Archives for June 2017

Municipal utilities going up, some a lot, some a little

 

Clara Hatcher

Staff writer

6/29/2017

 

Residents in five Sanpete County cities are going to see raises—some by a little, others by more significant amounts—in various utility rates.

After discussions during respective city council meetings, officials in Centerfield, Moroni, Fountain Green, Mt. Pleasant and Ephraim cities have voted to raise water, sewer and/or irrigation rates for the 2018 fiscal year. Those rates are set to take effect on July 1.

While Fountain Green sewer and water rates are increasing by up to 75 cents, base rates in Mt. Pleasant, Centerfield, Moroni and Ephraim will increase by up to $7.

Water overage-rates for all cities are remaining the same, though Centerfield is changing the water allotment under its base rate from 5,000 gallons to 6,000 gallons, and then simultaneously changing that rate from $20 to $25.

In Moroni City, irrigation rates are increasing from $17 to a new rate of $20.

 

Centerfield

            Centerfield’s sewer rates will remain unchanged at $25 from the 2017 fiscal year. However, the city’s base water rates will increase from $20 to a new rate of $25.

The current residential water base rate of $20 will cover up to 5,000 gallons of water consumption. Centerfield’s new base rate of $25 for the 2018 fiscal year will cover up to 6,000 gallons of water consumption.

For every 1,000 gallons after the covered amount of 6,000 gallons of water consumption, there is an overage rate of $1.40. This rate covers every 1,000 gallons up to 15,000 gallons of water use. The initial overage cost of $1.40 increases by an additional 5 cents after 15,001 gallons of use and again after 20,001 gallons of use.

 

Moroni

            For the 2018 fiscal year, Moroni City residents face a sewer rate increase of $2, making the new base rate $13. Water rates will remain at $14 for the base rate.

The city council has also voted to increase police fees by $10 in order to fund a full-time police chief and a Terminal Agency Coordinator position. Rates will increase $8 to pay for the chief’s position and $2 for the TAC person.

Irrigation rates in the city will increase from $17 to a new rate of $20. City finance consultant Gary Keddington said Moroni City has been forced to increase irrigation rates to match prices from external companies, where the city has been purchasing water. Keddington added that the cost per share of water bought from these companies has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years.

The current $11 sewer base rate in Moroni will cover up to 1,000 gallons of water consumption per month. The same amount will be covered under the city’s $14 base rate for water.

Keddington said that the city has been forced to increase irrigation rates to match prices from external companies the city has been purchasing water from. Keddington added that the cost per share of water bought from these companies has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years.

The current $11 sewer base rate in Moroni will cover up to 1,000 gallons of water consumption per month. The same amount is covered under the city’s new $13 base rate for sewer and unchanged $14 base rate for water. In the city’s tiered system, residents are charged additional sewer rates of $4.50 for each 1,000 gallons consumed between 1,001 and 8,000 gallons of water. Each tier, from 8,001 to 12,000, 12,001 to 17,000, and 17,001 to 22,000 and so on would increase by another 0.50 cents.

 

Fountain Green

Sewer rates in Fountain Green are set to increase from the 2017 fiscal year budget of $29 to the 2018 budget of $29.25 per month. Water rates will also increase by 75 cents, from $37.50 to a new rate of $38.25 per month.

Fountain Green’s new water base rate of $38.25 will cover up to 6,000 gallons of water consumption. Overage rates of $1.50 are introduced every 1,000 gallons of water use after 6,000 gallons and up to 20,000 gallons of water. Every 1,000 gallons after 20,001 gallons of water will be charged overage rates of $1.75 up to 40,000 gallons. After 40,001 gallons of water consumption, $2 will be charged every 1,000 gallons of use.

 

Mt. Pleasant

            Mount Pleasant sewer rates are set to increase by $7 for the 2018 fiscal year, from $10.50 to a new rate of $17.50. The city water rates will remain unchanged at $22.

A $22 base rate for water will cover up to 3,000 gallons of water consumption. The city has three tiers where, after the amount covered by the base rate; an additional $1 per 1,000 gallons will be charged up to 20,000 gallons, $1.25 per 1,000 gallons up to 50,000 gallons and $1.50 per 1,000 gallons past 50,001 gallons.

 

Ephraim

While Ephraim’s water rates will remain unchanged at a minimum of $16.85, sewer rates for the 2018 fiscal year will increase from $27 to a new $30 rate per month.

According to Ephraim City Manager Brant Hanson, the increased sewer rates are still $3.65 below state average.

Essentially, Hanson said that the budget is operating in the red.

“We’ve kept our rates relatively low,” Hanson said. “As much as we possibly can.”

For some at the city council meeting on Tuesday, June 14, rates are still too high—and Ephraim resident Ed Schoppe spoke at the meeting to protest the initial increase to $33.50.

“Calculating my fixed income, I am spending nearly 55 percent on taxes, Schoppe said. “People don’t understand what you’re doing. We just don’t get it.”

In addition to raising the rates to $30 instead of the initial $33.50, Hanson said that city officials have responded to this request for communication. Starting next year, city officials will have open houses to have what he calls “open conversations with residents.”

For water rates in Ephraim, a $16.85 minimum rate will cover up to 7,000 gallons of water consumption within city limits. After that, there are overage costs of $1.29 per 1,000 gallons used for the next 20,000 gallons, increasing by one cent each tier after.

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

Shorter, revised Mormon Miracle Pageant still draws good crowds

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

6/29/2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand marshals in Sanpete County bring a wealth of love, life to the valley

 

Greg Knight

Staff writer

6/29/2017

 

Moroni

Anna and Kim Aagard

 

MORONI—The  most unique thing about the Aagard family, according to Kim Aagard, is their love of all things patriotic.

As Grand Marshalls for the 2017 Moroni City Mammoth Parade on July 4, both Kim and his wife Anna will lead the city in a remembrance of our nation’s founding.

The Aagards have been residents of Moroni for the majority of their married life and have religiously supported and enjoyed Moroni City’s Fourth of July festivities.

Kim’s childhood was spent in Fountain Green. After his family moved to Salt Lake City to be closer to the family sheep business, he found his way back to Sanpete and graduated from North Sanpete High School.

“You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” Kim is fond of saying about his love of Sanpete County.

