Archives for February 2017

With help from $1.31 million in funding from the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB), Centerfield city is planning a major overhaul of city streets.

[Read more…]

McFarland associates appear in court as cases get close to wrapping up

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

2-23-2017

 

By James Tilson

            MANTI—After more than five years of court drama, the cases surrounding the 2011 murders of Woody and Ann Fullwood are coming to a close.

            Allison Boudreaux and Damien Flores, the last two defendants with pending cases, came to court last week to enter changes of plea to resolve their respective cases.

            The two defendants had been charged as accomplices of Logan McFarland and faced charges similar to his, although they were not charged with murder.

            But in 2013 Boudreaux and Flores, who is Boudreaux’s son, agreed to cooperate with the state and testify against McFarland when his case came to trial. At that time, they were released from custody and their cases were put on hold while the McFarland case wound its way through the justice system.

            Under their agreements with prosecutors at the time they were released, their cases could not reach a final resolution until they testified, or McFarland accepted a plea agreement.

            Last month, McFarland entered a plea agreement in which he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Now that his case was finally settled, the two co-defendants could resolve their own cases.

            Damien Flores appeared in court last Wednesday, Feb. 15 to enter his change of plea without counsel. He had been represented by Douglas Neeley up through 2013. But Neeley resigned from the case after the terms of his agreement to testify in any McFarland trial were settled.

            In the hearing last week, Judge Marvin Bagley read the terms of the agreement to Flores, indicating that Flores would be pleading guilty to three third-degree felonies.

            The judge also indicated that Flores would be granted credit for any time he had served in custody. But the judge said he couldn’t guaranteeing Flores would not receive further jail or prison time.

            Flores, appearing surprised at the possibility of more time in custody, asked to have an attorney appointed for him. The court, finding that Flores could not afford to hire his own attorney, appointed public defender David Angerhofer to represent him. Flores’ case was re-set for a pretrial conference on March 1.

            Boudreaux appeared with counsel Andrew Berry to enter her change of plea to two second-degree felonies, burglary and obstruction of justice.

            Judge Bagley stated he knew Boudreaux from her recent graduation from drug court and asked her attorney if Boudreaux would consent to him hearing her case anyway. Berry said his client would continue with Bagley.

            Bagley asked what Boudreaux did to be guilty of the charges. County Attorney Brody Kiesel said Boudreaux, Logan McFarland and Allison Atwood Hill “agreed in advance they were going to hit a house” and Boudreaux “provided her car” for that purpose. Subsequently, Keisel said, Boudreaux “made misleading statements to law enforcement.”

            Boudreaux agreed that those facts were correct. Judge Bagley accepted the change of plea, and set the sentencing for April 21.

Ephraim City goes back to county for building permits, inspections

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

2-23-2017

 

            EPHRAIM—After a public hearing a couple of weeks ago in which the Ephraim City Council heard criticism of its decision to have Sunrise Engineering do building inspections, the Ephraim City Council voted last week to return to using the county building inspector.

            The public hearing occurred on Feb. 8. Ephraim City Mayor Richard Squire opened the hearing by explaining why the change had been made.

            “We were experiencing a gap in services between what we needed and what the county was providing,” Squire said.

            He said that the main problem was the county was not informing the city when the final inspection would occur so the city could send a representative to the site to make sure the building complied with city zoning requirements. In one case, the city representative not being present led to a lawsuit.

             “We tried repeatedly to work out communication with the county and were unable to work things out,” Squire said.

            Ben Gordon, a local developer, criticized the building permit fee increases that came along with the switch to Sunrise. “These increases do hurt. They hurt a lot of people.”  He said many of his clients are retirees, who want to be near the temple and still be able to shop at Walmart. The increase in costs reduces their ability to qualify for a mortgage.

            “A $2,000 increase, they can’t handle it,” Gordon said. “They get bottlenecked at the bank.”

            Hans Rasmussen, small contractor, praised the county building inspector. “I want the oversight. The guys at the [county] building department are fair. They are another set of eyes. It’s nice to have them out.”

