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Great Basin Station in Ephraim Canyon was where ‘range science’ developed

By Collin Overton

Staff Writer



Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part article about the contributions of and future plans for the Great Basin Station in Ephraim Canyon. It was formerly  known as the Great Basin Environmental Education Center. The facility is owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Former researcher Richard Stevens points out an example of what winter was like at the Station in a photo from 1952. Stevens and his colleague’s endured high-altitude conditions while studying there, often having to use a snowmobile and snowshoes to get to research sites.

In a converted ecology lab 8,900 feet up in Ephraim Canyon, former range scientist Richard Stevens points out an old photograph of a downtown area swamped with mountain water.

“This is all Manti, 1910,” he says.

It’s hard to believe he’s talking about the place where the town of Manti is now located. Logs, boards and trees are strung across Main Street, while locals wade through the muck and look out at the destruction. Another photo of Mt. Pleasant from the era resembles a similar swamp with a washed-out fence and the main streets turned to mud.

Before the introduction of range science, such a scenario was an all too common in Sanpete County. For decades, overgrazing on the Wasatch Plateau resulted in almost irreversible damage to the soil and mountain watersheds, causing massive flooding and threatening life in the valley.

What came out of it was a U.S. Forest Service initiative that ultimately gave birth to a discipline, one that researchers across the West and the world would use as a model for restoring grazing lands.

More than that, it introduced a new way of life and memories for hundreds of central Utahns, especially for former researchers like Stevens.


The Beginnings


One of the first known settlers who toiled on the Wasatch Plateau was a former U.S. Army major by the name of Anderson.

President James Buchanan sent Anderson, along with roughly a third of the U.S. Army to Utah in 1857 to quash the so-called Mormon Rebellion. The conflict was short-lived, and in 1861, the troops were called back east to fight a bigger rebellion—the Civil War.

When Anderson retired, he decided to stay in Utah. He converted to Mormonism, married a local girl and settled in Ephraim, where he became a prominent leader in organizing settlers during the Black Hawk War of the late 1860s.

By 1872, Anderson was managing a sheep herd and had established a permanent camp on a part of the plateau now named for him: Major’s Flat. As the Native American tribes who once terrorized settlers left the area or moved to reservations, the plateau was open for the taking.

The Danish, Scandinavian, English and American settlers of the Sanpete Valley suddenly had a new place to make a living, especially the ones who raised sheep and cattle. What resulted was a livestock craze with settlers taking advantage of the open range and public land.

Especially when the railroad came.

Close to the turn of the century, the first trains came through Price and on to the Sanpete Valley, bringing new economic opportunity—and thousands of sheep. Stevens’ family alone owned five herds, each containing about 1,000 ewes and additional lambs. Multiply that by the hundreds of livestock-owning settlers and you perhaps have an idea of the volume.

By the hundred thousands, the sheep grazed the whole distance of the plateau, all 50 miles to Salina Canyon, then back again.

Whitney Ward, associate professor of outdoor leadership for Snow College, said people in the valley could see plumes of dust rising from where the herds were grazing. Not only that,  residents swore they could count the number of sheep bands on the mountain by the number of dust clouds on the horizon, according to the book “Great Basin Station: Sixty Years of Progress in Range and Watershed Research” by Wendell M. Keck.

Ward oversees what is now called the Great Basin Station, formerly the Great Basin Environmental Education Center. His role includes leading educational programs there in the summer.

“The difference between sheep grazing and cattle grazing is cattle just kind of mow the lawn where sheep will eat everything down to the ground,” Ward said.

Over time, the overgrazing diminished plant life on the plateau, notably on the watersheds that impeded water from flowing down the mountain. This meant trouble when high-intensity storms hit the Sanpete Valley in July and August. With little vegetation to hold the excess water, the valley begin to see massive flooding every year, especially in 1888 and 1910, Stevens said.

By the turn of the century, residents of the valley had had enough, Ward said. Around 1902, citizens petitioned the federal government to provide a solution. The mayor of Manti even rode a train to Washington to urge the U.S. Forest Service to do something, Stevens said.

In 1911, the Forest Service appointed a 27-year-old recent graduate of the University of Nebraska named Arthur Sampson to investigate causes of flooding.

“Sammy,” as he was known, was an athlete in every sense of the word. In college, he wrestled, boxed, pitched horseshoes and ran long-distance, and once broken a record for sprinting to the summit of Pikes Peak.

As a graduate student, he would hike 7 miles and climb 3,000 feet up a mountain to change the record sheet on temperature recording instruments.

After finding 8 inches to 3 feet of soil gone on the plateau, Sampson suspected a lack of vegetation and overgrazing was responsible for the flooding. He decided to start other studies to verify the cause. Sampson ended up with three locations in mind for an experiment station: Gooseberry Canyon in Fairview, the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Ephraim Canyon.

Arthur Sampson (right) nicknamed “The Father of Range Science,” dines with an unidentified technician in his camp while conducting early range research.

He settled on Ephraim Canyon because it has seven vegetative zones from the bottom of the mountain to the top, meaning he and colleagues could multitask with their studies, Stevens said. In 1912, Sampson was appointed the first director of the Utah Experiment Station in what was then the Manti National Forest.

Thus began Sampson’s and the Station’s contributions to range science. He and other researchers confirmed the watershed runoff was a result of reduced plant cover on the mountains. Through painstaking studies, Sampson came to other conclusions, such as how to achieve the greatest grazing efficiency in a defined area, and how to produce maximum forage through reseeding.

These discoveries would have a major influence on wildlife studies and the Mountain West as a whole, even after Sampson left the Station in 1922.


Growing a Community


The Utah Experiment Station had to be carved out of a wilderness of aspen trees.

