2015 Harold Hurst Award
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
The Harold Hurst Award is given annually to a city official who demonstrates exemplary performance in city government and who has contributed to the accomplishments of the Association of Idaho Cities. The award is named for Harold Hurst, the mayor of Heyburn for 24 years and a Past President of AIC.
Wilder Mayor John Bechtel was honored with the 2015 Harold Hurst Award at the Thursday evening Awards Banquet during the AIC Annual Conference.
Bechtel was born in West Plains, Missouri, and was raised in Caldwell, Idaho. He served in the Air National Guard for 37 years, with 34 of those years at Gowen Field in Boise and 3 years at Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage, Alaska. For over 12 years, Bechtel was a full-time employee for the Air National Guard, working in law enforcement, personnel and administration. Bechtel attained the rank of Master Sergeant and in 1970 attended the Air National Guard Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at McGhee Tyson Air Base in Alcoa, Tennessee.
John also spent about 24 years working as a Chemical Formulator for Wilbur Ellis in Caldwell. For several years, John also drove bus for firefighters, carrying them across the country during forest fire season.
Mayor Bechtel’s public service started with his first election to the Wilder City Council in 1973, and, since then, he has served 15 years on the Wilder City Council and 18 years as Mayor of Wilder. Bechtel served as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Wilder Rural Fire District and was one of the first EMTs in the original Quick Response Unit.
One of the more significant of Bechtel’s achievements as Mayor was the $600,000 downtown revitalization project that has improved streetscapes in downtown with new curbs, gutters and streetlights.
Bechtel was elected to the AIC Board of Directors in 2010 and has served as a District 3 Director since then. He has been recognized by the Canyon County Human Rights Task Force with the Friend of Farmers Award.
John and his wife, Donna, will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary this September. They have three children and two grandchildren. Over the years, John and Donna have hosted 14 exchange students from Japan, Germany, Denmark, Australia and China—and many have returned to visit over the years.
Bechtel once described his personal mission statement in a profile in the AIC newsletter: “I continue to remember that I am a Servant to the People, and to always put them first and foremost in whatever I do.”
We congratulate Mayor John Bechtel for his outstanding service to AIC and the cities of Idaho.