            Todd Alder, of Todd Alder Construction, cited the fact that Sunrise Engineering is based in Fillmore, whereas the county building inspector is in Manti. “Distance can be a barrier” in certain situations, he said, such as when he is pouring footings, or in certain weather conditions, when he needs an inspection right away. “The county, because its closer, can offer a little more convenience.”

            Councilman John Scott weighed in to justify a potential change. “Contractors are important to the city. We don’t want to raise costs.”  But the gaps in service needed to be addressed, he emphasized. “Five hundred feet away from city hall, a business moved in [to a new building] without an occupancy permit.”

            But Scott ended by suggesting a compromise might be needed. “Maybe we need to separate blight and safety issues from permits and new construction.”

            On Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the regular city council meeting, the council turned to Bryan Kimball, director of community development, for the city staff recommendation.

            Kimball said after the public hearing, the city staff had “looked around” at other government entities in Utah to re-evaluate their position, especially on fees.

            Kimball and other staff spoke to staff in other counties and municipalities with similar demographics to see where Ephraim fell in relation to them.

            Ephraim currently charges $3,300 for a typical building permit. San Juan County charges $2,659. Wayne County charges $2,000, and Sevier County charges $3,053. The city of Richfield charges $3,300.

            After looking at the other entities, and considering the comments made at the public hearing, Kimball said the city staff recommended a reduction in the city building permit fee to $2,246. Kimball noted that the new fee would be less than the industry standard, but would still cost more than what the county charged, at $1,632.

            Tracy Christensen, the Sanpete County building inspector, was present. Scott asked him whether the county could resume permit issuance and inspection of new Ephraim construction. Christensen replied that he did not think it would be a problem.

            Scott then motioned for the city to go back to having the county issue building permits and perform building inspections for Ephraim City and to discontinue using Sunrise Engineering for those services. The motion passed unanimously.

 

Cory Gleason of Mt. Pleasant holds up a pair of giant antlers he found before the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources banned antler gathering statewide. Gleason says he is disappointed but understands the reasons for the ban.

Cory Gleason of Mt. Pleasant holds up a pair of giant antlers he found before the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources banned antler gathering statewide. Gleason says he is disappointed but understands the reasons for the ban.

[Read more…]

FAIRVIEW—On a night dedicated to bringing out the “Masterpiece” in all the contestants, Kelsie Nielson was crowned Miss Fairview last Saturday night. 	The Miss Fairview Pageant, which was themed “Masterpiece,” was held at the packed Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview.   The pageant was emceed by Shayne Thompson and outgoing Miss Fairview, Lydia Madsen.    	The entertainment was headlined by local duo Skyline Drive, featuring brothers Ross and Luc Christensen, who announced that this summer they would be traveling to Nashville to compete in a national talent contest. 	Nielson, who performed a cheer/tumbling routine to “A Big Hunk O’ Love” by Elvis Presley, is a junior at North Sanpete High School and the daughter of Mike and Debbie Nielson.   Her platform for her year as Miss Fairview will be “H2O, let’s go: the importance of staying hydrated.” 	Joining Nielson as in the royalty as first attendant will be Ireland Rawlinson.  Rawlinson is the daughter of Sean and Shauna Rawlinson.  She showed a presentation of her art work as her talent performance and was named Most Photogenic and Miss Congeniality. 	Nicole Day was named second attendant.   Day is the daughter of Allen and Andrea Day and performed a piano solo, “Spanish Dance,” by Anton Bilotti. - James Tilson / Messenger photo

The 2017 Miss Fairview Pageant royalty have been named. Pictured are (L-R) Ireland Rawlinson, first attendant; Kelsie Nielson, Miss Fairview; and Nicole Day, second attendant. – James Tilson / Messenger photo

 

 

Kelsie Nielson wins Miss Fairview crown Saturday

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

2-23-2017

 

                FAIRVIEW—On a night dedicated to bringing out the “Masterpiece” in all the contestants, Kelsie Nielson was crowned Miss Fairview last Saturday night.

