Archives for December 2016

James Jacobsen

James Jacobsen

James Jacobsen

James Dewey Jacobsen passed away on Dec. 19, 2016 surrounded by his family.

Jim was born Oct. 17, 1942 to Bernard and Betty Jacobsen in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.  He married Nancy Louise Woodside on June 14, 1963.  Together they have three children, Wade (Diane) Nephi Utah, Annette Taylor (Kevin) Moroni, Utah, and Natalie Jacobsen (Deceased).  They have six grandchildren, Kevin, Colby, Cameron, Jordan, Camie, and Hannah.  They have seven great-grandchildren with an 8th due this month.

Jim loved life.  He spent years working with the youth in Moroni with various activities.  He also loved camping and being with his family.  Jim’s greatest joy in life was supporting his kids, grandchildren and serving others.  He was also very supportive of North Sanpete High School and Juab High School athletics.

Jim is well known for his sheep shearing abilities and is well thought of around the State of Utah in the sheep industry.  He worked hard his whole life.  Jim especially loved Nancy and her happiness was always on his mind. Jim will always be remembered for his kind acts, lawn mowers and dogs.  The family would like to thank Dr. Jim Rosenbeck and the Central Valley Medical Center for their patience and professional care.  A very special thanks to Gary and Jeff Richards and the people at Sanpete Steel for their love and friendship, you added quality years to his life.

Preceded in death by his parents (Bernard and Betty), brother (Don) and his daughter (Natalie).  Funeral services with be Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 in the Moroni Stake Center at 11 a.m. with a viewing from 9:30-10:30 a.m. prior to the funeral.  A viewing will also be held Thursday, Dec. 22 from 6-8 p.m. in the Moroni Stake Center.  Interment in the Moroni City Cemetery. Online condolence rasmussenmortuary.com.

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson

Eric Victor Anderson, 63, of Manti, passed away on Dec. 19, 2016.

He was born on Oct. 4, 1953 to Lloyd Victor and Audrey Elaine Anderson in Long Beach, California. The second of six children, Eric was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis soon after birth, a disease that for many would have curtailed their possibilities and their future.

For Eric, this was not the case, and he went on to achieve the impossible, over and over again. From playing Cowboys and Indians as a boy, to excelling in the Army ROTC program during college, and serving a full-time mission, nothing could hold him back. After serving in the Florida South Mission, he returned to the Missionary Training Center as a teacher and there met Arlene, Marie Daley. They were married in the Manti Temple for time and all eternity on Aug. 23, 1986.

In Hawaii, fatherhood soon followed, bringing into his life his four beloved children: EricRoss, Makenna, Ethan, and Malia. On the islands, he continued his lifetime love of learning, which included interests in Hawaiian history, the Chinese language, and the Boy Scouts of America.

Following his years in Hawaii, Eric and his family relocated to Texas where his love of scouting continued, this time as an Executive with the BSA. Just as he did in Hawaii, Eric loved his time with the people of Texas and moved to Utah not knowing what the future held. Returning to Manti where he was married many years before, Eric again came to love the people of Utah and enjoyed his service in this wonderful community.

Some might think that death at 63 was far too young, that he was robbed of precious time. The reality is that his faith, hard work, and perseverance laid the foundation for the miracle of his extended life. The number one constant in Eric’s life is his commitment to God, which was evidenced by a level of consecration that is rarely seen.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Rebekah Lousie Anderson. He is survived by his wife Arlene, his children EricRoss (Anela), Makenna, Ethan, and Malia, and his two grandsons, Kainoa and Kala’i. He is also survived by his siblings, Rachel Cresswell (Lyn), Scott Bradley Anderson, Jeffrey Anderson, and Emilie Andrews (David).

Funeral services will be held on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 at 11 a.m. in the Manti Stake Center. A viewing will be held prior to services from 9-10:30 a.m.

Burial will be in the Manti City Cemetery. Funeral Directors: Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti. Online guestbook at www.maglebymortuary.com.

Toris Phillips

Toris Phillips

Toris Phillips

Toris Velma Bown Phillips passed away peacefully at her eldest daughter’s home in California on Dec. 12, 2016.

