Archives for January 2017

The Gunnison City Council is considering the renovation or replacement of city park restrooms using a Community Development Block Grant. - Robert Stevens / Messenger photo

The Gunnison City Council is considering the renovation or replacement of city park restrooms using a Community Development Block Grant. – Robert Stevens / Messenger photo

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Keith Garff Centerfield

Keith Garff

Trevor Powell Gunnison

New police department moving ahead as mayors name community reps to board


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



Centerfield and Gunnison cities have chosen community representatives to sit on the Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD) governing board along with town mayors, bringing the department one step closer to appointing a full-time chief appointed and finalizing bylaws.

Under the interlocal agreement that set up the joint police departments. mayors of the two cities will sit on the panel through the end of their terms. The mayors are also authorized to appoint one community representative each to create a four-member board.

At a Gunnison City Council meeting Jan.5, Mayor Bruce Blackham of Gunnison announced he had appointed Trevor Powell, Gunnison Valley High School principal.

The same night, Mayor Tom Sorensen of Centerfield appointed former Centerfield City Councilman Keith Garff as Centerfield’s representative.

“Trevor indicated some interest in the position, and it is my opinion that he would be a good community rep,” Blackham told the Gunnison council. “I would like consensus and feedback from you all on this.”

Gunnison City Councilman Andy Hill asked Blackham if he thought Powell’s position as principal at the high school could lead to any conflict of interest.

“If there is not, I have no issues with it,” Hill said. “I would 100 percent support Trevor, and I think he’d be a great choice.”

Blackham and Gunnison City Councilman Thayne Carlisle both said they were not aware how the appointment could cause a conflict of interest.

“I think if anything his position makes him more aware of what is going on,” said Carlisle. “You have our full support.”

Gunnison Councilman Blake Donaldson asked fellow councilman Blane Jensen, who was Gunnison’s representative in forging the interlocal agreement, if he had any interest in the position.

“Blane, you spent an awful lot of time getting this agreement together,” Donaldson said. “You’ve done a great job and a real service to our communities with your efforts.”

Jensen replied, “The governing board is not my place. My original intent was always to see that we had a community-run board.”

Sorensen told the Messenger that two men were interested in the Centerfield community seat, and both were very qualified.

“We could have gone with either man and not gone wrong,” Sorensen said. “Garff was chosen because he was very closely involved in the formation of the original Centerfield Police Department and remains very involved in the community.”

Jensen says that with the two community board members chosen, the next step is for the panel to meet to create by-laws and appoint the new police chief.

Following that, the chief, along with the board, will look at filling any vacancies they deem necessary and make assignments to officers currently with the department.

“I think the people the mayors have chosen will represent their communities and the public well,” Jensen said, adding, . “I am grateful to Centerfield and Gunnison government for moving forward with this. I am excited to have some public input in the policing process.

“…There are likely to be bumps along the way but with community help and the current willingness to adapt, I think that we can come out better for the change and hopefully have an even more unified valley.”

The initial meeting of the GVPD governing board was held yesterday at noon. Results of the meeting, including information in regards to the appointment of the department chief, the establishment of by-laws and officer duty assignment will be covered in our next issue.

Nay homicide illustrates importance of police cooperation


Alec Barton

Staff writer



INDIANOLA—Wesley Nay had been missing for more than a month, but it was only after his body was found in a shallow grave near the Sanpete-Utah County border that the case hit the headlines.

The Sanpete Messenger broke the story on Oct. 25, 2016, five days after a pair of hunters reported stumbling across a grave, and the same day investigators, using dental records, determined it was Nay who had been buried at the site.

Within the next few days, the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, Daily Herald, and several Utah-based television stations reported on the apparent homicide.

Several questions arose.

Why had the body been badly burned?

How long had the body been there?

Were there any immediate suspects?

These questions prompted a series of follow-up reports and ultimately led to the incident being named the Messenger’s top story of 2016.

One of the more interesting aspects of the case was the cooperation required between the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, which led the investigation, and the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office and Mt. Pleasant Police Department, who assisted.

