New Swan Valley church expected to open some time this year

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SWAN VALLEY — In December 2016, a raging fire destroyed the Palisades ward church building belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since the tragedy, steady progress has been made on construction of a new building.

“We broke ground in the summer of 2017. It’s been fun to watch people pull over and take pictures of the progress and to be excited about it,” Public Affairs Director for the Ririe Idaho LDS Stake Sharon Parry says.

Last April, church officials announced plans to construct a new building in the same location as the old one — 3109 Swan Valley Highway.

The Palisades LDS Ward building was built in 1949 and was destroyed by the blaze on Dec. 6, 2016.

RELATED: Massive fire rips through Swan Valley LDS Church

Palisades Ward Bishop Terry Hulse says members have been conducting Sunday meetings in a local elementary school for a year.

“There are members who have spent their whole lives here, and this building is 70 years old. There are members who only knew this building, so it was a tragedy for them to lose it,” Hulse says.

The new church building being constructed in Swan Valley | Natalia Hepworth,

Although it was a major loss, many community members and leaders of other faiths reached out in support.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, and no one was injured.

“Nobody has complained. They were all shocked at first with the loss of the building but then everybody just pitches in to make things work on Sundays,” Hulse says. “We have to set things up and take things down for school starting on Monday so we’re in and out and everybody’s cooperated really well.”

Hulse says after the fire it seems like progress on the new building was slow, but a lot was happening behind the scenes.

“The second day after it burned we had the building department from the church from Utah, they came and assessed what we had and what we needed, and they immediately started on the plans and permits and all those things that have to happen before the construction could actually take place,” Hulse says.

The old Palisades Ward building the day after the fire | file photo

The new building will be nearly as big as the last measuring over 15,000 square feet. It will have the same elements of a church building including a chapel, gym, classrooms, and offices. The gym and chapel area should be able to hold some 550 people.

“It will be a brick building, there will be some (exterior insulation panels) like stucco on some of it. It’s a little different than some other jobs; we have metal shingles instead of asphalt shingles,” Headwaters Construction Company Superintendent Dallas Brown says.

“It will be tailor-made to the Palisades ward. We’re not a very large congregation during your average weekend, but during vacation land times we feel the need to open the doors to a lot of vacationers, passersby, and families that come to their family cabins to vacation. That means there’s a need for more seating,” Parry says.

Parry says the Palisades Ward is grateful for all the help they’ve received during the last year. Doors will reopen upon the building’s completion toward the end of this year.

Dec. 6, 2016 the Palisades Ward building burned down | file photo