Archives for November 2016

Just over the border of Utah County, in the hills above Indianola, Mt. Pleasant man Wesley Dee Nay was burned and buried in a shallow grave at the base of a tall cedar tree.

According to GPS coordinates included in a warrant request document, this patch of exposed soil marks the spot where Wesley Nay was forced to dig his own grave while recently apprehended suspect Raul Vidrio took a photo on his cell phone. After digging the grave, Nay was reportedly killed, burned and buried in the shallow grave, which was later discovered by hunters.

[Read more…]

Sgt. Jason Albee of the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office shows how an alert, or emergency message, sent out by the dispatch center can be received through the myAlerts app on his cell phone.

Sgt. Jayson Albee of the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office shows how an alert, or emergency message, sent out by the dispatch center can be received through the myAlerts app on his cell phone.

AlertSense software enables sheriff to communicate with citizens, one on one


Suzanne Dean




MANTI—The Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office is implementing a software program called AlertSense designed to enable it to communicate with residents in ways it never has before, including one on one.

The system serves as the single platform, or interface, for sending outbound 911 calls to landlines in a designated location and for activating a federal system known as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) that makes it possible to send a text message to all cell phones in a given area.

Beyond that, with AlertSense, the Sheriff’s Office can send alerts by email and/or text to people who sign up for them. Or citizens can download a free app that enables them to receive the same alerts, with maps and a little more detail, on their iPhones or other Internet-enabled devices.

“The sky’s the limit,” says Sgt. Justin Albee, who is in charge of emergency management for the Sheriff’s Office.

“The end result will be what we want, which is being able to reach everybody because there are very few people who don’t have a cell phone.”

The Sheriff’s Office, especially the countywide dispatch center, has done a lot of work over more than a year to get AlertSense installed and working on its computers, Albee says. Dispatcher Sheila Bringhurst and Neil Johnson have gone through federally required training on the protocols for using IPAWS.

The AlertSense app is now downloaded on all cell phones carried by sheriff’s deputies, Search and Rescue volunteers, and mayors and county commissioners in the county.

The next step, Albee says, involves everybody else in Sanpete County. The Sheriff’s Office is launching a campaign to get rank-and-file citizens to go to the AlertSense website and sign up for email and/or text alerts, or to go the Google Play or the Apple App Store and download the free myAlerts mobile app.

The most basic level of participation is “public signup.” Anyone can go to When you click the button that says “Sign Up,” you’ll be asked to enter your name, street address, city and state, and any phones you want to use to receive alerts.

Everyone who signs up will receive alerts about crimes or imminent danger near where they live, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, and Amber Alerts about missing children.

Each individual has the option of receiving severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service. You can designate the types of weather alerts you want, such as severe thunderstorms, winter storm warnings and earthquakes.

The next option is signing up, but also downloading the myAlerts app. If you do that, rather than potentially receiving text-message alerts mixed in with other text messages, all alerts will come through the app.

You can choose two formats for receiving your messages. One format is like an email inbox. You open a list of alerts and click on the alert you want to read. The other format is a map with dots on it representing the location the alerts are about.     Conceivably, there could be a dot on Ephraim and a dot on Skyline Drive. You click on a dot to read an alert.

One extra feature of the myAlerts app is the ability to designate several locations of interest to you anywhere in the United States and receive alerts sent out by authorities in those locations.

The AlertSense materials give the example of a man in Boise, who designated his home in Boise, his mother’s home in St. George, his daughter’s home at her college in California, his office in Boise and his son’s school in Boise.

After setting up the locations on his app, he received a severe weather alert for St. George, where his mother lives.

As people sign up, either for emails and text, or download the app, there is another potential, Albee says.

The Sheriff’s Office can define groups to receive specific alerts. That’s what the office has already done with its own deputies, with Search and Rescue volunteers, and with mayors and commissioners. The office is the process of setting up a group of all volunteers with the Manti Ambulance Association and the Gunnison Valley Ambulance Association.

Once a group is defined, the dispatch center can send a message to everyone in the group. And the system is two-way. Members of the group text back and everyone in the group can read the texts.

As more people participate in public sign-up or download the app, it could be possible to send community messages to everyone in a given town. For instance, Manti City could have the Sheriff’s Office send out a message about a boil order for drinking water or even a reminder about the schedule for the Fourth of July celebration.

“That’s really the carrot to get city governments on board,” Albee says.

Although citizens need to sign up or download the app to get all the messages and alerts, AlertSense also gives the Sheriff’s Office the capability, in more serious situations, to reach everybody, whether they sign up or not.

With AlertSense, the dispatch center can define a geographic area and send a reverse 911 call to every landline in the area. The call is a recorded message informing people about a dangerous situation.

The Sheriff’s Office actually made such a call about a month ago to about 300 households and businesses in Mt. Pleasant after a mountain lion was spotted in the city.