Some of the early tips in the case, in which citizens said they had heard Nay had been set on fire and “buried in a hole,” flowed in to Detective Chad Nielson of the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office.

When the hunters who found the grave called 911, they got the Sanpete County dispatch center. Local officers responded to the report and viewed the gravesite.

After some research, including a search of property records in the Sanpete County Recorder’s Office, Nielson determined the grave was located across the Utah County line and called the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Within a day or two, officers from both sheriff’s offices met at the site.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, said cases like this are unusual, though not unprecedented.

“Law enforcement agencies work together all the time, [but] it’s not very often on cases like this,” he said.

Because Nay’s body was discovered in Utah County, Cannon’s office led the investigation. But that might have been different if evidence had pointed to Nay being murdered across the county line.

“If we had known that he had been murdered in Sanpete County and then removed somewhere else, it would have gone a different direction,” Cannon said. “At the time that [Nay’s] body was found, we did not know that [for sure].”

As it is, investigators are now mostly certain that Nay, a 22-year-old native of Mt. Pleasant, was murdered at the site where his body was found. An image on a cell phone belonging to Raul Vidrio, 19, also of Mt. Pleasant, showed Nay being forced to dig his own grave.

Vidrio allegedly stabbed Nay several times before burning his body and placing it in the shallow grave.

By the time the grave was discovered, Cannon said crews had to be careful working to exhume the body.

“You have to be very methodical about excavating the grave,” he said. “You almost do it like an archaeological dig in the sense that you do a little bit at a time.”

Care was necessary to preserve any evidence that could have been found along the way.

Officers from all three departments worked to determine who was responsible for killing Nay. Cannon praised local officers in both the county sheriff’s office and Mt. Pleasant Police Department for their thorough work.

“They knew all the players and they were able to help us make connections with who’s who and who knows who,” he said.

Cannon said the culture of sharing and helping across departments is the norm in law enforcement.

“You get people saying, ‘It’s not our case but we’ll do whatever we can to help you.’”

Vidrio has been charged with aggravated murder (a potential death-penalty offense), obstruction of justice, and abuse or desecration of a body, in 4th District Court in Provo. Bail has been set at $500,000.

If found guilty, his punishment for aggravated murder could be death, life in prison without parole, or an indeterminate prison term not less than 25 years.


MPNHA’s Discovery Road TV series presents new episode, ‘The Unknown’
Just where did the soldiers’ bodies go?


Little is known about the soldiers of Johnson’s Army sent to Utah in 1858 to quell what turned out to be a non-existent “Mormon rebellion.”
In “The Unknown,” Discovery Road, the educational TV series produced by the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA), tells their story.
The soldiers stayed three years in what became known as Camp Floyd, “observing” the Mormons but during that time left a lasting mark on the town of Fairfield, Utah County, and the surrounding area. While there was no conflict, soldiers died and were buried during those years. Since the Army did not have any cemeteries, they were buried by their comrades in arms in a makeshift cemetery on camp property.
While records were kept of the dead and the fact they were buried in the camp cemetery, no records were made of which graves held the remains of specific soldiers. Today, the landscape is spotted with scores of graves carrying nothing more than the word “Unknown” on their headstones.
While much is known about the soldiers and their brief sojourn in Utah, little is recorded about the civilians, especially those who left Fairfield and other Utah communities for other climes.
“The Unknown” then shifts gears to focus on David and Ann Bona, 1853 Mormon emigrants from Swansea, Wales, who, after nine years in SpnUtah, left for California, never to return.
In this episode, their descendants Charlene Heaton and Renè Bona Clarke, who are cousins, follow the route of the family, along the way encountering the story of stagecoach driver Charlie Parkhurst, a woman who disguised herself as a man to pursue the life she wanted.
“Religious beliefs, family struggles, economics or dreams for a better life in the Golden State of California are some of the reasons” Mormon pioneers turned their backs on their fellow converts in Utah and headed to California, Clark says.
Heaton and Clarke stop to visit Hyrum Carter’s rock wall in a desolate stretch of Nevada, built as a monument to the early pioneers who passed that way. They also visit historic Virginia City, Nev. and a mass gravesite in Colma, Calif. where thousands of early California pioneers were re-buried after their original cemeteries were taken over for other development.
Then the cousins embark on the reason for the trip: An attempt to solve the more than 150-year family mystery of what happened to David and Ann’s son, William. As a young man, he left California and returned to Spanish Fork, Utah, where he married a woman he had known back in Wales.
In 1910, at age 71, he traveled to California to visit his sister, and then walked a block or two to visit a niece. After the visit, he disappeared.
In the end, the search is fruitless but the journey has its own rewards.
“I was able to meet someone in my family I had not met before. We were able to connect and share stories about the ancestry and the history. And although we did not find out exactly what happened to our ancestors, we were able to walk the streets that they walked and find a sense of peace and that was invaluable,” Clarke said. “I would suggest that everybody take the time to make that trip and research their ancestors, walk where they walked and discover things that you may not have known before. What you get is invaluable.”
Conceived in 2012, “Discovery Road” is an ongoing series of half-hour shows featuring a ‘55 Pontiac (owned by Manti residents Chad and Tammy Moore, and affectionately named “Love Me Tender”), which travels along U.S. Highway 89, All-American Road State Route 12, and Scenic Byway State Route 24. As the car drives along these roads, viewers discover the things that make the MPNHA worth driving themselves.
For more information, contact MPNHA Director Monte Bona at 801-699-5065.

