Archives for November 2017

Lady Badgers volleyball team

ready to play after losing six

players, but gaining seven


By Lyle Fletcher

Staff writer

Nov. 30, 2017


EPHRAIM—Jeff Reynolds, head coach of Snow College women’s volleyball, announced last week that seven new players have committed to play volleyball for the Badgers in 2018.

The announcement comes on the heels of the women’s volleyball team at Snow enjoying one of the best seasons ever, which included the Badgers’ first conference championship in 31 years.

The Snow College press release enumerates the six players leaving, along with the seven being added.

Four players will graduate: Riley Lyman, the 2017 Region XVIII Player of the Year; Kelsie Evans, first-team All-Region performer; Thea Leiataua, second-team All-Region standout; and two-year starter Rebecca Bigler.

Two players have announced their intentions to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the 2017-18 school year: Freshman All-Region honorable mention libero Brielle Fowler, along with defensive specialist Hannah Lee.

Reynolds commented on recruiting to replace the six leaving: “It’s no easy task to replace these six outstanding players, but with the players we have coming back, in addition to the players who have committed for the 2018 season, we will be in pretty good shape.”

The seven players joining the Badgers include six players from Utah and one player from Idaho, some of whom played on state championship volleyball teams:

Belle Anderson (6-2, Right Side/Middle) is a four-year varsity player at Mountain View High School in Meridian, Idaho. She was named team captain as a senior and earned top offensive player honors.

Ashlen Bell (6-3 • Outside/Middle) led Northridge High School in South Weber in kills as a senior and earned All-State honorable mention honors. She ranked fourth in the state in overall hitting percentage and was named the Northridge High School team MVP.

Taela Laufiso (6-0 • Setter/Opposite) helped lead Copper Hills High School in West Jordan to its first-ever Region III Championship and was named 6A Deseret News All-State.

Andreanna Mckee (6-1 • Outside) helped lead Box Elder High School in Brigham City to the 2017 5A state championship and was a 2017 KSL first-team All-State selection.

Marcie Stapley (5-11• Middle) helped lead Morgan High School in Morgan, Utah, to three-straight 3A state championships and was a Deseret News first-team All-State selection. She led the state of Utah in hitting percentage as a senior and earned Utah Volleyball Coaches Association first-team All-State honors.

Bridget Triplett (6-2 • Middle) earned Deseret News All-State honorable mention honors as a senior at Weber High School in Huntsville. She was named to the Utah Volleyball Coaches Association Third Team.

Hunter Vernon (5-10 • Outside) helped lead North Summit High School in Coalville to back-to-back 2A State Championships as a junior and senior and was named the 2A MVP by the Utah Volleyball Coaches Association. She earned 2017 Deseret News 2A MVP honors.

Reynolds said, “We are excited that so many top-level players have made the decision to play for Snow College. We are grateful for their commitment and believe their contributions will go a long way to help us keep things rolling in 2018.”

He added Snow is “still looking at bringing in a couple more players to fill specific needs.”

Templars overpower Millard

85-59 in season opener game


By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 30, 2017


FILLMORE—The Manti High School Templars boys basketball team traveled to Millard High School last Tuesday, Nov. 21, to start its season and achieved a 85-59 victory.

The Templars sprinted out to a 23-6 first quarter lead and never looked back the rest of the game. The Templars were led by Matt Nelson, with 27 points, including four three-point goals, Kade Nichols with 15 points and Kole Brailsford with 11 points.

The Templars will be in action again on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, with both games at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. On Friday, Dec. 1, the Templars face Enterprise High School, and on Saturday, Dec. 2, they play Grantsville High School.

Manti City electricians Casey Johnson (above) and Kenny Keller prepare Main Street for the city’s eagerly festive post-Thanksgiving Day annual Christmas Light Parade by hanging glowing snowflake decorations up and down a large stretch of the main thoroughfare.

[Read more…]

Sanpete Election: Smaller

cities have highest turnout


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Nov. 23, 2017


A reoccurring theme emerged when the dust settled from the recent municipal elections in Sanpete County: The bigger the city, the smaller the percentage of registered voters per capita that cast their ballots.

With 4,577 ballots returned from a total of 8,371 sent, the county-wide voters’ participation figure seemed to be average in number. Fifty four-point seven percent of the county’s registered voters made their voices heard via mail-in or drop box ballot submission. The cities with the largest population and most registered voters had, in most cases, significantly less overall voter participation per capita in comparison to the smaller municipalities.



One Sanpete city with a contested mayoral election also happened to be the city with the largest number of registered voters, and yet its voter turnout was the second lowest in the county.

Ephraim City, with its 1853 potential voters, had only 920 residents who cast a ballot, equating to a 49.6 percent voter turnout. Fewer than half of Ephraim’s voting population made the call to keep their current mayor, Richard Squire, in office for another four-year term, instead of electing his opponent, Don Olsen.



