Preliminary hearing set for Chester man accused of drug-dealing scheme

 

By James Tilson

 

03-07-2019

 

Matthew Thompson

MANTI—A Chester man alleged to be at the head of a scheme to distribute illegal drugs from Arizona to Utah is scheduled to have his preliminary hearing on April 16 in the Manti District Court.

Matthew Thompson, 39, has eight separate cases with a variety of charges, ranging from aggravated assault to witness tampering to money laundering. However, the most serious charges arise from an arrest on Nov. 4, 2018, when Thompson and three co-defendants, Ashlyn Ehler, Geoff Wade and Michelle Gatti, were stopped on U.S. 89 just north of the Sanpete County line.

At that time, Thompson and his co-defendants were found to have approximately one pound of methamphetamine they had purchased in Arizona to sell in Utah. Based on the stop, and the investigation arising from it, Thompson was charged with nine counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony. Each count carries a potential sentence of one to 15 years in prison.

Thompson also has been charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute, as a first-degree felony. Those crimes carry a potential sentence of five years to life in prison.

Kathleen Thompson

Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels filed several of the cases only recently, including the witness tampering case. Daniels said the witness tampering cases involved allegations Thompson tried to contact a witness in one of his cases while he was in custody, with the assistance of his mother, Kathleen Thompson, and a jail employee, Cassie Yale. Both Kathleen Thompson and Yale have been charged, and Yale has been fired from her position with the jail.

“Witness tampering is a very serious charge,” said Daniels. “It goes toward the integrity of the judicial system, to get to the facts and find out ‘what is the truth’.” Daniels explained he filed the additional charges, which all related to the original charges, when Thompson rejected his plea offer and moved to go forward to trial.

“It’s always possible to resolve the case,” Daniels said. “But the likelihood has gone down with the passage of time. There are certain outcomes, my ‘line in the sand’, beyond which I will not go.”

A preliminary hearing is held to determine whether the State has enough evidence that a defendant committed a crime. If the judge determines the State has met its burden, then the case will be held over for trial. As far as Daniels is concerned, he thinks that is where Thompson’s case is headed. “We’re going to move forward to trial.”

The Manti family who lost their home in a fire last month received a well-need distraction from a fundraiser organized by community members to help them deal with the burden of such a loss. They are seen here wearing costumes and holding props from the event’s photo booth. Pictured are: Back row (L-R) Jason Borg, Janet Glenn, Jenna Borg and Ken Glenn; Front row (L-R), Kayden Glenn and Keena Borg.

Community supports fundraiser for Glenn family

 

By Robert Stevens

 

03-07-2019

 

MANTI—Dozens of local community members came out to help support a Manti family who lost their home in a fire last week.

The fundraiser event, which was held on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Manti American Legion hall from 6-10 p.m. was organized by Manti High School student Delaney Harris as a project for her event planning class.

Money raised from the event benefits the Ken and Janet Glenn family, whose home at 681 E. 500 South in Manti was lost to a blaze on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

“The support from the community has been so encouraging and uplifting,” Janet said. “It came just when we needed it and we are so thankful and grateful for everyone involved.”

The family said the lighthearted event, which had two live bands, a bake sale and a photo booth, served well to distract them from the burden brought upon them by the fire.

Since the day of the fire, Ken Glenn says he and his family have received support again and again just when it was most needed.

“On the very day of the fire someone slipped money in my pocket,” he says. It turns out it was just enough to get them into a rental after losing their home.

Another donor snuck up to their door and slipped money in so the family wouldn’t know who had left it, says Janet. Although the family lost their entire home and many sentimental items in the fire, they have begun planning to rebuild a new home of an original design.

“This time around, my kitchen window is going to point in the direction I want it to,” Janet says.

Brant Hanson reflects on years of working with ‘great staff’ as manager

 

By James Tilson

 

03-07-2019

 

 

 

Brant Hanson

EPHRAIM—Brant Hanson is quick to point out most of his job as the Ephraim City manager has been helping others to do their job well.

“The staff here is great,” he said. “I haven’t worked with a better group of people, ever.”

Hanson started as city manager in 2014, and since then growth has driven most of his concerns. Ephraim has grown at a fairly steady five percent rate since 2014, and that growth has put strains on city infrastructure.

“One of my primary focuses was trying to find funding to improve infrastructure, primarily water,” he said. According to Hanson, while the fact almost all of Ephraim’s water comes from springs is a great thing, 65 percent of the water goes through a tunnel constructed in 1937. If the tunnel ever failed, then the backup well has chronic arsenic issues.

“That worried me,” said Hanson. “With Snow College in town, there are a lot of people relying on us getting this right.”

So, Hanson set about looking for ways to improve the water system and finding new water sources. Over the last three years, Ephraim has received over $3 million in funding for water infrastructure. The funding has not come without cost—the federal agencies require municipalities to have matching funds when receiving grants. As a result, Ephraim had to raise water rates last year. But now the tunnel has been renovated to be safer, and a new well is ready to be drilled as soon as the weather permits.

