Archives for June 2017

Fire crews from Manti, Sterling, Gunnison and Ephraim responded to extinguish a fire at the historic Manti pea factory Monday night, a feat that took about an hour.

Manti pea factory damaged by fire


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



MANTI—The historic but dilapidated Manti pea factory building caught fire Tuesday night, drawing fire crews from across the county to fight the flames.

The fire was reported around 9:30 p.m. when the neighbors across the street called 911 to report smoke coming from the old structure at about 500 W. 700 North.

Once on the scene, it took fire crews about an hour to fully extinguish the fire. Manti City Fire Chief Kevin Olsen attributes the time required to very limited access to the building interior.

“The place was locked up tight,” Olsen said. “Very secure.”

The firefighters ultimately battered down the doors and also sent the fire ladder up over the top of the building, where they sprayed the fire hoses on the building from above.

Olsen says the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal. Investigators will be trying to discern if someone had been living in the old factory building or if arson may have caused the blaze. Olsen said as far as he knows there is no electrical power to the building.

The emergency response was significant, with fire crews from Manti, Sterling, Gunnison and Ephraim responding.

Olsen said he did not think the fire impacted the structural integrity of the building, and without electricity, the building doesn’t pose a further fire hazard, although it is constructed of wood that has dried up over the 93 years the building has been standing in its present location.

The factory was built in 1924, and was originally used for producing canned peas. Later it became a sewing factory which produced parachutes for the American military during World War II.  The factory was used in some form or another until 1960, at which point its doors were closed for good.


Katie Brotherson, Sophia Sayles, Easton Brotherson, Preston Aagard (front), Brandon Harlee Aagard (back), enjoyed Memorial Day by decorating their second cousin’s (Kymberlee and Kylee Christensen) grave. Many of the decorations shown here were stolen a few days after the picture was taken.

‘Seriously, what kind of person steals off graves?’

Painful, bewildering, all too common

Suzanne Dean



“Seriously, what kind of person steals off graves?”

The question, written in a Facebook post by Tammy Coates of Spring City, captures the pain and bewilderment victims feel regarding a phenomenon that appears to happen year after year, in all parts of Sanpete County, and beyond the county.

Coates has ample cause to grieve. On May 31, her daughter, Kammy Edmunds, who was 34, died from what police described as “blunt force trauma” to her head. She left two children behind, a 12-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl.

The death appears to be a classic domestic violence homicide. Edmunds’ boyfriend, Anthony Christensen, was arrested and later charged with homicide and desecration of a body.

Referring to theft of grave decorations, Coates wrote, “I know it happens. You see heartbroken posts and letters to the editor of the papers about this, and it sickens me.”

Then she told her own story. “I had hanging planters on Kammy Mae’s grave (in the Spring City Cemetery),” she wrote. “We had talked to the…caretakers, and they were okay with them. They were watered and well cared for because I want her resting place to be beautiful.

“Well, yup, somebody stole them. I’ve spoken with the caretakers, and it wasn’t them.” Coates wrote that she went back to the site later to leave a shaming note and two solar angels were also gone from the grave.

Within a day or two, 40 people replied to Coates’ post. The majority expressed sympathy. Many wrote that the same thing had happened to them.

Bonnie Keisel of Ephraim wrote simply: “So soorrrryyyy.”

Charlotte White of Mt. Pleasant wrote, “I’m so sorry people are so rude and disrespectful. We had things stolen off my dad’s grave, also.”

Angela Bailey Johnson of Spanish Fork, formerly of Mt. Pleasant, wrote, “People are so disrespectful and care about no one but themselves. This makes me so sad. Karma will get whoever did this.”

A week or two earlier and a few towns away, Karen Christensen of Manti had a similar experience and also told her story on Facebook, triggering a similar response.

She is the mother of twins girls born with a genetic disorder that caused them to be severely disabled. Early in the girls’ lives, doctors told her they would not live beyond their late teens or early 20s.

Christensen devoted more than 20 years to caring for her twins. In 2007, Kylee Marie died at 19. Four years later, Kymberlee Lyn died at 24.

They were buried in the Manti City Cemetery. The grave has a double headstone containing two hearts. Each daughter’s name, birth date and death date are engraved inside a heart.

One way Christensen connects with the girls is by decorating their graves. She decorates each year on their birthdays, one the day each girl died and every Memorial Day.

On Friday, May 28, a couple of days before Memorial Day, Christensen went to the cemetery with several bouquets, a wreath and other decorations, including two miniature fairy cottages with solar lights inside, two flower sticks containing solar lights and two butterfly sticks that had glitter on the butterflies. The decorations cost about $70.

Cemetery rules permit decorations posted over Memorial Day weekend to stay in the cemetery until one week after Memorial Day. A sign is always posted saying when decorations must be removed “and I’ve always followed that,” Christensen said.

