Change is a good thing

Our City by A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

Change can be good. After five days of Sani-Wipe spit baths, Al and I welcomed the hot shower after checking into the hotel in Pinedale, Wyoming. If you follow these ramblings you know I am in the middle of a 10 day vacation. You will also recall that I am “working” on a bucket list item with a specific goal in mind. Suffice it to say I will be “working” toward its completion over the next five days. Luckily for all of us the great folks who work for the City of American Falls are on the job to provide positive changes for our city.

Over the course of the past three months Police Chief Brandon Wilkinson has been working with other Eastern Idaho City and County representatives to secure a new memorandum of understanding with the law enforcement departments in these cities and counties. The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to set forth the terms and conditions upon which each member of the Eastern Idaho Partnership agrees to be bound in order to provide funding for the position of a Deputy Host County Prosecutor to the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Idaho. This position would be a Special Assistant United States Attorney to prosecute within the Federal court system matters involving internet based crimes against children, gun and gang violence, drug trafficking, fraud and other white collar crime, terrorism, identity theft, and immigration offenses in Eastern Idaho. This is known as the Eastern Idaho Special U.S. Attorney Project (the “Project”).

The benefit of this project to our communities is to get convicted perpetrators out of our local and state incarceration facilities and into federal systems with mandatory minimum sentences. According to Bill Larsen of the Treasure Valley Partnership, who brought this project to us last April, it has reduced crime in his area exponentially. You undoubtedly read the word “funding” above. Well, nothing is for nothing. However, I will tell you, based on the reported results of the program elsewhere, for the annual cost of less than $1000, this program and service is certainly worth it.

So, if you happen to be the mother or father of the wayward youth I wrote about two weeks ago or ones that have that tendency; and if your kids continue on the path you have allowed them to wander, when they turn 18, their conviction of any crimes associated with the “Project” will get them an assured sentence in a Federal penitentiary. Not the famed “Howard’s Hilton” of old or the newly State-certified Power County Jail (congratulations Sheriff Jeffries), not even the State facility in Boise. No, we are now talking the “Big House.” Yes, sometimes change is good!

If you have been over by William Thomas Middle School lately, you will have noticed that last week curb and gutter along with a few ADA approaches and 200 feet of sidewalk were poured on Bannock. Harper Construction poured concrete all this past week and their goal was to have all of Bannock Avenue poured sans landscaping by the end of the week. They will try to have the Falls Avenue section completed by the end of this week.

Venture down to Willow Bay and you will see that the signs and obstructions have been removed for the new sidewalk near the boat docks. We hope to have these new sidewalks poured by the end of the month. City crews will be removing the old docks when the reservoir levels become too low to allow boat launching. Then, thanks again to Jeremy Peirsol and his acquisition of grant funds, the City will order the new boat docks this fall and have them ready and installed by next spring.

In that same vein, thanks to Jeremy we are waiting for the return of the Bistline Grant agreement that we signed this past month. The City will be contacting Douglas Warnock about creating and placing the bronze sculptures in the 200 block of Idaho Street. I will be calling on some members of the Downtown Technical Advisory Committee and Douglas as we will need to determine location for placement of the pieces and then have him construct them to fit the desired locations.

The American Falls Youth Scholarship Fund committee is ready to vote on a mission statement and formalize their application to become a subsidiary of AF iMPACT. At their last meeting Brent Chroninger was elected as the committee’s Chair with Shannon Porath serving as Treasurer. Shane Bolgen, Marcee Foster, and Jeremey Peirsol will complete the Board. North West Farm Credit had already donated to the fund and Nathan Love is fundraising for the group for his senior project. As I understand it, the committee’s purpose it is to provide scholarships for our community’s youth who would like to participate in our Organized Recreation programs but lack the means to do so. The committee will be developing an application for youth to apply based on financial need. They plan to have this application on the City website and available in time for soccer. Please consider donating to this worthy cause.

If you look at the posted agenda for this Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, you will notice an item placed there at the request of Council President Dan Hammond. The discussion item addresses an issue that has faced our community for years. The issues of vacant buildings and dried up lawns or weed patches. Dan, Clerk Robyn Herndon and I met about ten days ago to discuss the issue. As it turns out, the City used to allowed property owners who were in the process of selling a specific parcel the ability to pay for only water and not sewer and sanitation. This was a “good faith” gesture on behalf of the City and worked until the faith was broken and the gesture was taken advantage of. I look forward to the discussion and the positive change it could mean for many of our property owners who have the right intentions as they try and sell.

Well, the sun is up and the first cup of coffee gone with nothing but a bitter taste in my mouth. It makes me appreciate the simpler things in life. You wouldn’t think good coffee would be hard to make. But it appears that it is, according to my experience as I travel for various reasons. Some things don’t change; but I sure wish they would.

Until next week…

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