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Manti family turns trash into sustainable home heating


By Lauren Evans




Eco-friendly logs drying

MANTI – In a family home tucked away in Manti, Jerry and Ken Sorenson have innovated the perfect way to not only heat their home, but also reduce their carbon footprint.

Jerry Sorensen lives in his four-generationally owned home with his family and his father, Ray Sorensen. They have a yard of ducks, chickens, pheasants, quail and a fish pond filled with natural runoff water at first glance.

The home is over 100 years old with original wood flooring and wooden furniture. The walls are decorated with family heirlooms and original art pieces. An old potbelly stove sits against the wall burning not wood logs, but actually the family’s recycled trash logs.

The dense logs used to heat the Sorensen home in Manti are made by soaking shreds of paper into a sort of pulp.

Ken Sorensen was watching a PBS program about a family that had been compacting biological materials to create burnable bricks to avoid using charcoal. Ken found his
inspiration from this concept to create something similar for his own home.

Ken and Jerry began building a mechanism to compact materials into solid,

burnable pieces. After a few attempts, Ken and Jerry built their most recent model out of scrap metal they had laying around, costing them absolutely nothing.

The Sorensen family uses their paper and cardboard trash from the house to create their ecofriendly logs. “We discovered we throw away a lot of paper,” Jerry said. “Now any paper we use we just throw in the shredder.”

The paper products from the house are shredded and mixed with water. The wet paper is then used to fill short, wide plastic pipes. Using the lever, the paper is

The mixture is loaded into a press, which is made entirely of scrap metal, which creates the dense logs.

pressed down as the water squeezes out of small holes drilled into the pipes. The logs are removed from the pipe and left in the sun to dry out. The family also uses leaves, sawdust and grass clippings from around the yard to make the logs.

The Sorensen family not only uses the logs to heat the family home, but they are also used to cook in the original wood burning cooktop stove they have in the kitchen. Th e family cooked their entire Thanksgiving dinner using the homemade logs and old stove the past two years.

Jerry says, “Some people say it’s inconvenient to take out ashes but I think it’s inconvenient to have to work longer to pay your utility bills. We’re recycling and getting rid of our garbage while heating our home.” This creative step is ecofriendly and saves money leaving everyone satisfied.

Cowboy singer, songwriter will perform this Friday in Ephraim




EPHRAIM—A performer who has been heralded as possibly the best singer-songwriter in cowboy-western music will perform at the Eccles Center on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
And in a kind of a different twist, David Stamey will be accompanied by the Snow College Orchestra, directed by Dr. Brent Smith.
Stamey appeared at Snow about a year ago and drew a good crowd, so the Horne School of Music decided to invite him back, Smith said.
“His tunes are interesting, both poetically and musically,” he said. “He incorporates a variety of appealing melodic, rhythmic and harmonic elements around words that really make cowboy and western life come alive.
“At Snow, we try to help the music students understand that there are great performers and musicians in all genres or types of music. Dave Stamey comes across as one of the current ‘greats’ in the cowboy-western genre.”
Originally from Montana, Stamey has been a working cowboy, rancher, mule packer and tour guide, “so he understands the territory well and he also knows his audience,” according to the website allmusic.com.
The Western Music Association has named Stamey Entertainer of the Year six times, male performer of the year six times and songwriter of the year five times.
In three different years, True West Magazine named him “best living solo musician.”
Some of his best known songs are “The Vaquero Song,” “Come Ride with Me,” “The Bandit Joaquin,” “Song for Jake” and “Buckaroo Man.”
General admission tickets are $20. Tickets for students 5-18 are $15. For more information, call the box office at 283-7478.

How a rogue act saved a priceless piece of local history


By Randal B. Thatcher




Many of you will remember that popular Paul Harvey radio series from the 70s, where he would recount a well-known story, but add some little-known angle, or forgotten fact, about the event; always concluding with his signature tag line: “And now you know the rest of the story.”

It is in this same spirit that I wish to add a long overlooked postscript to a popular local story that you probably thought you knew.

You likely read about, or heard about, or maybe even attended, the rededication of that beautiful old 1899 school building in Spring City a couple years ago: the culmination of Herculean efforts to raise funds and finally complete the restoration of that grand old edifice.

That wonderful old building stands today, beautifully restored, as a tribute to the dedication and determination of many, whose names are likely known to you. But there is one name that’s gone largely unmentioned. Until now…

There was a time, during the late 60s—after a newer elementary school building had been built—when that old 1899 schoolhouse seemed nothing more than an abandoned old eyesore in the middle of town. So, perhaps it was no real surprise that the city council of that time had voted to squeeze whatever money they could from the decaying old husk, including selling off the old bell to a company in California.

