[Read more…]

[Read more…]

Gunnison plans housing resource fair to encourage local housing growth


By Robert Stevens




GUNNISON—City leaders are hosting a housing resource fair on Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m. at Gunnison City Hall to give people information on home-purchase and home-finance options.

The event is part of an effort to create more housing in the city, to prepare for future growth and to encourage people who work in Gunnison to live there as well.

“The city is sponsoring this event in order to connect our local people to the resources that are available for home owners and future homeowners, such as rehab and weatherization projects, first-time mortgages, reverse mortgages and various federal programs for low and moderate-income housing opportunities,” says Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay.

A number of experts will be on hand to offer advice and information. “These experts can answer questions about debt-to-income ratios and how to prepare to buy a house, along with details of state and federal programs that may be available for your benefit,” Nay says.

They can answer questions such as, “How much can I afford to pay for a home?”, “What kind of loan can I qualify for?” and “What would be my payment per month?,” the mayor said.

“For instance,” she said, “a family making $50,000 who has no debt, can potentially qualify for an $180,000, 33-year loan with a payment of $750 a month.”

Among other experts, Sharlene Wilde and Eric Jorgensen from Neighborworks Community Development Foundation of Salt Lake City will share information on how first-time buyers can participate in USDA Rural Development programs.

The evening won’t be just about getting into a home; it will also offer resources for people looking for home improvement options.

Representatives from the Six County Housing and Community Action team will share information about various federal programs for weatherization and rehabilitation, including grants for insulation, air sealing, heat efficiency, and health-and-safety items such as carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.

There are several crisis grant programs available for qualified homeowners to repair or replace broken furnaces and water heaters. There will also be information available on the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), a loan program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development where the interest is determined by income and can be as low as 1 percent.

“There will be a formal question-and-answer time and an informal time where people can meet directly with these experts,” Nay says. “The city hopes many people will come and learn about these resources and benefit from this housing resource fair.”

After the resource fair, at 7 p.m., the city council will review the results from a local housing study.

As part of Gunnison City’s General Plan update and because of the council’s desire to focus further on housing issues, a study was conducted on housing inventories and housing needs.

James Wood from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business and Marci Milligan of Lotus Community Development will go over the results.

“After reviewing these results and receiving input from the public, the city will draft a 2-year action plan to better meet our housing needs,” Nay says.

“Better housing opportunities for Gunnison City is economic development for Gunnison City,” she says.

According to Nay, currently only 51 percent of the people who work in Gunnison live in the Gunnison Valley. Statistics gathered during formulation of the general plan found the city is growing 1 to 2 percent annually, which is below the growth rate of surrounding cities in Sanpete and Sevier counties.

“The city is committed to improving housing opportunities and a healthy growth of its population and asks for the public’s input and support in these efforts,” Nay says.

Gunnison leaders express hope community can move on from explosive sex abuse case


By Robert Stevens




GUNNISON—People who had an official role in or were close observers of the explosive juvenile sex abuse case that was settled late February agreed on three things when interviewed last week.

They said the case had been exceptionally hard for the whole community and for them personally, they were relieved that the justice system had dealt with the problems, and they hoped everyone could move on.

One of the first steps toward healing divisions and making sure nothing like the recent case happens again may be a town meeting next Monday, March 18 at 8 p.m. at Gunnison Valley High School.

The meeting is sponsored by “Stand Up, Speak Out,” a program initiated by student body officers at the high school.

The recent case in which sexual and physical assaults of young people apparently went on for years without being reported to police reflects a cultural issue, says Melissa Judy, advisor to student body officers and a former Gunnison city councilwoman.

“The purpose of the program (the town hall) is to bring us back together again, not just the school, but the whole community,” she said. “We hope to create a cultural change, not only in the school, but in the community.”

The abuse case cut deeper community divisions than almost any controversy in Sanpete County in years.

Judge Brody Keisel of the 6th District Juvenile Court noted as much in admonitions to both sides at the beginning of the sentencing hearing for a 16-year-old defendant on Feb. 26.

“This is a smaller community,” he said. “It’s a wonderful community in so many different ways….But when matters happen sometimes in a small community, it gets to be very difficult. Neighbor becomes disagreeing with neighbor, friend with friend, sometimes even in families, there’s disagreements.

“Tone it down,” he told people who were in the courtroom to make personal statements prior to sentencing. “This goes to both sides.”

A law enforcement official who asked not to be named said the behavior of the 16-year-old, who ended up with serious charges, had been a “systemic problem for a number of years” and it took police intervention to stop the behavior.

The Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD), he said, originally recommended 25 criminal counts. The county attorney ended up charging 11 counts, and in a plea agreement, the youth admitted to eight counts.

