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School Starts for nearly 6,000 Sanpete Students

By Suzanne Dean



With school starting today in both the South Sanpete and North Sanpete School Districts, the two superintendents, while using a little different terminology, are both emphasizing the same thing.

The bottom line is learning—through rigorous curricula, assessments to make sure students are “getting it,” and generally making sure youngsters are having the richest and broadest experience possible.

The Sanpete County school population is bigger than most people realize. About 6,000 children will be walking and riding buses to school today, 3,300 in South Sanpete and 2,650 in North Sanpete.

Superintendent Larsen in the South Sanpete district says enrollment has grown modestly over the years, and there haven’t been any unusual spikes. In the North Sanpete district, Superintendent Sam Ray says based on informal observation, he expects enrollment to be up this year.

More than 800 people are working for the two districts. South Sanpete expects to have 185 teachers, including 19 new ones, plus about 325 paraeducators and classified staff this school year. North Sanpete is planning on 155 teachers, including 10-12 new ones, plus 200 classified employees.

“We want kids to get everything out of school they can,” says Superintendent Larsen of the South Sanpete district. “We want them to take college classes (while still in high school) and find out what they really want. We want them to take the vocational classes and find out how to solve problems….Leadership, participation in sports, music, home ec—all those things we want them to experience.”

Besides a rigorous curriculum and providing the best school experience possible, South Sanpete continues to emphasize college readiness, Larsen says.

The college has nurtured a relationship with Snow College for the past 10-15 years, he says. The college lets the district know what classes students need in high school to ease into various programs at Snow. “We have common goals,” Larsen says. “We want to keep kids in school. They want to keep kids at Snow. So we’re trying to guide them that way. It’s a real powerful connection.”

Sam Ray, superintendent in North Sanpete, says his district is in the fifth year of a five-year plan to implement a model called “Professional Learning Communities,” where teachers work in teams to try to get the best learning results possible.

The model is built around four questions, he says. First, “What do we expect all students (in a given grade or subject) to know and be able to do?” Second, “How do we know when they’ve got it?”

The third question is, “What do we do for those who don’t get it?” And the fourth question (the one North Sanpete is taking on this year) is, “What do we do for the student who already got it?;” in other words, the gifted and talented students.

“The whole idea is we empower teachers to work in teams,” Ray says. “We want all our first grade teachers to work together on how to teach first grade. We want all our secondary math teachers to work together on how to teach secondary math.”

The teachers have been developing assessment tools to be used across the district in specific elementary grades and secondary subjects, to find out if students are learning the things the teams determine to be critical.

“I’m not evaluating any of the teachers based on those results,” Ray says. “The teachers are evaluating themselves. And they’re sitting together…and saying, ‘Wow, you really did well on this. How did you teach it?…And they’re learning from each other.”

The South Sanpete district has a lot of new faces in its principal corps this year. Karen Soper, formerly principal at Manti Elementary, is now in charge at Manti High School. Josh Palmer, formerly with Central Utah Academy, the South Sanpete program at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, is the new assistant principal at Manti.

John Gillette, who was vice principal at the high school last year, is now principal at Ephraim Middle School. Michael Moon, a teacher at the school, has moved up to vice principal. And David Ipson, who was teaching at Manti Elementary School, has moved into the principalship replacing Soper.

With passage of HB 373 in the Utah Legislature, a measure appropriating $16 million for student mental health, both districts are putting together programs to identify students and families with mental health problems, and to connect them with community resources. Next year, the appropriation is supposed to double.

“We’re very, very excited,” Larsen says. “This is our No. 1 request from teachers, for mental health services.”

The South Sanpete district has added two part-time school nurses, which means it will have four nurses working in the schools. One of the main roles of the nurses will be working with counselors to address mental health needs. Next year the district hopes to add a clinical social worker to the team.

North Sanpete has added one part-time nurse, bringing its nurse corps to three part-timers. “That pretty much doubles the nursing services we’ve had in the past,” Ray says.

The district has also hired a social worker to cover the middle school and high school, and next year hopes to add a second social worker, which would be enough to have social worker coverage for all schools in the district, Ray says.

Primary pares down rosters in Gunnison, Fountain Green

By Robert Stevens

Managing Editor


Results for primary elections in two Sanpete County communities are in and six candidates have advanced to the final election top in each of two municipalities.

Preliminary results of primaries in Gunnison and Fountain Green came in at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

Gunnison started out with 10 candidates for three city council seats.

In voting, 405 out of 820 active registered voters cast ballots for a 49 percent turnout.

Stella Hill had the most votes with 163, followed closely by Rodney Taylor, who had 161 votes. Next came Justin Mellor with 145 votes, Scott Reid with 134, Brian Sorensen with 115 and incumbent Blake Donaldson with 105 votes.

That left Michelle Christensen, Ron Christenson, Scott Andersen and Scott Pickett to try again another time.

Shawn Crane was on the ballot as well, but was appointed to fill a vacancy on the council that runs to 2021, so he withdrew from the primary.