Manti City’s 1685 registered voters saw a small uptick compared to Ephraim. The city had 848 valid ballots cast, equaling a 50.3 percent voter turnout. The mayoral race was uncontested in Manti.


Mt. Pleasant

The municipality with the smallest percentage of voter participation was clearly Mt. Pleasant. The 1354 registered voters only cast 643 votes–a 47.5 percent participation rate. Mt. Pleasant was one of the cities with a contested mayoral election. The Interim-mayor Sandra Bigler ran for a full term and won against Dan Simons.



Gunnison City, unlike the other areas with contested mayoral elections, had a very close race. Gunnison voters had to choose a new mayor because current Mayor Bruce Blackham did not run for reelection. After the pre-canvass ballot count on election night, only eight votes separated mayor-elect Lori Nay from her opponent Blake Donaldson. With only 486 out of 804 registered voters taking part in the election, the end result could have easily turned out differently had the 60.4 percent voter turnout been higher.



            Fairview’s voting population of 601 had the most boxes to check on their ballot, and the most potential impact of their choices on their community. Besides city planner David Taylor and Shauna Rawlinson running for the mayor seat vacated by current mayor Jeff Cox, the city also had a number of council candidates and a proposition to implement a recreation, arts and parks franchise fee tax on non-food items. A total of 356 (59.2 percent) votes went out from Fairview, electing Taylor mayor, as well as narrowly passing the proposition.



Like in Gunnison and Fairview, Moroni City’s 598 registered voters did not all exercise their right to vote in what turned out to be a close election. A 56.9 percent voter turnout of 340 voters steered the proverbial ship for Moroni and the election of its new leadership. Moroni City had to choose from a new selection of potential mayors, since current mayor Luke Freeman chose not to run again. Paul Bailey was chosen to replace Freeman.


Fountain Green

Across the county, as the voter turnout began to climb above 60 percent (Fountain Green’s 61.8 percent), the town’s population, and its registered voters, became increasingly fewer. Fountain Green’s 316 active voters out of a possible 511 might indicate a more enthusiastic voting population, which may or may not correlate with their smaller, tight-knit rural communities. Willard Wood was chosen as mayor in the contested race.


Spring City

Spring City only had 12 more registered voters than Fountain Green—523 in all—but their 346 ballot casters demonstrated a turnout increase of nearly 3 percent, 66.2 percent. With no contested mayoral election, and council candidates dropping out in a primary election and after the primary, the ratio of participating voters could seem more significant, since the city had numerous choices in the election.



Wales marked the first of only two municipalities to pull in a two to one, or a better, registered voter participation ratio. With a mere 168 people in the voting pool, 116 of them took part in the election, earning Wales a 69 percent voter participation rate—their second-highest ever. Keith Jensen came out on top as Wales Town Mayor.



Last, but certainly not least when it comes to a voter turnout, Mayfield Town had 75.2 percent of its voting population cast a ballot. In doing so, they not only returned incumbent town mayor John Christensen for another term, they proved to be Sanpete County’s most active voting population for the 2017 municipal elections. Mayfield Town had 206 out of 274 registered voters involved with deciding their local political environment.

“I believe Mayfield almost always has a high voter turnout,” said the recently re-elected Mayfield Town Mayor John Christensen. “But, the candidates, myself included (maybe even more) did more to get word out about what we stand for, and encouraged people to send in their votes.”

All-in-all, Sanpete voters saved $1,380.33 by submitting 2,817 ballots via one of four drop boxes located in Mt. Pleasant, Manti, Ephraim and Gunnison. Approximately $871.22 was spent on postage for the 1,778 ballots mailed in for submission.

More votes were cast on Nov.7 (673) than any other day of the voting period, but a strong contingent of early voters had their ballots submitted within days of receiving them—498 dated for submission on Oct. 16, roughly a week after being mailed.

The election canvass concluded on Tuesday, but the results were unavailable at the time of print, and Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill said she didn’t expect the canvass to affect any of the election outcomes.

Don Jardine, Ph.D. (right), a decorated hero of World War II, educator, author and illustrator, asks Justin Anthony, constituent liaison for Sen. Mike Lee’s office, the same question he asked Lee in person and via letter—just like he has the rest of Utah’s senators and members of congress. Anthony told Jardine, “We’ll get back to you.”

‘We’ll get back to you’

Ephraim vet complains to Senate staff that
his communications go unanswered


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Nov. 23, 2017


EPHRAIM—International intrigue is not among the topics commonly brought up at a politician’s senior outreach event held at a community senior center in Sanpete County.

Yet that’s exactly what happened last week when Utah Senator Mike Lee dispatched staff to field a question-and-answer session with seniors at the Ephraim Senior Center.

The senior outreach trip is the 40th of its kind since the program began at Lee’s behest to engage more with senior citizen constituents.