“It’s been a tough case for Carl,” the official said, referring to Carl Wimmer, the school resource officer at Gunnison Valley High School and a member of the GVPD, who ended up as lead investigator in the case.

“Officers have had to stand up to a lot of criticism while maintaining a neutral position,” the official said. “All we are is fact finders. We don’t make decisions” on prosecutions.

Following sentencing, the GVPD posted a statement on its Facebook page commending youth and parents who came forward and reported assaults, and then made statements in court.

“The Gunnison Valley Police Department wants to publicly honor and recognize the courage of the many victims and families in the recent sexual abuse case,” the post read.

“For more than an hour at court this week, victim after courageous victim stood, faced their attacker and spoke truth…We could not be more proud of how the victim families have conducted themselves.”

Blake Donaldson, a city councilman, said he had been friends with the grandfather of the youth who was charged for decades. He agreed with the Messenger’s observation that the youth’s family had given tremendous service to the community.

But he said, “If all those things (described in court) happened, how can you take sides? It’s pretty cut and dried.”

Of the upcoming town hall, he said, “I think that’s the best thing. People need to support coming together.”

He said Gunnison City is beginning to look into a national program called “Communities That Care,” which is credited with cutting teen smoking, drug use and delinquency as much as a third in towns where it has been implemented.

“The basic thing is we need some time to heal,” said Kent Larsen, superintendent of the South Sanpete School District, who lives in Gunnison.

“The justice system will do its part. Its purpose is to heal (the youth) and take care of their problems.”

Two youth victims said in court that they knew of the behavior of the 16-year-old being reported to adults years before it was reported to police, but nothing had been done. The youths didn’t specify who the reports were made to.

Larsen said it would have been nearly impossible for a complaint that reached the school administration, or even a teacher, to not be investigated and for action to not be taken.

He said every complaint of a student behavioral problem is documented in writing, and administrators and teachers are trained to get back to the person who made the complaint and report the action taken.”

“We have checks and balances in place,” he said. “We hardly ever let (a complaint) rest with one person. It’s pretty hard to let something go with that many faces on it. To say nothing gets done is pretty hard to prove or even assume.”

Kim Pickett, who represents the Gunnison Valley on the South Sanpete School Board, said the schools board was “attacked from every side” during investigation and adjudication of the case. “Every group has attacked us for siding with the other group,” he said.
“Let’s move on,” he said. “I hope that people can work together in a positive sense.”

Judy said students at Gunnison Valley High School have already put the abuse controversy behind them.

Student officers and administrators have “made great strides” in implementing the Stand Up, Speak Out program the officers outlined at a packed school board meeting at the height of the controversy.

One element of the program is teachers delivering lessons on character and communication during advisory periods. Teachers give one lesson every other week.

Some of the topics are “What it means to be trustworthy,” “Resiliency” and “Celebrating you.”

Students have discussions with their advisory teachers and write in journals about the topics.

The goal is to help students “know their teachers on a personal level” so they feel comfortable talking to them about any problem they are having at school or at home, Judy said.

Sanpete ‘womenpower’ on display at regional Sterling Scholar competition


By Suzanne Dean




Lucy Kay Quinn (left), Bethany Brynne Lamb and Carli Johansen of North Sanpete High School celebrate their selection as regional Sterling Scholars

RICHFIELD—On Dictionary.com, the words women and power are run together to create the word “womenpower,” which is defined as “potential or actual power from the endeavors of women.”

Womenpower in Sanpete County was on display last Tuesday, March 5 at Richfield High School as four young women from local high schools were named regional Sterling Scholars.

Anna Allred from Manti High School, daughter of Julie and Phil Allred of Ephraim, won the top honor in world languages.

There were three winners from North Sanpete High School. Lucy Kay Quinn, daughter of Jason and Kay Quinn of Fairview, was the winner in visual arts. Carli Johansen, daughter of Darin and Lori Johansen of Spring City, was selected in business and marketing education, while Bethany Brynne Lamb, daughter of Ron and Nicole Lamb of Fountain Green was chosen in speech, theater and forensics.

Biographies read by Kevin Kitchen, a communications manager for the Utah Department of Transportation in Richfield and master of ceremonies, showed what the young women had accomplishments across the spectrum, often in fields other than the ones in which they were honored.

For instance, Anna Allred, the honoree in world languages, has played volleyball and basketball all four years of high school. Lucy Kay Quinn, the winner in visual arts, has taken piano for 10 years and plays lead saxophone in her school band. Carli Johansen, who won in business and marketing, helped build a school in Ghana, Africa. And Bethany Lamb, winner in speech, theater and forensics, has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school.

