RATHDRUM - David Jones watched the sun and snow flurries emerging simultaneously in Rathdrum on Thursday and reflected on life in the town.
"Spring can get crazy here - just look at it - but I like the hometown feel it maintains," Jones said as he took a break from working in his yard.
The transitional weather was symbolic of Rathdrum's next stage, which Mayor Vic Holmes spoke about to 70 or so Rathdrum Area Chamber of Commerce members in his State of the City address at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church.
"Rathdrum is ripe to have some growth, but it's going to take the economy (to continue to rebound)," Holmes said.
Rathdrum's population has grown 42 percent in the past 10 years to 6,964, but it has only increased 1 percent each of the past two years.
"At one point, we were growing 5 to 6 percent and that created stress and some anguish," Holmes said. "But the past two years haven't been enough."
Looking ahead, the city continues to work to gain access to its property on Rathdrum Mountain for future recreation opportunities.
The widening and upgrade of the bridge that connects Highway 41 and Highway 53 is expected to be completed in May next year, Holmes said.
"Most of the time they'll keep two lanes open just as there is now," Holmes said, referring to the construction process.
He said the entire bridge will be shut down during select times for demolition.
"(The Idaho Transportation Department) assured me that will only happen at night," he said, adding that residents have been concerned about the impacts construction will have on businesses.
Holmes said the city has done what it can to keep the cost of services at a minimum during the during the economic downturn.
It has 34 full-time employees - down four from three years ago. The city has increased taxes an average of 1.34 percent each year for the past five years and cities are allowed to increase them up to 3 percent per year under law.
"I'm going to challenge the council to keep it at zero again this year," Holmes said, hoping to duplicate the 2008 decision.
Even with slow growth - 24 residential permits were issued in 2012 - Rathdrum had projects to celebrate. Holmes referred to the new Majestic Park, Kootenai Technical Education Campus (KTEC), fire station and North Idaho STEM Charter Academy as the "Fantastic Four."
Total crime in Rathdrum rose 30 percent to 391 offenses in 2012 compared to 2011, but Police Chief Kevin Fuhr said after the address that the number isn't alarming because 2011 was among the lowest years for crime in recent memory and part of the reason for the increase is due to his agency being more proactive.
DUI arrests, included in the statistic, doubled to more than 40 in 2012. Total arrests rose 60 percent to 342.
"Our crime in 2012 was a little above average, but there isn't much to worry about," said Fuhr.
Fuhr said there was only one stolen vehicle in 2011, but that rose to 10 last year.
Fuhr said it's difficult to put a finger on reasons why the numbers increased last year.
Twyla Petersen, a Rathdrum hair salon owner who grew up in Rathdrum, said she likes how residents rally for those and causes in need. She said her friend's Bean Barn coffee stand was broken into on Thursday and she and others are trying to help the business that has been so giving to the community.
"We may be a little town with little businesses, but we are a big family," Twyla Petersen wrote on Facebook.
Malia Parker, Lakeland High's Distinguished Young Woman who spoke to chamber members before Holmes, said Rathdrum is a great community for youth.
"You don't have to move to a big city to meet amazing people," Parker said.