Today’s the Day!


After 3 years of planning, meeting, networking and working, the day has come to announce the winners in the America’s Best Communities contest, sponsored by Frontier Communications, Dish Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel! Our team is currently in Denver, Colorado, ready to give their final presentation.

Join us at the community room downstairs at Idaho First Bank or at the Valley County Courthouse from 4:00 – 6:00 pm for a “Watch Party”, as winners are announced!

This has been an incredible journey for The West Central Mountains, and, with help from ABC, we have been able to accomplish amazing things in our beautiful mountain communities. The work will continue after the contest is over; we have an award winning plan full of long-term goals to implement. It’s never to late to hop on board and volunteer your time and talents to this great cause.

Read through the West Central Mountains Economic Development Strategy to find your area of interest and expertise, then contact us to get involved!

2016 Vernon Deines Merit Award!

More success for our fantastic region: The American Planning Association, Small Town and Rural Planning Division, has named the West Central Mountains Economic Development Strategy as the recipient of its 2016 Vernon Deines Merit Award for an Outstanding Small Town Special Project Plan.

The Awards Committee “was incredibly impressed with this plan, and feel it embodies the best of small town and rural planning. The Committee felt the ability to get such significant community input, particularly in a region as vast as the West Central Mountains, was award worthy.”

This award just reinforces what we already know: We have an incredible plan, and a region full of amazing people! Thanks to everyone who has helped in this process. It is so exciting to see our vision come to fruition!

To view the award letter, click on the link below:

West Central Mountains Award Letter


Our Story — The West Central Mountains

Our region is a collection of vibrant communities that are collaborating together under a new vision for our future. “Valley County/Meadows Valley” is now termed “The West Central Mountains – Idaho’s Adventure Corridor”.  We are a unique area with over 3 million acres and only 10,800 residents. Only 8% of the land is privately owned; the rest is public lands. The region is traversed by the Payette River National Scenic Byway, which is about 75 miles long. The West Central Mountains region encompasses valleys with scenic views of pine trees and quaking aspens, rivers, lakes, and pastoral meadows, all surrounded by high, rugged peaks. It is a recreational mecca for all, and is host to 15 youth camps, such as the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H programs.

Cascade (el. 4760’) is the County Seat of Valley County. Cascade was founded on the logging, mining and agricultural industries and now is investing in the recreation sector to capitalize on world-class recreational amenities. Kelly’s Whitewater Park is a popular destination for those looking for fast whitewater kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. They have hosted the Payette River Games for the past 3 years, bringing international media coverage to the area. This represents a true commitment for a town of only 939. Cascade has remained true to its historical roots as the venue for the Valley County Fair and Rodeo.  The town also features The Roxy, an historical theatre that, when it opened in 1939, was the most advanced theater in the northwest. It was rejuvenated in the 1980’s, and again in May 2013. The theatre runs current release movies and provides a stage for concerts and plays. Another area highlight is the 40 sq. mile Lake Cascade, a favorite of fishing and boating enthusiasts. The dam, which was built in 1948, now supports power production for the area. Building on its history, the Thunder Mountain Railroad line still provides train rides in the summer from Smith’s Ferry to Cascade. A War Memorial is located at the Legion Hall and the town holds regular veterans functions. Cascade boasts 8 churches within the city limits; these churches offer Soup ’n Scripture (lunch) to the Junior High and High School students. It is popular with the youth, where approximately 106 of the 143 students attend weekly.

Seventeen miles north is Donnelly (el. 4871’). Donnelly is the “Crossroads to Recreation”. This town of 152 residents hosts the annual Huckleberry Festival, where the town is decked out in purple in honor of the popular berry abundant throughout the region.  As a community central to Valley County, it provides access to the northern end of Cascade Lake and entry into Tamarack Resort, a four-season ski resort. Just east of Donnelly is Historic Roseberry, home of the Valley County Museum. Donnelly has a number of artisan shops such as the Hat Shop, which is located in the old bank that was moved from Roseberry when the railroad came through town. The Donnelly area also is home to Gold Fork Hot Springs, a developed hot springs, with a charming atmosphere, that is tucked away off the beaten path into the forest.

