State of the City Address
2017 State of the City Address
Mayor Brian Blad
Presented January 4, 2018
After an effort that spanned the globe, the city raised its new flag in September. The flag is a compilation of several designs and incorporates important symbolism that was highlighted by the public and experts during the almost two-year process.
The economy of Pocatello continued its upward trend in 2017 with two substantial groundbreakings. The Northgate project, east of I-15 and the Siphon Interchange, will be a walkable community adding thousands of jobs, as well as homes, a technology park, and a shopping district. Additionally the Federal Bureau of Investigation facility is adding roughly 300 jobs, bringing the FBI office in the Gate City close to the same size as their Boston and Salt Lake City field offices.
Also in economic development, Great Western Malting wrapped up their multi-million dollar expansion in Pocatello, and the new Fairfield Inn opened for business off of the Clark/Center Street exit on I-15.
The Pocatello Police Department received a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for seat belt enforcement. The grant funds overtime for officers assisting during the enforcement period as well as the purchase of a message board to raise awareness.
In October, Idaho Central Credit Union donated a former “Green Machine” Jeep to the department, which will be refurbished for the D.A.R.E. program.
The Investigations Division received a commendation from the Gresham Oregon Police Task Force for their help on a cold case. Officers’ work was crucial in solving the case and making the arrest of the suspect who had relocated to Pocatello.
The Pocatello Fire Department responded to more than 8,000 calls in Fiscal Year 2017, up nearly 7 percent from 2016.
During the year, firefighters participated in two learn-and-burn exercises. The events allow crews to get valuable live-fire experience in a controlled but realistic setting while maintaining a high level of safety.
That training was put to the test by two major fires in 2017. Shortly after the 4th of July, a wildfire was started by illegal fireworks near Bitterroot Drive. Due to the conditions, the fire rapidly involved 2 homes and threatened all the homes on Bitterroot Drive. Firefighters were able to contain the fire, but not before it destroyed one home and severely damaged another.
In November, there was a fire at the Safe Haven Facility on Terry Street. Through the quick actions of facility staff and firefighters, all 49 residents of the facility were evacuated to safety. The response to the incident was a cooperative effort, involving multiple departments. Pocatello Regional Transit provided buses that sheltered and transported victims and provided a rehabilitation area for firefighters. Officers with the Pocatello Police Department secured the perimeter, providing a safe area for the responders to operate in. The Street Operations Department supported the event by refueling fire trucks and ambulances as well as supplying barricades. The Water Department ensured that fire operations had adequate water to fight the blaze.
This summer, the Sanitation Department doubled the number of containers available through the “Partners in Pride” program. The effort allowed residents to use a free dumpster to help with projects, which may require greater than usual trash service. The “Partners in Pride containers” can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.
Science and Environment Division
With help of students from Utah State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture, Idaho State University faculty, and other local organizations, residents were able to have a look at what the future may hold for the Portneuf River in the city. The group presented more than a dozen concepts for river restoration and rehabilitation at an open house in November. The comments at the open house have been incorporated into a final report that will be available at river.pocatello.us in early 2018.
2017 was a record-breaking year for the Street Operations Department with more than 40 miles of roads treated during the annual pavement management program.
The department implemented the Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures software. Developed by Purdue University and the Utah Department of Transportation, the software allows staff to be able to react quickly to changing traffic conditions and modify signal times to help motorists travel around the city more efficiently.
2017 was the inaugural year for the Clean Up Pocatello Program. The public awareness campaign aims to reduce the amount of yard waste that ends up on the city’s streets by educating the public about proper grass clipping and yard waste disposal.
In addition to providing support for many City departments, the Engineering Department saw the Lewis Street Bridge replaced in 2017. The new 61-foot structure was funded through City and federal sources and replaces the bridge that was built in 1948.
Water Department crews were able to replace 2 miles of water main lines in 2017. Crews also completed Phase II and III of the Johnny Creek pressure improvement project. The phases included the installation of a 750-gallon surge tank as well as two pressure regulating valve stations.
This past fall, the Water Department took home the Best of Show title in the water taste test competition at American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Intermountain Section’s Annual Conference. By taking the Best of Show title, the City of Pocatello is eligible to compete on a national level at the AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas that will be held in June 2018.
