In Brief


Police Chief Under Investigation, Retires

Hailey Chief of Police Jeff Gunter announced his retirement from employment with the City of Hailey, which he made effective on Feb. 24. In light of his many years of service to the City of Hailey, Mayor Martha Burke credited Chief Gunter an additional month salary upon his departure.

The announcement comes on the heels of a still ongoing investigation into the chief, which the city has remained tight-lipped about.

Gunter began his long period of service to the community in 1990, starting in the position of patrol officer with the Hailey Police Department and rising through the law enforcement ranks, until being named Chief of Police in 2007. He acted as co-commander under the incident command system with the Hailey fire chief, leading Hailey response teams through city-wide emergency events such as the Beaver Creek Fire and the 2017 Big Wood River Flood. Gunter was assigned the role of Interim City Administrator during a four-month period in 2017, thereafter advising and supporting all city departments.

Gunter had been developing a succession plan with Hailey Police staff in recent years. He looks forward to focusing on family, his personal health, and travel.

Mayor Martha Burke is undertaking a thorough review of the city’s public safety and law enforcement needs, and will be making decisions about future leadership in the coming weeks. Assistant Chief Steve England is currently fulfilling the duties of Interim Chief of Police. Mayor Burke looks forward to a smooth transition and expresses confidence in the department’s ability to serve the public now and in the future.

After meeting with each member of the police department, she said, “This is a diverse group of dedicated personnel, all of whom bring enthusiasm and a willingness to protect and serve that is truly inspiring.”

Mayor Burke, on behalf of the citizens of Hailey and all city staff, accepted the retirement of Chief Gunter, wishing him fulfilling and satisfying future years.

Family Of Slain Horse Offers $3K Reward

The family whose horse was shot and killed east of Shoshone is offering a $3,000 reward to anyone bringing information to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office that leads to the arrest of whomever “just turned my daughter’s world upside down,” the mother’s social media post states.

Over the weekend, Randi Oneida’s pasture was the setting for a horrific scene she shared in a photo on the Lincoln County ID Rants and Raves page on Facebook. In the image it is clear her daughter’s horse was shot in the chest. Amplifying matters was that the horse’s eye was gouged out.

The Facebook post garnered over 500 reactions and was shared more than 1,300 times.

“There has been a lot of this happening across Idaho and Montana recently. We all need to be vigilant for each other,” commented Scott Denning.

“Listen up, people. Someone knows who did this. Scumbags like to brag cuz they think they are a mighty hunter. Listen to people talking. Be nosey. Eavesdrop. Find this druggie coward,” commented Gail Etchart-Slagel.

Lincoln County Sheriff Renee King said his office currently has no leads, but encouraged people to call in with any information they have. King also cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the gouged-out eye. He said it’s not uncommon for birds to go after the soft tissue of a carcass.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at (208) 886-2250.

Local Health Officials Monitoring Coronavirus

As cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase throughout the world and in the United States, South Central Public Health District (SCPHD) is monitoring the situation and working closely with healthcare partners.

“This is something that we plan and train for on a regular basis,” said Josh Jensen, SCPHD public health preparedness program manager. “Public health and hospitals have plans and procedures in place to handle infectious diseases, and we drill those plans on a regular basis so we are ready for outbreaks like COVID-19.”

To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Idaho and 15 confirmed cases in the United States. While it is likely there may be additional cases in the U.S. in the future, actions have been taken to limit the spread of the virus. Locally, SCPHD receives notifications of travelers who return from areas where potential exposure to COVID-19 is high. These individuals are contacted by SCPHD and monitored for 14 days after exposure, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If the exposed person does not develop symptoms within this monitoring period, they are no longer considered to be at risk for having or spreading the virus. Because the 14-day monitoring period starts after the person’s last potential exposure to the virus, for some people, monitoring may not be necessary once they return home.

“We understand people are concerned about this new disease,” said Tanis Maxwell, SCPHD epidemiology program manager. “The risk of transmission within the general public remains low, and there are precautions people can take to minimize their risk of contracting any respiratory illness.”

SCPHD recommends everyday actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases, including:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue; throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit SCPHD can also be contacted at (208) 737-5971.

Zions Bank Advocates For ‘The Advocates’

The Advocates has received a $10,000 donation from Zions Bank, which will support its Safe Housing Capital Campaign to help survivors of domestic violence.

“With the housing shortage in the Wood River Valley, the Safe Housing Capital Campaign will make a tremendous difference to vulnerable members of our community,” said Tracy Groll, region president at Zions Bank. “We believe this project will help many people on their path to healing and personal growth.”   

Founded in 1991, The Advocates offers services to survivors of domestic violence that include case management advocacy, life skills training and housing. Its Safe Housing Capital Campaign will construct 18 units of transformative safe housing and a private on-site client and program support center in Hailey. The organization is the only provider of safe housing for abuse survivors in the Wood River Valley and serves clients in Blaine, Camas, Custer and Lincoln counties.

“We are grateful for Zions Bank’s investment in our community,” said Shannon Nichols, director of development at The Advocates. “As we raise funds for our Safe Housing Capital Campaign, we hope their example will help galvanize other organizations to support our efforts.”

Fatal Crash In Gooding County

On Feb. 24, at 8:59 p.m., Idaho State Police investigated a single-vehicle fatality crash near the intersection of 1800 E. and 1725 S., in Gooding County.

Lindia Elting, 38, of Gooding, was driving a 2004 Suzuki Verona and ran off the road for unknown reasons, striking a power pole before overturning.

Elting was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected. She was transported by ground ambulance to North Canyon Medical Center and then transported by air ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where she succumbed to her injuries.

Next of kin has been notified. Idaho State Police was assisted by Gooding County and Gooding Police Department.