After determining the headquarters site and boundary areas for the Station, the Forest Service had to fell trees, pull stumps and level land before workers could build fences and construct buildings.

The director’s residence, barn, laboratory building and assistants’ residence were among the first buildings constructed. In 1936, the assistants’ house burned down and was replaced with the “Lodge,” where the Station would host countless gatherings and board Forest Service dignitaries.

In 1913, a 17-by-30 foot greenhouse was built and divided into cold-bed and hot-bed compartment systems. By 1933, a greenhouse was no longer needed, and the building was converted into housing for summer assistants and temporary employees.

As the scope of the Station’s work expanded, so did a need for employee housing. The early 1920s saw the construction of the “Palmer House,” a garage with dormitories on the second story.

A Forest Serviceman clears the ground west of the laboratory in June of 1914.

Two additional houses were built in 1933—the “End House” along with the “South House,” which was used heavily for training sessions and other meetings. A circular driveway with a flag pole was added in 1934.

During the Depression years of the 1930s, the Station took advantage of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which would send workers to help the researchers. Eighty to 100 arrived at a time. The workers lived in a few separate camps throughout the years, Ward said.

The Station has had several names over the decades. When the Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station was established in 1930 in Ogden as a result of the success of range science, the Ephraim station took the name Great Basin Branch Station. The name would switch a few more times, but the name Great Basin Station stuck throughout the years.

Throughout the summers of the 1930s and 1940s, researchers would bring their families to the Station, forming communities each year. In her book, “Memories of the Great Basin Station,” Blanche Plummer, wife of researcher Perry Plummer, remembers developing a camaraderie with the other forest families.

Families would watch slideshows of each other’s color photos, eat with one another and wait together for their fathers and husbands to return when the weather was bad. “We were always looking out for each other,” Plummer wrote.

For fun, mothers would take their children driving up the canyon road and stop at the “Pig Pen” spring, where they would douse the car radiator and cool the engine to prevent overheating. Young assistants and CCC volunteers, often university students trying to get away from the Station, would try to find a ride into town on the weekends to go to the weekly public dance.

Men worked hard, working in the field, organizing data, studying and making plans for the next day. They traversed muddy roads, braved harsh outdoor conditions and were usually “less than safe” in their families’ eyes, Plumber wrote.

And “less than safe” they could be. In 1958, a former Station director, Lincoln Ellison, who had moved to another position, was killed by an avalanche while measuring snow in Farmington. A framed plaque in his honor hangs in the Station Museum.

Throughout the history of the station, perhaps no one was more admired than technician Paul Hansen. Hansen didn’t have a degree or a background in science, but his work ethic set him apart, Stevens said. He served the Station for 47 years—longer than any person.

“If you wanted something done, you’d send Paul,” Stevens said. “He was a hard worker, one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met.”


Through the Eyes of a Range Scientist


Back at the Station, Stevens points to a photo of houses entrenched in several feet of snow next to a pair of antique snowshoes and goggles.

“This is 1952 right here. But I’ve been up here with winters like this,” Stevens said.

The old laboratory, now a museum, seems as if it is frozen in 1943. Old typewriters, phonograph scales, newspaper clippings and rustic beakers line the desks and shelves—all relics from researchers 70 years ago. A black-and-white photo of a bare mountainside titled, “The Results of No Management” hangs in the back of the room.

Three weeks ago, the Station was covered in snow, and Stevens is no stranger to snow.

In Stevens’s research days, it sometimes took an M29 Weasel, a World War II-era military snowmobile, to get through the high-altitude snow. Sometimes the driver had to use a half-empty whiskey bottle as a level when traversing the uneven terrain, Stevens said.

Stevens started with the Station in 1959, a year after graduating high school. By the time he retired in 1998, he had published two to three studies on watershed research.

When Stevens first joined on at the station, there were six plant species that were adaptable to the terrain. By the time he left the station, there were 70, he said.

Workers had to develop their own equipment, Stevens said, since the farming equipment they tried to use would often break. They branched out during his time there, employing aerial seeding by plane and other methods. Throughout the years, Stevens estimates he’s been involved in seeding more than 3 million acres.

The Great Basin Branch Station yard in 1934 after a landscaping job.

On an average day, the researchers would be out in the field by 8:30 a.m., and spend the majority of the day outside, Stevens said. They would return to the lab with their data, where they could be seen working late into the night.

The majority of everyone’s time, though, was spent in the field, not the office.

“You can’t learn about vegetation in an office,” Stevens said. “That’s what’s happened now with research. You can’t learn it on a computer.”

Stevens and his colleagues had to deal with a number of challenges, namely competing plant species that had been planted decades before, inhibiting long-term growth on the plateau.

“The original seven species or five species we had to work with in 1915, 1920 became our greatest enemies,” Stevens said. Based on the knowledge available today, he said he made a lot of mistakes. “But the knowledge we had then—we did the best with what we had. And we should learn from that.”

Another challenge was the bears. Stevens remembers seeing 26 bears in one year. Researchers enlisted the help of a trapper from Mt. Pleasant. A bear trap can still be seen in the shed across the driveway from the former lab.

In addition to research, Stevens spent a good part of his career educating visitors at the station. From the 1970s to the 1990s, the Station had its highest concentration of workshops and visitors from around the world, Stevens said.

He spent the last five years at the Station teaching people from Russia, Mongolia, China, Ukraine, Africa and other countries about the practice of range science. Stevens and his colleagues would put on workshops at the Station, as well as travel across the west to teach about the practice.

After the 1990s, the administration of the station changed hands and the focus of its operations shifted. Now, in 2019, the operation looks to change even more.

Part 2: The changing role of the Great Basin Station from the 1990s to the present. 

