A BAe-146 Tanker drops fire retardant to slow the spread of the Crooked Creek Fire burning north of Fairview near Milburn.

Milburn residents express faith in

firefighters as blaze consumes forest

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/26/2018

            MILBURN— Despite pre-evacuation orders on a number of nearby structures, Luann Greenwell of Milburn sat on her front porch watching the mountains burn. She didn’t seem worried because firefighting crews have succeeded in pushing back the fire.

            According to information released by the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office at the onset of the Crooked Creek Fire, a pre-evacuation order on Friday was issued for more than 20 structures, including those in Dry Creek and Tucker Flats.

            Although not much stands between the fire and her home besides plenty of fuel and one paved road, Greenwell was smiling and relaxed.

            “The fire crews are on the ball,” Greenwell said. “They’ve really been hustling and I want to give credit where credit is due. I am not worried at all.”

            The fire ignited on Wednesday, July 18 from lightning in the Crooked Creek mountains in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, east of Milburn and north of Fairview.

            From the beginning, fire crews have worked to fully suppress the fire. As of Saturday, the fire had grown to more than 150 acres, according to Leann Fox, of Utahfireinfobox.com, the state website that releases up to date information on wildfires in Utah.

            Fox said Friday’s cloud cover and cool weather with temperatures in the low 80s gave firefighters an advantage in fighting the fire.

However, she also said the fire is burning in mixed conifer with down and dead timber, and large standing timber, which generates extreme heat and is resistant to cooler, more humid weather.

Aircraft dropping water and retardant were important to holding the fire and helping firefighters as they worked on the ground, she said. The fire was most active on the northeast flank of the mountains.

According to Rosann Fillmore, public affairs specialist with the Forest Service, as of Monday, the fire was burning on 137 acres and 182 personnel were fighting against its spread—with three engines, three HotShot Crews, three initial attack crews, three helicopters, one airplane dropping retardant and a water tender.

“Although fire line has been built around the perimeter, heavy fuel, snags and rolling logs are keeping the fire hot and pose a risk for spread,” Fillmore said.  “Natural fire behavior helped to secure the fire on the southeast edge where there are fingers of fire and steep terrain. Crews have been securing the line by taking down snags and turning over burning logs.”

Dead and downed timber continues to burn in numerous individual spots, so firefighters were working to get spots contained, Fillmore said. Rain has not helped fire burning in heavy logs. Firefighters will continue work to improve and secure lines.

The Manti-La Sal National Forest has issued an order closing the fire area: Forest Roads 138, 1178, 1048, 1049; Forest Trail 0053 from the Forest Boundary to the junction with Forest Road 0138; Forest Trail 048 from the Forest Boundary to the junction with Forest Road 1178.

The closure is in place to prevent potential injury to the public and firefighter safety during fire operations. You can read the order at: https://go.usa.gov/xUn98.

“Everyone attending holiday celebrations and families recreating in the area of Fairview, Milburn and Fairview Canyon need to be aware of increased fire traffic,” Fox said. “Travel cautiously throughout the area.”

Although three structures further up the mountain have been given evacuation orders, Greenwell said she expects everything to turn out okay for her, and she “doubts she’s going anywhere with as hard as the fire crews are working.”

Spring City sets hearing on

big hike in property tax

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

7/26/2018

            SPRING CITY—Spring City is proposing to double its municipal property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

A Truth-in-Taxation notice published in this week’s and last week’s Sanpete Messenger says the proposed increase would raise the revenue yield from property tax in the coming fiscal year by 105.72 percent over revenue for the last fiscal year.

A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the council room in the Spring City Old School Community Center.

Mayor Jack Monnett said of the increase, “It’s vital.” Monnett called it part of an effort to make needed improvements and repairs to the city’s infrastructure. “We knew we had to do it,” he said. “Infrastructure costs money.”

The notice gives two examples of how the tax increase would impact a hypothetical resident or business. On a $180,000 residence, the Spring City charge on the home owner’s property tax bill would increase from $88.31 to $181.67, an increase of $93.36.

For a business property valued at $180,000, the property tax increase would go from $160.56 to $330.30, an increase of $169.74.

On June 14, the city council tentatively approved the new property tax rate as part of the city budget, although the new rate cannot go into effect until after a public hearing and final adoption.