But even so, Hanson will not accept all the credit. “Most of it is not me, it’s the staff, and giving them the resources they need to be successful.” He said he does his best by inspiring others to do their best. “It’s their department, I’m just pushing from behind.”

Hanson also said the new city manager should lean heavily on the staff to continue the progress already made. “Continue to give them the tools necessary to do what they’re doing.”

Other things a new city manager should think about include economic development. He thinks there should be more focus on improving current business, to help them find funding and look for new incentives for expansion. “It’s not about bringing in Home Depot; it’s about helping Hermansen’s and all of them,” he said.

A new city manager will need to concentrate on “finding the right people for the right seat.” Hanson explained a city manager needs to understand what each employee’s strengths are, and then give the employee duties that focus on those strengths. “I tried to make it so that our employees are excited to come to work every day.”
Infrastructure, like road construction and repair, will continue to be important to Ephraim’s future. Although the city already invests in road repair each year, the underlying issues of usage and drainage will be on-going. “These will be funding issues in the future,” he said.

And lastly, Hanson hopes the new city manager will continue his efforts at “involving the community.” He has been trying to create more community events, outside of church callings and socials. Hanson mentioned working with the new parks and recreation director, Donnie Wood, to have at least one city-sponsored event a month. “Movie at the Park, at the city amphitheater, those kinds of things need to happen more often,” he said. “We shouldn’t just be about the Scandinavian Festival once a year.”

Shelith Jacobson will fill Fountain Green council vacancy

 

By James Tilson

 

03-07-2019

 

FOUNTAIN GREEN—A new council member was chosen by the Fountain Green City Council, and the city continued to inch toward construction of a new fire station.

Shelith Jacobson and Stuart Smith applied to fill the vacant seat on the council, and their applications were taken up by the council Thursday, Feb. 21. Both candidates emphasized their desire to serve their community.

“We know progress is coming,” said Jacobson. “But we have values that we need to protect.” Jacobson told the council she had worked on the city’s planning commission, and her family has a tradition of service. She has just retired as manager of the radiology department in the Central Valley Medical Center in Nephi, and would have plenty of time to devote to the position.

“My goal is that everyone is represented and the community is one,” said Stuart. “Decisions made should be in the best long-term interest of the city.” While Stuart admitted he was a recent “transplant,” he noted his wife was from Spring City. He recalled his youth in South Jordan, when it used to be like Fountain Green, but “now it’s not because growth was not managed properly.”

After all the councils votes were tallied, Jacobson was declared the winner. However, her term will only last through the end of the year. Her seat, and two others will be up for election in November, and Mayor Willard Wood encouraged Stuart to apply again. The registration time-period for the council seats will be June 3-7.

Mayor Wood also reported on the progress being made to fund a new city fire station. While the city is waiting on the decision by the Community Impact Board (CIB) regarding their application, Jones & DeMille Engineering has given the city “preliminary estimates” concerning two potential building methods for the new building.

According to Kendrick Thomas at Jones & DeMille, the two options are new methods being proposed by Eagle Ridge Span in North Dakota. One method would be to use steel framing, which would be pre-fabricated, in order to reduce the building costs and make the finished product stronger. The other method would be to use wood instead of steel, which would still be stronger than traditional methods, but less costly.

“We’re still trying to wrap our heads around all the factors” of how and why the methods might be advisable, Thomas said. The estimate is still preliminary until they can completely analyze the Eagle Ridge proposal. Also, they want to wait for the CIB decision before they finalize their estimate.

Eight to compete for Miss Fairview crown

 

03-07-2019

 

FAIRVIEW — Eight young women are vying for the title of Miss Fairview for 2019.

Emily Kersiek

The winner will be selected at a pageant Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Peterson Dance Hall on State Street. The new Miss Fairview will replace Malia Ah Kuoi, who served as Miss Fairview in 2018.

The contestants are: Emily Kerksiek, daughter of Amber and Scott Kerksiek, and a junior at North Sanpete High School.

Julia Clista Galecki

She hopes to pursue further education in music. Her platform is “I want to feel.” The goal of her platform is encouraging, inspiring and teaching others how to feel happiness.

Coutney Kelsey

Julia Clista Galecki, daughter of Cindy and Greg Galecki, and a senior at Wasatch Academy. She wants to obtain a degree that combines her interest in math with her desire to serve the global community. Her platform, “Be active, be happy,” will help youth in the community to understand the importance of physical activity.

Courtney Kelsey, daughter of Marc and Jamie Kelsey and a senior at North

Elizabeth Madsen

Sanpete High School. She wants to become a foreign language teacher. Her platform, “Diversity: Strength lies in differences, not in similarities,” will enable her to share what she has learned by studying different cultures.

Caleigh Hathaway

Elizabeth Madsen, daughter of Jeremy and Jessica Madsen, is a sophomore at North Sanpete High School. She would like to use her creativity to be a photographer, interior designer or wedding planner. Her platform is “Service is endless.” She wants to teach the many ways we can all serve.