                The Miss Fairview Pageant, which was themed “Masterpiece,” was held at the packed Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview.   The pageant was emceed by Shayne Thompson and outgoing Miss Fairview, Lydia Madsen.   

                The entertainment was headlined by local duo Skyline Drive, featuring brothers Ross and Luc Christensen, who announced that this summer they would be traveling to Nashville to compete in a national talent contest.

                Nielson, who performed a cheer/tumbling routine to “A Big Hunk O’ Love” by Elvis Presley, is a junior at North Sanpete High School and the daughter of Mike and Debbie Nielson.   Her platform for her year as Miss Fairview will be “H2O, let’s go: the importance of staying hydrated.”

                Joining Nielson as in the royalty as first attendant will be Ireland Rawlinson.  Rawlinson is the daughter of Sean and Shauna Rawlinson.  She showed a presentation of her art work as her talent performance and was named Most Photogenic and Miss Congeniality.

                Nicole Day was named second attendant.   Day is the daughter of Allen and Andrea Day and performed a piano solo, “Spanish Dance,” by Anton Bilotti.

               

 

      

Kylie Nielson, 2008

Kylie Nielson, 2008

Kassie Nielson, 2009

Kassie Nielson, 2009

Kaytie Nielson, 2012

Kelsie Nielson, 2017

Kelsie Nielson, 2017

 

Four sisters, four Miss Fairviews, from 2008-2017

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

2-23-2017

 

 

                FAIRVIEW—Being Miss Fairview is something of a family tradition with the Nielsons.     The recently appointed 2017 Miss Fairview City Kelsie Nielson has three older sisters, and all four have now claimed the Miss Fairview title.

                The Nielson sisters are the daughters of Mike and Debbie Nielson. Debbie is on the Miss Fairview City Pageant Committee.

                “Having four daughters winning the title of Miss Fairview has been a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding,” Debbie Nielson said. “I’m not sure if people realize the hard work and dedication that it takes to be a title holder. As I have watched and helped my girls prepare to compete, I have witnessed a development and growth in each one of them.”

                Kelsie’s sister Kylie took the title back in 2008. Debbie says Kylie is currently the Miss Carbon County Pageant Director and a professional photographer. Kylie is married to Chris Howes, and they live in Price.

                The very next year,  Kassie Nielson earned Miss Fairview City 2009, and her sister Kylie crowned her when she won. Kassie later went on to be crowned Miss Sanpete County 2011.

                In 2012, Kaytie Nielson was the next Nielson sister to earn the Miss Fairview title. Kaytie is now the reigning Miss Sanpete County and will compete in the Miss Utah Pageant this June, says Debbie.

                The new Miss Fairview, Kelsie, was also the first Little Miss Fairview when the pageant was introduced in 2012.

                “Service is the main focus as Miss Fairview, and I am grateful for the opportunities that they have had to serve,” Debbie Nielson said. “It is always a busy year, promoting platforms, working on the parade float, city events, and many other duties that the city of Fairview asks the royalty to perform. I am so grateful to the city of Fairview for providing this opportunity and especially to all the many sponsors and local businesses for the scholarship funds donated that have helped my girls obtain their education for their future.”

 

Spencer Shields of Hideaway Valley, a member of  the Skyline Amateur Radio Club and one of the instructors for the club's  upcoming amateur radio licensing class, is seen here in his “radio shack” along with his radios.

Spencer Shields of Hideaway Valley, a member of the Skyline Amateur Radio Club and one of the instructors for the club’s upcoming amateur radio licensing class, is seen here in his “radio shack” along with his radios.

[Read more…]

Council members Kevin Stallings and Heidi Kelso inspect the preliminary plans for the new swimming pool at the Mt Pleasant City Council meeting. - James Tilson / Messenger photo

Council members Kevin Stallings and Heidi Kelso inspect the preliminary plans for the new swimming pool at the Mt Pleasant City Council meeting. – James Tilson / Messenger photo

 

[Read more…]

Support for autism parents

 

2-23-2017

                EPHRAIM—A free support group to help local parents and caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger’s has started up.