With this “mobile office” trip held Thursday, Nov. 16, completed, the outreach program has now officially visited all 29 counties in the state, says Justin Anthony, constituent liaison with Sen. Lee’s office and the answer man at last Thursday’s senior outreach trip.

A few attendees asked questions about Medicare and social security, while Don Jardine, Ph.D, of Ephraim stood patiently to the side waiting to ask Anthony a question—a question he had asked a number of politicians over the last few years.

Jardine spoke with the Messenger about his question—one he didn’t expect to receive an answer to, but he felt driven to ask anyway.

According to Jardine, under the Obama administration, a pro-American native Pakistani medical doctor, Dr. Shakil Afridi, helped the U.S. Government pinpoint the location of Osama bin Laden.

The doctor helped the CIA run a fake hepatitis vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to confirm Osama bin Laden’s presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples. A raid by a U.S. SEAL team killed the infamous terrorist leader and four others on May 2, 2011—after which, bin Laden was buried at sea almost immediately.

Afridi was arrested at a border crossing, trying to flee into Afghanistan.

He was convicted in May 2012 of treason for allegedly providing financial support to a local militant group in tribal regions adjacent to Afghanistan.

In August 2013, Afridi’s sentence was overturned and a retrial ordered, but in November 2013 he was charged with murder concerning the death of a patient he had treated eight years before.

Jardine says he truly feels the real reason Afridi was imprisoned and kept there with the change of charges was for his role in the extermination of bin Laden, since the debacle caused international embarrassment for Pakistan.

Afridi’s appeal is pending at a tribal court, Jardine says, with rules that date back to 1901 and are different from Pakistan’s regular set of laws.

“I have a lot of compassion for someone who helps me or my country,” says Jardine. “The America I fought for in World War II would not let that man waste away in prison after what he did for us.”

Jardine says he has posed the same question to many politicians: “What is being done to free this hero?”

When he was chosen to go on a Utah Honor Flight several years ago, instead of soaking up the sights, he took the opportunity to ask his question to every politician who came to the event—including two senators, Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, as well as several members of congress.

Jardine says every single politician he posed his question to said they didn’t have specifics, but they took his contact information and promised him they would get him an answer.

Jardine says he allowed three months to pass—a time he considered more than reasonable to expect a reply from at least one of them.

Unwilling to give up on what he admits has become a sort of personal crusade, Jardine began the process of writing letters to the same politicians he had posed his question to in person, plus others.

“I even wrote the president,” he says. President Donald Trump had been critical of Pakistan’s handling of the case during his campaign and once told Fox News he would get Afridi released in “two minutes.”

Afridi remains imprisoned.

Over eight months have gone by since Jardine sent the last of his letters out to men in power—men who shook his hand, thanked him for his service to his country in World War II and promised they would “get back” to him.

After hearing Jardine’s question and its back-story, Anthony told Jardine he would “get back” to him personally once he had finished his mobile office trip and returned to his office in Salt Lake City. Tuesday was the earliest he could look into it, Anthony said.

Jardine took the familiar answer in stride, saying, “I understand. You can’t know everything about everything.”

Jardine says he has written letters to politicians in the past—about education, for example—and has consistently received a reply to that small handful of letters he had written.

He is puzzled, and even feels frustrated, that his question about what is being done to help Afridi remains unanswered.

He can only guess why he received no reply to his in-person inquiries on the matter. He said he thinks the politicians at 2015’s Utah Honor Flight ceremony just didn’t know.

He does, however, believe they could have easily looked into it, and at least one of those who promised follow-up contact with him could have done so.

Yet Jardine says he has not heard a peep from the elected representatives in the state or nation.

The Messenger reached out to the offices of senators Lee and Hatch—two of those Jardine claims to have extended his inquiry to.

Jillian Wheeler, communications specialist at Sen. Lee’s office, says after looking into the matter, she saw that a response to Jardine’s 2015 letter to Lee’s office re-posing his question was composed. Wheeler says the office had written a draft response, but that there was an “issue” with delivery that the office did not notice during the process.

Wheeler did say Lee’s office bears the responsibility for the lack of response, saying it was “an oversight on our end.”

Matt Whitlock, communications director for Sen. Hatch’s office, confirmed Hatch has received letters from Jardine and says the senator’s office has also replied.

The following is an excerpt from a letter Whitlock says was sent Nov. 30, 2016, in response to one of Jardine’s letters of inquiry: “Thank you for taking the time to write with your concerns regarding the imprisonment of Shakil Afridi in Pakistan. I welcome the opportunity to respond.

“I agree with you that the imprisonment of Mr. Afridi on murder charges from an incident that happened eight years before his trial is questionable. I also share in your concern that the charges may have been linked to Mr. Afridi’s assistance to the United States.

“Unfortunately, as Mr. Afridi is a Pakistani citizen and was sentenced in Pakistani court, it is difficult for the United States to do many actions to aid in his release. I do think that the current Administration could have put more pressure on the Pakistani government to be more transparent in their proceedings but that does not seem to have occurred. I hope that the incoming Administration will do more to address this issue with the Pakistani government.”

