Casper touts growth, continued projects and possibility of a new police headquarters in State of the City address

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Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper delivers 2019 State of the City address. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — Mayor Rebecca Casper cited numerous city projects for 2019 and even teased the possibility of a new police headquarters during Thursday’s State of the City address.

Along with citing the city’s growth, Casper emphasized everything the city accomplished in 2018 and everything she hopes to achieve in 2019.

“Currently, we have four large projects underway or completed in 2018 that represent an estimated 1,100 new jobs — most of which will pay excellent wages capable of supporting entire families,” Casper said in her speech.

One of Casper’s main points was public safety. She spoke about the recognition the Idaho Falls Police and Fire Departments have received and commended the departments for hiring 15 new police personnel and seven new firefighters.

She mentioned public safety continues to be one of the most critical areas of focus as the city grows.

“A new police headquarters is essential for us to meet the demands of our growing community and the need to provide 21st Century policing,” Casper said.

Councilman Thomas Hally told EastIdahoNews.com the city is in the early planning stages of building a new police headquarters.

“The mayor has called together a committee,” Hally said. “We want professional data to give us a location and then move on from there. It’s a very slow process because police departments are not like other departments.”

Hally explained that police departments are expensive buildings because of their unique requirements such as labs, interview rooms and holding cells.

“We need to find out what the cost is,” Hally said. “You can’t move forward with the community until you have a site, an artist’s conception and a price out there.”

In February of 2018, the city brought in an architect firm that specializes in police buildings to help the department know exactly what is needed for a new building.

Following the mayor’s speech, Councilwoman Shelly Smede said she was honored to be a part of the city accomplishments over the past year. Smede began her first year on the Idaho Falls City Council in 2018.

“She has such a vision that goes on for way far in the future,” Smede said about Casper.

One of the ongoing projects Casper mentioned in her address was the work being done to the Bonneville Hotel.

“It is not only going to continue to be low-income housing, but there is also going to be a beautiful patio, food and different places so that citizens can come down and be right in the central part of the city,” Smede said.

Casper said one of the most promising projects for Idaho Falls is the Small Modular Reactor program at Idaho National Laboratory.

“Besides providing baseload power, the SMR project also allows us to look responsibly toward the future as it will give our city an enviable 100 percent zero-carbon emissions power profile,” Casper said.

Concluding her speech, Casper invited citizens to become more involved and informed in the city.

“The state of our city is strong, and Idaho Falls’ future is bright,” Casper said.

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