Kim worked as a sheep rancher for 35 years.  Before ranching, he owned a trucking business for eight years. His love for vehicles began as a small child, and he had mastered driving a 1951 GMC two-ton truck by age eight. Vehicles of all kinds have been a lifelong interest, and keeping them well maintained and clean is his passion.

After serving as Moroni Stake President from 1986-1995, Kim is still loved and respected due to his genuine love and interest in people. To this day, he serves people of the community on an individual basis through his strongest attributes—patience, listening, and discerning.  Currently, Kim and Anna serve in the Manti Temple as ordinance workers, and Kim also serves as a sealer.

Aside from the years she obtained her education, Anna has been a lifelong resident of Moroni.  As a young girl, she enjoyed participating in typical activities of the city such as 4-H, softball and breeding show turkeys. As an adult, she served as a member of the first Moroni City Planning Commission and said she believes the greatest benefit of living in Moroni is the closeness of a small community.

Beginning at age eight, Anna said she spent countless hours learning to play the piano. She has used this talent throughout her life to serve the community, school, and church. By seventh grade, she was the choir accompanist, and by the time she got to high school she served as the ward organist. She has served in that capacity ever since.

For 30 years, Anna was a business teacher at North Sanpete High School. Her students and family will agree that her success as a teacher was due to how much she cared about the success of her students. Willing to go the extra mile, she allowed her students to call or come to her home until 10 p.m. to get help with and drop off their assignments. Many times, they were welcomed with warm chocolate chip cookies.

“We feel that (our) family is our greatest accomplishment,” Anna said.

Kim and Anna have four daughters (Maria, Melanie, April and Mary Jane), 18 grandchildren and one great-grandson.  Their focus has always been on keeping their family close to one another and creating memories.

 

Manti

Valerie and Dough Dyreng

 

MANTI—For Doug and Valerie Dyreng, the importance of the Manti Fourth of July celebration can be summed up in their feelings regarding not just the multitude of events in Sanpete County, but for what the day means to the nation as a whole.

It is with this in mind, and in recognition of their years of service to the community, that the couple has been named as the Manti parade grand marshals for 2017. “We love this country, and we love what this country stands for,” said Doug, a retired educator at Snow College and former president of the Mormon Miracle Pageant. “The Fourth of July is the day we mark to remember the founding of the greatest country on earth.”

For Valerie, the day holds patriotic meaning, especially given the military service her father and two of her children gave for the freedoms we enjoy here at home.

“It’s a celebration of our great land and freedoms,” Valerie said. “I feel especially patriotic about the Fourth because my father served in World War II and we have two boys that served in Iraq, so it’s always meant a lot to me because it is a blessing to see up close the sacrifice the military men and women have given.

“I see what an individual impact lives have made when it comes to our freedoms here in the United States,” Valerie said.

Doug and Valerie met at Brigham Young University in the 1960s. They were married in the Manti Temple in 1972 and subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where Doug was a training director and human resource manager for the Olga Companies.

The Dyrengs returned to Manti in the mid-1970s, and Doug took on work with his father at Apex Hatcheries before beginning his career in education at Snow College, where he was a business instructor and dean of the school of business. Valerie’s career path flourished after her children grew to adulthood; she returned to college to finish her degree and worked at Manti Elementary School for more than a decade.

The Sanpete Valley also represents a part of Utah where they say a family can raise children in not just a patriotic and values-based environment, but in a place where safety and security for young men and women reign supreme.

“The main reason we came back here (from LA) was for that reason specifically, to raise a family,” Doug said. “We could not think of a better place to bring up our kids than the Sanpete Valley, and Manti in particular.”

Valerie echoed her husband’s sentiment, adding that the benefits to kids are innumerable here in the valley.

“It’s great to have a small community where kids can have a lot of freedoms and a lot of opportunities,” Valerie said. “For our kids, it was a chance for them to learn hard work and also to participate in a lot of athletics, pageants and other activities. It’s an abundance of activities for families and children that want it.”

The Dyrengs have six children (David, Darren, Scott, Holly, Brad and Paul) and 17 grandchildren.

When it comes to callings in their ward, the Dyrengs have been exceptionally active as well, with Doug serving as a stake president and bishop. Doug’s service in the pageant presidency is especially sweet, given that his mother, Helen Dyreng, was a founder of the annual event.

Valerie, a past Relief Society president, was recently called as a counselor in her ward.

 

Mt. Pleasant

Reed and Robyn Thomas

 

  1. PLEASANT—As a young man, Reed Thomas discovered early on that he loved the Sanpete Valley—A place where his family’s pioneer roots date back to the mid-1800s and his grandfather, William Jensen, was born in Mt. Pleasant in 1875.

Now, Thomas, a third-generation native of Sanpete County, and his wife Robyn are being honored this year as the grand marshals of the Hub City Days Fourth of July parade.

The couple married in 1966 and has raised a family that includes six children (Gregory, Sean, Shannon, Dana, Shane and Troy), 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.

After graduating from North Sanpete High School in 1959 and teaching in California and Nevada for a decade, Reed took on employment as an educator at his alma mater for 27 years. It was at that time that he helped many young men and women succeed in both their education and life skills. Robyn, a native of Southern California, graduated from Yucaipa High School in 1961. The two met at Fort Ord in California and married in the Los Angeles temple.

“Family has always been a ten-out-of-ten for me and Robyn,” Thomas said. “We’re a close family, and that includes my grandkids and two great-grandkids.”

Thomas is also the author of Sidekicks: Helping Youth Succeed Against The Odds, a book chronicling his efforts to transform North Sanpete students into high schoolers who are involved and interested in education, and encourages them to head into the world, diploma in hand.

“Education is very important, and I put a high priority on my students having a lot of grit,” Thomas said. “It’s required for one to be successful, I believe, and I think it is almost more important than having intelligence sometimes. Without grit, a student won’t get very far. When they get that diploma, it shows a sign of that.”

While education may have been his life’s work, Thomas has also given much of his time and energy to civic causes in the Mt. Pleasant area. In 1976, he contributed to the rebuilding of the outdoor arena and helped introduce high school rodeo to the county as co-chair of the Hub City Days Rodeo Committee.

Thomas also organized and chaired the National Day of the American Cowboy Celebration in Mt. Pleasant and served as the vice president of the construction committee of ConToy Indoor Arena while sitting on the Mt. Pleasant City Council.