Hill, 67, graduated from Snow College in 1972. In the early 1990s, she earned a master’s degree in elementary education and an administrative certificate from Southern Utah University.

She taught at Gunnison Valley Middle School for 25 years and retired in 2016. In the same year, she became chairwoman of the Gunnison Planning and Zoning Commission.

Taylor, 67, served on the Gunnison City Council for 14 years in the 1990s and early 2000s. He has been involved in planning and zoning in the city for more than 20 years. His roles in zoning have included serving as city council liaison with the Planning and Zoning Commission, serving as zoning administrator, and serving as chairman and as a member of the planning commission.

He was appointed to the council in June, replacing a councilman who resigned, and subsequently filed for the seat.

Mellor is a Gunnison native and says, “I love this city and the rural life, and I am open to ideas.  I believe in communication and never taking a side. What’s good for Gunnison is top priority. I have no other agenda.”

In Fountain Green, seven candidates were vying for three seats on the council. In the primary,

215 out of 555 registered voters cast a ballot for a 39 percent turnout.

Shelith Jacobson got the most votes with 130, followed by incumbent Jerime Ivory with 93. Stuart Smith received 87; DeWayne Omer got 85; Stuart Hansen had 79; and Julio Tapia got 77.

Jacobsen, who retired from managing the Radiology Department at Central Valley Medical Center (CVMC) in Nephi in February, graduated from Provo High School in 1972. She earned her vocational degree as a radiology technology in 1977 at the University of Utah.

She worked in radiology for 47 years, including 28 years at CVCM. During her last six years, she managed the department.

Smith, 54 has been a Fountain Green resident for 10 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in information management from BYU and is a software developer for Micro Focus in Provo. He is married with five children and four grandchildren.

Hansen was raised in Fountain Green, and attended North Sanpete High School, Snow College and Utah Valley University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He works as an accountant for National Vinyl Products in Nephi.

Ivory is finishing his third term as a Fountain Green councilman and says he stays involved with the community as much as possible through various service roles. Besides serving as a councilman, he has served on the Fountain Green Fire Department and on the board of the North Sanpete Ambulance Association. He and his wife have raised five children in Sanpete County.

Tapia is a veteran and has coached soccer for North Sanpete High School. This is his first bid for public office.

No personal information about Omer was available at the time of press.

Dr. Brian Casselman came in last and appears to have been eliminated from the race.

While results are not final, Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill says it is doubtful they will change much.

In Fountain Green, Tapia, with 77 votes, had a 54-vote lead over Casselman, who had 23 votes as of election night.

In Gunnison, there was a 13-vote difference between Michelle Christensen (92 votes) and incumbent Donaldson, who had 105. So it mail in votes could tighten the gap— or widen it.

“We expect a few more ballots to trickle in that were postmarked by yesterday and can be counted,” Neill says.

The Gunnison City Council will hold a final canvass on Wednesday, Aug. 21. Fountain Green will have its final canvas on Thursday, Aug. 22.


A familiar face on Ephraim council now serving as mayor

By James Tilson

Associate Publisher



EPHRAIM—Ephraim has a new mayor, although he is a familiar face with years of service in the city council.

John Scott, councilman for nearly eight years, took the oath of office at the council meeting last Wednesday. Scott is taking over for the Richard Squires, who resigned because he is leaving the area to become the principal of a private school in Davis County.

“You will see great things happening in the city of Ephraim in the next five years,” said Scott. “Ephraim is on the cusp of going from a tier one city to a tier two city. We have investors that are excited, because Ephraim has been designated [by the federal government] as an “Economic Opportunity Zone.”

Scott explained the city would have to carefully guide Ephraim through this transition period, and he had great faith in the council to do the job. “The council is extremely adept at plugging into what the residents want, and don’t want. I respect their opinions and views, and will be through my tenure.”

New businesses and industries will be the engine that drives Ephraim’s transition. According to Scott, new businesses will be attracted to the economic opportunity and pull in new population. “The residents will see more jobs,” he said.

Scott described how his time on the council taught him respect for the job of the council within the city government. “Don’t vary the council process. Mayors get into trouble when they start making unilateral decisions. I think it’s extremely important the decisions we make go through the filter of the council.”

When asked what his vision for the future of city government under his tenure, Scott said, “We’ve got to communicate better, with our residents and with one another in city hall and our department heads.”

Scott continued, “We need to have a vision of where Ephraim needs to go, to have some structure in place. That will come from planning and zoning and from a general master plan. We’re going to work hard to update that.”

While Scott was quick to praise all of the departments and staff at city hall, he had particular praise for director of public works Chad Parry and chief of police Aaron Broomhead.

“Chad Parry is probably one of the most well-versed public works directors in the state,” he said. After taking office, Scott toured the city’s works with Parry, and came away impressed. “Ephraim has around 100 miles of piping, in order to pipe all our [culinary] water down to the community.” The city public works department is in charge of maintaining all the pipes, plus the roads, sewers and all city grounds.