KariLynn Cox, an adult volunteer who has helped Manti High School nominees prepare portfolios and rehearse for interviews for the past 10 years, says contenders are judged on general scholarship, scholarship or talent in their fields, leadership, community service and a final interview before judges.

“You like to see them really well rounded,” she says. “You like to see a lot of motivation in serving the community in their category.”

Anna Allred of Manti High School was named Sterling Scholar in world languages.

Twelve students from Manti and North Sanpete were named runners up. Runners up from Manti were Mason Thompson, son of Wesley and Susan Thompson of Ephraim, business and marketing; Jessica Corelsen, daughter of Stephen and Brittany Cornelsen of Ephraim, social science; Andrew Olsen, son of Darrel and Corinne Olsen of Ephraim, science; Josh Peterson, son of Matthew and Jennifer Peterson of Manti, speech, theater and forensics; Anna Johnson, daughter of Clifford Johnson and Madeline Johnson of Ephraim, music; and Jaden Sterner, son of Greg and Lindsey Sterner of Manti, general scholarship.

North Sanpete runners up were Kaleb Cox, son of Spencer and Abby Cox of Fairview, social science; Abigail Clawson, daughter of Jayson and Tonya Clawson of Mt. Pleasant, English and literature; Marley Booher, daughter of Jim and Nora Booher of Fairview, music; Coldir Cox, son of Preston and Robyn Cox of Fountain Green, computer and information technology; Lucy Anderson, daughter of Lynn and Pam Anderson of Spring City, world languages; and Hayes Bailey, son of Earl and Aleesha Bailey of Chester, trade and technical education.

Gunnison Valley, which entered students in just six of 15 categories, did not have any winners or runners up this year.

Craig Mathie, vice president of student success at Snow College, was at the awards program to announce a new Snow initiative.

“I feel your energy and I’m inspired by your amazing accomplishments,” Mathie said, adding that Snow would offer a part-tuition scholarship to every student nominated for Sterling Scholar by a high school, “regardless of placement in regional competition.”

The Deseret News has sponsored the Sterling Scholar program for 56 years. This year, the state was divided in to seven regions or areas. Students from more than 130 high schools participated.

Adult volunteers play a key role in the program. For 25 years, Mavanee Loftus, a former reporter for the Richfield Reaper and a secretary for the Sevier County School District, was one of the coordinators of the Central Region awards, including getting press releases about Sterling Scholars to small newspapers in the region. She died last year and was memorialized at the ceremony.

The current volunteer co-chairs for the Central Region are Paul and Molly Foster. Paul Foster is director of parks and recreation for Richfield City.

Spring City mulls creating master plan


By James Tilson




SPRING CITY—Looking toward future growth, the Spring City Council entertained the idea of creating a “master plan” for infrastructure improvements and discussed the possibility of hiring a fire engine boss.

Mayor Neil Sorensen told the council the city’s plans to upgrade their water, sewer and power infrastructure would benefit from being combined into an overall “master plan.” Not only would it help to coordinate the city’s planning, it will also assist in finding funding for the various projects, he said.

“We definitely need a master plan so that we can pursue funding,” said Sorensen. “A master plan will identify needs, but will not specify exact details. It will address Spring City for 20 years of growth.”

In order to identify those future needs, Sorensen along with Jim Bennett, Craig Poulson and George Kinsey created a map showing all the sewer lines, water lines and roads in Spring City limits, along with areas that needed sewer and water line extensions and road improvements.

Based on the map, Sorensen told the council he “roughly” estimated that Spring City would need another 33,500 linear feet of sewer line, at an approximate cost of $1 million. It would also need another 20,000 linear feet of water line, at an approximate cost of $800,000. And it would need another 15,000 linear feet of roadway, with an approximate cost of $150,000 to bring the roads up to gravel, or $300,000 to pave the roads.

The total cost of infrastructure improvements, without adding in possible power improvements, would be $2.2 million. Sorensen noted most of the new lines would be north, south and east ends of the city.

Sorensen also noted the town would eventually need to address the corroding “pen-stock,” or hydro-line pipes that run from the city’s water sources to its hydro-electric generators. Sorensen said the lines had lost almost 30 percent of their capacity due to corrosion. The cost of replacing those lines would bring the total cost of infrastructure improvements to $3.2 million.

Councilman Cody Harmar brought a proposal to the council asking the city to hire a fire engine boss. He explained that after last year’s funding struggles, the fire department looked for new ways to raise funding. They met with great success, largely on the back of wildfire fighting efforts.

Harmar said the fire department earned $130,000 fighting wild fires last year, of which half went straight to members. Approximately $30,000 of those funds went toward repairs, improvements and training, leaving about $36,000 profits over expenses.

