Archives for August 2017

Badger defenders take down an opponent as part of an all-around, balanced, whole-game effort by offense, defense and special teams against the Revolution.

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Heidi Johnson sits with her son Lachlan as he goes through a module of the online UPSTART kindergarten readiness program. The program is fun enough for kids that Lachlan often did not want to stop when each 15-minute daily lesson was over, Heidi Johnson says.

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Tim and Lindsay Beesley of Fairview hold their baby girl, Harlow, who was born at just at 22 weeks. A fundraising effort is being organized to help the family deal with medical costs and the cost of staying in Provo to be with their daughter at the hospital.

 

5k-run will help Fairview family care for premature baby

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Aug. 31, 2017

 

FAIRVIEW—Friends are rallying to help a Fairview couple stay by the side of their baby girl, who was born July 19, two and half months before her due date, and is still in the neonatal intensive care unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical (UVRMC).

Because of her premature birth, Harlow Beesley, daughter of Tim and Lindsay Beesley of Fairvew, could be susceptible to a host of problems, including cerebral palsy. But she has gained weight and appears to be improving.

At birth, Harlow weighed 1-1/2 pounds and was 12-1/2 inches long, a long way from the average for a newborn, which is 7-1/2 pounds and 20 inches long.

“Baby Harlow and the Beesleys are going through a battle and fight that most of us hopefully never have to experience,” said Luke Kelso, long-time family friend.

Kelso and his wife, Jerrylynn, have organized a 5K run-walk on Saturday, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m., to raise money to help the Beesleys with medical expenses and with the costs of staying in Provo to be with their baby.

Lindsey Beesley said she knew there was something wrong when she began bleeding heavily at about 22 weeks. A visit to her obstetrician’s office left her with a diagnosis of placenta previa, a condition where the placenta covers the cervix rather than being at the top of the uterus. The condition makes the mother susceptible to internal bleeding.

A neonatologist from UVRMC) suggested an early caesarian to prevent life-threatening complications for both Lindsey and her infant.

“…I can tell you that there is nothing in this world as painful as watching your child fight for her life,” Lindsey said in a blog post. “I so badly just want us to be able to focus on her growing and breathing without an acute illness each week.”

According to Kelso, Lindsey has only been able to hold her little girl for about an hour a day. But Kelso says Harlow is improving daily and is up to 3 pounds now.

On Sunday, Aug. 27, Tim held his daughter for the first time.

“My heart exploded as I watched Tim hold her in his arms and stare at her with absolute love,” Lindsey said. “She has the very best dad in the world, and I can’t wait to watch the bond that the two of them create.”

Kelso and his wife, Jerrylynn, agree that Tim and his family are exceptional and deserve to be with their daughter as much as possible without having to worry about travel expenses.

“Tim is one of my best friends, and I wanted to do something to help his family with the expenses of traveling to see Harlow every day,” Kelso said. “Donations are nice, but I was looking for something more.”

He and his wife had decided to get the community involved by organizing the 5K run-walk.

“I’m hoping the run can be a fight for everyone participating, maybe even a struggle or challenge. Maybe in a symbolic way we can be fighting for (Harlow) during those couple of miles and lighten her load. Running for fun shouldn’t be in the same sentence, but running for a reason, that’s something I’m hoping a lot of us can do.”

Registration for the 5K run is $15 and will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday at 180 Fitness,  180 N. State in Mt. Pleasant. A yoga instructor will be present to help racers warm up before the race.

Participants will be shuttled to Mountainville Road, the back road between Mt. Pleasant and Fairview near Mountain Spring Honey Co., before the race begins at 8 a.m.

In addition to the run, people who want to help can purchase raffle tickets for items such as a photo shoot; Fizz drinks; gift certificates to Horseshoe Mountain Hardware and Terrel’s bakery; and the “big items,” including a BBQ grill and a rifle.

An account with the name “Running for Harlow” has been set up at Cache Valley Bank for people who want to donate directly to the family.

To register for the run or for other questions, contact Jerrylynn Kelso at 469-0181 or by email at Jlynnkelso5853@gmail.com.

All proceeds and donations will go to the Beesley family.