Two men die in glider crash above Ephraim

By James Tilson

Associate Editor



Two men were found deceased in a glider crash approximately 4 miles northeast of Ephraim by OHV riders on July 1.

EPHRAIM—Two men flying from Nephi to Richfield died in a crash northeast of Ephraim on July 1.

Sanpete County sheriff’s detective Derick Taysom identified the men as John Weber, 63, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Thomas Bjork, 66, of Orangevale, Calif.

The glider was found by OHV riders in the mountains approximately 4 miles northeast of Ephraim. The riders called 911 and Sanpete County Sheriff, Sanpete County Search and Rescue and the Medical Examiner’s Office responded.

According to officials, Weber and Bjork were participating in a competition out of the Nephi Airport, which involved 65 flight teams. The glider left Nephi and crashed on the way to its destination near Richfield.

Upon arrival, the two men were confirmed deceased. Investigation of the scene revealed the glider had taken off from the Nephi airport, and was en route to an airport near Richfield. Investigators could not immediately determine the cause of the crash.

Organic beef harvesting facility looks good to commissioners

By James Tilson

Associate Editor



MANTI—The Sanpete County Commission greeted the news of a potential new cattle “harvesting” facility with enthusiasm and hoped the facility will open soon.

Paul Davis, representing American Beef, L.L.C., spoke to the commission about the potential impact opening a beef rendering plant in an abandoned dairy farm would have on the roads adjacent to the plant. However, the commissioners asked Davis many questions about how the plant would work, getting more excited with each answer.

Davis told the commissioners the new plant would aim to take advantage of new markets for “organic and all-natural grass-fed beef” by taking local cattle, raised on grass and without chemical fertilizers, and processing it in an environmentally sensitive manner.

While acknowledging not all local cattle may fit exactly into their desired qualities, Davis said, “the better shape the cattle is in, the more we pay for it.” The new plant would be approximately 50,000 square feet, located to the east of Gunnison on Sugar Factory Lane on the site of an abandoned dairy farm. It would employ 80 employees, each of whom would be paid at least $15 an hour.

Davis said his business has already been in communication with Gunnison officials, who have preliminarily agreed to supply 100 acre feet of water, and the power source is already hooked up.

The plant would only use organic detergents in its processing. No blood or solids from the cattle would be released from the plant. All parts of the cow, including all blood and viscera, would be collected and, depending on the part and its potential use, sold to secondary users. Even urine and manure would be collected and sold as fertilizer. The only discharge from the plant would be grey water.

As far as road impact, the plant would have ingress and egress access from both sides, with room to turn on the plant grounds. Davis also said he was aware the state had funds available to use for turning lanes should that be necessary.

Davis allowed that with extra acreage on the site, there may be plans to build greenhouses and solar panels on the grounds in the future.

All of the commissioners expressed their excitement over the plans, with Ed Sunderland saying, “This is fantastic, I believe this business will fit right into our community.”

Scott Bartholomew asked Davis when the business planned to start operations. Davis informed the commissioners they would start installing the plant as soon as August 15, right after the county planning commission approved their plans.

Gunnison Valley crowns 50th anniversary royalty

By Robert Green



Miss Gunnison Valley royalty for 2019-2020 are (L-R): Aubree Jensen, attendee; Gracy Christenson, first attendant; McKenna Taylor, Miss Gunnison Valley 2019; and Jentrie Jackson, attendant.

GUNNISON—The Miss Gunnison Valley Pageant celebrated a special 50th anniversary by inviting all the former queens to attend this year’s contest.

Several of the former queens gave special performances to the audience at the Gunnison Valley High School on July 6.

McKenna Taylor was crowned queen for 2019-2020 after adopting her platform of being S.M.A.R.T. on social media. She believes that social media can be used in a positive way if people are taught to be smart about it.

Other girls selected as royalty are Gracy Christenson, first attendant; Jentrie Jackson, attendant; and Aubree Jensen, attendee. All the girls were judged on their written platform and their talent of piano and singing to this year’s theme of “My Girl,” said pageant director, Kara Jensen.

“We celebrated 50 years and invited all former queens to a meet and greet,” Jensen said. “We also asked them to join us on stage that evening to honor them.”

The national anthem was sang by Miss Gunnison Valley 1999 Kayla Brown. The 2002 queen Melissa Nay Ghandour sang and the 2016 queen Bellamy Sorenson played the piano.

The former queens that were honored on stage were: 1974 Lori Christenson Nay; 1997 Michelle Dalley Smith; 1999 Kayla Sorenson Brown; 2002 Melissa Nay Ghandour; 2009 Hannah Christenson Neal; 2014 Madee Christenson Clark; and 2016 Bellamy Sorenson.

The 2018 queen Ashtyn Childs gave her final walk with her parents Gary and Anne Childs and sister Bryndee met everyone on stage for a final goodbye.

“The contestants all worked very hard,” Jensen said. “As a director I saw a huge change in the girls as they performed on stage from when we started our practices. Their confidence was incredible. They will all serve our valley very well. I am so proud of every one of them.”

Jensen mentioned this will be her last year directing the pageant as she is turning the reins over to Lindzey Harding.

Jensen said she will be around to help, but she just can’t be in charge anymore. “I am very thankful for the opportunity the last 6 years to be part of the pageant,” she said. “My husband and kids have helped so much and have dealt with my crazy pageant schedule over the years. I will forever cherish my time with all the girls I have encountered. They have taught me so much.”

Six North Sanpete educators retire with combined 153 years of service

By Suzanne Dean




Six teachers or teacher assistants with a combined 153 years of service retired from the North Sanpete School District as of the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Susan Allred of Fountain Green was a teaching assistant who spent all of her 36 years with the district at North Sanpete Middle School. She spent her whole career working in special education.