By hiring a fire engine boss, Harmar explained, the fire department could earn even more this coming summer. A fire engine boss would be able to take a truck and crew to wider number of areas (out of state, for example) to a larger number of fires.

Sorensen expressed his concern that he did not completely know how this proposal would fit in Spring City’s next budget. The council in general agreed, saying they were in favor of the proposal, but couldn’t act on it without more information. The proposal was deferred to next month, on the condition Harmar continued to prepare the paperwork and advertising.

Courtney Syme, representative from Spring City’s Veterans Memorial Association, spoke to the council about the association’s plans to continue to improve the newly erected veterans’ memorial. Syme told the council the original plan had been to create a “garden corner” on the city’s property, and further improvements were planned. The next projects would be to improve the sidewalks around the memorial, and to re-configure the sprinkler system to protect the memorial.

Syme said the association still had funds available to make the improvements, but may request assistance from the city on certain parts of the projects. Sorensen agreed the city would be helping the association, and had anticipated the projects from previous discussions.

Pantry reports ‘shoestring’ budget to county commission


By James Tilson




MANTI—The leaders of the Sanpete Pantry came back to the county commission a second time to update them on the status of their fundraising efforts.

“We are on a shoestring right now,” said Pantry president Jeff Jarman. “We need any help we can get.”

Jarman and Sean Kearney appeared before the commission last month, and were advised to go to the mayors in Sanpete County to gauge their interest.

Jarman told the commission the mayors were interested in helping, and they came back to the commission to see if the county would be able to help any more than they already were.

“We operate with about 90 percent volunteers,” said Jarman. “And we are getting fewer and fewer all the time.” Jarman listed the major events that Pantry runs each year for fund-raising: The Drive 4 Food golf tournament, the ATV ride, multiple 10K runs and a bowling tournament.

“All of our events take volunteers to run,” he said. “And our volunteers are burning out; they are mostly retirees. Some of them are in their eighth or ninth year of doing this. We are pushing this so much, so we can give our volunteers a break, and not fundraise so hard.”

Commissioner Scott Bartholomew reminded the Pantry the county already contributed quite a bit to the Pantry. “The County provides a building for Pantry, with a $1 per year lease, and the building is insured by the county, and we pay the utilities as well. In Fayette, persons have the ability to pay a portion of their bill to the Pantry. Our county budget is just as tight as everyone else’s.”

Commissioner Ed Sunderland asked the Pantry if they received any money from the state. Kearney listed two programs run by the state: The Emergency Food Network and Qualified Emergency Food Assistance Fund and one run by the Six County Area Association of Governments, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Altogether, those programs bring in $17,500 per year to the Pantry. “That’s less than what the Drive 4 Food brings in,” Kearney said.

In the end, the Pantry and the commission agreed the Pantry would have to return in the fall when the commissioners were contemplating the new budget. “Plain and simple, our budget is set. We can’t do anything until this fall,” the commissioners said.

Wales Town goes full steam ahead with plans for community safety building


By Teri Forbes




WALES—It’s full steam ahead for the Town of Wales, which is planning to begin construction on a new, much-needed community safety building this spring.

The first of the final steps to make the new safety building a reality was completed as the town council convened March 5 with a welcome by the Town Mayor Keith S. Jensen.

Since Wales received the Community Impact Board’s (CIB) approval for the safety building, this council meeting was focused on the approval and adoption of Wales Town Resolution No. 2019-01. This is step one for the creation of a Wales LBA, meaning the “local building authority.”

The LBA is a nonprofit corporation with bylaws with articles of incorporation filed with the state. The LBA Board will consist of the mayor and council (board members). All future projects will be run through the LBA.

Wales retained the law firm of Blaisdell, Church & Johnson, LLC, as legal counsel to assist in the LBA process by preparing the legal docs and gathering council signatures to make it official and compliant with state law. Jeanette Johnson, paralegal of the law firm, explained to the council that this was standard practice.

The resolution was unanimously adopted following council member Byron Davis’ statement that “all is hunky dory.”

Looking forward to the council meeting next month in April, it is anticipated that a Bond Resolution will be adopted; this is step two. Then, step three in May there will be access to the funds. Construction is anticipated to begin in June.

Julia Clista Galecki (center) was crowned Miss Fairview for 2019. The first attendant is Caleigh Hathaway (left), and the second attendant is Kennedy Ryan Miner (right).

Julia Galecki garners Miss Fairview crown


By Lauren Evans




FAIRVIEW—Surrounded by glimmering star decorations, Fairview residents gathered at the Peterson Dance Hall last Saturday, March 9, to see who would be crowned Miss Fairview of 2019.