Whitlock says Sen. Hatch believes communication with constituents is among his most sacred responsibilities and has responded to each inquiry he has received from Jardine.

Jardine gave a resounding no to the Messenger’s inquiry about receiving the correspondence from Sen. Hatch’s office.

“I would have known if that had come,” Jardine says. “This has been important to me for so long. That would have been big for me.”

Jardine says he does not believe there is anything preventing the proper delivery of his mail and even made a point of speaking to the Ephraim City Postmaster to make sure no mix-ups would occur with anyone who might have a similar name or address to his.

Jardine says he remains hopeful he will eventually get a reply from all of the politicians he posed his question too.

Mt. Pleasant, district still not on

same page on aquatic center upkeep


By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017


MT. PLEASANT—Should North Sanpete School District (NSSD) help pay for the cost of running the new aquatic center in Mt. Pleasant?

And, if so, how much should NSSD pay were the major issues facing the Mt. Pleasant City Council at its last meeting on Tuesday, Nov.14.

These issues had come to a head at the last meeting in October, when Mayor Sandra Bigler presented a letter from the NSSD, which implied that the school district would be able to use the aquatic center for free, in consideration for donating the land for 50 years.

Bigler presented a contract to the council, which was dated Sept. 22, 2015, between all the towns in the north county and the NSSD.

The contract set out the rights and obligations when school or city property would be used by other entities.

The pertinent part of the contract reads: “City Parks, Fields, Rec Facilities, Arena, etc. – Owned and maintained by each city. 1-First priority use by the city owning the facility. 2-Available for school use or use by other cities when available, scheduled through the city owning the facility, user pay actual custodial costs for indoor use.”

Monte Bona, on behalf of the Municipal Building Authority (MBA), wanted to frame the discussion so the council could make a decision. According to Bona, the NSSD was going forward as if they did not have to pay for any operation costs because the council had not gotten back to them with a proposal.

Bona informed the council that the pool manager was putting together “solid numbers” on what NSSD’s use of the pool would cost, based on the factors from the BYU study done during the planning stage and the times the school district had indicated it wanted to use the pool.

With that information, the council has to make a decision. Does the donation of land by NSSD equal not having to pay for any operational costs, and, if not, how much should NSSD have to pay?

Bona reminded the council that a decision was necessary because the MBA was preparing a lease for the city for use of the aquatic center. The lease would become the mechanism whereby the bond on the pool would be paid. The MBA needed to know what numbers to use to have the lease make sense and be able to pay the bond.

Councilman Kevin Stallings said, “We’ve already decided that (the contract) doesn’t” allow the school district to not pay for its costs.

Councilman Justin Atkinson mirrored his sentiment and recalled that the city had donated a road to the school district for a new school, a road the city still has to maintain. However, the city still has to pay the school district for use of the high school auditorium for the annual Miss Mt. Pleasant Pageant.

Stalling made a motion that the council receive the data from the pool manager in order to assess a fee on NSSD for use of the aquatic center. The motion passed unanimously, and the pool manager’s report was put on the agenda for the Nov. 28 meeting.

In other business, Bona reported to the council that Widmark Corp. had presented a termination letter to the city, thus ending, at least for now, their intention to build a Shopko store in Mt. Pleasant.

Bona explained that Widmark and other major retailers are cautious about the future market and “don’t know which way to go.”

He added that Widmark had told him they still had plans to build 10 new stores in rural Utah, and Mt. Pleasant was still at the top of the list.

But the rise of online commerce has hurt retail sales.

Bona referenced the recent decision by Walmart to halt construction of all new stores throughout Texas as an example.

Yet at the same time, recent changes in Utah law and laws in other states have forced online sellers to pay sales tax on sales from those states. Bona told the council Mt. Pleasant itself had received $40,000 in sales tax revenue from online sales.

Bob and Carolyn Bessey are the Grand Marshals of the 2017 Manti Light Parade, which will take place this Friday.


Robert and Carolyn Bessey

will lead off this year’s light

parade down Manti Main St.


By Max Higbee

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017


MANTI—Bob and Carolyn Bessey will be the Grand Marshals of the 2017 Manti Light Parade this Friday.

Both of the Besseys are Manti natives and have lived most of their lives here, seeing the city grow and change over the decades.

“We were both born in our homes,” Carolyn relates. “He was born on 4th North and Main Street. I was born at home near the park. We were both delivered by a midwife—it was back in the days.”

Bob lived in Manti all through his childhood.

Carolyn, however, moved to New Mexico with her family when she was five years old. Her father made parachutes during World War II. After the war ended, he did the same thing as the company moved him around the country.

Carolyn says, pointing to her husband, “He was friends with my older brother, and so our families have been friends for a long time.”