She is survived by her children (Toris Jaeger (Orinda, California), Mark Jaeger (Murry, Utah), Terrsa McBee Salt Lake, Utah), Debi Prisbrey (Vernal, Utah), Dana Jaffe (Sonoma Calif), Naomi Phillips (Glenside, Pennsylvania), Timothy Anderson (Denver, Co) and her many grandchildren.

Velma was the daughter of Erna Larsen and Lenard Bown born Sept. 28, 1924 in Fayette Utah. She was a native of Sanpete County and her heart remains at her families Flat Canyon ranch – outside of Gunnison. She spent her later years living in her Mother’s home in Manti.

To honor our mother and grandmother, our family will be holding a “Celebration of Life” in May. We will send a community invitation at that time.

North Sanpete School District planning mock active shooter exercise

 

By Daniela Vazquez

Education coordinator

12-22-2016

MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School Board meeting held on Dec. 13 touched on various topics that will influence how students prepare for possible future catastrophes, as well as the future of district energy plans.

Come spring, high school students might participate in a community mock casualty exercise, an addition to an exercise first launched on campus by local officers on Dec. 10.

Nan Ault, North Sanpete High School Principal, said a local physician at Sanpete Valley Hospital had told her he was on the path to find a mock mass casualty crisis the community could participate in so everyone would know how to respond to a crisis, most likely an active “shooter situation.”

“If we do this, we need to have the hospital coordinate with our first responders, our officers, to make sure the event is well planned and something everyone benefits from,” she said.

District Superintendent Dr. Sam Ray says if they move forward with the plan, he and the board will need assurance that district administrators are comfortable with the exercise before allowing students to participate.

School Board President Rich Brotherson and North Sanpete High Principal Nan Ault both made approving statements, agreeing the experience would be beneficial for youth.

“The more the student’s practice, the better they will be able to respond in real-life situations without adults standing right by their sides,” Ault said.

Thus far, the hospital, local officers and the district are in preliminary discussion about the mock casualty exercise.

But in a less ominous discussion, and after several months of negotiating with the Mt. Pleasant Recreation Department, the board has agreed to allow the Mt. Pleasant Volleyball League the use of the old Mt. Pleasant Elementary gym for their games.

In October, Stephanie Blaine, Mt. Pleasant recreation manager, had asked high school administration to allow city volleyball players the use of the high school gym during the winter.

Ault raised concerns saying it could create various issues, such as wear and tear on schools floors, the requirement for extra or overtime janitorial staff to clean-up after the weekly events and, ultimately, it would require an administrator to be present during the games.

Ray said he had recently been in contact with Mayor David H. Blackham on the matter.  Blackham supported the use of the Pleasant Creek gym for volleyball since it is closer to the armory, it can be used multiple nights of the week and the cost to the city for custodial is much less than custodial and admin supervision required at the high school.

The board has reached out to Blain on approval for the use of the gym and is currently awaiting her response.

In other news, Eric Thatcher, senior sales executive at Siemens Energy, stood before the board with an update on the district’s energy conservation plan and new equipment for schools.

The district has contracted with a third-party engineer, Jones and DeMille, to double check all of the Siemens engineering calculations and to represent the district in the negotiation process.

Thatcher advised the board that they will need to include a bond resolution as part of the application for the qualified energy conservation bond they are seeking and that the best approach will be to use the county as the conduit for such a bond. He says that any conduit used will want the district to have bond counsel while as they navigate through the bonding process.

“We’re working with the state to clarify [the necessity for bond council],” Thatcher told the board. “For your situation, you just find out whether the appropriation is something you can or can’t do. You just need to know if they can approve it, and they just might need the terms for that.”

Thatcher also said Siemens is currently working out those terms to get the “thumbs-up” before the district invests any money into crafting the bond, although it could be a few weeks before the process is complete.

Another consideration, Thatcher says, is the Blue Sky program, a renewable energy program launched by Rocky Mountain Power. He claims his team has made a “bold” decision in asking Blue Sky to fund 75 percent of the solar upgrades, which will account for over $1 million in overall funding.

He says the district meets most of the criteria Blue Sky requires, largely by the rural economic disadvantage of the area and because of the plan to implement solar and solar energy storage units in schools.

If Mt. Pleasant City Power Company ever decides to sell to Rocky Mountain Power, Thatcher says “there is future potential” that the high school will become eligible for a separate, and possibly more substantial, funding for Blue Sky.

