Handcart trek gives participants

appreciation for pioneer trials

Robert Stevens

Managing editor


During a portion of the trek, the companies reenacted a historic Mormon pioneer moment known as the “women’s pull,” where the women and girls were forced to go on ahead on the trail after the men and able-bodied boys were called in to duty in the Spanish American War.

MANTI—After his second pioneer handcart trek, this time with his wife and two sons by his side, a Manti man has a renewed appreciation for the arduous journey of his ancestors, and the strength, courage and faith of women and youth—both past and present.

Jim Bob Pipes, 40, first experienced a pioneer handcart trek in his early teens. On Thursday, July 12, he set out on a new trek—this time with his wife Becky, 39, and his two eldest sons, Jacob, 17, and Josh, 15. He spent three days pulling handcarts over 25 miles of rough terrain, with conditions made to simulate the Mormon pioneer’s trip west.

The trek, which Pipes says his LDS stake organizes about every four years, was the culmination of nearly a year’s planning.

Pipes has a bigger picture view of the trek now that he has helped plan one. The planning has helped him see the real scope of what Utah’s pioneers really dealt with on their journey to the Beehive State. Sharing the trail together brings out the best in people, he says.

“The whole idea behind a pioneer trek is to experience firsthand the faith and determination of our pioneer ancestors,” Pipes says. “We hear stories of their courage and grit after being expelled by a nation that denied them the religious liberty guaranteed in the Constitution.

“These people left the comfort of fertile farms and quiet communities at gunpoint, with only what they could carry in a wagon or handcart, and faced the uncertainty of a 1000+ mile journey to a place they had never seen.”

Pipes says now that he has a family, he wanted to encourage his children and other LDS youth to explore the questions of why their ancestors would do that, endure some of the physical challenges and discover in themselves what helped the pioneers keep going in the face of such a monumental task.

“We want the youth to feel that their faith is very much connected to their pioneer ancestors’ faith,” Pipes says.

The large group, which consisted of participants from all of the Manti LDS Stake wards, was organized into three companies of approximately 100 people. Pipes and his family trekked with a company led by David and Natalie Fullmer, who were given the titles of “Pa” and “Ma”.

“It was wonderful to experience the trek in a family setting,” says Becky Pipes. “To love and be loved. To pray for and be prayed over.”

Each person was asked to choose a pioneer to learn about and to trek in their honor. Pipes chose his great-great-grandfather, Hans Peter Jensen, who came west and then south to Manti and helped build the town and surrounding areas.

Jensen helped get water and electricity established in Manti, helped survey the route for a railroad from Nephi and served as the bishop of his ward for 26 years.

Pipes says the purpose of the ancestral homework was “to remind us when our feet hurt or the path was rocky that we have it in us to do what they did.

“It was very powerful and we heard the youth tell of the new appreciation they gained for the things their ancestors did.”

In fact, Pipes says that he was proud of how well his sons and the participating youth handled the journey.

“Through the entire experience, walking with the youth each day, I never heard complaints that I honestly thought might flow rather freely,” he says. “They knew the job ahead of them; they put their heads down and got to work.

“And instead of negativity they built each other up, encouraging each other to keep going, or they traded off pulling and provided relief when someone got tired.”

Another aspect of the pioneer journey that Pipes says was impressive was the determination of the women—his wife, Becky, included—during a portion of the trek modeled after history and known as the “women’s pull.”

The women’s pull came about during the exodus to Utah when many of the men and able-bodied boys were asked to assist in the Mexican-American War. Many of the men left and the women and girls were required to continue on without them.

“When we reenacted this by having the women pull some of the hand carts up a steep hill, the fortitude I saw in them was incredible,” Pipes says. “They prepared themselves mentally and spiritually by meeting together beforehand and then those women gave it everything they had.

Despite rough terrain and many challenges, the pioneer handcart trek had plenty of joyous moments, such as the square dancing where the company of trekkers proved they weren’t too tired to have fun.

“It was truly inspiring to watch them tackle such a strenuous physical task with courage, determination and faith.”

Pipes’ wife Becky had some insight from the trek as well.

“We made our way through a dry riverbed,” she says. “The sandy ground and new growth made for a challenge. I learned if I just straddled those saplings straight on, they would hit my skirt and go beneath. So much less effort than dodging each one.

“I’m still thinking on all the applications, but it does remind me of buffalo that goes straight into a storm instead of running from it and by doing so they spend a lot less time in it.”

Despite all the hardship the trek puts participants through, it has its fair share of merriment. Pipes says the food committee did an amazing job, and there were also many moments of joy, celebration and even square dancing along the way.