As word began to spread, however, that the old bell was to be trucked off to the highest bidder—that same old bell that had been such a reassuring and heartening sound in the town every day for so many years—one particular townsperson took particular exception.

Rather than fight city hall, Willard Hansen simply loaded his biggest block-and-tackle system into his truck, along with his middle son, Howard, and drove over to the old school.

This was no clandestine mission to be carried out under cloak of darkness, but a blatantly unabashed midday act of civil disobedience, to save an important piece of local heritage.

As father and son were on the roof, securing pulleys to lower the bell down the side of the old building and into the waiting truck below, they were spied by a passerby, who inquired as to their unauthorized doings. That fellow just happened to be the sitting principal of the new elementary school, Roger Allred.

After they’d explained to him exactly what they were up to, Roger cogitated for just a few seconds, before replying, “Let me help you!”

The old bell was soon secreted safely away in one of Willard’s old granary bins, where it remained, hidden and protected, for many years.

Fast forward to the early 80s: Spring City had just been declared a National Historic District, rekindling a collective pride of the town’s heritage, and inspiring the local DUP chapter to undertake a monumental effort to save the old school.

It was during this time of excited fervor over local history and heritage, that one of the DUP members just happened to lament, within earshot of a certain Roger Allred, how sad it was that the old bell hadn’t been saved, as it could’ve become the crowning jewel in the old school’s restoration.

I can only imagine the sly and knowing grin on Roger’s face, as he suggested to this woman that she just might want to pay a visit to the home of Mr. Willard Hansen.

Within a few days, Willard heard a knock on his door, and opened it to discover a group of inquisitive DUP women standing on his front porch.

Only after he was satisfied that their motives were pure, and their interest truly restoration-minded, did he escort them to the door of one of his older, little-used granary bins, for a revelatory peek inside.

I like to picture the beaming faces of those women, as they gazed with shocked delight upon that old bell, long believed to be lost and gone forever.

With what little budget they had, and the clever help of super-handyman John Western and his crew, they managed to get the old bell hung back in its former spot, and even got it ringing… sort of… for a while.

This is where the Friends of Historic Spring City enters the story, to help with consistent and concerted fundraising, and where restoration expert, Craig Paulsen, comes into the picture.

It took 30 years, but that 1899 school is finally fully restored, along with its crowning jewel—that same old beloved bell that Willard Hansen single-handedly rescued all those years ago. And an important part of that restoration was figuring out how to get it ringing again, and resonantly announcing the top of every hour for us grateful and gratified townspeople.

I heard that old bell clanging out the noon-hour just yesterday, during a stroll to the post-office, and it made me smile.

But, whenever Richard and Karen Hansen hear that bell—Willard’s son and daughter-in-law—it means even more. “It helps me remember Willard and Howard every time it rings,” says Karen, “and always brings them closer.” And Richard is certain that, somewhere, in that other dimension, they both must be smiling.

And now you know the rest of the story!


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New Life

After 30-year health battle, Lynn Zaritsky walks, hikes, and runs for the Legislature


By Suzanne Dean





Mark and Lynn Zaritsky on the deck behind their home in Mt. Pleasant.

MT. PLEASANT—Christmas is about new life. The holiday celebrates the arrival of Jesus on earth. His mission was to make it possible for people to die and then live again.

A Mt. Pleasant woman has had a very personal experience with new life, with a kind of rebirth at age 66 after more than 30 years of debilitating illness.

For all those years, Lynn Zaritsky, now 70, suffered from what was first misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis (M.S.), and later diagnosed as Stiffman’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes muscles to stiffen and can cause the body to go into involuntary contortions.

Today, she is not sure what was wrong with her. It could have been Stiffman’s Syndrome combined with Celiac Disease, a disorder in the body’s ability to metabolize gluten. Or it could have been an extreme case of Celiac Disease that impacted muscle movement.

“My longest time (in the hospital) all at once was six months,” she says. “There was three months, four months, six months again. I stopped counting after I’d been in the hospital for three years altogether, counting every admission. I stopped counting because it was so depressing. Keep in mind that I was still trying to raise my children.”

Zaritsky was born and grew up in Medford, Ore., located on the Pacific Coast about 25 miles north of the California border. She attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland and graduated from what is now Southern Oregon State University in Ashland, Oregon.

