Ephraim tightens water restrictions


James Tilson

Staff writer


EPHRAIM—Citing “historic drought conditions,” Ephraim has imposed mandatory restrictions on outdoor watering.

On July 12, the city posted an announcement to its Facebook page advising residents and businesses north of Center Street to limit watering to Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Residents and businesses located south of Center Street may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Schools and churches have been asked to water on Mondays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to midnight.

The announcement also said the city is working with Snow College to reduce water usage, but the college will not be on the citywide watering schedule because of its complex irrigation system and multiple properties.

According to the city, Snow College has reduced is outdoor water use by 40 percent, and will continue to cut its usage.

Ephraim does not have a secondary irrigation system so property owners use city culinary water for outdoor watering. This is the first time since 2000 that Ephraim has officially restricted water use.

Bryan Kimball, director of community development, said Monday that restrictions had to be imposed because of severely reduced flow from the springs in mountains east of the city, which are the primary source of the city’s water.

“We’ve been monitoring water coming into the system, and it’s down dramatically from last year, by more than 1,000 gallons per minute,” he said. “We expect that trend to continue through the summer.”

Kimball laid the blame on the lack of snow pack from this winter, and little or no rainfall this summer. “Last week’s rain helped, but we need a dramatic change in the weather. We haven’t had a consistent, drenching rain that would help recharge the springs.”

The pipeline leak earlier this summer, in which the city lost about 1 million gallons, also impacted the system, Kimball said. City workers repaired the leak quickly, but water tanks did not refill following the repairs as rapidly as the city had hoped.

Kimball added that in the small amount of time the restrictions have been in place, they have already made a difference. Kimball and Chad Parry, Director of Public Works, check the water flows multiple times each day with a monitoring system, which instantaneously relays data to computers at city hall.

However, Kimball also believed the restrictions could get worse before the summer is over. Especially when the Snow College students come back on campus, the stress on the system will be significant, and the slowdown from the springs will continue.

Opioid crisis boils down to social

connections, Sanpete officials decide


Suzanne Dean



            MANTI—When state and local leaders got together last week in Manti to talk about the opiate crisis, it didn’t take long for the conversation to shift from drugs to underlying issues, such as mental health, transitional housing and social isolation of people who are abusing drugs.

“It’s all about connections,” Kevin Daniels, Sanpete County attorney, said. “The more partners we can engage to have a connected community, the more success we’re going to have.”

The gathering on Thursday, July 12 at the Sheriff’s Complex was organized by Randy Parker, state director of USDA Rural Development with offices in Salt Lake City. Accompanying him was Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Among the attendees were mayors, police chiefs and other law enforcement officers from around the county; staff from the Central Utah Counseling Center; and even representatives from the Sanpete County chapter of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.

Parker explained why he, a federal rural development official, is getting involved. His agency, he said, is committed to rural resilience. “When people are employed, productive and connected, they are less likely to be pulled into opiate addiction.”

Atty. Gen. Reyes is involved in a class action suit that states and many counties are filing against drug companies claiming the companies failed to inform, or misinformed, physicians and the public about the dangers of opiate prescription drugs, leading to an explosion of overdose deaths.

Parker brought a report commissioned by the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. It showed that in 2014-15, the last year for which figures are available, there were 10 deaths in Sanpete County attributable to opiates.

He said he has a friend who lives in the Gunnison Valley who lost a daughter to opiate use. When he asked him what led to her problems, the father said his daughter suffered from depression and anxiety.

“How do we bring that into closer alignment, so we can address the issues of mental health at the same time as the self-medicating and the problems associated with misuse?” he asked.

Central Utah Counseling officials responded that there is too much pigeonholing of people by diagnosis, rather than treating people for their multiple problems.

Farrel Marx, chief financial officer for the counseling center, said funding is increasingly “siloed” by diagnosis, which can mean a person with a multiple diagnosis is not eligible for treatment.

Even though county commissioners are supposed to be the mental health authority within a county, “there’s more and more control being exerted at the state level, because any more, they want to know where the money is going and what results they are paying for,” he said. He called for giving county commissions more authority to move money around.

“We don’t have enough access to mental health in rural Utah, especially for the underinsured and Medicaid patients,” said Mayor Lori Nay of Gunnison, who sometimes helps out in her husband’s medical practice.

It can take 30 days for such a patient to get into a gastroenterologist, she said. It takes six months to get someone in for mental health care.

The participants also talked about how to get drug users, especially people who get arrested, into treatment.

Law enforcement officials said the Sanpete County Jail is pretty much a revolving door. About the longest someone can be held after arrest is over a weekend. Frequently, users have enough money from drug activity to bail out.

