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.

Lamb day grand marshals love to work, love their community


Lyle Fletcher

Staff Writer

Lamb Days Grand Marshals Yvonne and Robert Don Hansen

FOUNTAIN GREEN—Born on Labor Day in 1947, Robert Don Hansen of Fountain Green has been laboring ever since.

He and his wife, Yvonne, have made labor their lives as they have worked to build a family, gain an education and teach others, serve in their church and community and labor in their careers.

The Hansens have been selected as the grand marshals for this year’s Lamb Days in Fountain Green.

Robert Don was born on Monday, Sept. 1, 1947, truly a “labor day” for his mother, Dorothy B. Johansen, and his father, Don Farrell Hansen.

Called “Bobby” by his family and friends as he grew up on the farm west of Fountain Green, Bob experienced the down-to-earth good old things that young boys in rural Utah enjoyed.

He attended Fountain Green Elementary, North Sanpete Junior High in Moroni and North Sanpete High School in Mt. Pleasant where he graduated in 1965.

Almost as a rite of passage, he moved to Ephraim where he roomed with other young men and attended his freshman year at Snow College.

As his 19th year approached, he put in his LDS mission papers and was called to the Southern States Mission headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., serving from Sept. 1966 to 1968.

On his return from his mission, he continued his education at Snow College, this time living at home and driving to Ephraim.

Upon his graduation in 1969, he worked the summer helping various farmers in Fountain Green and transferred to BYU, living in a basement apartment off campus.

During that semester, just before Christmas, he met a transfer student from Arizona, Yvonne Smith, who was in his BYU ward.

He moved back to Fountain Green and continued to commute to school with his brother, Dean.

Bob and Yvonne continued to date, became engaged and were married on Sept. 11, 1970, in the Mesa Arizona Temple.

They lived in Orem and continued their schooling at BYU, traveling to Fountain Green on the weekends to visit family.

Bob and Yvonne graduated from BYU in May 1971. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and Yvonne a bachelor’s degree in special education and elementary education.

Bob found employment in Red Rock, Ariz., as a mill manager of a private feedlot, and the couple moved to sunny, hot Arizona in Sept. 1971, expecting their first baby.

Liesl Marie Hansen was born in Tucson, Ariz., in October. The following month, Bob, Yvonne and Liesl moved to Fountain Green for the winter.

Bob found work as marshal of Fountain Green City, worked at Moroni Feed Company Hatchery and finally found his niche at Nephi Rubber Products in Nephi in sales.

James Robert Hansen was born in April 1973. James developed cancer and had treatments then died in May 1976.

Lea Ann Hansen was born in March 1975.

In 1977, Bob secured a job in sales and moved his family to Billings, Mont., and traveled throughout three states.

Sean Nelson Hansen was born in April 1977.

In 1978, Nephi Rubber Products reached out to Bob and asked him to return and become customer service manager. Bob worked in Nephi and built the family a new home in Fountain Green after hours. The home-building took about a year to complete.

Aaron McRae Hansen was born in Feb. 1980. Rebecca Dianne Hansen followed two years later in 1982.

In 1983, Yvonne started teaching special education in Moroni half days for North Sanpete School district.

In 1987, Dorothy Nicole Hansen was born in September, and Yvonne taught special education and third grade half day at Fountain Green Elementary.

Bob and Yvonne are the parents of six living children and the grandparents of 10 grandchildren.

Andrea Joe Thompson, who lived with the family for six years, has given them five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren that live in New Mexico and are able to see them occasionally.

Yvonne retired from school teaching in 2011 and Bob from Nephi Rubber Products in 2013. They served in the Florida Orlando Mission from 2013 to 2015, a total of 23 months.

Bob’s church service includes two full-time missions, seventy, counselor in two bishoprics, high council, bishop, Young Men advisor, Scoutmaster, district Scout committee, Gospel Doctrine teacher, bishops’ storehouse missionary and Primary teacher.