Commission trying to develop uniform approach to municipal buffer zones


James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI—The Sanpete County Planning Commission are looking at a plan for dealing with the “buffer zone” issue with Sanpete cities.

At a meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 11, Commission Chairman Loren Thompson informed the commission that he and Leon Day, a commission member,  had been in discussions since the last meeting about what information the commission would need from Sanpete cities to have a uniform standard for “buffer zones” around all of the cities.

This issue had been in front of the commission for most of last year, as representatives from Spring City, Mt Pleasant, Ephraim, Manti and Gunnison had requested clarification of the county’s policy.

The commission has been wrestling with how to coordinate the county’s land use ordinances with the land use and zoning ordinances of all the cities in the county. Often, the commission has to approve a new development that is adjacent to a city, without the authority to apply that city’s ordinances to the development, even though the city may be planning to annex the property some time in the future.

Thompson told the assembled commissioners that he and Day had agreed on six items that the planning commission would need from the cities.

  • First, they would need an annexation plan from each city, with a map showing the plan.
  • They would also need a future zoning map, indicating how the city intended to grow.
  • The commission would also request a plan for how the city planned to provide utilities for persons living in the buffer zones.
  • The cities would need to develop and provide a transportation plan, showing where future roads would be located.
  • The commission would want each city to show a plan for how it would develop infrastructure in the future.
  • And finally, the commission would want the cities to review the county’s master plan, and offer any suggestions or questions.

Thompson and Day assured the members that these items would be “requested” from the cities, but there would be no obligation for the cities to participate.

After discussing how much time would be needed to gather this information, the commission agreed that to ask to have the information back by the beginning of April, so that it could discuss it at the April meeting. Thompson said he would contact the members to assign cities for them to contact and request the information.

Thompson also said the commission would need to create a definition of “buffer zone,” hopefully by the time of the April meeting.

Dr. Robert Armstrong has been healing for over 30 years


Robert Stevens

Staff writer



MT.PLEASANT—Dr. Robert Armstrong of Manti has just observed 30 years of healing with Intermountain Healthcare (IHC).

Armstrong’s colleague Dr. Brooks Thompson said, “Dr. Armstrong is one of a rare breed of family physicians whose long and successful career has made such an impact on members of his community and young physicians in training.”

Throughout Armstrong’s time working in family medicine, he has worked to grow resources and improve care at Sanpete Valley Hospital and supporting clinics, says IHC spokeswoman Brooke Heath.

The Sanpete Valley Hospital Facebook page posted a notice of Armstrong’s milestone, and in short order, the comment section was filled with praise from patients and colleagues.


