Stories from this compilation are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is the second of a two-part Regional News Roundup; the first part was published Saturday.
McCALL — Housing and poor internet service were identified as two of the biggest barriers to prosperity in the region, according to presenters at an economic summit in McCall on Monday.
The summit, held at Shore Lodge, was hosted by the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council and attended by about 150 people.
Housing and broadband internet service are “huge” obstacles to growth, especially since the long-term implications are not yet fully understood, economic council Executive Director Andrew Mentzer said.
Mentzer referred to the two barriers as “ecosystem” problems that are so sweeping in scale that collaboration is needed for effective solutions.
“How we choose to go about these things as a community requires everyone’s input,” he told attendees. “We shouldn’t view them in silos.”
One impact of poor internet could be businesses avoiding the region because of lack of access to fiber cables, which have a much higher capacity than out-of-date copper cables common in rural areas.
In a poll of the room, about 70 percent of those in attendance said their current residential internet service was “inadequate” for their needs.
Multiple business owners also expressed frustration at their frequent inability to process credit card transactions for periods throughout the day because of spotty internet service.
Other attendees told stories of students being unable to complete online homework because of poor connections, which could be hindering youth opportunities and workforce development.
One solution to the problem could be a city-run fiber network, which has been successfully implemented in other rural Idaho communities such as Ammon, on the outskirts of Idaho Falls.
“Fiber networks are to copper networks what the tractor was to the horse,” said Mark Erickson, former economic development authority director of Winthrop, Minn.
— Drew Dodson, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday.
Pomeroy’s Lybecker Field nearing completion
POMEROY — It has been a busy couple of weeks at Lybecker Field in preparations for the first scheduled home football game. The asphalt was poured on the track the week prior, while another crew made advancements inside the concession stand and ticket booth and another crew poured the cement walkway and put up the metal fencing.
By Sept. 28, the concession stand, ticket booth and new bathrooms were fully functioning for the many Pirate football fans. The next step is to lay the rubberized track surface scheduled for this week.
“We will continue with the other finishing work, but overall we are getting very close to completion,” District Superintendent Rachel Gwinn said.
Issues relating to the changes made in the McCleary decision, which impact the process for the levy planned in February, were addressed. Gwinn and business manager Kelly McKeiman will work on the planning of this year’s levy to ensure these changes are met.
Carmen Gingerich explained that the Associated Student Body (ASB) implemented several events last week in support of victims who have experience gun violence in schools. One activity was to encourage local students to use the simple slogan “Start with Hello.” The ASB is fervently working on homecoming activities preparing for a great week leading up to the big game with Touchet on Friday.
The official enrollment numbers for September are 324. Though the school had some new incoming students, the district lost a few students over the first weeks of school.
“Although we have lost a few students in the past few weeks, we are pleased with that number,” Gwinn said.
— East Washingtonian, (Pomeroy), Thursday.