While in college, she was a copy aide at the Portland Oregonian, a statewide daily newspaper in Oregon. After college, she taught English as a second language (ESL) in Greece and worked for an English language newspaper there. Later, she taught ESL to Southeast Asian refugees and others in Eugene, Oregon for about three years.

When she was 29, she went home to Medford, where she met and married her husband, Mark. They lived on a 14-acre property outside Medford where she had lived growing up. “We had horses, goats, chickens, a dairy cow, a dog,” she says. “I really am a very rural person.”

Lynn had always been physically active. But after the birth of her second child, she noticed she couldn’t move her legs normally. “It was very difficult for me to walk, pretty much overnight.”

She was referred to a neurologist, who told her she probably had M.S. That scared her. She had heard about a young woman who was a cello sensation, but got M.S. and died. “I was really worried about what my future would look like, what the future would be like for my children,” she says.

Unfortunately, she had no idea at that point how bad her illness would get.

The family stayed in the Medford area, where Mark taught at a Catholic school. They had a third child. “I could still walk,” Lynn says, “but it was really difficult.”

At times, the heaviness in her legs got to where when she went to the grocery store, she ended up abandoning her cart and everything in it “because I couldn’t stand up anymore.”

She got involved with the M.S. Society, where people told her, “You need to accommodate your disease.” That’s when she got a wheelchair.

In her mid to later 30s, Lynn and Mark decided to move to Utah. Enrollment had dropped at the school where Mark was teaching. The Zaristkys reasoned that there would always be plenty of children to teach in Utah.

Eventually, they settled in Salem. When Lynn was about 40, she had her fourth child. She felt pretty good while she was pregnant. But after the baby was born, her disorder came on with a vengeance. She started shaking so bad her wheelchair started coming apart.

She also started having a strange response known as apostonic posture. When she was startled, she would lurch into a kind of backward fetal position where her back was arched, her arms went upward by her head, her palms angled backward sometimes spraining her wrists, and her fingers curled digging into her palms.

Then after several hours, her body would go limp and relax into a forward fetal position.

Doctors at Mountain View Hospital in Payson tried high doses of steroids. They didn’t work. Finally, they decided to implant a pump and catheter to deliver medicine directly into what is known as the “intrathecal space” in the back where spinal fluid flows.

After a while, her main doctor in Payson, an anesthesiologist, declared, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what this is, but this is not M.S.”

So at about 45, she was referred to the University of Utah Medical Center and to a widely known M.S. neurologist. She ended up being in and out of the U. Med Center for the next two years.

The doctor lifted Lynn’s leg. It stayed in the air. After several minutes, it plopped back to the bed.

He told her she had either Isaac’s Disease or Stiffman’s Syndrome. “We’ll know in the morning,” he said.

The next day, he told her it was Stiffman’s, one of 11 cases he’d seen over his long career. The syndrome is caused by lack of an antibody called gammaimunobutriac acid or GBA or short. When you use your muscles, GBA helps them to return to their relaxed position. Without GBA, when muscles move or tighten, they stay that way.

Her doctor recommended continuing to use a pump and a catheter to deliver  baclofen, an anti-spasticity drug, into her spinal column.

But there seemed to be endless problems with the pump and catheter. The catheter kept bending, breaking or getting disconnected from the pump. Lynn says if she’s counting correctly, she went through 11 operations to fix or replace the catheter. Once, doctors mistakenly removed the pump instead.

Finally, she was told she needed a “heavy-duty” catheter. She waited in the hospital two weeks for the special device to arrive.

“I said, ‘Enough,’” she recalls. She called the anesthesiologist from Mountain View who also practiced at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. UVRMS was a lot closer to home. “Please put me in Provo,” she said. It can’t be any worse than this.”

So at about age 47, she transferred to UVRMC, where she ended up being treated, on and off, for another six years.

The Zarisky family during a time when Lynn was diagnosed with Stiffman’s Syndrome. From left are Ben, Mark, Sam, Lynn, Libby and Megan.

Her UVRMC doctor was able to quickly find and implant a heavy-duty catheter. “I started moving better, having a better life,” she says.

But complications arose. During the surgeries at the U. Med Center, the dura, the lining around the spinal column, had been punctured. Medicine was leaking through the holes and puddling in her back. Meanwhile, more medicine was being pumped into the spinal area. She was overdosing on baclofen. More than once, she stopped breathing.

Her UVRMC doctor did “a huge, awful surgery” to repair the dura, “which is like sewing wet Kleenex,” she says. He replaced the catheter, which by then, was broken. And he pulled an 8-inch section of an old catheter out from her spinal column. It had apparently been left during a previous surgery.