 

 

 

 

Sterling to beef up land-use ordinance

 

By John Hales

Staff writer

Aug. 31, 2017

 

STERLING—Time was, a town or small city could get away with a bit of downhome style in the language of its ordinances.

But there also comes a time when growth and development forces a kind of municipal coming-of-age.

For Sterling, that time has come, at least as indicated by proposed changes to the town’s land-development ordinances.

Sterling is still one of the smallest towns in not only Sanpete County, but in the entire state, ranking 208th in population out of Utah’s 243 municipalities as of the 2010 Census.

But as all towns and cities in due course of time, Sterling’s growth and development is requiring a rite of passage of sorts: a revamp of zoning, development and building regulations.

On Thursday, Sept. 7 and again on Friday, Sept. 15, Sterling Town officials will explain proposed amendments to the town’s Land Use Management and Development Ordinance at public hearings hosted by the Sterling Planning Commission and the Sterling Town Council. It is the first set of sweeping changes to the ordinance since its adoption in 1995. Town residents will be able to weigh in on those changes during the meetings.

“We’ve just added a few things that needed to be updated and that have been brought to our attention,” said Planning Commission Chair Jane Voorhees at a meeting of the Sterling Town Council on Friday, Aug. 18.

The current ordinance itself is not that old, relatively. It was adopted in 1995, and contains what might be called rural, small-town “quaint-isms.”

For instance, the town’s commercial zone (which in the ordinance is technically called the “commercial-residential” zone), has boundaries that are defined by specific businesses—Rough Cut restaurant and Steve’s Fish Taxidermy, Tackle and Sports—and geographic features such as “the creek bottom” and “a private lane,” rather than by street names (though the old ordinance does draw the line somewhere and avoids phrases like “down there a bit” and “yonder a ways”).

Changes in the commercial-zone description are one of the most significant of the proposed amendments.

The proposed new description of the commercial-residential zone conforms closer to the “standard” language of laws and ordinances, and at the same time extends the zone. References to the businesses (both now defunct) are eliminated. The new zone would extend along Main Street (U.S. 89) from 200 North to 200 South and would be one-half block deep on either side of the street.

Another change will restrict the construction of mobile homes. Double-wide mobile homes, under the proposed changes, would no longer be allowed to be built on permanent foundations. Those already in existence would be grandfathered in; however, “grandfathered” status would expire after either 180 days of vacancy or a change in ownership.

Also proposed is a prohibition on duplexes and apartments in the town’s rural-residential area, except those intended for use by an owner’s “close family member.” In other words, if it is a commercial or profit-making venture, such dwellings would not be allowed. They would be still acceptable in the commercial zone, however.

Several changes to regulations regarding subdivisions are also being suggested by the planning commission. Such changes deal with things like preventing property from becoming landlocked, ingress and egress requirements, reducing the number of lots a subdivision can have without a plat being required, avoiding development plans that result in dead-end streets, road construction standards, and other issues that have arisen (such as compliance to development requirements, water acquisition and building regulations) between the town and developers—sometimes contentiously—of late.

Planning Commission Chair Voorhees indicated that proposed changes are designed to prevent the type of scatter-shot development seen in other areas, now that Sterling is apparently becoming one of the newest places to build.

“They go in, they dig a hole, they don’t care if it’s square, and they build a house. That’s what they do,” Voorhees said during a meeting in July. Later she said, “We don’t want to be like Indianola Valley.”

But regulations can be of little value without enforcement, noted Councilman Scott Johnson at the Aug. 18 council meeting.

“One of the things that we need to do is hire somebody … to represent Sterling as an inspector when a house goes in, or a building goes in,” Johnson said. “What happens a lot of times is we overlook it,” which can lead to trouble later.

“Because somebody’s not out with measuring tape now and then, we over look things, and then it’s after the fact that we realize the house wasn’t set back far enough, or the road wasn’t wide enough,” Johnson said.

The council determined to rectify that by hiring a part-time inspector, Sterling resident Jim Housekeeper.

Councilman Curtis Ludvigson noted that, likewise, regulations mean little if town officials continually grant exceptions or variances. He cautioned in advance of possible future battles with developers, “Just hang tough, and follow the ordinances. I’m not saying you haven’t been, I’m just saying don’t give in and let anything slide.”