After decorating the graves on Friday, she returned to the cemetery on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Everything was still there. But when she went back Wednesday, the lighted fairy cottages and butterfly stakes were gone.

“I was hurt,” she says. “I put things on there that mean something to me, associated with the memory of those girls. No one has a right to take those things. We put them out for the public to enjoy, but not to take.”

At 8:38 that night, Christensen posted a message on Facebook addressed to whoever took the decorations. “You should be ashamed of yourself, and I’m mad,” she wrote, “If you thought they would look good in your flower garden, you ought to think twice because I will be watching.”

Within a few days, 53 people responded.

Polly Wolfe of Manti, a widow, wrote that in a number of different years, items she had placed on her husband’s grave in the Manti Cemetery had been taken. “I’ve thought about putting out a trail camera, but they’d probably steal that, too,” she wrote.

LuDon Augustus of Manti wrote that “for the last two years, everything was taken from my parents’ graves” in the Sterling Town Cemetery.

Kalleen Braithwaite, who lost both her husband and a daughter at premature ages, wrote that in 2016, vandals ripped a marble vase that was built into one of her headstones off the stone and broke the vase. Flowers from both her husband’s and her daughter’s graves were also taken.

A few years ago, another woman in Manti, who asked not to be named in this article, caught the people who took decorations off her parents’ graves.

The woman said she and other family members usually decorate the graves in the Manti City Cemetery on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day.

Three or four years ago, after one of the holidays, the family left a plant hanger with two large potted plants at the gravesite, which is permissible under cemetery rules. The woman’s brother went to the cemetery every day to water the plants.

Then, just like in the Christensen case, the woman went to the cemetery the Wednesday after Memorial Day. The hanger and pots, along with other flowers, were gone.

The woman let friends and family know about the theft. Before long, a neighbor called and said she had seen a significant cache of what looked like grave decorations in a yard in Manti.

The woman went to the house in question, and sure enough, there was her plant hanger (she’d had the foresight to carve her initials into it), and two pots of flowers that belonged to her. After getting permission, she took back her belongings. Then she contacted authorities.

The resident of the house where her decorations (and by all appearances, decorations taken from other graves) were found, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, paid a fine and was required to write a public apology letter, which was published in the Sanpete Messenger.

            Sanpete County Attorney Brody Keisel said there is no state statute specifically addressing theft of grave decorations. Such thefts are covered under general theft statutes, and the level of charges depends on the monetary value of items taken.

Ephraim chief on leave while outside agency probes Police Department


Suzanne Dean




EPHRAIM—Ephraim City has called in the Utah County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations of administrative wrongdoing in the police department and has placed Chief Ron Rasmussen on administrative leave with pay, according to City Manager Brant Hanson.

Hanson declined to discuss the specifics of the allegations but promised to explain further when the Utah County Sheriff’s Office investigation is complete by about June 23. Depending on the Utah County findings, there is a possibility of a criminal investigation, he said.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “We have every faith this will be an opportunity to make changes to improve the department.”

He added that the department is understaffed, particularly when Snow College is in full operation, “which could relate to some of the issues we’re facing.” The city has put funds in the proposed 2017-18 budget for an additional officer.

Hanson said Rasmussen was placed on leave on Friday, June 9. Hanson emphasized that at this point, placing the chief on leave does not imply that he has done anything wrong.

The city manager said he had approached Sanpete County Sheriff Brian Nielson about having the Sheriff’s Office conduct the investigation. But to make sure the inquiry was impartial, Nielson had recommended reaching beyond the county borders.

Flittons will lead off Welsh Day activities


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



WALES—The 2017 Welsh Days are set to kick off tomorrow and Saturday, drawing strongmen, Dutch-oven cooks and Fun-Runners alike.

“The Strongman Competition and Jr. Strongman are both a big draw,” said Velva Lee Sherman, Wales Town clerk.

Sherman says live entertainment will be provided by “The Phat Old Professors,”

On Saturday, a half-mile children’s Fun Run and a 5k Fun Run start the day off early and at 10 a.m. the parade and other activities will bring out the whole town and more, Sherman says.

The annual Dutch-oven cook-off, a horseshoes competition for all ages and a waterslide for the kids will keep everyone happy and active for the remainder of the Welsh Days lineup.

Leading the Welsh Days parade on Saturday morning will be 2017 grand marshals Ron and Elaine Flitton.

The Flittons moved to Sanpete County in 1987, where they opened the J&F Country Store in Chester. The couple moved to Wales 13 years ago, where Ron served on the Wales Planning and Zoning Committee for 10 years and also served on the Days of 47 Rodeo Committee for 35 years.