“I recovered from that, was good for a little while, and then I started overdosing and underdosing again.”

With her doctors, she decided to give up on catheters. She tried two more approaches, one using an IV drug, and one a dialysis-type procedure to clean an antibody that was contributing to muscle dysfunction out of her blood. In one way or other, both treatments backfired.

One day during the years of treatments, she was in the hospital being weaned off Versed, a benzodiazepine, similar to Valium or Xanax, which she had been given to try to relax her muscles.

“I was really depressed,” she says. Mark and the children came by. When Mark stood next to her bed, she told him, “I just can’t do this anymore. Can’t you just let me go?”

Her husband turned to their four children. “You know, your mom is really tired,” he said. “Would it be okay if she left, if she moved on?”

One of the kids said, “No.” Another said “No” more emphatically. And then all four said “No” pretty much in unison.

Mark said, “How many of you can help your mom through this?” he asked.

“They all raised their hands, all five of them,” including Mark, Lynn recalls. “That’s what kept me alive.”

In 1996, she started writing a column on disability issues for the Salt Lake Tribune. It became nationally syndicated and ran in large dailies in other states.

“I had to find a reason for this disease, some way I could feel that I was living for a reason, not just using taxpayer’s money,” she says.

Sometimes she received letters from other people with disabilities asking for help with their situations. The column continued for five years. “It had a good run,” she says.

She also started working for the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City. She was assigned to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect of people with disabilities at the Utah State Hospital, Utah State Prison, Utah State Developmental Center, jails, nursing homes and youth facilities around the state.

The Zaritskys figured out their house in Salem wouldn’t be paid off until they were in their 80s. So in 2008, they decided to sell it, take the equity and buy “way down.” That’s when they found land and built a small, handicapped accessible house in Mt. Pleasant. Their serene property backs up against a stream, so they look out from their deck onto thick trees and other vegetation.

It was four years ago, when Lynn was 66, that dramatic changes came into her life. A cousin in Oregon, who is a nurse, saw an article by a doctor in Great Britain who had several patients with Stiffman’s Syndrome. Some of them also had Celiac’s Disease.

“He started looking into the chemistry of it. He took them off gluten. He said people (with the disease) who absolutely excluded gluten made significant progress.”

After verifying the doctor’s credentials, Lynn wrote to him. She asked if the improvement had been long-term. He said “yes.”

“So I went on a total gluten-free diet, and here I am,” she says.

First, she noticed her joints didn’t hurt anymore. “And then I could walk. I didn’t remember what it was like to walk without…my muscles resisting every movement I attempted.”

She said her children noticed that she was not only walking, but walking fast. “Then I realized how much lighter my legs felt.” She started trying to run.

On July 4, 2017, she entered a fun run sponsored by the Sanpete Pantry. “I wanted to enter, and I did it,” she says.

She started hiking in Maple Canyon to get her heart rate up and build her endurance. She even joined a Sierra Club trip to Glacier National Park, where she helped conduct a census of mountain goats and picas. At one point, everyone had to do a 6-mile hike. She didn’t think she would be able to hike that far. But she made it.

“I’m back, I’m back,” she thought to herself.

Earlier this year, she even decided to run for the Utah Legislature. She heard the incumbent Republican who represented Sanpete and Juab counties was running unopposed. She felt that wasn’t right—people needed a choice. So even through both counties are overwhelmingly Republican, she filed for the Democratic nomination, walked neighborhoods passing out literature, and ran radio and newspaper ads.

Lynn Zaritsky pets dog owned by Kelsey Allred of Mt. Pleasant and her little boy, Sean. The Allreds came out for a campaign picnic featuring Zaritsky and Ben McAdams, candidate for Congress in the 4th Congressional District of Utah.

She didn’t win, but she got some of her positions out, including talking with voters about her experience with disabilities.

As she looks back over decades of extraordinary pain and difficulty, capped by unexpected rebirth, she, like many who go through extreme experiences, says she’s actually grateful.

“Every one of my children has told me my experience and their growing up (with it) has made them who they are,” she says.

All four children are responsible, successful, good citizens. Three out of four have gone to college.

Her daughter, Megan, 38, lives on the Wasatch Front, and is a recreation therapist working with at-risk youth.

Her son, Sam, 35, of Eagle Mountain, works for Apple in an IT position and has a second job at the Utah State Developmental Center in American Fork.

Ben, 32, of Cottonwood Heights, handles computer systems for a group of lawyers in Salt Lake City. His wife is an ICU nurse.