Users who are jailed are often terrified of going into withdrawal. “They want to get out of jail as fast as they can because they know they’re going to get dope sick,” Chief Brett McCall of the Gunnison Valley Police Department said.

And, mental health officials noted, there is no facility offering detoxification in the Six-County Area. So if people can’t get out, they withdraw from opiates in jail.

“The only thing we do now is make sure they’re hydrated,” said Tonya Castro, of the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, who directs a drug treatment program in the jail. She described the current approach as “scary.”

Several officials at the meeting said the main keys to helping addicts are social acceptance and practical things like housing and jobs.

Atty. Gen. Reyes said Utahns “need to stop thinking of addicts as sinners or weak” but rather regard them as “people with a debilitating disease.”

Deputy Jeff Greenwell, Sanpete County probation officer, whose case load consists heavily of people charged with drug use, said, “There’s a lack of perceived social support..” If families and friends reject addicts, “they withdraw from their social supports and cycle down until they hit bottom.”

“We stigmatize, we isolate, we push them away,” said Nathan Strait, clinical director of the Central Utah Counseling Center. “When our children might be friends with someone who is a little on the fringes, we try to pull them away…We ostracize when we should be embracing.”

Crystal Sidwell, case manager for the Sanpete County Drug Court, said the biggest need for people trying to clean up a drug problem is transitional housing.

“When they get out of jail, they don’t have anyone to call on anymore because they’ve burned all their bridges,” she said.

Counseling center staff said the nearest women’s shelter is in Richfield, a two-hour round trip, and there’s nothing close at all for men.

Parker made the point that opiate abuse can strike anywhere. In fact, tt has hit his own family, he said. Two days before he was to help stage a national roundtable on opiate abuse, he learned his 38-year-old daughter, who has suffered from anxiety and depression, had an opiate problem.

“I thought I was a fairly educated person, but I was blindsided,” he said. Even after six months, he said, “I’m still at a loss as a parent to know how to help, I really am….She’s in our prayers all the time.” As a parent to know how to help, I really am….She’s in our prayers all the time.”

Pioneer Day celebrations popping

up all over Sanpete County in the next week


Linda Petersen

Staff writer


While Salt Lake City is known for its Days of ’47 celebration on July 24, the combined festivities of seven local communities honoring Sanpete County’s pioneer heritage perhaps has the big city beat.

From Fairview to Centerfield, the Pioneer Day holiday—and the days leading up to it—will be filled with hometown parades, rodeos, community dinners, fireworks and old-fashioned fun. Many of the activities are free or are provided at family-friendly prices so all can enjoy the celebrations.

Following is an outline of activities by community. See the calendar and ads in this section for more detail.


The celebration will be held at Anthony’s Flat on July 24 this year. Children’s games will begin at 5 p.m. and at 6 p.m. the Axtell LDS Ward will provide the meal. The Young Women’s organization will hold a small bake sale as a fundraiser after dinner.

Following the meal, the Axtell Walking Stick will be presented to an individual or individuals who have been chosen as “someone who has been helpful or of benefit to the community for a long period of time,” Bishop Russell Otten said.

The community celebration and the award of the walking stick have been going on for at least 15 to 20 years.


Taking place next Monday evening at the park adjacent to the LDS ward chapel, Centerfield’s celebration kicks off with the parade, which has cash prizes for winning entries.

A dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and sides will follow. (Donations are being accepted to cover the cost).

There will also be an obstacle course, bounce house and kids games, along with a prize drawing, before the evening concludes with a fireworks show.


The celebration in Fairview is already in full swing with various games last weekend and Lace Days at the Fairview Museum last Monday.

Tonight there will be an ice breaker at the ball fields at 7 p.m. where community members can gather, enjoy some watermelon and watch the kids’ games, followed by a youth dance.

Three parades over the next several days are bound to attract not just local residents but visitors from neighboring towns. The horse parade will be Saturday at 6 p.m. on State Street. The next Tuesday, July 24, and the kids parade begins at 10:30 a.m. followed by the Pioneer Day parade, typically one of the largest parades in the county each year, at 11 a.m.

The Fairview Rodeo Arena will be humming over the next several days. Tomorrow night there will be a kid’s rodeo at 7. A regular Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association (PRCA) rodeo will be held on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and an ATV rodeo on Monday 7 p.m.

There will also be an ATV ride for food Saturday at 8 a.m. and a DUP program at the Rock Church on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

On Tuesday the celebration ramps into high gear. Beginning at 7:30 a.m. local husband-and-wife (or two-member) teams can compete against their neighbors in Scrambalooza, a six-event competition now in its fourth year. Events include basketball, horseshoes, volleyball, tennis, ring toss and Frisbee throw.

In addition to the parades, there will be a day of fun at the city park with the fireman’s breakfast, the EMT barbecue, old-fashioned-games, a vintage car show at the Fairview Museum and Fairview Idol competition at the dance hall.