Finally, if a situation is serious enough, the AlertSense system enables the Sheriff’s Office to send out an IPAWS message to cell phones within designated geographic parameters.

“You reach every cell phone that’s hitting a tower in a specific area,” Albee says. “We pick the towers and location.”

In an emergency, the Sheriff’s Office will still use its Twitter account, Facebook page, the radio and, as needed, the national Emergency Alert System (EAS), which sends information out on radio and television, Albee says.

But AlertSense is an important additional tool for getting information out, quickly and directly, to the people most affected by an emergency situation.

“Public information is really the crux of why we have it,” he says.











Software engineering bachelor’s degree will be available at Snow College


Alec Barton

Staff writer



OREM—Snow College will offer a bachelor’s degree in software engineering beginning next year.

The Utah State Board of Regents approved the degree program—Snow’s second four-year program, at a meeting at Utah Valley University last Friday, Nov. 18.

“This is a great day for Snow and for the economic development of our service district,” Dan Black, dean of natural science and mathematics, said moments after the program was approved.

Snow College becomes the first institution in Utah and only the 21st in the country to offer a degree in software engineering. The first set of graduates are expected in just two years, since approximately 15 students are ready to begin junior-level courses.

Kevin Christensen, director of economic development for Sanpete County, said the program will transform the Six County region.

“If we have this skilled labor that’s continually produced, over time it will give opportunities for local people,” he said.

Christensen said graduates of the program would leave Snow with the skills they needed to start their own software engineering firms. And businesses looking for skilled software developers would be drawn to Sanpete County and the Six County region.

“A lot of industries need to be in the city, but software development is something that can be anywhere,” he said. “It’s a good fit for our region.”

Snow College President Gary Carlston said the program would enable more young families to stay in Sanpete County. “People want to live in rural areas, and they want their kids to live in rural areas,” he said. “We’re hoping this opens a door for their kids to come back.”

Students in the degree program can choose one of three emphases: entrepreneurship, digital media design and web development.

Kristal Ray, a Snow faculty member who helped formulate the degree proposal, said there has been a concerted effort to align coursework with industry needs.

“The demand [for software engineers] is very high,” she said.

Ray said that software and web development are the two fastest growing fields in Utah. Since there are not enough Utah workers trained for these jobs, tech companies have to look outside the state to fill many positions.

For example, Ray said, Hill Air Force Base could hire every graduate of every tech program in Utah and still have positions that wouldn’t be filled.

The new degree should help tie Central Utah to the burgeoning tech economy of the Wasatch Front. The area along 1-15 near Thanksgiving Point has become known as the “Silicon Slopes” in popular media because of the concentration of tech companies there, notably a large Adobe site opened a few years ago.

Snow College began offering its first bachelor’s degree in commercial music in 2012. The program has had no trouble attracting students. Unlike classical music majors at many institutions, the Snow program emphasizes preparing students to market themselves and make a living in various music venues, including on-line music.

In order to maintain its status as a comprehensive community college, Snow can award no more than 10 percent of its degrees at the baccalaureate level. The bachelor of music degree currently accounts for about 3 percent of degrees awarded. The addition of degrees in software engineering degrees is not expected take the college up to the 10 percent threshold.

“We’re expecting 40 to 50 majors at the height of the program,” Steve Hood, academic vice president, said. Snow will hire two faculty members to support the program.

Under the direction of Garth Sorenson, associate professor of engineering and computer science, the college began exploring the possibility of a bachelor’s degree in computer science four years ago.

When Scott Wyatt, college president at the time, transferred to Southern Utah University, that process was put on hold.

Sorenson and his colleagues revisited the possibility when Carlston’s appointment as president was made official two years ago.

The college hired Ray, a PhD-level professor with “significant experience in software development,” Sorenson said, and the proposal evolved from a degree in computer science to a degree in software engineering.

Carlston said the new degree would provide exciting opportunities for the region while maintaining the school’s tradition as a two-year institution.

“Snow’s traditional roots are important, but we need to be thinking about how we can keep the college viable,” he said.

Regent Robert Prince, chair of the committee that approved the software engineering program, agreed.

“Snow College is unique,” he said. “This is one of the crown jewels of our system—different than anything else we have.”

Students can begin enrolling in the software engineering program next fall.

Gunnison faces opposition to Good Landlord Program
Regulations are costly and offer nothing in return, landlords say


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



GUNNISON—During the recent Gunnison City Council meeting, a number of residents spoke out passionately in opposition to the prospect of the Good Landlord Program being implemented in Gunnison.

The Nov. 16 meeting was meant to be the beginning of a dialogue about the program, an option created by the Utah Legislature to minimize criminal activity and blight in rentals.

Residents from both Gunnison and Centerfield came out in force to share their negative opinions about and experiences with the program.

“I’ve been renting houses out for about 30 years,” said Fred Harris, who owns rentals in Gunnison. “I’ve never had a problem the whole time, and I usually put the money I make back into the house so it keeps getting nicer and attracts even better renters.