                It will be held the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at 10 a.m. at Sunray Family Counseling Office, 45 West 700 South, in Ephraim.

                The peer-led support network will facilitate autism-specific learning through professional presentations and parents sharing first-hand experience. It will include special guest presentations from professionals with expertise related to autism.

                A schedule of guest speakers will be maintained on Facebook at SanpeteAutismParent Support.

 

 

Snow College play, ‘Big Fish’ explores life lessons

 

Lloyd call

Associate publisher

2-23-2017

 

      EPHRAIM—Is it just another whopper of a fish story, or could it really be true?

      That’s the question William Bloom asks when he begins to suspect his dying father might really be some kind of hero, as the Snow College Theater Department presents “Big Fish” Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-24, and again Thursday through Saturday of next week, March 2-4.

      Will’s father, Edward, is very sick, and as he spends time with his dad, he wonders about all the wild stories his father told him through the years about befriending giants, werewolves, growing goldfishes, witches and more.

      Is his dad a liar, or does he just love storytelling? Will is a journalist, and as he starts to investigate his dad’s preposterous stories, he learns what may be the truth. And on the way, he learns truths about himself, his beliefs and how to face life.

      Milinda Weeks is the director of this wonderful play of discovery. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.

        Tickets are: $9 for adults and $8 for seniors and for students and high school age and younger.

        Tickets may be bought at the box office in the Eccles Center or at www.snow.edu/theatre.

Gunnison valley Hospital announces new partner

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

2-23-2017

 

 

                GUNNISON—Gunnison Valley Hospital (GVH) and Health Catalyst, a healthcare data analytics company based in Salt Lake City, have announced a partnership to improve health outcomes for hospital patients.

                According to management from both organizations, the pro bono arrangement reflects the values and mission of both organizations.

                “Part of our mission is to transform healthcare, and we feel this partnership with Gunnison Valley Hospital shows our commitment to that pledge,” said Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst. “The award-winning team at Gunnison Valley Hospital is dedicated and already delivers excellent outcomes for their patients. Using analytics and the expertise of the Health Catalyst team, we are honored to help the hospital reach new achievements in outcomes improvements.”

                The GVH staff is well receiving the partnership, thanks to the enhanced level of care patients will be able to receive.

                “The communities of Central Utah deserve the best care possible,” said Brenda Bartholomew, chief nursing officer at GVH. “We love that we will be able to work with our data in new ways to see exactly what level of care we currently provide and how we can work to improve that care for our community.” 

                The relationship will start with labor and delivery improvement initiatives.

                According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015 the primary Cesarean delivery rate (births to women without a previous Cesarean) accounted for 21.8 percent of all births nationwide. According to GVH statistics, the hospital is already well below this national average at 14 percent.

                Leveraging the partnership with Health Catalyst, the hospital has set the goal to reduce this number even more. Additionally, the hospital has a goal to decrease the composite neonatal complication rate (such as low birth weight, and other issues).

                The GVH has more outcomes improvement work planned as the hospital staff accomplishes the initial goals.

Mayors, commissioners hear report on enhancing economic development

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

2-23-2017

 

MT. PLEASANT — Sanpete County mayors and commissioners meeting received reports on a new economic development study taking place in the county and on the problem of deer kill on Sanpete County roads during their meeting last Thursday, Feb. 16.

            Dr. Don Albrecht, director of the Western Rural Development Center at Utah State University, described the Area Sector Analysis Process (ASAP) program, which is a program designed to research the  particular attributes of a region to match the area up with businesses that are most likely to succeed.

            The State of Utah has already engaged the WRDC to conduct such a study for Sanpete County, and Albrecht explained how the program worked.