Her youngest daughter, Libby, 30, lives in the Las Vegas area where she manages a restaurant.

Reflecting on her life, she says the same thing her children say. Her health problems “made me who I am. I have an understanding of grief and of trauma and of bad situations that has made me … really want to help other people get through those situations.

“As hard as it was,” she says, “It was worth it. Not that I would do it again.”

Candlelight honorees Carol Nielsen and Vaughn Mickelsen are seated in front of the 13 straight-A students who helped present the candles. The students (L-R) are Riley Anderson, Alivya Osborn, Elsey Olson, Kaystan Larsen, Evan Wright, Mishelle Gankhuag, Jazmyne Sharp, Rowen Eichelberger, Janessa Bridges, Ryan Peterson, Brynlee Wathen, Gracie Gordon and Cynthia Bishop

Ephraim Candlelight

Carol Nielsen, Ephraim and Vaughn Mickelsen, Manti honored as Candlelight recipients


By Suzanne Dean





EPHRAIM—A woman described as “an angel to her family” and a man who has lived a “life of service to family, community, country and the advancement of education” were the honorees at the Ephraim Middle School Candlelight Service last week.

It was the 68th year that the middle school, as part of its Christmas music concert, presented candles festooned with evergreen boughs to two residents—one from the Manti-Sterling area and one from Ephraim—recognizing a lifetime of service to family, church and community.

Kaystan Larsen escorts Carol Nielsen to podium after she is named one of the Ephraim Middle School candle recipients.

The recipients were Carol Poulson Nielsen, who was born and raised in Ephraim, and who, besides raising four children as a single mother, worked more than 25 years as a paraeducator in local schools, and Vaughn Mickelsen of Manti, who served in the military, taught in secondary schools, was a justice court judge and served on the Manti City Council.

The program last Wednesday, Dec. 12 at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts kicked off with performances by the middle school jazz band, symphonic band and seventh and eighth grade orchestras.

The jazz band, conducted by Josh Rasmussen, started the program with a medley of contemporary Christmas songs, including “Let it Snow,” “Santa Baby” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Then the symphonic band, also led by Rasmussen, accompanied George Richardson, a social studies teacher, in a dramatic reading titled, “A Christmas Tale: Beware of the Krampus.”

As the band played spooky sounding takeoffs on familiar Christmas songs, Richardson told the story of what happens when a child has been naughty: Santa doesn’t come and “Krampus” comes instead.

Following the Krampus tale, the seventh and eighth grade orchestras, led by Lisa Murray, played mostly classical numbers, including the Hallelujah Chorus and themes from the Nutcracker Suite.

Then it was time for 13 eighth graders who had earned straight A’s in sixth and seventh grades to present the Christmas candles.

Principal Tim Miller read a tribute to Nielsen. As a young woman, she married her childhood sweetheart, David Nielsen, and had four children, Craig, Kaye, Doug and Karl. She now has 18 grandchildren and 43 great-grandchildren.

After 17 years of marriage, her husband was killed in a trucking accident. The tribute said she is grateful for help from family and community in raising her children.

But her children and community are equally grateful for her, the written tribute suggested.

Her years as a paraeducator included work in special education at Gunnison Valley Middle School, assisting in kindergarten at Ephraim Elementary School and 22 years in resource classrooms in the district. Though retired, she continues to volunteer at Ephraim Elementary School helping children with reading.

According to the tribute read at the Candlelight program, while serving as Relief Society president in her ward in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she met many older women in the community.

Although no longer Relief Society president, she has continued to care for the senior women by taking them to lunch, giving them rides or calling to check on them.

“She has always been grandma to the children of her ward who needed some extra attention,” the citation read. “After 30 years, some of these children remember her kindness and still reach out to her.”

The tribute added, “She is loved and revered by every one of her family members…She has helped with her grandchildren’s education, helped when times were tough for them, and taken her family all over the country on wonderful vacations…She is the perfect example of love and kindness.”

In response, Nielsen said simply, “I’m sure there are many who deserve it, but I appreciate it. Thank you so much.”

Ephraim Middle School principal Tim Miller (at podium) introduces Vaughn Mickelsen as one of the candlelight honorees.

Then Miller, the school principal, read a similar tribute to Mickelsen. He was born and raised in Salina and attended North Sevier High School.

During the Korean War, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and became an aircraft electrician and instrument specialist at a base in Alaska.

“Under his command,” the tribute said, “he mentored and instructed 20 airmen who kept 25 F-89s flying.”

