Wednesday, July 8, 2020
BCRD Director to Pursue Other Opportunities
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Jim Keating said he and his wife will continue to live “in this amazing valley.”
   
Friday, June 19, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Jim Keating had been seeking a career change after working in the fast-paced high-stress world of the high-tech industry at companies like US Robotics, 3com and Dell.

He found it at the helm of the Blaine County Recreation District where he applied his experience in finance to make one of the cornerstones of the Sun Valley community more sustainable.

Now, after 13 years of building connectivity through all that the BCRD oversees, he’s ready to step back into the world of high tech in a management role. Keating will step down from his position at the BCRD Aug. 10.

 
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Jim Keating has counted down the start of Ski the Rails for the past 13 years.
 

He and his wife Courtney Gilbert, a curator for the Sun Valley Museum of Arts, will continue to live in the Wood River Valley.

“I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have served in this role with this amazing organization and with partners, friends and supporters like you,” he wrote in an email announcing his plans Wednesday night. “I could not be more excited about the future of the BCRD…I will always be this organization’s greatest fan and its most fervent supporter.”

The BCRD’s Board of Directors will work on an updated job description for the executive director position and will initiate a local, regional and national search in July.

Board President Mike Burchmore said Keating is a trusted leader within the community who leaves the BCRD in a strong financial position, with several large capital projects set to be completed this summer.

 
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Jim Keating addresses the ladies at the annual Harriman Tea, which was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
 

“We’re sad to see Jim move on to a new position in the technology industry but we are grateful for his 13 years at BCRD,” said Burchmore. “During this time, he has built an organization that provides the highest quality of active recreation for the benefit of Blaine County.”

Keating, an avid tennis player who grew up in New Orleans, had enjoyed the Nordic trails and other amenities the BCRD offers on vacation to the Sun Valley area before he and his family moved here.

His tenure has been a busy one, during which BCRD developed the Community Campus with its Fitworks exercise studio, HUB afterschool program and more. He and his staff collaborated with others to build 45 miles of summer mountain biking, hiking and equestrian trails at Galena Lodge and expand Nordic trails in Quigley Canyon. Even now, the finishing touches are being put on an expanded and revitalized Aquatics Center and a new bike park and playground at Quigley.

Keating also collaborated on an interactive trails report available on the BCRD website, which is  updated nearly daily to show where sheep are grazing or where trails remain muddy.

 
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Jenny Busdon and Jim Keating honored Bob Rosso for his dedication to Galena Lodge and the trails at January’s Galena Lodge benefit.
 

“One of the highlights was the reconstruction of the bike path, which was a huge deal, as it may be the most used aspect of the valley,” he said. “We counted 350,000 visits on that bike path in 2012 and there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s more now.”

Building trails at Galena was more than about building trails, Keating said. It also enriched the experience and added value to the rustic lodge that had long been a favorite gathering place during winter but was little used during summer.

“It made for a more economically viable, sustainable Galena,” said Keating. “Before the summer trails, there was this amazing lodge, but people didn’t come as much in summer because there was not much to do so Don and Erin would struggle. The summer trails have changed that.”

Keating led the resurrection of Nordic trails in Quigley a couple winters ago, along with the building of a 4.5-mile pedestrian-bicycle trail that he said will hopefully one day connect to trails the BLM is considering building in the area, as well of the Toe of the Hill trail, which starts behind the high school and runs behind the Woodside community.

And this summer bulldozers are busy building a combo advanced and beginner pump park, as well as bicycle flow trails in a new bike park.

“It’s the Galena of the South Valley,” he said. “It’s close to the community, providing affordable recreation for everyone. And it’s close to the Community Campus and high school. It’s pretty amazing that the high school mountain bike team will be able to go right out the doors to access trails or that a class could walk right outside and get on the trails for outdoor education.”

Keating serves on several community organizations, including the new Blaine Economic Recovery committee. But he says there are few roles or organizations that touch so many people in the community as does the BCRD.

“I am very humbled that I can be engaging with supporters at Galena Lodge one day and then work in the South Valley on a program addressing childhood obesity the next,” he said. “It’s been incredible to see the love and need residents have for the recreation we help provide. And I see that there’s a lot less that divides us now than when I arrived. I see more overlap now—even the motorized people are crossing over to do non-motorized activities.”

Keating said he has a long list of lots of little things he’d like to see in the future, such as connecting the Wood River Trails to Croy Canyon or Broadford Road. As the BCRD seeks new blood, the community will get to reflect on its priorities, he added.

And, yes, you will see him skiing and biking the BCRD trails.

“You’ll forever see me on those trails,” he said. “I’m so incredibly excited to be an uber user, and I really mean that.”

 

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