Public hearing on the proposed land-use and subdivision amendments will take place:

  • Thursday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at Sterling Town Hall, held by the Sterling Planning Commission; and
  • Friday, Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Sterling Town Hall, prior to a meeting of the Sterling Town Council.

Gunnison opts to go it alone to fund sidewalks for safer route to school

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Aug. 31, 2017

 

GUNNISON—Gunnison City is following in the footsteps of some other Sanpete cities, despite some complications with funding options, in moving forward with a plan to install sidewalks along main school routes.

Primarily affected as part of the Safe Walk to Schools program will be 500 South leading to Gunnison Valley Elementary.

The project will add a sidewalk along the south side of 500 South from Main Street to 300 East.

At a meeting of the city council on Wednesday, Aug. 23, the council directed state-certified surveyor Chad Hill to begin the process of surveying the construction area for the sidewalk project.

The nearly $65,000 project will be paid for solely with city funds.

The city had originally pursued the Community Impact Board (CIB) funding for the sidewalk project, but Mayor Bruce Blackham reported to the council during a council meeting last month that the CIB was hesitant to fund the project for a few reasons, primarily the fact that the sidewalk would potentially raise the property value of landowners along 500 South, which brought up a discussion over whether the property owners should be asked to contribute.

Councilman Shawn Crane said he had inquired with the county assessor about whether the CIB committee’s concerns were valid. Crane said the assessor told him he had never seen the addition of a sidewalk increase the value of a house.

Councilman Blake Donaldson said he thought the city should sent a letter quoting the county assessor’s opinion to the CIB, whether they end up getting the CIB funding or not.

Donaldson said CIB funding would require the city to provide a portion of the project’s cost no matter what. Because of that requirement, Donaldson said the project would actually be cheaper if the city funded it on its own, due to extra costs required by the CIB funding, such as attorney fees, accountant fees and contingency fees

A city-funded alternative would also remove the possible requirement of requesting contributions from property owners on 500 South.

Councilman Andy Hill told the council he thought the project was especially important because of the high traffic on the street and the high volume of kids. He added that even completing the project halfway would be an improvement from the current state of the street.

Councilmember Jensen agreed that the project should be prioritized, and since it was on city property, he said the city should be wholly responsible for it.

The council ultimately decided to fund the project using a combination of Prop 1 tax monies (which would be about $29,000) and Class B and C road funds, which Crane said were not currently earmarked for any other projects.

After Councilman Hill made a motion to approve the funding strategy, it passed unanimously.

Councilman Jensen said he wanted the city to notify property owners on 500 South in advance of construction, and that construction areas should be marked off well in advance of any work.

At the meeting last week, surveyor Chad Hill gave a short presentation to the council about the importance of regularly utilizing surveyors. He said he had been involved in similar presentations at the local schools to encourage students to consider a career in surveying, which he said was a career that was very important and relevant, especially in municipal governments when arguments about property lines and ownership arise in the city limits.

 

Norbest, Moroni City work to reduce odor from waste-lagoon

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Aug. 31, 2017

 

MORONI—Norbest and Moroni City are working together to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of odors coming from the new Norbest waste lagoon, according to city leaders and a community representative on a new Norbest community advisory board.

“The council and I have been in constant contact with Norbest and Norbest with us.” Mayor Luke Freeman told the Messenger Monday. “Norbest attended our August (city council) meeting and presented on the lagoon as well as on our ongoing partnership with the city waste water treatment plant.

“We feel the odor has improved significantly and believe it will continue to (improve).  The lagoon is still new and will take time to set up, but it is important that our citizens are not adversely affected.”

At the Aug. 8 council meeting, Brad Aldridge, an artist and Moroni resident who lives two blocks from the plant, said the odor has diminished but not enough to be bearable for residents on the south side of town.

“I just want to make sure you’re continuing to look for solutions rather than hoping (problems) resolve themselves,” Aldridge said.

Aldridge is a member of the advisory board Norbest formed earlier this year. Aldridge says the panel had met twice since its creation earlier this year. He said he also sat down with Norbest CEO Matt Cook to talk about what was being done about the odor.