“We had a great police chief in Ron Rasmussen,” said Scott. “But Chief Broomhead has brought to Ephraim a wealth of experience and a unique perspective of how to bring a department closer together. The officers have a kindred spirit for one another.”

“When we went through the crisis with our police department,” explained Scott, “the dream was that we would have a fully staffed department. The last two years, we’ve added two officers, something we’ve needed to do for some time. This council had the tenacity to find the money to pay for the officers so that we’re not stressing out our police department.

“Our residents need to know they’re safe.”

Scott was born in Winnemucca, Nev., although he spent most of his youth growing up in Las Vegas. When Scott graduated from high school, “I got as far away from Las Vegas as I possibly could.” Scott started his undergraduate career at Washington State, took a two year mission, and finished his bachelor’s degree in history, communication and education at Utah State.

While at Utah State, Scott married his wife in 1984. Scott continued his education at BYU, earning a master’s degree in educational leadership. He was hired after school to teach in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institution, where wandered from Wyoming, Texas, Salt Lake City, before settling in Ephraim 20 years ago.

Scott’s appointment to mayor leaves his council seat open. Although the election this fall will determine who will take the seat starting in January, the city must fill the open seat for the remainder of the present term.

Ephraim is accepting applications until 5 p.m. on Aug. 21. Applicants should fill out the general city application, available on the website at Or interested persons may pick up an application at city hall.

Completed applications should be sent to Leigh Ann Warnock, 5 South Main, Ephraim, UT, 84627, or emailed to

The council will interview all qualified applicants and make an appointment in a special meeting on Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m.


Two inmates attack CUCF guard, causing serious facial injuries, leading to lockdown

GUNNISON—The Gunnison prison was locked down last week after a prison guard was attacked by an inmate. Prison operations and visiting hours have now been returned to normal.

The correctional officer sustained serious, but not life-threatening, injuries when two inmates allegedly conspired to attack him, according to Sanpete County deputy attorney Wes Mangum.

An inmate allegedly blindsided and struck the guard numerous times in his face, breaking his nose and damaging his orbital eye-sockets, while the other inmate blocked the cameras. This happened on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Order was restored and prison visitation was back to normal on Friday, Aug. 9.

The correctional officer was taken to a hospital and will recover from his injuries, Mangum said. However, this incident will be treated as a very serious offense as prison guards are vulnerable to attack. Most guards do not carry guns, Mangum said.

An investigation is being conducted and the primary offender and his accomplice will be charged appropriately. No names have been released at this time.

Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels was quoted in the Desert News saying the two inmates are serving life sentence for murder and believed to be in the same prison gang.



Ally Brotherson, Taylor Palmer get top posts at pageant

By Suzanne Dean


Taylor Palmer

EPHRAIM—A young woman who has studied classical piano for nine years and wants to promote volunteerism was crowned Miss Sanpete County last weekend.

Ally Brotherson, 17, who was Miss Mt. Pleasant last year, won the title and a $2,000 scholarship in a pageant that included selecting Miss Sanpete and two attendants, and naming Miss Sanpete’s Outstanding Teen (a junior royalty title) and one Outstanding Teen attendant.

Another feature of the program, staged Friday, Aug. 9 at the Eccles Center at Snow College, was bestowing the Emily Braithwaite Woman of Service Award to an adult woman who has given exceptional service to the community.

And finally, six special awards, which came with smaller scholarship amounts, were handed to several of the 14 young women competing for either Outstanding Teen or Miss Sanpete.

“I was excited for sure—and shocked,” the new Miss Sanpete said in describing how she felt when her name was called. She said the moment was “such an emotional blur” that later she couldn’t remember everything she was feeling.

Ally is the daughter of Rich and Molly Brotherson and will be the fourth member of her extended family to reign as Miss Sanpete. An aunt, a cousin and her mother have all served in the role.

The Miss Sanpete Pageant is the only scholarship pageant in the county affiliated with the Miss America organization. Miss American is eliminating the swimsuit competition this year and increasing the emphasis on talent and on what are being called “social impact statements.”

Talent counted for 40 percent of the points in the Miss Sanpete competition. Ally, who has studied piano with Donnell Blackham of Moroni, played a complex piece on the piano called “Whitewater Chop Sticks.”

Another 15 percent of points were based on contestant responses to on-stage questions, including questions about their social impact goals, while 25 percent of points reflected an evening gown walk that concluded with delivery of their social impact statements.

In response to an on-stage question, Ally said, “Our community needs volunteers, and I would encourage and promote these volunteers, because we have something called volunteer burnout, and we need to combat that so we can have the events we do now.”

Ally graduated from North Sanpete High School last spring, where she was on the honor roll throughout high school; she was senior class vice president, and played basketball and tennis.

She was youth mayor on the Mt. Pleasant Youth City Council; is a registered volunteer for the Honor Flight program, which takes veterans to Washington, D.C.; and will be attending Snow College this fall.

In the Outstanding Teen competition, the winner was Taylor Palmer, 16, who will be a junior at Manti High School this year. She won a $500 scholarship.

