Photos, recordings restricted due to disruptions by citizen’s group


By James Tilson




MANTI—A local “citizens” group has prompted a change in what the district court allows to be recorded within its courthouses.

Stating they are “concerned about decorum and the protection of persons doing business within the courthouse” as well as “persons being photographed, filmed, or recorded without their knowledge or permission,” the judges of the 6th District Court signed an administrative order on Nov. 16 prohibiting photographing, filming or recording, except in designated areas in the courthouse, outside of courtrooms.

The order also said “no one may photograph, film, or record an individual without that individual’s express consent.”

The “common area” where photographing is permitted is the county commission meeting room in the basement. The room was chosen as it was a specific area that did not block access to courtrooms or county offices in other parts of the courthouse.

According to Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels, the changes in court policy came about due to actions of a group calling themselves the Sovereign Citizens.

“These people claim the state of Utah has no jurisdiction over them, and thus the court cannot impose any judgments on them,” Daniels said.

Apparently, members of the group have been congregating in courthouses, not only in the 6th District but all over Utah, and filming people around the courthouses and conducting what Daniels called “recruiting.”

The group’s claims, when they are in court, appear to center around their contention that they are not citizens of Utah, but instead “real persons” and they do not have a “contract” with the state of Utah or its courts.

However, as Daniels recounts, those claims have had no success with the judges. “Most of the time, the person is found in contempt of court and placed into custody. Or the trial will go on anyway,” he said.

Daniels said an individual in Mt. Pleasant by the name of Jacquelyn Smith appears to be the leader of the movement, although, according to Daniels, she is currently facing an eviction proceeding from her home.

Daniels stated emphatically the regular media in no way influenced the order. The regular coverage of court hearings and trials by the media is allowed through written requests and orders by the court, and has proceeded in an orderly fashion, he said. The order does not change in any way how the media cover or photograph court proceedings.

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, talks about the Utah Medical Cannabis Act during a special session of the Utah Legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Utah passes cannabis legislation

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Interior walls of the Ephraim Park Cemetery gazebo contain granite slabs that have been engraved with veteran names.

Unlisted vets will be added to Ephraim memorial

[Read more…]

Gathering about working online from home draws full house in Ephraim


By Suzanne Dean





EPHRAIM—Two meetings were held at Snow College recently to implement a state pilot program to help rural residents make good money by working online from home.

The Rural Online Initiative (ROI) meetings on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 at the Graham Science Building were “sold out,” says Paul Hill, director of USU Extension in Washington County. “There were standing-room crowds.”

Hill, who is in charge of the ROI, briefed the audience about the history of remote work, trends toward creation of remote jobs and an online training program through USU called the “master remote professional certificate.”

The premise of the ROI program is simple, Ken White, vice president of USU Extension explained in the extension newsletter. “Educate, coach, mentor and teach rural businesses and members of the workforce so they can take advantage of online opportunities.

“We see this as a way for citizens to keep the high quality of life found in these rural communities, but now they can have increased earning potential.”

It all started with Darin Bushman, a native of Marysvale in Piute County. He was working in Denver for Hunter-Douglas, the window covering company, when it closed its site there. His company kept him on, but there wasn’t much for him to do.

He and his wife decided, “Let’s go home,” he told a workshop at the Utah Rural Summit last fall.

Home was in Marysvale and Piute County, a county of 1,500 located 25 miles from the nearest freeway.

Because of his business skills and experience, he was able to quite easily get internet-based contract work. He ran projects for large corporations from Marysvale and was authorized to spend a lot of money hiring freelancers throughout the country.

One day, he told the writer for the USU newsletter, “I sat in my office posting a freelance job offer, and it hit me. Why can’t our citizens, with skills to offer, be the ones doing this job rather than someone halfway around the world?”

In 2014, Bushman was elected as a Piute County commissioner and got involved in economic development. He quickly figured out it wasn’t going to be possible to recruit a major employer to Piute County. And tourism tended to generate low-paying service jobs.

People in Piute County had talents; they had skills; but they were often unemployed or underemployed, he told the Rural Summit. Sometimes one spouse had a job, but the other could not find anything locally.

In 2018, he decided to try to get the Utah Legislature interested in the concept of promoting online work and preparing people for online opportunities.

Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab, agreed to sponsor a bill in the Utah House of Representatives to create the ROI pilot program with funding of $2.27 million. Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, managed the bill in the Utah Senate.

Ordinarily, a new program and new expenditure doesn’t get anywhere without a lot of deliberation. Frequently, such a measure is studied in an interim committee. But the three-year ROI pilot program got passed and funded within a few weeks. USU Extension was assigned to implement the initiative.

