Lund: Clarifying facts about proposed new courthouse

Rep. Steve Lund

As elected officials we don’t normally respond to “Letters to the Editor” or opinion pieces. However, there are times when the facts are so misrepresented that, a response is demanded. 

We value your opinions.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

There were some ill placed concerns published in the Sanpete Messenger dated April 7, 2021 by some that oppose a new courthouse. 

The new courthouse will be funded by the State of Utah, not by Sanpete County taxes.

Concern #1:  Sanpete County doesn’t need a second courthouse. 

Fact #1: Currently Sanpete County does not have a State Courthouse. The Courthouse in Manti is owned by Sanpete County. The State of Utah leases space from Sanpete County to hold court. Sanpete County is responsible to prosecute the “In Prison” crimes at the Gunnison Prison. A maximum-security prison produces many more “In prison” crimes than our Sanpete County Courthouse can safely accommodate. 

Concern #2: Why in the middle of a pandemic, should government, local or otherwise continue to get the biggest and best while private businesses go without?

Fact #2:  Unfortunately, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Governments, local and otherwise must continue to function. Health, safety and welfare are the mandates of all governments.  Well managed governments will always deploy the necessary funds to ensure the best possible care is available. 

Concern #3: Maintaining the current courthouse. 

Fact#3:  The current courthouse will be maintained and upgraded. The space now occupied by the State Courts will provide more room for services required by the county’s citizens.

Concern #4:  If a State of Utah Courthouse is built, what happens to the current Courthouse?

 Fact #4: Again, the current courthouse is owned by Sanpete County. The current courthouse will be used as a County Administration building.  The current courthouse is not owned by the State of Utah. The new Courthouse will be owned by the State of Utah; we can’t emphasize that fact enough. The current courthouse will not decay, rot or be an attraction for unsightliness and vermin. 

Concern #5:  The excuse “Lack of Security” for judges and other government employees. 

Fact #5: This comment is so toxic that we struggle to tastefully address it. The offices, chambers and courtrooms must be secure. Those that work for the courts are citizens too; they deserve all the same benefits from government, i.e. health, safety and welfare. We won’t address the cynical remark about making a bad ruling. It is clear that the author doesn’t understand…

     We all love the courthouse and assure the public that it will not waste away. Not sure where “sucking it up” plays into the decision to build a new State Courthouse. The State of Utah and Sanpete County have always been prudent and frugal. There are few iconic structures in Sanpete County that rival the old Courthouse. 

Kindest Regards,

Sanpete County Commissioners

Scott Bartholomew

Edwin Sunderland

Reed Hatch

Legislative Representatives

Sen. Derrin Owens

Rep. Steven Lund

Sanpete County Attorney

Kevin Daniels