The proposed certified rate was raised from .000917 last year to .001850, which is similar to the rates charged by Fountain Green and Fairview, but lower than the rate in every other municipality in the county except in Wales.

Monnett said Spring City’s rates, not just for property taxes but also for utilities, have been lower than most everyone else in the county.

“We were falling so far behind everyone else as far as revenue. We’ve kept (taxes) low, but it finally hit us in the face. If we keep doing this, we won’t be a city much longer.”

Councilman Tom Brunner said, “Nobody likes taxes or higher utilities, but we did what we needed to do to make sure the city provided the necessary services and balance the budget.”

Even though the revenue that would potentially be gained is a big jump, lower income households should feel less impact than households with higher incomes, the mayor said.

Property tax is based on the value of a house, so the owner of a house with a low assessed  value will pay a lot less than the owner of a $180,000 house. Utility rates are tied to consumption, so a household using relatively little water will pay less than a high-consuming household.

Utah Heritage Credit Union eager to

show off Ephraim branch

 

Suzanne Dean

Publisher

7/26/2018

            EPHRAIM—Utah Heritage Credit Union will hold a grand opening on Tuesday, July 31 for its new Ephraim branch at 268 S. Main, including a ribbon cutting and free lunch for the community.

Prize drawings begin and 11:30 a.m., and everyone attending can receive a ticket, according to Greg Sterner, vice president of lending. The biggest prize will be a Camp Chef pellet grill

At noon, credit union officials will cut a ribbon signifying completion of the new branch. A lunch of pulled pork sandwiches will follow and continue until 1:30 p.m.

Credit union staff moved into the new building the first week of March. “But we wanted to hold off on the grand opening until the landscaping was in. Everything’s all finished now,” Sterner said.

The first step in creating the new branch was demolition of a one-time house where loan officers were located in April 2017. The lending functions moved into the banking branch next door.

Nearly a year later, the new building was sufficiently complete to enable both lending and banking staff to move in. The credit union started serving customers in the new facility. About one month later, the original branch office, also located in a one-time house, was torn down.

Completion of the new branch has enabled the credit union to centralize all lending, including auto, personal, construction, mortgage and business loans, Sterner said. Previously, some types of loans were handled at UHCU headquarters in Moroni.

“Combining banking operations and lending in one building is a big step forward,” Sterner says.

The most notable feature of the new building is tall windows on the east side that let in a lot of sunlight, Sterner says. The building also has a sizeable lobby with updated furniture.

Another feature, still being completed, is a room on the north side of the building near the teller stations. Eventually, it will have computers and I-pads patrons can use for electronic banking.

The building has five private offices on the main floor with finished space in the basement where more offices can be added in the future as the credit union grows.

Kevin McClung holds shotgun while he and Jamie Klaes talk beside airplane.

‘Mad Dog Made’ to air on Discovery

Channel featuring local inventor

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/26/2018

EPHRAIM—The Discovery Channel is shooting a reality TV series in Sanpete County based on the life of “mad” scientist who builds outrageous weapons and tools with the help of his daughter and his master apprentice.

“Mad Dog Made” is a show based based on the skills and training of renowned military weapons designer, engineer and combat consultant, Kevin “Mad Dog” McClung, formerly of Prescott, now living in Manti.

The series, which so far has been entirely filmed in Ephraim, will debut on the Discovery Channel on Friday, Aug. 3 at 10 p.m., and will show McClung and his team fabricating cutting-edge handheld weapons and tools—one example of which is a super long-range rifle meant to shoot down weapons of mass destruction.

McClung will be assisted by former Marine and weapons expert, Jacob Sanchez and McClung’s own daughter, Morgan Fey McClung—who was named after King Arthur’s evil sister because her father said he “saw a dark streak in her” when she was born.

“Morgan is so funny,” McClung said. “She’s quick-witted and such a quick learner. She brings a lot to the show.”

McClung is a former senior scientist at the American Rocket Company. He is also an experienced outdoorsman, combat trainer and weapons and combat consultant. His two teammates add more than 15 years of experience in fields like blacksmithing, computer-aided-design, carpentry and aerospace mechanics.

McClung said the idea grew to life after Lionsgate Productions saw a video of what McClung and his team likes to do—fabricate outrageous weapons and tools. The studio was wowed and quickly sent a film crew to Ephraim.

“I’ve been working in Hollywood as a consultant for a long time,” McClung said. “I have never seen something get greenlighted so fast.”