Eleven miles north is McCall (el. 5028’), the largest city in the region, with a population of 2,991. Originally a logging community whose last sawmill closed in 1977, McCall is now an all-season tourist destination known for outdoor recreation; in fact, the town was just given a “Silver Ride” designation from the International Mountain Biking Association. A downtown ice rink is the base for the Idaho Junior Steelheads, a Western States Hockey League team. It is home to Winter Carnival, started in 1923, which features professional ice sculpting. In the early 19th century, The Statesman referred to McCall as a “pleasure resort.” Tourism continued in the early 20th century. The arrival of the Railroad in 1914 secured McCall as a viable community and tourist destination. The beauty of McCall and Payette Lake drew attention from Hollywood in 1938 when it was selected as the filming location for the Academy Award-nominated Northwest Passage. McCall has a large public art collection and is home to an eclectic mix of artisans. McCall sits along the shores of Payette Lake with a depth of 392’ and home to “Sharlie”, The Twilight Dragon of Payette Lake. It is the name given to a reptile-like sea serpent much like the Loch Ness Monster that is believed by some to live in the deep alpine waters. McCall has produced 8 Olympians and a U.S. astronaut.

Fifteen miles to the west is Meadows Valley (el. 3868’). Along the way is the Little Ski Hill, where youth learn to ski at affordable rates through community supported programs. The hill once had a 60 meter Nordic ski jump and has served the area for over 75 years. Next along the route is the entrance to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort. Brundage was developed in 1961 by Norwegian Olympic skier Corey Engen and Warren Brown. The resort is owned by family of Warren Brown and operates as a premier powder resort with the tagline “Best Snow in Idaho”.

New Meadows (which sits within the greater area of Meadows Valley) is a rural town with a population of 496. “Idaho’s Heartland”,  it is located just south of the 45th parallel at the junction of the only north-south highways in the state, U.S. Route 95, and State Highway 55, at the northernmost point of the scenic byway. The city of New Meadows hosts the last surviving Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad Depot. The depot, built in 1910, was labeled “end of the line” and was a functioning facility until 1972. It is now used as the home of the Adams County Historical Society and holds many exhibits throughout the year. In 2005, it hosted the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition “Barn Again!”.   New Meadows has  logging industry roots, hosts logging competitions every Labor Day, and the area is still home to Evergreen Forest Products. The community is creating a solid recreation base, with a golf course and numerous trails for motorized use, mountain biking and hiking; the area is connected to the 500 miles of snowmobile trails that span the region. It also is home to Zims Hot Springs, one of the many geothermal springs found in the area.

The West Central Mountains envisions a future where we honor our heritage while developing a resilient and diverse economy, with inclusive and engaged citizenry dedicated to preserving our unique landscape and strong sense of belonging. We will continue to support our existing industry and prepare for the future development of new and innovative technologies. Upgraded infrastructure to include affordable housing, safe highways, robust telecommunications and municipal services will sustain this growing economic base.

We see a community that treasures its youth and embraces opportunities for personal fulfillment, rich in programs for lifelong learning, arts and entertainment. We believe in enlarging our extraordinary network of nonprofit organizations, volunteerism, and community involvement. We foresee universal access to healthcare, through expanding health infrastructure, education and wellbeing initiatives.

Collectively, we believe in a future where the best of what we enjoy today is carefully blended with year-round jobs, increased prosperity, and endless opportunity. Our intent is not to reinvent our area but to effectively build upon what makes our community so desirable. We have the essential ingredients, momentum, determination and vision to become America’s Best Community.” We invite you to visit Idaho’s Adventure Corridor.  #ABC50


Cascade 5th Graders Rock!

The 5th graders at Cascade Elementary showed their civic pride by composing some fantastic essays about their love for the West Central Mountains and the quality of life we enjoy here. Thank you, Cascade Elementary 5th Graders! #ABC50

Here are 4 of those fantastic essays:

1. “I love living here because the mountains are really beautiful and the flowers are also pretty. The people in our mountain community are very helpful and kind. The activities here are really fun.

Going snowmobiling in the winter time and going to the golf course to sled down the steep hills are great adventures. I also like going to the mountains here because you can go skiing, hiking, and snowboarding. The lake is nice to swim in the warm summer and go ice fishing in the winter. Kelly’s whitewater park is also a fun place to go because you can go paddle boarding, surfing, and you can kayak.  20150702_114025

The wildlife here is really amazing, you can see white tailed deer, elk, coyotes, foxes, bears, and all sorts of birds. I like osprey the most. I love deer and bears. During hunting season I see a lot of those animals, because my dad and mom hunt. They are really beautiful creatures in nature.