“When someone starts telling me how I am supposed to handle my own rentals, it really bothers me. I’d just as soon sell them all off.  I have worked hard on them, invested money in them, borrowed money to buy some, but I don’t want someone else telling me what to do with them.

“I’ve screwed up once or twice and brought in a bad renter, and so does everybody else, but who pays for that? Me. But now you want me to pay someone else on top of that? I’m not trying to be ornery, but I just can’t get into that.”

Another opponent was Albert Parks of Gunnison. “I put a lot of work into my rental property,” Parks said. “It’s twice the house it was before I bought it. It’s just bad business if you bring this program in because no one is going to want to have rentals.

Parks continued, “I think if you drive around Gunnison and look for the 10 biggest eyesores, I’d be surprised if one of them will be a rental. It’s good business to take care of a rental because then the people in it will take good care of it, and if they don’t you can kick them out.

“Centerfield did this, and I didn’t care,” Parks said. “I wish I would have gone to their meetings now because I think it’s bad business and bad for the community.”

Councilman Andy Hill reminded the public in attendance that the meeting was an attempt to open a discussion about the program.

“In my opinion, there needs to be something in place,” Hill said, “whether it’s our regulation or a Good Landlord Program. We’re are not going to vote on anything tonight. We just wanted to start a dialogue.”

Centerfield resident Michelle Dally told the council she had rental properties in Gunnison and was strongly opposed to Gunnison enacting the same program her own town had.

Dally also told the council her husband, Dan Dally, was a councilman in Centerfield and that ousting the Good Landlord Program was part of his election platform. He was elected “pretty much to get rid of the Good Landlord Program there,” she said.

“It’s been a cancer,” Dally said. “It has split the city [Centerfield]. I know of several people who had rental properties in Centerfield that aren’t renting anymore. They couldn’t afford the Good Landlord Program, and it offered them nothing in return that they couldn’t have done themselves. Many of them put their rentals up for sale and left.”

“We police our own properties,” Dally said. “We make the (tenants) keep up the rentals like they should. I don’t think we should be forced to do background checks on anyone if we are already comfortable renting to them.”

Dally told the council that the Good Landlord Program could be a detriment to staffing at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. “If the program puts the few rentals you have out of business, people who want to rent in Gunnison while they work at the prison won’t be able to,” Dally said. “And if they can’t get a rental, they’ll never buy a house here to settle down for good.”

Jay Clayton, who owns a business in Centerfield, said,  “This program has not worked in Centerfield. It’s a bad, bad program that does not help renters or business owners. The only people it helped was the police force.

“This is like when the mafia comes in looking for protection money. They call it extortion, but Utah calls it the Good Landlord Program. It’s the lesser of the two extortions, but don’t go into this blindly.”

After listening to the comments, Mayor Bruce Blackham said, “I’m getting a strong sense from the opinions in this room that this program might not be a good fit for Gunnison.”

Councilman Hill asked the public in attendance if there was anything the city could help them with that they wouldn’t feel was the city meddling in their business.

“If this program isn’t helpful, is there something out there that would help you?” he said. “Obviously you’re passionate about this. We don’t want to stifle growth at all. If there is something we can do to help you as a group, we want to know.”

Gunnison resident Terry Madsen said, “How about a tax incentive for the real good landlords that do keep things good with their rentals?”

Councilman Thayne Carlisle spoke up, saying, “We won’t go into this blindly, I assure you. I believe Salina was the first to start this in our area and then came Centerfield, but that does not mean Gunnison has to. We want to hear and look at both sides of the matter.

“Andy (Hill) has already addressed this, but we do not want to hamper growth here,” Carlisle said. “We want good people to move here and we want the city to grow. It’s not something we are going to rush into, and we are very grateful that you guys have come here to express your opinions. This is awesome.”

Officer Tyler Donaldson of the Gunnison City Police Department said Centerfield started the program because of crime problems among tenants in the community.

“We don’t really have a crime problem in our rentals here in Gunnison. In the four years I have been here now, I would not say there has been a disproportionate number of calls to rentals. I know the council will take factors like this into account, and although I am not a landlord, so this doesn’t affect me, I do know Gunnison is not Centerfield, and so does the council.”

The council decided to table the idea until members could educate themselves further on how the Good Landlord Program has impacted other cities and how it might impact Gunnison.





 Joel Warren, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) consultant for Jones and Demille Engineering, talks with a visitor at an open house on a Sanpete Resource Management Plan now being developed. The open house was held Nov. 10 at the Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview.

Joel Warren, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) consultant for Jones and Demille Engineering, talks with a visitor at an open house on a Sanpete Resource Management Plan now being developed. The open house was held Nov. 10 at the Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview.

Visitors learn about resource
planning effort at open house


Suzanne Dean





FAIRVIEW—A recent open house at the Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview offered the first peek at an effort to develop a Sanpete County Resource Management Plan (RMP).