“We had a meeting, and discussed some solutions, and it made me a little more hopeful and patient about the issue,” Aldridge said at the council meeting.

Aldridge said Norbest had been spraying an odor-control solution over the lagoon, but Cook had told him it was a very temporary solution.

“Imagine spraying Febreeze over a sewer,” Aldridge said.

He added that only a certain amount of the spray could be used, because at certain levels, the solution impedes the waste treatment process and could lead to additional contaminants in the water.

According to Aldridge, Cook had told him in their meeting that one of the main options Norbest was considering was a floating cover over the lagoon. The cost of such a cover is not prohibitive, but a potential side-effect of covering the lagoon would be a buildup of methane gas, which can be flammable, under the cover.

Possible solutions to a methane buildup include finding a filtering method or burning the gas off like some fossil fuel refineries do.

Norbest will confirm the viability of a cover by the end of the month, Aldridge told the city council, and if found to be a workable solution, the cover could be installed as soon as winter. The sooner the better, he said, because fluctuations in temperature could stir up lagoon and exacerbate the odor.

Aldridge suggested to the council that if a viable solution could not be found, perhaps annexing the Norbest property, so it falls into Moroni’s jurisdiction instead of the county’s, could provide funding to solve the problem or for use in improving the city.

“If they are going to continue to inconvenience the citizens of Moroni, we should at least be getting compensated in some way,” Aldridge said. “If the town is going to stink, at least we could see pretty parks and roads out our window.”

Mayor Freeman, who also works as Norbest food safety and quality assurance director,  told the Messenger that the council had weighed the option of annexation in the past but felt it would be counter-productive in solving the real issue.

“We have researched general points currently on annexation, but it is not a viable option at this point. The city would need to provide additional support and infrastructure potentially to Norbest, if annexed, which we currently do not have the capability to do nor funds. In addition, even if the facility was annexed, the lagoon would still be on private property and best addressed via working with Norbest.”

Aldridge himself told the council annexation might be opening Pandora’s box.

“I think a concern is, if you annex, do you take on Norbest’s environmental problems,” he said. “If there is an environmental violation, does the city become liable for that? If I created an environmental hazard with my business in Moroni, I wouldn’t expect the city to pay for it; I think people would come after me for it.”

Another citizen, Paul Green, spoke up at the Aug. 8 meeting. Green asked the council if the city had seen any documentation about the safety of the lagoon.

“Did you just take their word for it?” Green asked. “What about mosquitoes nesting out there? They could be carrying West Nile Virus. We have children running around here.”

Council members said they had not seen any specific documentation, but a Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) representative had been on site and had issued Norbest a ground water discharge permit to build the lagoon.

Scott Whitman, a Norbest representative present at the meeting, said the state had sent out inspectors from several departments.

He gave details about lagoon safety features, including an $80,000 leak-prevention system. Whitman said he was firm in his belief that the lagoon had been engineered with safety in mind.

“Rest assured,” Whitman said, “if the state shows up any time with more tests, we are not worried.”

Freeman said Moroni City’s priority has been and remains ensuring the best environment for the city and its citizens.

“Moroni City and Norbest have had a long relationship together over the years and one that we hope continues as long as it is mutually beneficial to both parties,” he told the Messenger. “We feel the current approach of working with Norbest is the best option now and has been beneficial thus far, but we do continue to review additional potential options.”

FBI closes inquiry into Ephraim PD

 

By John Hales

Staff writer

Aug. 31, 2017

 

EPHRAIM—The FBI has closed its review of matters relative to the Ephraim Police Department and Chief Ron Rasmussen, finding no basis for a federal criminal investigation.

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, the FBI’s Salt Lake City office released a brief statement to that effect.

The FBI provided no other information.

Two days later, Ephraim City gave a statement to the Messenger.

“We appreciate the FBI’s review of the investigation,” said Ephraim City Manager Brant Hanson. “We always welcome a more picture of what was going on. [We are] relieved that it was cleared.”

Dale Henningson of Manti, research engineer for Purkeys, shows electronic components the company designs for trucking fleets. Purkeys was recently awarded a Rural Fast Track Grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

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Caleb Cedric Williams-Iles

 

Caleb Cedric Williams-Iles died on Aug. 6, 2017 from heat stroke in Phoenix, Arizona.  When he was taken to the hospital by an officer who found him on the August 5, he had a temperature of 109.7. He died in the Abrazo Hospital.