“The food brigade rocked our thick socks every single meal,” Becky says.

Gunnison Valley

Hospital Births



            Ellie Anne Piep was born to Meghan Mietchen and Jorden Piep of Centerfield on July 6, 2018. She weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces.

Hayzlee GraceLynne Searle was born to Terrisha Smith and Corbin Searle of Mt. Pleasant on July 6, 2018. She weighed 6 pounds.

Neil Riding wins medals

at Utah Special Olympics


Katelyn Allred

Staff writer


Neil Riding displays the medals he won at the Utah Special Olympics.

EPHRAIM— Ephraim native Neil Riding took two gold medals in this year’s Utah Special Olympics at Utah Valley University.

The event, held June 8 and 9, drew more than 800 participants from all over the state.
            “It’s an event that everyone at some point in their life ought to see,” said Margaret Riding, his mother. “It makes you so grateful for the teams that advocate for kids with disabilities.”

The Special Olympics give people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to compete in a variety of sports, including swimming, track and field and softball.

Riding competed in four events, and took gold medals in the 25-meter dash and softball throw. He also took bronze in the 100-meter dash and fourth place in the 50-meter dash.

When he won, he reacted “like a champion,” according to his mother. “Like, ‘Yes!’”

He’s been competing in the Special Olympics for three years. He began playing basketball in middle school, high school and church teams. When he moved to Orem, he started running on a nearby middle school track. “He just got to be pretty fast,” said Margaret.

The Special Olympics were first organized in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who saw that many children with intellectual disabilities were excluded from sports teams and other activities. The first event was held in Chicago, with about 1,000 athletes total competing. Fifty years later, over 4,000 athletes and coaches will be competing at the national level, with many more competing in state tournaments.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity,” his mother said, “…we’re just grateful that he’s able to be a part of a world of sports, where there is competition and he’s able to excel in his field.”

Camp Salina article attracts national attention to WWII camp preservation


Katelyn Allred

Staff writer



SALINA—The Saturday Evening Post published an article in their May/June 2018 issue about a World War II-era prisoner of war camp in Salina.

The national magazine ran a three-page story exploring the history and restoration of Camp Salina. It covered how the camp was restored, as well as the experiences of German POWs there and the incident known as the Midnight Massacre.

According to the article, Camp Salina was originally built to house Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) employees during the Great Depression. But during World War II it was turned into a camp to hold German POWs. Since many American men were away at war, the prisoners were recruited to help harvest crops and do other labor, and they generally got along well with locals. The Germans wrote home to their families praising the food, garden clubs, dances with locals and permission to drink alcohol.

Their interactions with locals were numerous and often positive. POWs took meals from families whose crops they were harvesting and made jam from fruit children would bring them. Many of them said it was the best time of their lives.

The article explains that their treatment was motivated by the notion that American POWs would be treated the same as German POWs were treated. If America treated German prisoners well, the Germans would respond in kind. This turned out to be untrue, but it created an environment at Camp Salina far different than one would expect in a POW camp.

The camp wasn’t without its problems. While many soldiers only wanted to get home to their families, some were deeply loyal to the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler. These prisoners sought to punish “traitors,” and encouraged escape attempts to prove loyalty.

The article tells the story of the bloodiest incident, known as the Midnight Massacre. It was not caused by Nazis, but by an American soldier. Early on July 8, 1945, a guard named Clarence Bertucci climbed the guard tower and fired into the tents of sleeping prisoners. He fired 250 rounds, killing nine people and wounding more than 20. The soldiers thought the government had decided to kill them all, and the townspeople thought the prisoners were rioting.

Once people knew what was going on, they set to work carrying wounded soldiers to the tiny Salina hospital. They treated patients everywhere—in spare corners of the hospital and even on the front lawn.

The site was restored and opened in 2016 to tell the town’s story. Locals donated artifacts, including letters from prisoners who they kept in contact with and a jewelry box made of matchsticks and Popsicle sticks. The restoration was carried out by Salina local Dee Olsen, along with his daughter Tami Olsen, and stands as a reminder of the rich history of the town and of Sanpete County.

School district updates sex harassment policy

By Katelyn Allred

Staff writer


MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School District updated its sexual harassment policy to make school a safer place for LGBTQ+ students in a school board meeting Tuesday, June 19.

The policy now includes a clause that specifically prohibits sexual harassment on grounds of a student’s sexuality or gender, said Sam Ray, superintendent.

 “When students were harassed based on LGTBQ+ issues in the past, principals did their best to stop the harassment,” Ray said. “Now it will simply be in the policy to make it clear we are trying to ensure all students have a safe place to attend school.”