Ron and Elaine enjoy attending and watching the national final rodeo where their son, Jeff Flitton and his wife Wendy, provide rodeo stock from their Bar T Ranch in Chester.

Ron and Elaine have 8 children, 20 grandchildren and 33 great-grand children.


Proud day in a dreary place: CUCF inmates receive high school diplomas


James Tilson

Staff writer



GUNNISON — Graduates of Central Utah Academy, on June 15, walked to their high school graduation.

It was a proud day in an otherwise dreary place.

Central Utah Academy, after all, is the education program at the Central Utah Correctional Facility; its students are the facilities prisoners.

But on that one day last week, those inmates—with friends and families also gathered to watch the ceremony—were able to put aside their usual drab existence to celebrate the culmination of efforts that in some cases had taken many years.

The event was “a great time to take the next step in your life,” said Mary Kelly, the director of adult education for the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC), who addressed the group.

She congratulated the graduates for passing the barrier of under-education and, by so doing, gaining greater access to employment and even further education.

Kelly was one of several officials from throughout Utah who gathered at the prison to celebrate the achievement of the inmates.

Victor Kersey, the Institutional Programming Division director for the UDC, told graduates that a high school degree is like an ink pen: “If [the pen] is left alone, it will dry up and will be useless.”

He urged graduates to build on their educational achievements and apply their lessons to new skill sets.

Kersey cited a study by the Rand Corporation on the effectiveness of education in correctional institutions. The study showed a 43-percent reduction in recidivism rates among inmates who received education while incarcerated.

The study also showed their chances of employment are 13-percent higher, Kersey said.

“You never know what jobs you’ll have,” he said.

One graduate (who requested anonymity) addressed the audience and said the quotation, “Knowledge is power,” ascribed to Sir Francis Bacon, inspired him to complete his degree. He urged his fellow inmates to continue their own pursuits of education.

“The more you know, the better off you’ll be,” he said.

Spring City seeks to balance budget while adding new positions in police, fire and utilities departments


Terrel Davs

For the Messenger



SPRING CITY—Would the cost of hiring a fulltime city treasurer more than pay for itself and other Spring City budgetary needs if that treasurer was successful in finding other sources of income for the city?

That question is one that some members of the Spring City Council wrestled with but ultimately set aside for further consideration.

With the end of one fiscal year and the start of another soon approaching (on July 1), the city council mulled over how to create a balanced budget, particularly given the recently created position of fulltime police and fire chief the city must now pay for.

The city is also seeking to hire an apprentice lineman, further increasing employee costs for the city.

As it is, the current year’s budget required a nearly $180,000 infusion from the city’s electric, water and sewer funds. Prior to the city council meeting, the council held a public hearing on making those transfers (about $58,000 from each of the three accounts) which were later approved.

How then to balance, then—especially in light of Spring City’s minimal business-tax base—an enlarged budget?

It was in this context that Spring City Treasurer Lurlynn Potter, who now works part-time, made a proposal that might at first seem counterintuitive: Hire her fulltime.

Potter made a case for allowing her to research potential funding sources for the city, such as writing grant proposals and promoting tourism. However, to do this over her existing workload would make her a fulltime employee, which would add an even further $19,000 to the city’s budget.

Council members bantered the question among themselves, asking, “Would the cost of a fulltime treasurer be worth the expense?”

But Potter’s proposal had implications for the both sides of the budget fence, income as well as expenses.

She reviewed the income received by grants by other communities in the area, from a low of $300,000 in Moroni to over $1 million in both Fairview and Mt. Pleasant. She also noted her own track record of finding funds when she spent two years as Snow College’s alumni and donor-relations manager.

Council members discussed the possibility of making Potter’s position fulltime on a one-year trial basis, but ultimately wanted the full council’s input. The idea was set aside until the council’s next meeting when all members could be present.

Another budget item is the need for IT/computer services and equipment at the new Old School Community Center.

Councilwoman Kimberly Stewart said she brought representatives from each of these companies into the building and asked for their recommendations  regarding what it would take and how much it would cost to provide high-speed internet and Wi-Fi throughout the building with continuing support and maintenance.

Three bids were opened, ranging from $8,200-$21,000.

However, this item was also tabled until more of the council could be present.

County forming study group to steer land use around airport


James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI—Sanpete County commissioners are forming a study group to help steer land-use near the Manti-Ephraim Airport.

Formation of the group would be an alternative to imposing a moratorium on zoning changes around the airport.

The airport board sent its chairman, Ted Meikle, to the June 6 commission meeting to ask for the moratorium.

The goal would be to give the Airport Board time to develop a “comprehensive plan” to deal with airport expansion, as well as residential and commercial development around the facility, Meikle said.

The Airport Board was concerned about reports of a zoning-change request filed with the county.