Julia Clista Galecki, daughter of Greg and Cindy Galecki, ended up winning the crown as well as being chosen as Miss Congeniality.

Caleigh Hathaway, daughter of Jana Janssen and Rick Hathaway, was crowned first attendant, while Kennedy Ryan Miner, daughter of Bryan and Shaun Miner, was selected as second attendant.

The pageant, with the theme, “Superstar,” turned into a night of laughs as emcee Shayne Thompson and Miss Fairview 2018 Malia Ah Kuoi exchanged jokes and antics between the competitions.

The eight contestants competed in four events: Casual wear, talent, evening wear and on-stage question.

Emily Kerksiek performed a violin solo. Callie Rigby presented her welding talent. Elizabeth Madsen and Caleigh Hathaway sang solos, while Kennedy Ryan Miner performed a pom routine. Natalie Day and Julia Galecki performed piano solos, and Courtney Kelsey performed a soccer routine.

Miss Fairview 2018 Malia Ah Kuoi performed one last dance solo and said her final farewell before crowning the new Miss Fairview.

Four Fountain Green ladies will vie for Miss Lamb Day title


By James Tilson




FOUNTAIN GREEN— This year’s Miss Lamb Day pageant will reach back into the past to honor the legacy of the pageant from the very first Queen until the present day.

The Miss Lamb Day 80th Annual Scholarship Pageant is set for Saturday, March 16 at 7 pm at the Fountain Green Elementary School, 150 South 300 West. Admission is $5. Bellamy Sorensen, Miss Sanpete County, will emcee the pageant. She will be joined by the outgoing Miss Lamb Day Queen, Denisha Ivory.

“The very first Miss Lamb Day was crowned in 1940, and we are excited to celebrate and honor all the queens who have served our community,” said Abby Ivory, pageant director.

“We will be showing a special video presentation of all the previous royalties’ official portraits. Miss Lamb Day 1954, Greta Morley Davis will be joining us to present the Miss Lamb Day Legacy Award.” Davis currently lives in Wales with her husband Tom.

Contestant no. One, Zoe Cook, is the daughter of Douglas and Taralee Cook. Her platform is “Creating Awareness of Disabilities in the Community.” Zoe will be performing a piano piece “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Klaus Badelt arranged by Jarrod Radnich.

Contestant no. Two, Bailee Hansen, is the daughter of Clint and Tori Hansen. Her platform is “Sink or Swim – The Importance of Swim Education and Water Safety for Children.” Bailee will be performing a piano piece “Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Contestant no. Three, Shaelynn Johnson, is the daughter of Ryan and Cassie Johnson. Her platform is “ATV Safety – Nobody is Invincible.” Shaelynn will be singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” arranged by Hailee Reinhart. 

Contestant no. Four, Sarah Oldroyd, is the daughter of Ron and Holly Oldroyd. Her platform is “R.E.A.D. (Ready, Encourage, Accelerate, Dream).” Sarah will be playing the ukulele and singing “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

Jacobsons claim violation of Constitutional right in motion to dismiss


By James Tilson




SALT LAKE CITY—The defendants in the case of a Fountain Green investment firm alleged to have run an illegal “Ponzi” scheme have filed a motion to dismiss the case based on a violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.


Allen Jacobson

The attorneys for Wendell Jacobson and Allen Jacobson, business owners of Management Solutions, Inc. (MSI) of Fountain Green, filed their motion to dismiss in the Salt Lake District Court on Jan. 22, 2019. The motion alleges the Attorney General’s office violated their clients’ Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights by hiring Gil Miller as an expert witness. Gil Miller was previously retained by the Jacobsons’ attorney prior to the criminal proceedings.

The case began in June 2011, when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began investigating MSI based on reports MSI had been commingling investors funds, and not carrying enough funds to meets

its obligations. In Sept. 2011, the attorneys for MSI and the Jacobsons hired Gil Miller’s

Wendell Jacobson

accounting firm to provide consulting services. The investigation resulted in a complaint filed in federal court by the SEC against MSI and the Jacobsons on Dec. 15, 2011.

Upon filing the complaint, Mr. Miller, who was called in court documents “the premier receivership expert in [Utah],” was appointed to be the receiver for MSI, and his relationship with MSI’s attorneys was terminated.

The federal case was resolved in Dec. 2012, and Miller continued on as receiver for MSI. As a result of the settlement, MSI’s assets were liquidated, and its investors were paid back at least a portion of their original investment. However, in May 2015, the SEC, FBI, IRS and the state of Utah agreed state criminal charges should be filed against the Jacobsons for their part in running MSI. The attorney general filed formal charge on June 22, 2015.