For her talent, she juggled balls to a medley of contemporary music numbers. Her summary of her social impact goal is, “Soak up the sun: Encouraging people to get enough vitamin D.”

In response to an on-stage question she said she would promote ice cream among children, since dairy products have vitamin D.

“For teens, I really plan on using social media to my benefit in getting across how getting enough vitamin D can really predict how many people will get mental illness and how if you’re getting enough vitamin D in your system you can be a lot more energetic,” she said.

Taylor is the daughter of John and Linda Palmer of Ephraim. She was sophomore class vice president for spirit at Manti High last year. She has participated in speech and debate, and won first and second places in meets. She has also been a member of the Ephraim City Youth Council and competed in the Miss Ephraim Pageant earlier this year.

The mistresses of ceremonies for the pageant were Bellamy Sorensen of Centerfield, the 2018 Miss Sanpete, and Dexonna Talbot of Spanish Fork, who was recently crowned as Miss Utah.

Bellamy explained to the crowd that the Emily Braithwaite Woman of Service Award is named after a woman who was an attendant to both Miss Manti and Miss Sanpete. Bellamy said Emily Braithwaite had volunteered her talents in many ways between 2000 and her death in 2015 at age of 34.

The winner was Corinne Olsen of Ephraim, a woman who, “when she sees a need, she tries to fill it,” Bellamy said. “…She loves serving the community and must have extra energy to do all she does to serve others.”

Olsen said later that the honor had come as a complete surprise.

She is on the Sanpete County Fairboard and with her family has built the Fun-on-the-Farm exhibit, built benches for the fairgrounds and organized the children’s coloring contest at the fair.

She is the advisor to the Ephraim Youth City Council and volunteers with the Science Club at Manti High School. She has been girls’ camp director in her LDS ward for many years and was instrumental in getting pavilions constructed at the camp. And she has been involved in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4H.

Olsen lost her first baby during childbirth. Today, she volunteers at Sanpete Valley Hospital when a family has a stillborn baby. She takes photos and makes burial clothes for the baby.

The two attendants to Miss Sanpete are Ashtyn Childs of Centerfield, first attendant, who will receive a $500 scholarship, and Bailey Simons of Manti, second attendant, who won a $300 scholarship.

Ashtyn, 19, daughter of Gary and Annie Childs of Centerfield, is the outgoing Miss Gunnison Valley and a sophomore at Snow College.

Her social impact statement is, “Be uniquely you.” In delivering her statement at the pageant, she said, “Confidence is something we all deserve to have. Together, we can empower each other to embrace our unique differences and be confident in who we are.”

Bailey Simons, 20, is daughter of David and Allison Simons of Manti. A few years ago, she competed in a multicounty pageant and was named Miss Heart of Utah. She was also an attendant to Miss Manti.

She graduated from Manti High School, where she was a straight-A student and star on the tennis team, and attended Snow College for one year. She recently returned from an LDS mission to Germany and will be returning to Snow College.

She had a brother who died from injuries following a car accident. But he saved other lives by donating his organs. In all her queen roles, she has promoted organ donation. She has done extensive volunteer work for the Utah Lions Club Eye Bank.

Her statement during the pageant was, One person can save up to eight lives through organ donations, and 20 people die every day because of the lack of it. You can make a difference, and I can show you how.”

The attendant to the Outstanding Teen will be Hope Marsing, 16, daughter of Nick and Christina Marsing of Manti, who will be a junior at Manti High School this year. At Manti, she has been involved in theater, state honor choir and show choir. She sang a musical theater number as her talent. She was also selected as an attendant to Miss Manti.

She wants to have a social impact by emphasizing “Unfiltered living.” That includes encouraging people to be their authentic selves and not try to conform to society’s “perfect image.”

Her on-stage question was, “If you could be any character from history, who would you be and why? Her answer was, “Probably my future self. My future self would probably be able to tell me what path to take and how to take it, and honestly, my future self would probably tell me to take a breath now and then.”

The six special awards included two prizes to young woman who exemplified the “Spirit of the Pageant” during competition. The winner in the Outstanding Teen category was Kaytlin Estey of Manti, who won a $50 scholarship, while the Miss Sanpete contestant winner was Ashtyn Childs, who won $100.

Karlie Strickland, an Outstanding Teen candidate, and Bailey Simons, who competed for Miss Manti, were named “Elite Fundraisers” for raising the most money to support the pageant and pageant scholarships. Karlie got a $50 and Bailey a $100 scholarship.

The Miss America organization’s main charity relationship is with Children’s Miracle Network, a nationwide network of children’s hospitals. Outstanding Teen candidate Taylor Palmer and Miss Sanpete contestant Dallas Taylor received “Miracle Maker” awards for raising the most money for the charity. Taylor received a $50 and Dallas a $100 scholarship.

The capstone of the pageant evening were the final walks and goodbyes of last year’s Outstanding Teen, Nikki Evans of Manti, and Miss Sanpete, Bellamy Sorensen of Centerfield.