With the bonding in motion and the proposal for Jones and Demille to act as the third-party reviewer, the board is well on their way to reaching their energy conservation goal while updating the aging infrastructure and providing 21st Century STEM training for students at the same time.

South Sanpete School District amends back to school date to Jan. 3

 

By Lloyd Call

Associate publisher

12-22-2016

 

MANTI — Despite what the published South Sanpete School District calendar said previously, school will start after the Christmas vacation on Tuesday, Jan. 3, instead of Monday, Jan. 2. Jan. 2 is the official holiday for New Year’s Day, which falls on Sunday this year.

District superintendent Kent Larsen apologized for the scheduling oversight at the district board meeting in Manti last Wednesday. The board voted to use one of its discretional legislatively mandated “days” and will use the Monday, Jan. 2 for professional development, rather than make other drastic changes to the school schedule.

“This means students don’t come to school until Tuesday, Jan. 3,” Larsen said.

The South Sanpete School District continues to graduate nearly 90 percent of its high school students, compared with the state rate of about 85 percent.

For the state, high school graduate rates went from 83 to 84 to 85 percent in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively. By comparison, Gunnison Valley High School had rates of 95 percent, 91 percent, and 92 percent, respectively. Manti High School rates were 90 percent, 94 percent, and 92 percent over the same time period.

Board members complimented both high schools for maintaining high graduation rates.

The board also bid farewell to Kathy Frandsen, who has served as on the board for eight years. The resolution by the district reads, “Resolved that during Kathy Frandsen’s  tenure as board member, student academic achievement in the South Sanpete School District has steadily increased to a level that is outstanding for any Utah School District.”

“Other significant accomplishments over the past eight years include the completion of a more than $25-million building program, which has resulted in two modern state-of-the-art elementary schools in both Ephraim and Gunnison; a $5-million stand-alone addition and remodel to Manti Elementary; a $2.5-million kitchen/cafeteria addition to Manti High School; a design and completion of the new soccer complex at Manti High School; and implementing the 1-to-1 Device Initiative.

“Kathy Frandsen has made a lasting impact toward ensuring a school system dedicated to excellence and leaves behind a rich legacy of competence and concern for the school children of the South Sanpete School District,” read the resolution.

Board member Gary Olson told the board that Craig Oberg, with CO Building Systems in Ephraim, had approached him about the possibility of funding or helping fund drafting classes for high school students. Oberg said that the area was seeing a lack of qualified and trained people in an area critical to his business. The board considered several options to take back to Oberg.

Manti Elementary principal Karen Soper reported to the board that the district’s elementary schools were using the “Power Hour” program to improve student performance. Comparing benchmark DIBEL (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) test results, all schools showed steady progress through the school year.

The percentage of students who were performing below accepted benchmark levels went from 17 to 14 to 11 percent over the course of last year at Ephraim Elementary. At Gunnison Valley Elementary, the percentage was 16, 16 and 9 percent over each of the three semesters. At Manti Elementary, the percentage went from 23 to 16 to 13.

The board also congratulated students (published in last week’s Messenger) who were named to the Academic All-State list.

Leonard Blackham, former state senator and commissioner of agriculture, displays a plaque recognizing him as a member of the Horne School of Music Hall of Fame at Snow College.

Leonard Blackham, former state senator and commissioner of agriculture, displays a plaque recognizing him as a member of the Horne School of Music Hall of Fame at Snow College.

 

Leonard Blackham named to Horne Music Hall of Fame

 

12-22-2016

 

EPHRAIM — Leonard Blackham of Moroni, former Utah commissioner of agriculture and Utah state senator, was recently named to the Horne School of Music Hall of Fame at Snow College.

A plaque was presented to Blackham on Saturday, Dec. 3 during the music school’s Holiday Spectacular at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, a building Blackham helped get funded.

Blackham took over his family turkey operation in 1970 and built it from 36,000 to 360,000 birds per year. He served for several years on the board of directors of Moroni Feed Co., including time as chairman of the board

He served four years as a county commissioner before being elected to the Utah State Senate. He was then appointed commissioner of agriculture, a post he held for nine years.

According to a citation read at the Holiday Spectacular, during his time as state senator, Blackham worked to get funding for restoration of the Noyes Building and construction of what became the Eccles Center.