County Attorney Brody Keisel interrupted Meikle, however, to inform him that the county had already halted the request based on recommendations contained in the county’s resource management plan.

Meikle indicated he was aware of the recommendation, which was for the county to begin planning for future development around the airport under the assumption of a “medium-size airport.”

Commissioner Claudia Jarrett said the commission was in the process of following that recommendation with the formation of a multi-interest group that would draft a proposed land-use scheme for submission to the Sanpete County Planning Commission.

That way, the planning commission would have something tangible to work from. Going through the planning commission would also require public hearings on the proposal.

Commissioner Steve Lund would be in charge of the study group and will seek members from the airport board, county planning commission, representatives from both Manti and Ephraim cities, and concerned citizens.

Ephraim Mayor Richard Squire, who attended the meeting, said he was satisfied by the direction the commission was taking.

“I think that’s all we could ask for,” he said.

Keisel said imposing a moratorium would come with limitations. It would last only six months and would have other statutory requirements that would limit the county’s options. He therefore felt the study-group solution was the better option.

Rob Anderson, a farm owner with land adjacent to the airport who sought a controversial zone-change petition last year, asked to be included in the study group since he owned almost all of the land on the east side of the airport. Commissioner Lund promised to be in touch.

The commission voted to deny the moratorium for now and to revisit the issue at its next meeting.

Forest Service to host open house, seeks feedback on management plan


Robert Stevens

Managing editor



MANTI—The Manti-La Sal National Forest is hosting a public open house to share the status of the effort to revise the forest’s management plan, and to provide information on the next steps in the plan-revision process.

The open house will be on Thursday, June 29, at the Sanpete County Courthouse, 160 N. Main in Manti, from 5-7 p.m. People who wish to attend can stop in at any time during the two-hour schedule.

Forest service officials will be available to provide information and collect feedback from the public.

“Every forest in the National Forest System is required to have a land management plan in accordance with the National Forest Management Act of 1976,” Rosann Fillmore, the forest’s  public information officer, said. “Known as Forest Plans, these documents provide strategic guidance for how forest lands are to be managed to allow for multiple uses while maintaining healthy ecosystems.”

Established in 1986, Fillmore said the current Manti-La Sal National Forest Plan is 30 years old and needs to be revised to address the changing needs of the forest and those who use it. The forest service did initiate the revision process about 10 years ago, but it was never finalized because of legal wrangling.

Forest plans and revisions are mandated by federal regulations. The previous revision attempt was done under 2004 George W. Bush-era rules. Those rules were challenged in court, which held up the approval of any plan revision.

New federal rules were adopted in 2012 under the Obama administration. Those are the rules the forest service is following for the current revision.

“Now we’re back doing this in a different way than we did before,” Fillmore said. “A couple of forests have completed their revisions under the 2012 rules, so it has already had some tests.”

She said, “The 2012 Planning Rule allows for public participation throughout every phase of the planning process. It also emphasizes adaptive management, enabling the forest to more easily update the Plan in accordance with changing conditions.”

The revision is a multi-year process, but the plan developed thereby is expected to guide the forest for a decade after. The revision effort began last year with an assessment phase; it will end when a new forest plan is approved by the forest supervisor, a position now held by Mark Pentecost. Approval is not expected until at least 2020.

For more information about the Manti-La Sal National Forest’s plan-revision process, visit:, or call 435-636-3508.


Courtesy, candor and carefulness keys to resolving odor problem in Moroni




Anyone who has lived in Sanpete County for any length of time is probably accustomed (or should be) to the smells of rural living.

Admittedly, those smells are more pasture than pastoral; the bucolic beauty of our locale comes with certain olfactory costs.

But the stench emanating from a three-month old wastewater lagoon at Norbest in Moroni is more than citizens should have to endure for more than the briefest period of time.

Moroni citizens are rightly upset at Norbest for what, under any public-policy definition as well as regular colloquy, would be called a nuisance.

A more-or-less legal definition of nuisance is “the substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of land and property.”

The lagoon fits that definition. Just ask any longtime aging Moroni couple not sitting in their porch chairs in the cool of the evening because they cannot bear the odor.

At the outset, we should say that we recognize the turkey plant as a vital, integral part of the local economy. If not the heart, it is at least representative of the heart of the area’s agriculture lifestyle as well as livelihood.

It has attempted, which has not always been easy, to be a good and responsible neighbor. As CEO Matt Cook wrote in a prepared statement, “We breath the same air as our neighbors.”

And use the same water, which is why a few years ago the plant partnered with the city to build a new sewer system when, largely due to the stress placed on the existing sewer at that time, the system failed certain environmental-protection tests. Things were so bad that the continued operation of the Moroni sewer system was in jeopardy.

