1997-2000: Blue Ribbon Committee
In response to the request of concerned citizens, former mayor, Don Etter, formed the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) in 1997, representing a broad cross section of the community (business owners, educators, parents and involved community leaders). The focus of the BRC was to determine the interest of the greater Mountain Home community in expanded recreational and cultural opportunities.
With the city acting as a facilitator, the BRC, with the professional assistance of Mike Pepper, KMP Planning and Consulting, commenced a systematic review of existing facilities and conducted market study surveys. The research gathered indicated that residents were keenly interested in additional indoor, family recreational opportunities especially: aquatics, personal fitness, family recreation, community activities, and artistic performances.
The BRC recommended that the city continue to pursue the actions needed to construct a multi-purpose year-round family recreation/community activity center. The BRC believed such a facility would contribute mightily to the overall wellness, attractiveness and cohesiveness of the Greater Mountain Home Community.
In early 2000, the Mountain Home School District began investigating the possibility of including an auditorium in the second phase of the new high school construction. Further investigation by the BRC determined that the partnership development, fund-raising and grant writing necessary to create a multi-purpose, indoor, family recreational/community activity facility demanded the attention of an agency focused exclusively on recreation.
The BRC believed: 1) the greater Mountain Home area was poised for continued significant growth and the creation of a recreation district would be a positive and proactive response to those changes 2) a recreation district would provide the financial and professional components necessary to undertake a capital campaign and the construction of a multi-purpose, indoor family recreational/community activity facility 3) the BRC formulated a concise ‘philosophy of necessity’ for the community’s multi-purpose, year-round, family recreation/community activity facility:
Provide a location for family recreation and community activities, thus, encouraging families and businesses to locate and settle in the Greater Mountain Home Area.
Respond positively to clearly expressed community needs .
In January 2000, the BRC recommended to the city that the question of forming a recreation district be placed before the people. With the support of city council and newly elected Mayor Dave Jett, the question of forming a new taxing district, the Western Elmore County Recreation District, was placed before the voters, for the first (and only) time, November 7, 2000. Four thousand copies of a seven-page voter information pamphlet were produced by the BRC and distributed to voters within the proposed district.
An overwhelming 60% of the voters voted ‘YES’, forming the WECRD. The WECRD became an official taxing district in January 2001. As provided for by Idaho law, upon establishment of the district, the first three directors to serve the people (Larry Heinen, Doug Belt, Mollie Marsh) were appointed by Governor Kempthorne.