KAMIAH — As Kamiah Mayor Betty Heater’s first term winds down, she is excited to begin her second four-year term in January. “We had an amazing year in Kamiah. I’m ecstatic, I can’t wait to start working on things in the new year,” said Heater. Last summer included the Kamiah cleanup day, the return of Barbecue Days, and a ceremony, that drew hundreds of people, honoring first responders and marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

As she reflects on the past year, Heater is thrilled that work on the pool is moving forward. She is thankful all the partners – Save the Pool Committee, Upper Clearwater Community Foundation, Clearwater Economic Development Association and others – are working together, along with Idaho Stage Construction. Before the project shut down for winter, the first half of a new pool liner was installed after preparatory work. Heater is optimistic the pool will open in the summer of 2022.

She is happy to support the kids of the community, working with the Upriver Youth Leadership Council (UYLC) on the skateboard park project at Dupont Park (next to the swimming pool). UYLC is raising funds to construct the facility on city-owned property. According to UYLC executive director, Sharlene Johnson, they have raised enough money through grants and donations to construct phase one of the skate park.

Heater is proud to be the first Kamiah mayor to hire a full-time fire chief and ambulance administrator, after consulting with the State of Idaho EMS Bureau. It was a big commitment for the city to shift from an all-volunteer organization to one with seven paid staff. Since Kamiah Fire Rescue (KFR) Chief Bill Arsenault began work in late 2019, Heater believes the culture around fire and ambulance services has changed in Kamiah and the surrounding area. The KFR staff are very visible around town and involved in many community activities. “He [Arsenault] has taught me a lot about being community-driven, to just jump in and get going,” Heater said. In a little more than a year with Chief Bill Arsenault’s leadership, Kamiah Fire Rescue (KFR) has received paramedic licensure, providing a higher level of service.

In 2022 Heater plans to continue her focus on improving roads and sidewalks in town, and the addition of a Bryan Drive booster station, which will improve water pressure for residents.

Heater appreciates the support of the city council and staff. She said, “it feels like all my departments are running smoothly, things are calm.”

The city faces two staffing challenges, finding a fourth council member and hiring a new KFR chief. The council position has been vacant since Stephen Rowe resigned in May. She hopes to find someone without any personal agenda, just a desire to work together to find solutions to make the community better. Heater acknowledges finding the right person to replace Arsenault for the KFR chief will be difficult. “In my eyes, he leaves some pretty big boots to fill.”

Heater will be sworn in for her second term at the next regular city council meeting on Jan. 12, along with city council members, Scott Moffett and James Kelly.