            The research focuses on the resources present in the county, combined with the businesses and industries that the citizens would like to see in Sanpete. The “resources” can be a number of things. For example, the infrastructure (nearness of interstate highways, railroads, airports, harbors, or major roads), mineral resources, workforce resources (type of workers, education level, how many), other businesses already located there and access to Internet can all be resources.

            While WRDC can ascertain the resources of the county through its own efforts, the desires of the citizens will be answered through survey. Albrecht handed out survey cards to local officials at the meeting and reported 131 surveys had already been collected.

            The survey measures the economic, social and environmental desires of the citizens. Albrecht cautioned that the survey would be tough—“you have to make tradeoffs”—because some desires may be detrimental to other desires.

            For example, most would agree that economic development is desirable to all citizens in Sanpete County. However, certain industries bring costs, such as pollution, higher population density and greater possibility of crime, that the citizens would not want in their county.

            The ASAP will take the results, and analyze which businesses would be most desirable and most likely to succeed in Sanpete County.

            Albrecht said the results will identify some businesses that would more desirable in the short term—they fit the resources currently present in the county and are desirable to its citizens. Other businesses would be long-term goals for the county—they would be very desirable to the citizens in Sanpete but the resources to support those businesses do not yet exist in the county.

            Albrecht pointed out that individual communities inside Sanpete could utilize the services for their own purposes; the results could be tailored to specific zip codes. But Albrecht said that any development in the county, no matter where it occurred, would benefit all parts of the county.

            Mayor David Blackham of Mt. Pleasant asked what would be the cost if individual cities wanted to access the research for their own purpose. Albrecht answered that since the ASAP has already been funded through the state and the counties, there would be no further cost to the cities to use the research.

            Commissioner Steve Lund addressed the audience regarding a request from the Sanpete County Planning and Zoning Commission. Lund asked the cities to send to the Planning Commission information regarding their annexation plans and buffer zone maps in time for the April meeting of the commission.

            Mayor Randall Cox of Sterling made an announcement to the group about deer and elk that had been transported to the White Hills landfill. In November 2016, he said, 13 tons of animal carcasses were brought to the landfill. In December 2016, 8.29 tons were brought. In January 2017, the total was 9.40 tons.

            Cox voiced his concern about the number of deer being killed on the roads and the hazard it presented to Sanpete drivers. Garry Bringhurst, landfill administrator, added that 607 animals had been killed in the three months in Sanpete County, which he said translated to accidents that did an average of $4,000 in damage to each vehicle involved. And, he said, four people have died in recent years in collisions with wildlife along county roads.

            Cox “challenged” the commissioners to go to the Governor’s Office to see if something can be done about the problem. “There’s gotta be a way to slow this down,” he said.

            Commissioner Scott Bartholomew replied, “I would be more than happy to go with you,” but cautioned that the real problem was that there were too many private land owners along the roads leaving gates open through which the deer could travel. Bartholomew also said he knew the Legislature would only tell commissioners that they had to get their drivers to slow down.

            Cox replied, “We’ve got signs out now, and no one pays attention to them.”

Bringhurst wanted to bring to the group’s attention the state of the contract with the operator of the Sanpete cooperative landfills. He gave out the numbers for tonnage processed at the county landfills for the last three months. In November, it was 912.14 tons; in December, 723.41 tons; and in January, 712.14 tons. From those figures, the commercial tonnage was 480.0 in November, 471.13 in December and 489.15 in January.

Bringhurst also pointed out that a significant portion of that tonnage was rejected birds from Norbest. In November, 90.17 tons of rejected birds were brought to the landfill; in December, 154.53 tons; and in in January, 84.93 tons.

Bringhurst said the landfill association is over the contract tonnage with the operator of the landfills and he believed the organization should look to renegotiate that contract to give the operator a raise for his efforts.

However we do it, we must invest more in education

Feb. 22, 2017

 

Now is the time for our state to make a major investment in education. As Co-Chairs of  “Our Schools Now,” we endorse raising the state income tax by 7/8 of 1 percent, from 5 percent to 5.875 percent. The rate will still be a full percent less than it was ten years ago before it was cut. It will raise $750 million to go directly to classrooms in every public school across the state. The increase in funding is to be accompanied by a plan to improve student outcomes in our schools.

