Caldwell Mayor Reflects on Eight Years of Participating in Mayor’s Walking Challenge

Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas, pictured above in 2019, enjoyed walking with students during the Mayor’s Walking Challenge.

 

Caldwell’s Garret Nancolas is the one of three Idaho mayors who have participated in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge since its inception in 2014. Mayor Nancolas did not seek re-election, meaning the 2021 challenge was his last. Garden City Mayor John Evans and Homedale Mayor Gheen Christofferson are the others who haven’t missed a challenge.

We asked Mayor Nancolas about his eight years in the Mayor’s Walking Challenge:

Question: How much have you enjoyed the challenge over the years?

Answer: Every year I looked forward to the Mayor’s Walking Challenge. It is a special time for me whether walking alone, with family, or with the wonderful students at one of our schools. It is a time for reflection, a time for relaxing, and also getting some much needed exercise!! I am very grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this wonderful Walking Challenge for so many years and grateful for the good that it has done for our schools and City!!

Do you have any memories that stick out?

The best memories for me are the students that want to hold my hand, or walk by me, ask me questions, and are so excited to walk with “the Mayor.” I enjoyed hearing them proudly tell me about their schoolwork, or families, or to ask me what I’m going to be for Halloween. Walking with these wonderful students is the highlight of the entire Walking Challenge.

How much did you learn about your city from the Mayor’s Walking Challenge?

It has been a really wonderful experience seeing the City from a very different perspective as I walked through the cemetery, school yard, downtown, or through the neighborhoods. Meeting people and telling them about the Challenge and what it means to me, or making a new friend, or experiencing a view that I never appreciated before. It was a refreshing way to gain a new perspective each time.

What improvements or changes that benefitted pedestrians resulted from your participation?

Through this process, we identified areas around the City that needed improvement for pedestrians, especially around Sacajawea school. This is an area where many students walk to school, but there were not many sidewalks to walk on safely. We have worked with the school and applied for grants to improve the access and safety for those students.

We recently started a safety project that provided sidewalk along N. Ohio that now gives the students safe passage from both sides of Canyon Hill to Sacajawea School. We are also building sidewalks and a HAWK Crossing for the students who have to walk from below Canyon Hill up N. Illinois to the School. This will increase walkability for the students, as well as the families, who live near Sacajawea School. We are also working to improve pedestrian access near and around Washington School as well.

The Caldwell City Council supported you by matching the funds you earned in the challenge. Is that still happening?

The City Council still matches the earnings from the Walking Challenge and we work with the Elementary Schools to use that money for outdoor physical education equipment or sports equipment as they deem necessary. This is a great partnership that benefits the wonderful students in Caldwell and encourages healthy activity for the students! Certainly a win-win for all!!

Will you continue to be an active walker after you leave office?

I love to walk!! I walk with my wife, my granddaughters, or by myself. Oftentimes when I am walking, I find myself praying about something that is on my mind, or listening to music, or pondering an issue at the City, or trying to come up with ideas to improve myself, or ways to continue to improve the City that I love. I also find myself counting my many blessings or thinking of others that may need my help. It is a time for reflection and thanksgiving. I will walk as long as my body allows me to do so.