Later, he served in the Air Force Reserves, and ultimately became a first sergeant in the 145th Field Artillery unit of the Utah National Guard, based in Manti. In all, he served for 29 years in the military.

He attended Snow College, graduated from Utah State University in history, and did graduate work at Stanford and Michigan State.

He taught history, geography and economics in Monticello, San Juan County, and in the Davis and South Sanpete school districts. According to the tribute, “he had a knack for helping students tolerate economics, even if not enjoying it.”

He married Ruth Chapman of Manti. They had four children, Lance, Leah, Larry and Lynette. Ruth died of cancer in 1988.

Mickelsen then married Mary Kay Christensen of Moroni. About that time, he retired from teaching, “but he didn’t retire from life,” the tribute said.

He was a justice court judge in Moroni and Manti for 12 years; a Scoutmaster for 20 years; served two terms on the Manti City Council; and served in the bishopric and on the stake high council in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and he and Mary Kay served two missions to Australia.

Carol Nielsen of Ephraim and Vaughn Mickelsen of Manti are center stage at the Eccles Center after receiving Christmas candles during the Ephraim Middle School Candlelight Service.

Today, he continues to tend his 170-acre farm west of Manti and grow a large garden.

“As a community, state and country, we are all better for Vaughn Mickelsen’s efforts,” the tribute said.

Mickelsen responded, saying, “I really don’t know if I deserve this or not. I’m grateful for the opportunity of being of service to the community.”



Alexi Thatcher, who played Saint Lucia during a Santa Lucia/Festival of Lights event at the Ephraim Co-op last weekend, reads fairytales to children from the audience.

Santa Lucia Festival of Lights

Swedish tradition brings flavor to holiday season in honor of St. Lucia


By Suzanne Dean





EPHRAIM—Participants in the second Santa Lucia celebration, sometimes called the Festival of Lights, enjoyed an authentic Swedish celebration last Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Ephraim Co-op.

The event, featuring a menu of salmon, beet-and-apple salad and other Scandinavian dishes, was catered by Cow Camp Catering of Axtell.

Alexi Thatcher, holding candle, and others in the processional, wait for a crown of candles to be placed on Alexi’s head during Santa Lucia/Festival of Lights celebration at the Ephraim Co-op last weekend. Alexi took the role of Saint Lucia.

Gloria Winter, of the Ephraim Co-op Board, and Jan Jonson, who was born in Sweden and has spent time there as an adult, kicked off the event. Winter announced each item on the menu in English, and Jonson gave the Swedish translation.

Then Winter told the legend of Santa Lucia: She was a Christian married to a pagan, and she carried food to the persecuted Christians who were hiding in dark catacombs below the streets in Rome. To free up her arms so she could carry more food, she put candles on her head to light her way.

Ultimately, she was persecuted, blinded and killed. Later, the Catholic Church declared her to be a saint.

Much later, people in a coastal town in Sweden were on the verge of starving. According to legend, a boat docked, and a woman with candles on her head came ashore and delivered food.

Dec. 13, the darkest day of the year, is Santa Lucia Day in Sweden. In families, the oldest girl assumes the role of Saint Lucia, wears candles on her head and serves a special breakfast consisting of a bun (“lussekatter”) and coffee to the family.

But the whole nation of Sweden also celebrates by holding a Santa Lucia competition, comparable to Miss America in the United States. There’s a parade of the contestants, fol

Ephraim City Councilman Greg Boothe leads audience in Christmas carols at conclusion of Santa Lucia festival.

lowed by “star boys” in cone hats carrying wands with stars on the ends.

After Winter explained the history festival, lights in the Co-op were turned off. Saint Lucia, played by Alexi Thatcher, daughter of Richard and Larissa Thatcher of Parowan, and a granddaughter of Jan Jonson, said a few things about the meaning of the event.

Then she and her entourage, lit by the candles on Alexi’s head, walked among the various tables. Others in the Santa Lucia processional included Kaydence Thatcher, Alexi’s sister, and Marian and Catie Seely, daughters of Scott and Marie Seely of Ephraim.

The evening concluded with Alexi reading fairytales to children from the audience and Ephraim City Councilman Greg Boothe leading the audience in Christmas carols.

Lynn Benson takes a big bow to the applause of Snow College Symphonic Band members and the audience after conducting “Sleigh Bells” during a concert at the Greenwood Student Center.

