Courtesy of the City of Provo
A policeman and a fireman rappel down the side of our new city hall, showcasing the colors in a spectacular way. Later, a giant American flag is unfurled on one side of the building and red “rocket” fireworks punctuate the chant of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
These are just a few of the highlights from the grand opening of our brand new City Hall, held in conjunction with the American Freedom Festival in Provo. A few days later, jets of water poured down on the first aircraft to approach our new airport terminal, as part of a traditional first-flight “salute” provided by our fire department.
Now let me take a step back and give you some direction. A city can be expected to open a new town hall – at most – only once per generation. The same would apply to the opening of a new airport terminal. So you can imagine how humbled I feel that the stars have aligned and Provo City has opened both, not just this year, but this month! City Hall was dedicated on July 2, the same day as the Stadium of Fire, and our new airport terminal opened to passengers on July 13. Let me talk about each for a moment.
But first, let me talk about the American Freedom Festival in Provo. As you may know, Provo is an amazing town all year round, but during the Freedom Festival I would say it regularly achieves magical status. At the festival gala, heroes are celebrated. This year’s winners included a World War II soldier; a family who spent their “holidays” helping in Ghana and eventually launched a major humanitarian operation there; a couple who helped relocate tens of thousands of refugees to Brazil; the founder of Follow the Flag, who is, among other things, responsible for the giant flag you may have seen flying in one of our nearby canyons; and a man who was abandoned by his family at the age of six in Kenya, then became a self-made millionaire and now runs a center there to rescue people living on the streets. If you have never attended the gala, I can tell you that it is always inspiring.
At the patriotic service, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared some of his memories as a child refugee in Europe and encouraged us all to “declare our independence from -against the division and bitterness of our day[.]And Stadium of Fire, with Tim McGraw, Marie Osmond and other entertainment, was, as usual, spectacular.
Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald
We love to welcome so many people to Provo, including worldwide service members via satellite, every July.
Back to the town hall and the airport: Let me give you the “quick version” on each of these facilities.
Provo City has had an airport since the 1940s when a federal initiative encouraged the development of airstrips in various parts of the country to enhance military readiness. Over the decades, commercial air service has come and gone, but was revived under Mayor John Curtis. Prior to this, Mayor Lewis Billings had helped secure an air traffic control tower. With these pieces in place, the main issue limiting expansion was the terminal, which was nothing fancy and only had one door. Thanks to the cooperation of federal, state and county partners, we were able to build the new terminal well ahead of schedule (over a decade ahead of schedule, in fact). The vast majority of the necessary funds came from outside sources. We thank everyone who contributed.
The new terminal is a magnificent building, housing four gates (expandable to 10 gates if required, pending additional funding). Drive and see it, even if you don’t have a ticket! It’s on a new road called “Sky Way” off of Lakeview Parkway in southwest Provo.
It sports a family room, a convenient reception area and will soon include an indoor observation lounge and Guru’s, the restaurant, a downtown Provo original. With the opening of a new terminal, Allegiant has agreed to base five aircraft in Provo, and Breeze Airways has announced that it will also begin basing aircraft there, with its first flights commencing in August. Soon you’ll be able to fly to New York, Orlando, Portland, Las Vegas and more on one or both of these carriers.
Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald
I was on hand for the first landing and departure from the terminal on Wednesday, handing out cookies to welcome our first guests. I wish you had seen the smiles on people’s faces.
A story of two town halls
The old Provo City Hall was an outdated building, too small, with inadequate facilities for our police department. The evidence room was substandard and the police were crammed into broom closets. The structure was seismically unstable, meaning we would lose our police and fire headquarters – and associated personnel – in a moderate earthquake. Expert consultants said a total rebuild, including council chambers and other non-public security features, was the financially viable option.
The residents of Provo at the polls agreed (thank you!), and now our police and fire departments operate from a state-of-the-art facility that will help protect Provo for decades to come. In addition to police and fire headquarters, the facility houses customer service, an emergency operations center, council chambers, and offices for various city departments.
We are all grateful to the residents of Provo for this donation. And we are recommitted to serving these residents in the best way possible.