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City council meeting features new police chief, recreation center plans and citizen concerns

Rexburg City Council swore in Josh Rhodes as the new Chief of Police for the Rexburg Police Department during their meeting June 15 at City Hall.

Rhodes has served in the department since 2011 in positions such as sergeant, lieutenant and K9 officer. He will replace current police chief, Shane Turman, who plans to retire June 24th.

“I respect chief Turman,” Rhodes said. “ I want to recognize him for his dedication and service and the amount of time that he’s put into helping our department continue to grow. I’ve been blessed with leaders inside the department and outside the department throughout my life and I appreciate that.”

Rhodes shared some of his goals going forward. He has high hopes for the officers and the Rexburg Police Department as a whole.

“I believe every police officer is a great leader,” Rhodes said. “Our goal is to train leaders. Our goal is to make sure our officers are well trained and that they’re leaders in our community, someone the community can look up to and the children can look up to as officers step out of their vehicles and interact with the public. That’s what great leadership is.”

Rhodes closed his remarks by expressing gratitude to those he’s served with.

“Most people don’t realize how much they go through the sacrifices that they make,” Rhodes said. “I appreciate their families for the sacrifices that they make every day. We have guys that have been working night shifts for years. It takes a toll on the family. My focus is to provide our employees every opportunity to succeed because when the bad things happen, they’re the ones that are going to be there.”

The city will host a retirement reception for Turman in a few weeks to honor his service.

Public Comment

Public Comment allows members of the community to articulate ideas, questions and concerns to city council members, who can share insights and potentially add these as items to a future agenda.

Amy Addington spoke first, centering her comments around a drag show performance at Rexburg Pride on June 11.

“I want to be sensitive about this because I know it’s a sensitive topic,” Addington said. “I’m just trying to understand how a show that is inherently sexual was permitted on public land. While what we probably had in this town is PG compared to what was happening in LA, for example, there were still some performers who did almost like a striptease where they like disrobe to reveal almost lingerie-like clothing. These men were sometimes jumping around to expose their crotch, which was covered with clothing, but they were clothed in such a way that kind of reminds you of like maybe prostitutes or female strippers.”

The content alarmed Addington because children were present at the event and non-profit sponsors of the event, such as the Family Crisis Center, receive taxpayer dollars.

“As public servants, we, we don’t really have the authority to make that decision as to whether that’s proper or not,” Jerry Merrill, Rexburg Mayor, said. “The only thing that we can go by is if what they’re doing violates city ordinances. If some of that did, I’ll just say it slipped through the cracks on us. In a public park, we only have so much control that we can assert. People do have their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We have to allow those things up to the point where they would cross the line.”

Council member Tisha Flora stated other members of the community emailed her similar concerns as Addington. However, she said the city is bound to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status.

Rexburg Recreation Center

The city of Rexburg has been working for the last year with a consulting firm to survey community interest in a recreation center. Results are expected to be finalized and then released in November.

“I’d be very surprised if we didn’t move forward with putting it on a ballot,” said Jeff Crowther, Rexburg Recreation director. “I definitely anticipate that’s probably the direction it’ll end up going. It’s another big project I foresee.”

Once results are finalized and the recreation center is put up for a vote, the city will host open houses which allow for citizen comments.

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