Bob has only lived outside of Manti three times in his life. The first time was during his service with the military. The second was during his time at Utah State, where he completed his degree after starting it at Snow College. Following that, he taught at Kearns Junior High School near Salt Lake City.

After returning to Manti, he taught math, science, and business part-time at both Manti High School and Gunnison Valley High School. Soon, he was teaching full-time only for Manti High, where he spent the rest of his 29-year teaching career.

The Besseys raised their four children here in town—Lisa, Dianne, Eric and Susan.

Bob has kept sheep on the side for years and continues to maintain a herd of 715 head of sheep.

The couple has spent their adult lives in the service of the public. Bob has served as Manti’s mayor as well as on its city council and served as Sanpete County Commissioner for 14 years.

For her part, Carolyn served as the head librarian of the Manti Library for nearly 21 years.

“We’ve been emergency medical technicians, we’ve been on the fair board …” Bob says before Carolyn cuts in.
“We’ve been on every board,” she laughs. “We’ve actually been the judges of the light parade for probably 10 years, and before we did that, my sister and I used to always do a float for the Ladies’ Literary Club and the library.”

Reflections on Blessings and Thanksgiving


By Corrie Lynne Player

Heaven Help Us

Nov. 23, 2017


The month of November, with Thanksgiving, starts what I believe is our most important holiday season. I thoroughly enjoy reflecting with family and friends about just how blessed I am. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the greatest nation on earth, a nation founded on God-given principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In my numerous decades of life, I’ve learned that celebrating where I am is much more satisfying than criticizing or complaining about my circumstances. A newspaper I write for dedicated a page to giving folks an opportunity to “vent” about problems in their lives or situations they wanted to see changed. While I think it’s important to push for changes when you can, I also believe that what you emphasize the most will become what’s most important. If you complain a lot, you will be much unhappier than if you smile more than you frown.

So, frankly, I choose to celebrate living in a free nation where the course of my life is under my control, to whatever extent I want to make the effort. I’m free to figure out and pursue a profession. Nobody is going to force me to be a mechanic when I’d rather be a musician. But I also know that nobody will pay me to play the piano or French horn if I have no talent or don’t want to practice hours and hours a day. The pursuit of happiness is definitely NOT the pursuit of pleasure.

While being happy is a very pleasant state, it doesn’t come from being rich, famous, or powerful. It doesn’t come from being entertained, eating fancy food, or lounging around, either. I think happiness is a process rather than an end in itself. Looking back over my years of change, challenge, and, sometimes, disappointments, I can see that the times I’ve been happiest are those when I’ve been most concerned about other people or situations outside myself.

Gratitude is a key component of happiness. If you feel cheated, jealous, or angry, you aren’t happy. You’re only happy when you recognize God’s hand in your life.

I like this story that a reader sent me a while ago:

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none came. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. Stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger, he cried, “God! How could you do this to me?”

Early the next day, the sound of a ship approaching the island woke him.

When the rescuers waded out of the sea, he asked, “How did you know I was here?”

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It’s easy to be discouraged when things are going wrong, but please don’t lose heart. God is at work in your life, even in the midst of your pain and suffering. Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.

November is National Adoption Awareness month, so as you reflect about your own blessings, consider adding another child to your family. Just saying…

Jessica (L-R) and Kyra Durfee and Sophia and Deana Lebaron, a pair of North Sanpete sisters and their children, paint positivity rocks—decorated rocks with a message of kindness. The pair of moms and their little sidekicks hide the rocks around the community as small gestures of kindness toward strangers. With their Facebook group “Positivity Rocks (SCU),” Jessica and Deana have harnessed the power of social media to recruit more participants. The group is only two months old and already has nearly 300 active members spread countywide.

[Read more…]

Ruth Kjar with two ceramic pilgrims she made and painted.


Ruth Kjar of Mt. Pleasant

is woman of many talents


By Emily Staley

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017


MT. PLEASANT—Ruth Kjar is a woman of many talents.

Ruth Kjar was born in Provo, Utah on September 23, 1919 to Eric Olaf Bylund and Sophia Johansen Bylund. On her 98th birthday this year, she wished only to “live to have another birthday”.

While growing up, Ruth lived in many homes around Provo and Orem. During her teenage years, the Great Depression (1929-1939) impacted her family. She remembers her father working very hard to provide for them.

After graduating high school, Ruth worked her way through Brigham Young University for two years, and then moved to Salt Lake City to be close to her new job at an insurance company.

Here Ruth met the love of her life, Ben Kjar, who was staying at the same boarding house. The two were married on Halloween; October 31, 1941. Ben and Ruth had many adventures together. One of which consisted of following a bandit and getting kidnaped, then miraculously returning home safely.

The Kjars had twins, Curtis Bylud and Maxine. Later two daughters Maree and Lila Dee and a son, Steven,were added to the family.

Ruth worked at a parachute plant for a couple of years until she landed a job at the Manti City Bank (now Zions First National Bank), working as a bookkeeper, teller, secretary and Operations Officer. She worked for about 30 years until retiring in 1986.