Yvonne’s church service includes Primary president, Primary teacher, stake Primary president, Relief Society presidencies, Young Women president, Relief Society teacher, full-time mission, Gospel Doctrine teacher and bishops’ storehouse missionary.

Bob has served in many community capacities, such as the town marshall, Fountain Green justice of the peace, president of Fountain Green Irrigation Company, Fountain Green Lamb Day Committee and Fountain Green Lions Club.

Yvonne volunteers at Fountain Green Elementary, Fountain Green City Library, Fountain Green Lions Club and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

Both of them love serving as ordinance workers in the Manti Temple and look forward to more years of loving labor and service for the LDS Church and their beloved community of Fountain Green.

Republican primary canvass results released


James Tilson

Staff Writer


            MANTI—The Republican primary election results for Sanpete County are now official. The Sanpete County Commission approved the election canvas and audit results at the commission meeting on Tuesday.

County Clerk Sandy Neill said the audit approved at the Tuesday, July 2 meeting confirmed that election results did not change from election night.

However, Neill did relate a humorous story of election clerks validating the ballots. On one particular ballot, the clerks noticed the signature on the ballot did not match their records. The clerks called the voter and he finally admitted that he had his wife sign for him, Neill said.

“If you told her to sign for you, it still doesn’t count,” she said.

The voter came away impressed the clerks’ effort to check the ballots.

Out of 7,630 registered Republican voters, 4,251 actually cast ballots, for a turnout of 55.71 percent. In the commission seat A race, Edwin Sunderland got 2,256 votes (or 55 percent) to Justin Atkinson’s 1, 851 votes (45 percent).

In the precincts, Atkinson showed well in the southern parts of the county, winning Axtell SSD, Centerfield City, Ephraim City 2, Fayette Town, Gunnison City, Manti City 1, Mayfield City and Sterling. Atkinson also won Mt. Pleasant City 1 and Spring City precincts. But Sunderland won all the other northern and central Sanpete precincts.

In the state Senate race, Mitt Romney won the Sanpete vote 2,833 (67 percent) to Mike Kennedy’s 1,406 (33 percent).

Election canvas numbers change nothing

By James Tilson

Staff writer


MANTI—The Republican primary election results for Sanpete County are now official. The Sanpete County Commission approved the election canvas and audit results at the commission meeting on Tuesday.

County Clerk Sandy Neill said the audit approved at the Tuesday, July 2 meeting confirmed that election results did not change from election night.

However, Neill did relate a humorous story of election clerks validating the ballots. On one particular ballot, the clerks noticed the signature on the ballot did not match their records. The clerks called the voter and he finally admitted that he had his wife sign for him, Neill said.

“If you told her to sign for you, it still doesn’t count,” she said.

The voter came away impressed the clerks’ effort to check the ballots.

Out of 7,630 registered Republican voters, 4,251 actually cast ballots, for a turnout of 55.71 percent. In the commission seat A race, Edwin Sunderland got 2,256 votes (or 55 percent) to Justin Atkinson’s 1, 851 votes (45 percent).

In the precincts, Atkinson showed well in the southern parts of the county, winning Axtell SSD, Centerfield City, Ephraim City 2, Fayette Town, Gunnison City, Manti City 1, Mayfield City and Sterling. Atkinson also won Mt. Pleasant City 1 and Spring City precincts. But Sunderland won all the other northern and central Sanpete precincts.

In the state Senate race, Mitt Romney won the Sanpete vote 2,833 (67 percent) to Mike Kennedy’s 1,406 (33 percent).

Agencies limit fires outside incorporated areas


            Numerous government agencies have issued fire restrictions affecting six counties in Utah, including Sanpete County.

These fire restrictions began last Sunday and will be in force until further notice is given.

The press release from the Central Utah Fire Interagency states, “Due to increasing potential for human-caused wildfire activity, dry conditions and high fire danger in central Utah, Interagency Fire Managers are implementing fire restrictions beginning Sunday, July 1 at 00:01 a.m.”

All Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Sanpete County, along with all unincorporated privately owned land and all state-administered lands (Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands) have the following fire restrictions (all these acts are prohibited):

  1. Igniting, building, maintaining, or using a fire (including charcoal and briquettes) outside a fire structure provided by the agency within a designated area is prohibited. All debris burning is strictly prohibited.
  2. Discharging or using any kind of fireworks on unincorporated private land (always prohibited on state and federal lands).
  3. Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark-arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order as determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practices J335 and J350.
  4. Detonating of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices, pyrotechnics, or exploding targets or tracer ammunition (always prohibited on federal land).
  5. Cutting, welding or grinding of metal in areas of dry vegetation.
  6. Smoking except in an enclosed vehicle or building, or a developed recreation site or areas of a minimum of three feet in diameter cleared down to mineral soil.

All classes of fireworks are prohibited on these Sanpete County lands, and these fire restrictions apply also to Juab, Millard, Sevier, Wayne and Piute counties.

The press release adds, “Incorporated towns and cities are not included in these restrictions. (Contact your local fire department for municipal restrictions.)”

The restrictions also apply to four ranger districts in Fishlake National Forest and to Capitol Reef National Park.

In campgrounds and picnic areas, campfires are permitted in permanently constructed cement or metal fire pits, and charcoal burning is permitted in permanent fire rings or grills constructed of metal or concrete.

Also permitted are devices fueled by petroleum or liquid petroleum gas.

The press release also states vehicles are one of the prime causes of wildfires in Utah and provides a few helpful instructions to prevent sparks.

When hauling a trailer, secure the trailer chains, and check under the vehicle for anything hanging or dragging.

Check tire pressure to avoid blow-outs. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.

Be careful driving through or parking on dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire.

Keep vehicle maintenance up to date.

Information on fires in Utah is at

Sanpete Beat

Drum corps shows off at Badger Stadium


The Battalion’s drum line marches during the performance of “I See Red” at the Sanpete Beat last Saturday at Snow College.

EPHRAIM—The blast of horns and drums you may have heard coming from Ephraim Saturday night was not an early Fourth of July celebration.

It was a free performance titled “Sanpete Beat” at Badger Stadium by The Battalion, a group of energetic teen musicians from 15 states.

The teens have spent thee past month residence at Snow College getting ready for upcoming competitions.

The Battalion is part of Drum Corp International (DCI), an organization formed in 1971, which organizes competitions among corps-style marching bands all over the United States.

DCI includes 24 “world”-class corps, 22 “open”-class corps and one “international” corps from the Netherlands. All members under 21 and audition for positions in the corps.

Katherine Steinaker, corps director of The Battalion, explained that The Battalion is a very young corps, having only been formed in 2014.

“A group of friends got together and decided to bring DCI to Utah,” she said.

Their first year performing was 2016, when the group had just over 100 members. This year, it has 151 members. Members play a variety of brass or percussion instruments, or perform with the flag corps. No woodwinds are used in their performances.

Steinaker said, “We have members from 15 different states, mostly from Utah and Colorado, but also from the east coast, Hawaii, the south and the Midwest.” Several of their members are Snow College students.

More than 300 musicians auditioned for 151 spots for this year. Auditions run from December to May for a season that begins in July.

The Battalion’s competition season this year goes from July 4 through July 25 and includes meets in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and California.

The Battalion’s drum line plays with intensity during the performance of “I See Red” at the Sanpete Beat last Saturday at Snow College.

The group will participate in two events in Utah. On July 11, it will perform at Weber State University in Ogden in a competition called “Corps Encore” and on July 23, it will be at Alta High School in Sandy for an event called “Drums Along the Wasatch.”

