Archives for February 2018

This copy of American Revolution-era author Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis,” which has been authenticated as the fifth-known copy in existence, was discovered in a dusty box in a Mt. Pleasant garage. The valuable and rare document is being auctioned off on April 12 at the Swann Auction Galleries’ Americana auction.

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One defendent now faces arraignment,

other pleads guilty in kidnapping case


By James Tilson

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


MANTI—John Coltharp entered his plea of “not guilty” Wednesday, Feb. 21, in 6th District Court in Manti.

Coltharp was charged in Sanpete County late last year after he was arrested at a former family residence in Spring City.

At that time, he refused to tell police where his four children were located, even though a divorce court had awarded custody of the children to the mother.

On Wednesday, Feb

John Coltharp, appearing in 6th District Court in Manti for his arraignment, listens as the attorneys describe the procedure in the case to Judge Marvin Bagley.

. 21, Coltharp entered his plea in both of the cases against him.

In the first case, he is charged with one count of first-degree felony child kidnapping and one count of second-degree felony obstruction of justice.

In the second case, he is charged with first-degree felony sodomy and second-degree felony child bigamy.

Coltharp originally was scheduled to waive a preliminary hearing. Saying “there is no chance in [the court] not binding it over to trial, so I don’t want to waste time,” Coltharp asked the court to not hold the hearing and prepare the case for trial.

Paul Frischknecht, Coltharp’s attorney, told Judge Marvin Bagley that he had spoken to his client before the hearing regarding the preliminary hearing and also about a possible plea agreement.

Frischknecht told Bagley that Coltharp was not interested in a plea deal and wanted the case to go to trial.

Samuel Shaffer appearing in Fifth District Court on Wednesday, Feb. 21, where he entered a guilty plea and now awaits an April 10 sentencing.

After waiving the preliminary hearing and accepting Coltharp’s not guilty pleas, the judge set Coltharp’s cases in the court calendar for a pretrial conference on March 21 at 10 a.m.

Coltharp’s co-defendant, Samuel Shaffer, who was also scheduled to appear in the same district court on the same day, instead appeared in 5th District Court in Iron County to enter a guilty plea in his case there.

The four Coltharp children were located in Iron County, along with two children of Shaffer.

Shaffer pled guilty to first-degree felony rape and second-degree felony child abuse.

He will face at least 25 years in prison for the rape charge and possibly as much as life in prison. The child-abuse charge carries a sentence of 1-15 years, which could run concurrently with the rape charge or could run consecutively.

Shaffer faces two first-degree felony sodomy charges, one second-degree felony obstruction of justice charge, one second-degree felony child-bigamy charge and one misdemeanor lewdness charge in his case in Sanpete County.

Shaffer’s sentencing date is April 10 in Iron County.



Gunnison Youth Council sworn in


Gunnison City Recorder Janell Braithwaite (far right) swears in the new Gunnison City Youth City Council members on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Youth council members are (L-R): Emily Ryan, Annika Liddiard, Ruth Lyons, Adelyn Overly and Parker Judy.

This choral group from Snow College will join groups from Gunnison Valley High School and Eastern Arizona College at Casino Star Theatre in Gunnison on March 8.


Three choral groups join in spring

concert at Casino Star Theatre


By Lyle Fletcher

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


GUNNISON—Choirs from three schools will join together for a spring choral concert at Casino Star Theatre in Gunnison.

On Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m., over 100 voices will join together for the grand finale as choral groups from Gunnison Valley High School, Snow College and Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Ariz., sing numbers corresponding with the evening’s theme “Amazing Grace: Songs of Love and Faith.”

The musical directors—Joseph A. Allred (Gunnison Valley High School), Michael D. Huff (Snow College) and Bruce W. Bishop (Eastern Arizona College) will direct their choral groups separately before the grand finale when the choirs will be combined.

Seating will be limited, so buying tickets early is recommended.

Suggested donations are $3 per person, with a family maximum of $10

for a parent or parents and their own children ages 12 and under.

Tickets are at Rasmussen’s Ace Hardware or G.I.C. in Gunnison, Sanpete Messenger office in Manti, KopyKatz Printing in Ephraim and Burns Saddlery in Salina.

Jason Mardell, owner of Corner Station deli, holding a homemade sandwich.

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Ephraim appoints animal control

officer and votes on water connection

By James Tilson

Staff writer
Mar. 1, 2018


EPHRAIM—The Ephraim City Council again discussed the issue of whether to provide a water hookup for a resident outside the city limits and introduced a new animal control officer at their last meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The council considered the contract with Cori Larsen to provide a water connection, an agenda item which had been tabled from its meeting on Feb. 7, so council members could further review the contract terms.