I have lived here my entire life and the nature here just gets more beautiful. Living here has been a blast throughout the ten years I’ve been here. My dad has lived here his entire life too. My brother has lived here his entire life too. I love living in this mountain community. My parents are very nice loving people and help a lot. My friends are really nice to me and they’re super fun to hang out with. My brother is funny and very kind and helps me a lot too.”

2. “I have lived here my whole life because my mom and dad met here and stayed here. Both my parents have lived here their whole life too. They were raised here and they had a fun childhood here so they wanted to raise their family here. I am glad because I have lots of fun activities and things to do.

I am going to say here my whole life, because I want to raise a family here so they can have the opportunities I have. I will stay here because many generations have lived here that are related to me. I want my future family to see this beautiful town.

I love the great smells. I enjoy that it is small and that there’s only one of everything. One Family Dollar, one D-9, and one amazing small town. I like it because our mountains surround us. I think it is an amazing sight for us and our tourist. It’s beautiful. Its great when I wake up christmas morning and it’s snowing and I can look at the mountains and it’s just beautiful. I think it’s fun how we can go outside and build snowman. I like how we will go to boise and there will be no snow and then we come back home and there’s the pretty white fluffy snow.

I like that everyone knows everyone. I love how nice the people are here. If someone is down I’ve seen this town move mountains for them. Everyone thinks of others. We have the food pantry to help people and people often donate money to the people with cancer that don’t have enough money to pay for medical bills.

I like that we have many activities. On our lake we can go wakesurfing and practice for competitions. We have the rodeo and fair each year. We have Kelly’s Whitewater Park where we can go tubing and play in the water and discover things.I enjoy that the mountains are around us to go hunting.

I enjoy the wildlife because I will wake up and see deer and elk in the yard. I love when we go on drives and see all the animals. I feel like the animals kinda keep us safe like there our guards. Thankful for this amazing town.”

3. “I have been here 7 years. Those years have been amazing to me because I have tons of frieIMG_2606 (1)nds and awesome teachers who teach me a lot especially Mrs. Dilenge. We moved here when I was 3. I would stay here because the community takes care of me. I wouldn’t want to move away and never see them again. I also would stay here because the population is small and I don’t like big populations. I don’t want to ever leave the beauty of the mountains and wildlife. The wilderness and the beauty of the mountains make me love the community.

The activities here are so fun. People can go camping and swimming. There’s art, golfing, boating, and I can ride horses, and dirt bikes. I love our mountain community because I can go ride four wheelers in the mountains.

The mountains give me an opportunity to get out of the house and go camping. I love the wilderness because I can go get wood and stay warm for the winter. I love the smell of the pine trees. The creeks are amazing because I can swim in them when I am hot. The wilderness is like my home because I can do more than I could do in the city. I can shoot guns here but I can’t in the cities. The wildlife here are so beautiful and I can enjoy the animals. There are bears, wolves, deer, elk, and rabbits.”

4. “I have been here for 4 years. My mom and dad did not grow up here. We came here because my mom and dad got a job here, my dad works at Granite and my mom works at the courthouse. I started school here in second grade and have been here ever since. I hope that we don’t move from Cascade. Since I have been here I have got to do a lot. I have stayed here because all my friends are here and some of my family. I have stayed here because of the school and the teachers. They are all very nice and the school is small so it is a lot easier to do things and learn things.

I love cascade because I get to see so many beautiful views of the mountains and lakes. We have a lot of wildlife in Cascade we have deer, wildcats, bears, foxes, and many more. The wildlife is very cool to see and hunt.

The people that live here are very kind. I love all the people here it would be sad if they left. The activities you can do here are endless. You can hike, hunt, swim, surf, paddle board, raft and many more. my favorite activities are surfing and basketball and swimming. The activities are really fun up here. It would be sad if we lost some of our activities.”cascadefoodbank

Poems of Valley County ABC50

Selected Poems of Mike Fairchild, inspired by Valley County Idaho


A River runs through the Valley,
It comes from the mountain above.
Rapidly through a deep canyon,
Winding slow toward the ocean below.
9_10_15, 4:22 PM


Fed from the snow of winter,
Filling clear Lakes in spring.
Making green fields in summer,
Reflecting the colors of fall.


Above it soar bald eagles,
On a rock, a grizzly bear.
Within a returning Salmon,
Drinking from, a lone Mule Deer.


Gently swaying in the wind,
Mighty Ponderosa Pine,
Mirrors itself along the shore,
with jagged Peak behind.


