Armed carjacker who held three teens at gunpoint in Mt. Pleasant collared after fleeing county


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor


MT. PLEASANT—A 18-year old Mt. Pleasant man is in custody today after a seemingly casual encounter between him and three minors turned into a harrowing experience for the victims when the suspect allegedly held them at gunpoint and stole their vehicle only to fill it with bullet holes and dump it later.

Alex Hernandez, of Mt. Pleasant City was arrested on Tuesday afternoon by Provo City police, who had been monitoring a location they suspected he was occupying. The Provo lawmen had a SWAT team on standby in case things got ugly, but they were able to reach Hernandez by phone and he gave up with no resistance.

“I am super mad that this whole thing happened,” says Debi Fowles of Mt. Pleasant, a North Sanpete Middle School teacher and the mother of the boy who was driving her 2004 Dodge Durango when it was carjacked. “It makes me mad that my whole family is watching their backs. My daughter was afraid to go to school today. We just didn’t know where he is and what could happen. We didn’t feel safe.”

Fowles’ son had called her around 2 p.m. on Monday she says, frantically telling her she needed to lock the doors and get somewhere safe. She says he told her Hernandez, a former acquaintance, stole the family’s Durango and held them at gunpoint before telling them, “Don’t call the cops. I know where you live.”

Fowles’ son was driving the blue Durango with two friends on Monday when they noticed Hernandez and pulled over at 505 North State Street to say hi, since they had not seen him in more than a year. When they got out, Hernandez reportedly pulled a gun on them and told them all to “get back in the car and drive.”

Hernandez also had a female minor with dyed red or purple hair with him who is reported to be his girlfriend.

According to Fowles and information released by Mt. Pleasant City Police, Hernandez ordered the three victims to drive west on 500 South for about a half mile before kicking them out of the car, firing a round from his pistol into the ground at their feet and delivering his loaded threat not to call the authorities.

Fowles’ son and the other two victims walked back into town and found a place they felt safe enough to contact their parents from.

In a statement released by the authorities, it says the car was later found east of town towards the end of Parley’s Lane. The suspects had fired live rounds from their handgun into the vehicle, and taken a sledgehammer to it.

“From what the police told us, I don’t think I will see my car in one piece again, but that can be replaced and my son cannot,” Fowles says. “This could have gone so much worse.”

She said her family stayed locked in their house for the entire day, not knowing if the suspect would return to make good on his threat.

Police say they were able to locate others who had been involved in transporting the suspects to and from the crime scene.  One was a male juvenile who was released to his parents. The other was an adult male who was arrested on aggravated robbery charges, but the suspect’s identity was not revealed to the Messenger by press time.

“I love kids, and I hate to see them get into trouble and go down that road,” said Fowles. “I hate to see this happening to him. I would not wish this on anybody, or their parent to have a kid like this.

‘We moved here to get away from stuff like this, but you can bet I will never go without locking my door again.”

[Read more…]

Coal port embroiled in second lawsuit


By Robert Stevens




OAKLAND—The developer of a controversial shipping terminal being built to export Utah coal  is suing Oakland City for a second time after the city revoked the terminal’s 66-year lease last month.

In a 50-page complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday, Dec. 4, Phil Tagami, developer of the Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal (OBOT), claimed the city is redoubling efforts to halt construction of the coal port.

Tagami ducked the city’s first attempt to shut down the port in May after a federal judge overturned Oakland City’s attempt to ban on the storage and handling of bulk coal in the city.

The complaint in the current lawsuit states the city is now attacking the project by claiming OBOT defaulted on its lease at the former Oakland Army Base, which is now owned by the city. The city gave Tagami 72 hours to vacate the property.

“In one egregious omission or act after another, the city has failed to perform its material obligations under the lease and development agreement, and has aggressively taken steps to prevent OBOT’s performance under the lease, and receipt of its benefit…thereunder,” Tagami’s complaint states.

The plan for the $250 million port, supported by the Utah Legislature, and county commissions in Sanpete, Sevier, Carbon and Emery counties, is to transport  up to 10 million tons of coal mined in central Utah per year by train to Oakland. From there, the coal would be exported to Asia.

In the first court battle, the Oakland City Council claimed multiple studies had found that trains carrying coal give off dust that can cause asthma or cancer. The city claimed emissions from OBOT would reduce air quality in West Oakland.