“My focus has been with horses and rodeo because I grew up in that type of environment, so my main contribution has been in that area,” Thomas added. “It’s a joy to see the high schoolers taking part in activities like this in Mt. Pleasant and from around the county.”

Thomas was recently released as high priest group leader, while Robyn is currently a family history consultant for their ward.

When asked what he loves most about the Hub City Days events that come annually to Mt. Pleasant, Thomas said he believes the family-centered events are good for residents and visitors alike.

“It brings the community together,” Thomas said. “I really think every community in Utah should have celebrations like this because it increases the closeness of the people here.”

 

Gunnison

Roger and Bonnie Jensen

 

GUNNISON—The 2017 grand marshals for the July 4 parade in Gunnison are Roger and Bonnie Jensen.

They are both natives of the Gunnison Valley and have enjoyed living here many years. Although they have spent many years in the valley, they said the years they lived away were filled with many happy times visiting family in Gunnison and Mayfield as well as camping, fishing and hunting in Twelve Mile Canyon.

Roger is the son of the late Calvin and Matilda Jensen of Mayfield. He attended the old Mayfield Elementary School and graduated from Manti High School. Bonnie is the daughter of the late Lenard and Florence Buchanan of Gunnison. She attended school in Gunnison and then spent a year at Brigham Young University.

They were high school sweethearts, and both graduated from Snow College after they were married. This year they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Roger pursued his education at Utah State University, followed by a career as an engineer at Thiokol and Sperry Univac, which took them from Logan (where they lived for 11 years) to East Midvale (for 13 years) and then back to Gunnison when Sperry had a plant in Ephraim.

“We had always wanted to return to the valley and jumped at the chance to relocate back to Gunnison in 1981,” Roger said.

Bonnie worked in the educational system after her children were in school. She worked as a librarian in three different elementary schools in Jordan School District and had the opportunity to be a para-educator in her daughter Michele’s kindergarten classroom at Gunnison Elementary. Later on, she volunteered at the middle school for a year.

The Jensens built their home in Gunnison, which they designed and constructed themselves.

“It has been a delight (for us) to be close to 12 mile, where we have gone fishing and exploring since our childhoods and courtship,” Bonnie added. “(We) have created a beautiful yard and always have a plentiful garden that they share every year. Traveling with friends and family has always been a favorite pastime for us.”

They just returned from a cruise to Alaska with all three of their children and several other family members.

They are faithful, lifelong members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They have both been actively involved; Roger served as a member of four different bishoprics, including two at the Central Utah Correction Facility, as Elder’s Quorum President and High Priest’s group leader. Bonnie has served in many callings as well, including a Relief Society presidency and primary presidency.

After coming back to Gunnison, Roger was introduced to the Lions club. He has been extremely active in the service organization, serving as vice president, president for two years, secretary, a member of the board of directors and treasurer. He is currently serving as treasurer, where his record-keeping and organizational skills have been of great worth.

They both have enjoyed working with many wonderful members of the Lions Club and the community. Both Roger and Bonnie spend every Fourth at the park helping with the celebration and have drafted their children and grandchildren to help as well. Roger has always willingly shared his building skills to help with community projects including roofing of the park pavilions, the building of the Lions Club pavilion, the cemetery entry sign and the Riverwalk Bridge. They organized the visit from Santa for several years and have always helped with the decorations for the community Christmas tree.

They are the parents of three children, Janice (Bob) Bown, John (Laurie) Jensen and Michele (Brian) Jensen. They are pleased that all of their children reside here in the Gunnison Valley, along with many of their 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Fortino Villanueva

Centerfield man charged with sexual abuse felonies

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

6/29/2017

 

MANTI — A Centerfield man stands accused of inappropriately touching his 16 year old niece a number of times between 2008 and 2014.

Fortino Villanueva, 49, was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, each a first-degree felony and one count of kidnapping, also a first-degree felony. While the first three counts are alleged to have occurred between 2008 and 2014, the kidnapping charge is alleged to have taken place on June 13 of this year.

Villanueva appeared in Manti District Court on June 21 with his attorney, Justin Bond. Judge Anthony Howell set Villanueva’s bond at $80,000 and set his next court date for July 5 at 10:00 a

According to the probable cause statement, police found out about these allegations when Villanueva’s niece and her mother came to the Gunnison Police Station on June 15 to tell her story. His niece told the police that her uncle, Villanueva, dropped her and her 1-year-old sister off at her family trailer after running errands. Villanueva followed the two girls into the trailer, and cornered his niece in the kitchen, saying that she had “gained weight” and attempted to pick her up. Although his niece tried to get away from him, Villanueva grabbed his niece by the wrist and pulled her up against him. He told her that she was “very grown up” and kissed the back of her neck while he was groping her chest.

As she continued her interview, the niece told the police that her family used to live with Villanueva’s family in Centerfield. From 2008 to 2014 she described many occasions where Villanueva would put his hand inside her shirt to grab her chest, when no other family members were around. She did not tell anyone about the abuse at that time, and it stopped when her family moved to Idaho. But when Villanueva touched her again, she was afraid the abuse would start again and she told her mother.

During questioning after his arrest on June 15, Villanueva admitted to grabbing his niece’s wrist and picking her up, but denied trying to kiss her. Villanueva stated that his niece’s mother “was out to get him.”

Because of Villanueva’s “position of special trust” as her uncle, under Utah law he was charged with first-degree felonies.

A group of Gunnison Valley youth assist in simulating a mock pandemic crisis at the Gunnison Valley Hospital (GVH) where both Ebola and the H1N1 virus spread into the local community. The mock crisis helped to prepare the hospital for a real pandemic scenario, and was a successful training simulation, says GVH administration.

Gunnison Hospital mock-crisis is ‘quite realistic,’ chief nurse says

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

6/29/2017

 

GUNNISON—A group of foreign tourists make a vacation journey through Southern Utah; before long, Gunnison Valley Hospital admits multiple patients with symptoms of a flu-like illness; the hospital immediately establishes a command center and prepares to quarantine patients infected with both Ebola and the H1N1 virus.

Luckily, this is only a script from a mock-crisis scenario the hospital participated in, along with hospitals from five other counties, that simulated a highly virulent outbreak in order to be better prepared if a similar scenario actually happened.