Lois Anderson of Fairview was a teaching assistant for 25 years at Fairview Elementary School. In 2017, she was named as one of the Classified Employees of the Year in the district.

According to her principal Allynne Mower, Anderson worked with students who struggled in reading, math, and who had behavior issues.

She was certified in the Early Steps/Next Steps reading model and the Wilson Reading System, which is an intensive reading intervention. Mower describes her as a “master reading teacher.”

She is also a talented painter, and when she retired, she gave the school a painting of a soaring eagle. According to Mower, she said the picture reminded her of the Reading Thunderbirds of Fairview Elementary and she hoped students will look at it and remember to soar to great heights to achieve their dreams.

Amber Hill of Manti was a teacher for a half year at Fountain Green Elementary School, 18 years at North Sanpete Middle School and two years at North Sanpete High School. For most of those years, she taught social studies at the middle school.

In 2005, she was part of an interdisciplinary team that taught a course on civic responsibility at the middle school. Her students conducted a drive to collect canned goods and quilts for the needy. She also served a term as president of the North Sanpete Education Association and was named North Sanpete Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2015.

Susan Jacobson of Fountain Green was a teaching assistant at Fountain Green Elementary for three years, a teacher at Moroni Elementary for three years and then returned to Fountain Green Elementary where she taught for 16 more years.

As Fountain Green Elementary, she taught kindergarten, first grade and second grade. She was the Fountain Green Teacher of the Year for 2018-19.

“For one very lucky group of students who happen to be seniors in high school now, she was their kindergarten, first and second-grade teacher,” said her principal Robyn Cox.

Susan is an exceptional reading teacher and at the end of last year, 100 percent of her second graders were making typical or above-typical growth in their reading.

There were two signs in her room. One said, “When I Do Good, I Feel Good,” and the other simply stated the Golden Rule.

“Her classroom is all about kindness and treating each other as we want to be treated.” her principal said. “Susan doesn’t just teach her kids the words to these rules, she models them in every aspect of her life. Susan is a dedicated colleague, friend and neighbor. She is always the first one to volunteer to bring a pot of soup or crock pot full of nacho dip to a PTA or Community Council event.”

Kathleen Johnson of Fountain Green was a teaching assistant for 23 years, all of the time at Fountain Green Elementary School.

Her principal says Johnson has worked with students on everything from solving equations to learning the alphabet.

She was trained in Early Steps/Next Steps reading program and helped dozens of struggling readers. She was a STAR tutor, ran the take-home library, worked with autistic students and was often be found in the fifth and sixth-grade math classroom tutoring math students.

Elizabeth Marx of Mt. Pleasant started out as a teaching assistant. She was an assistant at North Sanpete Middle School for 13 years and at Moroni Elementary for four years. She finished out her career as a teacher for eight years at Moroni Elementary.

Manti ordinance aims to eradicate deer in city limits

By Collin Overton

Staff Writer



Manti is taking steps to enact a deer control program, after reports of increased property and crop damage.

MANTI—The Manti City Council set in motion a program to euthanize nuisance deer in city limits at their meeting July 3.

The initiative, recently approved by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), allows for the lethal removal of up to 100 deer a year, 25 of which can be antlered. City council members said the most cost-effective, safe method of removal would be “trap and cull,” or catching the animals in live traps, then euthanizing them. The program only allows for lethal options.

“My gut feeling would be to try trapping and culling initially,” Councilman Jason Vernon said. “I think it would be the least expensive way to go.”

Deer control had been a reoccurring topic in council meetings for the past several months, with residents reporting increased damage to property, crops and vehicles from deer on the roads. In February, the council passed a no-feeding ordinance in light of the damage, as well as reports of chronic wasting disease being found in central Utah deer.

At the meeting, council members looked over copies of Herriman’s deer removal plan, which also utilizes trap and cull and designates someone to put the animals down. City Recorder Kent Barton said Manti would look for someone with demonstrated skills to do the job, whether that means contracting or hiring someone locally.

Some cities in Utah County utilize contractors to bait and shoot deer from tree stands, which has worked well for them, Vernon said. Cities pay a flat fee for setting up the baiting stations, as well as a fee for each deer killed.

The trapping method, however, would likely prove safer, less expensive and less high-maintenance, Vernon said. The simple clover traps used would consist of a frame, net, trip wire and bait. Vernon said the city could look into purchasing about six traps, which would cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000 each.

Barton agreed with the direction of the program, and said a clean capture method would be more aesthetically pleasing.

As for how the deer will be disposed of, the council isn’t sure yet. Barton said he expects the harvested deer to be put to beneficial use.

“But still, we want to be sensitive. I think there are people in town who enjoy having deer in their yard,” Vernon said.

The council now plans to hold a public hearing where residents can comment. Barton said it will likely occur on Aug. 20 or 21. After hearing recommendations, the council will re-send the plan to DWR for final approval.

Also at the meeting, Barton said he wished to send a letter out to citizens explaining the zoning changes potentially up for consideration in August.

The changes would include designating downtown Manti as a “historic commercial” zone (which would propose some restrictions for building type and use), adding commercial zones to the north and south ends of the city, relaxing some current setback requirements in the current residential zone and adding some medium and high density residential options, which opens the door for townhouses, condominiums and other multifamily housing options.

“I support that…the best thing we can do is educate the community on what we’re trying to accomplish, and have straight facts and truthful information, not inuendo on hearsay,” Mayor Korry Soper said.

Barton also reported that the city had received a new ladder truck from the Sanpete County Fire District. Manti requested the truck, which used to belong to the Ephraim Fire Department, after they heard Ephraim was receiving a new one. The truck was allocated to Manti without any cost.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the public hearing on the deer program was scheduled for July 17. Manti City Council has since decided to reschedule and is settling on a date.