Callie Rigby

Caleigh Hathaway, daughter of Jana Janssen, and a junior at North Sanpete High School. She wants to

become a veterinary assistant. Her platform, “Warriors we stand,” is designed to help people overcome trials and hardships.

Natalie Day

Callie Rigby, daughter of John Rigby and Tonya Rigby, is a senior at North Sanpete High School and wants to become a welder. Her platform, “Worth lies within” is designed to help low-income families understand that worth comes from within.

Kennedy Miner

Natalie Day, daughter of Allen and Andrea Day, is a junior at North Sanpete High School and wants to become an occupational therapist. Her platform, “Kindness begins with you,” will promote kindness to all ages in the community.

Kennedy “Ryan” Miner, daughter of Bryan and Shaun Miner, is a senior at North Sanpete High School. She wants to become a dental assistant or dental hygienist. Through her platform, “Families for foster kids,” she will encourage capable families to consider participating in the foster care system.

Moroni seeks to bond for ’emergency’ $200K water line replacement project

 

By Suzanne Dean

 

03-07-2019

 

MORONI—The Moroni City Council will hold a public hearing March 21 on a proposal to issue up to $200,000 in bonds to replace some of the pipes in the culinary water system.
“We all think this is an emergency, Mayor Paul Bailey said at the last city council meeting on Feb. 21. “We need to do it.”
According to the “Notice of Public Hearing” approved by the city council, the bonds would be paid off from customer water payments. No increase in property taxes or water rates is anticipated.
Moroni’s main water well is located southwest of the city. Water from the well is pumped through an 8-inch pipe uphill to two water tanks located north of the city at about 100 West.
Water from the tanks flows into 10-inch and 12-inch pipes, which run downhill about 800 feet to where the culinary water distribution system begins.
About six weeks ago, one of the pipes between water tank and 400 North broke, flooding two houses. And it’s not the first time there has been a break in the 800-foot stretch, Carol Haskins, city recorder, said.
When workers fixed the break, they found the pipes were resting on rock rather than sand bedding. Breaks in the pipes could have been caused partly by pipes rubbing against rocks, Haskins said.
Sunrise Engineering gave the city an estimate of $110,000 to replace the pipes, including designing the project and directing the bid opening.
The city asked the Utah Drinking Water Board for a loan; and after discussion, the board approved a loan of up to $200,000, which would cover the engineer’s estimate plus any unexpected costs.
However, the city council agreed its goal was to stick to the $110,000 figure. “If we go over $110,000, then we’ve got to go back in front of the board. It’s not an approval process, but just to let them know why the city has run over,” Bailey told the city council.
The mayor noted the 8-inch line between the well and water tanks seemed to be holding up well. “If we’re lucky with that 8-inch line, we may be okay” and won’t have to replace it, he said.
The city will use the loan money for repairs. Then it will issue a bond to pay the state back, and will pay the bond off at 2.34 percent interest. The anticipated term of the bond is 22 years. If the city borrows $110,000, as anticipated, and continues bond payments over the full 22 years, it will pay about $28,000 in interest.
No one is sure how long the 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch pipes have been in place, but it’s been at least 20 years, Haskins said. The life expectancy of the pipes is supposed to be 20 years. The city is proposing to replace them with pipes designed to last 50 years.

No evidence that deer disease can spread to humans, livestock

 

03-07-2019

 

A recent nationwide report that chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk might be transmitted to humans hasn’t been validated anywhere in Utah nor in Sanpete County.

In fact, there hasn’t been a single verified case of a person living in Utah contracting CWD, said a spokesperson with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

CWD was first detected in a Utah buck taken during the rifle hunt near Vernal in 2002. Since then the disease has grown a slightly steady rate and popped up in many areas of the state, the spokesperson said. Since 2002, a total of 89 deer and two elk have tested positive for the disease in Utah.

The third ever Utah case of CWD was detected in a doe near Fountain Green in 2003. There have also been reported cases of deer with CWD being harvested in the mountains above the Sanpete Valley.

While the disease is certainly something to watch out for, there are also no reports that CWD has spread to domestic livestock, such as cattle or sheep, said Utah Department of Agriculture field veterinarian Dr. Robert Erickson.

Some scientist with the Center for Disease control have suggested it might be possible for CWD to spread to cattle or even humans, as the disease is spread by prions, or protein molecules. This is how mad cow disease is transmitted to humans.

However, the CDC has also reported the risk of transmission from animals to humans is considered to be extremely low.

So, for the time being, there is no need for Sanpete County residents to be more concerned than usual about CWD.

However, hunters are cautioned not to eat any meat from animals that might be infected with CWD, nor should they harvest any animals that appear to be sick.

According to wildlife.utah.gov, CWD is a relatively rare transmissible disease that affects the nervous systems of deer, elk and moose. Infected animals develop brain lesions, become emaciated, appear listless and have droopy ears, may salivate excessively and eventually die.

[Read more…]

Rep. McAdams says he will stay ‘center’, vote for the good of the district

 

By Suzanne Dean

 

Rep. Ben McAdams, who represents northern Sanpete County in Congress, interacts with constituents during a town meeting last week in Nephi.