In accepting the award, Blackham recalled inviting then Gov. Michael Leavitt to the college. As Leavitt strode into the Activities Center, instrumental groups struck up a chorus of “Hail to the Chief.” After that, Leavitt became a supporter of a fine arts facility at Snow, Blackham said.

Blackham currently serves on the Snow College Foundation Board and Snow Business Department Advisory Board. He and his wife, Laura, formerly served on the Fine Arts Department Advisory Board.

From left to right is Moroni City Royalty attendant Janey Christensen, Brooklyn Burgess and Moroni City Queen Kailee Burgess tying quilts to give to Primary Children’s Hospital.

From left to right is Moroni City Royalty attendant Janey Christensen, Brooklyn Burgess and Moroni City Queen Kailee Burgess tying quilts to give to Primary Children’s Hospital.

 

Moroni royalty spearheading project to make quilts for Primary Children’s

 

By Daniela Vazquez

Education coordinator

12-22-2016

 

MORONI—Moroni City Queen Kailee Burgess organized a service project to help comfort kids who have a long stay at Primary Children’s Hospital.

“I was considering a couple of ideas,” Kailee said. “Then, I saw an announcement at my church that was saying Primary Children’s needed new blankets, so I decided I would do just that.”

Kailee, along with one of her attendants Janey Christensen, met at the Moroni City Hall early on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 17 to tie quilts for sick kids in the hospital.

The two girls invited fifth- to eighth-graders to help with the cause. Although not many showed up, she did have her younger sister, eighth-grader Brooklyn Burgess supporting her in her efforts to give back.

Karen Burgess, Kailee’s mother, was also there to help with the quilts. She says the girls plan to deliver the blankets with the addition of a matching stuffed animal to the children after the first of the year.

Kailee says she believes in doing good deeds, but having fun while doing them.

“It makes you want to help rather than making it feel like a chore,” she said.

Her next service project is aimed to take place during the month of love, in a Father-Daughter Valentines tea party.

Senior center Isaiah O’Neal easily took this assist to the basket for two against West Desert in part two of Gunnison High’s Danny Hill Invitational last week.

Senior center Isaiah O’Neal easily took this assist to the basket for two against West Desert in part two of Gunnison High’s Danny Hill Invitational last week.

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Senior forward Angela Clayton goes to the rack against Delta last Tuesday, Dec. 13. The Lady Hawks won, 43-35.

Senior forward Angela Clayton goes to the rack against Delta last Tuesday, Dec. 13. The Lady Hawks won, 43-35.

 

Lady Hawks get wins, but starting forward is injured in game

 

By Matt Harris

Staff writer

12-22-2016

 

RICHFIELD—For the Lady Hawks, the sweet taste of victory came with a bitter aftertaste.

The North Sanpete girls basketball team came away with two wins and a loss last week, but their success was marred by the injury of their starting forward, senior Angela Clayton, during the Lady Hawks’ 43-35 win against Delta last Tuesday, Dec. 13.

The Lady Hawks controlled the tempo of the game against the Lady Rabbits for all four quarters, only slightly letting Delta back into it near the end of the game. It was against Delta that Clayton went up for the ball, only to have her shoulder jarred out of its socket. It was the second time that Clayton dislocated her arm this year.

Senior Catherine Lund led the Lady Hawks with 17 points, hitting two three-pointers in the game.

“We’ve had a rough couple of years with Delta in the past,” head coach Randi Griffith said. “It was good to finally get over the hump of beating them. I was pleased with how our girls continued to battle.”

With Clayton out indefinitely, North Sanpete entered the 3A-2A Preview tournament without arguably it’s best player.

The struggle showed early against Kanab last Friday. Challenged to establish their identity, the Lady Hawks were held scoreless in the second quarter and went into halftime down 20-9.

“With Kanab, we came out questioning ourselves,” Griffith said. “At halftime, we realized we could still be a good team with her leadership on the sidelines.”

That good team came out of the locker room and all the way back against the Cowgirls, outscoring them 11-2 in the third quarter to draw within two, and then putting it away with a 20-point fourth quarter for the 40-36 comeback win. This time, it was sophomore Lexie Olson who led the charge with 13 points.