Norbest has always maintained an open-air wastewater basin. But in 2015, with the continued growth of production at the plant (for which we are grateful), the basin proved insufficient and overflowed.

The state required remediation, which included a newer and bigger lagoon.

Odor, as explained by the company and experts, is to be expected from any brand new open-aired waste lagoon while it is still settling and stabilizing.

The company recently iterated three planned measures to remediate the odor. They include a “malodor counteractant,” chemicals that will reduce the odor; the addition of microbes that will breakdown the waste components (they were not initially added on the advice from waste-treatment engineers, the company said); and certain yet-to-be-decided “pre-treatment” options to separate out some of the waste material prior to dumping into the lagoon.

And the smell will naturally decrease as the lagoon settles and an “upper layer” is formed.

That’s about as far as we can go in terms of exoneration; it is not only the stink that stinks:

• In a letter to Moroni’s residents dated May 30, the company admits “it was anticipated that initially the smell would be stronger due to the time needed for the lagoon to build and properly set up.”

Why in the name of sulfur and brimstone, if the company expected the smell, did it not proactively implement as many of the counter measures as it could?

In legal cases, much rides on the phrase “knew or should have known.” The company knew. To not have planned in advance was either careless or thoughtless.

• Since things have blown up, Norbest has become more forthcoming with information. The company wrote a letter that, according to Mayor Luke Freeman, was delivered to all Moroni residents.

The letter does a lot to help explain things, maybe even to the point of assuaging some real rancor. (However, the letter was dated May 30; there was still quite a bit of discontent at a city meeting fully two weeks later).

Why didn’t the company, or the city for that matter, warn residents what to expect?

• In CEO Cook’s written statement, he said, “We will work hard to keep the lines of communication open,” but only after closing to all but a trickle those lines to the Messenger, declining an interview.

Going forward, we hope Cook and other company officials do, indeed, make candor and open communication a priority.

• And while we have said little about potential hazards, we feel we need to. Norbest needs to be exceptionally vigilant in maintaining and monitoring health and environmental protections at the lagoon, particularly any potential contamination of the main city well 1,000 yards away.
Summing up, officials from Norbest, Moroni City and the state, anyone who has a part in resolving this mess؅, would do well to keep three “Cs” firmly in mind: Courtesy, candor and carefulness.

Ohio State University geology majors and faculty gather behind Temple Hill in Manti for real-world geological studies through the school’s Field Geology Program. OSU has maintained a field geology camp in Sanpete County for 70 years. The camp is a place where OSU students and faculty have applied classroom principles to real-world geological problems and conducted geological research since 1947.


Snow and Ohio State geology teams, faculty hold reunion

Event Marks 70th year of joint field school

Robert Stevens

Managing editor


EPHRAIM—What began as the brainchild of the first man to geologically survey Sanpete County has blossomed into a successful academic partnership between two colleges that has lasted for decades.

Since 1947, the Ohio State University Field Geology Program has conducted a geology camp in Sanpete, with Snow College as host. Dr. Terry Wilson, who has directed the field camp a total of 24 years, has organized a reunion where nearly 100 alumni and faculty, former and current, are celebrating this year’s anniversary.

“Now, 70 years later, we still operate a strong program from our Ephraim base. I think it’s a testament to the program’s success that so many people are attending it from all over the country,” Wilson.

The program was founded by OSU’s Dr. Edmund Spieker, who drew upon his experience from 20 years prior for the idea. Spieker had been commissioned by the U.S. Geological Survey in the 1920s to complete the first geological mapping of Sanpete County.

When Spieker selected Sanpete and Snow College as the location of the OSU field station, Wilson says, he envisioned the site would be a professional training-ground for undergraduates and a base for geological research for graduate students and faculty.

Wilson says Spieker’s goals have been amply met and, thanks to that fact, there is a long list of undergraduate and graduate theses and dissertations, as well as journal publications, about the geology of the Sanpete Valley region. Many of those can be accessed at

Wilson’s first year as field camp director was 1987. Although she has not acted as director for every single year since then, and she is planning on retiring soon, she says she has countless fond memories.

“I love coming out each year with a new batch of students and introducing them to, not only the local geology, but Ephraim, our host Snow College and the rest of Sanpete,” she said. “We have had nothing but adventures.”

1,635 students have completed their capstone geologic experience over the last 70 years in the Sanpete-based field geology course, says Wilson. She says the area is “a fascinating setting for ongoing geological investigations,” and provides a proper location to apply classroom principles to real geological problems.

One of those former students is Snow College’s own Renee Faatz, who is an assistant professor of geology. Faatz describes the field camp as a capstone of OSU’s geology program where OSU geology majors put what they have learned in the classroom to practical use in interpreting geology and constructing geologic maps.

