Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Local Articles

In November, producer Seth Ogilvie and I were in Challis for work, when Ogilvie ran into Brandon Hixon in the parking lot of our roadside motel. They exchanged brief looks, then Hixon left without saying a word. We learned from the woman working the front desk that he was on his way to his hometown of Salmon.

Under different circumstances, I imagine Hixon would have been happy to see us. We had a good working relationship, and he was always eager to tell us about upcoming legislation he was working on.

But this chance meeting was different. Hixon had just resigned two weeks prior, as news had broken that he was under investigation for alleged sexual abuse. A month later, he would be arrested for the driving under the influence...

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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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Leslie Shumate's picture


Thursday, January 4th was a big day for the community of Elk Bend. It marked the end of the seven year process that went into building a $2 million sewer plant. 

Elk Bend Sewer District Secretary/Treasurer Eleanor Wisner told the Lemhi County Commissioners January 8 that as of the previous Thursday evening at 6PM all three lift stations as well as the plant itself officially went on-line, “…without a glitch.” She said the new facility has been credited by Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials as being one of the most efficient and up-to-date plants in the country.

Wisner along with East Central Idaho Planning and Development Company representative Rick Miller met with the Lemhi County Commissioners to wrap up the project’s final details which included a public hearing update on the project’s use of Community Block Grant funds and officially entering the project on the county tax rolls. User fees per sewer hook-up will be $20 per month collected on a semi-annual basis. The fees will start being collected next year and will be used to repay the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and Rural Development loans.

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A progression of subjects all related to Salmon’s air quality consumed much of the Salmon City Council December 6 meeting. 

During the first public comment opportunity of the evening, Councilmember-elect Robin Phillips introduced the subject of a proposed air-quality digital sign by saying she is totally against spending an anticipated $5,000 plus on-going costs for an electronic sign. She said such a sign, controlled from Idaho Falls by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), constitutes a public safety hazard if placed in Salmon’s downtown business area and is just a “feel good measure.” She said she agrees with retiring Councilman Russ Chinske that relaying public air-quality alerts by way of the radio station, email and/or texting is far more effective and cost efficient.

Phillips suggested the council contact the Idaho Congressional delegation about funds for the woodstove voucher program which she thinks would truly alleviate the air-quality problems. In the past the DEQ has given eligible participants wishing to replace an old wood stove $1,000 towards a new EPA approved model.

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BEAUMONT – Philip Klein, an area blogger and private investigator, has been hit with a libel and slander suit, brought by the grandfather of DeOrr Kunz Jr. – the Idaho Falls toddler who vanished in July 2015.

Alleging breach of contract, DeOrr Dennis Kunz, along with the father of the boy, DeOrr Vernal Kunz, filed suit against Klein and his company, Klein Investigations and Consulting, on Nov. 1 in an Idaho state court.


Two years ago, Dennis Kunz hired Klein for $20,000 to find his grandson and clear his son, Vernal, of any suspicion.

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With the yuletide season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what food and wines to serve during the holidays.

If you’re going the prime rib route, big reds with bold flavors are definitely the way to go. White wines and light reds pair well with turkey, pork and salmon. As you can see, choices abound this time of year.

Here are some tasting notes and food recommendations for several recently released wines from Idaho’s Snake River Valley that should keep everyone happy at the dinner table — even that wine-snob cousin.

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Leslie Shumate's picture

COBALT 11-27-17 LMS

In answer to local questions about the Idaho Cobalt Project (ICP) the Lemhi County Commissioners were told Monday “It’s for real. The market is there. It’s time for this project.” 

Many local residents have been thoroughly acquainted with the ore called Cobalt for years, dating back to the mining days of the 50’s and 60’s. Recent world interest in the ore is pretty much old news to those who lived the Cobalt days. The recent focus on electric cars powered by lithium batteries which contain the specialty metal known as Cobalt has created a huge interest in the ore. Presently the Republic of the Congo is producing some Cobalt but it is only mined as a by-product of Copper and the country is in the midst of civil war. The only Cobalt belt in the free world is in Lemhi County and the Idaho Cobalt Project is the only near term, environmentally permitted, primary Cobalt project located in the United States. 

On November 27 the commissioners were introduced to Llee Chapman, General Manager of Formation Capital Corporation’s Idaho Cobalt Project.

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A question of whether or not to institute an additional monthly Salmon City Council meeting solely to discuss city finances was decided at its November 15 meeting.

The impetus behind the suggestion is that some council members feel city finances are the most important aspect of the City Council job as well as being one of the most complex.

Councilman Jim Bockelman reintroduced the topic and in answer to an email of the Finance Team meeting minutes being enough, he said the only way to be fully informed about city finances is to attend the actual meetings. In his opinion it is impossible to put every detail discussed in the minutes because the business of understanding finances is a step by step process.

Soon to retire Councilman Rob Jackson totally agreed with Bockelman that finances are the most important part of the job and he said the new council members need to have the opportunity of all the financial information.

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The recent survey of commercial and industrial sewer customers sent by the city to local business owners is extremely vital to the continued operations at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The mandatory survey was a topic of discussion at the November 15 meeting of the Salmon City Council.

Councilman Jim Bockelman said the survey is a form business owners need to complete and return to the city. He said the survey is a very important document the city needs for the plant’s operational permit renewal. Councilman Rob Jackson is a business owner and admitted he at first didn’t take the survey request very seriously but later found out otherwise. He encouraged anyone who has questions or doesn’t understand how to fill out the form to call City Hall and ask for assistance.

Other topics included in the evening’s Roundtable Discussion and public comment opportunities were the Forest Plan and snowplowing. Jackson said he thinks the Forest Revision Plan and draft assessment report is very important to the community and that residents as well as the city should officially submit comments. The plan being developed will guide Forest Service directions for the next 20 years.

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Leslie Shumate's picture


After months of tramping through rugged terrain in the vast Salmon Municipal Watershed located above the city and compiling all the data obtained, the US Forest Service has developed a proposed action for lessening the threat the overgrown, unhealthy forest is posing to the city’s water supply. 

At the November 15 meeting of the Salmon City Council North Fork District Ranger Ken Gebhardt introduced the interdisciplinary core team which has been engaged in the project aimed at protecting the city’s water quality and quantity.

Watershed Program Manager Dave Deschaine led the presentation depicting what the team has learned about the high fire risk area that is comprised of waters from Jesse, Chips and Pollard creeks as well as Turner Gulch.

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