At the meeting on Feb. 7, the council had also considered many issues regarding water availability, but Mayor Richard Squire informed the council those issues were “side issues” and not relevant to consideration of the contract in front of them.

Squire told the council the new connection had the advantage of allowing the city to complete a waterline “loop,” which would improve water flow all along the waterline to which Larsen would be connecting.

Bryan Kimball, the city’s community development director, added the contract would make Larsen contractually obligated to consent to annexation when the city decided to annex that property.

Kimball added the city staff favored the contract: “[It] makes an existing situation better.”

The council approved the contract unanimously.

Aaron Broomhead, Ephraim’s chief of police, introduced Ephraim’s new animal control officer to the council: Maurakae Bown.

Bown started her new job on Feb. 12 and immediately set out to clean up the city’s holding facilities and make the operation more efficient.

Broomhead told the council Bown had already made great improvements to the facility, and he was looking forward to working with her.

Bown lives in Manti and previously volunteered with Lab Rescue OK of Oklahoma and Wag-N-Train Dog Rescue of Sanpete County.

While she is not an officer herself, she relies on the Ephraim Police Department as backup.

She told the council she wants to create a positive relationship with the Ephraim community and help educate citizens about dog ownership and on how to treat every animal humanely.

Congrats to state winners,

says proud grandpa


Last week the Manti High School boys basketball team was able to do the almost unbelievable…take state when no one at the first of the year thought that to be a possibility.

What a great accomplishment and culmination of a lot of hours of blood, sweat, and tears, on both the ballplayers’ side and also the many coaches’ side.  Watching the glorious firetruck celebration down main-street yesterday, brought back so many memories and nostalgia from fifty-two years ago, when the very first Manti High boys basketball team took state for the very first time.

I, along with six other current grey-headed and weathering Sanpete residents, and several others living outside Sanpete, had the great honor and blessing of experiencing this same ecstasy, of that which these newly-crowned warriors started to feel as they left the St. George arena having won it all.

I wanted to congratulate my grandson Mason, a member of this remarkable group of young men, and tell him and his companions, how this single event will help to shape, bend and mold their future lives, for the better, if they will but stay true to the things they learned along the way.

They don’t realize it now, but this happening will be hashed over and dissected over and over again through the many years now following.  Take it from those first old “Codgers”, who still meet together on different battlefields, such as the golf course, or bedside of loved ones— the memories still live on.

Enjoy the ride, but also remember those souls who inspired, lifted, encouraged, and helped you all to be where you are now.  For myself, I remember the Keith Andersons, Woodrow Becks, and several Hill families from Gunnison; I recall the Manti Don Stotts, Jackson Wanlasses, Richard Olsons, Cecil Coxes, Wilbur Braithwaites and many others who visited our locker rooms after each home game;  I remember the Paul and Glen Baileys and Bruce Irons, Mac Wilkeys, from North Sanpete.

These old timers of the Sanpete community left a legacy of caring  and influence for hundreds of young people.   These were the stalwarts of the community, whose lives touched the souls of youth.  Now I give not only my grandson, who represents the fifth generation of Manti Templars who played sports in the family, as well as Mason’s cohorts on the court, a BIG CHALLENGE:  Go be the same loving, caring, encouraging influence on those who will follow after you, as you have had given to you from those who have gone beyond,or about to.



Leland Thompson


State has $581 million surplus to use


By Ralph Okerlund

Senator District 24

Mar. 1, 2018


Dear Friends and Neighbors,


We have wrapped up week five of the Legislative Session, and we now only have nine working days left until we adjourn till next year.

We have officially passed a total 171 bills, but by the time we finish the session we will pass somewhere around a total of 500 bills.

I invite you to watch our floor debates, tune in to our committee meetings and reach out to me with your thoughts on the bills over the next two weeks.

Here are a few of the highlights from week five:

Resolution in support of a new national park in Escalante

This week we debated the resolution (SCR8 at declaring Utah’s support for Congressman Chris Stewart’s effort to create the Escalante Canyons National Park and Preserve and the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits and Escalante Canyons national monuments. This bill passed the Senate and will be heard in the House next.



The executive appropriation committee announced this week that updated revenue estimates show a surplus of $581 million this year, which is almost twice as much as was previously expected.

Some of this comes from tax revenues and some comes from budget management.

Our budget surplus is nearly $80 million more than we anticipated.

As I consider the budget and appropriations, Snow College has been on the forefront of my mind. This great institution is a boon to our region, and we are trying to support its mission and growth as they expand concurrent education to provide kids with education online.