During a taped statement that played as she made her final walk, Bellamy thanked her family and the community for their support during her reign.

“I will always be grateful for the hometown support I’ve received as well as the support from throughout the county,” she said. And to her parents, she said, “Thanks for dealing with my craziness during stressful times.”

She received a cheering ovation, with some in the audience standing.

2019 Sanpete County Fair

2019 Fair Schedule of Events


SWAT team called in to help in domestic dispute

By Robert Green

Staff Writer


Jeremiah Joel Swan

EPHRAIM—The SWAT Team was called in to subdue a convicted felon who was in possession of several firearms during a domestic dispute on Wednesday night, Aug. 7.

The man, Jeremiah Joel Swan, 43, was arrested and booked into the Sanpete County Jail on suspicion of holding a victim against her will and illegal possession of firearms. Charges are pending upon completion of an investigation and cooperation with the victim, said Ephraim City Police Chief Aaron Broomhead.

Swan was allegedly involved in a domestic fight with his girlfriend, the victim, at an Ephraim house near Center Street and 200 West.

The victim called 911 and the dispatcher believed she was being held against her will; a recording of the 911 call indicated the victim was trying to escape when the phone connection went dead, Chief Broomhead said. In the background, there was noise of arguing, yelling and scuttling around, and then the call was suddenly disconnected.

Police responded to the scene and found all the lights in the home were turned off. The officers tried to contact the occupants, but no one responded.

Chief Broomhead said police had previous information that Swan kept firearms on the premises. Swan has served time in jail and prison for kidnapping, aggravated assault and arson; and he has a previous criminal history of domestic violence.

So, in the interest of safety, the Utah County SWAT Team was called in, Chief Broomhead said. The SWAT Team used a bullhorn to contact the suspect; and Swan and the victim were both taken into custody without further incident.

A search of the premises turned up seven firearms, including rifles, handguns and shotguns. No drugs were found. The victim was interviewed and released.

It is against the law for a convicted felon to possess firearms, said deputy county attorney Wes Mangum.



Anthony Christensen gets new assault charges in jail

By James Tilson

Associate Editor


Anthony J. Christensen

MANTI—The man in custody on the charge of murdering his girlfriend in 2017 has picked up a new charge for assaulting another prisoner.

Anthony Christensen, 37, is accused of murdering his then-girlfriend, Kammy Mae Edmunds on March 31, 2017. Christensen’s case is currently set to go to trial in Feb. 2020.

Christensen, who has been in custody in the Sanpete County Jail since his arrest in 2017, is now accused of assault by prisoner, a third-degree felony, allegedly committed on July 10, 2019.

Christensen appeared in 6th District Court last Wednesday in front of Judge Marvin Bagley for his initial appearance. Christensen, through his attorney, asserted his speedy trial rights, and had his case set for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 21 at 11 a.m.

Parents play important role in getting students to school and in their success

Do your students a favor this school year and give them the support and structure they need to be successful.

With the back to school bustle closing upon Sanpete County quickly, we send our children off to learn and grow, but they need our support for more than just new clothes and a backpack.

One of the main ways you can help your children succeed in school is to maintain the mandatory nature of attendance.

Both North and South Sanpete School Districts have students who miss school for reasons they shouldn’t. Video games, babysitting, the list goes on. None of them are reasons to keep your children home from school, and as parents it might be easy to write them a note to excuse absence and take advantage of their presence at home, but you aren’t doing them any favors.

As the school year moves along, you owe it to your children to be consistent in monitoring their academic performance.

With the help of tech tools like PowerSchool, parents have the ability to keep track of how their kids are doing in school, look for areas they are falling behind in with their grades and help them catch up before they fall too far behind.

In addition to tracking their grades, attending parent teacher conferences remains an important part of staying involved with your children’s education. Make time to attend conferences several times a year. If necessary, move your work schedule around and even get a babysitter for your other children.

Little things can also have a big impact on children, and ensuring they are ready for school after the long, lazy summer can mean changing your routine.

Get your students used to the idea of an earlier bedtime, and a more structured morning routine before school starts. Getting into the swing of the school year early can make mornings rushing out the door much smoother, with less chance of you being late for work or your children being late for school.

Some methods of supporting your children academically can start right at home. Studies have shown that reading to your children every night can give them a big boost in important areas.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released the results of a 2017 study that shows evidence shared book reading can boost vocabulary, reading and writing skills and place your students on a path to improved grades.

Carolyn Cates, PhD, lead author and research assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, says reading to your children, even as early as during infancy, can have a positive impact well into elementary school and beyond by boosting language and literacy skills.

As a bonus, reading to your children at home can help them learn to sit still and concentrate, an extremely valuable skill that crosses over directly to in-classroom performance.

Discovery road focuses on Scandinavian families who settled the San Luis Valley

By Robert Stevens

Managing Editor


The latest episode of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) documentary series “Discovery Road” will be of special interest to the many Scandinavian families across the Sanpete Valley.