Fayette’s festivities will take place this Saturday, July 21. Typically, just about everyone in town joins in the 6:30 a.m. 5K, biking, running or walking their way around the course.

Then the Fayette LDS Ward Boy Scout troop will host a fundraiser breakfast followed by the hometown parade, which will feature local children who have decorated their bicycles, Boy Scouts, representatives of the LDS Young Men and Young Women’s organizations, along with fire trucks and possibly a float or two from nearby communities. This year, the parade time has been moved to 10 a.m.

The Fayette Ward will provide the meat for the potluck community lunch at the park afterward.


In Mayfield, anyone who has a float is welcome to just show up to participate in Tuesday’s parade, publicity chair Lee Sorensen said.

There are three great prizes for the ever-popular Wild River Duck Race, in which rubber ducks with numbers on them float down 12-Mile Creek. The prizes are a big-screen TV, a $1,000 shopping spree at Gunnison Market and $1,000 in meat from South Sanpete Pack.

Sorensen said the Mayfield Lions, sponsor of the race, usually sells 1,200 to 1,500 tickets at $5. Proceeds go to fund improvements in the town park.

This year there will also be a live auction at 1 p.m. to raise money for the improvements. Prizes include quilts and pictures.

There will be activities during the day at the city park, including the greased pig scramble, which is great fun for kids to participate in and for everyone else to watch.

           SPRING CITY

Spring City’s celebration kicks off tomorrow evening with the popular family street dance. For Saturday night’s concert in the park, Ogden band Ophir Creek is returning with its special blend of what band members call “pop bluegrass.”

“They’re just a fun group of guys,” celebration chairwoman Yvonne Wright said.

On Sunday evening, Gary Parnell has organized talented local musicians to take part in the traditional old-time gospel music revival.

The traditional “Saga of Spring City” a historical musical about this community, will be held Monday night, along with an ice cream social.

Something new for this year’s July 24 celebration will be a children’s sidewalk chalk art contest for kids up to age 12. (The chalk will be provided).


There’s something for everyone, especially people with an appetite, at Sterling’s old-fashioned celebration, which includes a breakfast sponsored by the Sterling LDS Ward bishopric, a pie-eating contest, a DUP bake sale, a Dutch oven dessert potluck, and a hot dog and marshmallow roast.

The active can enjoy the 5K, three-on-three basketball and tug of war, while the competitive can sign up to beat their neighbors in the horseshoe and corn hole tournaments.

And after all that food they will be able to dance it off with the Snow College Western Swing Club.

The fireworks that night will be “the best show they’ve put on,” according to Yvonne Larsen, one of the organizers.

Centerfield divided

over sewer repairs

By Ryan Roos

Staff writer


CENTERFIELD—The City Council visited a controversial issue that requires homeowners to pay for sewer line breaks, even when they occur on city property.

On Wednesday, Rodger Marshall, a city resident, asked the council to reimburse him almost $2200 for fixing a sewer line rupture on city property, between the main line and his home.

The council tabled the vote to consult with the county’s lawyer. At stake is the issue of who is going to pay for hook-up repairs with an aging sewer system.

At the heart of the controversy is a 2004 city ordinance which shifted the financial obligation to repair-line breaks solely to the homeowner, should that break occur off the main line and in route to the home and not be the direct result of any city disturbance.

 In early June, Marshall was required to pay $2176 to repair his broken sewer line which had ruptured on the city’s property.

 “I was told by a city official that they were no longer responsible,” said Marshall.

Marshall expressed concern that the original line was installed defectively. “When we dug up the broken pipe we found that whoever installed it didn’t even glue it to create a seal,” said Marshall, “and now I have to pay for it.”

 Current city ordinance stipulates that a licensed official must sign off on the line prior to its competition to ensure its long term viability. Yet, as of July 11, Centerfield City did not have the original inspection records necessary to verify the original work was done properly.

Mayor Tom Sorensen stepped in prior to the vote to explain the town “would find itself in a lawsuit,” if the council approves the refund. “What we do for one, we must do for all,” said Sorensen.

 Former Centerfield mayor Valjean Hansen stated that laying the full burden of repair upon the homeowner was never the city’s original intention. “I started that sewer system,” said Hansen. “It was always understood that if repairs needed to be made on city property, the city was responsible.”

City Councilman David Beck echoed this sentiment: “The property owned by Centerfield City, after the initial installment, should be Centerfield City’s responsibility.”

Beck, along with Councilman Jon Hansen, first proposed that Marshall be refunded. Councilman Hansen spearheaded the effort to compensate Marshall, partially on the grounds that the original work indeed appeared defective. “The pipe was not installed the way it should have been,” said Hansen.

