Pitman Farms asks commission
if inmates could work at plant
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—Officials from Pitman Farms, formerly Norbest, visited with the Sanpete County sheriff and county commission last week about the possibility of inmates at the county jail being released to work at the turkey processing plant.
At a commission meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, plant manager Jaime Rodriguez asked if the county would regard such a program as a benefit.
“The benefit to the county would be to help those inmates reintegrate back into the community,” Sheriff Brian Nielson said.
However, he said the plant has talked with the county in the past about a work-release program, and after hearing all the conditions, has backed away from the idea.
Nielson said participants would have to be county inmates, not state inmates being housed in the Sanpete County Jail, because state inmates assigned to Sanpete County don’t have a high enough classification for work release.
The county inmates must have been sentenced, rather than waiting trial. And they couldn’t be inmates participating in the drug treatment program in the jail.
With those and other conditions, only three to four inmates per day would be available, the sheriff said. And there would be at least one day per week when no inmates could leave the jail.
Rodriguez asked about the Central Utah Correctional Facility. Nielson said the prison has discontinued work crews.
However, Commission Chairman Scott Bartholomew said he was a bishop in a prison ward for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said he would be interested in helping some inmates who are being released get jobs at the plant.
Rodriguez and Steven Bradley, and HR generalist who accompanied him, said they would consider the input and decide if Pitman Farms was interested.
On another matter, Travis Good, owner of EcoLife, reported to the county commission on mosquito abatement.
Good’s company has had a contract for mosquito control in the county for the past 10 years. This year’s contract was just under $10,000.
“This year was crazy,” he told commissioners because of the wet weather in the spring and early summer. “There was standing water everywhere.”
Good said during mosquito season, EcoLife sends out one licensed pest control applicator per week who works in the field for three days.
The workers drop briquettes, which Good says look like the charcoal briquettes people use with home barbecues, in locations with standing water. The briquettes contain a larvaecide that prevents mosquito eggs from hatching. Yet it doesn’t harm people or livestock.
Good said he believes the abatement effort is working. “I think mosquitoes are definitely getting less in the county,” he said.
He added that the public needs to be educated about the fact that water sitting inside old tires are the No. 1 site for mosquito growth.
“Anytime you have standing water and the temperature rises above 70 degrees, you’re hatching mosquitoes,” he said.
In other activity, the commission approved a contact between the U.S. Forest Service and the Sheriff’s Office for assistance in patrolling the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The Forest Service will provide $2,500 for law enforcement time and $2,500 for equipment. Sheriff Nielsen said the two agencies have had the contract for several years, and the amount this year is the same as last year.
The amount is relatively small, he noted, but “it provides a mechanism so we can work with the Forest Service on other things, like wild fires.”
The commission also approved an agreement to partner with the Forest Service in building restrooms in the Spring Hill area of 12-Mile Canyon.
The cost of the restrooms will be about $40,000, with the county providing $28,000 and the Forest Service $13,000. After the facilities are built, the Forest Service will maintain them.
The county portion will come from grants Kevin Christensen, economic development director, has acquired from the Utah Travel Council and the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA).
Commissioner Bartholomew expressed concern that the restrooms will be on Forest Service land, yet the county is paying a bigger share of the cost than the Forest Service.
“There’s no question we need them up there. I’m just a little concerned about the funding,” Bartholomew said.