The open house was held Nov. 10 in conjunction with a Mayors and Commissioners meeting. Most of the attendees were mayors and commissioners who stopped by before going to their separate meeting next door at the Fairview City Hall.

Rural Community Consultants, the Utah County company that is developing the Sanpete RMP as well as RMPs for other counties in the Six County Association of Governments, set up displays, passed out handouts and directed visitors to a website set up for the planning effort, A couple of the company’s technical experts were available to answer questions.

Rural Community Consultants is a subsidiary of Jones and Demille Engineering of Richfield, a company familiar to many rural Utahns because it does engineering for many local municipal projects.

Utah law has long required counties to prepare and update general plans. Those plans talk about human trends and activities, such as population, the economy, roads, parks and land use. The last Sanpete County General Plan was approved in 2010.

In 2015, the Utah Legislature passed House Bill 210, “Resource Management Planning,” requiring counties to add substantial chapters to their general plans addressing the natural environment.

The act was sponsored by Rep. Kevin Stratton, R-Orem, and Sen. Ralph Okerland, R-Monroe, who represents Sanpete County. The 2015 act was amended slightly in 2016.

Passage of the act reflects the fact that “many lives are impacted by water quality, oils, rangelands, timber and even noxious weeds,” says Shannon Ellsworth of Rural Community Consultants, project manager for the Sanpete RMP.

The law requires counties to get down to the nitty-gritty. The RMPs must address 28 specific topics, everything from wild and scenic rivers, to predator control, to “cultural, historical, geological and paleontological resources.”

One of the first times the Sanpete County Commission talked about the RMP was in October, 2015, about eight months after passage of House Bill 210.

“This is a huge project to get our heads around,” Commission Chairman Claudia Jarrett said at the time.

Recently, the county commission took its first formal action on the RMP . On Oct. 18, it adopted a motion opening up the 2010 general plan for a future amendment, which will be the RMP when complete.

A public notice published prior to the Oct. 18 meeting said Rural Community Consultants would “establish any relevant findings, …establish clearly defined objectives, and… outline general policies and guidelines on how these objectives are to be accomplished.”

The materials distributed at the Peterson Dance Hall open house offered only a thumbnail sketch of the ultimate RMP. The handouts gave just a few paragraphs on most of the 28 topics, including defining the topic and identifying “management and influencers” in the topic area.

Notably, the handouts identified 24 local, federal and state agencies that exercise “influence” over resources in Sanpete County. They ranged from the USDA and EPA, to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

For information beyond what was available at the open house, visitors were directed to the website, At the site, people can take online surveys on topics of their choice.

The surveys will be active on the site until mid-January, 2017, Ellsworth said. Another open house will be held sometime during the winter, possibly in February, 2017.

The final RMP will be developed between the first of the year and mid summer. A final public hearing will be held prior to adoption by the Sanpete County Commission. HB 210 requires all counties to adopt RMPs by August, 2017.

After adoption, the Sanpete RMP will be submitted to the Governor’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office (PLPCO) and folded into a statewide plan, Ellsworth said. (PLPCO is the same office charged with advocating for state takeover of federal lands in Utah.)


Solar power surcharge brings heated debate


Matt Harris

Staff writer




MANTI—Roughly 45 minutes of heated debate ensued over last month’s establishment of a surcharge on solar production capacity in the city of Manti.

Manti is home to four rooftop solar owners: Jim and Shannon Miller, Edward and Sherril England, David and Crystal Hall and Katelon Grant. Shannon Miller, the Englands and Grant presented their opposition to the surcharge before Manti City Council last Wednesday night. They said the surcharge only tells one side of the story.

In October of this year, the Utah Municipal Power Agency (UMPA) conducted a study to determine the suggested rate surcharge for solar users who remain on the city power grid. The initial recommendation for Manti by UMPA was 3.25 dollars per unit of kilowatt capacity per month. To maintain consistency with surrounding municipalities, the council chose to reduce the monthly charge to 3 dollars, a charge adopted by other communities in Sanpete. The motion was unanimously accepted on Oct. 5.

Solar owners in Manti, with Edward England as their spokesperson, expressed their dissatisfaction with the rate charge on their net-metering systems. UMPA’s study, Edward England said, was only a rate review to preserve revenue in the wake of solar power’s rise in popularity in the energy industry.

“The study conducted by UMPA fails to discuss the benefits of solar in Manti,” he said. The point he proposed, however, was not necessarily to overturn the charge, but to allow more study on both sides of the issue to take place before making a decision.

“We are not here to argue,” he said as he began his presentation, but civil discussion turned warmer as both sides remained unyielding in their positions.

“We were surprised that they seemed to have their minds made up,” Miller said. “We just wish there could be more discussion.”

More discussion on the same issue has happened in other municipalities in the state of Utah. Miller’s group specifically cited two cities, Provo and Kaysville, whose councils had heavily debated the problem.