NEPHI—“I will stay in the center, I will vote for what’s good for my district, I will vote my conscience,” Rep. Ben McAdams, the new congressman in Utah’s 4th District, told constituents in Nephi last week.

McAdams, whose district includes parts of Salt Lake and Utah counties, populated areas of Juab County and Sanpete County north of Pigeon Hollow Junction, held his first town meetings, one in Lehi on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and one in Nephi on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

McAdams, a Democrat in a dominantly Republican state, painted himself as a pragmatist whose main focus will be forging bipartisan solutions to problems.

“I just hope people will make a judgment of me that I’m on Team Utah before I’m on any other team,” he said.

McAdams was one of 15 Democrats out of 235 who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House. One constituent wanted to know if he voted that way to fulfill a campaign promise or because he believed it was the right thing to do.

He said both. Keeping his campaign promise was a matter of integrity, he said, but he also felt Pelosi had been in leadership too long.

One participant in the meeting said he had held positions with the Utah Municipal Power Agency (UMPA), an organization of six municipal power operations, including power systems in Nephi and Levan.

In that role, he said he sometimes visited with Jim Matheson, the last Utah Democrat in Congress. “I really appreciated Jim Matheson, not because he was a Democrat, but because he was Jim Matheson,” the former UMPA official said. “I think he helped our district, and he helped us (the power agency) because he was able to reach across the aisle if he knew it was right.”

McAdams said he had joined the Blue Dog Democrats, a group in Congress in which Matheson had played a key role. And since starting his term, he said, he had consulted with Matheson regularly.

McAdams said when members of Congress are mingling in the House chamber between votes, “I go and sit on the center aisle” with other moderate Democrats. He said sometimes he and his moderate colleagues are joined by moderate Republicans.

Juab County Commissioner Byron Woodland brought up a couple of local concerns. He said he’d heard a lot of talk about a potential infrastructure bill. “But we need that in the rural areas as well.”

He cited a road running between Nephi and an industrial plant west of the city. The road is in bad shape, yet the cost to fix it is $12 million, which is more than the county’s whole budget for a year.

He also asked McAdams to keep his eye on funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs, which help compensate schools districts and counties that have a lot of federal land. Because the land is government owned, it is exempt from property tax.

Nephi Mayor Glade Nielson said he hoped McAdams would advocate for bills to go through committee study and not be brought directly to the floor.

McAdams, who is on the Financial Services Committee, said he’s already seen the importance of committee study in an issue that has come before him.

Forty-seven states, including Utah, have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Yet possession and sale of marijuana continues to be against federal law.

It is also against federal law to deposit money from illegal drugs in banks. Yet experts have come before the committee explaining the prohibition is making marijuana a cash business, which could open the door to money laundering and lead to money from marijuana being channeled into crime and even terrorism.

McAdams said he opposes legalization of marijuana at the federal level. But possibly a “safe harbor” needs to be created to allow banks to accept deposits from legal marijuana businesses in their states.

One constituent wanted to know where McAdams stood on abortion. “Personally, I don’t support abortion,” he said, with a few exceptions such as rape, incest and saving the life of the mother.

But he also said decisions about abortion are best left to the mother and her doctor.

However, he added, “I’m very troubled by what is happening in New York.” (The assembly there has passed a law permitting abortion after six months if the mother’s health is jeopardized or if the baby will not be able to survive after birth.)

Mayor Corey Christensen of Levan, who is on the board of directors of UMPA, asked McAdams if he supported the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is a proposal by some of the more liberal Democrats in Congress to mandate 100 percent renewable energy in 10 years; to remove carbon from agriculture, transportation and all other industries; and to guarantee a job with a “living wage” for every American.

“The Green New Deal I don’t support,” McAdams said. He said he would like to see private industry lead the movement toward clean energy, clean industry, clean air and clean water.

Congressman Chris Stewart (center) talks with Ephraim city council members Richard Wheeler (left), John Scott and Margie Anderson.

Stewart tells attendees at Snow College meeting that nation’s fiscal problems are getting worse

 

By Suzanne Dean

 

02-28-2019

 

EPHRAIM—Rep. Chris Stewart told a town meeting at Snow College last week that the nation’s fiscal problems, the issue that motivated him to run for Congress in 2012, are getting worse.

He also blamed the Senate filibuster rule for legislation passed in the House failing to reach the president’s desk. He called the rule and its consequences “undemocratic,” but said there is sentiment in the Senate to change it.

The meeting at the Noyes Building, which had below-average attendance for a town meeting, undoubtedly because it coincided with a snowstorm, was the last of eight town halls Stewart held in Southern Utah on Tuesday Feb. 19 and Wednesday Feb. 20. He was scheduled to hold three more the next day on the Wasatch Front.

“We started in Dixie and will end in Davis,” the congressman said.

Stewart, a Republican, represents the 2nd District, which takes in Sanpete County from Pigeon Hollow Junction south as well as nine counties in central and southern Utah.