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Trustees outline goals for Snow College, even considering online, four and one-year degrees

By Collin Overton

Staff Writer



Snow College Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bushnell (left) reflects on years of service with Craig Mathie (right), Vice President of Student Success at their last Trustees meeting on Friday. Mathie is retiring after 20 years with Snow College, while Bushnell is finishing the remainder of his term after eight years on the Board.

New Snow College President Brad Cook had some big ideas for the future of the institution at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday in the Noyes Building.

In a presentation to Trustees towards the end of the meeting, Cook outlined what changes Snow might be making in the next strategic plan this fall. Although hypothetical, Cook outlined a potential increase in the amount of four-year programs, an effort to revamp the online program to include one-year associate degrees and the introduction of competency-based learning into the curriculum, among other ideas.

“I’m not attached to this, but it at least gives me something as a platform to mold, and you can help mold it for me,” Cook said to trustees.

Cook had sent out a survey across campus asking students, faculty and staff what they thought was essential about the college and how it could move forward. He noted a striking trend: respondents were willing for the college to take risks moving forward towards growth.

Such chances could include offering more to nontraditional students, more 2+2 programs with other regional colleges and competency-based learning, or the approach that allows students to show mastery in an area at their own pace. Another possibility: a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. Utah colleges recently turned away 900 nursing applicants due to limited space, Cook said. With the demand, Snow could create an anchor program in Richfield and partner with other universities on a joint program.

“We don’t have to own our four-year degrees,” Cook said. “What we can do is partner creatively with four-year institutions.”

Cook explained such adaptations could be vital to the longevity of the college. While Snow’s demographic isn’t shrinking as fast as other colleges across the nation, he said, the college would need to diversify to reach more students. Especially after application rates did not increase from last year, as reported by Teri Clawson, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management.

Snow did, however, have a higher yield this year, meaning more students chose to enroll after being accepted by admissions, Clawson said.

“I don’t think it’s inspiring to say we’re growing for growth’s sake,” Cook said. “That’s not really inspiring and it’s not healthy…our ‘why’ is we want to open up the aperture of a Snow College education to as many people as possible.”

The new president stressed that Snow’s core mission would not change and that the two-year, junior college model wasn’t going anywhere. He likened Snow’s potential to schools like Grand Canyon University, who offer a main campus experience but were able to survive through an ambitious online program.

An improved online program for Snow would enhance the delivery, accessibility and engagement of online courses, as well as accommodate students with scheduling conflicts, Cook said.

In other developments, Vice President of Student Success Craig Mathie gave an update on Snow’s effort to build housing at the Richfield campus. The college sent out a request for proporal (RFP) last fall, but developers shied away for multiple reasons.

Due to current construction projects, the college doesn’t have the revenue to take fiscal risk or guarantee a certain amount of occupancy, Mathie said. So they did a request for information (RFI) for interested parties to exchange ideas. Mathie said the college recently gathered that input and will now do a “more robust” feasibility study to consider downsizing the initial construction phase.

It may be preferable to find developers who could pay out-of-pocket for a smaller initial project, rather than borrow money, and see what success the college has filling rooms, he said. That could entice developers to build on the property and get more students to move in. That could mean filling 50 beds instead of 150 over the first year.

“It’s easier to be the second guy in than the first guy,” Mathie said.

Mathie said Sevier County government has been willing to help. The county commission has plans to generate up to $1 million in tax incentives for the housing development, as well as donate $15,000 to help pay for Snow College’s feasibility study, he said.

The Board also passed a $41,984,300 operating budget for FY2020, up five percent from $39,929,990.28 in 2019. The budget, which went into effect July 1, sets aside more funds to cover construction costs of the new athletics center, three additional faculty members, an additional campus safety officer, compensation for salaries and information technology personnel and equipment. IT is Snow’s biggest expense on the budget, at $556,298.

Another big topic of discussion was Snow’s initiative to meet student mental health needs. In the academic and student affairs committee meeting, Mathie gave an update on the new counseling center, which will be ready this fall and triples the size of the current center. The center will feature five offices and be located next to the business building, Mathie said.

It comes at a time when mental health demands are surging around the country and wait times lengthen at counseling centers. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that that teens view depression anxiety as a significant issue with 70 percent labeling it as a major problem. Trustee Michael McLean shared that he had seen the need firsthand with his son, who had struggled with addiction on top of mental health problems.

“We can teach kids that [being depressed and anxious] is normal behavior, but so is being happy,” McLean said.

Friday’s meeting was also the last for McLean, Mathie and Trustees Chair Scott Bushnell, who were each presented with gifts for their years of service.

McLean and Bushnell started their terms in July 2013 and 2011 respectively, while Mathie retires after 20 years with Snow. Holding a gift wrapped in Snow College colors, Bushnell left the remaining administrators with a challenge:

“Ask yourself ‘What’s my role? What’s my responsibility?’” Bushnell said. “…This is an amazing place and it’s because of you all.”

Turkey dinner volunteers emblematic of Pageant’s spirit

By James Tilson

Associate Editor



The Manti City Pageant Turkey Dinner Committee is, from left to right, Kent Barton, Darren Dyreng, Kris Evertsen, Casey Cox, Doug Evertsen, Reid Cox, Diane Bringhurst, Mary Wintch, Allan Bringhurst, Daniel Christensen, Becky Hatch, Russell Hatch, Valerie Sorensen, Ken Sorensen and Matt Christensen.

MANTI—The Manti City turkey dinner volunteers are emblematic of the volunteer spirit of the Mormon Miracle Pageant and of Manti itself.