Some see the shift in the city’s responsibility as a potential time bomb to residents. “The sewer system is aging,” said resident Kevin Hansen, “and it’s going to start failing at its weakest links – the hook ups – which now falls upon us to pay.” 

Hansen noted that Marshall’s case was a relatively minor fix, yet still represented a significant financial burden. The cost of repairing a line break under the city road would be virtual impossibility for the city’s elderly or single income families to afford, said Hansen. “Who’s got an extra $4000 in their pocket? There’s no possible way.”

Hansen also questioned the impulse to halt the vote, even with the understanding that more cases may appear. “Why stop the vote?” asked Hansen. “What else is out there?”

While sympathetic to homeowners, city officials have insisted their job is to uphold a proper interpretation of the city’s ordinances.

 Mayor Sorensen noted: “Let’s just make sure we do this the right way.”


Sanpete joining suit to get

PILT funds restored

James Tilson

Staff writer


            MANTI—Sanpete County is considering joining a class action lawsuit against the federal government for underpaid Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT).

            The lawsuit was begun by Kane County in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., alleging that the PILT payments for the fiscal years 2015 through 2017 were underpaid

            The PILT law was originally passed in 1976, and it provides for the federal government to pay local governments monies that the local governments could have expected to collect in property taxes on land organized by the federal government into “public lands.”

            On April 26, 2018, the Federal Claims Court judge filed an Order that found in favor of Kane County, finding that the federal government had underpaid the PILT payments over the alleged years.

The Order gave other counties wanting to join into the lawsuit until September 14, 2018 to “opt in” to the lawsuit. At this point, the only issue to be decided would be the amount the federal government underpaid.

At the last Sanpete County Commission meeting, County Attorney Kevin Daniels said that joining the lawsuit was a “no risk” opportunity for county to gain an award for very limited effort.

Daniels said he was confident the lawsuit would not “drag on,” although he could not say for sure how long it would take for the court to reach a final opinion. He said the parties to the case will submit briefs to the court regarding the amount of the award, and there might be arguments before the court reaches its decision.

The commission agreed to put the issue on its next agenda to decide whether to opt-in to the lawsuit.

Manti plans on 10-percent revenue

increase next year


James Tilson

Staff writer


            MANTI—A raise in revenues means Manti has more money to spend in the next fiscal year, with the lion’s share going to road work, a full-time sports director and equipment to maintain the new ball park on the north side of town.

            In its 2018-19 budget, Manti is projecting a 10 percent increase in sales tax revenues, coming primarily from a state agreement with online retailer Amazon, according to City Recorder Kent Barton.

            The budget, approved by the Manti City Council in late June, also shows the city pulling $129,000 out of a recreation savings account in the Public Treasurer’s Investment Fund (PTIF) administered by the state treasurer.

            The largest new highway item was about $20,000 for new equipment.

            In the recreation area, a $150,000 increase will go to hiring Josh Jensen as a full-time sports director (he was previously part-time) and for equipment for mowing and edging the fields and dragging the infield at the ball park, plus bases, pitcher’s mounds and safety nets.

            The city also expects to spend more money next year maintaining the city swimming pool. “The pool is now 10 years old, and we’re starting to see some wear and tear,” Barton said.

            Last year, the city replaced the boiler that heats the pool. Next year, it plans to build a structure to enclose and protect the boiler.

            In an interview Monday, Barton also gave an update on sports complex development. “The complex is about 90 percent complete,” he said. “The restroom and scorekeeping building is complete, the grading of the fields is complete, the fields have been hydroseeded and the grass is sprouting.”

            Still to be completed are installation of bleachers and scoreboards. Barton said there have been no major change orders during construction, and in many cases projects have finished under budget. “We’ve had no surprises with the construction budget,” he said.

            The biggest remaining challenge is getting the grass ready for use, he said. “We’re dealing with weeds, adjusting some sprinklers, and we may need to reseed a few areas. But we’re excited.”

            The fields should be ready for play in spring 2019. That means the city will have to keep managing growth of the grass for the fields. In the face of city watering restrictions, that has led to some questions.

            “We’ve had to keep the sprinklers going to keep the grass sprouting, and we’ve gotten questions about our water use,” he said

            The approximately $4 million for the sports complex is tracked outside the city budget. The fund is managed by the city council sitting as a municipal building authority.

            At the outset, the main funding sources were a $3 million combination grant and loan from the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB); $200,000 the city had saved up from pageant dinners; and donations from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, the Manti Improvement Committee and Ed “Big Daddy Roth” Inc.

Improved fairgrounds get

great reviews at first event


Robert Stevens

Managing editor


Hitman Motorsports of Bluffdale brought their Sniper monster truck to Saturday’s Monster Truck Insanity Tour, which was the first official event to be held in the new fairgrounds arena.