LGBTQ+ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities. Between 1.7 and 5.7% of adults identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and about 0.3% of adults are transgender, though exact statistics are hard to pin down due to social stigma.

In the past, sexual harassment included gender defined as male or female, Ray said. Across the country and in Utah, the definition has been expanded to include LGBTQ+ students as well.

This isn’t the first policy change put in place to protect LGBTQ+ students. The district already has guidelines for teachers and administrators to interact with transgender students. This includes using a student’s preferred pronouns and not discussing a transgender student’s status without their permission. The North Sanpete High School Handbook also makes it clear that discrimination based on gender is unacceptable.

This change comes as part of a growing movement to make all people feel included and visible. The specific acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ students in the policy makes it clear that all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, will receive an equal education and safe environment in North Sanpete Schools.

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Lexi Nielson maintains a positive attitude as she battles cancer.

Salina teen has good attitude as she battles cancer


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer



SALINA—As school draws to a close this week, many local kids are looking forward to summer to sleep in, hang out with friends and just generally kick back.

            Lexi Nielson, an eighth grader at North Sevier Middle School, is looking forward to it for a different reason.

            At the end of June, she will complete a grueling 38-week chemotherapy regimen.

            Then, if she’s blessed to get a clean bill of health, she might be able to think about normal summer activities.

            Lexi, 14, was diagnosed with stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma, a very rare childhood soft tissue cancer, after finding what doctors initially thought was a cyst on her body.

            When the cyst did not respond to laser treatment, her Gunnison doctor referred her to Primary Children’s Hospital. After extensive testing, the doctors there came back with the bad news—it was cancer.

            Since that time Lexi has been in the fight of her life.

            “We’re just hoping for the best; we’re living day by day,” her mother, Kandice Nielson, said.

            Over the course of the last eight months, along with the chemotherapy, Lexi has endured three weeks of five-days-a-week radiation and a blood transfusion.

            While she was initially scared when she found out she had cancer, she said, “It’s a lot easier now that I know what’s going on.”

            She has good days and bad days, but she is doing remarkably well, her mom said.

            Lexi has mostly been unable to attend school over the months of treatment although she goes occasionally when she feels good. She has completed schoolwork at home as she has been able.

            Her class recently made a video of “Fight Song” to show their support for Lexi.

            Lexi generally stays home and travels to Salt Lake City weekly for her treatments. It’s a tough schedule for her and her mom—a single mom who has two other children, Ryan, 17, and Jake, 7.

            Along with caring for Lexi and her brothers, Kandice has been there for her own mother, Sandra Nielson, who was diagnosed with stage 2 lung cancer herself within weeks of Lexi’s bad news. Sandra has also undergone chemotherapy and had 60 percent of her right lung removed. A recent scan showed she is now cancer free.

            Kandice, who works at her mother’s daycare center, said it has been a tough road, but she’s enjoyed a lot of support from family, friends and the community.

            In February, benefit was held that many local businesses and community members donated to, bringing in some money to help with expenses.

            Family and friends also considered launching a GoFundMe campaign but had to abandon that idea when they discovered that doing so might jeopardize Lexi’s Medicaid benefits.

            If things go well, Lexi should be able to return to school in the fall. Since she was a 4.0 GPA student before being diagnosed, school officials feel she won’t need to repeat eighth grade and can move on with her peers, Kandice said.

            For now, the teen is staying strong for the remaining weeks of chemotherapy. She has a pretty philosophical outlook on the experience.

            “I’ve discovered I’m tougher than I thought I was. I never thought I could deal with anything like this,” she said. “I feel like I’ve matured a lot from it. I’ve learned to deal with things being so scary.”

            Both Lexi and Kandice are hoping a PET scan at the end of treatment will give Lexi the “all clear” to resume her life. If so, she wants to spend time with family and friends, go camping and maybe even go shopping for makeup with her cousins.

            Looking into the future, she hopes to attend Southern Utah University and to someday be a model.

            A fund has been set up in Lexi’s name at Zions Bank in Salina. Contributions will not impact her Medicaid benefits.

North Sanpete rolls out new behavioral program


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor


MT. PLEASANT—A discussion about bullying in the North Sanpete School District (NSSD) may be a catalyst to help improve the district’s new behavioral program.

           At a board meeting Tuesday, May 15, Melody Brunson, a former teacher and vice president of Moroni Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association, shared her concerns about bullying. She has two autistic children.

“I am not trying to start problems,” Brunson said. “My son’s teachers and the district have done some amazing things—things that my children benefit from greatly.”