Wilson says the OSU geology field camp continues to be generously supported by Snow College, as it has been from the beginning.

“We rely on access to Snow computer labs for short exercises designed to enhance 3D visualization and complete structural analyses,” Wilson said. “Our colleague and OSU alum Renee Faatz continues to lead the geology program at Snow, and supports us in myriad ways.”

In 70 years, the course’s duration has been shortened from 10 weeks to six, and the format of the course has changed. But its philosophy, Wilson says, remains the same: to “put the responsibility to see, to think, to relate, and to conclude onto the student, rather than have teachers point and tell,” as Spieker said at the time.

“The 70th anniversary of our Field Camp in Utah provides the opportunity to reflect on the value of our field program, provide input on future prioritization of field programs, and to endow [our] field camp for the future,” Wilson said.

“I would particularly like to convey to Sanpete residents how much the Ohio State University geology program has appreciated the welcome we have received over all these years. We are thankful that numerous landowners in Sanpete Valley continue to allow us access to their properties for our class activities—some still remember Dr. Spieker.”

Wilson says she’s not sure if the field camp will continue for another 70 years, funding being her biggest worry.

“Every state is ‘cut, cut, cut’ these days, so there is that concern” Wilson said. “But we are one of the oldest continually operating geology field camps in the country, and we think the fact that we have had the support of our host and partner Snow College is a big part of why we run a successful operation here.”

Wilson says she feels the program does have a few decades of life in it still, with the support from Snow and alumni. Petroleum discoveries in Sanpete County have been made, and Wilson says the OSU alumni who work in the oil, gas and related industries are very supportive of maintaining the program.

Dr. Edmund Spieker performs the very first geological survey of Sanpete County sometime in the 1920s. Years later, while a professor at Ohio State University, Spieker returned to Sanpete when he established OSU’a Field Geology Program. The program’s professors and students have been coming to Sanpete every summer ever since, and is celebrating its 70th anniversary here this week.

Neil Riding loves to run away, now runs for gold


Clara Hatcher

Staff writer



PROVO—Former Ephraim resident Neil Riding sprinted his way to two gold medals at the 48th Annual Special Olympics Utah Summer Games held this month at Provo High School.

While a big achievement, it was in a way nothing too new for 22-year-old: Riding has been running his whole life.

“He has been running since he was a little boy— running away,” said Neil’s mother, Margaret Riding, who still resides in Ephraim.  “That’s what they called him in elementary school: a ‘runner.’”

This is Neil Riding’s second year of Special Olympics competition. Last year, it was basketball in the Winter Games. On June 2, he took first in the 25- and 50-meter runs.

“I think all those years of running away from the parents gave him a slight advantage,” Neil’s brother, Kirk Riding, said after hearing of his wins.

Neil Riding, who now lives in an assisted-living house for the disabled in Orem, has been training for the Special Olympics by doing what he loves most. Every evening, Neil runs laps on the track near his home.

While Neil’s love for running is no secret, his passion stood out during the Special Olympics opening ceremony’s parade of athletes. While all other participants walked, Neil Riding, charged with excitement, sprinted ahead of them.

“He thought that was the way to go,” Neil’s step-father, Van Riding, said. “He was wanting to run, so he took off running.”

The product of an 18-child blended family, Neil has been the glue keeping everyone together, Margaret Riding said. His family encourages him by attending his Special Olympics events whenever they can.

His house manager, Nancy Pomeroy, said running is not his only passion.

“He is learning to write better,” Pomeroy said. “He will sit at the table for hours, tracing letters and practicing.”

Neil Riding lives in the house with three others who have various disabilities. Pomeroy, who works with Chrysalis, a support organization for people with disabilities, said she does basically what a parent would: take them to the doctor, teach them to clean, and organize family activities.

Pomeroy said that, considering his Down syndrome, Neil is unusually athletic and coordinated.

“The bottom line is that the kid is an athlete,” Pomeroy said. “He is already getting ready for next year, yelling ‘Training! Training! Running! Running!’ before he goes to the track to practice.”

Next year, Neil Riding is looking forward to competing in javelin throwing—and, of course, running.









Mr. and Mrs. Marvin D. Leatham of Manti are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter, Ryenne Rebecca, to Tryston John Peterson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Russel Peterson of Ephraim.
The couple will be wed on Saturday, June 24, 2017. There will be a reception in their honor that evening from 6-9 p.m. It will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 765 South 100 East in Ephraim (just south of Ephraim Middle School.)
All friends and family are invited to attend.


Kim “Buckeroo” Sorensen




Kim M. “Buckeroo” Sorensen, 60, passed away quietly, on the morning of June 13, 2017 in Gunnison. He was born Sept. 8, 1956 in Gunnison to Neil H. and Mary Louise Munk Sorensen.

