Progress and change even in dentistry

Our City
by A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

I can’t really explain why, but this last week kind of reminded me of going to the dentist. I went recently after not having been for a long time. I just knew they would find some reason to break out the needle and drill. Do you remember the syringe and needle from the 1960s and before? The syringe was huge with loops on the sides and a plunger, while the needle looked like it could take a core sample from solid rock. And the drill, smell and smoke … OMG! Ya, well that image is still ingrained in my melon. Thanks to technology, my current dentist is, shall I say, far more compassionate than those of 45 years ago. All in all, my visit went very well, much like this week – with only a good cleaning and a few trouble spots that may or may not cause an issue in the future.

Monday afternoon found Pete Cortez and I in our second to the last Waste Water Treatment Plant funding and construction meeting. While it looks like there is a lot to be done before the operations portion and the original project is complete, RSCI, our general contractor on the project, has assured us it will indeed be finally complete by June 11. Once the weather stabilizes, hum – we live in Idaho, they have assured us that the curb, gutter, paving and landscaping will go quite quickly. Once this portion of the project is confirmed as finally complete, the city can go to bid on the plant’s laboratory and shop, which brings me to the old Horseshoe Bar.

You will remember that RSCI and I had a “gentleman’s” agreement: they gave their word and I gave mine on the demolition of the Horseshoe parking lot. They would demolish the bar if they were issued a change order for the construction of the new laboratory and shop. This has been the city’s intent until recently, when RSCI’s proposed change order came in over budget. As a mayor and city council, we found it to be more fiscally responsible to put the laboratory and shop portion of the plant out to bid. This decision called into play the gentleman’s agreement and my word of honor. With council approval, RSCI will be paid for their services and help with the creation of the new Horseshoe parking lot. Have you noticed how much it gets used? I am excited for it to be finished.

If you have been to the courthouse recently, you may have noticed some work going on at Well #5 across Bannock Avenue. Things wear out. The City is in the process of having Pumpco install new well casing and bowl assembly. They will also be sonar jetting the well to open the perforations in the pipe and hopefully flush at least some of the 12 feet of sediment that has collected in the 460 foot deep well.

If you are a golfer and visit our course, you may find yourself occasionally in “the rough.” For the next few weeks the rough may be a little rougher than normal. Perhaps on par with those I golfed at the University’s of Idaho’s course back in the day. If you could see your ball, it was playable. No, it won’t be that bad, but it may be a little higher than you may be used to until we come up with a plan to buy a new rough mower. Our current one is sucking a continuous stream of money from the Golf Department, as it is under constant repair.

This past Wednesday, prior to our Council meeting, I spent a few hours with Dusty Whited walking the thin crooked lines that have “mysteriously” appeared in the sidewalks of the new Downtown. Should they all be repaired or replaced? Griz would say, “I guaran-damn-tee-ya,” they should. Will they be, is another question. I will be addressing our concerns with the folks from ITD this Tuesday. Not being in any way an authority on concrete, but in possession of at least some common sense, I have categorized the cracked sidewalk, curb and gutter into three groups. The groups include that which most definitely needs to be replaced, that which should be replaced and the cracks we can live with and fix should they become worse. I will know more after Tuesday. I don’t know if I will have an answer; but I will have a better idea of how or if the issue will be resolved by those responsible for the project. I hope I am not being too naive to still have faith in our partners in this project to do the right thing.

Thursday and Friday of last week found me in meetings with the folks from Magnida and Bechtel discussing the progress of the proposed new fertilizer plant. According to the Thursday meeting, things seem to be progressing favorably for the Magnida group. John Ollsen of Bechtel, one of the firms bidding the engineering and construction of the Magnida facility, met with me on Friday to discuss any concerns the city may have. Besides the issues that a couple of thousand workers will inherently bring, we discussed a possible new city ordinance that would limit the number of non-related people living in a dwelling. I believe, as a city, we need to protect our neighborhoods against 5-6 construction workers buying or renting a “single family” home, parking 5-6 more vehicles on the streets and changing the very dynamics of our community. Some change will certainly happen. We, however, need to be proactive in regulating and directing that change. I don’t want American Falls to be unrecognizable and degraded as a community when all the construction personnel are gone.

I had two really cool meetings last week. Monday evening I met with the Art Guild and Thursday evening with the Trail Committee. Both included walking to varying degrees. In an effort to promote art and artists, the Art Guild and I discussed the possibility of incorporating an Art Walk along Tyhee Street and the 200 Block of Idaho Street during the Search and Rescue Salmon Barbeque. From my perspective, it is great idea with many possibilities. The Art Guild will be reporting to the City Council on June 4 whether or not they will be proceeding with the Art Walk. I truly hope they decide favorably.

The Trail Committee meeting was a little more definitive. All but two of the stakeholders in the proposed Seagull Bay to Massacre Rocks State Park Trail were present or represented. I neglected to get Idaho Power and Kevin Lynott, the Manager of Massacre Rocks, invited to the meeting in a timely manner. But, Kevin has assured me he will be at the next one. While there are concerns that will need to be addressed with the various easements needed to allow this proposal to become reality, the entire group seems to be in favor of seeing the trail proceed. Jerry DeBacker of the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust, Ryan Peterson, and I will be looking at funding options for the design and construction of the trail system over the next few weeks. I am almost giddy, this is so freaking cool! Kind of like going to the dentist and not getting drilled!

Until next week…

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