Despite her glowing recommendation of NSSD and its teachers, Brunson said one of her sons has dealt with bullying and harassment regularly, and because of his autism, she is deeply concerned that it will cause a ripple effect that leaves an impact all the way into his adult life.

“My children will tell me ‘someone hit me, but it’s OK,’” she said. “But it’s not OK. A culture of aggression is something that will warp his sense of ‘norms’. It teaches them to be both a victim and an aggressor.”

Brunson said she has read a number of studies, including one published in the Journal of Psychology, that say bullying affects children much worse than society previously thought. If that is the case, she believes bullying will affect autistic children even worse. She is worried it might mean they won’t live normal lives as they grow older.

“My children should know they can go through school knowing their bodies are safe,” Brunson said.

Brunson told the Messenger that a culture of bullying and allowing bullies to get away without consequences is something she believes many students deal with in the NSSD. She said that once she had a conversation with another mother whose child was in a local school. The mother told Brunson that her child would have told her if he had ever been bullied—that she would know.

Upon returning home, Brunson said the mother asked her child outright if he had experienced bullying and the child told his mother “of course I have” and that he had been punched, kicked and harassed multiple times. Brunson says the mother was shocked and upset.

NSSD Superintendent Dr. Sam Ray told Brunson at the meeting that the entire district is in the process of fully implementing a new behavioral program, and perhaps she could give some input during the process that would contribute to the program’s effectiveness in preventing problems with bullying.

The new behavioral program, dubbed Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), isn’t really new—just new to the district—and this is its first year at NSSD. Before its rollout, each school had its own way of handling behavioral issues, said Chalyece Shelley, NSSD special education director and the person tasked with handling the PBIS implementation.

“It’s a system-wide framework meant to get every school in the district operating on the same rules,” Shelley said. “All kids will get it, along with consistent rules and rewards.”

PBIS gradually rolled out this year with the first tier. A consultant from the University of Utah is helping the district to institute the three stages of PBIS, said Shelley, and the district has been told that rushing its implementation process could be detrimental towards its success.

Tier one is a district-wide set of rules and a system to support them, as well as a behavior tracking component that Shelley said will be able to help identify areas and individuals that need more support.

Tiers two and three, which Shelley said will be rolled out gradually over the next year, will include a system to provide more individual attention to students who might be struggling. The second tier is meant to support those students who have difficulty staying within the system-wide rules instituted during the rollout of tier one.

The final tier is only meant for application in special circumstances, said Shelley. It is tailored to support students who may struggle with special needs, aggressive behavior or have experienced trauma. She doubts that no more than two or three percent of the student population might ever need the support from tier three.

Shelley said PBIS is about getting the whole district on the same page. The program is endorsed by the state and has years of statistics backing up the validity of its effectiveness. This is why the district made a move to bring it in, not because of addressing any out-of-the-ordinary behavioral problems.

“You’re always going to get some form of bullying in any school,” she said, “but I don’t think anywhere in our district has a culture of violence. It’s not in the culture; it’s not in the mindset. It is not accepted or rewarded.”

Shelley points to another factor that she thinks is a good indicator about the NSSD culture—one of long-term, continuous academic improvement. She said NSSD test scores in all the schools have been on the rise for a while, and there is no sign of stopping.

“I don’t think cultures of violence and academic improvement can really co-exist,” she said.

The Brunson’s children and the rest of the students in the NSSD should be able to benefit from this program, Shelley said. The district could have benefitted from putting it in place sooner.

“We are very open to any suggestions you might have,” Ray told Brunson in the meeting.

Ray added that he would have Shelley make a meeting with Brunson to get her input on PBIS.

Brunson told the Messenger she believes PBIS is a step in the right direction, but “until the administration enacts the program consistently, holding children accountable, supporting teachers in their efforts, and communicating with parents, it will not be effective. “

Shelley says within about another year, the behavioral tracking component of PBIS will have enough data backing it to give the district an idea of its local effectiveness. Only time will tell.


A half-bubble off plumb

The pride of being Scandinavian and

aren’t we all a little bit Scandinavian?


By Randal B. Thatcher

Guest writer


I just happen to have Scandinavian roots, complete with a trove of wonderful old black and white photos of somber-faced Danes, and handwritten accounts of that arduous transatlantic crossing, followed by an even more arduous overland crossing from American Eastern Seaboard to the western frontier.

And you probably do too, since a popular ancestry website claims that most Americans have at least some Scandinavian DNA in their overall makeup.

My wife shares my Danish heritage, as do many of my local friends and neighbors, which is not surprising given the fact that Utah is second only to California in percentage of citizens with direct Danish ancestry, and that most cities in Utah seem to have a particular section of town that was once known as Little Denmark.

