Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Mayor Discourages ‘Virus Vacations’ as Closures Continue to Pile Up
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The Sawtooth Botanical Garden remains open for those who need a calming place to focus on their mental health.
   
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The mayor of Ketchum urged Wood River Valley residents to discourage friends and family from visiting Sun Valley right now as the valley tries to quell the spread of the coronavirus.

“For a town that is used to welcoming visitors, this is hard to do but we must reduce the number of people visiting our area,” Neil Bradshaw wrote on Monday. “As well as the threat of introducing infected persons into our area, it will put additional strain on our medical resources. The message is clear: This is not a place for a virus vacation.”

Additionally, Bradshaw encouraged restaurants to close or limit themselves to take-out. He also asked non-essential businesses to limit operations and encouraged people to leave something on the shelves for others when shopping.

“Keep your distance but be there to support your neighbor. Be kind to those around you,” he added.

The city will lead by example, he said. It has:

  • Cancelled city events and restricted large gatherings in public spaces.
  • Closed all city recreation programs.
  • Closed public access to city facilities.
  • Assigned non-public safety staff, such as community service officers and parks and recreation workers who regularly interacts with the public outside of city facilities, to office duties.
  • Cancelled out-of-state business travel for city staff and highly encouraged employees traveling out of state on personal travel to cancel their plans.

    Those who need to file a permit or pay a bill will be asked to deposit their paperwork in a container outside City Hall. And customers are encouraged to call, email or conduct business on-line.

    Bradshaw added that the city will do what it can to secure federal and state funding in support of local businesses. And he urged citizenry to support local restaurants and other local businesses when normalcy returns.

    “While it is hard to see right now, I am confident that we will come out of this pandemic stronger and wiser,” he said. “We will learn what is essential and what is not. We will learn how to prepare better for the future and we will learn not to take anything for granted. Finally, we will learn to celebrate what every day brings and not what it takes away.”

    The streets of Ketchum were noticeably quieter on Monday.

    One woman noted that strangers appeared to observe one another with suspicion. At the Ketchum Post Office an elderly man complained that Ketchum’s unwillingness to provide home delivery could put at risk the lives of at-risk populations who need to self-isolate at this time.

    Andrea Nelson said she was shocked to see how grimy the touchscreen was at the Sun Valley Post Office when she stopped to mail two packages.

    “I had rubber gloves on and I scrubbed the touchscreen down with hand sanitizer and Lysol. Then I turned to the guys in line behind me—all of whom were in their 70s or older--and said, ‘I’m doing you guys a public service.’ ”

    “With the way things are right now, we all need to carry hand sanitizer and Lysol to use on the things we touch,” she added.

    As the day progressed, more organizations announced closures.

  • The City of Hailey announced just before closing time on Monday that City Hall business will be conducted by phone and only under highly necessary conditions by appointment for the time being. Hailey Police Department, Hailey Fire Department, Hailey Public Library and Hailey Public Works Facilities will lock their doors to the public while remaining open. Public hearings will remain open to the public.

  • The Community Library, Gold Mine stores and Regional History buildings closed in concert with community-wide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • St. Luke’s cancelled Wednesday’s Brown Bag talk, “Mental Health Therapy for Complex Trauma.”
  • NAMI-WRV announced that it was ceasing all local support groups at this time to protect the health of participants, volunteers and staff.

    But, said Executive Director Christina Cernansky, it is important to remember that social distancing does not have to include social isolation.

    “Take the time to get outside. Enjoy the sunshine by taking a walk and feeling the ground beneath your feet, the warmth of the sun on your skin and how the fresh air feels with each inhale you take deep down into your chest,” she said. “Taking the time to enjoy moments such as these can prevent feelings of isolation during uncertain times.”

    Those who need support can email info@namiwrv.org, call Cernansky at 208-481-0686 or call Brittany Shipley at 208-720-4004.

  • The Spot announced that it was going dark, postponing the final production of the season “Stupid F*cking Bird” by Aaron Posner. It is also rescheduling its Artist in Residence collaboration with creator/activist Julia Bray of “Matter is Mother.” The Spot hopes to announce new dates in July.

    “The theater is resilient,” staff noted. “It has survived plague before—in Shakespeare’s time and in recent memory, the 1980s.”

  • The Wood River Jewish Community cancelled its Community Seder, which had been scheduled for April 9. “This may be the first time in 30 years but prudence must prevail during this difficult time,” said Claudie Goldstein.
  • The Wood River Valley Studio tour cancelled its tour of artists studios previously scheduled for Aug. 22-23. The tour will resume Aug. 21-22, 2021.
  • The Sun Valley Music Festival announced that it has cancelled education programs on school property during the present school closure. Staff are working with faculty to set up remote private lessons for students.
  • The Sawtooth Botanical Garden announced it was postponing the popular Bug Zoo until Fall 2020 due to the closure of Blaine County schools at this time. It also has shifted its “Yard Yogi: Where Gardeners Go Deep” series online.

    But an upcoming “Birdhouse Building” with Poo Wright-Pulliam will continue as planned since it’s a small class, which can be offered outdoors.

    And the garden will remain open, albeit with guidelines for public health and safety.

    Visitors will be asked to stay away if they are feeling ill. They should maintain appropriate social distancing. And, while the restroom will be available between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, visitors are asked to limit their time indoors.

    “Because the Sawtooth Botanical Garden is largely an outdoor facility, we feel that the current guidelines allow for limited access,” said Director Jen Smith.

  • The Environmental Resource Center also announced it was closing its offices but promised it would try to offer ideas for at-home outdoor education projects via its website until things return to normal.

Executive Director Lindsay Mollineaux noted that her mother, currently under lockdown in Madrid where she is a language teacher, mentioned how Spanish residents open their windows every night to clap and cheer for the medical workers.

“There’s going to be a lot of talk in the next month about social distancing. But I think a better way to describe what will be needed is physical distancing with social closeness,” she said. “Now is precisely the time to pick up the phone and call neighbors, friends and family. Now is precisely the time to think about how we can be sources of strength and calm for others. Stay home but stay connected."

 

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