About the Mayor
Dana Kirkham was raised in Northern Virginia. She attended Marion Military Institute in Alabama before graduating with a degree in Political Science from Utah State University. Before realizing her “manifest Destiny” and relocating with her husband to Idaho, she had the opportunity to work for the State Department in Frankfurt, Germany and the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. She currently serves as the Mayor of Ammon.
She is a member of the board for EIRMC Internal Review, The Regional Development Alliance, The Idaho Innovation Center, The Eastern Idaho Regional Wastewater Authority, Transform, Regional Economic Development for Idaho, and the Idaho Special Assistant United States Attorney Executive Committee. She is an avid reader. James Michener’s Centennial ranks as one of her favorite books. This passion continues with her children. They have read over a hundred novels, aloud, together.
She loves the outdoors and spending time with her family–camping, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. Cycling is perhaps her favorite hobby. If the temperature is above 55 degrees you will most likely find her on her bike. The last three years she has participated in the Logan to Jackson (
LOTOJA) ride completing 200 miles in one day. Her most important endeavor and what she hopes will be her greatest accomplishment is the privilege of raising her two daughters, Ashton and Addy.
State of the City 2016
State of the City is great. 2015 was kind to us. We continued to see growth and development. We continued to provide the basic services to our citizens at an exceptional standard. The City of Ammon had some significant successes last year. I’m not going to speak in terms of departments or individuals because every success is the result of hard work by the entire team. Whether you are in a position to determine allocation of funds, to set policy, to administer a department, to make a phone call, or to do the heavy lifting, every member of our 41 member team plays a part in making things happen.
Last year, we continued to foster relationships with entities all around us. The most visible example of this was the completion of the Target Intersection. Regardless of what it took to make it happen we can all agree that it has improved quality of life for our citizens and viability for our businesses in the Ammon Town Center.
We partnered with school district 93 and Bonneville County for a “live fire” exercise to explore safety options in our schools through our fiber optic network. This resulted in winning the National Department of Justice Contest. We continue to work toward that last mile to the home and continue to be a leader in not only the state, but also in the nation for municipal fiber.
We were awarded an Idaho Department of Lands grant for a splash pad to be added to McCowin Park. We had hoped for a 2015 opening, but it looks like the 2016 opening will be bigger and better. Sometimes good things come to those who wait.
We added several new businesses to the Ammon family. We welcome them and wish them success. Remember that every business in our community requires coordination, permitting, inspection, and quick turnaround from our Ammon team to get up and running. We are one of the few cities that can boast a 90 day turnaround from plan review to construction.
Maybe our greatest success is not what makes the headlines, but all the things that continue to work the way they should so we DON’T make the headlines. We have an exceptional team that keeps the water running, the sewer going, the roads passable, the parks clean, and community events happening. I’m always so proud at how much we do, and how well we do it, for a fraction of the cost compared to other cities our size.
That is only possible because of the caliber and integrity of the men and women who work here.
This marks my 3rd State of the City Address. I only have one more to go. I only have 24 months left to associate in this working capacity with all of you. I’ve been seriously contemplating what can happen in 24 months. A lot, after all it only took the Wright Brothers two years to go from glider to the 1st powered flight. My expectations are high for what this team can accomplish in the next 24 months.
It will be a privilege to work alongside all of you.
As part of my comments tonight I also want to introduce a theme for the next year. Mayor Casper and I have collaborated a joint message that we will be sharing throughout the year at different speaking engagements. We wish to initiate a renewed interest in citizenship. Perhaps at all levels of government, but certainly at the local level a consumer mentality has emerged. The general attitude is that government and local officials are responsible to fix all problems. The reality is government can’t solve all problems alone, never could, and probably never should.
American citizenship comes with enormous benefit, however with the benefit comes responsibility. All too often as Gandhi pointed out, “People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights.”
Ammon has a rich history of citizenship and sense of community. It started as a small 160 acre town site in 1899. Incorporated in 1905. Its beginnings were that of neighbors coming together to build a community. Through their own sweat and fortitude they built churches, schools, parks, and eventually a city.
Today, I spent some time looking through the history written about our city. When a church was needed the citizens raised $15,000 to build it not just as a place of worship, but it doubled as a school house as well.
The first large school building in Ammon was built in 1904 but burned down in 1936. I read account after account about the night the school burned down. The new gymnasium had been used for the first time. Ammon played Rigby. We lost. When the fire broke out shortly after, it was citizens who responded to salvage what they could from the burning buildings and work to put the flames out. That spirit continues in our volunteer fire department today.
When the WPA rebuilt the gym it was citizens who saw an opportunity to raise money for an athletic program by purchasing 100 pairs of roller skates and renting them 5 nights a week so people could skate in the gym, and donating all the proceeds to the local school district.
When flooding from Sandcreek threatened Ammon it wasn’t local government that solved the problem. It was a group of citizens and farmers, from Rexburg to Blackfoot who worked together to work out the serious problems causing the flooding issue. None of them were compensated for their time.
Ross McCowin, a name we are familiar with, is the reason McCowin park became McCowin Park in 1961 and not McCowin subdivision. There was a vision of a green space where neighbors could come together to congregate and enjoy each other. Drive through there any summer night and you will see the realization of that dream, and every August during Ammon Days we are grateful for that vision.
Interestingly enough even the roads in Ammon began out of citizen effort. Up until 1959 Ammon had only dirt roads. Then Bill and Earl Brunt developed Hillview and needed a place to put the pit run gravel from the basements of the homes they were building. A deal was struck, and that was the beginning of paved roads in Ammon.
We see this spirit of citizenship and community continued this year in our City Seal Contest. It is appropriate that a member of our team and longtime citizen of our community was able to capture the spirit of who we are for generations to come.
Citizenship isn’t always easy. It’s messy. There will be disagreements, but there should always be respect.
I found this 1955 journal entry from BH Barrus that illustrates what I mean:
“There had been in the county a stir to consolidate the rural schools. This was done, in 1955, which made a sharp division in our community of Ammon. Many farmers felt that this would put a burden on them to pay for the building. Others felt that with these smaller high schools, Ucon, Iona, and Ammon, we should have a richer choice of subjects, and variety for students to choose from.
The first time the vote was taken most of the people that now make up the Bonneville High School, voted it down.
After many more meetings, sometimes with lost tempers, the movement carried and a new central High School was built, one mile north of Lincoln.”
I guess the more things change the more they stay the same. The point is, citizenship requires engagement. It requires investment in the community. It requires acceptance and forgiveness of our neighbors. Most importantly it requires our time with little expectation for ourselves.
As citizens we have an obligation to those who have gone before. We are the beneficiaries of their hard work. To borrow a few words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, “It is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work for which they have thus far so nobly advanced.”
The future of our city, our country, our society depends on our interest and engagement as citizens. Whether you are a Kennedy fan or not, it is wise to consider his sentiment of what you can do for your community and country, instead of always wondering what they can do for you.
I’m proud to represent a council of people who are dedicated to the democratic process. Who welcome community involvement and concern. Who stand ready to listen and thoughtfully consider solutions. Let 2016 be the year of the citizen.
Mayor Dana Kirkham