Now that Idaho County residents have changed the calendar from 2016 to 2017, city councils begin preparations for growth in the new year.
Each of the six smaller, rural cities in the county were contacted and asked how each has grown in 2016 and what are the accomplishments or challenges each overcame. The following is a summary of the answers received from representatives of Cottonwood, Kooskia, Stites and White Bird.
The City of Cottonwood completed two major projects in 2016 that Mayor Shelli Schumacher noted as a source of pride for the community. It also looks forward to two additional projects in 2017.
The community completed a resurfacing project on East Street near the elementary school during the summer months. It also wrapped up the Community Hall project, with the final touches of phase three being delayed by winter weather.
“Our greatest challenge was getting all that work done with our city crew and continuing to maintain daily upkeep on city needs,” Schumacher said. “We learned that good communication and working together makes things a lot easier. We couldn’t do it without the current employees we have and that includes Carol [Altman] in the city office.”
The two projects slated for 2017 include a road resurfacing on Broadway Street and installing sidewalks along East Street. Schumacher suggested the city is open to suggestions for other improvements necessary in the community.
“We’re always willing to listen and glad to hear from [the community],” she said. “I would also like to ask the community to take the time to thank the city employees for all the hard work they put in, especially now with all the weather we’ve had.”
Kooskia Mayor Charlotte Schilling noted renovations at city hall and new ADA curb ramps were among some of the many accomplishments she is most proud of finishing. The annual Easter Egg Hunt was a success and the city received a generous land donation from Mark Trenary.
The greatest challenge for the City of Kooskia, she said, was losing two valuable council members, Leslie Squires and Elvin Pfefferkorn.
“They were great men and it was a difficult and sad time for all of us at the city,” Schilling said.
Looking forward into 2017, Schilling is most excited about the splash pad project at City Park with Freedom Northwest Credit Union.
“We are beyond excited for this to happen,” she said.
Schilling notes the top three issue the city will need to address in the coming year is low income housing, housing or assisted living for the elderly, and increased employment opportunities.
Stites Mayor Gerry Cathey began his year with the council in March of 2016 as a council member. He later was appointed mayor and began the challenging task of restoring functionality to the day-to-day operations of the city.
Under his leadership, working with city administration, a mutual contract was established with the City of Kooskia for sewage treatment. Policies and ordinances for the management of utilities has been restored, Cathey said.
“Largely due to Stites’ administration and Kooskia’s cooperation, that contract has moved from a position of total impasse concerning rates to a functional business relationship,” he said.
Stites also began a risk tree management program with has resulted in the removal of large city-owned trees overhanging Stites’ homes. The mayor, city council and city employees also moved forward with a new water well, a project funded by federal and state grant monies to ensure a safe and sustained source of public water.
Cathey has three issues he views as top priority in the coming year: improvements to the sewer system; increased jobs; and decreasing drug activity.
“The jobs of the past are mostly gone so we must find ways to adapt, be creative and develop new resources that will provide jobs and livelihoods,” he said.
While the White Bird city council faced a challenging transition in the year 2016, it also celebrated several accomplishments through the course of the year. Topping the list of challenges in 2016, as well as being noted as one of the top priorities for 2017 is the city sewer plant.
Councilmembers Janis Ann Comrie and Barbara Lowe stated the city hosted a successful town meeting in July.
“Citizens were informed about the current situation of the sewer plant and asked for input,” both stated in an e-mail response to questions.
Regarding the sewer plant, the city continues to work with Clearwater Economic Development Association in an ongoing effort to meet compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency. Comrie and Lowe said sewer lines were flushed, surveyed and scoped by Dr. Pipeline in 2016. The pair also noted more town meetings are planned for 2017.
“Our biggest goal is to have the sewer plant project started and in process [in 2017],”
Other goals for the City of White Bird in 2017 include building relationships with nearby communities, increasing community involvement and remodel city hall to meeting government standards.
While the city had its hands full with transition and the sewer plant, council members noted other projects were successfully completed. Accomplishments include a new paint job at city hall provided by the American Legion Post 152; the restoration of two firetrucks; the highest participation of fire department volunteers training with Mark Gravatt; and a partnership with Jenny Hanson and the Salmon River Outreach Center to assist the public with medical needs.
Representatives from Ferdinand and Riggins were not available for comment.