State of the City
Malad's City Hall building as the new year begins in earnest.
Malad City, Idaho 2024
Mayor Joan Hawkins
The year 2023 will be a year that I will remember Malad City and Oneida County as being the most beautiful that I have ever known. We despaired over the long winter, but with that winter and the rains we received during the year, the mountains stayed green for almost the entire summer. The spring brought wildflowers everywhere, and the temperatures were tolerable most of the year. It was a little cold sometimes, but we didn’t seem to suffer for very long with hot weather. What a blessing! It is hard to say what 2024 will bring, but let’s remember 2023 as being a year that we were able to enjoy our beautiful valley.
By now, everyone is aware of the new City Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was built on the foothills of Two-Mile Road. We have great confidence in our engineers, J-U-B, and in the expert construction of our new ponds by Whitaker Construction of Brigham City, Utah. The timing turned out very well for the city for the construction of the new plant. We are so close to being able to start fully operating the plant. There have been a few kinks to iron out, and one of those little kinks won’t be corrected until spring when we can operate the pivot sprinklers, but that shouldn’t stop us from using the new sewage plant. We appreciate our partnership with Alder Farms. Because of that partnership, the City will be able to use the wastewater effluent, mixed with other waters, on certain crops that are approved by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In a desert, we need to use every resource possible, and I believe this is a good use of our wastewater. The water that we mix with the effluent will be water from the Deep Creek Irrigation Co. The City received additional shares with the purchase of the land for the new wastewater plant, but they were not enough to cover the requirements of DEQ. With the partnership of the Alders, they will use some of their Deep Creek shares to cover the water that is required and water crops on their property and on City property. The City has a long-term lease agreement with Alder Farms.
There will be a Phase II of the Wastewater Project, which is the decommissioning of the old ponds. That may take three or more years to decommission under the guidelines of DEQ.
Another project that was completed by the City in 2023 was a SCADA system for both our water plant and our wastewater plant. The SCADA system will remotely monitor and control our water distribution and wastewater plant infrastructure so that they run efficiently. The City was having problems with the water pumps running erratically. Since we have completed the SCADA system, the pumps are running much more efficiently. The City Superintendent and his crew are able to monitor the pumps at the office and with their phones. They will control the wastewater system in the same manner. Funding for this project was from money the city received from President Biden’s America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) so that we didn’t have to raise water rates.
There is still work to be done with the water infrastructure. The City is currently working with their engineers, J-U-B, to prioritize projects and also to look for grants.
The other project that has required a lot of work for our City superintendent, crew, and the city office staff, is the Bannock Street Reconstruction Project. In 2014, the City applied for a federal grant, which will be administered by Idaho’s Local Highways Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC). The engineer for the project is Forsgren Associates. The plans are ready for Phase I, (Four Points to 300 West). The government sets aside a certain amount of money for projects for a year, and grant funds are made available as projects become ready for construction. It was hoped that some projects would not be ready for 2024 and we could move our project up a year, but that didn’t happen. Enough of the 2024 projects were ready so that there was not enough money left to fund the Bannock Street Project a year early. Therefore, construction on Phase I will not start until the year 2025, which was the originally projected date.
However, the City also applied for grants for Phase II, which is 300 West to the railroad tracks. Two grants were applied for, one a federal grant and one a state grant. The city was awarded both grants, and the project for the state grant must be completed by November of 2024. That means that Phase II of the Bannock Street Project will be completed before Phase I!
Along with those grants, the City applied for a grant to complete sidewalk, curb and gutter for the Phase II project. That grant was also awarded and can be completed in 2024. Because much of the Bannock Street Reconstruction Project involves flood mitigation, FEMA has grant funds available, which the city applied for. Word is that the City has received the FEMA grant, but details are still being worked out regarding appropriation. The last grant applied for was through the U.S. Forest Service. The City applied for $2 million and was awarded $1 million. This grant is for urban forestry, and it will be used to direct stormwater to water trees in a retention basin on city-owned property. Again, the full scope is still being considered.
We realize that Bannock Street is in terrible condition, especially from Four Points to 300 West. This has been a truck route for many years, and the City felt that they wanted to keep Bannock Street as a truck route and bring the road up to the standard required for large trucks. But there are some things that the mayor and council cannot control, and that is the timing of grant funding. During construction the next two summers, try to think of the long term, and the great street and sidewalks we will have when this is finished!
Most grants require that a match be paid by the city. For most of the Bannock Street grants, the match is 7.32 percent. However, for the amount of money being granted, that amounts to a large sum of money. The City Council is currently considering the best way to raise that money.
The Pickleball Courts seemed to have raised a controversy. Some citizens don’t think they are necessary. Some think we should have tried to get funding for other projects. However, as a mayor and council, we can’t always pick and choose the projects for which we can obtain funding. Sometimes we just find that there is funding available for a certain project, so we go for it. Besides having an opportunity for a grant for the Pickleball courts, we also had a committee dedicated to seeing that courts were built. The committee worked hard to raise money and to help with construction of the courts. In the end, Pickleball courts worth almost $300,000 were built for approximately $115,000.
The council is currently looking at other needs for the park. We are in the process of working with the Southeast Idaho Council of Governments (SICOG) for a grant for new playground equipment. We can’t apply for that grant until the fall of 2024 because of preliminary work required.
When we talk about grants, it is important to understand that there is very often a match required by the City. Sometimes we find that we cannot apply for a grant because the match is more than we can afford. Almost ten years ago we applied for a grant for a skatepark because we knew the old equipment was dangerous. We were turned down for that grant because we did not have community involvement and did not have the funds to cover the match required. The reason the city was successful in getting grants for the splash pad and the Pickleball courts is because of the strong community involvement.
Financially, the city is stable. The council is very careful about spending your money wisely. Because we are a small city, we can only afford a small city crew. They are responsible for the City Cemetery, the City Park, water and sewer infrastructure and road maintenance. That is a huge responsibility, and they work very hard. We appreciate Superintendent Tyler Webster and his crew of Gaylen Garrett, Pat Werk, Clint Price, and Quincy Asay. Also, during the summer months we hire extra help, usually high school students who are trying to earn money for college or other future endeavors.
The office is expertly managed by the City Clerk, Susan Wittman. She is assisted by Machelle Neal. In addition, Terrell Schwartz acts as City Treasurer, and his expertise is invaluable. Dustin Smith recently retired as the Malad City Attorney. The City has hired Brett Evanson as their civil attorney. Brett is licensed in Utah, and is in the process of obtaining his Idaho license to practice law. He will be associated with Matt Darrington of Darrington Law in Rupert, Idaho, until he obtains his Idaho license. The criminal prosecutions will be taken care of by the firm of Fuller & Fuller of Preston, Idaho.
The members of the Malad City Council are dedicated to representing each of you. If you have questions, issues or problems, feel free to reach out to a council member or to Mayor Hawkins. You can find email addresses on the City’s website, www.maladidaho.org. Regarding the website, please let us know if you see something that needs to be addressed or corrected. Also, please provide us with dates of events, we are trying to maintain a current calendar.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. We are honored and consider it a great privilege. We love our little city and believe that we are blessed to live in a community where people care about one another and take care of each other. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year!