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Dover welcomes new council members, mayor

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | January 29, 2022 1:00 AM

DOVER — After a highly competitive election cycle, three Dover public officials were sworn in earlier this month at Dover City Hall.

Dover resident and previous Idaho legislator, George E. Eskridge was sworn in as the city’s new mayor.

During his campaign Eskridge said the three most eminent issues facing the city are improving transportation infrastructure, access to recreational amenities, and increasing driver safety when entering or turning from U.S. 2, the only point of access to the city.

In order to help alleviate these issues, Eskridge said he planned to encourage city officials to follow Dover’s comprehensive plan and encourage citizen participation to chart Dover’s next steps — especially with transportation improvements.

“Our community of Dover is experiencing division and disagreement among citizens. My priority is to resolve these issues and bring Dover together as one town with one purpose — to come together as one community working together to solve our issues and ensure Dover’s bright future for generations to come,” Eskridge said.

He encourages citizens to be civically active by attending city meetings and interacting with the city’s website so people can have the most up-to-date information regarding the city and important current events.

Eskridge has previously served on the Bonner County Area Transportation Team and Idaho Energy Resource Authority.

Also sworn into office were new council members Kim Bledsoe and Merlin Glass.

During her campaign, Bledsoe, who was elected council president, said she was inspired to run for office out of a fierce passion for the city.

“I want to do my part to ensure that the history, character and natural resources of Dover are protected,” Bledsoe said. “Being on council is a gift of service, and I look forward to serving the citizens of Dover.”

The most important issues facing the city according to Bledsoe, are sustainable growth, improving water system infrastructure, and emergency preparedness.

“I believe it’s important to follow our Comprehensive Plan in regards to guiding sustainable growth,” Bledsoe said. “The current Dover City Council has begun the process of upgrading our community water/sewer system, and it will be an ongoing project for the foreseeable future.”

Bledsoe said a thorough emergency preparedness plan is necessary for ensuring the safety of citizens in light of the wildfires the county experienced last year.

Like Eskridge, Bledsoe finds great importance in improving infrastructure on U.S. 2.

“Highway 2 will need more attention as these outlying areas experience inevitable growth. Specifically, safe pedestrian and bicycling paths, safe exit and entry, and expansion of lanes,” Bledsoe said. “We need to stay in front of the growth and work with the Highway District to ensure safety of the Highway 2 transportation corridor.”

Bledsoe emphasized that communication and transparency are paramount for being a government official, especially when it comes to being good stewards of tax dollars, and getting more people involved in their community and local government.

Bledsoe is a small-business owner, and brings a background in healthcare and education to the council.

Also sworn into office was Merlin Glass, who brings extensive knowledge to the council with four decades of experience in emergency services.

Topics of highest priority to Glass is responsible growth, public safety, and citizenship.

“Dover is becoming more important than ever. As the community gets closer to full development the challenge becomes greater to find that balance we all seek,” Glass said. “Our public safety needs are not being met because they are stretched too thin and are behind the rapid growth we have experienced.”

In order to improve the city, Glass said he intends to craft a vision for the future that “creates a balance that maintains the look and texture of our city,” as well as focusing on employment retention.

“We need to be one Dover and not just a collection of neighborhoods,” Glass said.

He mentioned that the community is divided by physical and political boundaries, such as U.S. 2 and various homeowners associations, and called for the citizens to come together as “one Dover.”

Glass ran for public office because “I saw a need in my own backyard.” He said he will rely on his faith and common sense to address the challenges brought before the council.

All elected candidates acknowledge the challenges continued growth is having on the community, especially considering affordable housing and employment, with all candidates acknowledging that the city does not have space to pursue many options.

Candidates suggested holding public workshops, examining zoning codes, and working with adjacent communities to help address the issue.

“This is a very difficult question for Dover,” Eskridge said. “We are restricted in available opportunities to pursue any meaningful affordable housing programs.”

He said an option for finding solutions is to ask adjacent communities to amend their codes regarding permit requirements, and lot & housing sizes.

“Affordable and accessible housing and childcare are standing in the way of our employers recruiting and retaining employees.” Bledsoe said, “I see it as not only a Bonner County issue, but a state of Idaho issue. … Basically, this issue is going to require some innovation and new ways of thinking.”

“The council has to keep their eye on the ball with employers’ needs. Deciding on what kind of business to get behind has to be done in full view of the public,” Glass said.

Candidates also placed heavy emphasis on community ideas and participation in exploring solutions.

“Participate and be heard,” Glass said. “The problems are solvable but the results are better with the community in accord. We are Citizens in the best part, of the best State, of the best Country in the world.”

“Do not be afraid to get involved in local government and vote,” Blesdoe said. “You can have a positive effect on our community and help shape big decisions that directly impact where Bonner County is headed.”

“My priority is to come together as one community working together to solve our issues to insure Dover’s bright future for generations to come.”

All elected officials can be reached by going to the city’s website at cityofdover.id.gov. Notices of upcoming meetings and agendas are regularly posted to the site. Meetings are held at Dover City Hall at 699 Lakeshore Drive, in Dover.

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Bledsoe

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Glass