“The dinners are synonymous with the Pageant,” says Pageant turkey dinner committee chairman Kent Barton. “They started at nearly the same time. It’s a unique recipe that people love and associate with the Pageant. They’ve always gone together.”

This year, the turkey dinner served 12,783 dinners to Pageant visitors, with over 2,200 on the busiest night, Friday June 21. Barton estimates that over its entire history, the turkey dinner has served over 300,000 dinners to hungry Pageant-goers.

The total amount of supplies that went into feeding so many people this year is astounding. The servers dished out approximately 8,000 pounds of turkey, 1,800 pounds of dehydrated potatoes, 1,000 gallons of green beans, 1,200 dozen dinner rolls, 50 gallons of gravy and 220 sheets (or about 15,000) of brownies.

Although there were upwards of 90 volunteers who worked the serving lines and grills and clean-up every night, the committee members were in charge of supervising all those people, and were at the dinners every night.

Matt Christensen, Daniel Christensen and Darren Dyreng were the “grillers,” and worked with 24 people each night. They would start at 3 o’clock each night, and go “until they saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” according to Barton.

Doug Evertsen, Chris Evertsen, Reid Cox and Casey Cox were the commissary coordinators. They worked in the commissary building, to get the mashed potatoes ready and cut the barbecued turkey.

Russell Hatch and Becky Hatch were serving coordinators, and they oversaw the serving lines, and the green beans, gravy, dinner rolls and brownies.

Ken Sorensen, Valerie Sorensen, Allan Bringhurst and Diane Bringhurst headed up the welcoming committee. They had a very important job, to be in charge of the seating and bussing the tables. The National Guard Armory seats 400, so to get upwards of 2,000 people served a night, you got to move the people along.

Mary Wintch was in charge of the cashiers, and Kent Barton was in charge of purchasing and general oversight—as he called it, “putting out the fires.”

All of the people interviewed agreed volunteering for the dinners, or the Pageant, meant a lot to them in terms of providing a service to their community.

“It was a unique service undertaking over the last 50 years,” said Barton. “Our community really had to come together in order to feed that many people.” Barton noted Manti, which has a population of a little over 3,000 people, would have to feed nearly 2,000 people every night, in addition to all the people who did not come to the turkey dinner.

Councilman Darren Dyreng, one of the “grillers,” said the dinners started as a service to the local businesses that would be swamped with visitors. “It started as a service, with so many people overflowing from the businesses,” he said. “Doing the dinner has certainly helped the community.”

Becky Hatch, serving coordinator, is a recent resident of Manti, but feels very strongly about giving back to her new home. “I and my husband love our community, and volunteering feels like giving a little bit of our heart back to our community,” she said. “The Pageant really shows what makes Manti so special. No other place we’ve lived does anything like this.”

Councilwoman Mary Wintch, cashier supervisor, said its “Exhausting, but a wonderful service. Working in the line, I often see childhood friends I haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years. It’s a labor that consumes two weeks, but it has its rewards.”

Wintch also sees how volunteering brings out the best in people. “I am so impressed with people’s willingness to volunteer. I’ve had cashiers call me to say if we need extra help to call. I’ve also seen cashiers dip into their own pockets to help people pay for the dinner.”

Two “meat cutters” have a special place in Kent Barton’s heart. David Christensen, 91, and Betty Christensen, 92, have been volunteering for the dinner for over 20 years. The Christensens split time between their place in Palisade Park and Grand Junction, Colo., but are natives of Manti and graduates of Manti High School.

“I just felt it was a small way to give back to Manti,” said David. “That was my motivation for volunteering.”

The Pageant is close to their heart, and will be missed by them. “We’re sure disappointed to see the Pageant end,” he said. “It will be hard for Manti to duplicate. What a missionary tool, there’s not a stage or environment like it in the world. To see the last show on Saturday night was beautiful.”

Many of the volunteers were also sad to see the Pageant end, but at the same time looked forward to what would come next.

“At the end of the day, it took a lot of volunteering to make it happen,” said Dyreng. “But it’s OK. At this point, I hope the private enterprises in Manti will step up to make up the difference.”

“It’s sad to see it go,” said Hatch, “but it will be interesting to see what we can come up with to come together as a community. I have hope for the future.”

Wintch thinks, “It time. Putting on the Pageant and the dinner takes the entire community, putting in a massive effort. It’s not easy at all. It can be a real stress. While rewarding, it can wear people out. I hope future efforts won’t be as intense.”

Barton said, “The Pageant is over, but the community still wants to come together and celebrate.” Barton notes there are already plans in the works to expand on other community events.

According to Barton, Manti is in talks to expand the RatFink celebration to become bigger and longer. The city is also looking to host several baseball and softball tournaments at the new city athletic complex. Manti is looking into expanding its ATV summer event, and the 4th of July celebration too.

Barton even hinted there was the possibility of a new winter celebration, taking place between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Right now, the planning is very preliminary, but the people involved are very serious, and I think there is a good possibility it will work out.”

Messenger publisher earns national award for editorial on controversial sex abuse case



Messenger publisher Suzanne Dean with her award from society of weekly newspaper editors.

ATLANTA—Suzanne Dean, publisher of the Sanpete Messenger, is the recipient of a Golden Dozen award for editorial writing from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE).

The prize, for an editorial about an explosive sex abuse case at Gunnison Valley High School in 2018, was presented June 22 at the ISWNE national convention at Emory University in Atlanta.

A dozen editorials or editorial columns were selected from about 75 submissions. The entries came from small newspapers, mostly from the United States and Canada, but some were also from Great Britain and other English-speaking countries around the world.

The judge was Phil Hudgins of Gainsville, Georgia, a retired journalist who was a former weekly newspaper publisher, writer for USA Today and writing coach for a group of small newspapers. Hudgins also spent a year at Harvard University as a Nieman fellow under Harvard’s journalism fellowship program.