The mock crisis was organized by the Six County Association of Governments, which serves Sanpete, Juab, Millard, Piute, Sevier and Wayne counties, all participated in the training scenario, it took place on Thursday, June 22.

“This all happened really quickly,” GVH Human Resources Director Liz Brown said. “The [infected volunteer] patients presented themselves, and we set up our command center with the CEO [Mark Dalley] in charge.”

Brown said 14 “patients” checked in with symptoms within a two-hour period. A triage was set up; patients were categorized by the severity of their symptoms and “infected” patients were quarantined into a separate wing of the hospital.

Home health nurses were recruited to assist in the patient care scenario.

“It was quite realistic,” Brenda Bartholomew, chief nurse at GVH, said. “We tried to make it a real learning experience by playing along just as if it were a real outbreak situation, and since we’d never been in that scenario before, we learned a lot about what we should do.”

Bartholomew was pleased with the way her nursing staff handled things. “They did not allow the panic to cloud their judgment. They were organized, efficient and never lost sight of the fact that the patients come first.”

Doug Shober, head of the Emergency and Preparedness Team at GVH, said the simulation was definitely a success.

“For the first time, we activated our command center, which has been in place to help with these types of situations but had never previously been tested.”

The command center is primarily in charge of coordination and communication between the hospitals internal staff and outside entities.

“We came away with a list of small things to add, like additional phone lines in the command center; but, overall it was seamless,” Shober said.

Brown said the drill was especially helpful in finding the gaps in the hospital strategy for dealing with a potential pandemic issue.

“It was helpful to me to understand better how I can do my job in a situation like this,” Brown added. “If a pandemic lasted three weeks, having adequate staffing and protecting them and their families from the illness becomes vital. We can’t treat patients if we don’t have the staff to do it.”

The final segment of the simulation was a debriefing of the participating hospitals to discuss areas of strength the exercise revealed, as well as areas for improvement.

Doing so, as well as participation in the event in general, was important for the hospital, said CEO Mark Dalley,

“We take our role as primary care partner for the Sanpete County community very seriously, and this simulation allowed us to ensure that we are capable of providing high-quality care even in a situation outside of the norm,” Dalley said.

Child sodomy case is example of chief’s ‘paperwork’ problem

 

John Hales

Staff writer

6/29/2017

 

EPHRAIM—Amid responses that either justify Ephraim Police Chief Ron Rasmussen as being overworked, or impugn him as being lazy and incompetent, not many have gone so far as to utter the words “criminal conduct.”

Except one. A former Ephraim resident says not only was paperwork in her case left undone, but that this failure was part of a larger cover-up of a serious crime.

Contrary to an apparent misconception that “unfinished paperwork” was just so many statistics that didn’t quite get filled in, or some other “administrative” omission, a preliminary examination by the Messenger shows that the lapse consisted of missing police reports. That could mean alleged suspects are never prosecuted and that victims will not recieve justice.

Rachelle Adair alleged that just such a felony—sodomy of a child—happened to her son, and that Rasmussen may have obstructed justice in failing to pursue the case.

Adair brought the matter to light in a Facebook post following news Rasmussen had been put on administrative leave.

Rasmussen had many ardent defenders in the comments sections of websites where news stories appeared. Amid the praise, however, Adair took steps set the record—at least hers—straight.

Using sometimes scathing language, she has accused the chief of hindering an investigation, tampering with evidence and failing even to provide documentation so any case could proceed through the court system.

“The justice system wanted to work properly,” she wrote. “However, Ron failed to do his job as chief.”

The Messenger was unable to reach Adair for an interview, but through her Facebook posts and information provided by other sources, a version of the story can be pieced together.

Sometime in 2012, it is alleged, a teenage boy sexually abused at least two younger boys. The abuse was reported and an officer, called a “detective” by Adair, investigated. Rasmussen, she and others say, took the first officer off the case and assigned himself, for unknown reasons.

“Our case…went nowhere after this detective was removed. The proper documentation and children’s interviews were never provided to requesting agencies,” Adair wrote.

She said she became aware of similar complaints regarding the same perpetrator, as well as a report of illegal drug use at the same location where the abuse allegedly occurred, but that case also went nowhere, again due to the lack of proper police documentation.

The police report on the case, which the Messenger received through a records information request, shows almost nothing.

The report was written on Oct. 23, 2012, by Chief Rasmussen. But records indicate the case started some months before.

Though Adair says another officer first investigated, Rasmussen is listed as the initial investigator. There is no incident summary or narrative detailing either the complaint or any investigation, merely, “Report of sexual abuse at above address,” followed by the redacted name of an individual. The crime was listed as “Sexual assault, sodomy boy strongarm.”

There is no reference to interviews, recorded or not, of anyone. Adair maintains her child was indeed interviewed.

The only other guidance the report gives is that it was “referred other jurisdiction,” though that jurisdiction is nowhere named.

A second, related report appears to have been created to document various requests for information the police department was receiving about the alleged sexual abuse case.

Those requests, however, begin in July 2012, indicating that reports of the case should exist dating from at least then. If such reports exist, they are as yet unavailable to the Messenger.

One the second report, there is a request the Division of Family and Children’s Services made in July 2012 for information about the abuse.

A notation made by Judy Gines, police department secretary at the time, indicates she asked one officer for a report, but he responded that another officer had taken over the case (neither officer was named). Gines asked the second officer for the report “but an incident number had not yet been generated,” which means a report had not been writen.

On Oct. 22, 2012, the department received an “urgent” second request from a Crime Victims Reparations (CRV) representative.

“At this time, the report is still under investigation and [name redacted] is not on the report,” is the secretary’s notation to the Oct. 22 request.

CRV requested again on Oct. 26, Nov. 26, Dec. 12 and Dec. 20, by which time the one-page incident report had been written, but with no information other than that the case, by that time, was “inactive.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office—most likely the Child Protection Division, though there is lack of specificity in the accompanying note—also requested information, apparently unsuccessfully, on Oct. 26 of that year.

“Our case was a serious case and needed to be handled properly to stop this nasty cycle so no other children could be hurt,” Adair wrote.

She and others maintain that not only was the case handled improperly, but that it may have been intentionally so.

