SV Realtors Donate $10K Toward 1st Responder Housing, County Approves Project

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It’s been a good month for North Blaine County Fire District and local firefighters and paramedics trying to find a place in the Valley they can call home.

On Sept. 8, the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission approved the fire district’s plan to install the first of four, first-responder housing units at the Greenhorn Fire Station, located at East Fork Road, by the end of 2022. Then, at the fire district’s open house and dedication of a new fire engine on Sept. 14 , the Sun Valley Board of Realtors presented a $10,000 check for the project that will provide that housing.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the Sun Valley Board of Realtors,” said Earl Engelmann, a board member of the North Blaine County Fire District. “This is a generous gift which will help immensely with our fundraising goals.”   

“The NBC Fire District and the City of Sun Valley appreciates the Planning and Zoning Commission working late to expedite approval of our housing plan for much needed housing for firefighters and paramedics at Greenhorn Station,” stated Jed Gray, chair of the District. “Our September fires have shown how critical it is to have firefighters living in our community.”  

Amid a housing crisis that has made it nearly impossible to find housing for emergency responders throughout the Wood River Valley, the fire district is planning to install eight units of prefabricated housing and an eight-bay garage east of the Greenhorn Fire Station. The two-acre parcel of land is secured through a lease with the Idaho Transportation Department at $1 per year for 50 years with an option to renew for an additional 45 years.   

The first four units are expected to be delivered and ready for occupancy before the end of 2022, with the remaining four units ready by the summer of 2023.  

“It is critical that our first responders live close by in order to be there quickly when we need them,” said Gray.

All of Blaine County’s fire departments and districts operate under a mutual aid agreement, thus allowing NBC’s Fire District to join the Ketchum Fire Department, along with other fire departments, in fighting the Limelight fire. Now, under a similar arrangement, the NBC Fire District is helping federal fire teams fight the Ross Fork Fire.   

“The NBC Fire District’s first priority is to protect our local residents but combining equipment and personnel on these larger fires creates a more effective response,” stated Rich Bauer, chief of the NBC Fire District. “This collaborative approach is also why current housing at the Greenhorn Fire Station hosts first responders from the Wood River Fire District, Blaine County Sheriff’s Office and staff at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center.”  

The estimated total cost of the project is $3.2 million. The fire district is currently seeking donations to match the $950,000 contributed by the City of Sun Valley, Blaine County, and the district itself and to reduce the debt needed to finance the purchase and installation of the prefabricated 840-square-foot homes. The more funds that are raised, the lower the rents will be for the first responders who will live there.  

Donations can be made through the Spur Community Foundation by credit card via tinyurl.com/GreenhornHousing, by check payable to “Spur Community Foundation,” with Greenhorn Housing noted on the memo field, and mailed to: P.O. Box 6184, Ketchum, ID 83340, or by ACH, wire, or public securities by calling Spur at 208-450-2600.

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