Julio Garza

Julio Garza

Aggravated murder charges filed against CUCF inmate Julio Garza


James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI—The Sanpete County attorney has filed charges of aggravated murder against Julio Cesar Garza, an inmate at the Central Utah Correctional Facility (CUCF),  in connection with the death of another inmate, Carlos-Adrian Hernandez.

The charge of aggravated murder is supported when the facts show that the defendant intentionally or knowingly caused the death of another, while that person was confined in a jail or correctional unit. The charge can carry the death penalty.

Garza was originally sent to prison after being convicted of aggravated robbery.

The probable cause statement in the homicide case states that Garza and Hernandez resided in the same cell at CUCF. On Aug. 25, 2016, officers heard a disturbance coming from their cell.

The investigating officer, looking in the cell, saw Hernandez lying on the floor with blood from his waist up. Garza was also sitting in the cell, apparently unharmed.

Video footage from a surveillance camera showed Garza punching into Hernandez’ bunk and then pulling Hernandez off the bunk onto the floor. Garza then kicked and jumped on Hernandez multiple times, lasting several minutes.

Hernandez later passed away at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center from his injuries. At this time, Garza has not been scheduled for an initial appearance.

Ephraim native Kenny Sanders has become a well-known BMX pro and entrepreneur. Sanders’s newest company, BMX University, is an online subscription service to BMX video tutorials.

Ephraim native Kenny Sanders has become a well-known BMX pro and entrepreneur. Sanders’s newest company, BMX University, is an online subscription service to BMX video tutorials.

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"Graft" is the title of the newest art installation at Snow College. The artist is former gardener and carpenter Jim Jacobs.

“Graft” is the title of the newest art installation at Snow College. The artist is former gardener and carpenter Jim Jacobs.

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Gunnison Valley Hospital Births


Bexlie Lynn Brooks was born to Katelyn Brooks of Gunnison on Jan. 6, 2017. She weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces.

Shayla Greene

Shayla Greene


Shayla Greene has been called to serve in the California Anaheim Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She will  speak in the Manti 10th Ward on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 9 a.m. at the Manti Tabernacle. She will enter the Provo MTC on Wednesday, February 1.

Shayla is the daughter of Jared and Tevera Greene of Manti, and the granddaughter of Lloyd and Susan Lyons of Manti; Karen Hawk of Manti; and Ron Greene of Superior, Montana.

Meade Squire

Meade Squire



Meade Squire, loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, returned to his Father In Heaven on Jan. 14,  2017. He wore his life out in service to others and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Anyone acquainted with Meade knew that the size of his heart matched the size of his stature. His love knew no bounds and he was no respecter of persons. He was always a hero for the underdog, and his love of the Lord and his family was apparent to all who knew him.

Meade was born Oct. 14, 1926 in Manti, Utah. His parents, Franklin Demille Squire and Rulla Geneva Outzen, raised him on their farm, and he learned his love of the land from them. He graduated from Manti High School and then served a mission to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Meade met the love of his life, Ina Eunice Huntsman, on a blind date in Provo, Utah, and they were sealed in the Manti Temple. He received his teaching certificate and taught school at Ephraim Elementary School while farming on the side to satisfy his soul. He returned to school to qualify to teach special education and then taught at Ephraim Middle School.

Meade and Ina wanted a large family and were blessed to welcome 12 children into their home. He was a loving father and great example to all of his children. He loved them unconditionally and expressed his love often.

Meade served in many callings over the years for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in Scouting and as a stake Seventy. He also served in the bishopric and as a high councilor in the Snow College LDS Stake. He and his wife, Ina, served a mission to the Canada Halifax Mission. He also served as a temple worker for 20 years, 17 of which were as a sealer.

Meade is survived by his wife, Ina, and his children:  Dianne (Don Christensen), Rosemary (Doug Cornish), LaRee (Boyd Parkinson), LuAnn (Daniel Adams), Janet (Paul Muehlmann), Sandra (Kevin Steele), Susan (Eric Harrison), John (Monique Luster), Glen (Stacey Shelley), Richard (Roxanne Nalder), Ralph (Annette Cox) and by his brother, Morris, and sister, June (Norman Larsen). He was preceded in death by his son David (Alison Weed), his mother Rulla and father Franklin, his brother Keith (Carole Siddoway), and sister Renee (John Henrie Nielson).