“It’s a really exciting program. I think it has legs,” Bushman told the Rural Summit. “We’ve had national attention. The news articles when this busted loose were remarkable for what I think is a fairly simple idea.”

At the Rural Summit, Hill, the USU Extension director, talked about the new “gig economy.” He said there are 10 million internet-based jobs right now in the United States. By 2027, 50 percent of workers will be working full-time or part-time in the gig economy.

Types of jobs and work-related structures in the gig economy include:

  • Telecommuting: A person works from home for one company.
  • Virtual teams: A person is part of a team charged with getting a project done, but the team members are in different locations.
  • Freelancing: A person works on contract doing different assignments at different times for different companies.
  • Ecommerce entrepreneurship: A person sells products online, such as through E-Bay or an Amazon store.
  • Opportunity hubs: A drop-in site where people come to receive coaching, be lined up for internships, find on-line opportunities and generally develop their professional identities. It can also be a meeting place for people who want to start companies and private investors.

The Rural Online Initiative is being implemented in several ways.

First, rural-work town meetings are being held to get the word out.

Second, the ROI legislation authorizes the state to offer incentives to employers who contract with Utah freelancers.

Third, six USU Extension staff members have been assigned to help implement the program in different parts of the state. Representatives are located in Washington, Garfield, Sevier, Emery and Carbon counties.

Fourth, and possibly the most concrete, is the master remote professional certificate. It’s an online program with nine modules covering topics such as the typical work day, communication in an online environment, scheduling and workflow, productivity and time management, compliance (including security and privacy) and remote job development.

After every three modules, students attend an on-line workshop using “Zoom,” a software similar to Skype.

“It’s like the Brady Bunch,” Hill says. “We’ve had up to 50 students. They join us live from all over rural Utah.”

According to Hill, to date, 150 people have registered for the course, and 20 have completed it. Once a student completes, he or she is offered one-on-one help to find online work.

There is one more remote-work town meeting this year. It is Monday, Dec. 10 at the Piute County Building in Marysvale at 7 p.m.

Hill said a new schedule of remote-work meetings, including additional sessions in Sanpete County, will be set up after the first of the year.


Sen. Orrin Hatch gets presidential freedom medal

By Lauren Evans

Staff writer



President Donald Trump drapes Presidential Medal of Freedom on Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch Nov. 16.

WASHINGTON—Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has been presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

            President Donald Trump presented the medal Nov. 16 at a ceremony at the White House.

Hatch, the longest serving Republican senator in U.S. history, will retire at the end of December.

“Senator Hatch has proudly represented Utah, sponsoring more bills that have become law than any other living legislator,” President Trump said.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Provo, said Hatch had played a critical role not only in shaping the future of Utah but also in improving the lives of thousands throughout the county.

Curtis cited Hatch’s role in passage of the American with Disabilities Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as examples.

“The Medal of Freedom is an honor to me, to my family, and hopefully, to the people of Utah who have given me this opportunity to serve all these years,” Hatch said. “Everything I’ve accomplished in the Senate has been with them in mind, and I’m grateful to the president for this recognition.”

The Medal of Honor was established 50 years ago by President John F. Kennedy. The 500 past awardees include musicians, scientists, politicians and philanthropists.

With water flow at historic lows, Mayfield looks to redevelop springs


By James Tilson and Dyna Folkerson

Staff writers



MAYFIELD—The Mayfield Town Board heard an update on the effort to fund the town’s spring redevelopment at a meeting Nov. 14.

Garrick Willden, of Jones & DeMille Engineering, told the board that output from the springs in and near 12-Mile Canyon that provide the town’s culinary water are at historically low levels. “The springs are down to 2 or 3 gallons per minute—it’s never been that low,” he said.

During his presentation, Willden focused on the town’s progress on raising money to pay for spring redevelopment.

He said Jones & DeMille had applied for two grants on behalf of the town: one from the Utah Division of Drinking Water and the other for an Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) through USDA Rural Development.

“It’s not 100 percent we get the money, but other communities have been successful,” Willden said. For the ECWAG application, there needed to be a signed engineering agreement between the town and Jones & DeMille, a preliminary engineering report (paid for by the funding from the Division of Drinking Water) and an environmental report sponsored jointly by all the agencies connected to the project.

Willden said the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Division of Wildlife Services all have land connected to Mayfield’s springs, and all have been consulted. The Native American tribes have also been contacted, and as soon as they respond Jones & DeMille can send in the application.

The cost to do the study to estimate the cost of redeveloping Mayfield’s springs is $27,000. The Division of Drinking Water, which funds such studies on a 50/50 basis, awarded Mayfield $13,500. Another $13,500 in matching funds will have to come from the town. Willden said he hoped to fund the town’s match from the ECWAG application.