And even if you might happen to be that rare exception in these parts with no Scandinavian blood whatsoever in your veins, you are likely still influenced by the rich Scandinavian heritage that makes up this lovely valley they helped settle, and that we now call home.  And hopefully you can feel some adopted pride in sharing in that part of this local legacy.

Scandinavians were specifically chosen to settle this sometimes harsh Sanpete environment because of their robust and hardy natures, along with their resourceful skills and expert craftsmanship.  But I, even with my strong Danish roots, am five generations removed from those hardy and skillful ancestors of the 19th Century and have a hard time repairing even a sprinkler-head in my perfectly placid backyard.

So I’m not going to talk about skirmishes with local Native Americans, or about eking a meager subsistence out of an often hostile and forbidding landscape, or about building a house, then a barn, then a granary with just my own hands and a few crude tools.  I know I could never do any of those things; and if my own Danish progenitors, or those skilled Scandinavians who built the pioneer home I now live in, are ever cosmically mindful of me at all, they know it, too.

Instead, I wish to highlight the fun times they occasionally enjoyed, those early Scandinavian settlers of this high mountain valley.

There were the Easter celebrations, when the children would roll different colored Easter eggs down Temple Hill in Manti; and the May Day celebrations every spring, with the colorful Maypole Dance, and accompanying music; and everyone heading up into the surrounding canyons and hills, come springtime, to camp-out under the canopy of newly leafing trees; and feasting on red mush made from rhubarb, which was the first ready fruit of the summer season.

There were brass bands and theater troupes and choirs, all performing plays and music brought over from the Old Country; and dances—lots of dances—which served the dual purpose of both lifting their spirits, and also effectively planning the rough-plank floors of whichever building they might happen to have gathered in for that evening’s hoedown. Don’t forget about the parades and picnics and carnivals and rodeos!

Those things I could have handled, and still could, which makes me glad they are still enjoyed in abundance in our Sanpete Valley.  The season for such commemorative merrymaking is upon us, as we celebrate our Scandinavian heritage in any number of annual festivals around the valley.

Back then, those hardy Scandinavians would likely have walked to get from one place to another, while I will definitely drive my car to get to these various festivals (being far less hardy, as we’ve already established).  But I will still revel in this rich Scandinavian heritage we all enjoy with traditional music and food and dancing and stories.

I will feel glad for those robust and omni-capable forbearers who did all the difficult things that I could not so that I can spend my time in less laborious pursuits—such as reading about them, and reveling in them and the rich legacy they left and celebrating them every summer by consuming lots of ebelskivers, funnel-cakes and grilled Sanpete turkey!



Lightning ignites fire in Saul’s Canyon


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor


EPHRAIM—Fire crews are controlling a lightning-caused fire on Sanpitch Mountain, located about 20 miles northwest of Ephraim in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The fire burned for several days before being discovered.

            The fire was ignited by lighting on Monday, May 14. Crews only began actively managing the fire on Wednesday, May 16, and by Thursday, May 17, it had grown to 110 acres while under active monitoring by fire crews.

            The fire will be allowed to burn to reduce heavy fuels in the area. Crews will allow the fire to consume 140 acres as part of a controlled burn, the Forest Service stated.


Illustration depicts the location of the Saul’s Canyon fire.

Most of the fire is currently burning white fir and dead trees in Saul’s Canyon on the Sanpitch Mountain.

Due to the high elevation of the fire, the Forest Service expects that smoke will be visible from I-15, Juab, Sanpete, and Sevier counties and will be seen for over a week. The fire is expected to last a few days.

            Spring vegetation has emerged and fire managers have decided that conditions are excellent for maintaining and controlling the fire. The managed fire can reduce the risk of wildfire by reducing hazardous fuels and aiding aspen regeneration. Beneficial fires restore and maintain healthy forests and rangeland, and improve wildlife habitat.

The Saul’s Canyon fire managers will review the fire’s progress and weather forecasts to determine if the fire will stay in pre-designated boundaries and if resource objectives are being met. Fire crews will be monitoring its movement to assure the protection of life and property.

If necessary, the fire will be actively suppressed, the Forest Service reported.

Inside our Schools

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Eric Peterson (left) pays tribute to his father, Alan Peterson (right), former Gunnison Valley Middle School principal, who was honored with the school’s annual Yule Program Pillar Award, while current principal Jeff Bartholomew looks on.


Former Gunnison principal with 36 years in education honored with Pillar Award


By Robert Stevens

Managing Editor

Dec. 21, 2017


GUNNISON—A firm pillar of a man with a mind set on making others’ lives brighter was honored in Gunnison last week.