As good as it felt, the reality sank in the next day when North Sanpete dropped their second contest of the tournament to North Sevier, 44-35. Despite another 17-point performance from Lund, the Lady Hawks could not withstand a pair of sisters on North Sevier combining for 30 points. The Lady Hawks also could not find a way through the Lady Wolves’ full-court defense, surrendering countless turnovers.

“We missed Clayton’s level-headedness against a pressure defense,” Griffith said.

Griffith says that the team is hoping to have Clayton back by January.

The Lady Hawks played at Payson yesterday (score unavailable), and are now preparing for next week when they will participate in the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic in Cedar City.      Between next Wednesday and Friday, North Sanpete will face Snow Canyon, Pine View, and Grantsville, in that order.

Templars start well but fall short in all three matches at Walker Classic in St. George

 

By Bob Bahlmann

Staff writer

12-22-2016

 

ST. GEORGE—Last weekend saw the Manti boys varsity basketball team taking a trio of losses against 3A schools at the Coach Walker Classic in St. George.

The Templars started things off well at the tournament against Hurricane on Thursday, Dec. 15, jumping out to an early lead but losing to the Tigers 72-55.

Friday saw the Templars drop a 64-57 game to Dixie and then Saturday it was Desert Hills defeating Manti 71-56.

Against the Tigers, the first half was a battle with five lead changes. Manti led early 10-4 and held a 31-27 lead at the half, but Hurricane came out strong. Getting a three-point play the old fashioned way, Hurricane took the lead 32-31 and never trailed again in the game. The Tigers led by as much as 22 in the second half and held on for the win.

The next day, the Templars again started strong, forcing Dixie turnovers that earned Manti a 5-0 lead. The Fliers went on a 14-4 run to go ahead 22-11 and built on their 31-19 halftime lead with another run, this one 7-0.

The Templars fought back and at one time pulled to within one point at 48-47, but the Fliers closed out the game outscoring Manti 16-10 for the win.

Dylan Wathen led Manti with 15 points; Mac Stevens added 12. Tanner Rasmussen and Brody Barson had nine each, and Corbin Linam had eight. Kade Nicholes and Sam Benson rounded out the scoring with two each. Linam and Rasmussen each hit a pair of threes and Stevens had one.

The final game of the weekend against Desert Hills was a run away for the Thunder. Desert Hills led 22-9 after the first eight minutes, but the Templars cut into that lead to trail 35-30. Desert Hills owned the second half to finish the game with a 15-point margin.

Benson improved on his two-point game against Dixie to led all scorers with 21 points, six from behind the arc. Linam had 14 and Rasmussen was the third Templar in double figures with ten. Stevens hit a three on his way to seven points. Wathen had three, and Riley Curtis hit a free throw.

This week the Templars traveled to Richfield yesterday (score unavailable). The Wildcats recently took on the same three St. George schools. They lost to Hurricane 52-49, Desert Hills 51-45 and Dixie 52-29.

By Matt Harris

Staff writer

12-22-2016

 

MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete boys basketball team was able to peel off a second win on the season against Millard, 56-45 before top-ranked Emery brought the Hawks back to Earth with a 54-40 humbling last week.

After the Hawks had taken their first win of the season on Saturday, Dec. 10 against North Sevier, the team didn’t wait long to get their second one. The following Wednesday, North Sanpete came away with a victory over Millard that they almost didn’t have.

Going into halftime down 21-19, the Hawks came out on fire in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 22-11 and holding onto the lead in the fourth quarter for the win.

North Sanpete got the most out of junior Spencer Steadman, scoring 19 points with three three-pointers, one of three double-digit scorers for the Hawks. Sophomore Shawn Taylor added 15 while junior Joseph Garlick added another 11.

While the win was sweet, the fun didn’t last long. Top-ranked and undefeated Emery came to town last Friday and grounded the Hawks, 54-40. An all-around offensive attack proved the Hawks downfall despite a big night from Steadman, who had 22 points. The Hawks tried to get a rally going in the fourth but were unable to make stops on offense to catch up.

The Hawks played last Tuesday and yesterday at Cedar and at home against South Sevier. Scores will be reported next week.

Next up, it’s a long break for the Hawks, who will play their next game at home against Salem Hills on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

Junior Guard Emmanuel Akot looks to pass in the Tigers’ game against Layton. Wasatch crushed the Lancers, 87-53.