Willden told the town board he expected to submit the application by for the ECWAG to USDA Rural Development by Nov. 30. Because the ECWAG funding is for emergencies, he expected Jones & Demille, acting as the agent for the town, to hear back within one to two weeks.

The funding from ECWAG would be a 100 percent grant, which of course would be very desirable, Willden said. There are other funding sources available if the ECWAG grant does not come through, but he said none of them will have as favorable terms as the ECWAG grant.

Once the town has final confirmation of the grant award, Jones & DeMille will begin the spring redevelopment study. Mayfield has four springs, all in or in the vicinity of Twelve-Mile Canyon east of town.

Twelve-Mile Springs and Upper Twelve-Mile Springs are not being used right now. “We feel that there’s water in there,” Willden said. He said roots can be seen coming into the collection manhole and into the collection line. “I’m pretty sure we can do some good up there.”

Olsen Canyon Spring is down to a “little trickle of water,” he said. Water has been observed coming out of the hillside 130-150 feet above the spring. Willden feels the spring can be developed to take advantage of the “wandering” water.

Willden said Order Canyon Spring has two collection areas that come into one manhole. He said he can’t tell what each individual spring is doing. He hopes to dig an individual collection manhole for each spring to be able to look at them individually.

Willden told the town board that based on Jones & DeMille’s experience redeveloping springs for other cities, he thought the eventual cost would be $700,000 to $720,000.  He also noted that the fact the springs are not very high on the mountain meant work could be started soon, maybe even during the winter months.

But he warned the council the ECWAG application would have to be submitted as soon as possible before others apply for the same money.

“The only thing that worries me is with what happened in Florida and the fires in California,” he said. “It’s important we get this in as soon as possible.”

NSSD commits to improving reading literacy


By Lauren Evans

Staff writer



MT. PLEASANT – The North Sanpete School District, under direction of the Utah State Office of Education, has put together a plan for the 2018-19 school year to improve reading performance among North Sanpete elementary students.

            Although the district has been working on improving literacy in the elementary grades for years, this is the first year it has been required to write up a detailed plan in a required format, which had to be approved by the state, says Randy Shelley, assistant superintendent.

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, Shelley put together a team of educators with expertise in teaching reading at the elementary level to write the plan.

The team included Allynne Mower, principal of Fairview Elementary; Chalyece Shelley, district special education coordinator; and Brook Henrie, one of the four “instructional coaches” who work out of the district office, but consult with teachers on their teaching methods and how to help students who aren’t making progress.

Meanwhile, the state sent a list of a list of goals it wanted included in the plan. The state expectations relied heavily on the DIBELS test (the acronym stands for Dynamic Indicators or Basic Early Literacy Skills), which is a test to measure a student’s proficiency and fluency in recognizing sounds and words and reading passages.

The test is taken three times each year and increases in difficulty by grade. Most schools in Utah administer the test in the first through third grades, but North Sanpete continues to test through the sixth grade.

The goals set by the state and the district are progress based. The idea is to focus not just on what percentage of children reach “proficiency” levels, but on how much progress students make over the course of the year.

Progress-based goals are easier for teachers to work with and more achievable, Shelley says.

Right now, 60-65 percent of North Sanpete elementary students in the K-3 grades read at grade level or above.

The first major goal expressed in the literacy plan is to increase the percentage of students who test proficient at the end of first grade by 11 percent, compared to the 8 percent average increase over the previous three years.

The second goal is to decrease the percentage of students who are behind by the end of first grade by 15 percent. The average over the past three years has been a decrease of 11 percent.

Cutting the percentage of children who do not test proficient by 15 percent “is a big ask,” Shelley says. “We’ll see if we can do it.”

The plan also focuses on providing individual help for students who are below “proficient.”  These help sessions are called interventions and can range from having children read with the better readers in class to reading one-on-one with paraprofessionals.

“We’re trying to customize the intervention based on the child,” she says.

Student progress in these interventions is monitored and documented by teachers, principals and district-level instructional coaches. If a student is just struggling a little bit, the child’s progress may be monitored once per month. If the child is a long way behind, progress may be monitored weekly.

By completing and gaining state approval for the new literacy plan, the district has received $101,000 in state money, which can go for teacher training and other expenses connected with plan implementation.

Although not an official goal in this year’s literacy plan, the state literacy director says 95 percent of students in the school system should read at grade level, according to Shelley. That’s all students except for the inevitable 4-5 percent of the population who have severe disabilities and will never learn to read at normal levels.

“We have a long way to go to get to what the state expects,” Shelley says.






Investigation finds Hilltop Fire caused by children with matches


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor



A helicopter races to dump water on the Hilltop Fire in August. The Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands found the fire was caused by children playing with matches.