Mayor Korry Soper led the defense of the council’s decision, stating that the council does not believe the UMPA study ignores the benefits of solar energy in the city. “We have absolutely nothing against solar power,” Soper said. “It’s a big part of the future of our country.”

He said the main idea behind the surcharge is to capture maintenance and labor costs perhaps lost by solar energy production in the net-metering system. Rooftop solar energy production essentially feeds into the net meter, pushing the dial in the opposite direction and feeding power back into the grid.

“We simply want to keep other citizens from footing the bill,” Soper said.

After much debate from both sides, the council and the solar group agreed to discuss the matter further, assisted by solar energy experts assumedly from UMPA. There is no timetable for when this meeting will take place as of yet. Until then, the surcharge remains in place for Manti solar owners.


Bill Mickelson (center), his wife Carla (left) and his sister May Peterson have been chosen as a family trio to serve as grand marshals of the annual Manti City Christmas Light Parade.

Bill Mickelson (center), his wife Carla (left) and his sister May Peterson have been chosen as a family trio to serve as grand marshals of the annual Manti City Christmas Light Parade.

Manti names Christmas light parade grand marshals


Jennifer Johnson

Staff writer




MANTI—Manti City has named three grand marshals for its annual Christmas light parade November 25, and it’s going to be a family affair. The honored participants will be Carla and Bill Mickelson and May Peterson (Bill Mickelson’s sister).

All three have spent a significant portion of their lives in Manti, and each one has become a pillar of the community. As they have raised families in Sanpete, they have found ways to serve and become involved.

Carla Mickelson has contributed to education in the area by working as a substitute teacher for many years and spending more than two years teaching reading at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.

“I taught the inmates how to read, those that didn’t know, and for those that did know, we practiced reading,” Carla Mickelson said. “That was really interesting.”

She said she is looking forward to riding the grand marshal float. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity, and I’ll be glad to do it.”

Bill Mickelson worked for Manti City for more than 30 years before retiring. He spent much of that time as the city administrator.

After graduating from Manti High School, attending Snow College and Utah State University and serving in the Army National Guard for eight years, he eventually returned to Manti and started working for the city.

“It’s really been fun,” he said. “Great community, great people. They tolerated me. That made it worthwhile.”

Former mayor Barbara Wintch said Bill Mickelson worked to help Manti be fiscally responsible. And, she said, he served the people of the town.

“Bill (Mickelson) always had the interest of Manti at heart,” Wintch said. “He cared about what happened in the community. Always.”

Bill Mickelson’s older sister May Peterson has become a part of Manti’s history much like her brother and sister-in-law have. She was the first female mayor of Manti City, serving from 1986 to 1990. Of her time as mayor, Peterson modestly acknowledged, “We accomplished a few things.”

Peterson was involved in electrical projects and moving to a new City Hall. Wintch said she made a big difference in helping the city save money and avoid debt.

“She wanted the best for Manti,” Wintch said.

Peterson was born in Manti but lived in northern Utah for much of her childhood. After attending Brigham Young University and working at Geneva Steel during World War II, she came back to Manti and has been there since. Her family has lived in the community for many years.

“I had ancestors on both lines and my parents who were Manti people, so it’s just a very comfortable situation around friends and family,” she said.

Peterson and the Mickelsons will ride in the Christmas lig

Spring City Mayor Jack Monnett (left) and Spring City DUP members Carla Nelson (center) and Cherrie Barrow participate in the ribbon cutting at the rededication ceremony for the newly restored historic DUP monument on Main Street in Spring City.

Spring City Mayor Jack Monnett (left) and Spring City DUP members Carla Nelson (center) and Cherrie Barrow participate in the ribbon cutting at the rededication ceremony for the newly restored historic DUP monument on Main Street in Spring City.

Spring City’s restored spring
monument rededicated last week


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



SPRING CITY — Residents of Spring City braved the cold weather on Friday, Nov. 11 to see Mayor Jack Monnett and members of the local Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) rededicate the town’s newly restored historic spring monument during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We are meeting here today to commemorate, remember and rededicate this spring and monument for those pioneers of this sacred valley who have gone before us,” Monnett said.

The Spring City DUP spearheaded the monument’s restoration. It was funded in part with a grant from the Mormon Pioneer Heritage Highway Area, along with matching funds from their organization and the city itself.

International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers representative Kathy Brimhall visited to speak to the local DUP members at the ceremony.

“Thank you, daughters, for honoring your heritage and preserving your past,” Brimhall said. “Your efforts write a significant chapter in the history of Spring City.”

Although some might consider the monument modest in appearance, the amount of work that went into its restoration was substantial.

“The city put endless hours into this,” Spring City DUP captain Carla Nelson said. “So many things were repaired and put right. We are so grateful for all the support we have received.”

The restoration process included refurbishing the original bronze plaque, constructing new sidewalk, adding curbing, dealing with underground gasoline lines, updating the plumbing, adding a railing and lamp, topping the monument off with a new capstone, sealing the cement and stone and attaching two new plaques.