Tagami’s counter argument was that the ban on transport and handling of coal violated a 2013 development agreement between OBOT and the city. He argued the city was aware the terminal might handle coal before signing the development agreement.

Tagami claimed the city succumbed to political pressure after Sanpete, Emery, Carbon and Sevier counties announced they would invest $53 million in the project to export Central Utah coal, and the plan drew opposition from environmental groups.

In court, Tagami claimed the city pressured the environmental science firm Environmental Science Associates (ESA) to produce a report that would “support a coal ban.”

His lawyers successfully argued that the report was based on incorrect estimates of the port’s potential emissions.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria overturned the ban, and found Oakland in breach of the development agreement by adopting the ban without “substantial evidence” that exporting coal was a “substantial danger” to people in Oakland.

“As a practical matter, this renders the coal ordinance a nullity, because the only reason the city adopted it was to restrict OBOT’s operations, and OBOT is the only facility in Oakland to which it could conceivably apply,” Chhabria ruled.

In the new complaint against the city, OBOT lawyers claim the city has tried to obstruct the port’s completion over the last four years by implementing  “inappropriate and unwarranted additional layers of legal review,” blocking OBOT’s funding and permitting efforts with outside regulatory agencies. Tagami’s side also claims the city has refused to turn over possession of the army-base property where the port is to be located.

A couple of months ago, OBOT was served with a three-day notice to cure an alleged lease default or vacate the property.

The city claimed OBOT had defaulted on the 66-year lease by failing to start construction by a date set forth in the lease.

Tagami denied the city’s claim based on the argument that the city had hampered him from fulfilling the lease obligations.

“The city’s latest tactic—falsely asserting that its lease with OBOT has automatically terminated as the result of a claimed default that did not occur—speaks volumes about the city’s misguided attempts to eliminate this project in violation of its long-standing contractual commitments,” the complaint in Tagami’s lawsuit states.

OBOT’s developers are requesting a court order forbidding the City of Oakland from sabotaging the project any further, saying they’ve invested more than $30 million in the export terminal so far and will lose more than $100 million in damages if they can’t complete it.

Meanwhile, six Oakland community and environmental groups took legal action on Monday, Dec. 17 in the  U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, to defend the city’s original ban measures against coal storage and handling in bulk-goods facilities.


This is one of two storage units in Gunnison where at least six suspects, all described as drug addicts, stored thousands of items stolen from Sevier and Sanpete counties.

Investigators find thousands of stolen items in storage units


By James Tilson




MANTI—After an investigation running at least five months and spanning from Mt. Pleasant to Richfield, the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office has arrested six suspects and found thousands of items stolen from various parts of Sanpete and Sevier counties.

The apparent thieves operated independently of each other. Their connection was that they all took their goods to the same two storage units.

And, according to Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels, the suspects have one other thing in common: They are all drug addicts.

Initially, the Sheriff’s Office had several investigations going that did not seem to have any connection. That changed when Deputies Dallin Pace and Breezy Anderson served an arrest warrant on Breonna Thurston on Nov. 7, 2018 at a residence north of Ephraim.

During the arrest, they noticed several firearms along with ammunition. Knowing Thurston was a convicted felon and restricted from possessing firearms, the deputies obtained a search warrant for the residence.

While searching the residence, they found drug paraphernalia. The deputies obtained another search warrant for drugs. During a further search, items matching known stolen goods turned up. Pace and Anderson contacted another deputy who had been investigating thefts in the county and confirmed the identity of the stolen items.

From the information obtained at the residence, deputies obtained a search warrant for two storage units in Gunnison. That search turned up the thousands of items. Deputies identified items from reported thefts in Richfield, Salina, Gunnison, Ephraim and Mt. Pleasant, among other locations.

Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels said the thieves stole “anything that wasn’t nailed down.”             Daniels described the crime operation as a “headless hydra.” The suspects’ main connection was that they all knew Breonna Thurston, who had leased the storage units.

Three suspects received fairly minor charges. Sean Clark was charged with one count of obstruction of justice. Wyatt Clark was charged with possession of a controlled substances. Chris Brown was charged with a probation violation and possession of a controlled substance.