MANTI—The new arena at the Sanpete County Fairgrounds got a proper breaking in on Saturday.

The Monster Truck Insanity Tour which took place over the weekend was the first official event in the new arena.

Attendance at the event was good, with the grandstands full but not cramped.

A number of attendees commented on the new arena, and how they compared it to the previous iteration.

Marti Fierbach of Ephraim commented at the show that she liked how the arena was open-air, as opposed to the enclosed arenas in larger cities, like the one she came from before moving to Sanpete.

“It’s nice that it doesn’t hold in the fumes,” she said. “And that it’s not as loud.”

Jake Putnam of Fountain Green was attending the show with his wife Jodi on their 17th wedding anniversary.

“I loved how much bigger it was,” Putnam said of the arena, “and how they arranged to have the rally set up in such a way that the temple was the back drop of the event.”

Tory McArthur said his family felt like the new arena was an improvement, but that the parking situation was still less than optimal.

Stephen Harr brought his family from Mt. Pleasant, where they live, to see the show, and was very optimistic about the new arena.

“I am loving the new fair grounds and arena,” Harr said. “The seating is comfortable and there is room to move. No matter what section you are seated in, you have a great view of the show. The improvements were much needed.”


Mt. Pleasant has good

chance at EDA grant


James Tilson

Staff writer


            MT. PLEASANT—Monte Bona, director of the Mt. Pleasant Community Development and Renewal Agency (CDRA), advised the city council last week of the “high probability” the city would receive a U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) grant in the near future.

            Mt Pleasant had applied for a $356,000 EDA grant in February this year to aid in redevelopment of the area around the industrial park and old airstrip on the south side of the city.

            The grant would be for $249,200, with the city tasked to come up with $106,800 in matching funds.

            Bona told the council the CDRA had already raised approximately $52,000 toward the matching funds, and land sales could bump up that total to $75,000.

            Bona said the CDRA advisory board had recommended the remaining balance be taken from a CDRA reserve account upon formal announcement of the grant.

            Bona believes withdrawing the funds from the reserve accounts carries a low amount of risk because the city should be able to reimburse the account through future property sales.

            Bona said he believed he would have the formal announcement on the EDA grant by the next city council meeting.

Fairview Sammy Well

repaired and on line




Mayor Dave Taylor outside the Sammy Well southeast of Fairview after crews repairing the well completed their work, including repairing the engine on the well pump.

                 The Sammy Well, which taken off line earlier this summer for repairs, is now fully operational, according to Fairview Mayor Dave Taylor.

                Workers repaired two holes in the system, replaced the pump, cleaned the well, chlorinated the system, and last Wednesday July 11 tested the water, Taylor said.

                “The water tested  fine, and the pump was put back on line last Friday (July 13), although though it will take a couple of weeks to balance out,” Taylor says.  “This is really good news for the city that we got it fixed as quickly as we did.”

Velocitas track club aims to close gap

with bigger schools through training


James Tilson

Staff writer


            GUNNISON—It is not unusual for central Utah high school athletes to be at a competitive disadvantage to athletes from the Wasatch Front. But one Sanpete high school coach has decided to do something about it.

            Carl Wimmer, track coach at Gunnison Valley High School, has created the Velocitas track club, open to high school aged runners living in central Utah. The club starts on August 1, with training 2-3 times a week, in preparation for the indoor winter track season. The club will train runners competing in events of 800 meters or less, and hurdlers.

            Wimmer came up with the idea for Velocitas after this year’s Utah High School Track and Field Championships. While the athletes from Sanpete and central Utah competed very well, he noticed that almost all the top finishers had been competing since January. And they had been training since August or September.

            Wimmer wants to give central Utah runners that same opportunity to train and compete as the runners from Salt Lake and Provo do. He will also offer personalized attention to keep young athletes sharp, make them stronger and faster, while preventing overuse and injuries.

            Velocitas will work with all central Utah students, including those who compete in fall or winter sports. Students wishing to be a part of Velocitas can contact Coach Wimmer by emailing him at carl@carlwimmer.com.

Litigation holding up Ephraim

Canyon Road project


James Tilson

Staff writer


MANTI—The paving project for Ephraim Canyon Road has been delayed due to litigation from one of the contract bidders from out of state.

            GC Works, Inc. out of Miami, Florida, has filed an official protest with the Federal Government Office of Accountability (GAO) against the bid awarded to Staker Parsons, Co., dba Hales Sand & Gravel from Richfield.