Throughout her life, Ruth has brightened the lives of those around her. She has served as president of the Ladies Literary Club, as the president of both Relief Society and Young Women’s programs in her church, and countless more leadership and altruistic activities. She loved genealogy and spent many hours searching her family lines, as well as helping others do theirs.

“She could never be idle and sit without doing something” her daughter Lila Ericksen recalled; “After she got off work and the kids got out of school, we’d run to Provo to buy material. Then we’d come home; she’d cut it out and sew all night. We’d wake up and she’d have us a new dress for school. We always had Christmas dresses and birthday dresses, and they were very pretty; a lot better than store bought dresses.”

Ruth used her talents to make her own wedding dress. Later she sewed her daughters’ prom and wedding dresses too.

Ruth’s talents don’t stop with designing and sewing clothing. She crocheted, tatted lace, and loved to play around with ceramics. “We made lots of ceramics and painted them and everything.” Ruth says. Some of her interest in painting came from her mother who was also a talented painter.

When asked about her yard, Ruth’s eyes would light up; “Oh my goodness! We had such a big yard! We had deer that stayed in the back yard a lot. We had peonies and roses and everything!” Daughter Lila said that her mom could “grow anything.”

Ruth kept up her beautiful yard by herself up until she was in her 80’s.

“There were good times and bad times.” Ruth explained. “It was a good life.”

Ruth lived in her own home until 3 months ago, and now lives happily in Mt. Pleasant. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild love her dearly. She is looked up to and admired.

Her son, Steve Kjar explained in a simple statement; “She is the most perfect woman.”

Board calls Manti-Ephraim airport

‘economic asset’ for entire county


By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017


EPHRAIM—As chairman of the airport board, Ted Meikle described the Manti-Ephraim Airport as “an economic asset” for the entire county in his report to the Ephraim City Council.

Meikle reported on the state of the airport at the council’s meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

He said the airport is an infrastructure necessity for business and transportation in and out of the county. It is instrumental to the sheep industry in Sanpete, used frequently by Snow College, is the site for Utah National Guard training and a base for firefighting efforts in the area.

However, he said, only two cities support this county asset.

And although Meikle “appreciates the energetic support of Ephraim,” he stated his concern about the future of the airport.

He is especially worried about zoning around the airport as it affects the possibility of buying property around the airport for future expansion.

In response to a question from Councilwoman Margie Anderson, City Manager Brant Hanson said zoning around the airport does concern Ephraim, because, since the last annexation, the airport is in the city’s buffer zone. As such, the city has some influence over what type of development takes place there and how the zoning should be handled.

Meikle informed the council that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has proposed to fund the buying of property around the airport, is constrained by law to offer fair market value for any property purchased by it for the expansion of an airway.

“Actually, they are a really good buyer for a property owner,” said Meikle.

Councilman John Scott, Ephraim’s representative to the airport board, said that at an appraised value of $45 million, the airport represents the largest public investment in Sanpete County.

Scott noted that the airport, especially recently, has had a huge impact on agriculture in Sanpete.

He also said one of the first questions many new businesses will ask about Sanpete is about the airport. The future of the airport is a very important subject for the county to contemplate.

In his presentation, Meikle also talked about the history of the airport.

In 1927, fresh off his flight to Paris, Charles Lindberg made a barnstorming tour of the United States to promote aviation.

During the tour, he flew over Mt Pleasant on Sept. 3, where a crowd had gathered to wave at him as he flew over the town. The county did not have an airfield at the time, and it appears that this was the first recorded instance of aviation in Sanpete.

In 1940, after World War II had already started but the United States had not yet entered, the president of Snow College started a Civilian Aviation Program in August.

That September, the Ephraim City Council approved the construction of a new airfield just outside town. By September 1941, the airfield was completed.

Meikle reported that since 2006, the airfield has been totally renovated. The runway has been rebuilt and lengthened. As part of the airfield, the airport boasts fuel facilities, a pilot lounge, a new well and a septic system, Wi-Fi connectivity, a weather observation station, the technology for instrument-only approach and, most recently, a new asphalt lane for new hangars.

Meikle noted that the airport still needs to have a loaner car for pilots who need transportation once they arrive in Sanpete and the airport needs to install the proper equipment for night instrument landings.

The bridge across Six-Mile Creek is now closed to full-size vehicles due to damaged abutments.


Forest Service closes bridge

over Six-Mile Creek to full-

size motor vehicle traffic


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Nov. 23, 2017


EPHRAIM—In the interest of public safety, the Manti-La Sal National Forest has closed the bridge on Forest Road 50231 to full-size motor vehicle traffic.

The bridge, which is at the North Fork of Six-Mile and near the junction of Forest Trail 414 (Sand Ridge), will remain open to vehicles less than 66 inches in width and less than 1800 pounds. The order will remain in effect until Jan. 1, 2019 or until rescinded, whichever is earlier.

