Yesterday's roundup noted that Idaho experienced its biggest surge in COVID-19 cases since April 9. That's the case again today, with nearly a hundred new cases statewide.
Blaine County saw no new increases, though, as the South Central Public Health District reported rises in four of its eight counties. Most of those new cases were in Twin Falls.
Locally, though, today's top news has nothing to do with the coronavirus. A major legal saga about a 2018 wildfire comes to a close, the school district makes moves to tackle inequality, and properties in Hailey are going to undergo a few changes. Here are the top stories from Wednesday, June 17.
• As crews from the Bureau of Land Management and local fire departments worked to contain and extinguish a 56-acre wildfire in Quigley Canyon over the weekend, two years of legal conferences with regards to the 65,000-acre Sharps Fire was drawing to a conclusion.
Ryan Jensen, who on Monday pleaded guilty to starting the fire, was ordered to spend five days in jail, complete 400 hours of community service and pay restitution totaling $303,300, of which $300,000 will be covered by his homeowner’s insurance policy.
The total cost of extinguishing the Sharps Fire was over $9 million, according to prosecuting attorney Angela Nelson.
• As protests continue to occupy headlines nationally and abroad, the Blaine County School District has directed its sights inward to address the racial inequity of local schools. An open letter written by a recent graduate of the Wood River High School put a fine point on those issues--and prompted the school's nascent Equity Task Force to redouble its efforts.
“As a school district composed of primarily privileged educators, we have been working hard to change our culture and systems to create a new system of education,” Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said in a statement to the Express. “We have made great strides and still have miles to go.”
• After years of negotiations, the Blaine County Commissioners have finally completed a deal to transfer the Blaine Manor property in Hailey to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. The land will be used for a 60-unit housing development. Thirty of those units will be set aside for seniors, and 55 will be earmarked for those making between 30 and 60 percent of the area's median income.
“I firmly believe that housing is a key cog in our economy and our recovery,” Commissioner Dick Fosbury said Tuesday before the vote.
• Half a mile away, the Attic Thrift Store in Hailey is on track to undergo a 2,760-square-foot expansion in the near future after receiving unanimous design-review approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare recorded 92 new cases of COVID-19 in the state today. The largest jump since early April leaves Idaho’s total at 3,632 confirmed and probable cases of the virus.
For more top news, pick up a copy of today’s Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.