He married Elaine Bailey, they later divorced. Kim then married Angie Beckstead, they later divorced.

Kim loved to team rope and ride horses. He made many friends during his rodeo days and somewhere along the way picked up the nick name “Buckeroo.” He has worked in ranching and with livestock most of his life. He enjoyed being in the mountains, hunting and being with his family. He told great stories, which incidentally grew bigger each time he told them. You never knew where “true” started and “B.S.” ended.

Kim is survived by his daughter, Hadley Blu Sorensen, Richfield; mother, Mary Louise; siblings, Linda (Que) Miller and Lee (Tina) Sorensen; sister-in-law, Denise Sorensen, all of Mayfield. He is preceded in death by his father, Neil H; infant sister, Ann; and brother, Kent Sorensen.

Graveside services and interment took place on Monday, June 19, 2017 in the Mayfield Cemetery. Funeral Directors, Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti. Online guest book







Dr. Afton Hansen




Dr. Afton M. Hansen passed away June 15, 2017 at his home in Mayfield, Utah. He was born Sept. 25, 1925 in Mayfield to Melvin J. and Enid Hansen.

Afton grew up in Mayfield, attending schools there and in Manti. Upon graduation from high school, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. During WWII, he served three and half years as an airplane mechanic. He served in the European and Asian theaters.

Upon release from the Navy, he started working as a mechanic at the Mayfield Garage. Later he attended Snow College where he received his 2-year diploma; attended BYU where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later received a PhD from Utah State University. He taught at Snow College for over 30 years.

Afton was an avid hunter, fisherman and athletic participant. While at Snow College, he was voted Teacher of the Year on several occasions. He was also voted as Preferred Man by the students for the Preference Ball, while he was teaching at Snow.

In later years, he won the Utah Senior Bowling Tournament and represented Utah at the national tournament.

While working for the US Forest Service, he invented a level to put on caterpillars to be able to build terraces for flood control.

After his father died, Afton took care of his mother for 22 years. He was adored by nieces, nephews and other family members. He had the ability to relate to all people. His life has been one of service to others. Afton you will be missed.

He is survived by a brother, LaVar J. Hansen, Salt Lake City; and sister, Cuma (Dennis) Hansen, Avon, Utah, and is preceded in death by a brother, Gayle Hansen; parents; sisters-in-law, Iva Mae Hansen and Connie Hansen.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at noon in the Mayfield Ward Chapel, with a viewing prior to services. Burial was in the Mayfield Cemetery with military honors provided by the Centerfield American Legion Post #105. Funeral Directors, Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti. Online guest book:


Ivan Alder




Our beloved dad, grandfather, brother and friend, Ivan Kent Alder, peacefully returned to Heavenly Father June 13, 2017. Kent was born Nov. 1, 1936 in Ephraim, Utah to Ernest Ivan and Eunice M Alder.

He was raised in a tight-knit family with his parents, beloved brother Charles, many aunts, uncles and cousins. He spent his childhood working on ranches and exploring the wilderness surrounding Ephraim.

Kent graduated from Snow College, where he met the love of his life, Aleene Hiatt. They were married Dec. 28, 1960 in the Manti Temple. He then graduated from Utah State University, started his career and spent his entire professional life at Mt. Bell/US West. He was loved by his coworkers for his work ethic and loyalty. When he retired in 1990, he reinvented himself and became “grandpa-in-chief”. No one can rival Kent as the most devoted and loving grandpa.

Kent served in the LDS Church throughout his life: as a young missionary in Sweden, as a senior missionary in Wisconsin, bishop, assistant temple recorder, high counselor, Young Men’s and Boy Scout leader, and friend to all.

Kent was an avid BYU sports fan, having Cougar Club football seats for almost 50 years. He enjoyed outdoor adventures: skiing, camping, motor bike riding, fishing, and traveling the world. His favorite pastime was spoiling his children and grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Aleene H Alder, children: Debra (Blake) Nielson, Mark (Heidi) Alder, grandchildren: Kristin (Dan) Christenson, Alison (Eric) Troff, Kristopher (Anaid) Alder, Blake Jacob (Meg) Nielson, Justin Alder, Bret Nielson, Jenilyn (Austin) Flitton, and Hollyn Alder, one great-granddaughter, brother Charles (Theressa) Alder, nephews, niece, cousins, and a very spoiled schnauzer.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, June 19, 2017 at the River 2nd Ward Chapel, 1540 West 10400 South, South Jordan, Utah. Friends may call at the Berg Mortuary of Provo, 185 East Center Street, Sunday, June 18 from 6-8 p.m. and at the church Monday from 9:30-10:45 a.m. prior to services.