She wrote, “It had been brought to my attention that Ron was asked to let this case slide under the rug.”

In an earlier Facebook post, which she later removed, Adair provided more details, some of which were reiterated by another Messenger source.

All of them said either a neighbor, longtime friend, fellow LDS ward member or combination of all three, who was a worker at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, “persuaded” (Adair’s word) Rasmussen to let the case slide.”

“The sad part,” Adair wrote in her first, now-removed post, “is my boys were being told what Ron was doing to help protect the reputation of these people. Although it’s been years and the damage has been done I still feel an urgency to step in.”

Besides the alleged denial of justice for victims, Adair fears what the failure to properly pursue the case might have done. Are there other victims? What about the obviously troubled perpetrator who five years later is now an adult?

“Unfortunately, there is a perpetrator out there that has never been tried and has never received the help this individual needs,” Adair wrote.

The Messenger is awaiting Ephraim City’s responses on other public information records requests, including any police report written by Chief Rasmussen since 2007.

The Messenger was unable to reach Rasmussen for comment as of press time.

Snow College Dean of Science Dan Black explains to Snow College trustees the cutting-edge planetarium the school has planned as one of the crown jewels of the new 56,600 square-foot science building, now under construction. Trustees toured the building during their regular meeting on Friday, June 23. The building is scheduled to be completed in time for fall semester.

New ‘interactive Snow science building has integrated artwork

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

6/29/2017

 

EPHRAIM—A new science building on the campus of Snow College will be more than just labs and classrooms; the state-of-the-art building will include several interactive displays and features to enhance the school’s science education.

The building, and explanation of those features, was presented to the Snow College Board of Trustees last week as they inspected the nearly-completed project on last week, with Dean of Science Dan Black serving as tour guide.

“The whole idea of this building is to be interactive and to get people to want to come in,” Black told board members.

The first of the interactive displays in the 56,000-square-foot building appears immediately upon entering: a large, art installation that moves along the ceiling.

Black explained that the installation would be a sculpture made up of many aluminum bars attached to pulleys. A nearby control box, accessible to entrants, will have several buttons, and by pressing each, those bars will morph into various geometric patterns, such as a helix or a wave.

Board member and renowned Utah composer Michael McClean jokingly asked Black if the programmable art installation could be set up to display a visualization of musical notes from his compositions.

“Actually, yes,” Black said. “We can integrate audio into the programming, so yes it is possible. … Through more advanced programming, it can form nearly any shape.”

Snow President Gary Carlston said that the inclusion of art was required by the state, which mandates that one percent of the construction cost of new state buildings goes towards integrating art into the structure design.

“This was one out of several options we looked into,” Carlston said.

Another science-oriented display will be a fully-functional robotic farmer.

“It will be able to plant and start seeds, water, fertilize and weed its planting area autonomously,” Black said.

The new science building will feature a self-contained beehive, a transparent structure so people can see how bees moving throughout their home and make honey.

A “virtual cadaver” will enable students and visitors to use a screen to zoom in on areas and organs of the body, such as the heart or even the entire cardiovascular system, to learn more about them.

“It will be very detailed,” Black says “People who might be too squeamish to deal with a real cadaver could use this to learn more about anatomy.”

Black said the learning displays are all meant to be touched and played with, fun to engage with—but all have educational value directly related to science.

“I know where I’ll be spending most of my time,” Black said to the board members with a smile.

The crown jewel of the new building will be a planetarium says Black, a state-of-the-art computerized dome meant not only for stargazing, but also designed so images and video can be projected in full 3D against the dome’s interior.

“Anyone who has ever used virtual reality has an idea of what it will be like,” Black said. “It should be able to give the sense of flying to places, and be able to interact in virtual environments such as Google Earth.”

The new building is scheduled to be open in time for fall semester, Black said, and its many interactive components will be up and running then, too.

Carlston said the school wants to plan a grand opening for sometime in October.

Amy Gowans and kids, Kaylee and Derek Gowans, look around the Bookmobile for new books to check out. While Kaylee gravitates toward mystery books, Derek leans toward books about “snakes and adventures.”

 

Books come to us

Bookmobile service brings large library to Sanpete, Juab

 

Clara Hatcher

Staff writer

6/29/2017

MANTI—The Sanpete and Southern Juab County Bookmobile rolls into Manti every two weeks and, during its most recent visit, Dax Keller, 7, was first through the door to check out a fresh stack of books.

“I like science books, like on spiders and rattlesnakes,” Keller said, adding that he most recently learned that tarantulas are nothing to fear from a book he read in Spanish. “Tarantulas don’t actually bite people unless you are mean to them.”

Keller checks out at least three books a week, almost exclusively from the Bookmobile. When asked why he visits so frequently, Keller replied simply.

“To get books,” he said.

The Bookmobile, which circulates around Sanpete and Southern Juab County bi-monthly, is a program organized by the Utah State Library and sponsored by the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts. The vehicle is a truck turned roving library with nearly 5,000 books onboard.

Utah State Librarian Donna Jones Morris said the Bookmobile is a service meant to promote literacy and provide access to books wherever possible.

“We want to provide library service to the parts of Utah that do not have fixed libraries people can get to conveniently,” Morris said.

Amongst other things, Bookmobile is a way for communities to get engaged in reading and learning. Patrons have access to audiobooks and online reading with their Bookmobile library card and, according to Morris, free WI-FI is also available.

“Sometimes people bring their own devices and download books if they do not have internet access at home,” Morris said. “We are helping people have access to Utah’s online library.”

For Kaylee Gowans, 12, it is all about mystery novels.

“I like mysteries where kids are the main characters,” Kaylee said. “I can relate to it more and they are more fun to read.”

Her brother, Aiden Gowans, 14, prefers Richard Paul Evans’ young adult and science fiction series about an electric man named Michael Vey. Aiden said that the Michael Vey series is so popular at his school that, “If you just say that name, people will know what you are talking about.”

The entire Gowans family, including Aiden and Kaylee’s brother, Derek, 6, and mom, Amy, has been stopping by the Bookmobile nearly every two weeks starting fall 2016.

Most often, they can expect to run into Bookmobile librarian Jim Ericksen.

“I have been driving about 12 years. I started off as a relief driver,” Ericksen said. “We [the librarians] wear many hats. We have to drive it, make sure it is maintained and as far as the librarian part of it, we do everything from ordering books to knowing what our patrons like to read.”

