2015 was a good year for Pocatello

By Brian Blad

The year that was 2015 has come and gone and I would like to say thank you to Pocatello’s residents and the city of Pocatello’s employees for making those 365 days into something special.

First off, December was proof that good things come to those who wait and in Pocatello’s case, that wait was close to 40 years. South Valley Road opened just before Christmas and as I looked around the Council Chambers during the opening ceremony, the standing room only crowd served to show just how much community effort it has taken over the years to complete the one-mile stretch of road. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone from mayors and councils past, to current and former employees of the City, and local leaders and residents for their hard work on this project. To all involved, I extend the largest of thanks. Considering the more than four decades it took to come to fruition, I recognize that we were the ones lucky enough to have it completed on our watch.

Moving on, the City’s Animals Services Department celebrated the opening of the new shelter. Again, this project was a community effort and from what I’ve heard, the now award-winning facility is leading to an increased number of pet adoptions. We couldn’t have asked for better outcomes for our animals. Tack on the opening of Katie’s Dog Park in the fall, and that upper Ross Park area is a haven for all the animals in our community.

When it comes to economic development, we’ve continued to push for high quality, high paying jobs in the community and would like to thank all the businesses that have invested in Pocatello. Great Western Malting broke ground on a $75 million expansion and Western States Cat began construction on the new and improved facility in South Pocatello. These companies exemplify the types of jobs we want to see come to our city.

For the men and women of the Pocatello Fire Department 2015 was their busiest. The department responded to over 7,000 incidents. Comparing that to last year, it’s 8 percent more calls and well more than double the calls they responded to 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, the men and women in the Police Department were able to bring a bit of closure to a case that had gone cold. Officers were able to bring charges against the man suspected in the 2009 death of Lorne Red Elk. That man will now face his day in court.

The many City departments that make up Public Works kept very, very busy in 2015 and I’d need much more than just this column to outline all their accomplishments. Notably, Publics Works, Planning, Engineering, and Science and Environment departments joined forces with Idaho State University (ISU) for a ‘complete streets’ project on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The street will feature landscaping that’s both beautiful and functional for treating stormwater before it makes its way to the Portneuf River. What’s been done with this road will be a boon for both ISU and all residents of Pocatello.

Our Street Operations Department performed 44 miles of pavement rehabilitation over the past year and the Water Department was able to replace several miles of water mains in the city. I’d specifically like to thank residents of the Johnny Creek area for their patience while we completed the project to improve service in that neighborhood. The Water Pollution Control facility broke ground on the Ultraviolet disinfection system and phase one of the phosphorous removal project. Both are on track to be completed in 2016 and help the City meet regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

We were given a chance to prove ourselves in 2015 with a test run of a third flight and thanks to your support that flight returns to the Pocatello Regional Airport in 2016. I cannot urge you enough to always check the fares and weigh those against the true cost of travelling out of Pocatello. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised that when you really look at your options, flying out of Pocatello will be the better choice.

I wish I had more room to list every single accomplishment that’s happened over the last year; there are really that many. There is so much to be proud of in this community. To catch a complete recap, go to Pocatello.us which we redesigned in 2015 (sorry couldn’t help myself) and watch the State of the City address. Also remember to like or follow the City on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I can’t wait to see what 2016 holds.

This column was submitted by Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad.