Miracle of love in 1993

repeated in 2018

 

By Maria Ricks

Fairview

Mar. 29, 2018

 

In November 1993, a Fairview man was lost in the mountains after going into diabetic shock. He was a well-known school teacher and farmer.

After three days of searching by volunteers and Search and Rescue, the man was found in a coma; his fingers, toes and ears black with frostbite; and barely breathing.

In those three days of searching and for days following, as the man lay in the hospital, there was an incredible outpouring of love and support for this man’s family. It was just what they needed to get through such a tragedy.

They had been praying for a miracle, but it was not to happen, at least not how they thought.

The real miracle was that during this time of anguish, frustration, fear and sadness, the community came together to bolster the strength of this family experiencing such personal loss.

This family was mine, and this was my father, Richard Christensen.

In March of this year, I witnessed a similar miracle which brought back memories for me.

A local woman, Janeen Sorensen, while undergoing a procedure to remove a tumor, suffered a stroke.

For four months she was in the hospital and rehab.

She was a wife and mother, friend, preschool teacher, bank teller and church leader.

Like my family, years earlier, they too were praying for a miracle of recovery. Every little improvement gave them hope, and every little setback led to frustration, fear and sadness.

The anguish came when the hope for a miracle ran out, and they brought her home to pass away peacefully at home.

What happened next was the real miracle.

A silent auction was announced. The fundraiser was planned by local friends, family and co-workers of Janeen and her husband, Lee R. It was to take place at Fairview Elementary School.

It wasn’t long before donations began to pour in of money, personal items for auction, prizes from local merchants and time by volunteers who wanted to help in some way.

A simple hotdog dinner and movie entertained young and old who filled the school to show their support.

The school was so crowded at times that it was difficult to get to all the items that were put up for auction in the library.

People were overbidding on items. Many people gave $20 bills to purchase a $3 meal. The money jar in the hall was emptied multiple times during the evening.

Tears, words and hugs were shared with members of the family who had left their mother’s side to attend the event.

At the end of the night, it wasn’t the amount of money raised, although that was successful; it was the community’s outpouring of love and support.

And it wasn’t just from the town of Fairview. Condolences by way of donations came from several generous people in and out of Sanpete.

Days later, both the viewing and funeral were filled to capacity as Janeen’s six sons shared stories of their mother and thanked all who spent countless hours by her bedside, sent well-wishes or showed support to their family in anyway.

That night, unable to sleep, I pulled out my journal to record the day’s events, then pulled out my past journal and newspaper clipping of the time when my father went missing 25 years ago.

Time has healed that painful experience in my life and filled it with sweet memories of a town and people that cared for one of their own.

I have never forgotten and today am overwhelmed with pride to be a member of this loving community.

In the words of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon: “Ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need” (Mosiah 4:16).

Miracles indeed never cease if we have the eyes to see them.

 

Please share your stories of community support when you were facing a difficult time. We’d love to hear from you. Make submissions to news@sanpetemessenger.com. Together we make our community better.

Legislative session concluding next week

 

By Ralph Okerlund

Senator District 24

Mar. 8, 2018

 

We have concluded week six of the 2018 Legislative General Session, which means we only have one week left to consider bills.

There are more bills to consider this year than ever before, but to match this increase in bills, we are spending more time than usual in our committee meetings to ensure that the bills have proper hearings before coming to the floor for a vote.

Our last day for committee meetings will be Monday, March 5, which means Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be entirely dedicated to floor time debate.

We live stream our floor time as well as the audio for our committee meetings, so tune in and follow along during the process!

Here are some of the highlights from week six.

 

Budget

This week each caucus (Senate Majority, Senate Minority, House Majority, House Minority) have each worked to prepare their proposed budgets. Now that everyone has worked to prioritize how they think the budget should look, the Senate and House will work to reconcile their proposed budgets and ultimately pass a full budget next week. I will still be involved in the budget discussion this coming week.

News coverage of this topic is in Utah Policy (http://utahpolicy.com/index.php/features/today-at-utah-policy/15955-legislative-budget-negotiators-targeting-school-funding-and-state-employee-increases).

 

Honoring Jon Huntsman Sr.

Jon Huntsman Sr. recently passed away, and as he has made a tremendous impact on Utah and on the world, we passed a resolution, HCR 20 (https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HCR020.html) honoring him and his legacy.

Huntsman lost his mother to breast cancer when she was just 58 years old, and he was determined to do something to help find a cure for the disease. He began his efforts by donating money to the University of Utah cancer research and eventually began the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The Huntsman Cancer Institute is one of the world’s most renowned cancer institutes. His influence will continue to be felt in our state.

News coverage of this topic is in the Salt Lake Tribune (https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/02/26/utah-legislature-honors-jon-huntsman-sr-who-refused-to-retreat-in-the-face-of-adversity/).

 

Earned Income Tax Credit Intergenerational poverty is a growing concern for the state.

Children from low income families have lower life expectancy, greater health problems and lower educational attainment. This happens in large part because of the environment in which children are raised. If a child does not have access to proper nutrition and sufficient parental care, the effects can be devastating, and in some cases, irreversible.

HB 57 (https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HB0057.html) creates a tax credit for low income individuals and families.

The eligibility for the tax credit is tied to the federal tax credit. If a person is eligible for a federal Earned Income Tax Credit, they can be eligible for state tax credit. Larger families, who have been disadvantaged by recent federal tax changes, will not be penalized under this new system because of the size of their family.

This bill has passed the House and passed its first reading in the Senate. It will be heard one more time in the Senate.

News coverage of this topic is in the Deseret News (https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900011669/heres-why-the-utah-legislature-should-pass-an-earned-income-tax-credit.html).

 

School Safety

After the most recent mass school shooting in Florida, elected officials have been asked if there is more that can be done to protect school children.

The answer, in most cases, has been unequivocally “YES!”

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, in one of the Senate’s Daily Media Briefings, said that this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately and that it was time to start engaging with the stakeholders that are most heavily affected.

We will be considering this issue in the coming weeks and months.

 

What do you think?

Thanks for following me along in my legislative journey. I hope to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill. Likewise, please keep in touch. I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can also be reached by email at rokerlund@le.utah.gov.

I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation—and thanks for paying attention.

 

Until next time,

 

Ralph Okerlund Utah State Senate, District 24

Give county residents

a ride to a better life

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Dec. 7, 2017

 

If you can’t bring the jobs to Sanpete, bring Sanpete to the jobs.

That is my theory based on hearing local politicians talk for years in city councils and other public meetings about how we need to bring better jobs to the county.

While we do have a few solid employers in Sanpete (ACT in Gunnison City comes to mind), we are not exactly overflowing with opportunity if you do not possess a college degree.

My definition of a “good job” is one that pays a living wage without requiring employees to destroy their bodies or spend extended periods of time away from their loved ones—and if they do, they should be compensated for those drawbacks.

Sanpete Messenger Managing Editor Robert Stevens

My father worked his whole life as a plasterer to support my mother and us kids. By the blessing of a caring relative, we had housing that was slightly more affordable than what others were paying in California during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Despite that blessing, my father had to work his butt off for decades with no pension plan. By the time he became a master plasterer earning increased wages, the years of hard labor had taken their toll, permanently damaging his body, and leaving him with severe chronic back and hip pain.

For my father, a lifetime of hard labor in construction ended in an unacceptable sacrifice. I do not believe a job is good simply because it pays the bills—my father’s health and quality of life are worth more than that.

In retrospect, he encouraged his children to seek higher education, wishing he, too, had gone the route of less physically taxing white-collar work.

There are families in Sanpete County who need more income badly, but choices are slim unless they take the route my dad did.

But there are good jobs elsewhere in this state. The Wasatch Front and Utah County both have an excellent job market, with many jobs starting at $13 per hour and up, along with benefits and other pluses for someone with a family to support.

In fact, the Wasatch Front is fast developing a labor shortage. Because of the remarkable economic growth in urban Utah, businesses can’t find the employees they need. “Now hiring” signs are everywhere.

I proposed implementing a mass transportation system to taxi willing and able workers to and from Utah and Salt Lake counties, allowing them to make a good wage and bring the money back to Sanpete County for their families and for the benefit of our own local economy.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) once subsidized Elevated Transit to allow for a bus line running from Richfield to Salt Lake City and back, but those subsidies ended, and with it Elevated Transit.

Even with the subsidies, the ticket cost from Sanpete to Salt Lake was over $40—more than a low-income household can bear both ways on a daily basis.

But if Sanpete County and UDOT worked out an affordable transportation system for people who needed it, it could allow many families to lead better lives by working hard at an out-of-county job.

Logistics on a program like this would have to be meticulously planned. Ridership fares would  be needed in addition to state and county subsidies.

Participation in the program would have to be enthusiastic and consistent. That in turn would require driven, hard-working riders looking for a way to improve the lives of themselves and their loved ones, and thus motivated to keep their jobs and keep riding.

Kevin Christensen, director of Sanpete County Economic Development, says Sanpete, because of its low population density, may not have enough riders to support a daily commuter bus. But if the program was marketed properly and subsidized sufficiently to make commuting affordable, I don’t see that being a problem.

What genuine, caring and responsible head-of-the-household would pass up a chance to improve his or her family’s life if the person knew such an opportunity was within his or her grasp?

A prospective worker would need to make sacrifices that come with any commute, such as getting up earlier and coming home later, but with a driver piloting the mass transit vehicle, passengers could use the ride time to pay bills, take care of personal administrative matters or even sleep if they wanted to.

A logical route would perhaps involve pickup in each Sanpete municipality along U.S. 89 and a destination at the Provo Trax station, where the workers could transfer to the impressive Utah Transit Authority system to get to their final job sites.

Although a program like this would primarily benefit low-income families, I see nothing wrong with that. These are the people who need to see that they don’t have to swing a hammer or cut up turkeys their whole life just to live paycheck to paycheck.

Before Messenger Publisher Suzanne Dean gave me an opportunity in journalism, a program like this would have been a huge benefit to me, so I know for a fact it has the potential to benefit others.

Even now, I am aware of men and women who could improve the lives of their families, without moving away from their beloved ancestral homes in Sanpete, and bring back extra money to boost the local economy in the process.

I challenge our local leaders to make this proposal a reality. If you question its potential effectiveness, may I suggest you are out of touch with many of the people you serve.

Even with his initial uncertainty on the viability of the idea, Christensen says he sees rays of hope as self-driving vehicle technology continues to advance.

Perhaps combining electric vehicle tech and driverless vehicle tech might offer a one-two punch for program savings that would be a catalyst for implementing a commuter program.

I’ve been told a rising tide raises all boats. I think it’s high time for high tide in Sanpete County, but it’s going to take some work.

 

Activists illegally enter turkey

buildings and are not charged,

but growers are blamed

By Dick Olson

Nov. 30, 2017

 

Note: Dick Olson of Ephraim has been involved with turkey growing since 1942, although in the last few years he has handed the reins of his growing operation over to his son.

 

I ask an important question about the animal rights activists who came into our valley from California with the purpose of exposing the poor management job that our local turkey producers are doing under the Norbest brand.

On every gate leading into a turkey farm are signs that read “Poultry Security Area, Please Stay Out,” and most gates are locked. Apparently, the activists breached the signs, locks and gates to get to the buildings.

My question is: Why are these activists not in jail?

On the local TV stations, a female activist was shown holding a turkey that had a badly swollen sinus. She was being crowded by hundreds of turkeys who were curious as to who she was, which is what generally happens when a stranger enters the building. She said there were thousands in the building, and the other forty some buildings in the valley were equally crowded.

What an astute observation!?

The largest building in the valley, being 70 feet wide by 600 feet long, would hold more than 10,000 birds and not be crowded.

When turkeys are moved into the grow-out building from the brooder building, they are five weeks old and five pounds. They remain in the grow-out building for 8 to 13 more weeks, during which time they grow and continue to take up more space. It’s only during the final two weeks that they may appear crowded, a result of their impressive feed conversion as it relates to the weight of the turkey.

The day of a turkey producer starts very early each morning as he may have buildings to attend to.

As he enters each building, he observes the general conditions within the building, such as ventilation and heat, if needed. He then proceeds to make his way through the building, checking on the water and feed supply. He may find dead turkeys, which are disposed of. Sometimes one or two were missed the day before. He may also see a few turkeys with physical problems such as bad legs, fallen crops, blindness and being picked on by other birds.

It’s a very busy morning for the turkey producer.

When the news first broke about the activist break-ins, I remembered years ago when animal rights activists targeted the cattle, hog, chicken and mink industries. The mink producers took the hardest financial hit as the activists would go in at night and release the mink to the ground. Many mink were lost. I think one of their buildings was burned.

It’s a sad commentary when a hard-working farmer or rancher, be it of turkeys, mink, chicken, hogs or beef, must be subjected to the activists who sneak around at night breaking security and making it more difficult for them to produce food for grateful Americans.

To you consumers of turkey products: when you choose Norbest, you are getting a very good and healthy product. If you buy a whole turkey, you will see a tag on the bag with a picture of a turkey producer who, if he were to meet you, would say thanks.

 

Dick Olson

Ephraim

Another Look

 

Those proposing tax reform out of touch with reality

 

By Roger Terry

Nov. 9, 2017

 

 

Editor’s Note: The Sanpete Messenger historically has been concerned about fiscal integrity at the municipal, county, state and federal levels. Following is an op-editorial piece published in the Deseret News Sept. 14. We are reprinting it with permission from the author.  

 

The economic theory behind the tax reform, including cuts, now being proposed in Congress is out of touch with reality. While being correctly concerned about the rising federal debt, Donald Trump and the Republicans want to solve this thorny problem by cutting taxes and shrinking government. There are two problems here.

Republicans have been selling the idea for almost 40 years now that tax cuts pay for themselves. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this is true (and plenty of evidence that it is nonsense).

They claim repeatedly that their tax cuts will primarily benefit the middle class and the poor. But simple math shows this is also a fib. Their tax cuts always pay off primarily for the wealthy.

Second, it is difficult to cut government spending significantly. Social Security and unemployment account for about 33 percent of spending. Medicare and other health spending add up to about 27 percent. Military spending amounts to about 16 percent. Interest on the debt is about 6 percent. Veterans benefits contribute 4 percent more. These five categories add up to about 86 percent of government spending.

Some conservatives clamor for cuts to “entitlements,” but this is rather unrealistic. With the baby boomers retiring in droves, many of them with little or no retirement savings because they either weren’t paid enough or their employers eliminated their pensions, demands on Social Security and Medicare will increase, not decrease, over the next several years.

And with pay for the bottom 80 percent of the workforce flatlining, more and more young people will require government assistance in one form or another just to make ends meet. So “entitlements” are difficult to cut significantly.

We could easily cut military spending, since we spend more on military than the next eight countries combined, but that idea is anathema to the GOP. So that leaves us with 14 percent of the budget to play with, and most of those expenditures are for programs we need to keep or increase (such as infrastructure).

The Republicans attempted to take health insurance from over 20 million Americans. Fortunately, that ill-fated effort failed, but it did reveal their priorities: Take needed benefits from the poor and sick and elderly to pay for tax cuts for the superwealthy.

The GOP’s attempt at tax reform will likely look similar. Why? Because that is what Republican economics is all about: tax cuts for the wealthy and reduced aid for the needy.

This is not a recipe for a sound society. They’ve sold it for decades now with catchy slogans, but, as we’re finding out, governing is much different from sloganeering.

One of the slogans is “Americans are overtaxed.” But this is about as true as “Tax cuts pay for themselves.” According to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States brings in less revenue through federal and state taxes as a percentage of GDP than all but three developed countries: Mexico, Chile and South Korea. The average for all OECD countries is 34.3 percent. The United States rings in at 26.4 percent. Overtaxed? Not by world standards.

Our problem is that we’ve been misled for years. We’ve been told to believe that we can have all the things government provides but we don’t have to pay for them. Remember George W. Bush: He paid for two wars and Medicare Part D with tax cuts. This is typical Republican economics. Trump is promising both a $1 trillion infrastructure upgrade and massive tax cuts.

Someone on the right needs to be honest and admit that what we need is a tax increase, especially on those who have made off like bandits from low taxes and lax regulation.

The rapidly growing inequality in this country is unsustainable. At some point soon, we need to come to grips with the reality that we need to increase tax revenues if we want to dig out of the debt hole we’ve dug with shovels of dishonesty.

 

Roger Terry is a freelance author, writer and editor, and a former professor of management, who lives in Orem. He is a frequent contributor of op-editorial pieces to the Deseret News.

Medical Cannabis more about “medical” than “Cannabis”

Oct. 5, 2017

 

Until several years ago I had viewed Cannabis, in any form, as an addictive drug; but, shortly after my brother-in-law died of cancer, my wife learned that Cannabis may have helped him in his fight and eased his suffering. As she began studying professional research on Cannabis’s medicinal properties, she would nudge me, encouraging me to read one study after another: “PTSD and Cannabis,” “Multiple Sclerosis and Cannabis,” “Fibromyalgia and Cannabis,” “Parkinsons and Cannabis,” “Pain…,” “Cancer…,” and on and on.

Each time we see a news story about the serious opioid and suicide problems we have in Utah, I reflect on the studies that show decisively that Cannabis has been effective in helping people get off opioids by managing pain without negative opioid side-effects.

For several years, we have watched as the Utah State Legislature raised our hopes that this medicine would be legalized in Utah, and were discouraged as each time the legislation was defeated. When the petition for the “Utah Medical Cannabis Act“ became a reality, we decided to get involved and volunteered to gather signatures across Sanpete County.

As we’ve been doing this and speaking with people in Sanpete, we are finding that often the people who are wanting to sign this petition are people who also have a story. Often like ours, their story is about the suffering of someone they love, whose pain could be relieved with Cannabis. For others, it is their own infirmity that limits their full engagement and joy in life. The more people we meet, the more committed we become to this cause.

With other volunteers, we will continue to canvass the towns in Sanpete, beginning in Ephraim this Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Snow College’s homecoming, Oct. 5-7.

The following week we will join with other volunteers to sponsor signings in Fairview, Mt. Pleasant, Moroni, Fountain Green, Manti and Gunnison on Oct. 11.

After those events, we will remain available to meet people wherever and whenever we are able, continuing to gather signatures for this petition. We and others have posted fliers in each Sanpete town and encourage people to call us. Our email is marcus@cut.net, and phone number is 435-813-8030, or check this web address for other contacts: ww.utahpatients.org/files/pdf/LocalContactList.pdf.

Whether one is supportive of the legalization of medicinal Cannabis or not, we think it is important for the initiative to be on the Utah ballot in 2018 so that voters in Utah can study the issues and vote their consciences on this important issue.

Ephraim City Council

5 S Main Street

Ephraim, UT 84627

June 26, 2017

 

Dear Mayor Squire and Members of the City Council:

 

As you know, we are the only three “line officers” of the Ephraim City Police Department. We report to a Sergeant and a Chief. Recently, as has been publically reported by the City, through the various media, Chief Rasmussen has been placed on administrative leave and then lauded by the City as having been a “great chief’ despite gross negligence going back decades. The City has suggested that the Chief is “overworked” and that this somehow excuses the willful failure to undertake his responsibilities and the dereliction of duty which, had any of us done the same, would have resulted in our swift dismissal. As members of this department, this is simply unacceptable. We wish for you, and the community that we have proudly served, to know that we have taken a great risk to our professional careers—including the risk it presents to our families—by “blowing the whistle” on what we believe we were morally, professionally and legally obligated to report. To do anything less is to ignore the oath we took at the inception of our careers as law enforcement officers.

 

The City claims it fully supports the police department, but has placed the Chief on administrative leave, with pay—essentially a vacation—for violations of universally understood standards of police practice, involving the failure to write or complete reports for hundreds upon hundreds of calls for service. These police reports involve crimes of every imaginable type and magnitude, to include serious felonies—crimes which, if obstructed, would render the obstructer culpable of crimes that could include years, if not decades in prison. This is not “supporting” the police department. This is destroying it. An independent investigation has determined that the Chief will not be prosecuted. However, there is no excuse that should justify his continued employment as a law enforcement officer for the City of Ephraim, let alone a Chief of Police.

 

We write today to resign, effective the moment Chief Rasmussen is reinstated—and to put the community that we have loved and served collectively for nearly four decades, on notice that we have lost all confidence in our Chief, and in the City officials that are responsible now for a cover-up of epic proportions. We cannot and will not serve as public servants under these conditions, and we urge the citizens of this community to demand from the City officials responsible for bringing the Chief back that they hold him accountable in a responsible manner and replace him with a leader who will not shirk important responsibilities—one who will not make ridiculous excuses when so much is at stake. We are all overworked, but the dire importance of our work is precisely what demands and requires important sacrifices to include staying behind for long hours to ensure every measure is taken to protect and serve. We have done our jobs, and at no time have we cut corners or shirked our responsibilities because we are police officers, and we take our jobs very seriously. We simply refuse to compromise our integrity by permitting ourselves to be commanded by one who does not or has not performed to the standards demanded by the citizenry of this City, and by our profession. There is nothing for us to gain personally by doing this, other than the assurance, as members of this community, that we will demand, as private citizens, that the City of Ephraim meet its responsibilities by identifying its shortcomings and acting with determination to resolve them. We have much to lose by losing our jobs—but we feel that we have been placed in an untenable position; to remain under the Chief’s command is not an option, yet we do not seek promotion or accolades for ourselves. Rather, we demand that the City do its duty as a matter of public safety and public integrity, and to do it without delay by identifying those who would be willing to do a job that is supposed to be honorable but which is sometimes thankless. We do not mind the long hours or difficult circumstances of our career—a career which each of us chose; but we will not stay silent when others are suffering at the hands of incompetence on the one hand, or malfeasance on the other, where we are otherwise powerless to address it. This act is not our desire, but rather as much our duty as any other duty we have undertaken as cops, and it is with great sadness that we do it. Our additional purpose is to notify the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Department so that they may do whatever is necessary to increase patrols within the City until the officials here can replace the department, or the citizens can elect or hire responsible officials who will.

 

It has been the honor and privilege of our careers to serve the community that we love. We expect, however, that our leaders be held to no less a standard than we would be held as law enforcement officers and public servants. Effective as of the hour of Chief Rasmussen’s reinstatement, we hereby reluctantly resign as law enforcement officers from the Ephraim City Police Department.

 

Sincerely,

 

Larry Golding

Jared Hansen

Darren S. Pead

Non-profit Ephraim Co-op questions Fair Board decision regarding craft fair

Mar. 8, 2017

 

Editor’s Note: For more 15 years, the Ephraim Co-op has rented the Exhibit Building at the Sanpete County Fairgrounds for a craft show and sale. The event has been the linchpin in helping the nonprofit stay afloat financially. A few weeks ago, the Fair Board informed the Co-op that the organization would not be able to rent the Exhibit Hall this year. The letter said the Fair Board intended to stage its own event there to raise money for fairground improvements. This is the letter the Co-op sent to the Fair Board in response. The Co-op asked that the letter be published.

 

To the Sanpete County Fair Board,

It was with shock and extreme disappointment in the integrity of the members of the Fair Board that we received your letter indicating that the venue we have used for years will now be suddenly taken over by you.

One of two things would make you do this at this late date in the season. One, you know how to put together a craft fair, havE been working hard at finding crafters and have had the countless details that go into such a large endeavor in place for quite a while now; or two, you have not put a show together yet and think that it will not be a big deal to do so.

Either way, there seems to be little, if any, integrity in your organization.

If you have already been working on the project, you will know that much of the hard work  of the Co-op has been done by now, and that we already have crafters who have committed to the project, paid their fees to hold a spot, and been working for a long time to have the products they need to fill their booths.

If you haven’t started this process by now, you are naive to think it will be easy to pull such a big plan together in time for the Mormon Miracle Pageant. The world is different since the Internet has made shopping and selling online easier than going to a fair.

Also, do you plan on using the tables we have maintained, rebuilt and replaced for you over the years? Do you plan on using the lattice we have purchased to work with the tables? Do you plan on using the signs and banners we have made?

Do you realize why this craft fair was started so many years ago? We are a non-profit organization who, when the Sperry-Univac plant shut down in the 1980s, looked for ways to help the Sanpete economy get back on its feet.

We realized that there were many gifted artisans and crafters who could who could produce beautiful hand-done work, and we worked hard to provide a place for them to sell their wares and provide income for their families. No one has ever been paid anything to run our organization, with the exception of a store manager (who doesn’t get paid much) and a cleaning person.

There is no way to even begin to count the thousands and thousands (millions?) of volunteer hours that have been donated by the Co-op organization for 30 years to keep this business viable.

We came up with the plan to hold a craft fair at pageant time to enable our doors to stay open during the slow business months of winter and to buy any extra things we have needed, such as tables and chairs for our upstairs reception center.

You knew that taking the venue from us would place a hardship on us, but at least you could have had the courtesy to tell us at the end of last year’s pageant, which was when we began planning for this year’s event.

We sincerely hope you reconsider what you have done and change your minds about the craft fair this year.

 

However we do it, we must invest more in education

Feb. 22, 2017

 

Now is the time for our state to make a major investment in education. As Co-Chairs of  “Our Schools Now,” we endorse raising the state income tax by 7/8 of 1 percent, from 5 percent to 5.875 percent. The rate will still be a full percent less than it was ten years ago before it was cut. It will raise $750 million to go directly to classrooms in every public school across the state. The increase in funding is to be accompanied by a plan to improve student outcomes in our schools.

As legislators begin this session, they are asking if we could or would support raising revenues in a different way or if we would settle for something less. We encourage the debate.

We aren’t locked into a specific revenue target. What is important is that Utah establish a revenue source for education that will cover the necessities; teacher salary equity and funding for projected enrollment growth — while also investing in the things that will drive improvements in outcomes for the next decade and beyond.

The drivers we are focused on are improvements in reading and math competencies, and the graduation of high school students who are college and career ready. Money is required for things like professional development, support staff, technology and early learning. The source of the funding or dollar amount isn’t as important as a commitment to fund a comprehensive plan to move the needle.

Just funding inflation and enrollment growth will not begin to address the need Utah schools and students have.

A number of other suggestions have been made about how to raise more money for education. We are looking for a real solution and the debate needs to move from laundry lists to specific proposals. These alternative revenue sources, as well as the proven strategies for school improvement, have been studied for years. Now is the time for action.

Our real objective is to reach the widely accepted Utah goal of 66 percent of the working age population with a degree or meaningful certificate. Currently, less than 50 percent of Utahns have the education necessary for the demands of the modern workforce. Our plan would direct 85 percent of the money to K-12 schools (15 percent to higher education), which is where we have the greatest investment needs in order to reach the 66 percent goal.

Some say raising the income tax will hurt business in Utah and stall growth. Improving educational outcomes is the best thing we can do to stimulate business and growth. That is why the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce board of governors and the board of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah have both unanimously endorsed Our Schools Now and why business leaders throughout the state have joined our call to action.

 

 

Gail Miller, Scott Anderson and Ron Jibson are longtime Chief Executive Officers at Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Zion’s Bank and Questar, respectively. They currently serve as Co-Chairs of Our Schools Now, a 2018 ballot initiative for improved student performance in Utah. For more information, visit: www.ourschoolsnow.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

robert-stevens

Robert Stevens

Save your children’s lives, save your life, wear a helmet

 

Robert Stevens

Managing Editor

11-10-2016

 

Since I moved to Utah over a decade ago, I have lived mainly in two houses, both of which were built along Manti’s ATV route.

Throughout the entire year, it has become a common occurrence to see young children, sometimes two or three deep, hanging onto a dirt bike or ATV as they speed down the street without a helmet on.

I would never presume to tell someone how to raise their child, but I am imploring parents of children of all ages to strongly encourage their kids to wear protective gear, most specifically a helmet.

I realize nobody likes wearing a helmet when they ride. They can be hot and uncomfortable when not sized and adjusted correctly.

The case I am making for kids (and adults) to wear a helmet is supported entirely on a single fact: I would be dead if I hadn’t.

My dad brought home a little black minibike when I was very young, much to my mother’s chagrin. My mom was adamant that I wear the helmet.

I hated wearing that helmet but the first time I crashed I went down hard. The bike sustained enough damage to be put out of commission, but I got back up and shook it off.  It wouldn’t be my last motorcycle, or my last crash.

Fast forward to an 18-year old me. I stood in my driveway, admiring my recently-purchased 750cc sport bike. A slew of two wheelers and quads had come before it, but this was my first man-sized motorcycle.

I was contemplating a ride when my neighbor from across the way waved from his garage door, saying, “I have something I want to show you.”

I crossed the street, and as I approached, I realized he was covered in bandages and leaned on a single crutch. He told me he’d been laid up in bed recovering for days. When I asked from what he was recovering, he gestured towards a twisted pile of aluminum and plastic in the corner.

The mangled pile was a bike not much different from the one I had parked right across the street.

“I guess I was in someone’s blind spot,” he told me. “They turned me into a concrete crayon in a split second. Today is the first day I have been able to stand. My doctor told me I would be dead if I hadn’t been following the helmet laws.”

As I walked back to my new bike, I told myself I would ride smart and never put myself in that position, but like John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

A few more years and a handful of close calls passed. Every time I got myself out of a sticky situation on the road or trail, I became a little more confident.

The year before I made my transplant to Utah, I decided to take my new dirt bike for a ride. It was small and as light as a feather compared to my sport bike. I spent the day playing in the mud and sand of a large construction site.

As I pulled away from the site, I looked both ways and began to cross the road to where my pickup was, so I could load up the bike and go home. Halfway across the road, a big, lifted truck appeared out of thin air, barreling down upon me.

Stars flashed in my eyes as my helmet-covered head struck the truck’s front bumper. I came to on the side of the road. My bike was in pieces. I was missing some skin and my clothes were bloodied. I had a pain in my neck like a dagger was buried in my spine.

The truck that had hit me was nowhere to be seen. Like the young fool I was, I went home instead of to the hospital. I nursed my wounds and limped around until the pain was mostly gone.

As the months went by, I began experiencing involuntary spasms and tics. I developed a severe anxiety disorder that made the tics come on even stronger.

I eventually went to a doctor. He seemed confused by the sudden onset of my condition until I confessed to him about my literal run-in with the truck.

The doctor told me my symptoms were almost surely caused by the spinal trauma from the accident. I went home with anxiety medicine and the doctor’s confirmation that I was only alive because I was wearing my helmet.

I have learned to deal with the long term effects of my motorcycle crash. I have even had other crashes since then, but when I head out for a ride on something with two wheels, I feel grateful, not bitter, to strap on my helmet.

It’s hard to beat a dirt bike or a fast four-wheeler for good wholesome fun, but if you want to feel confident that your kids are coming home whole from a ride, peace of mind can be had for the price of a comfortable, well-fitted helmet.

 

Ephraim resident: ‘I don’t want this for the city that I live in’

 

Editor’s Note: Gailynne Schroeder spent her career as an accountant in California. As she was getting ready to retire, she was invited to a wedding in Utah. After touring several areas of the state, she decided to retire in Ephraim. where she now owns a home. Following is a statement she made to the Ephraim City Council prior to a council discussion of Main Street blight and citywide code enforcement.

 

Gailynne Shroeder

9-22-2016

 

I own a home that happens to be very close, within sight, of the rundown trailers (at about 200 North and 200 West). I’m not going to dignify it by calling it a trailer park. I have not seen anything quite as bad even on visits to Mexico. I think the shanties in Mexico are better built than those trailers.
I know personally of people who can’t sell their homes because they’re close to the trailers. I would rather have a tent city there than what we have.
Then driving to and from Ephraim and seeing the motel (at the north end of Main Street) got me thinking. Last week, I took a camera with a friend, and we went through the motel open rooms. There are mattresses in there, and bedding materials. Because the plumbing isn’t working, there are areas where people have relieved themselves. I don’t want this for the city that I live in.
A young family recently moved in to the ward I belong to. They’re renting right now and I asked, “Are you going to buy?” And they said, “Not here. We’re going to go down to Manti.” Four children, a father with a job, a nice mom—they would be a great addition to Ephraim. But they looked around and saw the way we allow our city to be blighted, one residence, one building at a time, that we haven’t done anything about, and decided they didn’t want that in their home town.
That sort of raised my hackles, so my friend and I went around and took pictures of the homes that are beginning to be blights to various neighborhoods. We saw couches and old furniture and broken down cars and doors hanging off the hinges and grass waist high. This isn’t the Ephraim that I understand was here before I came.
We have (semi-truck) trailers parked in the street and not for 24 hours or 48 hours. A year, two years, three years. They just sit there. They impede the workers who try to keep the streets clear from snow. They make the traffic lanes smaller. Frequently they are unlicensed. We also have unlicensed cars parked in front of homes with flat tires, and not from the slashing (a reference to a tire-slashing vandal who has hit Ephraim recently). They’re flat because they’ve been sitting there so long.
I couldn’t sell my home if I wanted to. Yet, I’m a little way away from the trailer park. But I’m on the west side. And there is now a stigma to living on the west side because many of the homes that have this problem, where people have four, five or six cars, and instead of finding room for them on their properties, they park them all over the street—many of those homes are on the west side. And we’re not talking about cars you’d want to own. They’re derelict vehicles that hardly run. They’re just parked on the street and left there.
I have talked with the police. They’re very much in tune to this problem, but they say unless the city decides to enforce the ordinances we have on the books, they can’t do anything. There are ordinances about having those trailers on the street for more than 24 or 48 hours. There are ordinances that say we’re not supposed to have unlicensed vehicles on the street, but we let people do it. It’s a bad image for our city.
We do all we can downtown for beautification. But if you’re a prospective resident, as you drive in to town, and as you leave town, and if you drive up and down the streets, and you see the way we’ve allowed various home owners to keep their properties, why would you want to live here? Wouldn’t you rather go up to Mt. Pleasant, which is a little nicer, or Manti, which is a lot nicer? They enforce their ordinances. And I think we could do it too.
I know it takes manpower. People always say, “Money, money, money, money.” I say, we have a lot of workers for the city who can operate heavy equipment. We also have a lot of farmers and residents who have big equipment who would be happy to volunteer their time. I bet we could have that motel down in an instant.
I’ve only been here a few years, so I’m considered a newcomer. But I have to say, if, when I was thinking of moving here, I knew about this town what I know today, I might have moved to Manti.
I want to be close to the temple, which is 7 miles, and to me, that’s close. We have a college, which is a great draw factor. We have a lovely library. We’re not too big.
We have a lot of things really going for us, except for the fact that we’re turning our city into inner-city Detroit, inner-city Chicago. This is the way those areas started. You let one or two homes in a block start looking badly, and homeowners start moving. The people who come in, because the houses are lower priced, they don’t care, they don’t keep their properties up. Or they’re renters. And some renters don’t care.
I think we can do something about this as a city. All it really takes is the initiative and a few people to get behind you guys (the city council).

 

Note: Following Schroeder’s statement, Mayor Richard Squire said, “It would not take long to bring (the motel) down. And you’re absolutely right. Our officers can’t do anything code-enforcement-wise without our (the city council’s) backing. But last week, the council voted to start taking a hard line on these situations to clean up our town because we realize it has gotten out of hand…So we appreciate your comments.”

‘I wouldn’t do anything to harm trailer residents,’ owner says

 

 

Editor’s Note: Last week’s newspaper carried coverage of a special Ephraim City Council meeting in which the council directed city staff to take all necessary measures to clean up a mobile home park at 200 West and 200 North. Most of the coverage was drawn from a tape recording of the meeting. Following is a response from David Strate, the owner of the park.

 

David Strate

9-15-2016

 

Today as I saw the Sanpete Messenger, I read with interest the report of

the Ephraim City Council by Suzanne Dean, a meeting I was totally unaware of. It was made to sound as if I was invited to this meeting and refused to come. It was also reported there had been a meeting four years ago that I failed to attend. I was unaware of that meeting also. I find it very interesting the untruths in this article, so I felt a necessity to write and at least explain things from my side.

Much talk is made about a trailer with no water, plumbing, electrical etc. This is not a trailer I own. (In fact, I don’t own most of the trailers  there.) The prior owner had big dreams of redoing the trailer. She tore out the interior and never put it back together again. The trailer was

given to the current owner, who has no money to purchase a trailer.

There is water to this trailer like there is water to every trailer in the park. The owners have not prepared the trailer to hook up the water  yet. I found out recently that all the wiring is in place but just needs to be have the walls put back and the wire run back to the outlets where

they were originally. The structure of this trailer seems very good, and with a little work, it could become a very livable home for someone.

Also, when I was informed of the honey bucket (a bucket being used as a toilet), I got down on the tenant and very forcefully told him this could not continue. I explained the health hazard involved and the unhealthy environment he was causing for the other tenants.

This was also the only trailer that was using electricity from his neighbor. The neighbor had evidently agreed to this for a short period to try and help out the other tenant, but we also put a stop to that. Again, this is not a trailer I own.

I have scratched my head trying to figure out what Chad Parry (Ephraim City public works director) was talking about when he mentioned sewage leaking from the sewer outlets from the trailer.

First of all, being the owner of the court, this is the responsibility of the trailer owner, but I feel a great concern for health and safety of those who live there. If I were to see leaking sewage I would require that the tenant correct that issue. When I walked through (the trailer court) with Chad, there was never a mention to me of any of the trailers leaking sewage. He did mention the concern that if a sewer  were to leak, that could cause a problem.

If the city were to shut off the water and if the people were to use the water it could pull this bad water into the house. So you see, there were a lot of conditions that needed to be met for any harm to occur. Chad also said that this is not a primary concern.

There was a mention of the electrical. I did have a discussion with Cory Daniels (Ephraim city power superintendent) some time ago about some breaker boxes. They were the same as they were when I purchased the court several years ago. I am not an electrician and didn’t realize there was a concern. When I was notified, I got it taken care of.

When we had the walk-through, Cory mentioned that we needed a shutoff for one line. Again, I was unaware that there wasn’t a shutoff. When Cory explained the concern, I immediately contacted an electrician to come and fix it. The electrician was out of town and said he would get with me when he got back but then I was out of town. We now need to get together to get this project completed.

The pictures in the newspaper depicted some real concern for the citizens of Ephraim and for me. I had a tenant who used to live at the trailer court who was at the root of what is seen in the pictures.

The first picture shows the frame of a mobile home. I was given a number of someone who would remove this and a couple of other trailers that had long gone past their prime. The tenant I mentioned wanted so badly to remove this trailer. Before I knew it, he had started tearing it down.

I waited several days for him to come and finish the project, but he never came back. One of my friends from the court came and helped me remove the mess that was left. I have tried to get hold of the individual to remove the rest, but after several attempts have not been able to get hold of him. I will keep trying. I am sure he is there.

The mess in the other picture was left by this same individual. He left his wife of one month. When he came back, he kicked her out and threw out her things. I was hoping that she would stop by and talk to me about her stuff but have heard nothing from her.

All the contents were cleaned out of their trailer this past week and all the debris that is sitting out there now will also be put into the trailer that is partially filed and is sitting there. That will happen this weekend. Arrangement were made last week for this.

One mention was made in the article about how “scary” it was at the trailer court. I was rather appalled with this comment. The place is usually pretty organized. As many know, I have been very sick the past couple years, leaving me with no energy to do anything. I am just getting back on my feet but find myself very much behind.

I have usually had the trailer court sprayed a couple times a year to keep the weeds down. Most of the tenants have kept their yards very clean. I find this trailer court filled with very fine people. Once I got acquainted with these people, I had no problem being there any time of day or night. I found that they were my friends. They always made me feel comfortable being there. I guess if someone feels it is scary, it is because they don’t know the good people who live there.

There was mention of a citation given to me because of failing to comply with installing a toilet. As I mentioned earlier, this is not my trailer so it was not me who was given a citation but the home owner. It was my responsibility to make sure there was water available so he could get the toilet installed and working. There was water there so my part was completed and I was never cited for anything.

When I purchased this court the water system was rather old. We had issues where the water bills were much higher than they should have been, so finally I went through and tore up the whole court and put in a completely new water system, taking new lines to each mobile home.

The issue with the garden hoses, again, is the responsibility of each owner. My responsibility is to get the water there. Theirs is to hook up and get the water inside their homes.

When we put the new water system it was done by a contractor who followed the rules, I assume. Therefore, the water should not be an issue except for maybe the meter. I was told that several multi resident housing units in the city have just one meter. That is just the way it has been done so this really isn’t an issue as was made to believe from the article.

I have tried to provide an affordable place for people to live. I have people come and spend a short time before they find a home or bigger apartment, and I have people who come and spend years. I love those people and wouldn’t feel good at all about the situation if is really was as it appears in the article.

I am not sure if it was misinformation given out by the city people or if it was the way the information was understood and then written in the newspaper.

We do hope to have a place in Ephraim that is a respectable place, a place that will be a plus for Ephraim. We enjoy living in Ephraim as much as everyone else and hope to do our part to make it a nice place to live. I live across from another trailer court in town and

know what it is like.

I hope we will not be found to be like a flock of chickens taking after one and pecking the other chicken until it is dead. After I read the article I was rather glad I wasn’t at the meeting. I felt like I might have been pecked at and pecked at hoping I would totally go away.

 

Editor’s Note: Greg Soter has been a public affairs consultant to the Sanpete Water Conservancy District for several years in its effort to gain approval of the Narrows Project. Following is a comment Soter has submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in support of a final permit for Narrows construction. Comments are being accepted until March 22 (see story on A1).

 

I’d like to share several observations in connection with the Narrows Project in Sanpete County. It is my intent that these comments will help lead the Corps of Engineers to issue a permit for construction of the Narrows, as proposed.

Creation of the Narrows would serve the public’s interest well for these (among other) reasons:

Our nation’s integrity:  While I understand that “keeping the country’s promises” may not be part of the Corps of Engineers’ mission statement or responsibility, to me it is a festering misfortune that Sanpete County has been promised this project for roughly 80 years. The promise has not yet been kept.

Absolute integrity ought to be a prime objective for every segment of the federal government. The Corps of Engineers is now in a position to help make good on a very old promise (I realize, it wasn’t your promise) by permitting the Narrows. Or, the Corps could further stifle the promise by denying a permit, or issue a “weakened” permit that leaves Sanpete effectively without what it has been promised. I urge the Corps to step up and demonstrate the level of integrity that should permeate our entire federal government.

Enable Sanpete to use the water it owns:  The water rights for the Narrows Project absolutely belong to Sanpete. The ownership has been discussed, disputed, and adjudicated. The State of Utah’s water technicians say the water is Sanpete’s. Utah’s Supreme Court said the water is Sanpete’s.

But ownership of the water is of little/no use to Sanpete if the contentions and objections of various groups over the decades have left Sanpete without the ability to capture and store what it owns for use when it’s needed. The public interest would be well served by allowing Sanpete to build the reservoir it needs to use the water it owns.