Dream comes true for cowboy as he leads Christmas orchestra

Sterling man, 78, called out of audience to direct Snow Symphonic Band


By Suzanne Dean





EPHRAIM—Lynn Benson, 78, who lived in Sterling for the past few years, never said he had a dream of leading an orchestra. After all, he had no training in music.

But when music was playing, he frequently waved his arms as if he were conducting. “Air conducting,” his wife, Janet, called it.

The Bensons, who lived near his daughter, were getting ready to leave Sanpete County. In fact, as of Monday, they were living in Sundance, Wyo., in the northeast corner of the state near South Dakota.

But before they left, and before they were a long distance from an institution like Snow College, Janet wondered if an opportunity could be set up for her husband to conduct a real orchestra, maybe just during a practice.

Word of that improbable dream got back to Marci Larsen, assistant to the president at the college, and before long, the wheels were in motion.

Janet got a call from Dr. David Fullmer, director of bands in the Horne School of Music offering to let Lynn Benson conduct “Sleigh Bells,” the final number in a symphonic band concert on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Greenwood Student Center.

“We’re all excited,” Fullmer told Janet. “Do you want this to be a surprise?”

“Of course,” she replied.

Janet Benson bought a baton online.

She contacted some friends, Jim Dain and his wife of Provo, and asked them to come to the concert and invite Lynn and her to join them. And she asked Dain to have his cell phone at the ready to shoot a video of her husband’s performance.

“They were in on the rouse,” she said.

So were the 75 students in the symphonic band. Fullmer told them whatever Lynn Benson did, to keep playing “Sleigh Bells.”

The night of the concert, Janet brought the baton in her purse and slipped it to Fullmer.

Lynn Benson, 78, (right) holds a baton his wife ordered online before taking over for Dr. David C. Fullmer, director of bands at Snow College, to conduct the last number in a symphonic band concert.

The performance proceeded as normal until, near the end, Fullmer put his cell phone to his ear and said, “I have to take this call.”

“Is there a Lynn here?” he asked.

Lynn Benson tentatively raised his hand.

Fullmer pulled out the mail-order baton. Lynn looked at it. “It  looks like something my doctor would use,” he said.

The students and audience broke into laughter.

“Would you like to conduct some music?” Fullmer asked Lynn.

“He was in shock,” his wife says. But he’s not a wall flower. He went up front, and Fullmer gave him a quick lesson in conducting.

Once in front of the band, “he got into it big time,” Janet says.

He ended the number with a big bow, and held his cowboy hat, as the band and audience applauded enthusiastically.

“It was a big surprise. It was a lot of fun. I still can’t believe it happened,” he says.

Spring City plans annual Christmas Eve service




Historic Spring City rock church, which will be site of Spring City community Christmas Eve program Dec. 24 at 7 p.m.

SPRING CITY—A community Christmas Eve program will be presented at the historic Spring City rock church on Monday, Dec. 24 at 7 p.m.

The program consists of Biblical verses telling the Christmas story with music complementing the readings.

Readers and musicians are from Spring City, including Lance Martin, Debi McKay and Rylee McKay.

This program continues the non-denominational tradition established many years ago by Mt. Pleasant’s Presbyterian Church. After the Presbyterian Church closed, the Christmas Eve program continued at the Spring City church.

The public is encouraged to attend this family program. There is no charge. For more information, contact David Rosier 462-3172.

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Candlight tour will benefit community center




Lights are on at the restored Jacob Johnson home in Spring City, one of five homes being showcased at a new Christmas candlelight tour on Saturday.

SPRING CITY—What sponsors describe as a “new tradition,” a candlelight tour of pioneer homes in Spring City, is scheduled Saturday from 4-7 p.m.

Participants in the tour will see charming restored homes decked out for the holidays and have a chance to enjoy live music, hot cider and wagon rides, according to Alison Anderson, president of the Friends of Historic Spring City, which is putting on the event.

Besides the food, music and touring, visitors can purchase paintings by Spring City artists. “We’re calling this the Christmas Miniature Collection,” Anderson says. “These are very small, original paintings, perfect for gifts to your most special friends and loved ones, created by Spring City artists only at Christmastime and specially priced.”

Five homes are on the tour:

  • Jacob Johnson home, 390 S. 100 West, now owned by Alison and Chris Anderson.
  • Charles Crawforth farmhouse, 2 miles south of Spring City on Crawford Lane, now owned by J. Scott Anderson. (Note accompanying feature article.)
  • Andrew Johnson house, 90 S. 100 West, now owned by Donna and Paul Penrod.
  • Iver Peterson granary, 309 N. Main St., now owned by David Rosier.
  • Springfarm House, 50 E. Center St., now owned by Marta and Steve Sloan.