Since then, Miller’s status in the case has been an ongoing point of contention between the parties. On Nov. 14, 2017, the court granted a defense motion disqualifying Miller as the state’s forensic accounting expert, finding that Miller had had a confidential relationship with the defendants’ attorneys. However, the court also found Miller could be used as an ordinary fact-witness.

Soon after, the defendants filed a motion on Dec. 4, 2017 to disqualify the Attorney General’s Office based on their retention of Miller as an expert witness. That motion stayed pending until only last month. On Feb. 5, 2019, the court denied the defense motion, saying, “There is no specific evidence of what, if anything, was actually disclosed by Miller to the State.”

But even before that order had been filed, the defendants had filed a motion to dismiss on Jan. 22, based on Miller’s prior confidential relationship with the defense attorneys. They asserted the state’s case had become impossible to pursue without violating the defendants’ rights. “The information provided by Mr. Miller has been thoroughly baked into the prosecution, and it would be unfeasible (if not impossible) to disentangle, suppress, or otherwise eradicate Mr. Miller’s taint from this case.”

The state filed its response to the defense motion on March 5, saying the defendants have not shown “any evidence that would indicate …Miller actually possessed or shared any knowledge or information about any specific defense strategies that [defense attorneys] discussed with its client. Defendants rely instead on the assertion that some secret information from Miller has been ‘baked in’ to the State’s case.”

The court has not set a hearing in the case to hear arguments on the motion. At the soonest, a hearing might be set sometime later this spring, but previous litigation in this case indicates the decision may be a long time coming.

“A Good Road Story’ tells stories of Utah auto and roadtrip culture


By Robert Stevens




The latest episode of TV’s “Discovery Road” takes viewers on a trip to explore the American love affair with automobiles, road trips and Utah history surrounding the custom.

“A Good Road Story” is the name of the latest installment in the historical TV series sponsored by the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area. The all-new episode opens with a look at Charles Bigelow—a man who made his name racing automobiles and traveling the country. He raced in the inaugural Indy 500, and in many other races of the era.

Carolyn and Billy Thomas of Richfield sing a song in tribute to Billy’s mother, Lilly, who ran a roadside grocery store for more than half a century

Bigelow, despite receiving little public credit for it, was partially responsible for the popularization of road trips and road culture in the American West, and between 1908 and 1912 he helped spearhead a campaign to encourage Dixie State University students to help clean up Utah roads, and in doing so, improving the odds of people road tripping on them.

Next the episode gives you a look into the beautiful, road trip-inspired art of John H. Clark, which is known worldwide for its vintage depictions of classic cars in national parks.

Clark’s Manti garage is full of vintage car memorabilia, and it’s also where his iconic artwork is born. The posters, which are deliberately created to resemble vintage marketing material for national parks, are created with just a few colors.

“I got into building cars when I was a kid and as I got older I was very into the history surrounding them,” Clark tells the audience in the episode. “Most of the stuff that I do is centered on travel and road trips, and harkens back to the 1950s.”

From there, the show takes viewers through a tour of the Hole N’ Rock near the Canyonlands National Park. The episode reveals the oddball location for road trippers to visit—a home, years in the making, carved into the rock of a mountain by Albert and Gladys Christensen. The home is made even odder with additions like a petting zoo and a Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial.

The episode also brings you to another roadside stop in Sterling, Sanpete County, where Lilly Thomas ran a grocery story on U.S. 89 for more than a half a century. Thomas and her grocery store were community fixtures and the episode interviews her son, Billy Thomas of Richfield, on the years she spent keeping the store going and the impact she had on the community.


The new episode of Discovery Road, “A Good Road Story,” introduces viewers to Charles Bigelow (seen here in driver seat), who is one of the father figures behind the Utah road trip.

“She enjoyed the friendship and company of her customers,” Thomas says of his mother. “That’s one of the reasons she was able to keep the store going for so long.”

Next the episode takes you through a few pieces of roadside hospitality history, and a look at the nearly vanished roadside motels of yesteryear. Only a few of the colorful old motor inns remain, but they have stories to tell.

The episode closes out with a look at car museums and car shows, such as one held in Manti City, the home of the late Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, creator of Rat Fink. Every year in June, the Rat Fink Rod Reunion makes the rural town a destination for lovers of custom and classic cars. The show introduces Roth’s wife, Ilene, who created the Official Ed Roth Memorial Museum—headquarters of the Rat Fink Rod Reunion—and the local car culture that has grown from Roth’s legacy.

“I go to car shows all over the world with the Rat Fink booth,” Roth says. “The neatest thing about the car shows are the people and it’s amazing to see how the community gathers.”