The documentary, “Hello Neighbor,” tells the story of a group of Sanpete Valley settlers who were assigned to help establish “Zion” in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the 1800s.

Thomas Crowther and Hans Jensen, both from the Sanpete Valley, led groups of “Mormon Danes” to lay out new towns and build churches in the San Luis Valley.

Descendants of Hans Jensen who are interviewed in the program recount the hardships early pioneers faced in building communities across the region.

The intent of “Hello Neighbor” is to reach across state boundaries to explore how people are connected through history, culture and the landscape itself, says Monte Bona, MPNHA executive director.

Bona says more than 350 people placed DVD orders for “Hello Neighbor” after a screening over the Pioneer Day holiday.

“The episode is very relevant to the people here,” Bona says.  Some residents may have ancestors who helped settle the San Luis Valley.

The show explores many racial, religious and language conflicts that cropped up between the Mormons and the Hispanics who were already living in the big San Luis Valley.

David Mackey, an historian from Manti, discusses a series of remarkable events over a 30-year period that connects Utah and Colorado. It begins with a soldier from the Mormon Battalion who shared his copy of the Book of Mormon with a leader named Francisco Salazar. Many sick and starving soldiers from the battalion were nursed back to health by the Hispanics of the San Luis Valley.

It is also noteworthy that a descendant of Francisco Salazar became the U.S. secretary of the interior. His name is Ken Salazar, and in 2010, he approve the management plan that has funded restoration and revitalization projects in the MPNHA area, Bona says.

Because the San Luis Valley has overlapping trails and migration corridors, different cultures ended up spending time there, the film explains.

The documentary chronicles several stories, including the longstanding battle over water. The Jack Dempsey story comes alive with a visit to a Colorado museum honoring the boxer. The program concludes with a visit of some Amish people who have recently started to enter the valley.

The film can be viewed at Discovery Road is also aired regularly on the Utah Education Network. The award-winning series is hosted and narrated by James Nelson. Other national heritage areas in New Mexico and Colorado collaborated on this project.

Heaven Help Us

By Corrie Lynne Player


“Grandmas (including great-grandmas) are happier than anyone else”


Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

In my nearly 30 years of being a grandma, I’ve been told or learned the following facts: Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old.

Grandmother-grandchild relationships are simple: short on criticism and long on love. Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. Grandmothers are just antique little girls.

Grandparents are like a piece of string—handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren.

It’s amazing how grandparents seem so young once you become one.

A Welsh proverb says, ““An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly.”

And Alex Haley said, “The best babysitters, of course, are the baby’s grandparents. You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida.”

My sister and I often compare notes on why we like being grandmas. Even though we’re old and creaky, we know why this is a really great time of life.

We knew and loved both of our grandmothers. Daddy’s mother was white-haired, soft and plump. She hugged us into her ample bosom and kissed us on the top of our heads. She baked cookies and often wore an apron.

Our other grandma wore tailored suits and had carefully styled salt and pepper hair. She told us that she had been a nanny for a wealthy, socially prominent family. Then she rebelled, became a flapper and “ran off with that wild young man, Charlie,” our grandfather.

Grandmother taught us etiquette and table manners. Most of all, she treated us as if we were important people.\

Celestia and I believe grandmas are happier than other adults because it’s so much more fun than being a parent. In Celestia’s words, “Grandma knows just what to do with an uncooperative, tearful, or tantrum-throwing grandchild: Feed it, put it to bed or walk away saying, “I wonder if that dog has some new puppies….’”

Celestia’s mother-in-law lived to be over a 100 and was a wise, calm person who wasn’t easily fooled. An example of how she couldn’t be bamboozled happened when one of Celestia’s teenaged daughters stayed at her little farm house for a few weeks.

Granddaughter had some girlfriends over for a slumber party. When Lula discovered the girls had sneaked out the window, defying the rules, she didn’t say a word.

But a week later, when they had another slumber party, Lula was all smiles. After she’d gone to bed, the girls discovered she’d nailed their window shut.

Grandmas are happier because they’ve made peace with wrinkles, with the downward sag of every part of their bodies and even with gray hair. “Why fight it?” Lula declared, “I’ve earned every gray hair on my head!”

And grandmas don’t have to apologize for whatever size or shape they’ve become. As Lula often said, “If you look in the mirror and say, ‘Who is that old woman?’ just be glad you can still see your reflection. And besides, if you don’t like it, it’s your own fault. You shouldn’t have lived so long!”

Grandma—thick or thin, short or tall, white-haired, gray-haired, curmudgeon—is to her grandchildren, someone who loves them. And that’s just it, I think: Grandmas are happier because they love, and are loved, unconditionally.

Otten family cherishes fair as one of many Sanpete traditions

By Robert Stevens

Managing Editor


Arla and Clair Otten

If the Sanpete County Fair is a celebration of Sanpete County lifestyle, then Clair and Arla Otten are a logical choice as this year’s grand marshals.

The couple live on Nine Mile Ranch south of Sterling and are lifelong Sanpete County natives.

“My dad was the mayor at one point,” Arla says. “Sterling is our home, even though we live just outside the city limits”

The Ottens don’t like to brag, so when the Sanpete County Fair Board called them to inform them they would be the 2019 Sanpete County Fair Grand Marshals, Arla’s initial response was “no.”

“But then we got to talking, and we’ve known Mike [Bennett] for a long time,” Arla says. “He kind of joked around and pretty soon it was all over.”

Clair jokes about the honor, saying, “I still want to know how they choose them.”

The Ottens have been living the Sanpete County lifestyle since day one, and Arla and Clair say they don’t think they have missed a single year at the fair.

Clair and Arla raised eight children on their family farm, and today they are blessed with 40 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

Arla says every year it was a family tradition, and for years the children, and eventually grandchildren, would enter show calves at the fair.

“It was always fun for us,” Arla says. “I’ve never been big on the rodeo, but I love the hide ride. Our kids were in that. It probably originated in Sanpete County and didn’t exist anywhere else. Plus when you go to the fair, you can’t leave without a hamburger.”

The county fair is far from the only tradition in the Otten family. Clair and Arla have been involved with Scouting for so long they can’t tell you exactly when they started, but between them they have more than 70 years of combined service.

“I always felt like scouting was a great way to be involved with your kids where you don’t have to be telling them ‘go clean your room,’” Arla says. “I never saw any sense in telling your kids ‘you’re in clean clothes, now go be good today.’ I think its ok to go and be outside and watch the squirrels and take the pictures.”

Arla has been the Cub Scout day camp director for more than 20 years.

Another Otten family tradition is education. Clair taught 4th grade at Gunnison Valley Elementary for more than 40 years, but is retired now.

“I miss playing with the kids,” Clair says.

Clair passed the education bug onto his family too. They have a son and a daughter-in-law who teach, and their youngest daughter is the principal of Gunnison Valley Elementary School.

In addition to her service, while Clair was teaching Arla stayed busy as a farm mom, taking care of the livestock, cleaning the barn and birthing calves.

Arla says that farm life is “part of her” and although the long-time dairy farm no longer has any livestock, she misses milking cows and other parts of the ranch lifestyle.

“I thought that it would be a day to celebrate when all the cows were gone,” Arla says. “But when it came and went, I kind of miss them.”

The couple have been active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Arla was primary president in her ward seven different times over 17 years, and Clair served as a Bishop for years in their ward too.

Years of Sanpete County tradition and service to the community have left Clair and Arla with good memories.

“Some of the fondest memories you have is the people that you work with in the community,” Arla says.

Arla says in all their years of service, she never regretted a minute of it, but sometimes “you can bite off more than you can chew.”

Carjacker sentenced to 120 days in jail, probation

By James Tilson

Associate Editor


Alex Hernandez

MANTI—A Mt. Pleasant man who pleaded guilty to a carjacking in January was sentenced to 120 days in jail and probation, although the judge said he received a lenient sentence because of his age.

Alex Hernandez, 18, pleaded guilty on June 26 to three second-degree felonies and two third-degree felonies, including robbery, kidnapping and discharge of a firearm. His plea agreement stipulated he would receive probation; however, the amount of jail time as part of probation would be up to the judge.

Hernandez accosted three teenagers in their vehicle at gun point in Mt. Pleasant on Jan. 21. Hernandez made them stay in the car and drive for several blocks, and then forced them out, threatening them with his hand gun. Hernandez then drove away from them with the vehicle.

The vehicle was later found with several bullet holes in it, and the car had been dented by a sledge hammer. Hernandez was arrested the next day in Provo.

“He’s only 18, but he’s had a long history,” said Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels during the sentencing hearing. “He’s never shown the ability to follow the law. I’m wondering if we’re dealing with a psychopath.”

Daniels asked Judge Marvin Bagley to impose another 210 days in jail as part of Hernandez’ probation. Hernandez caused psychological harm to the victims and their families, which caused them to be afraid all the time, Daniels said.

Hernandez caused $6,775 of damage to the victim’s vehicle, totaling it. The father of the victim, who owned the vehicle, used it to go back and forth to his cancer treatments.

Daniels called Hernandez criminal history a “veritable cornucopia of crime.” He told Judge Bagley the only reason he had not asked for a prison term was Hernandez’s young age.

Judge Bagley also said he was surprised at the recommendation. “I’m also worried that you are a sociopath or psychopath,” Bagley said. “There’s nothing we can do to rehabilitate them; we can only warehouse them in prison.” Bagley looked down at Hernandez and asked, “That’s what you’re looking at. Is that what you want?”

Ultimately, Bagley followed the recommendation and sentenced Hernandez to 210 additional days in jail, to be followed by 48 months of supervised probation, as well as a mental health evaluation. Bagley reminded Hernandez if he violated probation in any way over the next four years, Bagley would send him to prison.