Junior Guard Emmanuel Akot looks to pass in the Tigers’ game against Layton. Wasatch crushed the Lancers, 87-53.

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Kudos to Gunnison and Centerfield for unification of police departments

 

 

Gunnison City and Centerfield City have set a good example for the rest of the county with the finalization of their interlocal policing agreement, which effectively unifies their two police forces to create the Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD).

The Gunnison Valley is no stranger to cooperation. As Brett McCall, interim police chief for the new department, puts it, “We share everything under the Gunnison Valley umbrella. Schools, doctors, a fire department, veterinarians—you name it, we share it.”

The unified Gunnison Valley Fire Department and its accompanying $1.4 million fire station is model of valleywide cooperation, with every community, including unincorporated Axtell, helping pay off Utah Community Impact Board (CIB) bonds used to build the fire station.

As the Messenger covered development of the policing agreement, we witnessed the challenges elected officials faced and overcame. We saw the looks of frustration on the officials’ faces when things didn’t go smoothly.

Some of the officials, such former Gunnison  City police chief Blane Jensen, have been pushing for a unified force for nearly two decades. What matters now, though, is that the first round of unification has been achieved.

Jensen and McCall were directly involved in the drafting of the agreement, along with Gunnison City Attorney Mandy Larsen and Centerfield City Attorney Steve Styler.

The city council and mayors from both municipalities weighed in throughout the process, offering their opinions, advice and majority votes to move the agreement forward. Public hearings were held to gather feedback from residents of each community.

The officials did not falter when Mayfield residents voted not to participate (much to the chagrin of  Mayor John Christensen) because they preferred to save a few bucks in the short-term.

Just when everything looked like it was a done deal, a new variable surfaced when Gunnison City’ Police Chief Trent Halliday was diagnosed with cancer. (Another example of the Gunnison Valley spirit of cooperation can be found in our front page story about the Refuse-to- Lose, Trent-Halliday benefit.) In the face of uncertainty, the authors of the agreement kept moving forward.

Although the unification agreement has been approved by both the Gunnison and Centerfield city councils, there is a lot of work ahead.

That includes forming the GVPD governing board, adopting policies, selecting a chief, hiring new officers and, most importantly, maintaining the support of residents.

Looking out to the horizon, we hope that in time, the other communities in the valley will join in the operation. A single police force with an adequate number of officers policing the whole valley makes imminently more sense than a two-city force supplemented by sheriff’s deputies driving from Manti, or wherever they happen to be in the county when a call comes in.

Meanwhile, kudos to Blane Jensen, Brett McCall, the city attorneys and the two city councils for taking the vital first step. And best of luck to them in the work now in front of them.

This year's SAGE testing results for Sanpete public schools.

This year’s SAGE testing results for Sanpete public schools.

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Gunnison Valley Police Interim Chief Brett McCall spreads out a selection of counterfeit currency that has begun circulating in Sanpete as far north as Fairview. McCall's department has made three arrests regarding the false bills so far and has more suspects under investigation. - Robert Stevens / Messenger photo

Gunnison Valley Police Interim Chief Brett McCall spreads out a selection of counterfeit currency that has begun circulating in Sanpete as far north as Fairview. McCall’s department has made three arrests regarding the false bills so far and has more suspects under investigation. – Robert Stevens / Messenger photo

 

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Residents of DJ Trailer Court at 200 North and 200 West in Ephraim gathered in a contractor’s garage Saturday night to discuss their predicament. Ephraim City has sent letters telling them that if the owner of the trailer court doesn’t make major repairs, the city will close the court and turn off utilities, forcing them to vacate.

Residents of DJ Trailer Court at 200 North and 200 West in Ephraim gathered in a contractor’s garage Saturday night to discuss their predicament. Ephraim City has sent letters telling them that if the owner of the trailer court doesn’t make major repairs, the city will close the court and turn off utilities, forcing them to vacate.

Ephraim amends trailer deadline

 

Suzanne Dean

Publisher

12-15-2016

 

EPHRAIM—With a standing-room crowd of potential displaced residents looking on, the Ephraim City Council last week backed off from its vote to shut down the DJ Trailer Court effective Jan. 31, 2017.