Caleb was born June 17, 1981. Caleb’s mom and stepdad are Dan and Shelly Iles of Manti, and his dad is Robert Williams of Modesto, California.

He gave no trouble to his parents as a child. He was the ideal kid. He was known for looking like a “Cabbage Patch Kid” back when they were all the rage. Once his brothers told mom that he was told he could ride free at the fair because he looked like a “Cabbage Patch Kid”.

He and his best friend, Eric loved to go fishing and did that every time they got a chance. Caleb played football, basketball and swam on a competitive neighborhood swim team. When he was on the winning team in basketball one year, his team got to play against the 49er’s football team.

He was in the Boy Scouts of America and was excited to go hear Joe Montana speak at a district meeting.  He got his Duty to God Award. Caleb was baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was eight years old.

Caleb’s mom remarried when Caleb was almost three and he went by his stepdad’s last name most of his life.

When his stepdad went to truck driving school, Caleb and his two sisters went with mom and saw many of the sites in 13 states, for three months and a week, meeting daddy Dan along the way, when their paths crossed.

Caleb was married to Mandie Young and leaves two daughters and a son, Jayla, 13, Ryder, 9, and Jasmine, 8. A memorial service will be held in St. George in September and his ashes will be spread at that time.

There are other memorials planned. One has taken place in Phoenix on August 18.

Caleb was preceded in death by one brother, James and is also survived by two brothers and two sisters: Lee Williams in Phoenix, Arizona, Aaron Williams in Spokane, Washington, Natalie Groft in Las Vegas and Violet Wager in Overland Park, Kansas. He also leaves a stepsister, Jeni Eiland in Kern County, California as well as seven nieces and nephews.

Caleb studied web design at Dixie University. He worked at Lehi Block, in Northern Utah, Jones Paint & Glass in St. George and for Helping Hand Automotive in Phoenix. He was quite a salesman all through his life, always pitching one idea or another.

Caleb was successful in helping many friends in struggles that they faced. His family and friends will miss him and he will be remembered by many.

A Youcaring fund has been set up on Facebook to help with expenses incurred with his death.

Biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and volunteers prepare their ATVs with coolers full of live brook trout, which they will use to stock nearly 20 ponds in the Manti-LaSal National Forest back country east of Mayfield.

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The Hawks struggle to bring down a Tooele ball carrier during Friday’s game. Try as they might, the North Sanpete Hawks were unable to stop the Tooele Buffalos. The final score was 41-0 in favor of Tooele.

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‘The Hand of God’

Solar eclipse evokes humble reflections

 

 

By John Hales

Staff Writer

Aug. 23, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds, probably thousands, of Sanpete residents beheld the solar eclipse with “ahhhs” and awe on Monday, where locally the celestial event was seen at 88-90 percent of totality.

And if words like “awe,” “beheld” and “celestial” make it sound like a sacred event rather than a scientific one, well, there’s a reason for that—especially for Sanpete residents who traveled elsewhere to view the eclipse in its 100-percent totality.

“I wasn’t prepared for it to be a religious experience,” tweeted Fairview resident, and Utah’s lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox, who saw the eclipse from Alturas Lake, about 120 miles north of Twin Falls, Idaho. “Totality is something impossible to explain. I thought 99 percent was amazing—and then it hit. …I cried.”

Cox retweeted someone else’s comment that, “I told my kids it was like seeing the hand of God.”

Back at home in Sanpete, Ephraim resident Matthew Hebert was less transcendental about it all—but what else would you expect from a 10-year-old? “It’s cut out like a cookie,” said the boy as the moon bit out the first chunk of light from the sun shortly after 11 a.m. Monday.

Hebert and seven other youngsters watched the eclipse from a porch of a home on Ephraim Main Street, enjoying the astronomical event even through the tuft of clouds that obscured the view.

“The one day that clouds had to be in our way, and it had to be today,” said 14-year-old Kaitlyn Ogden.

