Model citizens honored at Ephraim candlelight event
EPHRAIM — Two pillars, each adorned with a wreath and a candle, had set the stage for Ephraim Middle School’s annual Candlelight Service, a ceremony to honor two members of the community.
The concert at the Eccles Center drew a full house on Wednesday, Dec. 7, to honor Marge Anderson of Ephraim, and Vern Buchanan of Manti with the wreaths and lighted candles, an honor reserved for model citizens.
This year, 16 eighth-grade honor students were selected to light the candles — which sat in the center of evergreen wreaths — and present them to the two recipients.
Buchanan, the first recipient of the Candlelight award, is a retired carpenter and general contractor, and can be considered a savior of local historic architecture.
“Vern Buchanan has served the citizens of Manti over the years in many, many ways,” Tim Miller, Ephraim Middle School (EMS) principal, said.
Buchanan moved to Manti from Salt Lake in 1990. One day, while on a walk down Main Street he stopped to read a plaque on the Old Manti City Building and saw the name of his great-grandfather, John Buchanan, listed as one of the four carpenters who helped construct the building.
The building had been vacant for several years and had become dilapidated, yet the city was obligated to continue paying the insurance and utility bills.
Because the city could not afford to restore the building, the council considered tearing it down as a last resort.
But that’s when Buchanan intervened, and with a group of volunteers, he began the process of restoring the beautiful building his great-grandfather helped build.
“Grandpa John will come back and haunt me if I don’t save this building,” he said.
After he evaluated the building, he said he believed most of the restoration work was cosmetic. The first action he took was consulting a state historic architect, a local building inspector and a local contractor, who all agreed with his evaluation.
He met with the city council and had proposed a detailed plan outlining costs of restoration. He also had proposed ideas of how the building could become an asset to the city instead of a liability.
The city accepted his proposal and even gave him $10,000 seed money to start the restoration, which began in 2002.
Buchanan said he spend well over 4,500 volunteer hours to bring the building back to life, and with the help of government grants and public donations, the interior was restored in 2005.
The building now houses the Sanpete County economic development office, a state tourist bureau and a small museum that sits on the second floor.
Buchanan even built the picnic tables and benches that sit in the small park south of the building.
“Vern Buchanan exemplifies citizens’ service to their community and fellow citizens,” former Manti Mayor Kim Anderson once said. “His dedication, personal commitment of time and talent to a community center project has been considerable and unwavering.”
Ephraim resident Marge Anderson, who many have claimed holds an unwavering love for all people and her community, was the second recipient of the Candlelight award.
People say that she lives each day quietly going about serving others. She said it’s because her family and friends are important to her.
Anderson served on the Ephraim Beautification Committee and helping to set a county standard for city beautification.
Barbara Davies, an Ephraim City employee, said Anderson did an excellent job to help revitalize and update various city properties, along with the starting the beautification project on Main Street.
Snow College and Ephraim City have also benefitted from Anderson’s devoted community service through her fundraising efforts to create a new park.
Through the course of her life, she has served in many callings in the LDS church, including primary on both a ward and stake level, Relief Society and Cub Scouts. In recent years, she has sung in her ward choir.
Anderson is dedicated to her five children and volunteered in their schools and also participated in all of their extracurricular activities. At one time, she was even the official scorekeeper for her children’s various teams.
When her husband, Phillip Anderson, decided to go to college to become a pharmacist, Anderson took on the responsibility of being the bread-winner for her family. She said she had a lot of free time after her husband transferred from Snow College to the University of Utah.
It was then that she allowed her love of sewing and quilting to blossom.
She and her friends had begun a quilting group and made several remarkable quilts, many of them donated to the Festival of Trees and to the Cancer Society in support people in need.
Anderson has even dedicated January as her “quilt month.”
Over the years she has continued the spirit of giving, and is said to have a strong work ethic, which is exemplified in her service to Anderson Floral and Drug, where she is employed full-time as cashier, florist and Utah’s oldest licensed pharmacy technician.
Anderson is said to be a staple in the pharmacy with her endless wit and concern for the customers she serves.
“Marge Anderson is such a pleasant and helpful person,” Miller said at the Candlelight program. “I don’t know if I have met someone more genuinely helpful in the business setting. She makes a visit to Anderson Drug a true delight.”
The evening of honoring the two recipients began with Christmas performances by the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra and choir.