The winter of 2017 brought above average snowpack to the Sanpete Ranger District. The resulting high waters caused measurable movement of the bridge abutments.

On Sept. 4, the Intermountain Region Forest Service bridge engineer and the Manti-La Sal National Forest engineer determined the bridge was not safe for full-size motor vehicle traffic.

The road will be signed above and below the bridge, and two miles west of the area.

Local law enforcement officers will work with the Forest Service law enforcement officer and forest protection officers to enforce the closure. Violation of the order is punishable by a fine.

For more information regarding the closure, contact the Sanpete Ranger District Office at 435 283-4151.

Local Sanpete County phonebook

seeks cell phone numbers


MANTI—Unique Directories, the phone book arm of the Sanpete Messenger, is urging county residents to voluntarily list their cell phone numbers in the next Sanpete County Telephone Directory.

A form is inserted in this week’s countywide newspaper that residents can fill out and either mail in or drop off at the Messenger office at 35 S. Main in Manti. Otherwise, residents can call the office at 835-NEWS to give their information or go to and fill out the form there.

Unique Directories is working on the 11th edition of the book, says Suzanne Dean, publisher of the Sanpete Messenger and of the phone book. The book should be ready to mail to every household and business in February. At the time the book is mailed, a searchable version will also be posted online at

“The problem is that the only phone numbers publicly available by under federal regulations are land lines,” Dean says. “Over the years, as more people have given up their land lines and gone to cell phones only, the number of residential listings in the Sanpete phone book has dropped by almost 2,000.”

“That starts to reduce the value of our book,” Dean says. “And it cuts into the sense of community, which is one of the main reasons most of us choose to live here. We’ve all experienced the frustration of needing to get hold of someone we interact with frequently in the community but not having the person’s cell number.”

Dean says local government officials have asked her if there is something the phone book can do to make cell numbers available.

“Some people do want to keep their cell numbers private, just some people have unlisted land lines,” Dean says. “But most people who have cell phones only do it to save money. They just don’t want to pay for two phones.”

“The past several phone books have carried somewhere between 100 and 200 cell numbers voluntarily provided by residents,” Dean says. “If your cell number was listed last year, you don’t need to do anything.”

The phone book staff will be verifying that previously listed numbers are still valid. If they are, they will automatically be published in the 2018 book.

Meanwhile, Dean says she is committed to using a variety of methods to gather a lot more numbers and then seeking permission from those cell phone users to publish them in the phone book.

“We will not publish any cell phone numbers without resident permission. And we don’t release our phone numbers to any other phone books or telemarketers. Of course, if they get a copy, there’s nothing stopping them from using the information. But our book is obscure enough that no one bothers.”

Dean says she has had her personal cell listed for many years. It has helped a lot of people reach her, since she’s away from home so much she rarely answers her land line. And she says she’s never had anything negative happen because of making her cell available.


Stephanie Larsen, of Encircle Resource Center in Provo, speaks to an audience at Snow College. Pictured on the screen is the late John Williams, a well-known Salt Lake City restauranteur, supporter of the Encircle Center, Larsen’s uncle, and a gay man.

J.D. Goates is the current president of USGA, an unofficial BYU gay students’ union. He spoke last Tuesday night.


Snow Pride Club invites

Utah County groups to educate

students on gay issues


By Max Higbee

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017


EPHRAIM—In the heart of Utah County, there are two organizations that are working to ease the unique struggles faced by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. These groups seek to give families and friends important tools to support their loved ones whose sexual orientation is different.

Last Tuesday night, Snow College’s LGBTQ Pride Club organized a support event. Two representatives from the Utah County groups came to talk to Snow students: Stephanie Larsen, the Executive Director of Encircle Resource Center, and J.D. Goates, the president of USGA, an off-campus club providing support to gay students at BYU. Brigham Young University is owned by the LDS church, which does not allow homosexual activity.

`           Larsen said that the average child realizes they’re gay or lesbian at 12 years old, and the average age is even younger for trans children.  She said, “The average coming out age is 22. That leaves ten years during which time kids can hear opinions that may harm them: what their church thinks, what their aunt thinks. Often people around them are unaware of the effect that opinions can have.”

Provo’s Encircle Resource Center is specifically tailored toward offering support, counseling, and sanctuary to LGBTQ youth and their families, although they offer services and support to adults as well. The center is housed in an 1891 pioneer house near the Provo City Center LDS temple, just a few blocks from the heart of downtown.

Larsen is an active Latter-day Saint and mother of six, a native of Utah County. She told the audience how she first thought to create a resource center like Encircle in response to the disparity she saw between the kindness and acceptance that she believes the LDS gospel teaches and the unkindness and discrimination that she witnessed in Utah County against lesbian, gay, and transgender folks.

“When families abandon gay, lesbian, and transgender family members, the ensuing loneliness can contribute to suicide,” said Larsen.