INDIANOLA—An investigation by the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) has found that young children playing with matches caused the Hilltop Fire, which burned 1,400 acres in the Indianola area in early August.

The children’s and their mother’s escape from their property about one mile south of Indianola  after the fire took off is itself a harrowing tale.

In a “Fire Cause and Determination Report,” Jason Curry, lead FFSL investigator for the Hilltop Fire, said when he arrived in the area on Aug. 8, the day after the fire started, he found a number of clues pointing to the cause of the fire.

Curry studied the direction of the fire spread and found disturbances in the soil where someone had tried to stomp out a fire, along with a shovel and buckets strewn on the ground.

“I continued to trace fire direction indicators, which led me to an area about 12 feet wide and 6 feet long where the fire originated,” Curry wrote in his report. “I began searching this area carefully and found a partially burned wooden match in a clump of burned grass.”

After a full search of the area, Curry found 24 partially burned matched and a “makeshift fort of branches”—the size, Curry noted, that would accommodate a child.

Curry found multiple spots where fires had ignited grass and juniper needles, then been stomped out, but he said the very first match he found was the match the led to child’s play getting out of hand.

Curry made contact with the nearby homeowner, and found out his children and wife had been home while he was at work the day the fire started.

Curry arranged to meet with the homeowner’s wife and children at the residence of a friend they stayed with after homes in the area were evacuated.

According to Curry’s report, the family had two children, ages 7 and 8. The mother had been in the house when the youngsters came in to the house upset about the fire they had ignited.

The mother and children tried to use buckets and shovels to douse the fire, but to no avail. The mother called 911 and got the children and herself in the family vehicle with the children. She told Curry she was so afraid of the approaching smoke and flames that she didn’t stop to open the gate—she ran right through it.

When Curry spoke to the children, after they warmed up to him, they told him about their game of lighting small fires with a box of wooden matches and then stamping them out, the report stated. The problem was that they lit one fire they were unable to put out.

In Curry’s report, he said one of the children, a girl, told him “they only ever wanted to start small fires they could put out.”

After a long interview with the children and their mother, Curry let them know he was not considering any referrals to juvenile court.

“I told them there would be a discussion with the state’s attorney general to determine what type of cost-recovery efforts the state would pursue,” Curry said. “There is often a claim made on insurance to cover some of the costs of putting out fires.”

The cost-recovery decision probably will not be made for a long time, he said.



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Investigation nets biggest Sanpete meth bust in a decade


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor



Matthew Thompson

AXTELL—A strategic and expertly executed effort by the Sanpete-Juab Major Crimes Task Force has resulted in the arrests of four suspects in what may be the biggest meth distribution case in a decade in Sanpete County.

The coordinated effort, including high-tech surveillance that extended across state lines, culminated on Sunday, Nov. 4, with detectives from the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office intercepting suspects who were on their way back from Arizona with a pound of crystal methamphetamine intended for sale in Sanpete.

The leader of the drug ring and the focus of the investigation was Matthew James Thompson, 39, of Manti, who has a long and violent criminal history and who officers believe was a major drug dealer.

“There is so much credit due to Det. Tyler Johnson, Det. Derick Taysom and the other members of the task force,” Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels says. “Matt Thompson was a scourge on Sanpete County. He’s been on our radar for a long time, and Sanpete will be a better place with him gone. Our aim is to send him to prison for a long time, end of story.”

The arrests occurred on U.S. 89 just north of Salina. Besides Thompson, the individuals arrested were Geoff  Vos Wade, 38, Moroni; Ashlyn Ehler, 18, Mt. Pleasant; and

Geoff Wade

Michele Vincent Gatti, 45, South Jordan.

Thompson is being charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a first-degree felony and one count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class B misdemeanor.

Gatti is being charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a first-degree felony; one count of possession of a controlled substance within a correctional facility, a second-degree felony; and one count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class B misdemeanor.

Ehler is being charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a second-degree felony; one count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class B misdemeanor; one count of obstruction of justice by harboring a wanted person, a third-degree felony; and one count of knowingly being present when a controlled substance is used, a Class A misdemeanor.

Ashlyn Ehler

Wade is being charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a first-degree felony and one count of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class B misdemeanor.

The county attorney says that not long before the recent arrest, Thompson was arrested for beating two people with a baseball bat so badly they were sent to the hospital. When he bailed out, Thompson reportedly began threatening the witnesses. That led to a charge of witness tampering and issuance of a no-bail warrant for his arrest.

Daniels said local law enforcement could have apprehended him after he bailed out of jail, but they knew he was also responsible for bringing large amounts of meth into the county. So they began organizing an effort to arrest him when he had a large volume of drugs on him.