Patrons can ask the librarians to order anything they would like to read from young adult and youth reads to databases and mature novels. The headquarters for Bookmobile in Fairview holds nearly 20,000 books. If a desired book is still not available online, at headquarters or on the Bookmobile, virtually anything can be obtained with an inter-library loan.

“Google doesn’t have the answer to everything,” Morris said. “We can provide resources that help people in rural areas get degrees, start businesses and help kids spark.”

 

Bookmobile has stopping spots outside of towns, as well as in cities.

 

Sanpete planning commission begins re-organizing county buffer zones

 

James Tilson

Staff writer

6/29/2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new buffer zone application was also approved.

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

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

Suzanne Dean, publisher of the Sanpete Messenger

We love Ron Rasmussen, but being police chief is not a popularity contest

 

Suzanne Dean

Publisher

6-29-2017

 

When I first heard that Ephraim Police Chief Ron Rasmussen had been placed on administrative leave, my reaction was, “Oh no. Not Ron.”

I’ve known Ron Rasmussen for most of the 16-plus years I’ve owned the Messenger. Although he has not always returned my calls seeking information for police stories, he’s a heck of a nice guy and I’ve enjoyed working with him.

I remember thinking, “I can’t imagine Ron has done anything wrong.” I was relieved when Ephraim City Manager Brant Hanson told me that the administrative leave didn’t necessarily imply wrongdoing.

I thought, “They probably targeted him because he’s head of the police department and accountable for everything that goes on, even though he himself probably didn’t do anything wrong.” But it turned out the focus of the investigation was Rasmussen himself.

The reporting I and other Messenger staff members have done over the past three days has practically sent my head spinning on its axis.

I have been forced to conclude that as warm a person as he is, as much as he has done for youth, Snow College and average people in the community, Rasmussen has not been the best police chief.

That’s the dilemma of living in a small community. You get to know people, like them and love them. But that doesn’t mean a given friend or neighbor is a good public administrator, school superintendent or mayor, or runs their company ethically. How do you walk that line, especially if you are the publisher of the local newspaper?

Let me say a few things about the Rasmussen case.

For a police officer, failure to file incident reports is a serious matter. It means information gathered in the initial stages of investigation is not available for further investigation. It can mean prosecutors do not have information needed to decide whether to file charges, or what kind of charges apply.

Another problem with incomplete reports is that they can be a cover for failing to pursue a case and for letting potential suspects go. We have some strong evidence in this week’s paper suggesting that is what happened in a child sexual abuse case reported by a woman named Rachelle Adair. Rasmussen handled (or, based on evidence, failed to handle) the case.  (See article below).

I’m not an attorney, but I fear Adair might have grounds for a liability suit against the city.

I reject any suggestion that the three officers who resigned are simply disgruntled employees. I met with them. I talked with them. They were articulate, they remembered details, and they took care to make sure everything they said was factually accurate. They did not go into tirades criticizing their superiors.

It is significant that there were three of them: All three of were saying the same things about the police report issue and about Rasmussen’s work habits.

I do think the officers were perhaps inflexible in rejecting proposals from the city administration under which Rasmussen might have resigned and a new chief been appointed without an investigation.

The officers were convinced some of Rasmussen’s omissions were criminal and wanted to see charges filed. But even in pursuing justice, there’s a place for being practical, compassionate and going for the best outcome.

Meanwhile, in light of the information that has come out in the past week, I have to ask: Is Ron Rasmussen worth what Ephraim City is paying him? Our reporting shows he is one of the highest paid police chiefs in Utah in a city of comparable size to Ephraim.

As of July 1, his salary will be just under $89,000. The city is also contributing $23,000 to his 401K. That’s because, since he “retired in place” in 2010, the Utah State Retirement System is no longer requiring or accepting retirement contributions on his behalf.

So the city is putting $23,000, the amount it would have put into his URS account if he had not retired, into his 401K. The city is not legally obligated to make such a contribution.

Rasmussen’s total compensation from the city coffers, not counting benefits, comes to $112,000. With retirement pay, he’s getting just under $130,000.

No doubt, Ron Rasmussen is a popular person. He’s popular with me. But as police chief, he’s not in a popularity contest.

Recently, Utah Business magazine gave awards to top managers “who combine subject-matter expertise with a leadership philosophy that lifts up those around him.”

That sounds like a good job description for a police chief, one I hope Rasmussen will be able to live up to.

 

Child sodomy case is example of chief’s ‘paperwork’ problem

 

John Hales

Staff writer

6-29-2017

 

EPHRAIM—Amid responses that either justify Ephraim Police Chief Ron Rasmussen as being overworked, or impugn him as being lazy and incompetent, not many have gone so far as to utter the words “criminal conduct.”

Except one. A former Ephraim resident says not only was paperwork in her case left undone, but that this failure was part of a larger cover-up of a serious crime.

Contrary to an apparent misconception that “unfinished paperwork” was just so many statistics that didn’t quite get filled in, or some other “administrative” omission, a preliminary examination by the Messenger shows that the lapse consisted of missing police reports. That could mean alleged suspects are never prosecuted and that victims will not recieve justice.

Rachelle Adair alleged that just such a felony—sodomy of a child—happened to her son, and that Rasmussen may have obstructed justice in failing to pursue the case.

Adair brought the matter to light in a Facebook post following news Rasmussen had been put on administrative leave.

Rasmussen had many ardent defenders in the comments sections of websites where news stories appeared. Amid the praise, however, Adair took steps set the record—at least hers—straight.

Using sometimes scathing language, she has accused the chief of hindering an investigation, tampering with evidence and failing even to provide documentation so any case could proceed through the court system.

“The justice system wanted to work properly,” she wrote. “However, Ron failed to do his job as chief.”

The Messenger was unable to reach Adair for an interview, but through her Facebook posts and information provided by other sources, a version of the story can be pieced together.

Sometime in 2012, it is alleged, a teenage boy sexually abused at least two younger boys. The abuse was reported and an officer, called a “detective” by Adair, investigated. Rasmussen, she and others say, took the first officer off the case and assigned himself, for unknown reasons.

“Our case…went nowhere after this detective was removed. The proper documentation and children’s interviews were never provided to requesting agencies,” Adair wrote.