Larsen shared how she was inspired to start Encircle in a big way by her husband’s late uncle, the well-known Salt Lake City restauranteur and philanthropist, John Williams, who was also a gay man. When he came out to her husband’s family more than fifty years ago, they responded with love by embracing and supporting him, and Williams went on to become a successful restauranteur.

Just a few months after becoming the first financial supporter of the burgeoning Encircle organization, John Williams was murdered in his home in an arson fire.

“I honestly didn’t know how we could or were going to go on without him,” Larsen stated. “He was my biggest inspiration, and our greatest financial supporter.”

But to honor John’s memory, Larsen pushed on. She recalled the first time that they looked at the house that would become the home of Encircle: “We just walked up, and before we ever even looked around, I peered in through a window, and there was this gorgeous rainbow, stained glass (reminiscent of the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ rights movement). I just laughed and said, ‘yep, this is it. This is the one.’”

Larsen walked the audience through a typical week at Encircle, detailing the programs they offer, from a support group for survivors of sexual assault to a weekly jam session with music and instruments in the house’s living room.

“We have this support group for LGBT teens—just imagine 40 teenagers packed into a room—and they won’t let us split them up at all into smaller groups,” Larsen shared. “Kids come from as far away as Ogden every week, and if anybody’s ever missing, you’ve got kids calling them and putting them on speaker phone so they can be there in spirit. It’s really incredible to see these kids building such a network of love and support.”

Next month, Encircle will be hosting what Larsen termed “the first gay youth conference.” Called Ignite, the conference will be at Utah Valley University on Saturday, December 2 and will feature keynote speakers and local celebrity performers.

J.D. Goates spoke about USGA. “We are not the US Golf Association,” he joked. “USGA stands for Understanding Same-Gender Attraction.”

USGA is a BYU club, but because it is not sanctioned by the school administration, they meet weekly at the Provo City Library.

Sharing his own life story, Goates says that he was raised both Catholic and Mormon, as his mother was Catholic, and his father was a Latter-day Saint. They are both faculty members at Brigham Young University.

“I went through all of the rites of passage for both religions, just short of becoming a monk. I even served an LDS mission, speaking Spanish in the New York City South Mission.”

Speaking to people who may feel like they cannot support gay folks because they feel they would be supporting sin, Goates said, “People don’t have to understand or agree with everything in somebody’s life to walk with them and nurture them. It’s like the (LDS) Primary song, “I’ll Walk With You.”

A question from the audience asked Goates and Larsen about what the word “queer” means in the modern LGBTQ movement.

Larsen responded that “queer is the umbrella term for all people who are not strictly straight or strictly cisgender (meaning that the person identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth). Like an umbrella, you can imagine the handle coming down, and on one side, we’ve got gender identity, and this refers to the way you identify, as a man or a woman or non-binary. On the other side is sexual identity, and this refers to who you love, who you are attracted to.”

Goates, in response, said that it is a safe bet for those seeking not to offend or belittle to “mirror language,” to use the words for somebody else that they use for themselves, especially with personal pronouns such as she/her and he/him.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, 82.26% of Utah County’s population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making it the third-most uniformly Mormon county in the most religiously homogeneous state in the United States. While LDS leaders have said that simply being lesbian or gay is not a sin, they maintain that having a sexual relationship with somebody of the same gender is sinful.

[Read more…]

Whistle blowers should be celebrated


In the fictitious movie trilogy, “The Matrix”, we find a very real life parallel.  Neo (portrayed by Keanu Reeves) starts to realize that the world he is accustomed to is not quite what it appears to be.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus explains appearances like this, “Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be.”

As Neo continues to become aware of the real world around him, those who would desire to keep him asleep and blinded rally forces to hedge his way and keep him from knowing the truth.  In his search for truth, Neo is introduced to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who offers Neo to take either a blue-colored pill or a red-colored pill, the former of which would allow him to remain in the simulated universe within “The Matrix” and enjoy the comforts of life in ignorance, while the latter would lead him to escape from the fabricated reality into the physical realm that is harsher and more challenging in nature.

Morpheus explains that “you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch—A prison for your mind, (long pause, sighs). Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.”

Morpheus continues, “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (A red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause, Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.”

Although we are not literally offered either a red pill or a blue pill, we are figuratively offered a blue pill every day as we watch the main stream media, politicians and extremely wealthy power brokers who have an agenda to keep the masses of the people dumbed down and in darkness. We are offered a red pill when whistle blowers or others try to expose the truth about a particular subject.

Whistle blowers are generally ignored or are ridiculed as a crazy conspiracy theorist nutcase.  While many whistle blowers have risked their lives trying to expose corrupt or illegal activities, many others, along with eye witnesses, have been killed because of their knowledge. “Dead men tell no tales,” Some have been able to escape to other countries to protect their lives.

Are you a blue pill type or a red pill type person?  I for one am a red pill type person.


Newell Hales