Three other suspects face more extensive charges. Chris Thurston, who is currently in jail for a previous conviction, faces four counts of burglary and theft.

Garrett Clark faces 16 counts, including possession of a stolen financial transaction card, identity theft, forgery, burglary, theft and possession of a stolen firearm. He also has outstanding charges in Utah County of possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of controlled substances.

Breonna Thurston is facing 22 counts, including unlawful use or possession of a financial transaction card, identity theft, forgery, burglary, theft and possession of stolen firearms. At the time of arrest, she had outstanding charges of DUI and possession of controlled substances in Sanpete County.

Daniels is already seeking to have the defendants accept plea offers in hopes of resolving the cases quickly. He said two of the defendants had been given offers to go to drug court.   The county attorney said all of the defendants are addicts and repeat offenders with whom he has had previous dealings. As such, he wants to make sure they address their addiction as well as take responsibility for their actions.

“If you eliminate the addiction, you eliminate future burglaries. Its crime prevention and crime punishment all in one,” Daniels said.

Primary suspect admits guilt in Gunnison Valley High abuse case


By Robert Stevens




MANTI—The primary suspect in the Gunnison Valley High School sex abuse case admitted his guilt in 6th District Juvenile Court on Tuesday. He is scheduled to be sentenced in 6-8 weeks.

“I feel like the case turned out very well,” Wes Mangum, deputy county attorney, said following the hearing. “I feel Gunnison police did a fantastic job in the investigation, talking to all the witnesses and gathering evidence….I think this resolution is in the best interests in not only the victims, but also the juvenile suspect. “

In a plea agreement, the sophomore football player, who was charged as the main perpetrator in the case, admitted to eight counts of forcible sexual assault, all second-degree felonies. Several counts of object rape, which would have been first-degree felonies, were dismissed as part of the deal.

The case came to light after a victim came forward saying three boys had assaulted him before football practice. During the subsequent investigation, more than a dozen Gunnison Valley High School students came forward and said they had been subjected to similar assaults.

Now that a plea has been entered, Mangum said all parties involved need to focus on moving forward.

“The juvenile court has kind of a two-fold mission,” Mangum said. “One is you hold juveniles accountable for their actions and make sure justice is received for the victims, but also that you extend mercy and somewhat of an olive branch, because they are juveniles, they are minors, and juvenile court is there to try and rehabilitate those minors and hopefully provide whatever tools are needed to address whatever is causing their actions.”

Mangum says there are bound to be some on the juvenile suspect’s side who may not feel the outcome is fair. But Mangum reiterated that his job was to follow the evidence and, he said, the evidence against the youth was “overwhelming.”

“Now we need to get healing,” he said, “for the community, for the victims and for the suspect. Part of that is learning to accept the outcomes, learning to forgive and learning to move on.”

Officer Carl Wimmer of the Gunnison Valley Police Department, who investigated the assault, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“Justice has been served,” Wimmer said. “The most important thing out of all of this, though, is that the truth prevailed. There was so much misinformation and lies spread around the community about this case, but now the truth is out, and we need to get on with hope and healing.”

Mangum said his office and the defense counsel would work with juvenile probation to come up with sentencing recommendations.

A civil suit filed in federal court by Misty Cox, the mother of one of the victims, is still pending. Cox claims that school and district authorities knew about incidents of abuse months or years earlier but took no incident.

Cox said when she reported the assault on her son, school authorities downplayed it, saying it was a case of “boys being boys.”

New Year’s baby gets old-time name


MinnieRose named after great-grandmother


By Robert Stevens




Timothy Trujillo and Sherri Martin named their new baby girl and Gunnison Valley Hospital’s New Year’s baby, MinnieRose Jayda Trujillo, after Sherri’s grandmother, who crossed an ocean on the Queen Mary to start a new life with Sherri’s grandfather, an American G.I.

GUNNISON—Gunnison Valley Hospital’s New Year’s baby made a journey to reach a new world, much like her namesake.

MinnieRose Jayda Trujillo was born to Sherri Martin and Timothy Trujillo of Richfield on Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:31 a.m.

Weighing in at 6 pounds 1 ounce, MinnieRose was 19.5 inches long, and was delivered by Dr. Adam Jensen and Gunnison Valley Hospital nurse, Denice Sorensen.