As legislators begin this session, they are asking if we could or would support raising revenues in a different way or if we would settle for something less. We encourage the debate.

We aren’t locked into a specific revenue target. What is important is that Utah establish a revenue source for education that will cover the necessities; teacher salary equity and funding for projected enrollment growth — while also investing in the things that will drive improvements in outcomes for the next decade and beyond.

The drivers we are focused on are improvements in reading and math competencies, and the graduation of high school students who are college and career ready. Money is required for things like professional development, support staff, technology and early learning. The source of the funding or dollar amount isn’t as important as a commitment to fund a comprehensive plan to move the needle.

Just funding inflation and enrollment growth will not begin to address the need Utah schools and students have.

A number of other suggestions have been made about how to raise more money for education. We are looking for a real solution and the debate needs to move from laundry lists to specific proposals. These alternative revenue sources, as well as the proven strategies for school improvement, have been studied for years. Now is the time for action.

Our real objective is to reach the widely accepted Utah goal of 66 percent of the working age population with a degree or meaningful certificate. Currently, less than 50 percent of Utahns have the education necessary for the demands of the modern workforce. Our plan would direct 85 percent of the money to K-12 schools (15 percent to higher education), which is where we have the greatest investment needs in order to reach the 66 percent goal.

Some say raising the income tax will hurt business in Utah and stall growth. Improving educational outcomes is the best thing we can do to stimulate business and growth. That is why the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce board of governors and the board of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah have both unanimously endorsed Our Schools Now and why business leaders throughout the state have joined our call to action.

 

 

Gail Miller, Scott Anderson and Ron Jibson are longtime Chief Executive Officers at Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Zion’s Bank and Questar, respectively. They currently serve as Co-Chairs of Our Schools Now, a 2018 ballot initiative for improved student performance in Utah. For more information, visit: www.ourschoolsnow.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot legislative topics include creating a convention of the states
Report from the Legislature

 

 

2-23-2017

 

Hot legislative topics include creating a Convention of the States

With Week Four of the 2017 Legislative Session over, we are now more than halfway done! We have passed a total of 96 bills, and they just keep on coming. Some of the bills have caught significant attention, often because they are considered controversial. Allow me to discuss some of these hot topic bills.

The Utah Legislature is considering dissolving partisan requirements in government. Currently, many state boards and commissions in Utah require there be no more than a certain number of members that belong to the same political party (e.g. seven members only).    Originally, these requirements were meant to ensure the boards contained multiple different opinions. In practice, however, these partisan requirements have created staffing problems. There are many instances in Utah where a town contains almost entirely Republican or entirely Democrat civilians. This means for instance, a local Radiation Control Board cannot be staffed by enough doctors because they filled up their party member quota, and cannot fill the opposite party affiliation slots. Furthermore, what happens when the only qualified doctor—who also happens to have the necessary partisan affiliation—lives in St. George and must commute to Salt Lake City to serve on the Board?

This bill, HB11, solves this problem by eliminating all references to partisan affiliation. Under this bill, neither the Governor nor the Senate is allowed to even consider partisan affiliation as a prerequisite to service on a board.  The purpose is to make quality the determining factor, not partisanship.

Another hot topic bill concerns Utah school grading. Over the last few years, we have worked on how to improve our school assessment and accountability systems. We want to ensure that these school systems are helping our students learn and grow— not just placing overwhelming burdens of tests and grading.

SB 220 seeks to reach the next level in school assessment and accountability by switching over from SAGE to ACT. We hope to establish a single meaningful statewide report of school performance. ACT uses multiple indicators that are focused on student-level outcomes, and also seeks collaboration with the State Board of Education and other stakeholders.

SB 220 hopes to leave normative school grading and bell curves behind, and instead establish set criteria for attaining each grade level. This bill has only begun the legislative process, and will be appearing soon on the Senate floor.