The protest maintains that Staker Parsons is not a “legitimate certified bidder.” Staker Parsons is a large construction company headquartered in Ogden, but with locations all over Utah, Idaho and Nevada. It has bought up a number of local construction companies, including Hales Sand & Gravel, and submitted its bid for the Ephraim Canyon Road project as “dba (doing business as)” Hales Sand & Gravel.

GC Works’ position is that the naming of Staker Parson’s bid was misleading, and may have been done to pose as a local Sanpete business.

County Commissioner Claudia Jarrett expressed great concern that the delays from the protest could put the entire project in danger of not being completed in time, or at all.

            The paving project was supposed to start in May, but has not started yet, waiting on a decision from the GAO. Jarrett said the project was originally set to finish before October, so as to avoid the heavy traffic associated with hunting season. According to Jarrett, “We were pushing it to get it done in one summer. Now, I don’t know if it can get done in one season at all.”

            Jarrett said she was told on June 10 that a decision from the GAO could be expected “within 10 days.” But that time has long passed, and now she’s worried that the original bid will no longer hold. She said, “Every delay leads to a greater possibility that the cost will go up, and less of the road will get paved.”

            The winning bid by Staker Parsons came in at $3,797,469.50. GC Works bid came in nearly $1 million over that bid, at $4,583,605.00.

  [Read more…]

Moves to clean up Moroni hinge on enforcement


Suzanne Dean



Dozens of old washers and dryers are strewn behind home in Moroni. Much of the fence that was supposed to shield them from view has fallen down. The property is one of scores of eyesores the Moroni mayor, a city councilman, and the planning and zoning commission want cleaned up.

MORONI—Moroni could and should be a rural community that offers a quality residential environment.

“We can be the most beautiful town in Sanpete County,” says Jed Demill, a city councilman and the council liaison with the town’s planning and zoning commission.

Moroni has an excellent secondary irrigation system and more water than most towns, which could translate to lots of green lawns. The town is growing, with many attractive new homes being built.

Yet an increasing number of homes, including some at the town entrances, have no lawns at all. The space in front of the homes is dirt and weeds, often with some junk thrown in.

And it seems that around every corner, both behind homes, in block interiors and in plain view, is some sort of unauthorized junk yard.

One house has what Demill believes are 40-50 washers and dryers, easily visible through the fallen or missing slats of a metal panel fence.

A vacant lot beside one home has an old wagon loaded with rolled up chicken wire, and about 10 feet away, a giant pile of tree branches.

One interior lot has upwards of 20 junk vehicles, with some kind of old limousine covered in canvas out on the street.

A lot for sale in a part of town where other new homes have been built backs up against an array of junk, including an old sink, branches and junk vehicles.

“I don’t know if any of you have driven around town,” Demill told the city council in April. “I’ve had four or five people come up to me in the last four or five weeks. They want something done with our city.”

For about two years, two mayors, two city councils and the Moroni Planning and Zoning Commission have been reviewing and revising ordinances related to zoning, subdivisions, animals and nuisances, among other topics. A few revised ordinances have been adopted. Most are still pending.

The whole effort is coming to a head, possibly at the next council meeting July 19. That’s when the council is expected to take up many of the ordinance drafts, including the most controversial issue of all—enforcement.

The current ordinance has vague language saying that a person who violates zoning or nuisance ordinances can be found guilty of an “infraction,” carrying an unspecified penalty.

Mayor Paul Bailey, Demill, and the planning an zoning commission want to put teeth into the ordinances with a tough enforcement clause that applies to all types of zoning and nuisance violations.

The city needs to be able to “go in there, give ‘em a warning, tell them, ‘This is what we want, we’ll give you two weeks to get it done. If not, we’re just going to send in law enforcement to come and give you a ticket.,’” Demill said at the April council meeting.

Such a citation would be a Class B misdemeanor and require an appearance in the city justice court. If the property owner failed to appear, a warrant would go out for his or her arrest.

If the owner did appear, he or she could be represented by a lawyer. But if the judge found the owner guilty of violating ordinances and ignoring a warning to clean up, he could conceivably sentence the owner to jail. (Notably, all justice court actions can be appealed to 6th District Court.)

That potential makes some of the council members uncomfortable. “Are we willing to start putting people in jail for washers and dryers?” Councilman Fred Atkinson asked at the April council meeting.

“In the beginning, we might have two or three of them that we have to make examples of, but once you do that, everybody’s going to kind of come into line,” Demill responded.

“I think there will be some people who will fight it,” Atkinson said. He said he understood the complaints about junk cars and other nuisances. But he characterized moves to crack down as “50 people trying to control the rest of the town.”

“I don’t think I should be able to tell somebody that car’s an eyesore or you’ve got to park that trailer behind your house….I have a hard time with it.”

An effort to review and update all Moroni ordinances started after Luke Freeman was elected mayor in 2014. His job at Pittman Farms, formerly Norbest, includes writing and revising company policies.

