Playing pick up sticks with a large backhoe

Our City

by A.F. Mayor Marc Beitia

When you were growing up or playing with your kids or grandkids did you ever play the game “Pick Up Sticks”? In the game a bundle of “sticks,” about 10 inches long, are dropped as a loose bunch onto a table top, jumbling into a random pile. Each player in turn tries to remove a stick from the pile without disturbing any of the others. Your turn continues until you cause a stick other than the one you are trying to pick up to move. Imagine playing it with a large piece of equipment like an excavator or backhoe.

Last week you may have noticed that construction on the Fort Hall project seemed to be stalled at Van Buren Street. You also may recall that in times of extremely heavy rains or spring runoff that same intersection often developed into a rather large lake causing flooding issues. As the installation of the new sewer line began on Fort Hall last week the construction workers found a situation not unlike the game of Pick Up Sticks. They encountered old sewer lines, storm water lines, water lines, fiber optic lines and other surprises all in very close proximity to each other and none of which ran parallel to each other but rather crisscrossed in a jumble. The sorting out of the mess and the placement of the new sewer line took great care and expertise. In the end it was a difficult job that was well done.

The placement of the new sewer line down the length of Fort Hall is expected to take about ten days. The installation of the new water main and service hookups is expected to take another ten days after that, with the rebuilding of the street and pavement to follow. Thank you for your continued patience.

On Monday of this week I again encountered meetings that were stacked on top of each other and had to select which to attend. The City of American Falls is a member of the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP) where we work with regional law enforcement agencies and the Special Assistant United States Attorney to curb drug trafficking, child pornography and other felony crimes. The semi-annual meeting of the EIP was held at 1:30 p.m. this Monday in Idaho Falls while the preconstruction meeting for the completion of the Willow Bay Emergency Access road was held at 3 p.m. here at city hall. I chose to stay here for the construction meeting and asked Police Chief Brandon Wilkinson or Sergeant Josh Campbell to attend the EIP meeting in my place.

I am pleased with the progress that has been made on the emergency access road. I thank our city street department and Taylor Construction for their coordinated efforts in placing the old road base from Fort Hall as the new base of the access road is a huge cost savings to the city. I look forward to working with Depatco Construction as they take over the project through its completion. Of the projects that have been on my plate as mayor, this one has been there the longest, it will be a relief to finally have it done.

Another project long on my plate has been the Pocatello Avenue and Highway 39 intersection. This Tuesday, July 17, community members were invited to attend presentations that began at 4 p.m. and were followed by breakout discussions. ITD is evaluating a variety of alternatives to improve traffic operations and safety at the intersection. This meeting was a follow-up to the one held in March of this year. The suggestions from the March meeting are the basis for future improvements to the intersection. Potential designs will be further evaluated based on public input, safety, delay times, right-of-way needs, cost, and other factors. Construction at the intersection is expected to begin in 2021.

By the time you read this Pinnacle Recreation will be open for business at Willow Bay. I encourage you to check out their selection of non-motorized and motorized watercraft rentals. Like our concessionaires, Tamby Gilley at the Willow Bay Campground and Lalo Hidalgo at the Willow Bay Café, I look forward to a long and mutually productive partnership with Cris Schultz, owner of Pinnacle Recreation and Willow Bay Rentals.

Like the emergency access road to Willow Bay, the community’s tennis courts have been on my to-do-list for nearly ten years. They are done. I would invite you to attend the grand opening and dedication on Thursday, July 26, at 5:30 p.m. Without the help of so many they would have remained a dream.

My compliments to the cooks along with my final word of thanks to all the volunteers who made the Search and Rescue Salmon Barbeque possible and everyone who attended that made the event such a continued success last Saturday.

Until next week…

Thanks for reading!

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