During the annual Yule Program of Gunnison Valley Middle School held on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Gunnison Valley  High School auditorium in Gunnison, the recipient of the program’s Pillar Award was the very man who ran the school since 1999, former principal Alan Peterson.

Peterson passed the reins at Gunnison Valley Middle School over to the current principal, Jeff Bartholomew, this year after sustaining a serious injury.

Peterson said he didn’t plan on the career shift, but he took it in stride.

Bartholomew, who said during the Yule Program he wants to continue on the trail Peterson already paved, was quick to praise Peterson for taking his career shift in stride and for his decades of educational excellence.

“Tonight we honor an outstanding individual who has demonstrated throughout his life the true spirit of community and service to those around him,” Bartholomew said when they presented the award to Peterson.

Bartholomew added, “It is from his countless hours of service we have come to know the individual we choose to honor tonight. He is like a pillar, a column of strength.”

He continued, “For 36 years, he has sustained the weight of public education in our community. Like the buildings of antiquity which still stand today, our community, like those ancient structures, is strong due to this individual, along with the others we have honored before him.”

Next, the honoree’s own son, Eric Peterson, came to the podium to speak in tribute of his father after Bartholomew had announced the award.

Eric told the audience a story of his childhood, when, through the simple act of making socks, his father had helped instill discipline in Eric and his siblings.

“Dad’s been doing this for us kids, the grandkids and so many students over 36 years,” Eric said. “He has taught us all how to be pillars—to have a strong foundation.”

Eric added, “Nobody knows his history or heritage quite like Dad, and he’s taught all of us about that. To support others, like a pillar, he always tries to strengthen and support those on the roadside of life.”

Eric said his father also taught him to always be thinking about tomorrow, and, just a few days before the program, his father had told him he was planning his next career.

“I thought ‘Oh boy!’” Eric said. “He never stops thinking about tomorrow. He has been a pillar for all of us.”

Eric ended on a reminder, offering praise to someone he says helped make his father such a great man.

“We all know in our hearts, but often forget to say,” Eric said, “that behind any great man is an even greater woman. My dad would be the first to say that whatever good he has done he owes to his angel wife, Evelyn Peterson, who was a pillar as well to anything she joined. So to you Dad, and to Mom, from all of us in the family and all of us throughout the community, thank you and merry Christmas.”

After his son had finished heaping praise on him, Alan stepped to the podium, where he casually joked about gas prices before giving his real message: “I’d like to say it’s been my privilege and my honor to work with your kids and all of you—the teachers, the faculty, great people like the new principal we have—for all those years.

He continued, “This is a great place to raise kids. We have good schools, and we have dedicated people, and I’ll tell you we are just lucky to be here. We are so lucky. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of you.”

During the Yule Program, the middle school’s eighth-grade band and seventh-grade choir performed a number of holiday favorites.

Bartholomew also conveyed a holiday message of service: “Through service of others we magnify ourselves. Our deeds and kindness will linger with others we’ve served long after the lights have dimmed and the pages have turned.”

The ten contestants who will compete for the Miss Sanpete crown on Friday are (L-R): Ashytn Childs, Michayla Jackson, Lydia Madsen, Jasmine Alcala, Jillane Olsen, MIss Sanpete 2016 Kaytie Nielson, Senora Childs, Amelia Nell, Bellamy Sorensen, Makenna Cherry and Jordan Henson.

Ten to compete for Miss Sanpete crown on Friday


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



MANTI —This year’s queen bee for the whole county will be chosen Friday at Manti High School when a new Miss Sanpete is crowned.

The new queen and her attendants will reign over the upcoming Sanpete County Fair.

“I am so excited this year to have worked with some new young ladies and those with devotion and drive to come back and compete again,” said pageant director Emily L. Cox of Manti.

“We see contestants come and compete for many reasons, including a desire to serve within their community, experience personal growth and build upon the competitive spirit that can carry them to the Miss Utah Stage next June—and, most importantly, the scholarship.

Cox says the new Miss Sanpete County will receive a $2,000 scholarship to the school of her choice to help further her education. Attendants receive amounts ranging from $200 to $500 to be applied towards college.

The soon-to-be crowned Miss Sanpete also receives a $1,000 wardrobe allowance to help her compete at the state pageant, says Cox.

“As the only franchised Miss America local pageant in our county, we believe in the four points of the crown—service, scholarship, success and style—and want to encourage those to compete, learn public relationship skills and ways to be a contributing member of their community.”

Watching contestants step out of their comfort zones and learn important life skills is, Cox said, “a joy to watch.”