This week, our appropriation subcommittee chairs presented priority appropriation requests they want funded to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC). These priorities are shared in hopes that the EAC will fund the priorities in the general budget. If you are following a certain budget appropriation request, know that we are closer to hearing the funding results of our appropriation request presentations.

Lastly, I want to speak on the resolution causing the largest debate in the legislature currently: HJR 3. This resolution calls for Utah to join other states in petitioning Congress to create a Convention of the States. At this convention, states would consider amendments to the US Constitution, in order to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

This concept has been debated for many years in almost all of the state legislatures in our country. As the resolution has been presented in both the House and Senate committees, members of the public have come to speak passionately on both sides of the issue.

Most all of them are in agreement that the federal government has grown beyond the original intentions of the Founding Fathers. Those who oppose the proposed Convention of the States have brought up that this kind of convention has never been successfully implemented.

In their eyes, there are too many unknowns and possibilities. Some believe that the chance of a “runaway” convention is too high, that there is nothing to keep nefarious delegates from proposing changes that will ultimately take away freedoms guaranteed in the constitution.

I and many of those in favor of a Convention of the States believe that the only fear should be our federal government growing unchecked. I contend that fears of a “runaway” convention are unfounded. In order for that to happen, 38 of the 50 states would have to agree to changes instituted in a “runaway” convention, and I believe that state legislators are more worthy of trust than our current US Congress.

HJR3 has passed out of both House and Senate Committees and the House Floor. Its next stop will be the Floor of the Senate for continued debate.

                That’s it for our current hot topic bills. You are welcome to join me at the Capitol any time this session, whether it be to watch voting in the 4th floor House and Senate galleries, or to share your concerns in a face-to-face meeting. If you don’t have time to come up to Salt Lake City, all floor activity in the Utah Senate Chamber is broadcasted at senate.utah.gov/webcam.html.                 Hearing your voice helps me accomplish my job to represent you. I can be reached by email at rokerlund@le.utah.gov.  If you’d like to meet with me, you can reach out to my intern, Saren Winter, by email at swinter@le.utah.gov or by phone at (335) 441-0600.

I hope to hear from you as the legislative session wraps up. I’m starting to get a little homesick, and I’m not much of a city kind of guy. I would love to see some fellow rural Utah faces this next week.

 

Senator Ralph Okerlund

Utah State Senate, District 24

 

Appreciates legislative updates, upset with Owens

 

 

                Thank you and our legislators for the session updates. There is a lot packed into a few weeks. We want to comment on an article a few weeks ago by Rep. Owens. We were disappointed to see him, a member of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, refer to the Bears Ears National Monument designation as a “Federal Land Grab.” Federal management over the years is the main reason that our state still has so much natural beauty and hasn’t been stripped and exploited.

                The Utah state government, including Rep. Owens, repeatedly focuses on state control of federal lands. This is irresponsible thinking. Even a cursory look at state-managed lands shows a real difference in the management focus. Our National Parks demonstrate the care the Federal government gives to these beautiful lands. Our state parks are degraded by comparison. The state government wants these lands to make a profit, which includes selling the pollution rights. Coupled with the efforts to gut the EPA, residents will be the ones to pay the price.

                Remember the recent environmental disaster at Durango, CO? Private mining company makes money, residents and wildlife have their water supply poisoned, taxpayers get stuck with the cleanup.

                As long as lands are public, they are available to us—the public. As long as places like Bears Ears are protected, they are preserved. A place can be preserved as long as people demand it, but a place can only be destroyed once.

 

 

Deborah Woodbury, Manti

Lianne Hirst, Manti

Leslie (left) and Rick Kalama show Hawaiian hand signs in front of their new eatery,  Kalama’s Island Style Restaurant, which occupies the former location of Malena’s Café in Ephraim.

Leslie (left) and Rick Kalama show Hawaiian hand signs in front of their new eatery, Kalama’s Island Style Restaurant, which occupies the former location of Malena’s Café in Ephraim.

[Read more…]