In a probable cause statement, Det. Tyler Johnson described the high-tech operation officers launched to track and apprehend Thompson and his associates.

The task force obtained warrants for surveillance of Thompson’s electronic communications, a warrant to monitor a Hyundai Santa Fe rental car Thompson was traveling in via GPS, and a warrant to track Thompson’s cell phone by detecting its proximity to specific cell towers.

“Our officers keep getting more training and better equipment, and the guys on the task force are experts in the use of the technology,” Daniels says. “Of course they have to get warrants to use it, but it is allowing us to take down bigger and more dangerous criminals. This is a byproduct of a lot of hard work by a lot of good people.”

During the investigation, detectives discovered that Thompson and Wade were speaking to a drug dealer in Arizona.

“The messages Thompson and Wade were exchanging are indicative of negotiating a deal to purchase and obtain controlled substances,“ Johnson says in the PC statement. “I also found messages from Wade and other persons on his Facebook Messenger talking about investing in ‘kilos’ in Arizona, and how much money could be made.”

The detectives set up a plan to apprehend Thompson and his associates as they came into Sanpete County on the way back from Arizona.

Michele Gatti

On Friday, Nov. 2, while the task force was monitoring the location of Thompson’s rental car and his cell phone location, they observed movement south towards the Arizona-Utah border.

It appeared Thompson had met up with the other three suspects in Sanpete County, and now the whole group was headed to Arizona to meet their meth source. The task force continued to monitor the group as they returned across the Utah border and made their way back toward Sanpete.

Along the way, the group stopped briefly at a house in Salina to drop off a portion of their score. Through collaboration with Sevier County investigators, a search warrant was obtained, the house was  searched, and drugs were retrieved.

When the group passed north over the border into Sanpete County, investigators were lying in wait, with numerous Sheriff’s Office vehicles staggered along U.S. 89 leading towards Axtell and Centerfield.

The traffic stop on U.S. 89 in Axtell went off without a hitch. A warrant to search the vehicle had been obtained in advance. The occupants were ordered to exit. The officers’ ability to detain them was not in question, since a records check showed each of them had outstanding warrants.

While searching the vehicle, officers found more than 430 grams of crystal meth, as well as meth pipes, dozens of pills, syringes, plastic baggies and a digital scale.

Not including Thompson’s outstanding cases for assault and witness tampering, the four suspects are facing a slew of charges. And, according to County Attorney Daniels, all of the charges will be enhanced due to the amount of drugs and the collaboration between multiple people to get them. Each will be facing at least one first-degree felony, he says.

“They did such a phenomenal job,” Daniels says of the investigation effort. “It could have gone much worse. Someone could have got shot. To get someone off the streets who is violent and a major drug dealer is a major victory.

“This guy [Thompson] was a straight up wolf, and these officers are sheepdogs,” he added. “The reality is, his goal was to distribute that meth in Sanpete; and your end user is a victim as well because he is preying on their addiction to make money.

“The bottom-line is, if you look at Matt’s history, it’s riddled with violence. Not only is he a drug dealer, he is a violent drug dealer. He’s a bad guy who needed to be off the streets.”

Several of the suspects appeared in court on Wednesday, Nov. 14. By that time, Wade had been released on $7,500 bail. The other three remain in custody.

Thompson has a court hearing scheduled for Nov. 21 and Gatti’s and Ehler’s court hearings are scheduled for Nov. 28. Wade is due back in court Dec. 12 to address whether he needs a court-appointed attorney.



Nedra Allred, vice chairwomen, and Courtney Syme, chairman, of the Spring City Veteran’s Memorial Committee stand before the recently completed Spring City Veteran’s Memorial and granite monument. Residents formed a committee collected donations for the past year to erect the beautiful new monument.


Sanpete veterans events includes monument dedication


By Robert Green

Staff writer



Many cities and towns in Sanpete County will be honoring our veterans in the next several days in appreciation for their sacrifice and service to this country.

The official Veterans Day holiday is observed Monday, Nov. 12, but some towns are also holding ceremonies on Saturday, Nov. 10.

This Veterans Day will be especially memorable for Spring City, which has just erected a Veteran’s Memorial and granite monument to honor 600 local veterans who have passed away and whose names are now forever engraved in stone. This memorial is being dedicated at a special service on Saturday.

In addition, the award winning TV series, Discovery Road, produced by the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area has just released an episode focusing on veterans who grew up in Sanpete County. The program highlights the efforts of Spring City residents, who have spent the better part of a year funding and building their memorial.

Spring City

The recently finished Spring City Veteran’s Memorial and granite monument will be dedicated on Saturday at 11 a.m. at 150 E. Center Street. The guest speaker will be Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard.