Steinaker related how, since The Battalion was so young, its organizers wanted to be “financially smart” and build toward eventually competing at the National DCI Finals in Indianapolis, Ind. in the second week of August. Steinaker believes The Battalion will be able to compete at the national championship within three to five years. Until then, the highlight of The Battalion’s season will be the Open Class Pacific Championships in Pleasant Hill, Calif. on July 21.

Shaffer pleads guilty, sentenced to 15-year to life for child sodomy


By James Tilson

Staff writer


Samuel Shaffer, above, co-defendant to John Coltharp in the Knights of the Crystal Blade case, looks on as he awaits his court hearing on June 27. Shaffer plead guilty to one count of sodomy.

MANTI—The co-founder of the Knights of the Crystal Blade has entered a guilty plea in a negotiation where he will testify against his co-defendant.

Samuel Shaffer pleaded guilty to one count of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony. The remaining four counts of his indictment were dismissed.

Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels told Judge Marvin Bagley that Shaffer was guilty of engaging in oral copulation with a child under the age of 14, as part of his association with the Knights of the Crystal Blade cult.

Daniels explained to Bagley that Shaffer was getting a lenient plea deal because of his willingness to testify against his co-defendant, John Coltharp. Shaffer’s testimony was the “tipping point” leading to Coltharp’s own guilty plea on June 13.

As part of the plea deal, Daniels had agreed that Shaffer could be sentenced to only 15 years to life, which was shorter than the statutory range of 25 years to life for a first-degree felony. Daniels explained that Utah statute 76-5-403.1(4)(a)(3)(i) allowed for this deviation when it was in the “interest of justice.”

Judge Bagley, accepting the recommendation from Daniels, said he understood how much work went into crafting the plea agreement, as well as his own desire to spare the victim of the crime from having to testify in open court against Shaffer.

Bagley asked Shaffer if he had anything to say before he was sentenced. Shaffer replied, “More than anything, I want the victim to know it’s OK that she [would] testify against me, and she shouldn’t feel guilty about it.”

Bagley then asked Shaffer why he did it. Shaffer said, “I sincerely believed child marriage was a correct principle from God. Since I’ve seen the impact on the victim, I now think that it is a wrong view.”

Sunderland feels ‘really fortunate’ to win commission primary


By James Tilson

Staff writer


Edwin Sunderland, the new Republican Party nominee for the open Sanpete County Commission seat.

MANTI—The primary election has just wrapped up, but the vacant seat for Sanpete County Commissioner has probably been filled.

Edwin Sunderland won the Republican Party nomination for the commission seat being vacated by Claudia Jarrett. He did so by defeating Justin Atkinson on Tuesday, June 26 by approximately 55 to 45 percent.

Since Sanpete County is overwhelmingly Republican, his election in November is virtually assured.

Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill said the final vote count from the primary would not be released until Tuesday July 3 (after press time), when the county commission officially canvases the results.

Neill said there were just under 100 absentee and provisional votes yet to be tallied, and nearly 70 votes that will not be counted for technical reasons. However, votes still to be tallied would not be enough to change the election result.

Ed Sunderland said he “feels really fortunate” to have won. He described Justin Atkinson a “really good competitor.”

“I really want to thank everyone who voted for me,” he said. “In the future, I want everyone to know that I have an open door whenever anyone needs to talk to me.”

When asked what he wanted to concentrate on in office, Sunderland said it would be hard to know until he got his feet wet.

But he said  he does have a few issues in mind. He wants to look into the county zoning ordinances, especially the requirement that a person have 5 acres in order to build a home in the unincorporated area. He said “5-acre lots lead to a lot of weed patches for the people who don’t have the proper equipment.”

Sunderland also said a number of people have asked him about dust on the roads during the summer.

But the most important issue for Sunderland is the county’s tax structure. “I’m really conservative when it comes to taxes.” He said he wanted to know where the money goes.

Atkinson wished Sunderland the best as the Republican nominee for commissioner. “I love Sanpete County, and I wish the best for Edwin.”