The congressman, who was just elected to his fourth term, said when he ran for office, the budget deficit (shortfall for a single year) was $1.4 trillion.

Through “sequestration,” automatic budget cuts, the deficit came down to $470 billion, he said. But the cuts were “done almost entirely on the backs of defense and discretionary spending.”

He passed out a handout showing that the projected 2019 budget deficit is $897 billion. And if trends continue, the deficit will be $1.4 trillion in 2029.

Currently, interest on the debt is $383 billion, but by 2029, it will reach $1 trillion, he said.

Stewart, a former Air Force pilot, said mandatory spending for social security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the national debt has cut into military readiness.

He said the Air Force had gone from more than 150 fighter squadrons to 57. He said other countries sometimes complain about U.S. dominance, and the United States sometimes complains about the cost of defending our allies.

“But if we don’t lead,” he said, “Vladimir Putin will.”

Stewart, who is on the House Appropriations Committee, said the committee held 72 hearings last session on spending bills. The full House passed many of those bills.

But in recent years, when appropriation bills originating the House get to the Senate, they die, presumably because they couldn’t garner the two-third votes required to stop a filibuster if a senator mounted one.

So at the end of the fiscal year, Stewart said, with agencies about to run out of money, both houses pass continuing resolutions to authorize spending at the level of the previous fiscal year.

Likewise, numerous non-spending bills, including bipartisan measures the House passed overwhelmingly, often get no action in the Senate, he said.

“Until we fix the filibuster,” he said, the pattern will continue and there will be more government shutdowns.

“We’ve never accomplished anything on a policy basis by a shutdown,” he said. During the last shutdown, “my day was an unending conversation with people affected by the shutdown.”

However, he said he was proud of two legislative accomplishments. One was passage by both houses of a bill permitting permanent sterilization of wild horses.

“I grew up farming and ranching,” he said. “I love these animals.”

Yet because of overpopulation and the resulting overgrazing on the west desert of Utah, wild horses and other wildlife were staving.

It took “four years of hand-to-hand combat,” but ultimately the humane society and a horse advocacy group came on board.

“It’s a humane solution. It’s a permanent solution,” he said of the sterilization bill.

The other measure was a comprehensive bill, incorporating dozens of other bills that had previously passed the House to address suicide prevention and opioids. President Trump signed the measure in Oct. 2018.

Stewart said the measure would set up a national crisis hotline with an easy-to-remember number such as 611.

“We will save thousands of lives,” he said.

Stewart said “even people who are pro-choice are taken aback” by a new law in New York that permits abortion up to the time of birth. The law permits abortions after six months if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s health or if the baby would not be able to survive outside the womb.

Stewart said he is supporting an effort to bring legislation to the House floor requiring providers to give medical care to any baby who survives an abortion.

He also called the Green New Deal proposed by some liberal Democrats socialistic and criticized Democrats for cutting what started out as more than $20 billion for border security down to $1.3 billion.

“Socialism and the border will be the issues” in the next presidential campaign, he predicted.

Verizon Wireless looks to upgrade cell service in Salt Creek Canyon

 

By Doug Love

 

02-28-2019

 

FOUNTAIN GREEN—If all goes according to plan, residents in and around Fountain Green will be getting improved cell phone service in the next year or so, and the city will be getting a financial windfall.

Verizon’s long range plan is to follow the proposed new tower in Fountain Green with others to eventually be built going down the canyon so that in the future everyone traveling up and down Salt Creek canyon between Fountain Green and Nephi will have cell phone service available in the 10-14 mile stretch of S.R.132 that is now a dead zone.

Fountain Green’s city council unanimously voted to accept, at their regular Feb. 21 meeting, the proposal made a month earlier, at the council’s meeting in January, by Verizon representative, Dan Thurgood.

That proposal envisions Verizon paying the city some $1,200 per month ($14,000 per year) for a 25-year lease on city property where a 100-foot cell tower can be located.

Thurgood and city staffer Roger Aagard found a suitable site next to city’s water tank house and headhouse north of town and below the state’s fish hatchery operation.

The council’s unanimous decision to approve of that particular location chosen by Thurgood will serve as his signal to turn the new tower project over to a Verizon engineering and construction team for further study before the lease agreement is actually signed and the city starts receiving its new monthly revenue.

Fountain Green Mayor Willard Wood calls the proposed new cell tower “a great step in the right direction for eventually adding the safety of cell phone service for everyone traveling up and down the canyon between our town and Nephi. Naturally, the fact that Fountain Green will also make some additional money is a good thing, too. But, in my view, making the canyon safer is the more important outcome.”

For years, many Fountain Green residents preferred Verizon’s service to others available in the area. However, since the company began using its new tower in Chester, near Pigeon Hollow, some Fountain Green customers have complained that their Verizon signal was no longer as good as it had been when they got service from a cell tower northwest of Fairview.

Queries to Verizon from unhappy Fountain Green customers like Aspen Lightfoot, who lives within sight of city hall, revealed that the distance from Chester to Fountain Green is well beyond the 5-mile radius considered ideal for excellent reception and transmission. Unhappy Verizon customers like Lightfoot have been able to regain some of their lost bars of service by adding a 4G signal extender/enhancer that uses GPS to strengthen Wi-Fi around the house and yard.