The Spring City Veteran’s Memorial Committee, a non-profit enterprise led by Courtney Syme and Nedra Allred, spent the past year raising donations of money, labor and materials to construct the memorial. The project was totally funded by these donations along with a grant from the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.

The memorial will be dedicated “in honor of the brave men and courageous women of Spring City who served in the Armed Forces of the Territory of Utah and The United States of America,” Syme said.

The finishing touches are just now being added to the site, Syme said. The monument was set into concrete last week. Flagpoles financed and benches donated by a local Veterans of Foreign Wars and an American Legion chapter were put into place. The electrical work is completed and the landscaping is almost done.

There are nearly 600 names engraved into the granite. The names are divided into eras starting with the Mormon Battalion and ending with the war on terror. There is also a tribute to those who died as peacekeepers in the cold war, he said.

“We raised over $40,000,” Syme said. “It’s a miraculous achievement.”

A children’s choir directed by Carolyn Oveson will provide music. The color guard will be comprised of members of VFW Post 9276 and American Legion Post 4.  Local clergy will offer the invocation, benediction and the dedicatory prayers. Refreshments will be served following the program.

On Monday, Nov. 12, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9267 will hold a flag raising ceremony at the Spring City cemetery at 11:30 a.m. All are welcome.


            The American Legion is hosting its annual Veteran’s Day potluck dinner Saturday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. the Centerfield Old Rock Church, next to city hall.


The Lions Clubs will be put up 55 flags at the cemetery that will fly for about a week in honor of veterans. In addition, the club will honor Ephraim’s living veterans with a yard sign at each of their homes that “thanks them for our freedoms.” The veterans are also invited to attend a program at the elementary school.



On Monday, Nov. 12, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9267 will hold a flag raising ceremony at the Fairview cemetery at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome.

Fountain Green

            The Lions Club is putting together a program and dinner for the all the veterans in Moroni, Ft. Green, Wells and Chester on Nov. 12. A program will be held at 6 p.m. at the Fountain Green Dance Hall and following that, a turkey dinner will be served to the veterans and their spouses or guests.


            A free breakfast will held at Moroni City Hall on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 8:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. A  color guard will post the flag starting at 8 a.m. The breakfast is to honor veterans and their families. All are welcome. Any questions, call Moroni City Hall at 435-8359 or Scott Czappa at 715-316-3483.

Mt. Pleasant

On Monday, Nov. 12, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9267 will hold a flag raising ceremony at the Mt. Pleasant cemetery at 11 a.m. All are welcome.

Sufco Mine owner will pay less money to BLM and move offices to Utah


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor



SANDY—The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, after reviewing a confidential filing, has agreed to reduce the level of royalties the mine owner must pay on coal extracted from the Sufco Mine in  Salina Canyon and potentially from the huge Quitchupah and new Greens Hollow leases near the Sanpete-Sevier County line.

The BLM decision should help preserve mining jobs and help create new ones in the region. But it means less revenue for the Utah Community Impact Board, the important state panel that uses royalties to support projects in mining-impacted counties.

The corporation that owns the Sufco, Skyline and Dugout mines, where hundreds of Sanpete County residents are employed, has been granted successfully filing a confidential request to pay less money to mine coal on Bureau of Land Management land in Sanpete, Se, the corporation that owns the Sufco, Skyline and Dugout mines has dissolved and re-emerged under a new name, new management and transplanted to the Beehive State.

The request for a reduction in the royalty percent was made earlier this year by Bowie Resource Partners, which owns the Sufco, Skyline and Dugout Mines, mines that employ hundreds of Sanpete residents. The confidential filings by Bowie cited unforeseen extraction expenses as the reason for the request.

The request was only made public after the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM) signed off on the request. In a letter from DOGM director John Baza said the coal would not be “economically recoverable” without relief from the standard 8 percent royalty they are required to pay.

The BLM granted Bowie relief in March by lowering the royalties to 5 percent for 15 million tons of coal extracted from the Sufco mine. The amount would add up to approximately $19 million in reduced royalty revenue, part of which would be lost to the CIB.

The BLM gave only the explanation that Bowie was facing “significant and adverse geological conditions.”

The rate reduction, which applies to coal in the Upper Hiawatha seam in Sufco’s Quitchupah and new Greens Hollow leases, is retroactive to Nov. 1, 2017 and expires after six years, according to the decision notice BLM Utah state director Ed Roberson sent to Sufco general manager John Byars. The document was filed with the DOGM earlier this year.

Ted Zukosky, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental litigation group who has challenged royalty reductions sought by other coal companies, says he thinks Utah residents are getting a raw deal by accepting the environmental impact inherent in coal mining and receiving less in impact fees to compensate for it.