The next step in the budgeting process is for the Senate and House majority and minority caucuses to create their own proposals. We will then compare budgets, consider input from the governor and ultimately prepare a final budget to pass on the House and Senate floor.

This topic appeared in the Deseret News ( and in Utah Policy (


Resolution honoring Sen. Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch has served the State of Utah for over 40 years as a U.S. senator. Now that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate, our State Senate passed a resolution, SCR 13 (, to honor Sen. Hatch for the good work he has done on behalf of our state.

As part of the resolution, Feb. 21 of this year was designated as Orrin Hatch Day.

This resolution gave us the chance to visit with Sen. Hatch and honor him for his many years of service to our state. You can listen to the floor discussion and Sen. Hatch’s remarks (

This topic appeared in the Deseret News (


What do you think?

Thanks for following me along in my legislative journey. I hope to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill. Likewise, please keep in touch. I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can also be reached by email at

I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation—and thanks for paying attention.


Until next time,


Ralph Okerlund Utah State Senate, District 24


Mar. 1, 2018


Nicholas Evan Tibbs and Jessica Anne Forbes are excited to share the news of their upcoming wedding at Lionscrest Manor near Lyons, Colorado on March 9, 2018.  They will celebrate with family and friends in this beautiful mountainous location midway between their Utah and South Dakota families.

Nicholas is the son of David and Carol Tibbs from Manti, Utah.  Nick graduated from Manti High School and Snow College.  He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.  Nick is enjoying living by the ocean and forests of California and all  the recreation that represents.

Jessica is the daughter of Richard and Teresa Forbes, and Melissa and John Horvath of Rapid City, South Dakota.  Jess graduated from Central High School and later moved to South Lake Tahoe, California where she and Nick met.  She is currently working in California, helping support Nick through school and will then return to school as well.

Nick and Jess have two beautiful dogs, Appa and Rookie, and spend their free time hiking with them on the beaches and in the redwood forests of Humboldt County.

A caboose is hoisted into place at Track 89 North, a railroad resort being constructed on the south end of Mt. Pleasant.


New resort brings railroad back

to Sanpete County in unique way


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


MT. PLEASANT— After years of planning and discussion, Track 89 North, a railroad resort where visitors will able to stay overnight in restored train cars, is taking shape on the south end of Mt. Pleasant.

A crane has lifted seven 37-ton  train cars, including a caboose, into place along a segment of railroad track adjacent to an old Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG)  railroad depot. Two more cars are expected soon. The site is just off Main Street and west of the city park.

 Over the next few months, the train car exteriors will be restored to pristine condition through a process of power-washing, rust repair and painting. When the exterior refurbishment is complete, the cars, which were purchased from Union Pacific Railroad, will be remodeled to be used as railroads suites accommodating up to six people each.

The project is a public-private partnership of Mt. Pleasant City, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) and developers George Jones and David Grow.

In February 2016, Mt. Pleasant City, which owned the property where the resort is going in, issued a 50-year lease with an option to buy to Jones and Grow. Last month, the developers purchased the property outright. The purchase includes the historic Denver & Rio Grande (D&R) depot and an old caboose just outside the depot.  

 “We’re putting so much into the property we want to be an owner rather than a renter,” David Grow said.

Jones and Grow previously developed the Track 89 Caboose Village Resort, another railcar motel near Big Rock Candy Mountain in Marysvale Canyon south of Richfield. At that location, 10 railcars provide unique lodging for 2-8 visitors each. Two more are cars are installed and being refurbished.

Funding for the establishment of the Track 89 North railroad resort was provided by Mt Pleasant City in co-ordination with the MPNHA, with matching funds from Jones and Grow.

An agreement between the partners requires that historical character of the rail cars be maintained and that the D&RG depot be preserved. Currently, the depot serves as a tourist information center. The agreement provides that a portion of the building continue to be dedicated to that function.

The developers have promised city officials they will have the boxcars available for lodging by May 2019, but they “anticipate a much faster track,” Grow said.

Part of the D&RG depot will house the resort registration and check-in facility.

In addition, Jones and Grow have leased part of the D&RG depot to a non-profit organization, Wellspring Ministries of Utah, which plans transform it into a community gathering place. The group will set up a specialty coffee cafe with espresso drinks, smoothies, hot chocolate and healthy food items. The tentative opening date for The Coffee Depot is the end of May.

Grow said his organization is currently looking for a vendor for the caboose located next to the D&RG depot. He thinks the caboose would make a great hot-dog stand during the tourist season.