Environmentally favorable:  From my perspective, the Narrows would be an environmental improvement. I have walked the proposed reservoir location, from the road (S.R, 264) north to the dam site, and to a lesser extent to the south of S.R. 264 along Gooseberry Creek.

At present, nearly the entire proposed footprint of the Narrows Reservoir is an unremarkable, not particularly attractive, pasture. The same site would become an attractive environmental asset if we created a reservoir there. It would be both a visual and a recreational improvement. (I do not subscribe to the theory that “untouched” is always environmentally better.)

I suppose a trained environmentalist could correctly point out that creating the Narrows would cause some “damage” to the proposed reservoir site and to banks of the Gooseberry Creek. My response is twofold:  First, that’s why we have mitigation possibilities. Second, whatever changes may take place at both the reservoir site and Gooseberry (above and below the proposed reservoir) are more than balanced by the desirability of a small body of water that becomes a visual, functional and recreational asset. It’s a tradeoff that I believe serves the public interests well.

A sizable economical asset:  It’s no secret that Sanpete is not an economically advantaged county. Most people don’t live in Sanpete because of generous income possibilities. Granted, that’s their choice.

Still, it serves the public interest to do what we can to enhance Sanpete citizens’ ability to improve their financial circumstances. The Narrows would improve farm incomes by allowing greater per-acre, per-season yields. Better farm incomes create direct and spin-off jobs.

More jobs and better incomes could enable more young Sanpete residents to secure higher education, then utilize that education in Sanpete, not elsewhere. It’s a highly-desirable, ascending spiral. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  (John F. Kennedy said that in defense of a dam project in 1963, incidentally.)

The $34 million construction budget alone will create 369 man-years of employment, according to the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. Many of the construction jobs will go to locals. The combined economic benefits of the Narrows are a very significant benefit to the public interest.

Recreational facilities:  I like boats and lakes. Creating a small recreational lake—stocked with fish—at the top of Fairview Canyon appeals to me a lot. If we have to tolerate a few environmental offsets to gain the recreational advantages the Narrows Reservoir will offer, it’s a worthwhile trade-off in my mind. These recreation facilities will serve the public interests well.

I strongly urge the Corps of Engineers to issue a permit for the Narrows Project to be built, the way it is presently proposed.

 

Greg Soter is a resident of Orem, Utah, with ancestral roots in Mt. Pleasant and Fairview. The thoughts expressed in this letter are the opinions he has developed over numerous years involvement with the Narrows Project.

How can a newspaper print the truth about public issues when public officials refuse to respond?

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

8-4-2016

 

During my time working at the Messenger, I’ve found one of the most difficult challenges my colleagues and I face is poor cooperation from certain public officials as we try to do our jobs.

Journalism, at its core, is the dissemination of truth to the public. We deal in words, and any true journalist cares that their words ring of truth.

But it’s hard to get the truth when elected or appointed public officials refuse to communicate with us or deliberately make public records difficult to get.

Beyond my own reporting and writing, I manage our full-time editorial staff and the freelance writers who contribute to the Messenger. I give them writing assignments and offer direction when they hit roadblocks on their path to the truth.

A day rarely goes by when one of my writers doesn’t say to me, “I have left messages and emails all week with (insert public official’s name here) and they have not returned any of them.”

This is certainly not always the case. A number of public officials in Sanpete not only know when the law requires them to cooperate with the media but are consistently willing to help us report the truth by facilitating access to public records.

Gunnison City Recorder Janell Braithwaite is a perfect example. Whether through a simple phone interview or by providing prompt access to the public documents we request under the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), she is consistently helpful.

When communication does break down, the most common reasons are lack of training concerning open records laws and simple unwillingness to cooperate.

Kudos to the town of Mayfield whose mayor, John Christensen, held a training session during a town council meeting to ensure Mayfield’s leadership knew the details of the Utah open meetings and open records laws.

Christensen said he decided to schedule the training because the town recently got a new city council member. The mayor said, “These are good laws, and it’s important that the people running a city or town know them.”

If more leaders made sure training happens, it could save them a lot of headache down the road. For example, controversy erupted over an unadvertised emergency meeting of Fountain Green City Council members that some residents, and even other council members and city staff, called “inappropriate” and “illegal.”

In that case, the issue at hand was minor (a softball tournament). But questions about whether or not the laws were being followed remain.

A surprising number of town administrations are unaware that Utah law requires audio recordings of open public meetings to be made available to anyone who wants them within three days after the meeting.

A number of government bodies across Sanpete County record their meetings on digital recorders and make the recordings available online promptly and free of charge.

But one North Sanpete city requires the person requesting a recording to purchase a new USB thumb drive for each request. City officials claim this practice reduces the potential for the spread of viruses.

Decide for yourself if you think that hassle and expense of providing a fresh thumb drive are deliberately intended to discourage the public and press from asking for the recording, especially considering that the Utah Public Notice website makes it quite simple (and free) to make digital recordings available for download with no risk of virus infection.

Insufficient training in the laws regarding public records is not the only factor limiting the cooperation we get from public officials. We deal with officials who make a conscious effort not to respond to any of our questions or who refuse to call us back altogether.

This happens frequently. It’s frustrating.

I realize it is possible that those who refuse to participate in even the briefest of inquiries might have a semi-legitimate reason to not cooperate with us. Maybe they had a bad experience with the press before. Maybe something got printed by us or some other newspaper that wasn’t accurate. Or maybe even if it was accurate, they perceive it as having had a negative effect on them, professionally or personally.

Even if that is so, all of us are only human and are merely trying to do our job. The best way to make sure something that goes to print is accurate is to fill our Messenger reporters in on the truth.

If something has the potential to impact the citizens of Sanpete County, we want to report it. Please, I say to all you public officials out there who don’t feel like getting us those documents, or don’t have 5 minutes to answer a couple questions: “Don’t give it to us; give it to the public you serve, through us, whether you be elected, appointed or hired.”

Once, I overheard a conversation Messenger publisher Suzanne Dean was having with a public official who was reluctant to give details on an impending fee increase.

Dean quoted John Milton. “Let [truth] and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

That stuck with me, and at the core of that quote is an implication. If you are not doing anything wrong, the truth can set you free— at least from the barrage of calls, emails and voice mails left on your phone, either by me or one of my determined and persistent reporters.