Sadly, many cell phone customers of any and every wireless service providers in Sanpete—not just Verizon—are unhappy all too often. The hilly topography and long Y-shaped layout make it difficult for any company to provide all its customers with uniformly good service everywhere.

According to Verizon spokesperson, Steve Van Dinter, today’s pressing service problems are most often the result from a lack of enough towers to provide sufficient capacity. “Now days,” says Van Dinter, “everyone is in the habit using their cell phone for so many more things—and so much more often—that Verizon needs to build towers as fast as possible in order to keep up with the demand. So, we especially appreciate the cooperation of government units, like Fountain Green City, in helping us site a new tower to improve service in the immediate area. In the case of Fountain Green, that new tower will also start us moving toward provision of cell service in the canyon where none exists at present.”

Indeed, it appears that Verizon, as well as all other cell service providers in Sanpete County, are working to increase the number of bars showing on their customers’ phones by constructing more cell towers that will improve system capacity in addition to signal proximity.

The Rasmussen name has been a cornerstone of Gunnison life for 100 years, dating back to when the original store opened in 1918, called Charles Rasmussen’s Furniture and Hardware Store, until the present day, with Rasmussen ACE Hardware.

Rasmussens made serving community their business model for 100 years

 

By James Tilson

 

02-28-2019

 

GUNNISON—For the Rasmussen family in Gunnison, owning a family business has never been just about making a living. It has also always meant being of service to your community.

Since opening Charles Rasmussen’s Furniture and Hardware in 1918, the Rasmussen family has been involved in almost every aspect of Gunnison’s life. From community activities, to church leadership, to military service, they always supported the community that supported them.

“Part of our family legacy was that you got in your community and you contributed,” says present owner Curtis Anderson, husband of Marsha Rasmussen Anderson. He didn’t just do these activities out of sense of duty—he genuinely enjoyed what he did.

“I loved my church work; I loved working with the Boy Scouts. And it was also my release from retail,” he said.

At the same time, the community has embraced the Rasmussens, and it has paid dividends to the family. In 1988, Rasmussen’s ACE Hardware was outgrowing its building on 54 S. Main. Curtis and Marsha began looking around for an opportunity to improve the business, but were not sure what they could afford.
They began looking at the building at 435 S. Main, which had been a grocery store before. The owner of the building, “Mrs. Anderson,” had quoted a price to the realtor, and Curtis realized, “there was no way we could afford that price.”

But the realtor told Curtis that Mrs. Anderson wanted him to quote her a price. Curtis told the realtor he would feel embarrassed to give Mrs. Anderson a price they could afford, and declined. The realtor contacted Mrs. Anderson, and persisted—“She wants you to give her a price.”

The current staff and ownership of Rasmussen ACE Hardware. Back row, left to right, Shannon McArthur, manager, Kayson Anderson, Brayden Anderson, Tyler Gardner, Chauncey Boyington, Vaughn Barrus. Front row, Janie Anderson, Kimber Bardsley, Penny Hartley, Janice Harris, Kathy Brown, Alex Rosenval, Marsha and Curtis Anderson, owners.

So, Curtis, feeling embarrassed, gave in and, with the bank’s help, made a bid at what he thought the business could afford. And lo and behold, Mrs. Anderson accepted the bid, telling Curtis, “I want you to have the store.” Curtis remembers how he felt upon receiving the news. “I honestly thought it was a little bit of a miracle, that so many people would work together to help us when I didn’t think there was any way that deal should go through.”

Marsha also remembers that deal, and how, remembering how hard her parents had worked, she wanted to keep the business successful. But she was concerned how her mother, who still worked for the business as the secretary/bookkeeper, would feel about moving the store.

Marsha remembers thinking, “Would Dad and Grandfather approve? Would it be good for the business? Ninety percent of the time, if we looked at it that way, it would give us the answer.”

When Marsha and Curtis approached Helen about the move, she was totally supportive of it, even though it meant she would have a longer walk to get to work every day at a time when she was having a harder time getting around.

Curtis and Marsha are only the latest of the family to carry on the tradition. The tradition started in 1918 with Charles and Ethel, when they first opened the store.

Curtis Rasmussen served with the State Militia for 13 years, and earned distinctions for marksmanship. He was the first councilor in the first Stake Presidency organized in Gunnison. He worked with the Boy Scouts and the Stake Aaronic Priesthood committee.

Charles served on the Gunnison City Council, and the Lions Club. He was a director of the Gunnison Valley Bank, and was President of the bank for 15 years.

Charles also had his son Moyle work in the business with him, and learn how to run the store and serve the community. By the time of his death in 1952, Moyle took over the business, and the family legacy. Much like his father before him, Moyle also was a family man, was active in the church, in scouting and he served his country in the military.

Moyle married Helen Cox of Manti in 1938. By the time Japan dragged the United States into World War II, Moyle and Helen had two sons. Even though he was qualified for an exemption based on his family, Moyle felt serving his country was too important. He joined the Navy, where he served during the war years.

