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2020 vision: Looking at the last 20 and the next 20

A map of Pocatello
A map of the City of Pocatello which could see some significant changes in the future.

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The first day of 2020 gives us a chance to look back at the things we’ve seen since 2000 and the things we can expect to see in the next 20 years.

In the past two decades, the City of Pocatello has seen some major changes - A new flag, new schools, changes in leadership and a lot of growth. 

"Where you used to have fields, now there’re houses, there’re businesses, things like that," Captain Cliff Kelley of the Pocatello Police Department explained.

Kelley has been with the department since 1992 and said one thing that has stood out to him over the past two decades is an increase in violence. 

“Some of the calls that maybe used to be one officer calls, now we send two officers just for the propensity of violence,” he explained.  

In 2000, Bannock County had more than 75,000 residents and the most recent estimate has the population hovering around 87,000. Even with all that growth, the area has suffered a few major losses.

“FMC closing down was a, had a huge impact on Pocatello because it employed a lot of people, over the years,” longtime Pocatello resident Brian Richardson said.  

Richardson is the admin of the Facebook group “You know you grew up in Pocatello when…,” a gathering of more than 14,000 people who reminisce about the history of the Gate City.

In addition to the loss of FMC, Richardson noted the failure of the Hoku plant and the downsizing of the Union Pacific Railroad as other defining moments.

According to Pocatello City Council President Jim Johnston, it was a time that marked a major shift for the city.

“We were a blue-collar community and we have changed," Johnston said. "Our largest employer is Idaho State University. The second-largest employer is School District 25, so I think we have become an education community.” 

With continued growth expected, groups like the Pocatello police are planning for the next 20 years.

“In the last year, we’ve added at least two or three officers and then we plan to try to add that many per year over the next few years to try to keep up with that growth,” Kelley said.  

Looking ahead to 2040, Johnston believes he'll still be hanging around.

“And I'm looking forward to being a part of the wonderful growth that is coming, that’s taking place, and that the people of Pocatello, i just hope they’ll embrace it.” 

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