The debut episode will show McClung and his team using their combined talents to create their own spin on the life-saving tool used by first responders known as the “Jaws of Life.”

The team will be tasked with creating a tool capable of rescuing an automobile accident victim within three minutes.

Later in the season, the team will also be tasked with building tools capable for use in space and will create a protective shelter for crashed bush pilots who are being stalked by wild animals.

The series is produced by Rogue Atlas in Association with Lionsgate Television.

Manti City considering annexation

that would add 438 acres to city

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

7/26/2018

The Manti City Council is proposing annexation of 438 acres on the north and east side of the city. The area to be annexed (in white) stretches from north of the cemetery, to north and east of Temple Hill, and takes in a swatch along the city’s eastern edge going south to approximately 300 South. The city’s buffer zone is in orange.

            MANTI—Local citizens voiced concerns over property taxes and zoning for a new annexation proposed by Manti City at last week’s council meeting.

            Manti proposed an annexation of 438.37 acres of land on the north and east sides of the city, stretching from north of the cemetery and Temple Hill and going around the eastern edge of Manti to approximately 300 South.

            Prior to the regular council meeting, citizens were invited to voice their opinions at a public hearing on the annexation. Prior to the hearing, Mayor Kory Soper read a statement to the audience.

            In part, it said, “There have been some concerns raised that the city may have to pay for street and utility infrastructure for the proposed annexation area. That is not the case. It is the policy of the city that private development pays for its own street and utility infrastructure, which must comply with city standards. Once new infrastructure is placed to the city’s satisfaction, the city assumes ownership and maintenance of those streets and utilities.”

            However, other concerns were raised by the audience. Linda Nielson, local business owner and real estate broker, said she was “not opposed, but I think this annexation is premature,” and “the zoning of the annexed properties be clearly identified.” Nielson believes the annexation will have minimal positive impact on the city’s residents as a whole, versus the greater positive impact for the annexed property owners and the city government.

            According to Nielson, 25 percent of the city is exempt from property tax. She said 50 percent of the annexed property would be exempt, and the other 50 percent would be zoned “greenbelt” (which taxes the property at a lower agricultural rate). Nielson requested an accounting of the financial impact of the annexation on the city.

            Steve Allred, property owner, asked the council when the zoning for the new annexation would be settled. The concern is that the zoning is currently unknown, and there is sentiment to expand the city’s commercial/business zones along U.S. 89 in the annexation area. Mayor Soper told Allred the planning commission would consider the issue at its next meeting on August 7.

            Kris Jorgenson, a landowner within the annexation area, stood to voice his approval. “Cities grow, or they die,” was his sentiment. Jorgenson said the city needs areas for single family homes, and the area would eventually be part of the city anyway. Annexing the property sooner would lead to better planning.

            The council tabled the annexation until the council next meeting, in order to consider all the comments by the public.

            Wes Alexander, with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), presented a proposal from the DWR for a new deer control program. In response to deer problems “all along the Wasatch Front,” the DWR has instituted a “lethal removal” programs for cities up and down the Wasatch Range.

            According to Alexander, to qualify for the program a city would have to enact a no feeding of deer/elk/moose ordinance, show the damage that deer had done in the city and carry a $1 million liability insurance policy. Having done that, the city would apply to the state for a Certificate of Registry (COR) to begin the removal.

            The city would then contract with someone to carry out the program, which would include hunting the deer from an elevated stand within the city limits, luring the deer to the stand with feed and shooting them with a crossbow. The hunting would occur from Aug. 1 through Dec. 15.

            The only costs to the city would be the insurance policy, the contract with the hunter and the cost of deer disposal.

            Alexander informed the council that although several other Utah cities had begun using the program, only Herriman had been using the program for any amount of time. However, Herriman had reported a dramatic drop in vehicle impacts with deer while using the program.

            The council did not take action on the presentation, and said it would consider the information.

[Read more…]

Ephraim tightens water restrictions

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

7/19/2018

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

Publisher

7/17/2018

            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

7/19/2018

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.

            AXTELL

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.

            CENTERFIELD

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.

            FAIRVIEW

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

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.

            MAYFIELD

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).

            STERLING

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

7-19-2018

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

7/19/2018

            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

7/19/2018

            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

7/19/2018

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

7/19/2018

            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

 

7/19/2018

 

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

7/19/2018

            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.