The headline of the winning editorial said, ““Gunnison residents should calm down, allow appropriate officials to respond to abuse case.”

The editorial arose out of the arrest and prosecution of three teenagers in connection with a sexual assault on another teenager on the Gunnison High School football field in October 2018.

After the arrests, at least 15 other students came forward to report the same youth who was the main perpetrator in the assault had also assaulted them in the past.

The case pitted factions in the community against each other.

The father of the primary defendant in the case was a coach at the high school and the bishop of an LDS ward in the Gunnison Valley.

The parent of the boy who reported the assault belonged to an evangelical Christian congregation in the Gunnison Valley.

And the pastor of the Christian congregation was also the school resource officer at the high school and the investigating officer in the assaults.

Charges started flying back and forth, both in public meetings and social media, as residents lined up to support one side or the other in the case.”

The lead paragraph of the editorial said, “It’s time for everybody in the Gunnison Valley who is up in arms about the recent sex abuse case to calm down and join forces with the individuals and organizations working to remediate the situation.”

The editorial added, “Instead of condemning what happened, or what people think happened, it’s time to fix the problems and prevent them from happening again.”

The judge said, “Sometimes the goal of an opinion writer is to calm people down. That’s what Suzanne Dean accomplished in her well-written editorial targeting people upset about a sexual assault case at the high school.”

It was Dean’s third Golden Dozen prize. She was also a winner in 2004 and 2009.

The win was the fifth for the Sanpete Messenger over the past 18 years. Lloyd Call, associate publisher of the paper, and John Hales, former managing editor, have each won one Golden Dozen award.

Better sales tax, interest rates mean good things for Mt. Pleasant budget

By James Tilson



MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council received some good news about increased revenues and gave its final approval for next year’s budget at its council meeting last Tuesday.

City Financial Director David Oxman said this year’s budget had “some nice changes” over last year’s budget, especially in terms of new sources of revenue for the city.

Oxman pointed out the interest rate on the city’s Public Trust Investment Fund (PTIF) had risen since last year, resulting in an extra $40,000 revenue this year. The city was able to deposit $35,000 into its escrow fund from payments made to the city for fighting wildfires. And Oxman estimated Mt. Pleasant’s sales tax revenue had continued to grow by 4 to 5 percent over the last five years due to internet sales tax revenues and improvements to the industrial park.

The city’s total budget came in at $2,797,765, which was a slight decrease from last year’s $2,871,930. However, next year’s budget came in balanced, as opposed to last year’s deficit of $42,702.

Although there was a public hearing prior to the council approving the budget, there was no public comment during any of the process.

During the mayor’s report to the council, he pointed out two members of the audience, Jerry and Martha Larsen. They were present to make the council aware of a problem with excessive off-road vehicles near their property. They owned property on the east side of the city, near Parley’s Pond and Pleasant Creek.

Mayor Dan Anderson reminded the council that Larsen’s property was the same area in which the $18 million irrigation renovation project would be placing new sediment ponds.

The Larsens informed the council people driving their off-road vehicles were “tearing up the ground” near the pond and making a mess. They wanted to build a fence around their own property, which is adjacent to the pond. They hoped a fence might lessen the problem. Before they can build a fence, however, they needed a copy of the city’s lease of the pond to know where to build the fence.

Councilman Kevin Stallings told the Larsens, “The whole area where the ponds are going in will be redesigned.” Stallings said he thought the redesign would solve many of those problems, although it might take two or three years to see the final result.

Anderson told the council “we’ll have to look into it,” and promised to continue meeting with the Larsens to resolve the issue.

Mt. Pleasant man pleads guilty to carjacking

By James Tilson

Associate Editor



Alex Hernandez, charged with a carjacking in Mt. Pleasant last January, entered a guilty plea in 6th District Court last Wednesday.

MANTI—A Mt. Pleasant man charged with carjacking last January has entered his guilty plea last Wednesday in 6th District Court.

Alex Hernandez, 18, entered a guilty plea to amended count one, robbery, a second-degree felony, amended count two, kidnapping, a second-degree felony, count three, criminal mischief, a second-degree felony, count four, aggravated assault, a third-degree felony and count five, felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony. Another case against Hernandez in which he was charged with enticing a minor by text or internet was dismissed.

Hernandez’s attorney, Dana Facemeyer, told Judge Marvin Bagley that Hernandez, who has been in custody since his arrest, would remain in custody until at least his sentencing. Whether Hernandez received any more jail time after his sentencing date would be up to the judge.

Facemeyer also told Judge Bagley the defense and the county attorney had agreed the sentence in the case should be a term of probation, even though Hernandez faced up to 15 years in prison for each second-degree felony, and up
to five years in prison for each third-degree felony.

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

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

Judge Bagley set the sentencing date for Aug. 7, and ordered a presentence report.

Fairview queens, royalty chosen in Little Miss, Junior Miss pageants



FAIRVIEW—The Little Miss Fairview and Junior Miss Fairview Pageants crowned five queens and royalty on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at the Peterson Dance Hall.

A total of 23 contestants competed for five titles at the evening event, to the theme of “Superstar.” Each of the contes
tants did her best to shine like a “star,” the pageant committee stated.

The Superstar theme was patterned after the Miss Fairview Pageant that took place in March.

The pageant was directed by Kristin Grasteit, Natalie Thompson and Debbie Nielson. The pageant committee congratulated all contestants on a job well done. “A special thanks goes out to Fairview City for their support of this pageant and to the Miss Fairview Royalty for being the emcees for the pageants!” the committee said.