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 21 at noon in the Ephraim Stake Center at 400 East and Center Street in Ephraim. A viewing will be held that morning 9:30-11:30, also at the Ephraim Stake Center. Interment will be in the Manti Cemetery.














Orvella Braithwaite

Orvella Braithwaite


Orvella Mills Braithwaite, 88, from Manti, Utah passed away at Crestwood Care Center in Ogden, Utah on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017.

She was born in Sterling, Utah on June 18, 1928, to Orval and Caroline Funk Mills. She married her sweetheart, Carl J. Braithwaite, on Dec. 15, 1944 in Sterling, Utah. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Manti LDS Temple.

Orvella had a love of crafts and never ran across a crafting idea she didn’t have to try. Once she made one, you knew that at least a hundred more were coming.

Her love of crafts covered the spectrum from crocheting to making cards to Tri-Chem and sewing. She made many blankets, dolls and cards. Orvella spent many hours teaching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to crochet and complete some of the crafts she loved to work on.

Orvella’s other passion was to go fishing with her husband during the year.

She is survived by her five children, Tony (Lee) Braithwaite, Henderson, Nev.; Russel (Jane) Braithwaite, Arizona City, Ariz.; Cathy (Gary) Hammond, Ogden, Utah; Diane (Kay) Watt, Washington, Utah; and Debra Chase (Clint Lloyd),West Jordan, Utah; 26 grandchildren; 51 great-grandchildren; and six great-great grandchildren.

Preceded in death by her husband, Carl J. Braithwaite; her parents; siblings, Iva, Jessie, Lue, Theda; and great-grandson, Trent DeMille.

Graveside services and interment will be held on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 at 11 a.m. in the Magleby Mortuary in  Manti. Friends may call prior to services from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Magleby Mortuary, Manti. Interment will follow in the Manti City Cemetery.

Funeral Directors: Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina, and Manti. Online guestbook at


Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson



Wendy Ann Luster Johnson returned to her Heavenly Father on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, surrounded by her family.

Wendy was born May 2, 1972 in Payson, Utah to Marvin Wayne and Diane Butler Luster.  She graduated from Spanish Fork High School.

Her children were her biggest priority in life.  She loved being a mother and found much joy in serving her family.  The memories they shared will never be forgotten.

Wendy enjoyed her job working for Dr. David Jones and staff.  Wendy was a happy, fun loving girl who made friends instantly.  Everyone loved her.  She was active in PTA in Fairview, and was involved in rodeo with her kids.

Wendy enjoyed crafts, antiques, babies and all animals.  She could take a piece of rubbish and make a treasure out of it.

She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was involved in the scouting program.

Always smiling, Wendy battled cancer and kept a positive attitude throughout the battle.  The family would like to thank Dr. Steve Wallentine and his staff.  They also thank Nancy Trapnell, who provided hospice care, and all her wonderful friends who she spent time with in chemo treatments.

Wendy is survived by her parents, Marv and Diane; her love, Gary Jacobson; children, Morgan Russell (Jordan) Johnson, Quinn Ward Johnson and Abbie Anne Johnson.  She also leaves behind two sisters, Leslie Luster and Sonja (Thomas) Baum, as well as her friend forever, Jill.  She was preceded in death by her son, Tyler Wayne Johnson.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at the Salem 10th Ward Chapel, 160 S. 460 West, Salem, Utah.  Family and friends may visit Friday evening, Jan. 13, from 6-8 p.m. at Walker Funeral Home, 187 S. Main Street, Spanish Fork, Utah, and on Saturday morning at the church from 9:15-10:15 a.m. prior to services.  Interment will be in the Fairview Cemetery.