At a park behind Ephraim Public Library, a sparsely attended viewing party watched the moon’s passage between earth and sun, using eclipse-viewing glasses provided by the library.

The fewness of people was not an accurate indicator of the interest, though, said Library Director Lori Voshell.

The library, as did Gunnison Civic Library, received about 1,000 glasses from STAR_Net (Science‐Technology Activities and Resources Library Education Network).

Voshell said she distributed about 700 of the glasses. “I’m tickled with the turnout,” she said.

At first, the cloudy skies over Ephraim worried her. “I was afraid we would have to turn on the NASA live feed,” she said. But, “Even with the cloud cover, we were able to see it.”

Sterling resident Linda Pledger reported clear-as-clear-could-be skies which were “deep, deep blue” over Idaho Falls, from where she called the Messenger to report the eclipse in the 100-percent–totality zone.

“It was amazing,” Pledger said, describing an almost surreal scene during the two or so minutes of full eclipse.

“The shadows were gone, but it wasn’t like a sunset,” she said. “It just felt so unnatural”—a term she would say several times during her call to the newspaper—“the way it got dim, it got so dim. We did see a few stars. It was thrilling. … It was a different kind of a light. Then all of a sudden the temperature dropped. … Words cannot describe things of that nature, sometimes.”

It evoked for Pledger, as it did for Lt. Gov. Cox and likely many, many others, stirrings from a higher plane.

“It’s a very spiritual experience. I think the sun and the moon are our greatest witnesses not just of times and seasons and everything, but of the majesty of God and the universe. And to see them come together like that—it makes you think about a God, and creation.

“It just makes you—” she paused. “You kind of see yourself in a different perspective. …It does make you feel your smallness.”

All Sanpete residents will be able to experience something like that in 2045; that’s the year that the county will entirely be within the 100-percent zone of the next total solar eclipse in our part of the world.

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Mt. Pleasant boy improving
from gunshot to head

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

8-24-2017

 

            MT. PLEASANT—A 10-year old Mt. Pleasant boy is continuing to improve after he was accidentally shot in the head at a cousin’s home last week.

            According to Mt. Pleasant City Police Chief Jim Wilberg, at approximately 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Officer Al Taylor responded to call about an injured child at a residence near 400 North and 100 East.

            The officer found two cousins, ages 11 and 10 at home alone, and the younger boy, Javon Norman, son of Melissa and Troy Reese, bleeding from the head.

            Apparently, Javon had been staying at his cousin’s house while his mother was working. Melissa Reese said the youngsters had only been without supervision for about an hour.

            According to initial information gathered by the police, the gunshot had been inflicted by a .40 caliber handgun that had been locked up in a gun safe. One of the boys may have known the access code, Wilberg says, but one way or another, the boys got a hold of the semi-automatic pistol. The gun went off, and the bullet struck Javon.

            “This was a freak accident,” Melissa Reese said.  “The safe was locked. They [her sister’s family] don’t even know how their son knew the code. Everything was secure. “

            Javon was transported by ambulance to Sanpete Valley Hospital (SVH), and subsequently airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. According to information gathered by Wilberg’s department, the boy woke up about 4 p.m., just before being transported to Salt Lake City, and spoke a few words.

            “He is doing extremely well, feeling better and better each day,” his mother said Monday.

            Melissa posted a statement to Facebook, saying “I want to thank SVH for their fast, life-saving actions that have saved my son. Javon has a long road ahead of him and we don’t know what each day will bring. But today I am beyond grateful that he is still here with us and for the outpouring of love that has been shown to our family in this time.

            “If everyone would keep him in your prayers that would mean so much to us,” she added. “Also pray for my sister and her family.”

            Javon’s mother’s request to include her sister’s family in prayers is because more than one person victimized. “His cousin is completely distraught,” Melissa said. “This was just a tragic accident.”

            “The two boys were related, so it’s a family issue, and the families have been very cooperative,” Chief Wilburg said. “Things are very preliminary, but we just want to find out exactly what happened and how.”

            Officers involved in the investigation say an incident like this is a good reminder why gun safety should be a high priority, especially when children are around.