“This day you’ve further documented the history of this life-giving spring with the addition of two new plaques,” Brimhall said. “I commend those involved with the restoration.”

The spring, sometimes referred to as the Old Spring, was originally proposed in 1949 by President Oscar A. Kirkham of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“From that time forward,” Monnett said, “the Canal Creek Company and the North Sanpete District of the DUP have donated their time, labor and funds to erect and maintain this monument for posterity to embrace our local pioneer heritage.”

Monnett closed his dedication by saying, “We dedicate this spring and monument as tokens of our love to those who come to read the attached plaques, admire the crafted oolite stone and sip the crystal water.”

Residents pack public hearing for bowery variance


Daniela Vasquez

Staff writer



FOUNTAIN GREEN — Following a packed public hearing, the Fountain Green City Council referred the Sheep Show Committee back to the Board of Adjustment to make another request for a variance for a proposed bowery in the city park.

The Sheep Show Committee is comprised mostly of parents who help kids host the youth sheep show and auction during Lamb Days every July.

Last month, members of the panel met with the board to seek a variance to build a new bowery with the same 10-foot setback from the street as another bowery in the park. That bowery went in years ago, so the shorter setback is grandfathered in. The variance is now required because the city zoning ordinance requires a 25-foot setback.

The board recommended approval of the variance. But at a subsequent city council meeting, all council members voted for Councilman Jerime Ivory’s motion to deny the variance because proper procedures were not followed in initial review of the variance request.

Sheep Show Committee member Amy Oliver said the committee had requested the 10-foot setback for reasons that go beyond aesthetics, contrary to what some residents suggested at a meeting last month.

“We don’t want to push it farther into the park and take away from the gathering space and where kids play around during baseball games,” she said.

She also said the bowery would serve as a shaded holding area for sheep during the two-day Lamb Days event and give residents and visitors another place to host family events in at other times.

“It’s not just for us,” Oliver said. “I just want to clarify that it’s for everyone. We realize the sheep show is just a couple of days, but we had issues with people who told us their sheep need shade during those hot days….It’s for the safety of the animals.”

But another woman at the public hearing said, “The sheep are there for one-and-a-half, maybe two days, and I’m sorry, but they don’t really care if they have shade or not because they’re getting slaughtered the next day.”

Most residents who opposed the variance expressed concerns about taking away more grass that children play on. “Once you pour concrete, it’s really hard to take it away,” one resident said.

While some residents suggested getting more tables to use in various facets of the Lamb Days celebration and storing them in the new bowery, others argued turning the new bowery into a storage facility would take away from its function as a site for gatherings at times other than Lamb Days.

Bryan Allred, chairman of the planning and zoning commision, read from the zoning ordinance the five conditions that must be met before a variance can be granted:

  • Enforcement of the ordinance as written would cause an unreasonable hardship.
  • Special property circumstances apply that do not apply to other properties.
  • A variance is essential to the enjoyment of substantial property rights possessed by other properties in the same district.
  • The variance will not substantially affect the general plan.
  • The variance will respect the spirit of the zoning ordinance.

Allred said he was not opposed to the bowery but simply wanted to ensure the council followed the ordinance presently on the books.

Ivory said he had no intention of proposing any change in the ordinance itself to reduce the 25-foot setback requirement. He said he wanted the committee to meet with the board of adjustments to request a variance for the bowery alone.

“If it goes in that direction, it will be for this particular structure, period,” he said. “Not for everything that follows.”

“The big thing is (the 25-foot setback) would push the bowery farther into the park,” Councilman Scott Collard said. “That’s why it’s better (with a 10-foot setback) and why there is a variance being asked for. If you put it in the middle (of the park), it takes up more space. We could discuss it on and on. I call for a vote to send this to the board of adjustments for the bowery as it has been proposed.”

The council agreed, except Ivory, who said the Sheep Show Committee and the city should consider a temporary solution.










Residents invited to ‘very important’ meeting
to discuss future of Mt. Pleasant power dept.


Suzanne Dean



MT. PLEASANT—Mt. Pleasant City has scheduled what city officials describe as “a very important town hall meeting” on Tuesday, Dec. 6 to discuss the future of the Mt. Pleasant Power Department.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at city hall, 115 W. Main. The public is invited.

Mayor David Blackham said city staff and the city council started talking about whether the city could continue to sustain a power department back when Sandra Bigler was mayor. When Blackham took office in January 2014, he continued the discussions and analysis.

The gathering next Tuesday will an “exploratory meeting” to get community input on the status of Mt. Pleasant’s power system, Blackham said.

The city power superintendent will make a presentation discussing the assets, future infrastructure needs and financial status of the Power Department.

Rocky Mountain Power will also be there to give an independent assessment of the power system.

Blackham said, “I have exercised due diligence in assessing the future as it relates to the costs of operating and maintaining a power system and delivering electricity to our citizens as efficiency and cheaply as possible.”