Many communities in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area have connections to the railroad, says Monte Bona, MPNHA executive director.

In 1893, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad expanded its line from Chester to Manti. In Manti, the line connected with a line running south to the Sevier Valley and north, through Mt. Pleasant, to Thistle Junction.

At its peak, the line ferried passengers to Marysvale, where tour companies would meet the train and take tourists to Bryce Canyon and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Over time, use of the railroad waned, and in 1949, the D&RG dropped passenger service in Central Utah. Freight trains still rode the rails until the Thistle mudslide of 1982 shut down the line completely.

Bona sees the railroad resorts in Mt. Pleasant and at Big Rock Candy Mountain as a first step to bringing a railroad museum and interpretive center to the area, one of the goals of the MPNHA management plan.

Sanpete Sterling Scholars to

represent schools as top scholars


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


Thirty-four Sanpete County high school seniors have been nominated for 2018 Sterling Scholar awards by their schools.

Manti High and North Sanpete High have 15 nominees, and Gunnison Valley High School has nominated four scholars.

The Desert News/KSL Broadcast Group contest honors outstanding public high school seniors in 15 different categories. (A nominee may be nominated in only one category). Along with academic achievement, the Sterling Scholars program recognizes the nominees’ leadership and service efforts.

The program is conducted in five regions throughout the state. Sanpete schools are part of the contests Central Utah Region. Participating schools are Gunnison Valley, Manti, North Sanpete, Delta, Juab, Millard, Piute, South Sevier, North Sevier, Richfield, Tintic, Wayne and West Desert.

From Gunnison Valley High School, four students have been nominated: Michael Hansen, Visual Arts; Carolyn Donaldson, Music; Kamree Tucker, General Scholarship; Kylee Keisel, Dance.

Manti High School has nominated 15 students: Alexis Jaussi, Dance; Denali Baker, Family & Consumer Sciences; Kristin DeLeeuw, Science; Jasmine Alcala, Agricultural Science; Killick Mickelson, Computer & Information Technology; Alex Stevens, Trade & Technical Education; Breanna Hedelius, Mathematics; Katelyn Allred, English & Literature; Justin Bawden, Speech & Drama; Regan Rouska, Visual Arts; Kjerstin Birch, Business & Marketing; Emily Frischknecht, Music; Timothy Krzymowski, World Languages; Warren Hess, Social Science; Jensen Wood, General.

Fifteen students at North Sanpete High School have been nominated: Tyler Blackham, Business & Marketing Education; Emily Barker, Family & Consumer Sciences; Trevor Ence, Mathematics; Emily Hill, Speech/Theater Arts/Forensics; Makade Talbot, English & Literature; Madisyn Allred, Computer & Information Technology; Kailee Burgess, Dance; Thomas De Groff, Science; Anna Staker, General Scholarship; Mason Mayo, Agriculture Science; Christian Sanchez, World Languages; Hannah Ostraff, Visual Arts; Wesley Madsen, Trade & Technical Education; Allyssa Ericksen, Social Science; Trevor Olson, Music.

Sterling Scholar nominees submit a portfolio online (and in some categories, exhibits) and are judged on scholarship, category scholarship, leadership, and community service/citizenship prior to being interviewed by the judges. Interviews for the Central Utah Region competition will be held on Thursday, March 15.

A presentation ceremony where the winners and first and second runners up will be recognized will be held at Richfield High School that evening. The winners and runners-up in each category receive cash awards. Several Utah colleges and universities also offer scholarships to both winners and runners-up.

The categories students can be nominated in are English & Literature, Speech/Theatre Arts/Forensics, Mathematics, Social Science, Science, World Language ,Visual Arts, Computer And Information Technology, Trade And Technical Education, Agriculture Science, Family And Consumer Sciences, Music, Dance and General Scholarship.

Inside our Schools

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Lillian Tsosie-Jensen who grew up in Manti recently received two prestigious awards but says what matters is that she helps Utah’s students succeed. Photo/ Lillian Tsosie-Jensen


Manti native is named Career

Guidance Educator of the Year


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


MANTI—Accolades make Lillian Tsosie-Jensen uncomfortable.

Jensen is a recent recipient of awards in her field of Career Technical Education (CTE).

The Utah Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE) is a division of the national ACTE, and the Utah division awarded Jensen the Champion for CTE Award (Guidance Division) and also named her the Career Guidance Award/Counselor of the Year.

Jensen, of course, would rather have the work she is passionate about be the center of attention instead.

That work, which she has contributed to in many ways throughout her career of over 26 years, is making sure all students have the greatest success possible in their education and in their careers.