There are 10 contestants in this year’s pageant; their profiles are below.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. at MHS and adult tickets are $6, with tickets for children 4-11 years of age costing $4 and kids under four are free. Each adult ticket will receive a program with additional programs costing $1.

Exiting the stage on Friday as the current Miss Sanpete will be Kaytie Nielson.

“We have been very lucky to have our outgoing Queen Kaytie Nielson of Fairview as our representative this year,” said Cox. “She has done a lot of service, helped us to grow our program and brought a kind light to all that she has done this year as our Miss Sanpete 2016.”

For more information about the pageant, please email misssanpetecounty@gmail.com, or contact Emily Cox at 435-851-0316 or Anne Fonville 801-362-1038.


Amelia Nell

Amelia Nell is the daughter of Alan and Kathy Nell of Ephraim. Amelia will perform a jazz dance to “Black Dog” and her platform is “Be Bright, Eat Right.”

Cox said, “Her service platform is to bring awareness to nutrition with healthy snacking choices and habits and how foods should be consumed and chosen in relation to its affect on our bodies, energy and overall health.”


Jasmine Alcala

Jasmine Alcala, daughter of Martin and ClairAnn Alcala of Manti, is competing with a talent of lyrical dance to “I Was Here.” Jasmine’s platform is “Every Girl is a Princess”

Cox says Jasmine’s platform is based upon growing young girls’ education, and finding ways to build self-esteem, and positive ways to cope that don’t lead to self damaging habits.


Makenna Cherry

Makenna Cherry is the daughter of Justin and Sharon Cherry of Ephraim. Makenna will perform a jazz dance to “Brand New” and compete on the platform “Have Courage and Be Kind.”

“Her service platform is based upon being a hero in everyday life,” said Cox, “through small kind acts that build upon one another, sharing and inspiring others to do the same and have courage in their daily choices to choose kindness.”


Michayla Jackson

Michayla Jackson, daughter of Mitchell and Kerrie of Milburn, will perform gymnastics and tumbling routine as her talent. Her platform is “H.E.R.O: Honoring, Education, Respect Others.”

“Michayla will focus on ways to honor who you are and the talents you have, “Cox said.


Lydia Madsen

Lydia Madsen, daughter of Jeremy and Jessica Madsen of Fairview, will perform vocals to “Don’t Forget Me.”

Lydia’s platform, “Lend a Hand,” is all about encouraging service and leading by example, says Cox.


Jillane Olsen

Jillane Olsen, daughter of Scott and Melissa Olsen of Manti, will perform a piano solo to “Waterfall” by Jon Schmidt.

Her platform is “Read to Succeed, “which will be an effort to raise support for reading across various age groups,” Cox said.


Jordan Henson

Jordan Henson, daughter of Abby and Jeremy Ivory, and Jeremy Henson of Fountain Green, plans to do an American Sign Language interpretive dance solo to “Let Them See You.”

Jordan is partnering with Autism Speaks  to  compete with the platform “4 Points of the Puzzle: Autism Speaks,” where she will try to advocate for the autistic and reduce social stigma, Cox says.


Ashytn Childs

Ashytn Childs, daughter of Gary and Anne Childs of Gunnison, will perform a jazz dance as her talent, and is competing on the platform “Be uniquely You.”

Ashytn says she wants to encourage others to be themselves, no matter if they have a disease or disability.


Bellamy Sorensen

Bellamy Sorensen, daughter of Thomas and Candice Sorensen of Centerfield, is performing a self-arranged piano solo to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by The Piano Guys and “Etude” by Kabalevsky.

Her platform is “Unplug,” an effort to inspire others to back away from their devices and find some balance and moderation in their use.


Senora Childs

Senora Childs, daughter of Kennith and Wendilyn Childs of Centerfield, will perform a dance solo to a mix of the music of Michael Jackson. Her platform is “Heroes 4 Heroes.”

“Senora hopes to implement a platform that focuses upon having a club to celebrate and honor unsung every day heroes,” Cox said.

Both Pageant-goers and cast members mill around the blanketed seating area shortly before the beginning of the final night of the Mormon Miracle Pageant, which has increased cumulative attendance over last year—to the tune of more than 4,000 extra attendees.

Shorter, revised Mormon Miracle Pageant still draws good crowds


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



MANTI—Despite some challenges and changes to a 50-year tradition, under the guiding hands of a new president and director, attendance rose at the Mormon Miracle Pageant from last year, and thousands of people got to see it again, “for the first time.”

Official attendance numbers for the eight-night production was 74,805—up more than 4,000 people from the 2016 tally of 70,600.