The art sale, music and refreshments will be located at the Spring City Community Center (old school), 45 S. 100 East.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the community center or any of the homes. Please have either a check or correct change. Proceeds go to fund the community center.


Recycling cardboard benefits Sanpete Pantry


By Robert Green




MT. PLEASANT—What started as a $350 investment to buy a used cardboard bailer has helped to feed a lot of hungry people this year.

The Sanpete Pantry has recycled 337,890 pounds of old corrugated cardboard (OCC) through October of this year, reported Sean Kearney, pantry board member and volunteer.

The pantry has collected and recycled more than 4,500 pounds of cardboard per week on average in 2018, he said. This has raised over $14,000 in funds, with all the money going directly to the pantry. The pantry also has an additional 50,000 pounds of cardboard awaiting shipment.

Collections and donations can be brought to the facility at 1080 Blackhawk Blvd. in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park. Additional volunteers and donations are always welcome.

The pantry is asking for volunteers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Family, church and Scout groups can call to arrange a time to volunteer. Please call 435-462-3006 or go to sanpetepantry.com for more information.

Travis Michael Olsen




Travis Michael Olsen

Travis Michael Olsen, 33, passed away unexpectedly Nov. 27, 2018 while working. He was the firstborn of five children to Michael and Margo Olsen Sept. 21, 1985 in Mt. Pleasant, where he was raised.

Travis followed his dad around with a hammer and learned as much as he could, as young as he could. He was a natural-born entrepreneur and builder. He built a multi-room chicken coop at age 10 and, using his mom’s tennis racket, ran his own profitable seeding business before he was a teenager.         He completed his first taxidermy project at age 12, a pheasant he had hatched and raised himself. He was first formally employed at age 14, when he started riding his 4-wheeler to Bear Mountain to work.

In high school, Travis was active in the FFA. His team took state and traveled to nationals in Oklahoma City for rangeland judging. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and he graduated from North Sanpete High in 2004. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Travis was married and sealed to the love and light of his life, Bree Anne Duncan, in the Manti LDS Temple on July 27, 2007. He was her rock, her “calm to my crazy,” her everything.

Travis earned his associate degree from Snow College and a bachelor degree from Utah State University in Business Management. Already a successful businessman, he made it official by graduating in 2010. He owned and operated Double T Lawn Care and Divine Edge Property Management with his brother Tyler.

Travis built and landscaped his own home. He could build or fix anything. If he didn’t know how, he figured it out.

Travis loved to travel with Bree. They most recently visited Iceland, Holland, and Belgium. When he wasn’t with Bree, he was hunting. To say he was a lifelong avid hunter would be an understatement.

Travis had a carefree, easy-going personality and got along with everyone. He didn’t have anything bad to say about anyone and had no enemies or grudges. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, neighbors, and all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife, “son”/dog Batman and parents, all of Mt. Pleasant; sister Megan (Eric) Taylor, Orem; brother Tyler (Lusia) Olsen, Fairview; sister Mailey (Austin) Christensen, Cedar City; brother Tod Olsen, Orem; parents-in-law Keith and Debbie Duncan, Neola; grandmother Maxine Anderson, Fairview; Bree’s siblings; and 17 nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents Robert and Beverly Olsen and Gary Anderson, aunts and uncles Eugene Anderson and Peggy and David Samons, and cousin Clint Anderson.

Funeral services were held Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at 11 a.m. in the Mt. Pleasant North Stake Center. Interment was in the Mt. Pleasant City Cemetery under the care of Rasmussen Mortuary.

Leo Krikorian art on display in St. George



Leo Krikorian

ST. GEORGE—The Sears Art Museum, 155 N. University Ave., St. George, is featuring the art of the late Leo Krikorian, father of Genie Stressing of Manti.

His art will be on display Nov. 30 to Jan. 18, with an opening reception Nov. 30 from 7-8:30 p.m. The museum is open Monday through Friday, 9 am.to 5 p.m.

Krikorian was born in 1922 in California, and as a child during depression years, worked in canneries and on farms. After World War II he studied photography under Ansel Adams in the Art Center School in Los Angeles.

Besides his signature geometric abstracts, black and white photographs are on display.

In the 1950’s, he opened “The Place” in San Francisco for artists, jazz musicians and poets to hang out. He was described as the “grandfather of the beat generation.”

Later, he moved to Paris, France. His artwork has been exhibited in major cities throughout the world. He passed away in 2005.