Moyle served in the first Bishopric of the Gunnison Second Ward and as the deacons’ quorum advisor. He served over 30 years with the Boy Scouts, and also with the Lions Club. And also like his father, Moyle was a director of the Gunnison Valley Bank.

Moyle and Helen had four children – Reed, Paul, David and Marsha. All of them worked in the store with their parents, and all started out sweeping and cleaning at 25 cents an hour. Marsha remembers at the time she didn’t understand the lessons she was learning.

 

Moyle and Helen Rasmussen, taken at the time Moyle entered the U.S. Navy during World War Two. Service to community has long been a hallmark of the Rasmussens in Gunnison, and even though Moyle could have avoided military service he decided to serve his country in its time of need.

“I didn’t really appreciate all the cleaning we had to do,” Marsha says. “But as I got older, and I started doing the same thing with my own children, I could see the usefulness of learning a strong work ethic. And I can see that my children are learning the same thing—although it is harder for them to get their children to do that kind of work.”

Marsha also remembers how hard her parents worked in the business and with the family. “Father was so dedicated to the business. In the winter, he’d go in early to start the furnace, and then come home for breakfast. Then he would work all day at the store. After dinner, he would go back in to do the books. He just wasn’t home a whole lot.”

“But even so, we always had a vacation in the summer with the whole family.”

The 1970s were a time of change for the Rasmussens. By the late-1960s, Moyle had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and by 1975 he could no longer work in the family business. In 1974, his daughter Marsha and her husband Curtis Anderson moved back to Gunnison to help out her parents. In 1977, the Rasmussens purchased stock and became an affiliate of ACE Hardware cooperative. Their store was thenceforth known as Rasmussen’s ACE Hardware.

By 1988, their family business had out-grown the smallish building at 54 S. Main. Just a few years earlier, the Doves Grocery Company had vacated their building at 435 S. Main to move to the current location near the high school. The building Doves left behind represented a huge upgrade for Rasmussen’s, and it became a place where the business could expand for many years to come.

Marsha and Curtis continued to run the business for more than 30 years. But their church service pointed to a new challenge in 2012. At that time, they were called to serve as Mission President and Wife of the South Dakota Rapid City Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No other family members were working at the store, so Marsha and Curtis turned to long-time assistant manager Shannon McArthur to continue the business in their absence.

McArthur started with Rasmussens in 1992, working as a cashier and floor sales. “I was there to help customers,” he said. He had been working with Rasmussen’s for 15 years before he was promoted to general manager, a post he still holds today. Mc Arthur has been responsible for increasing sales and services during his tenure.

However, he says his favorite part is still helping people. “I love helping people. When they come in with a problem, and they leave with it solved, that’s the best.”

And of course, he also loves working for the Rasmussens. “They’re good folks—hard-working, honest, good to be around people.”

Snow student dismissed following filing of rape charges

 

James Tilson

 

02-28-2019

 

Gabriel Simpson

EPHRAIM—Former Snow College student Gabriel Simpson, 19, has been dismissed from school and charged with first-degree felony rape for allegedly raping a female student he was hanging out with on campus, according to Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels.

Simpson allegedly met the victim, a female student, “under the auspices of working on a school project and basically he raped her,” Daniels said. The two students had been “hanging out prior to the incident,” which occurred in student housing on Sept. 27, 2018.

Simpson was arrested by the Snow College Police Department and booked into Sanpete County Jail on Oct. 26, 2018.

Daniels has prosecuted several rape cases in the last the five years or so originating from Snow College. “It happens more often than people might think,” he said.

After Simpson was arrested, he spent a few days in jail and was released on $50,000 bail. According to court records, Simpson is considered a flight risk because his family lives in Germany and he was “planning on leaving the country to join his family.”

Simpson has signed a “supervised release agreement” with the pretrial services and is not allowed to leave Utah, Daniels said. He is required to call in to the sheriff’s office every work day.

At this stage in the proceedings, Daniels want to assert Simpson’s presumption of innocence.

At his initial court appearance, Simpson was assigned a public defender, but since that time, he has changed his mind and he is looking for a private attorney to represent him, Daniels said. A court hearing has been scheduled for March 6 to discuss his attorney status.

“In a case of this magnitude, I’m going to be very careful about what plea deal I offer.” Daniels said. “For right now, we’re headed for trial.” As in any plea arrangement, Daniels wants to be sure the victim agrees.

Snow College assistant to the president Marci Larsen confirmed that Simpson has been permanently dismissed from school because of disciplinary actions taken against him for violating the code of conduct. She mentioned that Snow College Chief of Police Derek Walk reports directly to the Vice President for Student Success when disciplinary issues arise.

In Utah, first-degree felonies are punishable by five years’ to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Mt. Pleasant Council gets report on ‘gratifying’ progress within Public Works Department

 

By Angela Marx Thompson

 

02-28-2019

MT. PLEASANT—Progress within the public works department is being made at a gratifying pace, reported its foreman Coulter Allen at a Mt. Pleasant City Council meeting Tuesday, February 12.