She said she became aware of similar complaints regarding the same perpetrator, as well as a report of illegal drug use at the same location where the abuse allegedly occurred, but that case also went nowhere, again due to the lack of proper police documentation.

The police report on the case, which the Messenger received through a records information request, shows almost nothing.

The report was written on Oct. 23, 2012, by Chief Rasmussen. But records indicate the case started some months before.

Though Adair says another officer first investigated, Rasmussen is listed as the initial investigator. There is no incident summary or narrative detailing either the complaint or any investigation, merely, “Report of sexual abuse at above address,” followed by the redacted name of an individual. The crime was listed as “Sexual assault, sodomy boy strongarm.”

There is no reference to interviews, recorded or not, of anyone. Adair maintains her child was indeed interviewed.

The only other guidance the report gives is that it was “referred other jurisdiction,” though that jurisdiction is nowhere named.

A second, related report appears to have been created to document various requests for information the police department was receiving about the alleged sexual abuse case.

Those requests, however, begin in July 2012, indicating that reports of the case should exist dating from at least then. If such reports exist, they are as yet unavailable to the Messenger.

One the second report, there is a request the Division of Family and Children’s Services made in July 2012 for information about the abuse.

A notation made by Judy Gines, police department secretary at the time, indicates she asked one officer for a report, but he responded that another officer had taken over the case (neither officer was named). Gines asked the second officer for the report “but an incident number had not yet been generated,” which means a report had not been writen.

On Oct. 22, 2012, the department received an “urgent” second request from a Crime Victims Reparations (CRV) representative.

“At this time, the report is still under investigation and [name redacted] is not on the report,” is the secretary’s notation to the Oct. 22 request.

CRV requested again on Oct. 26, Nov. 26, Dec. 12 and Dec. 20, by which time the one-page incident report had been written, but with no information other than that the case, by that time, was “inactive.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office—most likely the Child Protection Division, though there is lack of specificity in the accompanying note—also requested information, apparently unsuccessfully, on Oct. 26 of that year.

“Our case was a serious case and needed to be handled properly to stop this nasty cycle so no other children could be hurt,” Adair wrote.

She and others maintain that not only was the case handled improperly, but that it may have been intentionally so.

She wrote, “It had been brought to my attention that Ron was asked to let this case slide under the rug.”

In an earlier Facebook post, which she later removed, Adair provided more details, some of which were reiterated by another Messenger source.

All of them said either a neighbor, longtime friend, fellow LDS ward member or combination of all three, who was a worker at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, “persuaded” (Adair’s word) Rasmussen to let the case slide.”

“The sad part,” Adair wrote in her first, now-removed post, “is my boys were being told what Ron was doing to help protect the reputation of these people. Although it’s been years and the damage has been done I still feel an urgency to step in.”

Besides the alleged denial of justice for victims, Adair fears what the failure to properly pursue the case might have done. Are there other victims? What about the obviously troubled perpetrator who five years later is now an adult?

“Unfortunately, there is a perpetrator out there that has never been tried and has never received the help this individual needs,” Adair wrote.

The Messenger is awaiting Ephraim City’s responses on other public information records requests, including any police report written by Chief Rasmussen since 2007.

The Messenger was unable to reach Rasmussen for comment as of press time.

Rasmussen has failed to investigate or document many important cases, Messenger sources say

 

Suzanne Dean

Publisher

6-29-2017

EPHRAIM—Anybody who has a passing acquaintance with police work knows there are two elements to the job.

The first is investigations. Officers respond to citizen complaints or observe things on their own, take statements, gather evidence and try to figure out, if it’s not obvious, who committed a crime or offense.

The second is documentation. Officers write down complainant names, dates of birth, narratives of what happened, findings of drug or sobriety tests or anything else relevant to a violation or possible violation of law.

Case documentation is essential for two reasons. Without it, no criminal prosecution can be initiated. Moreover, information in one case may relate to the next case. Officers have to have a record in order to connect the dots.

For a community to be safe, and for justice to be meted out, you have to have both. But according to multiple sources with first-hand knowledge, Chief Ron Rasmussen of Ephraim has done precious little investigation in more than 1,626 cases he has handled over the past 10.

Moreover, he has failed to document many, if not most, of those cases. No one knows for sure how many. Going forward, the Messenger intends to search as many police records as necessary to establish the number.

The cases with “empty” reports were originally dispatched as domestic violence, child sex abuse, DUI, cocaine possession and a suicidal victim jumping out of a moving vehicle and getting run over, to name a few.

“If you dig,” one source said, “every month you will find something that will absolutely make your jaw hit the floor.”

Ordinarily, the Messenger does not use unnamed sources. But like most media, the Messenger will use them if it is the only way to obtain information that affects the welfare of the community. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

At the time a call is dispatched, it is automatically assigned a case number. Most or all documentation related to the call is supposed to be entered into the computer system under that case number.

According to Messenger sources, an additional conundrum is that Rasmussen has given his business card with his cell number to people all over town. Many people call him directly when they need an officer. Since the calls don’t go through the 911 system, there’s no way to assess how well such requests for service were investigated or documented.

In Ephraim, line officers report to Sergeant Len Gasser, who, like Rasmussen, has been with the Police Department for more than 25 years. The three line officers who recently resigned from the department reported to Gasser. The sergeant’s duties include reviewing and approving all police reports, and if indicated, closing cases.

One source reported hearing Gasser declare that at one point there were more than 500 reports in the system, assigned to Rasmussen, that were “empty” of information.

Another source said that in early June, when city management started looking seriously at the documentation problem, Rasmussen had more than 200 open cases in the system with minimal or no documentation.

Periodically, sources said, Gasser would go into the system, approve and close “empty” cases, while entering notes such as “This case will be cleared to help clear up the screen” and “This case to be cleared with the chief’s OK.”

Such action, some sources say, amounts to Gasser colluding with Rasmussen’s negligence.

But the problem goes much deeper than being behind on “paperwork.” The sources say Rasmussen not only fails to document case after case. He takes no action on many or most of them. He doesn’t interview suspects. He fails to make arrests. And since there’s no documentation, no one questions the inaction.

