Pocatello State of the City Address
2020 State of the City Address
Mayor Brian Blad
Presented January 7, 2021
At Pocatello Regional Airport, Frigitek broke ground on a 280,000 square foot cold storage facility with operations expected to begin in the spring of 2021.
On the airfield side, multiple improvement projects including pavement rehabilitation, a new concrete pad for heavy aircraft, and more were completed in 2020. Two new private hangars were also completed and a third is under construction.
For 2021, airport staff are planning to install a one-of-a-kind origami art exhibit in the terminal building and complete a 10-year master plan for airport growth and future site development.
2020 saw the Animal Services Department implement a Community Cat program with the help of Best Friends Animal Society. Through the program, Animal Services staff set traps in areas of the city with known community cat or stray colonies. Once the cats are trapped, they are taken to local veterinarians where the cats are spayed or neutered and given a rabies vaccination. The cats in the program are returned to the area where they were originally found. Only healthy cats will be returned, and they will have their ears notched for identification purposes.
The year also saw a host of facility improvements at the Pocatello Animal Shelter including a mural on the south-side fence of the facility, new cat kennels inside the building, new concrete for the outside kennels, and more.
In 2020, the Building Department issued over 3,400 building permits with a combined valuation of nearly $56 million. This includes permits issued for 107 new residential buildings constructed over the course of the year.
2020 saw the Pocatello Fire Department selected as one of 25 departments across the country to be part of the National Fire Protection Association’s Community Risk Reduction Pilot Program. Through the initiative, the department has access to a digital risk visualization dashboard powered by software called mySidewalk, which employs local and national data to guide planning around fire and life safety efforts.
The department worked closely with Southeastern Idaho Public Health and medical providers on preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff continue to monitor the number of cases in the community and adjust emergency medical service operations as needed.
The year also saw several of our firefighters deployed to wildfires across the west including northern Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.
In 2021, the department will continue efforts to update its five-year strategic plan and improve ProQA dispatching with the goal of international accreditation.
In the Information Technology Department, 2020 saw staff provide support for numerous online meetings as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the City to move meetings onto a digital platform. The pandemic also saw the department expand its remote workforce capacities as employees worked from home.
The year also saw the expansion of fiber optic connections to fire stations, Zoo Idaho, Pocatello Regional Airport, Pocatello Animal Shelter, and the Marshall Public Library.
In 2021, the department will be working to implement a new online payment system for residents. Additionally, staff plan to unveil a revamped version of the City’s website, pocatello.us.
Marshall Public Library
At the Marshall Public Library, 2020 saw the staff retool many of its offerings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The library significantly increased its electronic materials selection, developed new services including curbside and quick pick-ups, implemented online programming opportunities and more. The library also made a switch to the Koha library operating system, providing patrons with a much more intuitive interface.
In 2021, the library will continue to offer online programming opportunities, add a collection of children’s graphic novels, and debut an updated website at marshallpl.org.
Mayor & Council
In 2020, Mayor Blad awarded the first “Pocatello’s Promise of Tomorrow Mayoral Scholarship” to five graduating high school seniors. They were given 2-year scholarships each totaling $2,000. The scholarship program was funded by local financial institutions along with the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
In February, the City Council hosted a town hall with residents. The meeting allowed residents to ask questions, provide comments, or share concerns. The meeting was met with positive feedback from those who attended.
On taxes, the City levied $358,000 less tax for Fiscal Year 2021 than it did in Fiscal Year 2020. Additionally, the City also opted into Governor Brad Little’s public safety proposal that uses federal coronavirus relief funds for public safety personnel salaries. The City of Pocatello was allocated $4.9 million from the Governor’s program, which was estimated to give Pocatello taxpayers a one-time savings of $214.54 per $100,000 of taxable value on their 2020 tax bill, according to the City of Pocatello Finance Department.
In October, the City said goodbye to City Clerk Ruth Newsom who retired after more than 17 years at the City.
In 2021, the department will prepare for the City’s November General Election and continue their efforts regarding taxes and services.