After Freeman left office, he became a member of the planning commission, where he has continued to take a lead role in revision of the zoning, nuisance and related ordinances.

In 2017, Paul Bailey was elected mayor, partly on a pledge to clean up the town. Besides pushing ordinance revisions, he has collected substantial donations and initiated a host of improvements to public spaces, ranging from planting trees and improving landscaping around the Moroni Opera House to developing a new park at the east entrance of the city.

“We want to clean up our portion of the city so maybe people will take care of their portions,” he says.

Bailey, Demill and some of the planning and zoning members have also taken the lead by improving their own homes. Demill, for instance, got together with a next door neighbor and put down decorative gravel in the space between their houses and the road.

The strip between the road asphalt and property lines is actually city property, but the city needs the help of residents to take care of it, he says.

There’s little debate on those types of efforts. And, Bailey says, the city council has even reached a consensus on most of the substance of the zoning, nuisance and animal ordinances.

For instance, the maximum number of non-operating vehicles allowed on a property is two. One horse is permitted on a quarter acre, so long as the quarter acre is open space and doesn’t have a house or other accessory buildings on it.

“Should we allow 25 chickens or 10? We got all that nailed down,” Bailey says.

The remaining question is whether anything will be done about the serious violators. “We just want some teeth in the ordinance, and for that, we need Class B,” the mayor says.

“I’m one who likes very defined policies,” Freeman says. “That was my focus as mayor. I’d like to have Moroni defined as what the mayor and council want, and have some structure to support that. I want to make sure everything is as open and plain as possible.”

Heather Christensen, chairwoman of the planning and zoning commission, said she talked recently to a Utah County developer who told her 3,000 homes are slated to be built between Santaquin and the Juab County line.

Some of that growth is sure to spill over into places like Moroni, she says. “We need to prepare. I think it’s great that we’re putting some teeth into our ordinances. It’s good for the future growth of Moroni.”

Demill says he doesn’t like confrontation. He wants to keep all his friends in Moroni. But he wants a tidier town. “We’re not trying to shake up the world. We just want to clean things up. That’s what our goal is.”

Local drone pilot may have answers to fire


Robert Stevens

Managing editor


Fire crews, which were waiting on standby during the Hub City Days fireworks display, rush to put out a fire caused by an errant firework.

MT. PLEASANT—Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that happened during the Hub City Days fireworks display, and the answer may lie in the hands of a local drone pilot.

The fire erupted in a nearby field, with flames sprouting into the sky as high as 20 feet, said Rhonda Stewart of Mt. Pleasant, who was watching the Hub City Days fireworks display from nearby.

According to Mt. Pleasant City Fire Chief Sam Draper, a number of people reported seeing the tell-tale blinking green and red lights of an unmanned aircraft—aka drone—in the sky near the fireworks as they watched from the rodeo grandstands and surrounding areas.  On the Mt. Pleasant City Facebook page, one commenter said they had seen as many as three drones flying that night.

Draper said it is theoretically possible that fireworks may have hit a drone, causing it to nosedive and ignite the dry brush beneath it, but that is not an official theory.

Draper said he is hoping to speak to whoever was flying the drone, believing they may have taken video footage of what transpired that night.

“They’re not in any trouble right now,” Draper said. “We just want to talk to them and see if they had any footage from that night.”

Stewart said the fireworks appeared to be much lower than the drone when it veered off course and into the field.

“We were looking up and admiring how far up the drone was when fireworks shot to the side and caught the field on fire,” she said.  “My big childhood fear of fireworks going sideways came true. I know I will never be that close again. It scared the life out of me.”

Since fire crews from several cities were nearby for the main fireworks display, the dramatic looking brushfire was quickly extinguished, Draper said. Looking at it after the fact, very little damage of consequence was done, if any.

Draper said the Utah State Fire Marshall is involved in the investigation.

As for the drones, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations, it is technically against the law to fly a drone at night without special permission and equipment, but people do it every Independence Day.

Youtube is filled with videos of drones flying right into the middle of fireworks—and some getting blasted right out of the sky—so until the investigation is complete, nothing is being ruled out.

Mt. Pleasant City asks that if you, or anyone you know, was flying a drone in Mt. Pleasant on the night of July 4 contact city hall at 435-462-2456.

Willie the Clown, universally recognized figure in Sanpete County, dies at 92


Suzanne Dean



Willie rides down Manti’s Main Street during the 2012 fair parade. Willie was a fixture at Sanpete community celebrations for almost 30 years.

MANTI—Lamar Williams, who was universally known and recognized in Sanpete County as Willie the Clown, died Tuesday at 92.

