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Bridging a Need
Wednesday, February 21, 2018


It’s not every day you get to raise a glass to toast a bridge.

That’s what members of the Wood River Women’s Foundation did last week as they toasted the completion of a new bridge that they made possible.

The philanthropic organization’s members awarded $22,565 to the Wood River Land Trust this past year to help remake 150 acres in Colorado Gulch area of Hailey into an extension of the popular Draper Preserve.

And the Land Trust used part of that money to build a bridge that offers safe passage over an irrigation canal that was formerly bridged by a wooden plank. The bridge was designed in keeping with the Bow Bridge near Lions Park to the north.

“What you have given to the Wood River Valley is this incredible bridge. It’s going to be so important in this preserve,” said Land Trust spokesperson Courtney Jelaco, who unveiled a picture of the bridge for the women.

The Land Trust acquired the land in the Colorado Gulch area to preserve public access. It also hopes to restore the river banks in the area so the area can better absorb flooding, preventing damage to property downstream.

The Land Trust is building a wide trail through the area that can be used for those with physical limitations. It also wants to replace noxious weeds with native plants and add educational and directional signage.

The project will extend the walking path that starts to the north in the Draper Preserve with the completed pathway covering  1.5 miles. The Land Trust estimates it will be used by 24,000 people a year.

“It’s really a gem, and it’s going to get so much use,” said Jelaco.

The Wood River Women’s Foundation held its recent social at Gail Severn Gallery, with its members mingling under Rana Rochat’s brightly colored encaustic paintings while taking selfies next to Pamela deTuncq’s sculptural deer covered in tapestries.

The Foundation recently opened its first office in the new Ketchum Works, which provides shared office space at 191 Sun Valley Road, said Sandra Flattery.

“We’ve seen a need to have a professional meeting place outside our homes. This includes a meeting room and a communal area,” she added.

The Foundation will also hold a Winter Educational Forum at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, at the Community School Theatre. The forum will feature Lukas Haynes, executive director of the David Rockefeller Fund and former speechwriter for Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He will discuss ways individual, institutional and collaborative donors can make the most of limited resources to support non-profits, communities and sustainable social change.

“He has an environmental focus on some of his work, which should be of interest to us here,” said Laura Midgley noting Haynes’ work for Protect Our Winters.

The Wood River Women’s Foundation had its genesis on a chairlift as Sun Valley residents Barbara Thrasher and Jo Murray brainstormed ways to help further the work of nonprofits in the valley. They held a fundraising tea, thinking maybe one or two friends would come. Forty women showed up, donating $37,000 that first year.

Now the organization has 322 members, each of whom donate $1,000 a year to be pooled and given to various causes the members vote on once a year. The organization awarded nearly a quarter-million dollars to recipients in 2017. It has awarded nearly $2 million to more than 50 Blaine County nonprofits since founded 12 years ago.

The women have been vetting the latest round of applicants and will select next year’s recipients in early March.

“The lowest amount we’ve ever given is $5,000,” said Terri LeFaivre. “Of course, we would love to give to everyone but we’ve received more than $600,000 in requests.”

“Our mission is to inspire, educate and collaborate,” said President Peggy Grove.  “And I’m inspired by all of you.”

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Hailey Pursues Permanent Stage at City Park and Solar Capabilities





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