Parks and Recreation
The Parks and Recreation Department received a great deal of help from the community in 2020.
Thanks to Connections Credit Union and the Zoo Idaho Zoological Society, construction started on the “Zoo Connections Entrance and Gift Shop.” The new log cabin building will house ticketing and concession areas, a gift shop, and restrooms. Construction is slated to be complete in time for the Zoo’s 2021 opening.
With the help of Western States Cat, a new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant path was developed at Zoo Idaho. The walkway is adjacent to the Rocky Mountain Elk exhibit and continues south, providing ADA accessibility to the Zoo’s upper level.
At the Ross Park Aquatic Complex, the Zero Depth pool and the Lazy River were both resurfaced.
Thanks to the Portneuf Health Trust, the Outdoor Recreation Division has new equipment to develop and maintain trails in the area, including a mini-excavator, mini skid-steer, transport trailer, and more. With it, staff was able to develop over 5 miles of trails in the Highland Area and also perform trail repairs and renovations in the City Creek Area.
In 2021, the Parks and Recreation Department plans to bring the completed Ross Park Master Plan to the City Council for adoption, introduce a “Partnership Opportunities Program,” and develop additional sections at Mountain View Cemetery for future use.
2020 saw the Pocatello Police Department participate in multiple community projects and efforts during the year including Trunk or Treats, Secret Santa, Drug Takeback, and more. The department raised $10,000 and received more than 200 turkeys as part of the “Give the Cops a Bird” Thanksgiving fundraiser. Officers were also involved in the “Unity Walk” along with Idaho State University students in response to civil unrest happening around the country.
The Narcotics Unit continued to work with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area of Bannock County program. Officers were responsible for taking over 10 pounds of methamphetamine off the streets.
The department welcomed two explosive detection dogs, Berrett and Frank. The dogs will be on patrol with Corporal Joel Weinheimer and Officer Dane Eborn, respectively, responding to calls and using their detection skills within Pocatello and the surrounding area.
Looking ahead to 2021, the department looks to implement body-worn cameras for every officer. The cameras will assist with documentation of incidents and review of use of force, citizen's complaints, and other interactions. The cameras will be implemented in January as the manufacturer’s production has been delayed due to COVID.
The Engineering Department took home awards from the American Public Works Association and the Association of Idaho Cities for its work on the Northgate Interchange Public-Private Partnership and the Pocatello Creek Restoration. The department also assisted with Pocatello Regional Transit’s “Day at Grant” Bus Stop and the installation of more than 10 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps along 5th Avenue.
In 2021, the department will be working on multiple lift station rehabilitation efforts, waterline extension and replacements on Bullock Street and Gould Street, and manhole replacements along McKinley Avenue.
Fleet Services Department
2020 marked the first full year of operation for the Fleet Services Department and saw an integrated in-house parts store come to the facility.
The New Year will see the department collecting more data from its asset management software to help make decisions when it comes to efficiency and potential cost savings.
Geographic Information Systems
Over the course of 2020, staff in the Geographic Information Systems division created a new web map application that provides the public with maps including zoning, recreation, local trails and more for the city of Pocatello and surrounding area.
In 2021, they will be looking to create a new parks web application and focusing on creating public-orientated maps that help promote public amenities in Pocatello.
The Sanitation Department started its front-load collection program. The new trucks allow for more efficient collection of commercial refuse as well as improve safety for the crew while handling the containers.
The glass recycling program collected roughly 180 tons of glass in 2020.
For 2021, the department will be looking to fully implement its Routeware asset management program.
Science and Environment Division
This year the Science and Environment Division added four river access points with the help of the Parks and Recreation Department’s Outdoor Recreation Division as well as community partners Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bannock County, and the Bureau of Land Management. These access points are located at Taysom Rotary Park, Cheyenne Bridge, Edson Fichter Nature Area, and Portneuf Road.
The Science and Environment Division also teamed up with the United States Forest Service for erosion control involving Cusick Creek Trail. This work was implemented to protect the water and trail quality of the City Creek Area.