Williams, who moved from the Millcreek area of Salt Lake County to Manti after he retired in 1988, broke a leg in 2017 and afterward was unable to walk. He entered the Mission at Community Living care center in March of this year, which is where he died. (See obituary page __.)

He was raised in Spanish Fork and Provo, and even as a youngster liked to hang out around the circus whenever it came to town, Marla Ward, his oldest daughter says. Sometimes he would end up getting painted up as a clown.

Right after high school, he joined the Navy and served in World War II. When he was discharged in California, he remained there, got involved in roller skating and became a state champion in the sport.

His future wife’s parents owned a roller rink. They hired him to teach roller skating at their rink. That’s where his wife, Dorothy, then age 12, met him. A little over two years later, when he was 23 and she 14-1/2, they were married.

Between the mid 1950s and mid 1960s, the Williamses lived in California, where Lamar worked in maintenance at a hospital and for Monterrey Peninsula Community College.

In 1966, the family, which eventually included eight children, moved back to Utah. Over the next 20 years, Williams’ resume grew to reflect the diversity of his skills.

“He could do anything,” his daughter says. The reason he kept changing jobs, she said, was that “he kept perfecting another skill.”

He worked in maintenance for the University of Utah, managed the Classic Skating roller rink, was a building inspector for Salt Lake County and ended his working career as a maintenance worker at the Salt Palace.

During his years in Salt Lake County, he started clowning in earnest. He taught clowning for 10 years through the U. of U. Theater Department. When he retired from the role, the department bestowed a “doctorate of mirth” on him.

In one of his first years after moving to Sanpete County, he and his wife roller skated the length of the Sanpete County Fair Parade as “Willie” and “Wobbly.”

Before long, Willie the Clown, often riding a tiny bicycle with handlebars 3 to 4 feet long, or later, an ATV, seemed to pop up in nearly every town parade and at events ranging from a Christmas piñata festival in Ephraim; to a birthday party for Readasaurus,  the Ephraim Elementary School mascot; to an end-of-summer reading carnival at the Fairview bookmobile library.

In 2013, he made his 20th appearance at the Sanpete County Fair. In many or most of those years, he put on a clown show as part of the talent competition. In many years, he also put on a clown class where youngsters emerged as authentic looking clowns.

Between official performances, he walked or rode around the grounds giving away balloons, or tying them into animal figures and giving the tied creations away.

“He is there the whole fair. Literally the whole fair,” Liz Brotherson, the entertainment chairwoman in 2013, told the Sanpete Messenger.  “I don’t think he would stay away even if he was told he couldn’t come.”

Once in his mid 80s, Williams told fair leaders he was going to train someone to replace him. “But that hasn’t happened,” Brotherson told the Messenger. “He’s been here every year. He loves it,” especially the clowning class. “The idea of clowns, their skill and everything about them. He loves it.”

Besides clowning, Williams loved carpentry, loved to fish and was an avid gardener, “and the bigger the zucchini the better,” his daughter said.

After entering the care center, she said he was “not always was he in our reality, but you put a balloon in his hand and he started tying it.” Many residents in the care center had his balloon creations in their rooms.

In an interview with the Messenger in 2013, Williams reflected on his years with the Sanpete County Fair. “It’s just been a great experience for me, promoting the art of clowning. This is my way of saying ‘thanks’ to the people of Sanpete County. I just love to make people happy. If I’m friendly and loving, who knows what will come of it.”

Ashtyn Childs earns 2018 Miss Gunnison Valley crown


Robert Green

Staff writer


The 2018 Miss Gunnison Valley royalty are (from left to right) Carolyn Donaldson, first attendant; Ashtyn Childs, Miss Gunnison; Aubree Jensen, second attendant.

GUNNISON—Running on a platform of “Being Uniquely You,” Ashtyn Childs was crowned Miss Gunnison at the 49th annual Miss Gunnison Valley 2018 Scholarship Pageant on Saturday night at Gunnison Valley High School.

Also named as pageant royalty are first attendant Carolyn Donaldson and second attendant Aubree Jensen.

During her reign as Miss Gunnison, Childs wants to teach others “the importance of being themselves.” She would like to decrease teen suicide and depression by focusing on a positive self-image and tolerance of everyone’s unique differences.

“This is something I feel strongly about and if I only change one life by implementing my platform in Gunnison Valley, that’s one life I have changed for the better,” she said.

Childs has also felt alone, mistreated and misjudged because of her own disease and differences. She has Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that leads to an over active thyroid gland.

Pageant director Kara Jensen said Ashtyn is already thinking of ways to implement her platform by visiting local schools and talking to youth about being themselves and being comfortable with their own situation.

Royalty is required to attend parades and other events within the Gunnison Valley throughout the year. At the end of the year, scholarships will be awarded to each girl.