Condolences may be sent to the family at:


Turner Robinson (right) and Gage Cox (left), North Sanpete Middle School eighth-grade students, are learning how cellular respiration works in Mr. Tyrel Hanson’s lab class. They are a part of the last class of students to learn science the traditional way. Next year, teachers and students will undergo a whole new way of teaching and learning science. - Daniela Vazquez / Messenger photo

Turner Robinson (right) and Gage Cox (left), North Sanpete Middle School eighth-grade students, are learning how cellular respiration works in Mr. Tyrel Hanson’s lab class. They are a part of the last class of students to learn science the traditional way. Next year, teachers and students will undergo a whole new way of teaching and learning science. – Daniela Vazquez / Messenger photo


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Shannon Cromwell (left) and Susan Brereton (right) are preparing the KidsPacks bags to be taken to local schools to help feed underprivileged children on weekends.

Shannon Cromwell (left) and Susan Brereton (right) are preparing the KidsPacks bags to be taken to local schools to help feed underprivileged children on weekends.

Kid packs have prevented hunger, but more donations being sought


Daniela Vazquez

Staff writer



A program the Sanpete Pantry instituted four years ago to prevent local kids from going hungry on weekends is still going strong, but continues to seek community donations.

Mary Gordon, former secretary of the Sanpete Pantry, launched the Sanpete County branch of KidsPack USA, a non-profit program designed to provide food to underprivileged children on weekends, in 2013 because she says she saw “a need” for children in the community.

“[Gordon] found out about the program somehow about three months before she [retired],” Susan Kearney, board member of the Sanpete Pantry said. “And because of the need, she wanted to do something to help our kids.”

The program initially began with the Sanpete Pantry staff reaching out to local elementary schools to inquire about whether staff and administrators had known of any children that might be going without proper meals and nutrition on the weekends.

Pantry staff would then fill a bag with meals, snacks and drinks for children to take home and eat on the weekends.

At first, the Sanpete Pantry had only delivered a few KidsPack’s to a couple of schools, which were sent home with the children on the last day of the school week.

Kearney said before Gordon retired she had asked the staff to promise to keep the program going to help our local kids get the nutrition they need, which would ultimately help to ensure kids’ success in school.

What began with nearly 300 packs delivered throughout the school year, has now reached over 400 packs a month.

However, feeding so many mouths in such a small community comes with challenges.

“It’s kind of expensive to run because you can only put certain things in it,” Kearney said. “But sometimes we like to do a special food if we can.”

Since March 2016 the KidsPack count has nearly doubled, rising from 240 packs to about 424 monthly.

In order to meet the demand, Kearney and her staff must purchase a lot of the food on a regular basis, although she says the community has shown tremendous support through their donations.

“We get support from everyone,” Kearney said. “It’s been amazing to see the churches and the relief society women help, and even Walmart and Terrels when they do their special food drives for [the cause].”

Kearney says there are some schools that have simply refused to accept any meals for any of their students.

Currently, 106 packs a week are delivered to five of the county’s eight elementary schools, with Manti Elementary being the newest school on the list.

Moroni, Spring City and Fountain Green Elementary schools have opted out of the charitable program. Kearney says some of the schools have simply said their students did not need the Kid Packs.

Sean Kearney, pantry staff member and a member of the Drive4Food committee, said, “You can’t tell if someone is hungry just by looking at them. They look a lot like you and me, and they need our help.”

It’s up to each of the school faculty and administrators to determine whether any of the children could benefit from these KidsPacks. Then, they report the information to the pantry.

Another way to help feed a hungry child is by contacting the Sanpete Pantry and informing them of a child they believe might need some help. Parents are also welcome to call the pantry and seek help for their own children.

For anyone who would like to donate to the special KidsPack cause, Kearney says the best items to donate are individual hot meals like ramen, Chef Boyardee meals, mac-and-cheese cups, etc. Other highly necessary items are oatmeal packs, individual size cold cereals, granola bars, pop tarts, fruit cups, fruit snacks, peanut butter, juice, crackers and other snacks.

These are some of the foods that will meet the KidsPack requirements and will help keep the bags under 6 pounds, light enough for the children to walk home with.

For more information, or to inquire about other ways to donate, please call Susan Kearney at the Sanpete Panty at 435-462-9021 or 435-660-9526.