At the Water Pollution Control facility, Phase I of the total phosphorous removal project was completed with the new filtration facility being commissioned in April. The process uses bacteria and filters to remove the phosphorus from the incoming water.
It was another record-setting year for Pocatello Regional Airport. Passenger departures and arrivals increased by more than 10% for the second consecutive year, bolstered by the addition of a third Sunday flight to Salt Lake City in October. As part of the Federal Aviation Administration Capital Improvement Program, two new taxiways were built, removing the old connections to the runaway.
Airport staff coordinated with the Transportation Security Administration to install an Advanced Imagery Technology (AIT) machine at the passenger-screening checkpoint. The new AIT reduces screening times significantly, especially for anyone with metal implants.
This year Driscoll TopHay, LLC entered into a lease for the former Idaho Accelerator Facility. The company has spent more than $1 million on improvements to city-owned facilities to create a high-compression hay-bailing operation.
Pocatello Regional Transit celebrated its 35th year as a City department this past year. In 2017, PRT purchased six new buses for the rural program, retiring six others that had over 300,000 miles apiece. Thanks to our dedicated maintenance team, PRT was able to double the federal useful life expectancy of the vehicles. Along with the rest of our fleet and despite a few snow days, an eclipse, and a change to our services, PRT provided just over 290,000 passenger trips during the year.
In 2017, Pocatello Animal Services partnered with PetSmart to have two kennels with cats and kittens available for adoption at the business. PetSmart staff help take care of the available pets while Animal Services volunteers provide additional support.
During the holiday’s the department held it’s first-ever KONGmas toy drive. Residents donated over 100 toys to the homeless dogs staying at the shelter. The toys are a vital part of enrichment for the animals at the shelter and help them cope with shelter life.
MARSHALL PUBLIC LIBRARY
Thanks to a $30,000 grant from The Friends of the Marshall Public Library, new shelving was installed at the library. The new shelves facilitated the relocation of some collections at the facility as well as the expansion of the adult collections.
In October, the library joined the EBSCO Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center. The services provide library patrons access to nearly 2,000 magazines and books as well as over 700 videos related to their interests.
Information Technology continued its efforts to educate City staff on the best practices when it comes to cybersecurity. We were successful in reducing the click-rate on email phishing scams from 26 percent to 5 percent. The department contracted with the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center for a vulnerability assessment of the City’s network and were able to identify and correct areas that were considered at risk.
The City’s server room power and uninterrupted power supply were upgraded, enabling the department to install new switches.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
The Planning and Development Services Department had a very busy 2017, processing a large number of land-use applications for a variety of development.
Also, through the City’s Community Development Block Grant funding, new sidewalk, curb, and gutter were built along Fredregill Road. With this same funding, the City purchased property on which NeighborWorks Pocatello is building new infill homes. Sites on Jason Avenue and Wilson Avenue will result in four new affordable, infill homes.
PARKS AND RECREATION
In the Parks and Recreation Department, 2017 saw professional level disc golf come to the East Fork Mink Creek Nordic Center. Named the Sunrise Lions Disc Golf Complex, and built through a partnership with the Sunrise Lions Club and Portneuf Health Trust, the 36-hole complex uses the existing trails as fairways, and is free to the public.
At Caldwell Park, a Reflection Garden was installed at no cost to the City through a public-private partnership with Mrs. Janet Schubert and the College Neighborhood Association. The garden includes a bubbler water feature, ADA accessible walkways, benches, trees, ambient lighting, and a plaque honoring Dr. William Schubert.
Through a $10,000 IFFT grant, the College Neighborhood Association and Neighborworks Pocatello turned Caldwell Park into a Winter Wonderland. The lights were installed in mid-November and in use throughout the holiday season.
Zoo Idaho saw the first phase of the Entrance Landscaping project completed with the help of the Parks and Street Operations Departments.
At the Community Recreation Center, a new, state-of-the-art sport-court floor was put down in the multi-purpose gym. The new floor was purchased through grants from Basic American Foods’ Giving Program and local residents and features permanent basketball court markings as well as a pickleball court overlay. New glass backboards and breakaway hoop systems were also installed.