewide and issued a stern warning against drunk driving. According to a statement from ISP, last Fourth of July in Idaho, 36 crashes occurred due drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs, resulting in 46 injuries and four deaths.
The police urge responsible driving, appointing designated sober drivers or arranging for overnight stays.
• A federal judge has denied a request by the owner of the Sawtooth Mountain Ranch to stop the U.S. Forest Service from building a trail to connect Stanley with Redfish Lake across ranch property. Part of the trail is on an easement bought by the Forest Service from a previous owner of the ranch.
On Monday, the same judge also denied a request by the U.S. government for an order that ranch owner David Boren and his brother Michael Boren stop interfering with construction of the trail. The Forest Service alleged that a low-flying helicopter apparently operated by Michael Boren had been harassing employees, according to court filings.
• Company of Fools announced the cancellation of its 25th theatrical season today. The Hailey-based theater company had planned to kick things off in September, but citing uncertainty around COVID-19, health concerns raised by actors and feedback from the community, cancellation seemed the only option.
• The Senior Connection will reopen its dining room on July 6, with strict safety protocols in place. The dining room has for many years provided buffet lunches, performances and social activities for hundreds of senior citizens in the Wood River Valley.
“Our senior citizens will now be able to come and have lunch with their friends,” said Ramona Duke, community relations manager for the Senior Connection.
• Blaine County will receive $2.3 million in federal payments in lieu of taxes (PILT), an increase of more than $150,000 from last year. PILT funds are distributed annually from fees and royalties collected from commercial activity on federal land. The money is distributed to counties that contain public land to mitigate their inability to collect property taxes on federal plots.
• A bat in Twin Falls County has tested positive for rabies, for the first to do so this year. The South Central Public Health District urges caution when dealing with any and all wild animals, especially those acting abnormally or erratically. People who catch a bat and need it tested can call 208-737-5912 or 208-737-5971.
Today’s statewide COVID-19 case count rose to 6,593, an increase of 223 from yesterday, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
For more top news, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.