The moon and stars brightly shine,
over this land of Indian name.
Mountain glows in morning sun,
In a Place called Idaho


9_10_15, 8:51 AM (2)PORCH
 I sit upon the porch today,
soaking up the quiet.
It’s nice to find a small delay,
in life’s continual riot.
I listen to an awesome song,
in the wind and trees above.
Birds they sing all day long,
distant wooing of a dove.
I drift into a peaceful slumber,
basking in the mountain summer.
Soon the rain and snow will come,
But that’s another story,
I’ll just enjoy, I’m living now,
In God’s Creative Glory.


 I sit beside the fire,20150106_173339-1
looking out among the trees,
A foot of snow, it fell last night.
Now the sun is shining bright.
No, I will not wonder out,
I know that i would freeze.
I’ll just sit, enjoy the sight.
warm and cozy by the stove.
As I look out across the snow,
Last night oh how the wind did blow.
This just feels so very right,
God’s Creation within my sight.


The Smallest Becomes the Largest!

Lake Cascade

Riddle me this: How can the Smallest America’s Best Community Quarter Finalist be its’ Largest?

By Richard Jayo

Seems like a reasonable question and one that deserves a logical answer. And so here it is: a community in the Southern Idaho Frontier LAM has prevailed and is moving onto the quarter finals in the America’s Best Communities Contest. Valley County/Meadows Valley is just that community. Challenge for them was that in order to meet the contest criteria the communities needed to have a population base of at least 9,500. That required population aggregation and collaboration. That was not a problem for Valley County; it just took all the cities in the county, Cascade, Donnelly and McCall plus another contiguous community in Adams County known as Meadows Valley to collaborate to get to that number.

So here is what occurred. Valley County, with a population of just over 9,600, partnered with nearby Meadows Valley to enter the contest. All told, the collective population of the economic impact area in question is 11,100 making it the smallest community to prevail at the quarter finalist level for the ABC contest. But what the area is lacking in population density it easily makes up in terms or geography covered. You see, this economic impact area in question is 4,104 square miles, easily making it the largest geography in the competition. It is, in fact, three and one-half times larger than the entire State of Rhode Island or one and one-half times larger than Delaware, making the smallest community from a population perspective the largest territory in the contest. And that, my friends, is how the smallest community can be the largest.

To show its enthusiasm, the team, sponsored by the McCall Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, put together a video montage to show their appreciation. Folks from all realms of this extended community reached out to the sponsors with a link they wanted to share with you. So follow the link below and if you have not visited the area take a moment and do so. Oh, and stay tuned — this determined contestant will not go away without a fight! See you in the Semis!!


Clearlink to Mentor Valley County / Meadows Valley

CLEARLINK.png.pagespeed.ic.TS-j5JTIzKCLEARLINK to Mentor Valley County/Meadows Valley, Idaho with America’s Best Communities

Adopt-A-Community Program

$10 million America’s Best Communities competition — sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, The Weather Channel and CoBank — aims to spark innovation and growth in small towns

CASCADE, ID, AND SALT LAKE CITY, UT, June X, 2015 Across the country, 50 communities are celebrating their victories in the first round of the America’s Best Communities competition, a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. Salt Lake City, Utah based CLEARLINK has adopted one of those communities, Valley County/Meadows Valley, Idaho. CLEARLINK will serve as a strategic advisor to help them develop a comprehensive strategy to accelerate the revival of their local economy and improve quality of life.

Valley County/Meadows Valley is home to over 11,000 people, and will be awarded $35,000 in prize money from the America’s Best Communities competition to build and implement a Community Revitalization Plan. CLEARLINK contributed an additional $15,000 to bring the community’s total winnings to $50,000. In the months ahead, CLEARLINK will forge partnerships with local leaders in Valley County/Meadows Valley, providing guidance and support as they build plans to strengthen their community.

The sponsors of the America’s Best Communities competition — Frontier Communications, DISH Network, The Weather Channel and CoBankrecently announced the winning communities that have advanced into the quarterfinals of this innovative campaign, which aims to jumpstart economic development and investment in rural America. The 50 quarterfinalist communities will now have five more months to shape and refine their revitalization plans for the chance to win up to an additional $3 million to bring their ideas to life.

By investing in America’s small towns and rural communities, we’ll make our entire nation stronger and accelerate our economic recovery,” said Jesse Himsworth, Vice President of Strategic Accounts at CLEARLINK. We are honored to support the America’s Best Communities competition, and eager to partner with the hardworking men and women surrounding Valley County/Meadows Valley, Idaho as they continue to move their community forward.