Wife of Spring City mayor in intensive care after collision with garbage truck

By John Hales

8-24-2017

 

STERLING—It remains to be seen whether Marjorie Monnett, the wife of Spring City Mayor Jack Monnett, will walk again after a traffic accident last week left her without the use of her legs.

Monnett, 69, was conscious and recovering, though still in intensive care, at Utah Valley Medical Center on Tuesday, when the Messenger reached Jack Monnett to ask about his wife’s condition.

“Right now, everything’s hypothetical,” Jack Monnett said.

On Friday, Aug. 18, the vehicle Marjorie Monnett was driving slammed into a North Sanpete Disposal garbage truck that failed to stop at the intersection of Gunnison Reservoir Road and U.S. 89 north of Sterling, according to information from Utah Highway Patrol.

Monnett’s vehicle was demolished in the collision. Monnett was LifeFlighted to Utah Valley Medical Center with one crushed vertebra, and two others that were fractured.

Surgery replaced the crushed vertebra.

“We’re hoping that it takes; it looks like it will,” Jack Monnett said.

As of Tuesday, though, Marjorie Monnett did not have voluntary use of her legs, though they showed signs of reflexive action.

“That’s a positive sign,” Jack Monnett said. “Things are on track. We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks how much rehabilitation can do.” In addition to rehabilitation, doctors expect Marjorie to be in a neck brace for at least six months, Jack Monnett said.

Marjorie Monnett suffered a concussion, and doesn’t remember at all anything about the accident, “which is probably good,” Jack Monnett said.

Jack Monnett said he didn’t know anything about his wife’s condition the day of the accident until he arrived at the hospital after being informed she had been taken there. At the time of her transport, she was listed as being in poor condition.

At the hospital, someone showed him photographs of the accident. “I fell to pieces,” he said. “I lost it. You don’t stand much of a chance against a garbage truck.”

The driver of the North Sanpete Disposal garbage truck was Kevin Taylor, 50, of Ephraim.

According to UHP, Taylor was headed eastbound toward the highway, did not stop at a stop sign at the intersection, and proceeded directly into the path of Marjorie Monnett’s vehicle.

Jack Monnett said the owners of North Sanpete Disposal have been very supportive, their daughter even going to the hospital to support the Monnets.

“It’s been as hard on them as it is on us” he said.

UHP stated that charges are pending against Taylor. As of Tuesday, none had been filed.

Suzanne Dean, Messenger publisher

Text of remarks prepared by Suzanne Dean, publisher of the Sanpete Messenger, for delivery to the Ephraim City Council, Aug. 16, 2017. The remarks were a response to criticism from Councilman John Scott, who, in a council meeting, called the Messenger’s reporting of the Ephraim police controversy unethical and full of half-truths.

 

You all know me. I’m Suzanne Dean, and I’ve owned and been publisher of the Sanpete Messenger for 17 years. During that time, I’ve had mayors, city managers and member of city councils bring me flowers when I’ve taken tough stands in support of cities.

Two weeks ago was the first time a council member blasted our newspaper, and by inference, me, in an open city council meeting.

Councilman Scott, I want you to know I respect you. When I’ve covered the council, I’ve quoted you more than most council members because I’ve felt you’ve had good things to say.

I also respect your right to say anything you want in a city council meeting. A government forum like this has a high level of First Amendment protection, just as our newspaper does when covering public issues. But I think your comments two weeks ago were just plain wrong.

The situation reminds me of a case a few years ago. A recently released LDS stake president in one of the six stakes in our county was charged in another county with sexual harassment of a female employee. When the word got out, we received tips that this man had been harassing female employees for years. Finally, one woman took a stand and reported it.

When we ran a short story at the bottom of page one, H-E-double-toothpick broke out. As we were dealing with the fallout, I had a conversation one of our recent mayors of Ephraim. He said, “It’s not that it didn’t happen. They just didn’t want anybody to know about it.”

Councilman Scott, let me answer a few of your points specifically:

 

You said much of our coverage was untrue.

We have carried 12 staff-produced items about what I’m going to call the police controversy. We have also run five letters to the editor. All of our stories were based on public documents and interviews, and most of the interviews were tape recorded.

To date, two errors have come to my attention. In one story, we stated that Brant Hansen had expressed concerns to the Utah County investigators about former officer Darren Pead’s inquiries to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification ( BCI).

