The Treasure Valley’s recent record snowfall had neighbors out in droves sharing shovels, helping free stuck cars and more. One Boise business even created a website to let neighbors help one another out.
For Kuna Mayor Joe Stear, however, it wasn’t enough to lend a hand at the house next door. He wanted to do his part all around the town.
“I’ve always done stuff for my neighbors in the past,” he explained, but this was his first foray into digging out an entire city walloped by inches of snow.
Stear said he could see people from his office in city hall struggling to drive up an icy hill. And as snow continued to fall, the situation wasn’t improving.
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“It was kind of an emergency type of thing, so I decided the city should step up,” he said.
So he hopped in his personal skidsteer and got to working clearing the roads, all the while keeping Kuna residents updated via his Facebook page.
The comments on Stear’s posts are riddled with residents thanking him for clearing their streets or drains.
“I think we have the best mayor of all,” wrote one commenter.
In person, he said, the reaction was much the same.
“People got kind of excited (when they realized who I was), and I’d see Facebook posts about, ‘Oh, the mayor helped me out,’” he said.
For his part, Stear says he’s just doing what anyone would have.
“With emergency services, you just don’t question whose responsibility it is,” said Stear, who has a paramedic and firefighting background. “You don’t panic. You get out and get the job done.”
And the mayor wasn’t alone — he lauded Kuna crews who turned out to operate another skidsteer, three backhoes and a vacuum truck to help Ada County Highway District, whose responsibility it is to clear all the roads in the county. ACHD came under fire as the agency struggled to clear residential streets, prompting Boise Mayor David Bieter to call for Boise to take back control of its roads. (Read an ACHD commissioner’s rebuttal here.)
Stear said there’s no such sentiment in Kuna.
“We knew they were overwhelmed and needed some help,” Stear said. “I think we coordinated with them well.”
Even an injury couldn’t slow Stear down. He said he slipped getting into the bucket of his machine on Thursday, smacking his forearm against the bucket and growing a nasty knot on his arm.
“At first I thought it was broken,” he said. “But I was out doing it again the next day. My dad always said ‘It will quit hurting when the pain goes away.’”
For those still hurting from the onslaught of snow and rain (and the additional precipitation expected this week), the mayor wants them to know he’s still here to help, and so are their neighbors.
“Those that can, do. And those that can’t, ask for help,” he said. “I’m very proud of the people of the city of Kuna. If somebody called out and said they needed help, two or three or ten people were out there helping them.”