Ephraim grants extension on trailer court repairs
EPHRAIM – The Ephraim City Council has given JD Trailer Court owner David Strate a two-week reprieve on the council’s deadline for presenting a plan to mitigate safety hazards and code violations at the troubled trailer park.
But the reprieve came only after more sparks flew between Strate and the council.
Strate spoke to the council on Jan. 4, the date set in December by which Strate was to present a complete mitigation plan to the council. Strate reported that he had presented his plan (via email) on Dec. 30, and that he had primarily been working through Councilman Richard Wheeler.
Strate reported had hired plumber Jared Anderson and electrician Andy Cox to complete repairs at the trailer park. However, the repairs were being delayed by the weather, and most of the repairs would be completed “in the spring” when the weather allowed.
Mayor Richard Squire, visibly frustrated, interrupted Strate at that point. “What are you going to do?” the mayor asked. Strate replied, “I’m trying to figure out what needs to be done.”
Strate went on to explain, “I’m not a plumber. I need a plumber to tell me [what to do].” Strate told the council he had been talking to his plumber, and with Sunrise Engineering, to understand what repairs were needed to satisfy the city’s concerns. Strate indicated did not feel that those conversations so far had given him a clear picture of exactly what he needed to do.
Wheeler, holding a copy of the email that Strate had sent earlier, said, “I have concerns.” Addressing Strate, Wheeler said, “It’s not up to us to understand the codes, it’s up to you to know how to run your business.”
Wheeler described visiting the trailer park since the last council meeting to see what progress had been made on repairs. He said he had hoped to see something happening, “But the problem is, I’m not seeing any action.”
Council member John Scott spoke up, asking whether Strate had retrieved a copy of state statutes pertaining to trailer park owners, as Scott had directed at the last meeting. Strate said that he could not find the statutes on-line.
Scott said he had found the statutes and that it had taken him between 60 seconds and 4 minutes do so. “If tonight is the first time that you have seen the state codes,” Scott told Strate, “you haven’t done what we told you to do.”
Wheeler spoke again, holding Strate’s email to the city in his hand, “A phone call list is not my idea of getting things done. Action is getting things done.”
Mayor Squire re-read the motion from December to the council, and asked the council if Strate had met the requirements. Strate protested that he had provided names of contractors, and dates when action would take place. Squire again read the motion, and asked for a motion from the council.
City Manager Brant Hanson intervened at this point, giving Strate a long explanation of the city position, and frustrations with the trailer park.
“This is a 15-year problem trying to work with you. When Chad Perry (the city’s public works director) met with you in July, the city could have shut down the water, immediately, for safety concerns. The water and sewer issues were explained to you, in detail, with Chad Perry. Today is the deadline. The email [to the city] is not sufficient. “When it thaws” is not a date,” Hanson said.
However, Hanson’s recommendation to the council was not to cut off the utilities to the trailer park.
Hanson, who had been seen consulting with Strate’s plumbing contractor, Jared Anderson, while Strate was speaking with the council, asked the council to delay the vote on the motion until the council’s next meeting. In the meantime, Hanson said, city staff would coordinate with Strate’s contractors to ensure they completely understood the city’s requirements.
Upon Hanson’s recommendation, Mayor Squire tabled the motion until the Jan. 18 council meeting.
In other discussion, Kerry Steck, Ephraim fire chief, reported on the fire at Ker’s Automotive on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Steck had met with the state fire marshal who investigated the fire. According to the fire marshal, the fire started from a gas leak from the building’s furnace.
Kerry Simonsen, proprietor of the auto repair business, started the furnace early the morning of the fire. According to Steck, as he did so, Simonsen accidentally opened the valve on the gas line, which caused a gas build-up in the building. When the furnace fired up, the gas build-up also ignited, and started the fire.
Steck estimated there was at least $250,000 in damage to the building.