Burial services at Ephraim Park Cemetery at 3 p.m. Condolences may be expressed at

In lieu of flowers, tune-up your car, check your tire pressure, scratch your dog, tell stories to your grandkids, grill rib eye steaks, and have a bowl of ice cream – he would have wanted that.

Fountain Green wrestles with its own rules on plans for new bowery in park


John Hales

Staff writer



FOUNTAIN GREEN—Fountain Green officials will continue to address what some view as a problem with the city’s zoning ordinance even though the at-times contentious issue that led to the ordinance review seems to be over, at least for now.

The city, Mayor Ron Ivory and others say, must find a way to get out from under its own requirement for 25-foot property setbacks (the space between a road and the building on a given parcel of property). That requirement was one of the factors that stymied what some hoped would be an additional bowery at the city park that could be used for the annual Lamb Day’s Sheep Show.

“To my knowledge, it’s a dead issue,” the mayor said this week, before clarifying, “I don’t think it’s going to happen this year in time for the Sheep Show.”

He’s probably right since Lamb Days is four weeks away.

But even if the bowery issue is put off a year, the city must deal with the zoning issue before then. There are at least two other places where setback requirement could hamper things for the city, including preliminary plans for a new fire station.

It was sheep in the heat that first exposed the flaw in the law, when Sheep Show Committee members requested the new bowery so that Sheep Show participants (the sheep, not the kids who show them) wouldn’t suffer in the blazing July sun.

That was last fall.

Sheep Show Committee members wanted the bowery in the northwest corner of the park but wanted to have a 10-foot setback like its sister bowery to the east. Because city regulations now require 25-foot setbacks, the committee took the matter to the Board of Adjustments for a variance.

Initially, the variance was granted, but Ivory vacated the approval a few weeks later after Fountain Green Planning Commissioner Chairman Bryan Allred pointed out that the wrong procedure had been followed in acquiring the permission for the bowery.

The next several months saw a good deal of wrangling among Sheep Show Committee members, the planning commission, the board of adjustments, the city council and private citizens with heartfelt concerns one way or the other.

The debate involved arguments regarding aesthetics, the amount of greenspace kept or lost, how much a third bowery was really and how much it would be used—arguments that will no doubt be rehashed should the Sheep Show Committee revive the idea.

But those arguments and the debate itself evolved into another question: Could the city exempt itself from its own zoning regulations?

The mayor and city council said “yes” when they proposed an ordinance that would have done exactly that.

Others were strongly in opposition, Allred among them. As a planning commissioner, he said, the perceived double standard would put him in a difficult position with others who came before the commission seeking building permits.

“I can’t defend 25 feet [of setback] if you’ve already gone eight-and-a-half,” he said.

Sometime later, Planning Commission Secretary Heather Papenfuss told the Messenger, “What the city wants to do is exempt themselves from getting a city permit. We feel like they should have to follow the same rules as everyone else does.”

Papenfuss said the city had already built a couple of structures without getting the needed permits, which would have required a permit application and an appearance before the Planning and Zoning Commission.

But does it even make sense for the city council to be subject to a subordinate committee or commission?

According to Fountain Green’s current zoning rules, yes.

Just as residential, commercial and industrial uses are assigned to their designated zones, all city-owned property is in what is known as a “public facilities” zone, a classification created specifically for publicly-owned property.

The Public Facilities section of the land-use ordinance states: “Prior to the construction of any building or structure in the PF zone, a project and plot plan must first be submitted and approved by the Fountain Green City Planning Commission and, after that, by the city council.” The Public Facilities zone also requires 25-foot setbacks.

That’s a problem in multiple locations. The city owns property around 100 West and 100 North, where it built its secondary culinary water system (one of the structures without a permit referred to by Papenfuss). While the structure does maintain the 25-foot setback, the city is hamstrung if it ever wants to do anything else on the property.

“We haven’t got enough room down there,” Mayor Ivory said. “If we went with city ordinances, we wouldn’t have room to do anything.”

And plans for a new fire station might never take a second step. The city is smack dab in the middle of the first step at this very moment (School district discusses event parking safety issues, looks at DIBEL tests).

The city is looking at property it owns east of City Hall for that project, but, said the mayor, “To accommodate what we’re trying to do, we couldn’t do it; the setback would crowd us so much we wouldn’t have room for it.”

Bowery or no, the ordinance—or a way around it—must be addressed, and probably well before October, since that’s the deadline for submitting a funding request to the Community Impact Board.

“We’re going to have to because of that fire station,” Ivory said.

According to Megan Ryan of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, which advises municipal governments on a myriad of issues, the city can indeed exempt itself from the requirements of the land-use ordinance. It would have to pass an additional ordinance, or rather, an amendment to the existing zoning law, to do that.