Over the past several months, the department has been working to train new hires and adapt forms and operating procedures currently in use in the city’s power department, Allen said. “Currently we are working as a team where we all work on everything,” he said. “As you have seen on the work plan, we split the work up but rotate to get everyone experience in all the different areas.”

Allen indicated that Public Works Director Paul Madsen has been closely mentoring him. He along with Lynn Beesley have worked to bring greater efficiency to the department. Currently a weekly work plan is submitted to Mayor Dan Anderson with scheduled projects prioritized and a list of future projects included in the event that work is completed ahead of schedule.

Allen said, “In the past six months we feel that communication between departments and city hall has improved drastically, work orders have been completed in a timely manner and kept current. Things have also strengthened between our department and the aquatic center, library, rec department and power department. We have great working relationships between us all.”

Although the staff of the city’s public works department is relatively new and decidedly “green,” more city projects have been brought to completion in the past six months than were anticipated. This has brought praise from many community members, Allen reported.

“Every person in the department is a valued key player,” he said. “We all have different ideas and strengths that we have brought together and use them to complete all tasks that we need to complete or emergencies that have been thrown our way. We all have strengths in different areas that we use together to be very successful. We believe the reason we have been so successful in the last six months is because we all want to work here; we love our jobs and we love Mount Pleasant City.”

Also, during this meeting, the council selected Councilman Kevin Stalling to serve as the new Mayor Pro Tempore. The first round of secret ballot saw a count of two votes for Kevin Stallings, two votes for Justin Atkinson, and one vote for Russell Keisel. The second round of voting, to break the tie between Stallings and Atkinson resulted in three votes for Stallings and two in favor of Atkinson. The Mayor Pro Tempore is responsible for the day to day management of the city in the event that the mayor is unavailable.

 

Ephraim road system can handle 20 years of growth, study says

 

By James Tilson

 

02-28-2019

 

EPHRAIM—Engineers continued to advise the Ephraim city council of the future infrastructure needs for the city.

Tom Nisson and Joe Phillips of Sunrise Engineering were on hand to continue the presentation started earlier this month, regarding the state of Ephraim’s infrastructure compared to growth of the city 20 years into the future. They addressed the city’s transportation needs, and its parks and recreation facilities. The first report covered the city’s wastewater and public safety facilities.

Nisson discussed the city’s roads, and Sunrise’s analysis of whether Ephraim’s road system will be adequate in 20 years. Nisson explained how Sunrise took their estimate for Ephraim’s future growth, compared it to current traffic patterns, and then estimated future traffic to see if the roads would hold up to Ephraim’s estimated growth.

At the last meeting with the council, Sunrise told them Ephraim’s growth rate should be approximately 4.3 percent. At that rate, Ephraim’s population should be expected to be 17,367 in 2038. Nisson used that same number for his presentation.

Nisson then showed the council how Sunrise had counted the traffic in Ephraim in several different spots throughout town to get an estimate of traffic volume along the city’s routes. Sunrise then used standards put out by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to determine if the traffic was “congested.”

According to UDOT, Ephraim’s traffic currently is well below their standards for “congested.” In fact, even when Sunrise estimated Ephraim’s traffic patterns for 20 years from now, Ephraim’s road system could still contain the projected traffic without becoming congested.

Councilwoman Margie Anderson noted, “The councils that put in the new road about 10 years ago got a lot of criticism, but it turns out it was a good idea.”

Councilman Richard Wheeler asked Nisson about traffic signals. “I’ve seen growth slowed down because the state has not granted traffic signals,” Wheeler said. Nisson replied traffic signals were regulated by specific UDOT rules, and any requests for new signals would have to go through them. “I think our growth will be a lot quicker than the state’s models,” said Wheeler.

Phillips then addressed the council about the city’s parks and recreation facilities. Phillips told the council Sunrise relied on standards promulgated by the National Recreation and Parks Administration (NPRA) to determine if Ephraim was providing a “level of service” (LOS) score equal to other cities of the same size in the United State. According to the NRPA, the goal score for Ephraim should be “6.”

Phillips told the council Ephraim currently had seven parks with a total of 54.21 acres. The LOS score for Ephraim’s facilities came up to “6.71.” “Ephraim’s in pretty good shape right now,” said Phillips. But in order to maintain their LOS score in twenty years, Ephraim would need an additional 66.4 acres of parkland, and another 10.5 miles of recreational trails.

Phillips warned the council recreational facilities did not come cheap. “These things are expensive.” He said parkland cost approximately $307,000 per acre, and trails cost $622,000 per mile. At those rates, Ephraim should expect to spend about $28 million for the parkland, and about $4 million for the trails. However, almost all of the capital outlay would be eligible for impact fees, and the city would not have to come up with the entire cost itself.

Now that its analysis of city infrastructure facilities is completed, Sunrise is expected to report to Ephraim next month on its analysis of impact fees on future growth, and give options for how the city could utilize fees to help pay for future infrastructure.

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