MinnieRose’s name comes from her great-grandmother, says Martin. The baby’s namesake fell in love with Martin’s grandfather, an American G.I.,  in London during World War II.

Martin’s grandmother married the G.I. and eventually travelled on the Queen Mary all the way to America to start a new life with him.

Martin, who was born in Gunnison, and Trujillo, who is from Ephraim, made the decision to have their baby delivered in Gunnison Valley Hospital because they say they wanted her to be born there.

“Gunnison [hospital] was so amazing,” Martin says. “We are so glad that we drove there for the delivery. I was born in Gunnison and my oldest son was born in Gunnison. We wanted her to be born there too.”

            MinnieRose has three older brothers who live in California, and Martin and Trujillo say they are looking forward to taking a trip to the west coast so the new siblings can meet.

Fairview taking time to consider plans to rebuild main water line


By Suzanne Dean





FAIRVIEW—Mayor David Taylor was anxious to move ahead on selecting an engineering firm for a project that includes applying for emergency federal funding and ultimately rebuilding the main Fairview culinary water line.

But at a special meeting last week, the Fairview City Council said, in essence, “Not so fast.”

Ultimately, the council decided to take a week to look over proposals submitted by three engineering firms and to hold a work meeting on the matter prior to the regular council meeting tonight (Thursday).

The council decided to forego calling in the three engineering firms that submitted proposals, but to call in Justin Jackson, the city water and sewer superintendent, to get his take on the proposals.

In October, 2018, Jackson, and his assistant, Logan Ludvigson, reported on an examination of the 13,500 foot line.

The findings, including sagging pipes over a stream crossing, pipes that hadn’t been changed out since 1939 and pipes damaged by falling trees, prompted the city to issue a request-for-proposals from engineering firms.

The purpose of the special meeting last Thursday, Jan. 10, was to look at responses from the three firms.

Taylor said if the council approved one of the firms that night, the city should know by March whether it could get funding under the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) program, sponsored by USDA Rural Development.

The program is designed to help cities and towns whose culinary water supply has dropped because of the drought.

Fairview should qualify because the volume of water running from four mountain springs into its main culinary line, a line supplying 50 percent of the town’s water, has dropped 21 percent over the past three years.

Mayor Taylor felt the best proposal was the one from Jones and Demille Engineering of Richfield.

The initial version of the Jones and Demille proposal estimated the total project would cost about $1.3 million. But the maximum amount of an ECWAG grant is $1 million.

The city asked Jones and Demille if it could pare down its proposal. The firm did. It came back with a bottom line of $998,556, a shade under $1 million. The second set of numbers even included a $72,000 contingency fund.

That figure included estimated charges for grant preparation and all other engineering of $199,700.

A second firm, Horrocks Engineers of Pleasant Grove, quoted engineering costs, including grant preparation, at $352,000. It estimated total project costs, including engineering and construction, at $1.9 million.

A third firm, Franson Civil Engineering of American Fork, quoted engineering costs at $190,890, a little below the Jones and Demille estimate. But it estimated total project costs at $1.57 million.

“There’s quite a spread between them,” said Councilman Casey Anderson. “I don’t feel comfortable voting tonight.”

“This is an estimate,” Councilman Cliff Wheeler said. “The costs could change, based on the cost of materials or problems that might arise. If that happened, where would we get the money?”

Taylor said the city would have to seek a combination grant and loan from the Utah Community Impact Board. That would mean some of the money would have to be paid back.

“The sooner we get going, the sooner we know what we’re doing or not doing,” said Councilman Robert St. Jacques.

At that point, the council decided to hold the follow-up work meeting, to ask water superintendent Jackson to be there, and to try to make a determination then.


Fairview continues to find and fix related water management problems


By Suzanne Dean





FAIRVIEW—At the same time Fairview has identified significant problems with its main culinary water line, it has made important improvements in other parts of its water system.

Last summer, the pump started going out at one of its wells, Well No. 4, located in the foothills southeast of town.

In addition, a camera examination showed holes were forming in a lining in the well shaft. Rocks and other debris in the well casing were falling through the holes into the water.

The city put out an urgent request for citizens to conserve water—and then shut down the well. Then the city replaced the pump and sealed the breaks in the lining.