Atkinson said he knew that he faced an “uphill battle” because of his position on SB 54, the measure which permits people to get on the ballot by gathering signatures. The Utah Republican Party has opposed SB 54.

However, he is happy with how he ran his campaign. He pointed out that his percentages went up through the primaries, and he felt gathering signatures was the right thing to do. “I wanted to give a voice back to the people,” he said.

Atkinson said he would consider running for countywide office again “if the opportunity presented itself.”  He explained that he did not run for commission as part of a strategy for gaining higher office, but did acknowledge it seems to be a pattern for an office holder to gain experience by going from local office to county and then state office.

Sunderland will have no Democratic opponent, nor any minor-party opposition in the November general election. Anyone can register as a write-in candidate for the commission or other offices up to Sept. 7.

As of this week, Sanpete County had 12, 631 registered voters. Of those, 8,060, or 63.8 percent, are Republican. There are 661, or 5 percent, who are registered Democrats. And there are 3,492 unaffiliated voters, or 27.6 percent of the Sanpete electorate. That leaves 418 voters who list 10 other political affiliations (including “other”).

Cost of most things rising, but Fairview general fund goes down by 12 percent


By Suzanne Dean



            FAIRVIEW—Across the country, most costs, including the cost of government, are rising. But not in Fairview.

The general fund budget for FY 2019 (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019) is $867,222. That’s nearly $122,000 less than the estimated final 2018 general fund budget, or a cut of 12 percent.

The general fund portion of the budget gets the most attention because it covers the costs of the main city office, the justice court, police, fire, garbage, parks, recreation and other government functions.

The general fund is the part of the budget financed by taxes, grants, business licenses, fines and charges for services.

However, those sources never quite cover government costs, so each year, the city transfers surplus funds from utilities to balance the general fund budget.

For FY 2018, the transfer was about $56,000, which was all taken out of the electrical utility. But for FY 2019, the projected transfer is just $20,322. Money for the transfer is slated to be taken fairly equally out of the electric, water and sewer funds.

“That’s the lowest I’ve seen, and I’ve been here 12 years,” Mayor Dave Taylor told the city council before it passed the budget at a meeting June 21.

Turning toward the council and with perhaps a dozen people in the audience, the mayor said, “I really commend these men and women. They’ve worked hard to make sure you get the best bang for the buck.”

Each of Fairview’s three utility funds—electricity, water and sewer—is essentially, a self-contained bank account. Each gets its revenue from charges to homes and businesses, and covers its costs from its revenue.

The FY 2019 budget for the three utilities combined is $1,627,908, up about $170,000 from the previous year. The combined budget for the three utilities is about 12 percent higher than the estimated final budget for FY 2018.

The utilities serve the incorporated city and some territory outside the city limits. One of the factors in the increase is population growth in and around Fairview.

When the general fund and utilities are combined, the total city budget for FY 2019 is close to $2.5 million. That amount is about $138,000 more than the final estimate for all city functions for FY 2018. The $138,000 translates to a modest increase of 5.8 percent.

Taylor said he was especially pleased to be able to cut the general fund budget and still give seven year-round city employees a raise.

The city council also raised its own stipends slightly and doubled the stipend for the mayor.

Mt. Pleasant bans personal fireworks


By James Tilson

Staff Writer


MT. PLEASANT—Following Gov. Gary Herbert’s urging for caution, Mt. Pleasant has decided to “ban all use of fireworks” within city limits starting June 29 until further notice.

Mayor Sandra Bigler said that after Gov. Herbert told Utah citizens on Thursday night to use “extreme caution” when considering whether to use fireworks, she directed Mt. Pleasant Fire Chief Sam Draper to call the Utah State Fire Marshall for direction on what to do about fireworks. The result of that call was that Mt. Pleasant decided it could ban fireworks due to the extreme fire danger this summer.