He said he had consulted with industry experts and wants all of the residents of Mt. Pleasant involved in making decisions based on objective analysis and geared toward the best interests of all residents.

“We want to place the Power Department in the broader context of city services in general, including the current debt service the city is carrying,” the mayor said.

The shared Salina-Gunnison Airport is slated to receive repairs to its runway with the help of a grant from the Utah Department of Transportation.

The shared Salina-Gunnison Airport is slated to receive repairs to its runway with the help of a grant from the Utah Department of Transportation.

Saline-Gunnison Airport awarded
$90,000 for runway repairs


Robert Stevens

Managing editor




GUNNISON — Gunnison City has lined up a grant from the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to help pay for maintenance costs at the Salina-Gunnison Airport.

The grant was discussed during the Nov. 16 Gunnison City Council meeting. Councilman Robert Anderson oulined the grant’s details to the other council members and to Gunnison Mayor Bruce Blackham.

“UDOT has this money available periodically, and they’ve really worked really well with a number of the rural airports,” Anderson said.

He told the council that UDOT had adopted airport runways into some of the areas available for state assistance grants to help cover repair costs.

The grant would consist of $90,000 in funding from UDOT on the condition that both Gunnison City and Salina City agree to put $5,000 each toward the repair project as well.

Anderson said that Salina had already committed to their end of the deal. With $3,500 currently already in the budget for repairs, the city would need to pay only another $1,500 to get a total of $100,000 to use for airport repairs, specifically improving the condition of the runway.

“They need to know soon that both parties are going to put in their share,” Anderson said.

He suggested the city use the money they had budgeted to pay for membership in the Economic Development Corporation program, because they had decided in a previous meeting not to renew the city’s membership.

The council also discussed the possibility of part of the $5,000 coming from some in-kind work donations from a resident.

The proposal passed and the council voted to move forward with the grant and committed to contribute $5,000 along with Salina’s $5,000 to qualify for the UDOT repair funding grant.


Sanpete Pantry thanks Norbest and others


We are writing to express our appreciation for the recent donation to the Sanpete Pantry by Norbest of Moroni.  The generous folks at Norbest have supported the Pantry for years, making possible our ability to continue our mission of providing supplemental foodstuffs to those in need.

Norbest has again this year made a donation to the Pantry of turkeys in time for the holidays.

With their continuing support over the years, Norbest has demonstrated their deep commitment to our Sanpete Community. The support of Norbest has repeatedly played a key role in making the holidays a less stressful time for our neighbors in need.

We at the Sanpete Pantry are continually inspired by the generosity of the people of Sanpete County, whether it be through donations of food, time or money.

Thank you Norbest and our fellow Sanpeters.



Sanpete Pantry

Board of Directors


Thanks Dean for opinion on Trump


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to express my gratitude for Suzanne Dean’s integrity in expressing a relatively unpopular opinion in her “Publisher’s Perspective” piece condemning Trump. Thank you for your commitment to the truth.

Susan Murdoch,


Wants low-income housing in Sanpete


Talk about compassion. The City of Ephraim is kicking people out of the local trailer park during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. And, if they do not move out soon enough, the city will cut off their lights and heat during the coldest time of year.

Where will these people go? The county has prohibited the building of affordable and low-income housing for years.

It is time for the county to repeal the ordinance and allow affordable and low-income housing to be built in the county.

Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot. The Sanpete County treasurer gave $37,000 to a scam artist. $100 lost is a mistake; $37,000 is malfeasance. The county then spent more time and money to try to get some of that money back.

What do the voters do? Vote straight Republican and put her right back into office. So, every time we give money to the treasurer’s office we can ask ourselves: will this money go to a scam artist or to someone else it should not go to? The answer is: eventually.


Benton Petersen,


Ephraim author Dustin Hansen just released a book on video game history titled "Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac Man to Minecraft, and more" based on expertise he gained from spending more than two decades working in the video game industry.

Ephraim author Dustin Hansen just released a book on video game history titled “Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac Man to Minecraft, and more” based on expertise he gained from spending more than two decades working in the video game industry.


[Read more…]

Author, poet and painter Sue Jensen Weeks on property in Spring City that has been in her family for six generations.

Author, poet and painter Sue Jensen Weeks on property in Spring City that has been in her family for six generations.

Spring City poet, artist garners honors from Utah Arts Council


Linda Peterson

Staff writer



SPRING CITY—Sue Jensen-Weeks’ poetry is a reflection of her life. And despite her protests to the contrary, it’s been an interesting one.
As a sixth-generation Spring City resident, Weeks’ roots are burrowed deep in the clay Sanpete soil. It’s a heritage she is proud of and one that provides fuel for her work.
But Weeks has also spent parts of her life in much farther locales. The daughter of Melvin Lamont Jensen, a research scientist who got his PhD from the University of Utah, Weeks has lived as far afield as Oslo, Norway and Edinburgh, Scotland.