Mayor David Taylor says the well won’t last indefinitely “but it’s good enough for now.”

He noted that the city has abundant rights to water coming off the mountains east of town. If the city can repair its four springs there and possibly develop additional mountain springs, it might get to the point where it won’t need supplementary wells.

The city has also dealt with the problem of aging, balky water meters that weren’t measuring water use accurately.

About two years ago, Jackson reported there was a huge gap between the number of gallons of water being delivered to connections and the number of gallons the city was billing people for.

The city had been replacing water meters a few at a time for several years. Last year, it took out a loan from a bank to finish the job.

According to Taylor, by year-end, it had replaced 400 out of 600 meters. Taylor said the final 200 meters should be in by April.

The meters can be read from a city truck going down the street with a hand-held device.

If a connection shows excessive water usage, signifying a possible leak, the software that comes with the meters enables the city to go back and detect the day and time usage spiked upward.

“It’ll allow us to better manage water use. I’d say it’s a win-win for the city and the citizens,” he said.

Fountain Green Theatre to put on film festival


By Robert Green




FOUNTAIN GREEN—A short film based on the book from local author Jenni James, “Not Cinderella’s Type,” will be aired at the Short and Sweet Film Festival on Friday and Saturday at the Fountain Green Theatre.

Most of the films aired at the new film festival will be short vignettes, but as a tribute to the town of Fountain Green, James’ feature-length film (about 100 minutes) will be shown on Friday at 7 p.m.  Many of the extras in the film were from Sanpete County, James said.

The film festival is being produced by Warren Workman, who puts on the Utah Film Festival in Provo every year, James said. “He became enchanted when he came to Fountain Green and wanted to do something fun and charming here,” she said.

“Not Cinderella’s Type” is a novel that has just exploded in popularity. James wrote the book in 2016 while living in Fountain Green. As a novelist with over 45 published books, she came to Fountain Green from Bountiful to escape the crowds and attention she was attracting.

The novel is about a girl who is trying to escape emotional abuse. It is a teen story with a great deal of realism, James said.

James was approached by a producer who wanted to make a video of the book and paid James to write the screenplay.

All events will be held at the Fountain Green Theatre on Main Street. On Friday, “short and sweet” films will play nonstop, starting at 10 a.m. “Not Cinderella’s Type” will air at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, starting at noon, short and sweet films will play nonstop. There will be an awards ceremony at 6 p.m., and a potluck meet and greet will be held at 7 p.m. Be sure to bring a dish to share.

If you’d like more information on Jenni James, visit her website at

Mt. Pleasant plans ‘Trail Project’ that will reach all the way to Spring City


By James Tilson




MT. PLEASANT—The “Mt. Pleasant Trail Project” has been given a green light to proceed this spring, said Monte Bona, executive director of the Community Development and Renewal Agency (CDRA).

Bona told the city council that federal and state agencies have approved the mitigation plan for the project.

He explained how a “hiccup” in the application had been overcome, when a potential conflict-of-interest between Councilman Justin Atkinson and Sunrise Engineering had been resolved.

Bona presented a plan from Sunrise dated Dec. 27, 2018 which proposed to keep Atkinson excluded from the trail project, and thus negate any conflict. Bona also showed an email on Jan. 8, 2019 from the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), which accepted the plan.

With the acceptance from UDOT, Bona told the council the project would start “as soon as weather permits this spring.”

The $350,000 project will build a six- to eight-foot wide asphalt or concrete path starting near the railroad depot and eventually stretch all the way to Spring City.

Atkinson noted the exact details were still being engineered, and some of the details may change depending on construction costs. The city would prefer to build the path out of concrete, as it would last longer and have fewer maintenance costs. But the city cannot foresee construction market costs yet, and would have to see how that affects the project.

Mayor Dan Anderson told the council about a potential new business wanting to open in the industrial park. Consolidated Merchants Group, which would act as a distribution center with contracts with the U.S. Postal Service, plans to open a building on a five acre plot on the west side of the airport strip road, next to the fence facing ConToy Arena, across from Lindbergh Lane.

Anderson told the council the owner of the business had already moved to Mt. Pleasant, and wanted to move his business here as well. Anderson thought the business fits the profile of the industrial park, but it would be the first business on the west side. Anderson wanted to opinion of the council on the proposed location.

