For Bieter, a native of the city and the longest-serving mayor in its history, there are lots of meanings. He highlighted a few famous examples: Charlie Linville, the Boise man who lost his leg in combat but just this spring climbed to the summit of Mount Everest; Kristin Armstrong, the 43-year-old Boisean who won her third Olympic gold medal in cycling this summer; the Albertson family, whose grocery store on the corner of 16th and State streets was the first in a huge chain and whose foundation is a cornerstone of charitable giving in Boise; the Simplot family, which built an agricultural empire and helped put Boise on the world map; and tech giant Micron.
All of those individuals and groups showcase the values that make Boise what it is, Bieter said at The Egyptian Theatre across the street from City Hall. But so do everyday people who do things as simple as slowing on the street to allow fellow drivers to merge or waving to the drivers who let them merge. He highlighted a hashtag — #IAMBOISE, which appeared on signboards around Downtown — to celebrate such people. He awarded Linville a key to the city.
Here’s a look at some of the Boise qualities and values Bieter identified:
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▪ Welcoming: In a time when controversy over refugees grips the nation, Bieter celebrated Boise’s role as a place where refugees have long come for a new start.
▪ Education: Bieter pointed to pre-kindergarten programs popping up in Boise and the growth of College of Western Idaho as signs of success in education. He encouraged voters to back a possible bond proposal this fall that would pay for a new CWI campus in Boise’s West End at Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard.
Now that Boise’s fourth branch library is under construction, it’s time for the city to turn its focus to “the mother ship” of the library system. Bieter said the city will soon unveil plans for a new or renovated main branch.
▪ Independence: Bieter hailed home-grown entrepreneurial giants such as Simplot, Albertsons and Micron, saying their legacy continues in new companies such as Corson Distilling Systems, which manufactures craft distilling equipment.
▪ Innovation: Bieter praised Trailhead, a “startup hub” aimed at helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into businesses. In fact, Bieter declared that Boise has the makings of a software “coding corridor” that stretches from the library’s main branch to the Boise State University computer science program, whose base is in the new Clearwater Building at 8th and Main streets.
▪ Outdoors and recreation: Esther Simplot Park, scheduled to open in the spring between Whitewater Park Boulevard and the Boise River, and Rhodes Park, a newly finished skate park under the Connector between 15th and 16th streets, were highlights in Bieter’s speech, as was a bond that voters passed last year to raise money to preserve open spaces and water quality in and around the city.
▪ Culture and arts: Bieter pointed to the city’s purchase of the home of James Castle, a famous artist who lived in Boise. The city plans to restore it and possibly expand it.