Headlines Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Burning off the excess
Loni Newby / Box Elder News Journal
This ten-second exposure showcases the enormity of the firework display finale that was presented by Olympus fireworks, compliments of the Dawson family and Cheaper Than Shirt. Hundreds of families and groups gathered at the softball fields behind the Brigham City Armory on Saturday, July 25, to enjoy the show.
New Brigham City police chief sworn in
Nelson Phillips / Box Elder News Journal
Brigham City Recorder Mary Kate Christensen administers the oath of office to newly appointed police chief, Mike Nelsen.
By Nelson Phillips
At a special meeting of the Brigham City Council last week, Lt. Mike Nelsen was sworn in as the new Chief of Police, replacing former Chief Paul Tittensor, who retired in January. Nelsen had been serving as interim chief during that time.
Nelsen, 60, was appointed by the mayor, approved by the council and sworn in by Brigham City Recorder Mary Kate Christensen on Wednesday, July 22. Nelsen was one of five candidates recommended by Prothman Recruiting, a Seattle-based recruiting agency engaged by the city to find the best candidates and avoid any potential conflicts of interest in the decision.
In a brief, but at times emotional, speech given shortly after being sworn in, Nelsen praised the personnel of the Brigham City Police Department, calling them the “greatest group of guys, of officers and staff.” He also spoke of his maternal grandfather, Bill Jensen, who himself was the chief in Brigham City, and the legacy that was left to him there. After thanking his family, the mayor and the council, Nelsen promised to “earn his job, and continue to earn it every day.”
Nelsen is a 36-year veteran of the Brigham City Police Department. He was born in Brigham City, and lived here for the first seven years of his life, returning in 1979 to join the police department, where he has been ever since.
He earned a pre-law associate’s degree from Rick’s College, a bachelor’s degree in political science and justice administration from BYU, and is a graduate of the FBI Command College.
Fire dept. under fire
by Nelson Phillips
In the wake of the most recent fire that destroyed what was left of the Baron Woolen Mill in Brigham City, blistering criticism was leveled, anonymously through social media, against Mayor Tyler Vincent, the Brigham City Fire Department and its chief, Joseph Bach.
“How was there only 22 firefighters on scene of a 5 alarm fire with FOUR agencies there??” wrote someone calling themselves ‘guason b’ on the KSL website. “Brigham City residents need to know they do not have a functioning fire dept. the mayor and his new fire chief have systematically forced out almost all of the highly trained dedicated LOCAL firefighters, and replaced them with young kids fresh out of the academy that have no experience and DO NOT live or work in Brigham City.”
When trying to contact the writer, it was discovered that the KSL account had been opened just before the post was made, and there were no other comments attributed to “guason.”
“In the past year, Chief Bach has systematically made policy changes that have one by one eliminated most of the local EMT’s and Firefighters, replacing them instead with young, inexperienced, fresh out of the academy, and NON-LOCAL individuals. The result is disastrous,” wrote “M.T.” also on the KSL website. It turned out that “M.T.” had the same history as “guason,” opening the account shortly before posting, and posting nothing else on any other topic since.
While it seems fairly clear that both writers had an ax to grind (if they were two different people) the points they and a few others made on social media merited some attention. Does Brigham City have the ability to respond to a major fire and handle concurrent calls? What happens if firemen live too far away from the city to respond in a timely manner to an “all-hands-on-deck” emergency? Has the city traded the experience and dedication of an all-volunteer force for a bunch of inexperienced kids? Probably the most salient question of all is whether the city has really had any choice in the matter as they transition from a volunteer department to a part-time/full-time combination department under budget constraints.
“A lot of the things that have been said on social media I don’t really validate, because they’re people who are disgruntled over certain things that have gone on with the fire department, our transition with the fire department,” said Mayor Vincent. “We appreciate all those men who have sacrificed so many years of their lives to keep us safe, we appreciate all they have done, but we needed to make some changes, particularly because of Obamacare, and we really needed to become more professional and more accountable.”
Vincent said that he believes the BCFD is more accountable now, and becoming more professional, but that it’s still a department in transition, and with transition comes change that many people resist.
“There are people who are frustrated, and it’s sad, they spent a lot of years protecting the city and we feel bad that their feelings may have been hurt,” said Vincent.
BC gets creative to pay for Academy Square
By Nelson Phillips
In a special meeting that saw the appointment of a new Brigham City Police Chief, city officials also approved making a more than $1 million loan from the city’s utility fund to the RDA (Redevelopment Agency) in order to continue with construction on restaurant space attached to the Academy building on Main Street.
“It’s been our plan since the beginning that we knew our restaurant portion would have to be funded through the revenues that were anticipated to be received from the lease of the restaurant space,” said Brigham City Financial Director Jason Roberts.
Roberts explained that the RDA would come up short on some of the budgeted expense to finish the restaurant, especially with regard to furniture, pictures and equipment. Roberts asked the council to approve a loan of $1,092,480 from the city utility funds to complete most of the project. According to Roberts, the loan would be paid back with the lease revenues over 20 years.