As of Tuesday, January 19, 2016
WHITE BIRD Times are changing for the town of White Bird, and at the head of that change is a new mayor.
Rod Pilant was sworn in as mayor at the Jan. 11 White Bird City Council meeting and has thus begun his four-year term.
The 43-year-old was born and raised on the Salmon River two miles south of town. He and his family have lived in city limits for the past one and one-half years.
Pilant spoke with the Free Press recently on why he wanted to take on this new responsibility.
“I wanted to reestablish unity within our community,” Pilant said. “Several citizens of the area, voicing their frustrations with the division that seems to lie between the city and local organizations, had approached me urging me to run. I believe the community has a lot to offer structured toward family events.”
Pilant said he has “a lot of love” for the area and the community.
White Bird voter turnout at nearly 68 percent in mayor race
WHITE BIRD – Mayoral challenger Rod Pilant won over incumbent Rick Alley, 32 to 18, in the Nov. 3, 2015, election.
In that election, Whit Bird had a historically high voter turnout percentage which was 67.6 percent (46 voted of 68 total registered voters. Pilant got the nod from more than 56 percent of the voters.
“I think the citizens of White Bird felt it was time for a change,” Pilant said. “I really appreciate the support and vote of confidence from the people and I want to represent them well.”
“I have a number of physical ailments that keep me from being able to volunteer the way I would like to, so stepping up and taking this position gives me the opportunity to give back to my community,” he stated.
Pilant sees money – or the lack of it – as the biggest challenge for the town.
“There just isn’t a whole lot of it within the city limits. We are pinching pennies just to maintain the infrastructure that we have and we are losing ground. That is why it is so imperative that the city and the local organizations work together,” he emphasized.
In the next five to 10 years, Pilant hopes to see recreation business grow in the area.
“Unfortunately the federal government is getting way out of control and seems to be doing everything in its power to lock these mountains and rivers up,” he shook his head. “They are smothering our outfitters to death with their bureaucratic red tape, making it near imposable to maintain the businesses that exist let alone start any new ones.”
The new mayor said it takes a lot of volunteerism and donations to keep the community running.
“Within our community, which lies from Doumecq to Slate Creek and up and down every drainage in-between, are some of the most amazing folks you’ve ever met,” Plant said. “I am talking ‘give you the shirt off their back’ type of folks. I have never seen another place so filled with people willing to help out. If the city is to improve it’s going to take the whole community to create more events and fund-raisers. I realize as mayor I am stuck to the boundaries of the city but I have been approached with so much support from the outlying citizens, I can’t help but feel that much needed solutions will also come from the other side of those boundaries.”
He said the White Bird Recreation District that has been created in taking over the former White Bird School is “awesome for the community.”
“People are really excited about it,” he said. As far as what he would like to see go on at the building, “really anything that brings people out and together.”
“Personally I would like to start a garden club, which would in turn create a community garden on a section of the grounds,” he said. “Being a retirement community I think that would go over really well.”
Pilant said his wife, Josi, is his “number one supporter,” and they have four sons: Steven, Colten, Forrest and Hunter; four daughters Lindsay, Aiyana, Sequoia and Briar; and two grandchildren. Pilant’s “day job” is as general manager of Wimer Fabrication Inc., out of Cottonwood.
“Like most of our towns in Idaho County, White Bird offers the great outdoors which in my opinion leads to a good quality of life,” he explained, when asked why the area is a good place to raise a family. “The special thing that the White Bird area offers is that ‘a river runs through it.’ Once the Salmon River is in your blood…well…there’s just no better place on earth.”