BLACKFOOT — Butch Hulse’s Bingham County roots run deep.
But, after graduating from Blackfoot High School during the Vietnam War he wanted out of town so badly that he joined the U.S. Army.
After spending many years away, Hulse returned in 1997. Since then he has been involved in the community in a variety of ways.
He has been president of the Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Chamber and Idaho Potato Museum boards, been involved with Bingham Memorial Hospital, put together a community bonfire and been a prime mover in the Blackfoot at Dusk concerts. He has also been a part of the Blackfoot Urban Renewal Agency (BURA).
Recently he accepted the part-time position as Bingham County’s economic development director.
“I like a party,” Hulse said of his involvement in so many things, seldom missing an opportunity for a wisecrack.
Because of his personality Hulse has been able to get things that benefit the community done. As a result he has received several awards, including Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and the Best Foot Forward award.
He has fallen in love with Blackfoot and Bingham County.
“It’s a jewel,” he said. “We have a lake. We have a river. We have a desert where you can listen to silence to the west. We have national parks to the east.
“I have an opportunity to make it a finer place with some amenities,” he said of his passion for the community and for his new job. “The opportunity is here for me to make a difference.”
He is proud of what he and the others have done for Blackfoot through the redevelopment agency.
“We’ve done a lot for this community,” he said of the work that BURA has done.
Although he was born in Wenatchee, Wash., he is a child of Bingham County. His parents were Clyde Hulse and Peggy Falk. His grandfather was a grocer and a politician here and his great uncle was the first priest at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.
He attended St. Margaret’s Parochial School through eighth grade, then moved on to Blackfoot High School. He played football, basketball and baseball for the Broncos.
Upon graduation from high school he played semi-pro softball for the Simplot Spuds, winning a state championship with them.
Following one year at Idaho State University Hulse decided he wasn’t cut out to be a student and joined the Army to get dental technician training. The Army made him a medic.
He served in Germany during the Vietnam War. Fortunately for him, each time he talked of volunteering for Vietnam, his supervising NCO talked him out of that move.
When he returned to the United States, he came home to Blackfoot.
“After six months I realized Blackfoot was not the place for me,” he said with a laugh.
Still, he learned Blackfoot connections were beneficial. He moved to Southern California and got a job at Albertson’s through Perry Merrill, a Blackfoot native himself.
After a couple of years in California, he returned to Idaho for the winter. His intention was to spend his time skiing with his friend, Steve Simpson, who had returned from the Navy.
Eventually he headed to Portland, Ore., and graduated from the dental technician program at the community college there.
“My life changed after that,” Hulse said.”I realized I couldn’t sit in a corner and carve teeth all my life.”
Then his life really changed. He needed a haircut and found a place where all the stylists seemed to be having a good time. He had found his professional home.
Following graduation from a beauty college in Beaverton, he returned to Portland for a couple of years. He worked for a barber supply company that did hair shows during conventions.
“I got to cut hair with people like Paul Mitchell,” he recalled.
While working for that supply company he decided he wanted to ski again and began visiting the salons in Bend, a resort community east of Portland.
His career goals shifted and he opened his own shop, La Salon, with four women and a nail technician. His business was so successful that he opened another salon, working with 11 stylists and two nail techs.
“For eight years I skied in the morning and cut hair in the afternoon,” he recalled. “It was paradise.”
Paradise didn’t last, unfortunately, and Hulse changed the direction of his career again. He went to a neon art school in Portland and sold neon as secondary lighting for awhile.
He and his family moved back to Idaho in 1993, first landing in Rigby. Then he got involved with the community parks and recreation committee and served on the planning and zoning commission.
Hulse and his wife moved to Blackfoot in 1997 because she was working at State Hospital South and attending Idaho State.
His first business was called Broadway Attractions. He then owned Trios and now owns a shop simply called Haircuts.
“I got involved with the Chamber and with the Elks Lodge,” he recalled.
“That first Christmas back I noticed a lot of trees lying around and asked the mayor if we could have a bonfire,” he said. With approval a tradition was born.
Later came music in the park, known as Blackfoot at Dusk; a run for city council (he lost by six votes); time as the Chamber’s marketing director; and time as a marketing representative for a title company.
Throughout it all he has been an advocate for Blackfoot and for keeping it a viable community.
“I’m going to try to get a big store to come in here,” he said of one goal as the economic development director. “They typically look at rooftops, but they need to look at cars going by on their way to two national parks.”
He and his wife Paula claim two dogs, two cats and their friends as their family now. His son Noel Hansen lives in the Seattle area and Justin Brown lives in California.