New Pageant President Milton Olsen says his first year had a happy ending, with loads of positive feedback from the attendees and cast members.

I think it went well,” Olsen said. “It’s a little hard to know for sure, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it went really well.”

In regards to the pageant attendees, Olsen said, “There were many people who commented that they were very touched, and said it was like seeing the pageant again for the first time.”

Pageant-goers were not the only ones who were happy with the outcome, said Olsen. Time and time again, he said, the feedback from the cast of more than 900 was very positive—especially after overcoming some initial challenges.

“The opinion changed as time went by,” he said. “It started out a little difficult because all of a sudden things were different from the way they’d been. The unknown, and ‘how do we deal with this, and that?’ came up, but as time went by they came together and all those concerns and issues got answered.”

The new pageant director for 2017, Denise Hagemeister, says her first year as director also had its share of challenges and rewards, and in the end, it was very positive.

Hagemeister said that the differences in her directing created some apprehension with the cast, and breaking some habits created from a 50-year Pageant tradition wasn’t always easy, but once the cast learned to accept her new direction and methods—and work with her vision—things went smoothly.

“The biggest highlight was when I had to stop working so hard to get people to accept my new style,” Hagemeister said. “I had some expectations that different directors didn’t, and it always takes people a while to get used to a new director’s style. When they stopped fighting and started helping and working together, things went really great.”

Hagemeister says she had changes in mind for the pageant from the outset of her appointment as director. Having not grown up in Sanpete County gave her a different perspective on the pageant, and a desire to make some adjustments. Those adjustments didn’t happen overnight, she says, but when they did, it was rewarding.

“There were some really beautiful moments during the pageant when what was in my head translated to the stage very nicely,” Hagemeister said. “That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you go, ‘that was way better in my head.’”

Hagemeister doesn’t solely credit herself for the successful implementation of changes to the pageant, however.

“The cast was what made those beautiful moments happen,” she said. “They might be under my direction, but it was their work that created them.”

Olsen says that he, and the cast and crew, learned some good lessons in his first year behind the wheel.

“So much of what happens you just learn by going through the experience,” Olsen said.

Sanpete planning commission begins re-organizing county buffer zones


James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI — The Sanpete Planning Commission moved forward with plans to re-organize the county ordinances regarding “buffer zones” around the Sanpete municipalities at their regular monthly meeting on June 14.

Zoning Administrator Scott Olson and Commission Chair Loren Thompson had been working on a new definition of “buffer zones” for several months, and presented their handiwork to the commission for approval.

The new definition states: “Compromising of the RA-1, RA-2, BC, and Industrial zones located within 1 mile of the Municipality where a proposed development and/or change of use, is required to give notice to the Municipality, allowing the Municipality the ability to review and recommend utility services (power, water and sewer) and road development standards relative to the Municipalities Development Plan, Annexation Plan and/or Expansion Area.”

Commissioner Gene Jacobson asked whether a city could deny a zone change in a buffer zone if it fulfilled county ordinances. Thompson assured him that the new definition only allowed the city to make recommendations after being given notice – the city would not have the authority to deny a zone change.

Thompson went on the say that the definition was not final, either. It still had to go through a public hearing process, and receive final approve (after possible amendments from the Planning Commission) from the County Commission.

After discussion, the new definition was approved by the Commission.

Also presented to the Commission was a new form developed by Olson and Thompson, entitled “Sanpete County City Buffer Zone Application Notice.” Olson had taken that form previously used and made the form more definite on having the city comment on whether a proposed development would be in its annexation plans, and whether the roads or utility services would be adequate.

Jacobson again questioned Olson and Thompson. He wondered if the cities would be given notice of this new form. Olson answered that the form would be used in every application within a buffer zone, and would have to be presented to the city. If any city had a question, it could call Olson as the Zoning Administrator.

Jacobson wondered what would happen if the city refused to sign the form. Olson said that would not prevent the application from going forward – the form merely gave the city notice of the application within the buffer zone, and the opportunity to comment on it. A city would not have the authority to deny an application, either through its comment or through inaction.

The new buffer zone application was also approved.

After the definition and form were approved, Olson said “This does not end our buffer zone discussion.”  Thompson seconded that sentiment. He pointed out that in the future, some coordination between city ordinances and county ordinances would have to take place, to account of the situation where an applicant in a buffer zone requested county approval where the city had requested changes that the applicant did not want to make.

Thompson said that cities should have some say over how the development around their borders takes place, and this was especially true in the case of smaller, 1 and 2-lot subdevelopments. Commissioner Leon Day pointed out that continued approval of small subdivisions around cities would continue to frustrate annexation plans and stymy the cities’ growth.