We said Brant expressed concerns at the beginning of the investigation. Brant let us know that he had mentioned them during the course of the investigation.

The Utah County report said that at the time of their report, there were 272 incomplete police reports in the total reporting system, and 237 of the reports were Chief Rasmussen’s.

In one instance, we got the numbers mixed up and said Chief Rasmussen had 272 incomplete reports. But in several other references, we correctly stated the chief’s number as 237.

I personally wrote or edited every story, and I can tell you that our stories were accurate and balance reports, based on the materials we were able to obtain. I would be willing to testify, under oath, in a court of law, that everything we published was the truth insofar we were able to determine truth.

 

You said much of our coverage was slanted.


I started to do an accounting of the number of column inches we have run giving the officers’ side, the city’s viewpoint, and neutral information, such as how the city was going to be policed until new officers could be hired.

I didn’t finish that tabulation before I had to leave for this meeting, but I will email it to each of you. I’m very confident that the totals for the two sides of this will be very close.

You might be interested to know that the week after the case went public, we received two letters to the editor supporting the officers and criticizing the chief and the city. We proactively reached out and asked the chief if one of his supporters would like to submit a letter. A letter supporting the chief was submitted after deadline…and we ran it in top position.

Last week, I did a fairly in-depth report and analysis of the Utah County report. I wrote 1,000 words that tended to support the officers’ assertions and 1,400 words supporting the chief.

I could cite other anecdotes that show we have gone to a lot of effort to give all sides of this thing.

 

You said we had alleged there had been a cover-up

We did report allegations by a complainant that her case had been covered up, and, in fact, in response to those allegations, we quoted the city manager as saying her case had been reopened.

One of our stories did include a direct and accurate quote from the police officers’ resignation letter saying Ephraim was covering up what had been going on in the Police Department.

But the Messenger as a newspaper never alleged a cover-up of any kind. Quite the contrary, we were extremely pleased, with the city’s transparency in responding to the whole case.

Both the mayor and city manager returned our calls and answered our questions. With the help of Leigh Ann Warnock, the city responded very promptly to our GRAMA requests for documents. And we received the written Utah County report with very little redaction.

Your staff did a first-rate job of media relations.

 

You said our stories were full of vitriol

On that one, you’re going to have to point to the specific instances. We realized that because of the people involved, this was a sensitive situation. We went overboard to be measured in the way we talked about it.

The only thing I can think of that comes anywhere close to vitriol is the police resignation letter, which we had a duty to report, and which we quoted and paraphrased accurately.

 

You said we violated journalism ethics, and you knew that because you attended the Edward R. Murrow School of Journalism at Washington State University.

I don’t want to get into dueling journalism schools, but I have a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which is almost universally regarded as tops in the county. I’ve worked at four newspapers besides the Messenger and taught journalism full-time at two universities.

I know all the points in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. I live and breathe that code every day. There was nothing in any of our coverage that violated the Code of Ethics.

We used unidentified sources in one story out of the 12. In all other stories, all our material was attributed. I did everything I could to get the sources of the one story to go on the record. They said for legal and professional reasons, they could not be named.

I felt their perspective and the facts they cited…and they showed me documentation for those facts… needed to be presented to the public. So in this one instance, I made the judgment that use of unnamed sources was acceptable and fit within the \Code of Ethics.

I would estimate we have used unnamed sources in controversial stories less than half a dozen times total in the 17 years I’ve published the paper.

 

I’ve told the truth

Finally, I just want to say that 50 years ago, there was no professional organization of journalists in the United States. There was only a fraternity, called Sigma Delta Chi, and women were not admitted to that fraternity.

Forty-seven years ago, when I was a junior majoring in journalism at the University of Utah, Sigma Delta Chi started admitting women for the first time—and I was inducted.

I went through a ceremony where I was presented with objects symbolizing the values of my profession. At the end, I had to raise my hand and swear to tell the truth in print for the rest of my professional life.

Truth is not always easy to decipher. It is not a given in any interaction. But I can tell you I have kept that oath. I kept it as our newspaper covered the police controversy…and I intend to continue to honor it as long as I am publisher of the newspaper.