Councilman Kevin Stallings expressed concerns about the “buffer zone” between the industrial park and ConToy Arena. “Will there be a big building, which will block the view?” Stallings asked.

After Bona said the business plans to start with a 20,000 square feet building, and eventually expand to 100,000 square feet, Councilwoman Keidi Kelso noted, “I think the business is consistent with what’s already there. I don’t think it will hurt the ConToy Arena.”

Councilman Keith Collier said he was in favor of more businesses moving into Mt. Pleasant. “We need more businesses so we can keep our kids here.”

Anderson noted the plans were not final yet, and the council could possibly move the location around to fit all the concerns from the council.

Bona reminded the council, “Mt. Pleasant has been pushing the idea of our city as an ideal location for distribution businesses for central Utah. It would not make sense to get in the way of that now.”


Mt. Pleasant reviews capital improvement projects and municipal personnel policies


By James Tilson




MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council discussed future capital improvement planning and improvement to city personnel policies during its meeting last Tuesday.

Mayor Dan Anderson introduced a “discussion of Community Impact Board (CIB) capital improvements” by saying, “This is part of our new 10-year general plan, which we will be working with Utah Valley University students, and then send out to our residents for their input.”

The first item, and the highest priority, was the culinary/secondary water supply project. Anderson told the council there was a meeting scheduled for Jan. 16 with the Six County Area Operating Group, which administers the CIB grants in the six county area, to discuss the city’s CIB applications for the coming year.

Anderson said the culinary project had been applied for last year, and denied. This year the city upgraded the proposal to take into account the $15 million award for the secondary water infrastructure project, in hopes of getting a higher priority from the CIB.

Three other projects—an Aquatic Center addition, an Industrial Park addition and a city sewer upgrade—were to be listed in the two- to five-year planning projects that were not ready for immediate consideration, but to advise the CIB they were in the city’s long-term plans.

Anderson asked the council for input for any other potential projects that might be included in the long-range planning goals. Councilman Justin Atkinson said upgrading the city streets could be included, and Councilman Keith Collier agreed with him. City power department supervisor Shane Ward added the effort to switch the city’s street lights from incandescent to LED could also be considered.

Anderson then informed the council the first $440,000 of the $15 million funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture had been disbursed. The money would be used to conduct environmental impact studies, which were the first phase of the project.

Anderson then asked the council’s help in forming a committee to upgrade the city’s personnel policies. Anderson told the council the current policy handbook had been promulgated in the 1990’s, and its last revision was in 2010. Anderson wanted two councilmembers to sit on the committee, along with members from city employees, to review and suggest needed upgrades and changes.

Councilwoman Heidi Kelso and Collier were suggested as likely members, based on their expertise and training in personnel matters. Kelso reminded the council the policy handbook was quite large, and complex, and its review would take longer than expected. The council agreed the committee should take the handbook section by section for review, and also get legal review at the same time.

Dress display from 2016.

Ephraim Co-Op continues hosting annual Prom Dress Extravaganza


By Lauren Evans




The Ephraim Co-Op is hosting their annual Prom Dress Extravaganza this February.

This event is organized as a service to the community, where girls can sell their prom dresses from previous years and buy a new dress for the upcoming prom season. This event is a great way to get a beautiful gown on a budget or sell your own gown for some cash.

The event began as a small exchange of wedding dresses in 2013 and has proceeded to grow in size and popularity every year.

The Co-Op is also hosting a drawing for cash and prizes at this year’s event for those who participate.

This event runs from Friday, Feb. 8 through Saturday, Feb. 9, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., upstairs in the Reception Hall. The Co-Op is accepting dresses for sale starting Monday, Feb. 4 up to the day of the event at the Co-Op on 96 N. Main Street in Ephraim. All gowns will be displayed in the reception hall upstairs and dressing rooms will be available.

For more information call Gloria Healey at 435-462-3722.

[Read more…]

Snow College presidential finalists announced


By Robert Green




EPRHAIM—Four finalists who have been selected to replace retiring Snow College President Gary Carlston will meet the public in an open forum on Thursday afternoon in the Huntsman Library Auditorium.