Based on the standard formula for distribution of mineral royalties, the relief SUFCO is receiving could mean $9.5 million less funding coming into the rural Utah counties most closely associated with or impacted by local coal mining.

However, the company is subject to inspection by the BLM every six months. In each inspection, it must provide evidence of the need for continued relief, and the BLM can pull the plug early if two consecutive inspections don’t provide grounds to warrant the discounted fee.

Just a few months after the royalty reduction went through, Bowie appointed a new chief executive officer, and last month it announced it would change its name to Wolverine Fuels, LLC and move its headquarters from Grand Junction, Colo. to to Sandy.

Newly appointed Wolverine Fuels CEO James Grech said, “This move will allow the executive team to be closer to our mines, our workforce and our customers.  I want to thank everyone in Utah who encouraged and assisted us with this relocation, especially Gov. Herbert’s office and (Utah) Sen. David Hinkins.” (Hinkins represents Emery County where the Skyline Mine is located.)

In regards to the name and location, Grech said, “In conjunction with the recent management changes and recapitalization of the company, we wanted to offer our employees a fresh start and new identity with the name change.  Our workforce is tough and resilient, very much like a wolverine, so we think our new namesake will resonate very well with our employees and the communities in which we operate.”

The company’s Utah-mined coal is still tentatively slated for export through an Oakland-based export terminal. Developer Phil Tagami, who is financially backed by the company formerly known as Bowie, fought the City of Oakland in court to keep the port project alive. The city argued it didn’t want coal exports traveling through its streets and supposedly impacting the health of its residents, but a judge ruled in Tagami’s favor.

The city has pledged to appeal and continue fighting the export of coal through its city, citing health concerns as justification for spending taxpayer dollars in court.

Recently, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed the use of military bases to export coal to Asia. The proposal has met with opposition from the same critics of the Sufco royalty discount.

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Democrat Shireen Ghorbani campaigns in Sanpete


By Ken Hansen

Staff writer



Shireen Ghorbani, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in District 2, which covers Sanpete County from Pigeon Hollow south to the county line, talks to a voter in Manti. She spent Friday, Oct. 26, knocking on doors in Central Utah.

MANTI—Many residents of Manti and other central Utah towns opened their doors Friday to find Shireen Ghorbani, Demoratic candidate for U.S. Congress in District 2, standing on their porch.

“I am not a career politician,” said Ghorbani, a self-proclaimed working mom. “This is the first time I have run for office.”

Ghorbani, the daughter of immigrant parents, has two master’s degrees and is a manager in  Facilities Management at the University of Utah.

In an interview at the Sanpete Messenger office, she said 2016 had been a rough year for her, and the things that happened prompted her to run for Congress.

Her mother was diagnosed with cancer in June of that year and passed away in August.  “In that span of time I saw how people can lose everything with just one diagnosis. I am now a huge proponent of reducing the costs of healthcare,” she said.

“I watched (Rep. Chris Stewart) vote against affordable health care over 40 times—and this is the important part for me—with no solutions. He’s not fighting to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. He has a record now of three terms, six years, of not making these things a priority.”

During 2016, Ghorbani said she felt disconnected from both candidates for the White House. “I was concerned by the way …our current president Trump spoke …of the most divisive issues, which are on the fringe of what everyone is concerned about,” she said. “The vast majority of people are concerned about the fact that they haven’t seen wages go up in a long time or the rising cost of health care or the rising cost of housing.”

She noted that one thing Trump campaigned on, and something she supports, is permitting Medicaid and Medicare to negotiate drug prices. “We can’t get that done because we have a Congress that is bought and sold by pharmaceutical companies,” she said.

“Something that’s really different about me from any of our other candidates—I am not accepting or pursuing corporate PAC (political action committee) dollars,” she said. “We are not taking money from oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, which are the top donators to my opponent.  Because of this, the corporations get their bills passed and the people don’t.”

She said her campaign is not receiving financial support from the Democratic Party but is raising money from grassroots, individual donations. At last count, the campaign reports total donations of about $400,000.

In fact, according to a press release last week from the Ghorbani campaign, she outraised Stewart in the third quarter of 2018 and continued that momentum by outpacing the incumbent congressman more than two-to-one in October.

“In stark contrast, 69 percent of Stewart’s funding during the same period came from corporate PAC dollars, including Kock Industries, a mining PAC, and an oil PAC,” the news release stated.

When asked about state political issues, Ghorbani said, “I am very in favor of the initiative process … Question 1, Propsitions 2, 3 and 4 are all a reflection of the state making decisions (about things) many Utahns would like to see changed.”