Dale M. Dorius and his daughter Jennifer are trusted, experienced lawyers

By Linda Peterson

Staff Writer


Dale M. Dorius

When you need help with legal matters you want someone experienced who you can trust. Dale M. Dorius of Dorius & Reyes, Attorneys at Law, has been practicing law for more than 51 years in Gunnison and has many repeat clients who know he will take care of them. Dale graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history and went on to receive a law degree from George Washington University. He is a member of the Utah State Bar, Colorado State Bar and California State Bar. Twenty years ago his daughter, Jennifer Reyes, joined him in his practice. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in English from Utah State University and a law degree from
Gonzaga University. As general law attorneys, between the two, they can help you with any of your legal needs. They regularly help clients set up wills and trusts or navigate their way through probate or contracts. They also have expertise in bankruptcies and collections. Dale, a Fayette native and fourth-generation cattle rancher with family ranches in Sanpete, Juab and Box Elder counties, and has an in-depth understanding of land and water issues across the state. Last year, the Utah State Bar honored Dale, who has served as a bar commissioner, for his 50 years of service in the law profession. Jennifer specializes in domestic relations including adoptions, divorces, custody, paternity and surrogacy proceedings. Dale, who is a charter member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys received the Angel of Adoption
award from the U.S. Congressional Coalition on Adoption for his work in adoption and birth mother placement. This is the highest award an attorney who handles adoption cases can receive. Having adopted four of his five children, Dale knows how important that service can be.
“I have always felt adoptions were miracles for both the child and the adoptee,” Dale said. “Adoptions are a win-win for everybody.”
Dale has been married to his wife DeLoris Peters for more than 50 years. The Dorius family is very involved in the law. Daughter Dona runs the law office while daughter Darci is married to an attorney. Son Dru, a former police officer, is currently studying pre-law and is preparing to enter law school. The company has offices in Gunnison at 47 South Main Street and in Brigham City and employs six secretaries. To set up an appointment, call (435) 528-7296 today.


Centerfield interviews two for council and vacancy

By Gage Slusser

Staff Writer


(Aug. 15 2019)
NEWS – Centerfield Council – Applicants for Centerfield City Council – Christie Garff and Jonah Christensen – GAGE SLUSSER

CENTERFIELD—The town council addressed the task the of finding a replacement for a council seat vacated by Haden Jensen, who married recently and moved outside the town boundaries. His term runs to 2022.

Christi Garff and Jonah Christensen asked to be considered for the vacancy at a council meeting on Aug. 7.

They were interviewed by the council together and asked about their qualifications and what talents they could bring to the council.  After the interview, the meeting was adjourned, and the council met in closed session to consider the applicants. Their recommendation will be presented to Mayor Tom Sorensen for ratification prior to the announcement of the council’s selection. Mayor Sorensen and Councilman David Beck were not in attendance at this week’s meeting.

Three seats for town council will be open on the upcoming ballot.  Both Garff and Christensen expressed an interest in running for office if they were not selected to take the replacement seat.

Becky Edwards will be stepping down from the council.  Both Jaden Sorenson and Jon Hansen will seek re-election.  Additional candidates on the upcoming ballot for town council are Kimberly Beck and Jackie Huff.

Wales will receive $602K grant to improve culinary water system

By Teri Forbes

Staff Writer


WALES—The town of Wales was notified that it will receive a $602,500 grant to improve its culinary water system at council meeting last week.

Justin Atkinson, engineer with Sunrise Engineering, reported to the town council last Tuesday Aug. 6 that its culinary water project had received an Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) through the USDA Rural Development program.

The ECWAG program helps eligible communities prepare, or recover from an emergency that threatens the availability of safe, reliable drinking water.

The grant application was submitted to the USDA earlier this year, and notification of the $602,500 grant award was received July 19.

Atkinson said the grants funds will be used to drill a replacement well because the existing well pulls in silt during peak use in summer. The work will also include development of additional springs near the existing lime kiln springs in Wales Canyon.  The well and springs currently provide culinary water for the community of Wales for both indoor and outdoor uses.

There will be 180 days from the time of award to complete the design and solicit bids from contractors.

The town council also reached out to Sunrise Engineering to assist them with preparing the bid documents for a new fire safety building at 40 E. 200 North.

Sunrise is in the process of preparing a cost proposal in response to the request and it will include a site survey and geotechnical report, Atkinson said.

In other action, the town council unanimously passed a new fire ordinance. Mayor Keith Jensen explained the ordinance established rules and regulations for the Fire Department as well as imposing fire restrictions within town limits from June 1 to Oct. 31. The mayor said issues covered in the ordinance were how to obtain a burn permit, fireworks restrictions, and exemptions from the ordinance rules.

The mayor went on to report that the community wildfire protection plan was nearly complete, and he explained why the town needed an emergency plan, which deals with big emergencies such as earthquakes and tornadoes, etc. The plan lists the major perceived risks to the town of Wales and, most important, it emergency support functions, specific instruction as to who and how to deal with particular disasters, the Mayor said.

A copy of the emergency plan will be located in the town office and in other strategic locations such as the Sheriff’s Office and it will be updated yearly.