Additionally, the division also worked on the Pocatello Creek Restoration project near Fire Station #3. The creek was eroding into the sewer lines, sidewalks, and nearby properties. The division solved this issue by adding rocks, plants, and other material to the banks to stabilize the erosion.
Cedar Lake Creek (also known as Buck Creek) was improved by the division with the help of Parks and Recreation Department staff and volunteers. During the effort, roughly 900 sedges and rushes were planted along the creekbank, helping prevent loose silt, gravel, and sediment from entering the water and eventually making its way to the Portneuf River.
For 2021, the Science and Environment Division has plans for more river access points along the Portneuf River, north of Sacajawea Park.
Street Operations Department
Street Operations treated nearly 31 miles of Pocatello’s roads in 2020. Department staff also installed a new stormwater pump near Donrich Avenue. The year also saw new signal coordination plans implemented on the U.S. 30 corridor and South Yellowstone Corridor.
2021 will see the department focus on its stormwater permit requirements.
2020 saw the Water Department replace 1.5 miles of mainline in Pocatello. Working with the Utility Billing Department, crews replaced nearly 2,900 encoded receiver transmitter devices. The devices allow staff to remotely read water meters for businesses and residences without having to open the meter vault.
In addition to planned mainline projects, the New Year will see the department complete the design process for a new Highland Bench area booster station and transmission line. The new facilities will provide system redundancy and additional capacity to the northern portions of Pocatello.
Water Pollution Control
The Water Pollution Control Department completed a rerouting of the Sublette Lift Station in 2020. With the improvements, the discharge line no longer crosses the Portneuf River. Additionally, nearly two miles of cured-in-place pipe were installed in the city.
During 2021, the department plans to upgrade the Flandro and Whitman Lift Stations as well as complete the Water Pollution Control facility plan and create a new solids handling plan.
In 2020, Pocatello Regional Transit provided over 211,000 passenger trips during the fiscal year.
The department also completed the “Day at Grant” Bus Stop improvement project with the help of the Engineering Department. The new stop features a bus shelter, dedicated bus parking, sidewalk renovations, and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps.
Thanks to the help of the Bannock Transportation Planning Organization, a bus stop accessibility study was completed. The study looked at the accessibility and connectivity of fixed-route bus stops and will help the department prioritize future system improvement to better serve the community.
2021 will see the department looking to purchase five new buses for the urban and rural programs. The buses will replace vehicles that have reached the end of their useful life. The department will add a fixed-route coach to the fleet. The coach will be 100 percent funded through CARES Act monies.
The department also plans to update its Mobile Data Terminals for its fixed-route and demand response dispatch software and provide real-time passenger information features for citizens.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused multiple changes to City operations including limited access at City Hall and the Pocatello Animal Shelter, pick-up options at the Marshall Public Library, and many others. Thank you to residents and citizens who’ve been understanding during this time as we’ve worked to comply with federal, state and local mandates.
In November, the City Council adopted a face covering ordinance following a proclamation from the Mayor and a resolution from the City Council encouraging mask use earlier this year. As you can see from tonight’s meeting, they will continue to review the need for the mandate each month.
The City of Pocatello, along with Portneuf Health Partners, Idaho State University, Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25, and the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce, partnered with Southeastern Idaho Public Health in the “Stay Smart. Stay Safe. Stay Open.” Campaign. The campaign aims to remind citizens of the importance of practicing the key strategies in the battle against COVID-19.
As part of the campaign, the City of Pocatello has been sharing relevant information via the City’s social media channels and app, Pocatello Connect. Since March, the City has shared or created more than 700 pieces of content, resulting in more than 2,600 social media posts. Staff also created a COVID-19 resource page on the City’s website at pocatello.us/coronavirus.
Additionally, the City has produced videos featuring COVID-19 survivors and medical professionals, explaining how the disease has impacted them. The videos can be found on Southeastern Idaho Public Health’s Facebook page.
As it will take time for the vaccines to roll out into 2021, it’s more important than ever to continue wearing a mask, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, practicing social distancing, and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.