Bigler said her office had received numerous calls from concerned citizens about the fire danger, and the city was very worried about the possible consequences of sparks and hot embers.

Earlier this month, the city of Ephraim had decided it could not totally ban the use of fireworks, but could only “strongly recommend” that its citizens should not use fireworks this summer. That was because of the passage this spring of HB 38, or Utah statute 53-7-225.

The statute says in part: 53-7-225(5)(a) “A municipality may not prohibit a person from discharging class C common state approved explosives during permitted periods.” And further; 53-7-225(6) “If a municipal legislative body… provides a map to a county identifying an area in which the discharge of fireworks is prohibited due to a historical hazardous environmental condition…, the county shall, before June 1 of that year, (a) create a county-wide map; (b) provide the map to (i) each retailer (ii) the state fire marshal; and (c) publish the map on the county website.”

Sanpete County Commissioner Scott Bartholomew confirmed that no city in Sanpete had sent any notice of firework restrictions or maps of area in which fireworks were prohibited, nor had the county published any such map on its website.

Gunnison City passes budget, elected officials will not get raise


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor


            GUNNISON—A smooth adoption of the new budget for Gunnison City was delayed by only one contentious issue—whether or not elected officials should get a raise.

During a meeting of the Gunnison City Council that took place on Wednesday, June 20, Gunnison City’s accountant Gary Keddington presented the 2018-2019 budget to be adopted by the council. Before adopting it, however, the council had to reach an agreement about whether or not to increase the pay for elected officials.

The proposed pay increase would have been somewhere in the realm of a 2-3 percent increase, said city treasurer JoAnn Taylor. According to Taylor, at the time of the meeting, the pay for the mayor was $300 per month, and city council received $250 each month.

“I don’t think I really have a say in this,” Gunnison City Mayor Nay told the rest of the council, who had varying opinions on the raise. “But I think most of you know how I feel. This is a real job.”

Councilman Andy Hill said he was in favor of the raise, even though it wouldn’t make much of an income difference for him. He thought that it should be done for future elected officials; and that delaying a pay raise for mayor and council too long might catch up with them.

“It’s like playing kick the can,” Hill said. “You keep kicking it down the road when it gets brought up and you hold off.”

Hill said if you kick it down the road long enough, an eventual pay increase might end up being a controversial amount if it isn’t handled progressively over the years. He said perhaps it should be raised by a set percentage at preset intervals, to keep incentives in line with the amount of work.

“It is still work to be done and time away from your family,” Hill said.

Councilwoman Michelle Smith was vocal about her opposition towards the raise, saying she didn’t feel comfortable voting for a raise in pay for her duties so early in her first term in office.

“I’d like to wait at least another year,” Smith said.

Councilman Robert Anderson offered a compromise. He saw nothing wrong with passing the raise on the condition an official can opt out by electing to donate the pay increase back to the city fund.

“When it comes down to it, it’s not like we are talking about a lot of money anyway,” Anderson said.

Gunnison Gazette Publisher Mark Heinline—himself a former mayor and familiar with the amount of work required as an elected official— was in attendance at the meeting, and spoke up briefly in support of the pay increase.

“For what it’s worth,” Heinline said, “I think you deserve the raise and in my opinion it is warranted.”

Rod Taylor, city zoning administrator, was in attendance at the meeting and he offered his opinion during the sometimes awkward silence during the council’s deliberations.

“You could make more money with minimum wage,” Taylor said. “Its public service and you should know that going into it.”

Council members Blake Donaldson and Blane Jensen were less vocal about their opinions on the raise until it came time to make the decision, at which time they spoke out against it, sealing the deal on no raise for the council and mayor—at least for now.

After the decision was made, Keddington said he had the final variables required to finalize the new budget and he would adjust it and send out the final document to the council for review.

Although the elected officials would not get a pay raise, the new budget includes a 3 percent raise for full-time employees, and merit raises for some other employees. It also includes an increase for part-time pool and library employees to $9 per hour.