“After receiving a great deal of public input over the past few months, the Snow College Presidential Search Committee is pleased to advance the names of these four highly-qualified finalists,” said Mark Stoddard, Regent and search committee co-chair. “We look forward to the Regents having the opportunity to fully consider these candidates as they work to select a new leader for Snow College.”

Each of the finalists will speak and answer questions from the audience for about an hour on Thursday, starting at 1 p.m., said Marci Larsen, the president’s assistant.

The forum is a way for Snow College students and Sanpete County residents to meet and get acquainted with their next president, she said.

The new president will then be chosen by the Utah Board of Regents in a closed session on Friday and introduced at a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. in Founders Hall in the Noyes Building.

The man chosen for the job will start out earning about $215,000 a year, Larsen said. This is a similar amount that retiring President Carlston has been paid.

One the biggest challenges facing the new president will face is to increase enrollment, which has been flat for the past few years, Larsen said.

The finalists were selected from a pool of 30 to 40 candidates; and they went through a rigorous screening process from a 22-member search committee appointed by the Board of Regents. Larsen was involved in the search and said there were no internal favorites and all finalists were selected solely on their qualifications.

Gary Carlston and his wife Janet are leaving Snow College after leading the school since 2014. He will remain in his position until May 17. He was Snow College’s 16th president. The school was founded by pioneer settlers in 1988 and named after Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.

The finalists are:

• Steven J. Hood, who will speak at 1 p.m.

• Val L. Peterson, who will speak at 2 p.m.

• Bradley J. Cook, who will speak at 3 p.m.

• Courtney R. White, who will speak at 4 p.m.

Here is a brief biographical sketch of each candidate:

Bradley J. Cook

Bradley J. Cook is the provost at Southern Utah University, and is an alum of Snow College and a native of central Utah. He has worked to establish SUU as a national leader in student-centric, highly applied learning environments and has advanced an agenda of internationalizing the university.

Under his leadership, SUU has achieved record high student success rates, created over 25 new academic programs and centers, and elevated SUU’s academic reputation among public regional universities in the Intermountain West.

Prior to his current position, he served as president of the Abu Dhabi Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates, and eight years at then-Utah Valley State College as vice president of college relations and later as vice president of academic affairs. Cook has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.

Steven J. Hood has served as the vice president for academic affairs at Snow College since 2013. He has been instrumental in helping make it easier to transfer credits to four-year universities.

Steven J. Hood

He also spent 27 years at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania as a professor of politics. At Ursinus, he served as department chair, assistant dean and director of the first-year liberal education program.

In addition to academics, Hood was part of a team that worked with underrepresented student groups from

rural and urban areas in Pennsylvania. He was awarded two Fulbright Fellowships (Taiwan and Peru), the Laughlin Award for Scholarship (1993), and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (2001). Hood holds bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University and a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Val L. Peterson

 Val L. Peterson is the vice president of finance and administration at Utah Valley University. His administrative responsibilities include facilities, finance, information technology, general counsel, emergency services, athletics and internal audit.

Peterson started at then-Utah Valley Community College in 1987 and has served in a variety of capacities such as associate vice president for college relations and vice president for college relations.

He retired from the Utah National Guard as a brigadier general after 32 years of service. He currently serves in the Utah House of Representatives from District 59. Peterson has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree from the United States War College, and a doctorate from Brigham Young University.

Courtney R. White

Courtney R. White is the chief of staff at Dixie State University where he advises the president supervises the strategic plan implementation, which focuses on student success and access. Since 2014 he has been adjunct faculty with the Southern Utah University master’s of public administration program.

He previously served as the lobbyist for the University of Oregon and held a similar external relations position with the Utah Education Association.

His prior professional assignments include work at the Nevada, Oregon and Utah Systems of Higher Education, most recently as an assistant commissioner.

He earned an associate’s degree from Snow College, a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, a master’s degree from the University of Utah, and a law degree from the University of Oregon. He grew up in Ephraim.

Spring City interim Mayor Pro-Tem Neil Sorensen presents resigning Mayor Jack Monnett with an award of appreciation from Spring City at the recent council meeting Jan. 3. Monnett submitted his resignation, citing the need to spend more time with his family and especially his wife, for whom he is acting as caregiver.