“As the largest telecommunications company focused on rural America, we recognized the economic impact that new, strategic investments often have on the revitalization of small towns and rural cities,” Frontier Communications General Manager Richard Jayo said. We launched America’s Best Communities to inspire innovation and foster new growth in America’s emerging markets, our rural communities, and we could not accomplish this vision without the support of partners like CLEARLINK.

We thank them for their leadership and their willingness to join us in this pursuit of a more vibrant, resilient economy across rural America, starting in their adopted community.”

America’s Best Communities is a multi-stage, three-year competition that will provide $4 million in seed money and other support to assist communities as they develop new economic growth strategies. The top three communities will receive a total of $6 million in prize money.

The 50 quarterfinalist communities have until November to complete their comprehensive Community Revitalization Plans to be considered for additional investment. In early 2016, 15 semifinalists will be selected to attend the America’s Best Communities summit to present their strategies, with eight finalists then awarded $100,000 to continue implementation of their plans.

In April 2017, America’s Best Communities will name its three competition winners — those with the most innovative proposals being effectively implemented. The winning community will be awarded $3 million, with $2 million for second place and $1 million for third.

For more on America’s Best Communities and its Adopt-a-Community Program, visit


CLEARLINK partners with the world’s leading brands to increase their reach, drive and fulfill valuable transactions, and deepen insight into consumer behavior. CLEARLINK has delivered millions of customers to its brand partners over the past twelve years through its customized marketing, sales and analytics platform. CLEARLINK, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and established in 2003, employs over 1,200 local sales, technology and marketing professionals. For an opportunity to join the growing CLEARLINK family, visit


Frontier Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: FTR) offers broadband, voice, video, wireless Internet data access, data security solutions, bundled offerings, specialized bundles for residential customers, small businesses and home offices and advanced communications for medium and large businesses in 28 states. Frontier’s approximately 17,800 employees are based entirely in the United States. More information is available at


Frontier: Emily Tantare,, 503-629-2412

CLEARLINK: Tarah Reeves,, 801-990-3623

Valley County/Meadows Valley: Sherry Maupin,, 208-630-2025


What’s in a Name?

As part of creating a regional identity, the America’s Best Communities Valley County / Meadows Valley Committee recently sponsored a naming contest. The name selected will be used throughout the America’s Best Communities competition, and if it catches on, might eventually be used as a defining aspect of our region, although the intent is not to officially adopt the name.

Many creative entries were submitted, and the decision was difficult. The name chosen needed to be inclusive and representative of all communities. In the end, a name and a tagline were selected that were representative of the area in terms of geography and ideals:

The West Central Mountains

Idaho’s Adventure Corridor

Having a regional name is an important step toward creating cohesiveness between our neighboring communities. Although we each have unique goals and characteristics, we have become increasingly aware of just how interdependent we are. What affects one community eventually affects us all. United, The West Central Mountains will thrive!


America’s Best Cities Quarter-Finalists!


Across the country, 50 communities have advanced to the Quarter-Finalists round of the America’s Best Communities Prize Competition, a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. Each community will be awarded $50,000 to further develop and implement their comprehensive strategies to accelerate their local economies and improve quality of life.

Vince Gill, the Competition’s Spokesperson, joined Frontier Communications, DISH, CoBank and The Weather Channel — the Competition’s sponsors —  and announced the communities that have advanced into the quarterfinals.  VALLEY COUNTY/MEADOWS VALLEY made the cut! The selection was made by an independent group of expert judges from a pool of over 135 community applicants. The 50 Quarter-Finalist communities have six months to shape and refine their revitalization plans and compete for the grand prizes totaling $5 million.

In the months ahead, the communities will partner with a major corporation that will provide guidance and support throughout the next stage of the competition. The America’s Best Communities Adopt-a-Community Program has brought together 50 distinguished companies from across the U.S. to support this prize competition. Each will serve as a strategic mentor, while also contributing $15,000 of the $50,000 in prize money. These corporate partners will forge relationships with local leaders and focus their efforts on successful implementation of the innovative business plans.

As Quarter-Finalists, we look forward to this invaluable opportunity to address our common challenges as a region while celebrating what makes each community unique. Join us in developing our regional strategy by taking the online surveys or volunteering at an event. Email to get involved, or fill out our form by clicking here.