During her early childhood, the family lived in Salt Lake City and visited their relatives in Spring City and Ephraim often. Weeks describes her mother, Kathleen Paulsen Jensen, who came from Fairview and Ephraim, as “quite creative.”
“I was very fortunate to have a mother who encouraged the study of arts and music,” she said.
Weeks graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in film making. She started out in film and screen writing, writing for many documentaries including some about Sanpete County, which showed at film festivals in Krakow, Poland and England and later at Snow College.
For many years, while she raised her two sons, Tyler and Jesse, she lived full-time in Salt Lake City. During that time she spent many years helping in the fine arts programs in Salt Lake schools. These days, she splits her time equally between Salt Lake and Spring City. When in Spring City, she lives on property that has been in her family for six generations.
While doing family history research, Weeks discovered that her great-great-grandfather James Tillman Sanford Allred was a participant in the Circleville Massacre.
She eventually wrote a book about the subject, “How Desolate Our Home Bereft of Thee: James Tillman Sanford Allred and the Circleville Massacre,” which took first place for creative nonfiction in a Utah Arts Council contest and was published in 2014.
“I felt it incumbent upon me to continue the research and write this narrative,” she said of the book about her great-great-grandfather.
In their later years, Weeks’ parents settled in Spring City in the family home on Center Street. Her mother passed away in 2009. Her father followed in 2010, dying, Weeks said, “in the room he was born in.”
Throughout her life, Weeks has always written but has been especially drawn to express herself in poetry.
She is also a visual artist who paints in oil and water colors and has an extensive exhibition record, including exhibits at the Granary Art Center in Ephraim.
“I enjoy writing because it refreshes one’s mind,” she said. “For me, it serves as a mental sherbert. It helps me focus and play with words in such a delicious manner.
Her body of work includes three to four volumes of poems, with about 60 poems in each.
One of those manuscripts titled, “Barn Burning,” is a 70-page narrative inspired by Sanpete County life.
“There’s a commonality to my aesthetic experience that others might recognize,” she said. “One’s heritage is so informative.”
Weeks recently received honorable mention in the 2016 Utah Original Writing Competition for a book length collection of poems, “Four by Six,” of which judge Lola Haskins said, “It carries an elegance most don’t have.”
“I was so honored,” Weeks said. “I have to tip my hat to the judge who wrote two pages of commentary about my work… I thank her so much.”
One of her favorite poems is “Grandma’s Store,” inspired by her time working in her grandmother Caroline Marie Brady Paulsen’s store in Ephraim.
It starts out:
Was dry goods and groceries and penny candy jars.
Whose windows she decorated froe very holiday
In different colored crepe paper streamers
And flowers
For the occasion and to get the flowers out of the window.”
Another passage speaks of the pastime of her grandmother in her old age:
“…she’s writing a history of the place
She’s lived all her life. About pioneers.
Which she was too young to be completely
So she belongs to the Daughters of the Pioneers
Which counts as much as being one
Because they have meetings to talk about them
And dress up like them once a year and write about them
In their family history books.”
Another of her poems, “Now That You’re Old and Alone” was recently chosen for inclusion in the Utah Poetry Society 2015 Anthology “Utah Sings” which is published every 10 years.
Now that you’re old and alone
And seated just so
As not to wake
And see the emptiness of waiting for your children
Today you are older
And still waiting and
Nodding to sleep and waiting
For a blue horse to ride
Rather than the blue rocking chair
And you rock the blue
The deep felted blue
The deepest felted blue
Of feeling seated waiting
Rocking for your children.
Weeks prefers not to comment on her poetry specifically.
“I hope my poems speak for themselves because they take a lot of work to craft,” she said.
Always working, Weeks said she carries a notebook and a sketchbook with her wherever she goes. “Sometimes I’ll write a complete poem. Other times, it’s just notes,” she said. “I work in different manners.”
“I’m not only engaged in the writing process; I’m also focused on how it looks,” she said.
Her sons, Jesse and Tyler Weeks, while not following totally in their mother’s footsteps, have obviously been nourished by their home environment.
For many years, Jesse Weeks wrote for the Hudson Reporter, the newspaper covering Hudson County, N.J. just across the Hudson River from New York City. These days he is a restaurant owner in New Jersey.
Tyler Weeks, who majored in film and received a screen writing scholarship from the Utah Film Society, works for KSL News. He and a friend, Willie Nevins, co-edited a creative writing magazine for several years. which received a Best in State award in 2010.
The brothers try to return to their roots in Sanpete often. In fact, Weeks and Tyler will carry on the family tradition of going into the forest and cutting down the family tree in the coming days.
Weeks hopes for a future where she can “continue working and enjoying the creative process.”
Although she finds her heritage rich in inspiration, she is reluctant to talk about herself.
“I’m not that interesting,” she said.
Based on her work and her life story, others would beg to differ.