If Brad Backus had his way, every motorist driving Idaho 55 through Donnelly would stop in town to ponder their next move.
Backus, the town’s mayor for the past six years, has spearheaded an effort to put a new face on Donnelly, from its gleaming new sidewalks to a new city logo and slogan.
“We’re trying to tell people that from Donnelly, you can go in any direction and find any sort of recreation the valley has to offer,” he says.
That is the reasoning behind the city’s new slogan, “Crossroads to Recreation,” replacing the former slogan, “City of Helping Hands.”
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The new slogan is engraved in a stone entry sign on the south end of town and emblazoned in the city’s new logo posted at the north end of town.
Signs with the new logo will be placed at Donnelly’s city hall, the community center, library, tennis courts, fire station and boat docks on Lake Cascade.
“We want people to understand these are public facilities and they are part of Donnelly,” Backus says. “A lot of people aren’t sure where Donnelly begins.”
Soon there will be T-shirts and water bottles with the new logo.
Backus hopes the campaign will help the town of 150 people grow, but for now he will be satisfied if visitors stop to browse at local businesses or turn west toward Tamarack Resort, which is considered part of the “greater Donnelly” area.
While saying Donnelly does not want to compete with McCall, Backus doesn’t mind telling people that Donnelly is more sedate than its larger neighbor to the north. “McCall is just a little too busy, a little too hectic,” he says.
Backus, 37, is quick to note his ideas are not those of an import. He was raised in Boise and skied at Brundage Mountain Resort during his youth.
He went to work for Tamarack Resort when the area’s ski runs opened in 2004, running the ski shop and later working as a backcountry ski guide.
He was laid off in 2009 along with all other Tamarack employees when the area went bankrupt. He switched gears and started a painting and coatings business, which now has Tamarack as one of its largest customers.