Lemhi County Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate News

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NO DEAL 1-29-18 LMS

Wright Brothers-The Building Company (WBTBC), the construction firm contracted to build the new Lemhi County Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall, has said “no” to an official county request. 

On January 22 the county asked that due to the company missing the original agreed-upon completion date of March 15 it build a protective shell over the site and that it be put in place by April 6 to provide cover for the Salmon Select Horse Sale. The contractor declined.

Lemhi County Clerk of the Court Terri Morton said Monday, January 29, that a special meeting of the Lemhi County Commissioners, legal counsel, members of the County Fair Board and County Agricultural Extension office has been scheduled for January 30. She also said the Salmon Select Horse Sale and Mule Sale will take place as scheduled.

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Bob Gutzman and Tiffany McAlister, representing the Lemhi Education Project (LEP), approached Lemhi County Commissioner’s Chairman Brett Barsalou and commissioners Rick Snyder and Ken Miner Monday, January 22, with a request for advice and guidance. 

According to Gutzman the six year old program has done “…too good a job” in establishing local educational opportunities and interest because with only a part-time interim director, there is much more demand for services than there is time and money, especially money.

He said the opportunities keep rolling in as LEP works with the new College of Eastern Idaho, offers job training programs, provides opportunities for seniors and others, tutors students and supports a GED program (General Equivalency Diploma).

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In her January 17 report to the Salmon City Council, City Finance Director Amy Fealko advised council members the fiscal year is 25 percent complete, 15.2 percent of revenues are in and 21.1 percent of the projected expenditures are spent.

The city’s Finance Team has been discussing whether or not a formal resolution should be adopted dedicating an agreed upon amount each year to a Contingency Fund. The purpose of having such a fund is a budget stabilization measure which would allow the city to respond quickly in the event normal avenues of revenue were to be unexpectedly interrupted by economic uncertainty or natural disaster. 

The city has been operating on the premise that 35 percent of the annual budgeted General Fund amount will be held/reserved in existing contingency funds however; there are no records showing an official action ever taken in that regard.

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When the Local Option Tax (LOT) Ordinance was established by voters in the November 2009 election it had a designated lifespan of ten years which means the current LOT program will end next year.

During the Salmon City Council’s January 17 meeting Robin Watkins of the LOT Commission briefed the council on the program’s end dates and accomplishments. She said she will be supplying council members with a summation of how the over $700,000 in LOT funds have been used during the last decade. She also said the commission would like to publish a history of what the LOT funding has done in the community and conduct a survey of what sort of future local residents would like to see for the program. This would be in advance of going through the process of placing the LOT issue on the November 2019 ballot. 

Watkins asked for the council’s blessings to go forward with the commission’s informational project.

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A motion to proceed researching a proposal for the city to buy the parking lot which runs behind Main Street stores from Shoup Street to Rags and Wags passed the council with one negative vote.

Councilor Jim Baker introduced the proposal which came from the Havens Trust. He said the lot facilitates parking space for 60 vehicles and he feels the purchase would be a good investment for the city since the land will continue to increase in value. Baker said city ownership would assure the parking availability will remain which in turn would keep the businesses where they are. 

Councilor Neal James agreed the purchase is a good plan even though no rent can be charged for the spaces since there is no way to set boundaries as to which businesses use the lot.

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The Salmon Valley Business & Innovation Center (SVBIC) opened in the fall of 2003. The Lemhi County Economic Development Association (LCEDA) has been overseeing the business activities in the city owned building since the beginning and the lease which dictates that arrangement is about to expire.

Alan Howell, LCEDA Board Chairman, informed the Salmon City Council January 17 that although the association still believes in the original premise and goals of the center, terms of the lease between the city and LCEDA are no longer conducive to continued involvement. 

He said the lease requires a 180 day advance notice of discontinuance which is why he chose this month to open a dialogue concerning the building’s lease terms. Howell said economic conditions have changed since the facility’s inception and the building’s age and design have become concerns as well as its future upkeep. He paused to emphasize LCEDA has not taken any SVBIC funds for use in LCEDA projects. He said LCEDA has only spent center monies on the function and operation of the actual building itself.

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North Fork District Forest Service Ranger Ken Gebhardt told the Salmon City Council January 17 that the time has arrived to take the agency’s Jesse Creek Salmon Municipal Watershed fuel reduction proposals to the public. The in-depth study that began last year covers 13,817 acres and is aimed at reducing catastrophic fire risks to the town’s water supply.

Gebhardt turned the narrative over to North Zone Forest Service Project Manager Wade McPhetridge who outlined the agency’s proposed action to protect the area’s water quality as well as quantity.

McPhetridge said that Forest Service Geographical Information System (GIS) specialist Andy Klimeck has determined there have been 53 fire starts within the watershed boundaries since 1919. That equates to an average of one fire every two years.

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Every meeting of the Salmon City Council includes a Roundtable Discussion where council members may discuss topics of interest not listed on the meeting’s formal agenda.

At its January3 meeting Councilor Ken Hill applauded the Formation Capital Cobalt Project for what it will do for this community’s future and for what it is already doing.

Hill said the company has hired 14 local people and plans to hire from 40 to 50 more employees within the next three months. He said that Formation is hoping to start construction in March, weather permitting, and is planning to hire more local people for that construction phase. Hill said there will be some sub-contracting of experienced personnel which will be brought in for the hard rock mining portion of the project. 

Hill said the only problem at present is the lack of local housing. He said there are practically no rentals available and the company is having a hard time finding purchasable properties.

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