The winners of the five categories are as follows:


Tiny Miss Fairview


Tiny Miss Fairview royalty is (L to R) Indy Gleave, attendant; Ambrie Hooley, 1st attendant; Hazel Cox, queen; Lucie Mineer, attendant.

Indy Gleave, attendant, is the daughter of Lloyd and Katie Gleave.

Ambrie Hooley, 1st attendant, is the daughter of Nathan and Rachelle Hooley.

Hazel Cox, queen, is the daughter of Casey and Tina Cox. Lucie Mineer, attendant, is the daughter of Bryan and Shaun Mineer.


Mini Miss Fairview


Mini Miss Fairview royalty is (L to R) Jacey Gleave, 2nd attendant; Rebecca Madsen, queen; Penelope Cox, 1st attendant.

Jacey Gleave, 2nd attendant, is the daughter of Lloyd and Katie Gleave.

Rebecca Madsen, queen, is the daughter of Jeremy and Jessica Madsen.

Penelope Cox, 1st attendant, is the daughter of Kenny and Brook Cox.


Junior Miss Fairview

 Junior Miss Fairview royalty is (L to R) Melaina Rigby, attendant; EmmaKate Cox, queen; Shea Rawlinson, 1st attendant; Brooklyn Stutz, attendant.

Melaina Rigby, attendant is the daughter of John and Tonya Rigby.

EmmaKate Cox, queen, is the daughter of Spencer and Abby Cox.

Shea Rawlinson, 1st attendant, is the daughter of Sean and Shauna Rawlinson.

Brooklyn Stutz, attendant, is the daughter of Dan and Ronnett Stutz.


Little Miss Fairview 

Little Miss Fairview royalty is (L to R) Marley Johnson, 2nd attendant; Olivia Talbot, queen; Ashlyn Williams, 1st attendant.

Marley Johnson, 2nd attendant, is the daughter of Brett and Kim Johnson.

Olivia Talbot, queen, is the daughter of Sherland and Ashley Talbot.

Ashlyn Williams, 1st attendant, is the daughter of Keith and Heidi Williams.


Teen Miss Fairview


Teen Miss Fairview royalty is (L to R) BrexAnn Belt, attendant; Emma Stutz, 1st attendant; Kambrielle Grasteit, queen; Mary Rigby, attendant.

BrexAnn Belt, attendant, is the daughter of Ryan Belt and Lindsay Poole.

Emma Stutz, 1st attendant, is the daughter of Dan and Ronnett Stutz.

Kambrielle Grasteit, queen, is the daughter of Thor and Kristin Grasteit.

Mary Rigby, attendant, is the daughter of John and Tonya Rigby.

Manti Library has ambitious education plans for summer, including a program on water use

By Suzanne Dean




MANTI—The Manti City Library is sponsoring a program on how to store and treat water for use in emergencies.

The seminar will be at the Eva Beal Auditorium in the Manti City Building Tuesday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m.

The speakers will be a couple, Monica and Jason Hoyt, who both work for the Central (CUWCD) in Orem. The CUWCD territory includes Sanpete County.

At 1 p.m. the same day, the Hoyts will direct a “Makerspace” activity for elementary and middle school-age children in the children’s area of the library.

The Hoyts will teach the children how to use a wooden block, clothes pins and Popsicle sticks to make the shaft of a microscope. The lens of the microscope will be a drop of water.

The youngsters will be able to put things under the water and observe how the water magnifies the items.

The adult program in the evening and the children’s activity during the day are representative of changes Cindy Tibbs Lopez, the Manti City Library director, is trying to make at the library.

“Libraries are changing,” she says. They’re becoming much more than places to check out and return books and tapes.

“We’re turning things around so the library can be a center for learning and activity,” she says. “We’re starting to do adult programming here.”

The Hoyts have presented their 90-minute program on water and emergencies along the Wasatch Front. “It is a very popular program,” says Monica Hoyt, who is manager of education and outreach for CUWCD.

The Makerspace concept was implemented last year as an after-school activity for kids at the library. The term, Makerspace, first caught on with librarians in the East. The idea was to offer an activity for children one or more afternoons after school.

The activities are hands-on, often involve making something, support the school curriculum and encourage critical and creative thinking, Lopez says.

Monica Hoyt came from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City to attend Westminster College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and went to work as a chemist for the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake City.

In 2000, she became laboratory director for CUWCD, and in 2018, she changed careers to take charge of the water agency’s education and outreach programs.

“Water has become my life,” she says.

Jason Hoyt grew up on a farm in Vermont and came to Utah to attend BYU. After completing his education, he became an electrical drafter and designer, and then started specializing in water industrial automation. He has helped to design, install and operate water systems throughout Utah.

In 2009, he joined CUWCD as an instrument and controls technician. He is now Electrical Group Manager and over
sees automation of CUWCD facilities in eight counties.

In 2003, Monica and Jason met when Jason was brought in to automate a water system Monica was involved with. They were married and now live in Draper.

Two die in glider plane crash northeast of Ephraim

By James Tilson

Associate Editor



Two men were found deceased in a glider crash approximately four miles northeast of Ephraim by OHV riders on July 1. (Photo courtesy of Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office)

EPHRAIM—Two men flying from Nephi to Richfield died in a crash northeast of Ephraim on July 1.

The men’s glider was found by OHV riders in the mountains approximately four miles northeast of Ephraim. The riders called 911, and Sanpete County Sheriff, Sanpete County Search and Rescue and the Medical Examiner’s Office responded.

Upon arrival, the two men were confirmed deceased. The men were John Weber, 63, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Thomas Bjork, 66, of Orangevale, Calif. Investigation of the scene revealed the glider had taken off from the Nephi airport, and was en route to an airport near Richfield. Investigators could not immediately determine the cause of the crash.