Jack Monnett steps down as mayor of Spring City


Changes appear to be coming in recorder and treasurer posts


By James Tilson




SPRING CITY—Spring City’s mayor submitted his resignation at the last council meeting, leading to a general shake-up of the city’s government.

Jack Monnett resigned as mayor of Spring City at the beginning of the council meeting, reading his letter of resignation to the audience in what became an emotional farewell.

“It is with heavy heart that I write this letter of resignation,” said Monnett. “The past five years have been fulfilling and have brought satisfaction in watching our city work together.”

Monnett told how his decision was the culmination of events that started with a traffic accident in which his wife lost the use of her legs and one arm in Aug. 2017. Since then, more and more of his time has been devoted to providing care for her. In spite of her “wonderful attitude,” Monnett found he could no longer be a sole caregiver for her.

“Recognizing our personal limitations in caregiving, we have come together in a family decision to relocate ourselves and to be close to other family members.” Monnett told the audience that he and his wife planned to move to Idaho to be close to two adult children.

Monnett said Councilman Neil Sorensen would be taking over temporarily as the interim Mayor Pro-Tem. Monnett cited Sorensen’s experience with the city’s government and personality as reasons he would be well qualified to take over. “I feel confident in handing the gavel to him.”

Monnett also cited the achievements of the city during his administration, including the completion of a new city center, a new veteran’s memorial, a re-dedicated town spring memorial, the addition of a full-time police department and investment in state recognized fire department. He also mentioned projects to increaser water production and provide more efficient city lighting.

A visibly moved city staff took the time to tell Monnett how much they appreciated his service, and they were going to miss him. Sorensen also presented Monnett with a plaque, showing the city’s appreciation of his time as mayor.

After Monnett left, and Sorensen took over the meeting, Sorensen announced a number of other changes to the city government. Sorensen said Dixie Earl, city record, planned to retire in six months. Kim Crowley, city treasurer, will be taking over Earl’s responsibilities as recorder.

In addition to Earl, the city also lost Deputy Treasurer Jim Phillips to relocation. Sorensen announced the city had hired David Miller to take over Phillips’ position, and Councilman Whitney Allred would assume the responsibilities of Treasurer.

As a result of all the shuffling, the city will post openings for both mayor and council. Sorensen confirmed he would be applying for the permanent Mayor Pro-Tem position, and Allred would still be able to serve on the council, but he would have to apply for it again.

Zoey, Alisha and Harley Sorensen smile for the camera while cradling the newest addition to the family, Jaysa Dawn, who was the first baby born in Sanpete Valley Hospital in 2019.

Don or Dawn? Baby girl settles question


By Robert Stevens




MT. PLEASANT—Sanpete Valley Hospital had the privilege of welcoming a baby girl into the world last week for their first delivery of the year.

Born on Wednesday, Jan. 2, at 6:23 p.m., Jaysa Dawn Sorensen is the youngest daughter of Harley and Alisha Sorensen, weighing in at seven pounds and measuring 19 inches long.

Her parents have been Sanpete County residents for more than 20 years, and met each other over a friendly game of billiards.

“She fell in love with me after seeing how good at pool I was, “Harley jokes.

The Sorensen’s choice of middle name for their new baby girl was a tribute to both of their great-grandfathers, who were both named Don.  Even before they knew if they were having a boy or a girl, the family had settled on Don or Dawn as a middle name, depending on the gender.

Harley himself was named in tribute, only in his case it was a motorcycle. His full name is Harley David Sorensen. The day after her birth, Jaysa could be found in the arms of her mother, wrapped in pink and black Harley Davidson swaddling clothes.

Jaysa became the little sister to an eager older sibling, Zoey, who says she is looking forward to helping take care of her baby sis.

Zoey’s family says she waited a long time for her new sibling, and they finally had to get a puppy to get her by until the baby came.

Both parents commute to Utah County for work, and although Alisha has some time off with the baby, they are grateful that Zoey is eager to get some babysitting experience in to help out.

It has long been a tradition at Sanpete Valley Hospital to present gifts to the first baby born in the New Year.

“It’s always exciting to welcome out first baby of the year,” says Elaine McCormick, Nursery Coordinator.

Dr. Eric Jones, DO, OB/GYN was the delivering physician. The Sorensens say they are extremely grateful for the care they received from the nursing and delivery staff.