Discovery Road is aired regularly on the Utah Education Network (Channel 9) and on several local cable channels. It can also be watched at mormonpioneerheritage.org.

[Read more…]

Moroni mayor describes new police chief as well rounded officer with people skills


By Suzanne Dean




Steve Gray (Right), who previously worked for the Lindon Police Department, is the new police chief in Moroni.

MORONI—Steve Gray, who has been a police officer for 15 years and most recently was a patrol supervisor for the Lindon Police Department in Utah County, is the new police chief in Moroni.

Gray was sworn in and started his new job last Monday, Feb 25.

In introducing Gray to the Moroni City Council at a meeting on Feb 21, Mayor Paul Bailey described him as “well rounded officer,” who has management skills and people skills.

A few weeks ago, a panel that included Bailey, Councilman Jed Demill and officers from other law enforcement agencies in the county interviewed candidates for the position.

Demill told fellow council members at the meeting Gray was clearly the best candidate interviewed.

Gray started his career in 2004 with the South Jordan Police Department. After a few years, he moved to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, which covered both Pleasant Grove and Lindon.

When Lindon broke off and created its own department, Gray became one of the founding members of the Lindon Police Department.

While in Lindon, he worked in a range of positions. He was a school resource officer, started and supervised a reserve officer program, and spent five years in investigations, where he worked on aggravated assaults, aggravated robberies, bank robberies, homicides and sex crimes, among other cases.

During his final two years in as an investigator, he worked full time on sex crimes, including rape, child abuse and child pornography.

During that time, he also served on a special Utah County task force on sex crimes and worked with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to implement an internet crime interdiction program in Utah County.

Two years ago, Gray was promoted to patrol supervisor, a job involving supervising 10 officers, including preparing budgets and performing job evaluations.

Councilman Orson Cook asked Gray how he would respond to drugs in Moroni.

Gray said the Lindon Police Department practices “proactive enforcement.” When it gets tips watching the house closely.

“When we get enough (evidence), I can tell you that a search warrant is prepared, and we go deal with the problem,” he said. 

“From my experience, it stops the problem temporarily. Drugs are a huge problem, and unfortunately, they will continue to be. But showing that we’re there, showing that we enforce (the law) goes a long way.” 

Councilman Fred Atkinson asked Gray if he was willing to do routine tasks, such as helping out with animal control and serving as a crossing guard occasionally.

“To me, that’s what a police officer is,” Gray said. “If we’re called to go out and help people cross the road, so be it.”

Atkinson asked him if he was ready for a slower pace than in Lindon.  Gray said of his new job, “It’s what you make it. If there are no calls, there’s still good to be done. Whether that’s going to meet with citizens in the neighborhoods and just say ‘hi’—I shoveled a person’s driveway just to say ‘hi,’—there are situations where we can make ourselves more of a community-oriented police agency, which I support.” 

Gray and his wife, Jen, met in high school and have been married 25 years. They have four children—a son, 24; two daughters, 20 and 16; and a son, 10. They have put an offer on a home in Moroni.

From addict to owner:


Brent Langschwager earns ‘success story’ award from small business center

By Robert Stevens




Brent and Shelly Langschwager, owners of Langschwager Construction, proudly display their award for Sanpete County’s Utah Small Business Development Center “Success Story of the Year” award, which was presented to them by the Lt. Governor on Friday, Feb. 22 at the Capitol Building. In two years, Brent transformed his life from a drug addict wanted by the police to a successful businessman with a happy marriage and a bright future.

SPRING CITY— Langschwager Construction was recognized as the Sanpete County Utah Small Business Development Center (SBDC) “Success Story of the Year” despite being faced with extraordinary challenges getting there.

Brent and Shelly Langschwager, both 42, of Spring City are the co-owners of Langschwager Construction. The couple and their business was recognized on Friday, Feb. 22 at the Capitol Building by legislators, members of the Utah Senate and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox—a former schoolmate—for their hard work and dedication towards achieving success in the face of hardship.

It might be fair to say they have had to work harder to achieve that success than some others. Brent—an addict in long-term recovery—says he spent decades of his life hooked on drugs and alcohol, and he is incredibly grateful for the new lease on life that has come from getting sober, marrying Shelly and working hard to achieve his goals.

Brent says on the drive up to the Capitol to receive the SBDC award, he realized just how incredible the life transformation has been for him.

“It’s amazing and I am so thankful to have this life and my wife and some amazing kids,” he says. “There have been so many people who have put their trust in me, believed me and gave me opportunities. I went from being on the run from the police to being presented this award from the Lt. Gov. I am so thankful for everyone who has been supportive along the way, and for being able to work in this valley after having such a history.”