Question 1 on the 2018 Utah ballot asks voters whether or not voters think the gasoline tax should be raised 10 cents per gallon to increase funding for education.

“One of the tricks in this question is the fact that gas tax cannot be used to fund education, It’s sort of a shell game,” Ghorbani noted.

The idea is that if the gasoline tax is raised, it can more fully cover road maintenance, so money in the general fund that is now being spent for roads can redirected to education.

“I don’t think that gas tax is the best way to do it …but a yes vote on the question will send a message.” She added that not even the most conservative voters are balking at more money for education.          She said she also voted in favor of Proposition 2 (medical cannabis) even though she had some concerns about it. “I don’t think the state legislature will work as quickly as we want them to [on this matter] if they see this proposition fail.”

If the proposition passes, “it’s the legislatures job to clean up the (problems) with the proposition.”  I would like to see it pass, then I would like to see the Legislature called in immediately to address the problems and concerns.

Ghorbani said she also in favors both Proposition 3 and 4, which provide, respectively, for the expansion of Medicaid and provide for an independent committee to adjust congressional district boundaries.

“Growing up we were poor and didn’t have very much,” she said. “We lived in the country and my mom was often balancing her checkbook by how many tanks of gas we could use to get in to town and back. She instilled in me the value of service, of minding our budget, understanding what we could afford and knowing what our priorities are, and then giving back wherever we could.”

These are values she said she would bring to Washington.








Attendees talk with Kyle Beagley, Sanpete District ranger for the Manti-LaSal National Forest, about the proposal to open up more access to roadless areas dung an open house Thursday, Nov. 25 at the Sanpete County Courthouse.


State petitioning for more flexibility in ‘Roadless Rule’


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor



MANTI—Utah is submitting a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the governing federal department for the U.S. Forest Service, for more flexibility when it comes to the “Roadless Rule,” which mandates that 49 percent of national forest land in Utah, some 4 million acres, remain roadless.

The petition, originating in Gov. Gary Herbert’s office and submitted by the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, is asking for a Utah-specific amendment to the regulation, which was adopted by the U.S. Forest Service in 2001 to protect social and ecological values in  areas in the Forest Service roadless inventory. Road construction and certain timber harvesting are banned in designated roadless areas.

An open house to explain the petition and hear public input was held last Thursday, Oct. 25 at the Sanpete County Courthouse. Public input meetings have been held in Richfield, Heber City and Cedar City, among other locations, and more meetings are scheduled around the state.

“We absolutely need to redefine what’s roadless in the Manti-La Sal,” Sanpete County Commissioner Claudia Jarrett says. “Not all of it needs to be redefined. Some of the rules makes sense, but I think a lot of the designation was arbitrary and capricious, and therefore has impacted certain communities relative to watershed, watershed protection and development of springs.”

Jarrett says she hopes people who regularly use the Manti-La Sal National Forest for their livelihoods, depend on its watershed or use it recreationally will consider the purpose of the petition and get informed about the process.

Utah is not the first state to pursue a state-specific amendment to the Roadless Rule. Colorado and Idaho both successfully pulled it off, and Alaska is working on a petition now.

Herbert cites forest health and wildfire as big reasons for the petition. The state contends the Roadless Rule limits the ability of forest managers to perform crucial management tasks such as removing deadfall and cutting out bark beetle infestations.

“With nearly half the state’s forest’s falling under this designation, we’ve got to make it easier for forest managers to improve forest health before it’s too late,” Herbert says. “This petition will give us more tools to proactively manage forest health and reduce conditions that result in wildfires that negatively impact wildlife, air and water quality.”

After more than 875 fires across the state during the 2018 fire season, Herbert says he is simply looking for answers. But the petition has also met some opposition.

During a public meeting in Salt Lake County, the Wilderness Society argued that according to its data,  90 percent of the acreage burned in wildfires in the pat five years was outside roadless areas. The Wilderness Society argued any amendment to the rule could leave forests vulnerable to new roads and timber harvests.

But Jake Garfield, policy analyst with the public lands coordinating office, insists the state is not looking for more roads and timber harvest options, just a way to have more flexibility in management of forests.

Here in Sanpete, the petition has a strong endorsement by local leaders. “Since the 1800s, Sanpete County citizens have been good stewards of the mountains,” says Commissioner Steve Lund. “So much of our existence depends on access to the mountains, and the roads that are in place provide access to watersheds, grazing, natural resources, recreation and economic development.”

Garfield says there is still a long process ahead to make the amendment a reality, including a full Environmental Impact Study. So changes will not come to the mountains overnight. And even if approved, the amendment would require a separate round of environmental reviews before changes were implemented such as administratively opening up a road in a roadless area.

The public is invited to learn more and make public comment via