At the meeting Wednesday, Dec. 7, the council listened for an hour while trailer court owner David Strate made the case that he had done the things the city had asked him to do to repair the court over the past three years, insofar as he understood them.

The council also heard from Connie Hill, chairwoman of the Utah Coalition of Manufactured Home Owners, a nonprofit based in Salt Lake City, about a possible plan to bring in a developer to redevelop the park, after which it would be turned into a co-op facility owned by residents.

Finally, the council heard from Chad Parry, director of public works, who said problems with the culinary water system at the trailer court were “really, really serious stuff” posing a danger of contamination reminiscent of what happened in Flint, Mich.

At that point, the council amended the resolution it passed Nov. 2. In some ways, the amendment is tougher, and in some ways more lenient, than the original resolution.

The amended motion gave Strate one week to “address the drinking water concerns with a professional.” He was directed to provide the council with the name of a plumbing contractor and the earliest possible start date for doing work described in an inspection report prepared by Sunrise Engineering, a firm consulting with the city on code enforcement.

At the Nov. 2 meeting, the council rejected the plan Strate submitted for remediating problems outlined in an 11-page Sunrise Engineering report. At that time, the council noted Strate’s plan included 45 statements to the effect of “will address later” or saying problems were a tenant responsibility.

The amended resolution gives him nearly one more month to submit a new remediation plan “showing exactly what will be done to correct each concern” in the Sunrise Engineering report. That document is due Jan. 4, 2017.

If the council does not accept Strate’s revised remediation plan in January, the amended resolution extends the date when the city will shut off utilities from Jan. 31 to March 1. That is the new potential date when 17 families in the trailer court must vacate.

Hill, the chairwoman from the mobile home coalition, said the DJ Trailer Court “is part of your unsubsidized, affordable housing.”

She said her group was exploring whether a nonprofit developer could be brought in to redevelop the park and transform it into “a good representation of what an affordable mobile or modular home development should be.”

That would include new infrastructure, such as new electrical, culinary water and sewer systems, and “appropriate trailer pads.”

Hill said such a plan would be contingent on Strate agreeing to sell the property and the nonprofit developer coming up with $300,000-$500,000. She said she would know in a few weeks if the concept was feasible.

Councilman John Scott asked her, based on her knowledge of mobile home parks, how the DJ Court would rank on a 1-10 scale.

“This one’s at the very low end,” Hill said. “It’s been allowed to become a real blight to the city.”

If a plan isn’t put together to redevelop it, she said, the city wouldn’t have much choice except to close it.

Early in his presentation, Strate raised his right hand and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

He said the city council wasn’t completely responsible for “the mess we’re in.” Rather, he claimed the city staff, along with the Sanpete Messenger, had said “a lot of things that were totally false.”

He claimed problems described in letters from the city to him in 2014 and 2015 had all been fixed. “Where’s the information I ever disregarded anything from the city?” he asked.

Last July, Parry, the city public works director, walked through the court with Strate and talked to him about continuing problems. But Strate said until he read a story in the Aug. 31 Messenger “I didn’t realize there was an issue.”

Strate said that until he received the Sunrise report in late September, he never realized there was a problem with water and sewer at the park.

He also said that all the issues “that were important” in the Sunrise Engineering report “have been taken care of.”

“I take seriously my responsibility as a landlord,” Strate said. “I’ve had quite a learning curve to figure out what was going on. I honestly felt I was addressing this to the best of my ability.”

Council members clearly didn’t buy Strate’s contentions. “You’ve acknowledged that by the 22nd of July, you knew there were major issues, major things that were wrong, at the trailer court,” Councilman John Scott said.

Yet many of the same issues were raised in the independent report from Sunrise Engineering, Scott said.

Not only did the engineering firm find many code violation persisting in the park, Scott said, but it also let the city council know that the city itself could be liable if illness, injury or death occurred there.

Councilwoman Margie Anderson cited the warehouse fire in Oakland, Calif. People are saying the City of Oakland could be held liable for deaths of people who were living in the warehouse in violation of zoning and building codes, she said.

“Give the tenants until March 1,” she said. ‘They do need to have Plan B in their back pockets.”

“If we’re going to give him a month, we’ve got to give them a month,” Councilman Richard Wheeler said, “with the understanding they should be looking for other housing.”