Shelly says Brent has maintained a drive and the determination to be a successful business owner, not a former drug addict, and together they have been able to tackle every challenge they have faced.

“To go from being an addict like that to being a successful business owner in less than two years is huge,” says Shelly, who is not just Brent’s wife and business partner, but his biggest cheerleader.  “He has custody of his kids. We have a happy marriage and a thriving business and a relationship with God. He’s completely gone from one extreme to the other.”

Knowing he wanted to start his own construction business after getting sober, Brent began working through the steps to get there.

He went to the SBDC office located at Snow College looking for some guidance achieving his goals. The SBDC program provides training, tools and access to consultants to help small business owners to succeed in starting and growing their businesses. There he met Christine Hanks and Tim Chamberlain, who helped him solve the problems that were slowing down his journey.

“They offer amazing programs that people aren’t even aware of, so that was huge,” Brent says. ”I had been a drug addict my whole life and I didn’t have the slightest clue how to start something like a legitimate business from scratch, but I wanted it so badly I walked in there and sat down and just started asking questions, and before long the ball was rolling. They were so knowledgeable and so helpful.”

But Brent also had another key person on his side—his wife, Shelly. Because being on Adult Probation and Parole was stalling his ability to get a business license, Shelly got the license under her name so they could move forward without delay. Having known each other since kindergarten, the husband and wife team worked together towards building the new business. 

As they worked tirelessly towards their goals, doors began opening for them.

During his time attending the SBDC, Brent was given the opportunity to introduce an innovative product to the county as a service of Langschwager Construction. Brent and Shelly say the product, Vipeq Thermal Corkshield, is an incredibly effective stucco alternative that insulates, doesn’t crack and acts as both a fire retardant and a sound barrier. They saw the value of the offer and jumped on it.

The SBDC reimbursed the couple for half the cost of training to apply the product in their construction business, as well half of any other business-related training expenses or licensing.

“The business has just really taken off,” Shelly says. “We are applying it in houses all across the state of Utah now.”

St. George homeowner Burke Jackson says, “It looks great and I am excited to reap the benefits of an amazing product applied by such great people who stand by their word. You don’t find that in a company much now days.”

With their construction business booming and more and more customers calling all the time, Brent and Shelly are not having difficulty staying busy, but they have their sights set on a bigger picture.

A successful business is not the only goal that Brent has in his life, Shelly told the Messenger. Eventually, he hopes to be successful enough to open an addiction treatment center that will help people struggling with drugs and alcohol who can’t afford the costly expense of attending rehab.

“This business is just the tip of the iceberg for Brent,” Shelly says. “One of his biggest goals is being able to make enough money to create a place in Sanpete where addicts can walk in off the street and not have to worry about paying out thousands and thousands of dollars for treatment.”

With the struggle of addiction being something he can relate to so closely, Brent hopes his success as an entrepreneur can be parlayed into a way to help those who are struggling.

“I think that in this day and age, with the problem we are having in the community and the families in it, the days of being quiet and doing nothing about this stuff needs to be over,” he said.

A reduction in federal grazing fees on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service could mean savings for anyone with a significant amount of livestock in Sanpete County this year.

BLM, forest service reduce livestock grazing fees


By Robert Stevens




A reduction in the federal grazing fees on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service could mean savings for Sanpete livestock growers this year.

According to the BLM, fees for 2019 will drop to $1.35 per animal unit month for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month for lands managed by the USDA Forest Service.

This represents a decrease from the 2018 grazing fee of $1.41.

“It’s not a large reduction but it could add up,” says John Keeler of Manti, former southwest regional manager of the Utah Farm Bureau. “The people who will see the most significant savings will be those with high numbers of grazing livestock.”
Keeler says the fees are adjusted each year and can go up or down

An animal unit month or head month—treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes—is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.

The newly calculated grazing fee was determined by a congressional formula and took effect Friday, March 1, 2019.  The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,500 permits administered by the Forest Service.

According to BLM officials, the formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has remained in use under a 1986 presidential executive order.  Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level.

The annually determined grazing fee is established using a 1966 base value of $1.23 for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states.  The figure is then calculated according to three factors—current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production.  In effect, the fee rises, falls or stays the same based on market conditions.

“The BLM and Forest Service are committed to strong relationships with the ranching community and work closely with permittees to ensure public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes,” said Brian Steed, BLM Deputy Director for Programs and Policy.  “Fifty percent of the collected grazing fees deposited into the U.S. Treasury are returned to the Range Betterment Fund for on-the-ground range improvement projects. Portions of collected fees are also returned to the states for use in the counties where the fees were generated.”

The grazing fee applies in 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service.  The states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Permit holders and lessees may contact their local BLM or Forest Service office for additional information.