The daughter of Scott and Susie Larson, Jensen grew up in Manti and said she had great teachers at Manti Elementary and later at Manti High.

A 1983 Manti High School graduate, Jensen attended Snow College and then Utah State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in drawing and printmaking with a minor in education. (She later earned a master’s degree in school counseling.)

Inspired by several of her former teachers, in particular her math and physics teacher, Les Good, Jensen went into teaching.

“I always wanted to be in service of people, in service of students,” she said.

For several years, Jensen was a math and art teacher.

Then her desire for her students to succeed led her to teaching CTE classes.

For the last eight years, she has worked for the Utah State Board of Education.

When she began there as a school counseling specialist, she was the only one doing that kind of work, “looking at the needs of students statewide, at the schools and their successes,” she said.

These days, Jensen oversees a staff of nine in Student Services which covers SafeUT (a student safety app), absenteeism, restorative practices, school counseling and equity and prevention.

In 2015 she was named Educator of the Year by the Utah Technology Council.

While she has been humbled by all of the awards, “that’s not why I do this,” Jensen said. “It’s because this work is so important, because the students need this support. I feel very fortunate that someone recognizes how hard I work on behalf of the students.”

Jensen had begun a doctoral degree in education leadership but hit pause when other priorities determined a different course.

She attributes much of her success to her parents.

“I could not have asked for better parents,” she said. “They did everything they could for me and worked very hard for my education. They gave up a lot for me to get my education.”

Although Jensen qualifies to move on to region competition with her Counselor of the Year award, she’s not sure she’s going to.

“I’m really just a worker bee,” she said. “It’s overwhelming to have that kind of attention.”

Jensen’s grandfather, Ben Tsosie, a tribal leader in the Navajo Nation and a member of the board of education, who, she said, really expected her to go into education, told her that one day she would be a school principal on the Navajo reservation.

“It’s a good retirement plan,” Jensen said. “I miss working with students directly.”

Jose Borjon, the new Mexican Consul for Utah and western Wyoming who took office last June, was in Richfield last on Wednesday, Feb. 7 to meet with local officials from the Six County Area on an introductory and fact-finding trip outside of Salt Lake City.


New Mexican consul for Utah visits

Richfield to address Six County AOG


By James Tilson

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018


RICHFIELD—Lauding the United States as a “nation of immigrants, and a nation of laws,” Mexican Consul Jose Borjon visited Richfield this month on a fact-finding and introduction mission to the Six County Area.

Borjon took office on June 16, 2017, in Salt Lake City. His territory covers all of Utah, and western Wyoming.

During his visit on Wednesday, Feb. 7,  Borjon wanted to provide information to the local officials from the Six County Area about the importance of Mexico to the Utah economy, and how much Mexicans and those of Mexican heritage are a part of the Utah population.

According to Borjon, Latinos make up the largest minority in the United States, comprising approximately 17 percent of the population, or about 54 million people. In Utah, Latinos make up 14 percent of the population, with 78 percent of those coming from Mexico. In Sanpete County, the Latino population is 9.7 percent of the general population.

However, Borjon noted to attendees that Utah has one of the fastest growing Latino populations in the United States. By 2040, Utah will be a majority-minority, 10 years before the United States as a whole reaches that benchmark.

Borjon showed statistics where Utah exports $741 million of goods to Mexico, and imports $3.3 billion of goods from Mexico. Mexico is the No. 1 country of import origin for Utah, he said.

During the question and answer portion of Borjon’s presentation, Richfield mayor Dave Ogden asked Borjon, “We love your people, but we are in favor of a strong border. How should we fix this?” Borjon answered, “[The United States] is a nation of immigrants, and a nation of law. The solution needs to come from your elected officials, on a national level.”

Sanpete County Commissioner Steve Lund said, “I am very impressed with Mexican people.” He also noted that his heritage, Danish, did not fully integrate into the American culture until they learned to speak English.

Lund said he wondered if there was some way that the consulate could encourage the learning of the English language among Mexican immigrants. Borjon said that the consulate was in favor of English language classes, but that private sources of funding would have to be developed.

According to Borjon, government sources do not provide funding for English classes. He noted that without assistance, English-language classes were difficult for immigrants to take around work and child-care responsibilities.

The Bionic Babes of Gunnison Valley Middle School took first place in their category at the recent FIRST LEGO League Utah South state championship.

GVMS Bionic Babes place

first in state robotics contest

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The Manti High School boys basketball team gathers at midcourt to celebrate their 3A State championship after their 63-50 victory over South Sevier on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Dixie State College in St. George.

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