Ephraim closes city hall, gives up
on acquiring new ambulance
By Lloyd Call
EPHRAIM—As a result of positive COVID-19 cases with city staff, the Ephraim City building closed its doors to the public last week.
“We are concerned that if our city employees get COVID, the city will suffer with utilities and critical maintenance not getting done,” Mayor John Scott said. “We have to protect our city.”
“All of us have to be diligent, wear our masks and social distance. Even if we are inconvenienced, we want to do everything we can to slow the expansion of the virus in Ephraim,” Scott said.
“It’s a little frightening. We saw our first case in June in Sanpete, and now it’s staring us in the face. We also need to encourage our residents to be wise.”
Scott also said that youth in school and students at the college are experiencing lots of anxiety and depression over COVID-19, not just adults. “I’m seeing classes at only about 50 percent attendance, because students are afraid to attend.” He also said that Snow College is getting calls every day with positive cases in housing units.
On a more positive note, the mayor said that when the pandemic began, “we were afraid of a big economic downturn with COVID, and many businesses have struggled and had a hard time, but we seem to be doing fairly well overall.”
The city was stunned to learn it will not get a new ambulance through the county CARES funds, because of a rule requiring all items purchased with CARES money to be delivered “in-hand” by the end of December.
There is no possibility any of the ambulances the county wanted to get with CARES money can delivered before Dec. 30, Scott said.
The mayor called and talked to Senator-elect Derrin Owens about the rule, and Owens said he is very sympathetic with the problem, but the state is apparently firm on the “on-hand” requirement. Also, any funds the cities and county don’t use will revert back to the state on Dec. 30.
This is a real blow to Ephraim and the other ambulance associations who were anticipating getting a new ambulance. The county was going to get ambulances on a 90-10 percent matching basis.
Ambulances cost about $350,000, so Ephraim’s portion of that cost would be about $35,000. Ephraim will now use that money for other supplies for the ambulance service.
The city also has received its second tranche of CARES money in the amount of $216,000. The city has a deadline of Nov. 30 to decide what projects it will use the second tranche for, and those items will have to be delivered by Dec. 30.
Here is a list of major items Ephraim either has or will receive with its CARES funds: gloves, cleaning solution, sanitizing supplies, gloves, masks and rags to restock the city building supplies.
For the ambulance association, a rapid response truck with off-road capabilities and a medical cardiac monitor.
Under recreation, hand sanitizing stations for public and staff spaces, a trailer-mounted pressure washer for parks, recreation items, including digital thermometers, softball and baseball helmets, catcher’s gear, umpire facemasks to reduce sharing, outdoor volleyball net, and a ball locker for ball drop and sanitizing.
Automatic switchover system for chlorine application in water systems.
Ephraim schools got water stations, hand sanitizer stations, bathroom cleaning machines, masks, auto flush valves for toilets and digital thermometers.
Items which are planned for the second tranche are assistance for Manti High School, laptop computers and equipment for improving quality of virtual meetings, council room improvements, cleaning “caddy” for restroom sanitizing at city building and library, and any other pandemic and emergency expenses the city can organize by the Nov. 30 deadline.
In another agenda item, it was reported that with zoning permits in place, the first pahse of the new housing development on the south end of Ephraim, “Estates at Ephraim Crossing” has been approved.
The first phase calls for 22 single-dwelling residential lots.Future phases include multi-unit apartments and a business park on the west side of U.S. 89, approximately across the street from McDonalds.
Brent Peterson, who had asked Ephraim City to consider sharing expenses to extend a sewer line from existing town limits on the north side of Ephraim to his property, was told he would have to bear the cost of the project himself under the “pioneering statute.”
He was unable to get any of the adjacent property owners to join in the project, so he has to bear the full cost now, but if any other residents want to hook on to the extension, they will have to pay a fee to Ephraim City, which the city would then reimburse to him. He is preparing to go ahead with the project.
Utility supervisor Cory Daniels reported that the city has had to replace many old electric insulators that were installed on poles in the ‘80s. “These units are just worn out, and are causing outages. The crews are working hard to upgrade them, but it takes time,” he said.