Mayors, commissioners hear report on enhancing economic development
MT. PLEASANT — Sanpete County mayors and commissioners meeting received reports on a new economic development study taking place in the county and on the problem of deer kill on Sanpete County roads during their meeting last Thursday, Feb. 16.
Dr. Don Albrecht, director of the Western Rural Development Center at Utah State University, described the Area Sector Analysis Process (ASAP) program, which is a program designed to research the particular attributes of a region to match the area up with businesses that are most likely to succeed.
The State of Utah has already engaged the WRDC to conduct such a study for Sanpete County, and Albrecht explained how the program worked.
The research focuses on the resources present in the county, combined with the businesses and industries that the citizens would like to see in Sanpete. The “resources” can be a number of things. For example, the infrastructure (nearness of interstate highways, railroads, airports, harbors, or major roads), mineral resources, workforce resources (type of workers, education level, how many), other businesses already located there and access to Internet can all be resources.
While WRDC can ascertain the resources of the county through its own efforts, the desires of the citizens will be answered through survey. Albrecht handed out survey cards to local officials at the meeting and reported 131 surveys had already been collected.
The survey measures the economic, social and environmental desires of the citizens. Albrecht cautioned that the survey would be tough—“you have to make tradeoffs”—because some desires may be detrimental to other desires.
For example, most would agree that economic development is desirable to all citizens in Sanpete County. However, certain industries bring costs, such as pollution, higher population density and greater possibility of crime, that the citizens would not want in their county.
The ASAP will take the results, and analyze which businesses would be most desirable and most likely to succeed in Sanpete County.
Albrecht said the results will identify some businesses that would more desirable in the short term—they fit the resources currently present in the county and are desirable to its citizens. Other businesses would be long-term goals for the county—they would be very desirable to the citizens in Sanpete but the resources to support those businesses do not yet exist in the county.
Albrecht pointed out that individual communities inside Sanpete could utilize the services for their own purposes; the results could be tailored to specific zip codes. But Albrecht said that any development in the county, no matter where it occurred, would benefit all parts of the county.
Mayor David Blackham of Mt. Pleasant asked what would be the cost if individual cities wanted to access the research for their own purpose. Albrecht answered that since the ASAP has already been funded through the state and the counties, there would be no further cost to the cities to use the research.
Commissioner Steve Lund addressed the audience regarding a request from the Sanpete County Planning and Zoning Commission. Lund asked the cities to send to the Planning Commission information regarding their annexation plans and buffer zone maps in time for the April meeting of the commission.
Mayor Randall Cox of Sterling made an announcement to the group about deer and elk that had been transported to the White Hills landfill. In November 2016, he said, 13 tons of animal carcasses were brought to the landfill. In December 2016, 8.29 tons were brought. In January 2017, the total was 9.40 tons.
Cox voiced his concern about the number of deer being killed on the roads and the hazard it presented to Sanpete drivers. Garry Bringhurst, landfill administrator, added that 607 animals had been killed in the three months in Sanpete County, which he said translated to accidents that did an average of $4,000 in damage to each vehicle involved. And, he said, four people have died in recent years in collisions with wildlife along county roads.
Cox “challenged” the commissioners to go to the Governor’s Office to see if something can be done about the problem. “There’s gotta be a way to slow this down,” he said.
Commissioner Scott Bartholomew replied, “I would be more than happy to go with you,” but cautioned that the real problem was that there were too many private land owners along the roads leaving gates open through which the deer could travel. Bartholomew also said he knew the Legislature would only tell commissioners that they had to get their drivers to slow down.
Cox replied, “We’ve got signs out now, and no one pays attention to them.”
Bringhurst wanted to bring to the group’s attention the state of the contract with the operator of the Sanpete cooperative landfills. He gave out the numbers for tonnage processed at the county landfills for the last three months. In November, it was 912.14 tons; in December, 723.41 tons; and in January, 712.14 tons. From those figures, the commercial tonnage was 480.0 in November, 471.13 in December and 489.15 in January.
Bringhurst also pointed out that a significant portion of that tonnage was rejected birds from Norbest. In November, 90.17 tons of rejected birds were brought to the landfill; in December, 154.53 tons; and in in January, 84.93 tons.
Bringhurst said the landfill association is over the contract tonnage with the operator of the landfills and he believed the organization should look to renegotiate that contract to give the operator a raise for his efforts.