One case involved a woman who ran a beauty shop in her home. She believed a client was stealing from her and told her story to Rasmussen. She also set up a camera in her shop. The next time the client came in the client did, in fact steal and was caught on camera.

“She reports to Ron,” the source said. “Nothing’s done. The person’s not interviewed, the person’s not arrested, the person’s not charged.” The victim complained to a city council member.

According to another source, on Nov. 18, 2016, Rasmussen responded to a domestic violence assault. A man choked his female partner for 8-10 seconds. In accordance with law, Rasmussen arrested the man and took him to jail.

A defense attorney got involved in the case. On Dec. 16, 2016, the attorney requested the police report. There was no report. On Jan. 17, 2017, a judge dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning it can be filed again if there’s more evidence. According to one of the Messenger sources, Rasmussen went into the system On Jan. 24, 2017, seven days after the dismissal, and started typing in a report for the first time.

The fact that Rasmussen is a popular, even beloved figure in Ephraim was reflected in the outpouring of support he received at a city council meeting Wednesday, June 21, a couple of days before the city announced it planned to reinstate him.

But Messenger sources paint a more complex picture. They say over the 27 years Rasmussen has worked for Ephraim, the city has grown, and police work has become more complex and demanding. But Rasmussen, they say, has not grown with his position.

The sources say he does not have the education, experience or skills in police work to handle the job he’s in. And they said a leadership training course, which the city is proposing to send him to, won’t fix the problem.

“He may be a good father and a good husband,” one of the Messenger sources said. “But he’s not suited to be a cop, let alone a police chief.”

Another source said the chief puts a lot of effort, possibly his primary effort, into keeping up his image. “And it’s all image; it’s all falsities.”

And, multiple sources say, Rasmussen is lazy. “When they print ‘overworked,’ it makes us sick,” one source said.

Another said, “He’s never put forth any effort in 27 years. He never really has.”

Generally, the sources agreed Rasmussen was reinstated because of the public pressure at the city council meeting, not based on the facts of the case.

“It’s so corrupt and wrong,” one source said.

 

With Chief Ron Rasmussen still on administrative leave, a secretary on vacation and three other offices resigning, the Ephraim Police Department office was dark and quiet Tuesday.

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Ephraim City Council

5 S Main Street

Ephraim, UT 84627

June 26, 2017

 

Dear Mayor Squire and Members of the City Council:

 

As you know, we are the only three “line officers” of the Ephraim City Police Department. We report to a Sergeant and a Chief. Recently, as has been publically reported by the City, through the various media, Chief Rasmussen has been placed on administrative leave and then lauded by the City as having been a “great chief’ despite gross negligence going back decades. The City has suggested that the Chief is “overworked” and that this somehow excuses the willful failure to undertake his responsibilities and the dereliction of duty which, had any of us done the same, would have resulted in our swift dismissal. As members of this department, this is simply unacceptable. We wish for you, and the community that we have proudly served, to know that we have taken a great risk to our professional careers—including the risk it presents to our families—by “blowing the whistle” on what we believe we were morally, professionally and legally obligated to report. To do anything less is to ignore the oath we took at the inception of our careers as law enforcement officers.

 

The City claims it fully supports the police department, but has placed the Chief on administrative leave, with pay—essentially a vacation—for violations of universally understood standards of police practice, involving the failure to write or complete reports for hundreds upon hundreds of calls for service. These police reports involve crimes of every imaginable type and magnitude, to include serious felonies—crimes which, if obstructed, would render the obstructer culpable of crimes that could include years, if not decades in prison. This is not “supporting” the police department. This is destroying it. An independent investigation has determined that the Chief will not be prosecuted. However, there is no excuse that should justify his continued employment as a law enforcement officer for the City of Ephraim, let alone a Chief of Police.

 

We write today to resign, effective the moment Chief Rasmussen is reinstated—and to put the community that we have loved and served collectively for nearly four decades, on notice that we have lost all confidence in our Chief, and in the City officials that are responsible now for a cover-up of epic proportions. We cannot and will not serve as public servants under these conditions, and we urge the citizens of this community to demand from the City officials responsible for bringing the Chief back that they hold him accountable in a responsible manner and replace him with a leader who will not shirk important responsibilities—one who will not make ridiculous excuses when so much is at stake. We are all overworked, but the dire importance of our work is precisely what demands and requires important sacrifices to include staying behind for long hours to ensure every measure is taken to protect and serve. We have done our jobs, and at no time have we cut corners or shirked our responsibilities because we are police officers, and we take our jobs very seriously. We simply refuse to compromise our integrity by permitting ourselves to be commanded by one who does not or has not performed to the standards demanded by the citizenry of this City, and by our profession. There is nothing for us to gain personally by doing this, other than the assurance, as members of this community, that we will demand, as private citizens, that the City of Ephraim meet its responsibilities by identifying its shortcomings and acting with determination to resolve them. We have much to lose by losing our jobs—but we feel that we have been placed in an untenable position; to remain under the Chief’s command is not an option, yet we do not seek promotion or accolades for ourselves. Rather, we demand that the City do its duty as a matter of public safety and public integrity, and to do it without delay by identifying those who would be willing to do a job that is supposed to be honorable but which is sometimes thankless. We do not mind the long hours or difficult circumstances of our career—a career which each of us chose; but we will not stay silent when others are suffering at the hands of incompetence on the one hand, or malfeasance on the other, where we are otherwise powerless to address it. This act is not our desire, but rather as much our duty as any other duty we have undertaken as cops, and it is with great sadness that we do it. Our additional purpose is to notify the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Department so that they may do whatever is necessary to increase patrols within the City until the officials here can replace the department, or the citizens can elect or hire responsible officials who will.

 

It has been the honor and privilege of our careers to serve the community that we love. We expect, however, that our leaders be held to no less a standard than we would be held as law enforcement officers and public servants. Effective as of the hour of Chief Rasmussen’s reinstatement, we hereby reluctantly resign as law enforcement officers from the Ephraim City Police Department.

 

Sincerely,

 

Larry Golding

Jared Hansen

Darren S. Pead

This aerial photo taken from an elevation of over 200-feet above ground level shows the Norbest waste treatment facility with a 15-million gallon capacity anaerobic manure lagoon in the background. The lagoon and its ever-present odor are at the center of a Moroni City controversy that held city residents up-in-arms at a recent public hearing.

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