Box Elder district high schools see sports facility upgrades
July 11, 2018 • Nelson Phillps • Staff Writer
Both Box Elder and Bear River high schools got new tracks this year, with Box Elder also getting new bleachers, and eventually new tennis courts to replace those that were torn out in May.
Bear River is getting the new tennis courts this summer, as part of a $2 million plan to upgrade both schools’ athletic programs.
“We’re trying to put a couple million dollars into the renovation of the sports facilities in both high schools, but of course when you do that on two schools it doesn’t go very far, especially with the cost of construction nowadays,” said Rod Cook, Box Elder School District’s business administrator. Cook explained that the original plan was for the money to cover new tracks, bleachers and tennis courts at both schools, but that due to rising constructions costs the tennis courts at Box Elder needed to be pushed back a little bit.
Construction crews have removed the old bleachers and tennis courts from Box Elder High School’s football field, in preparation for new bleachers. The project included new tracks at Box Elder and Bear River High School, and Box Elder will be getting new tennis courts, likely by next year.
Preliminary hearing set for Willard murder suspect
A preliminary hearing for a Willard man charged with first-degree murder has been set for August 9.
Chay Lance Blair, 25, is still in the custody in the Box Elder County Jail while awaiting his court date. His preliminary hearing—at which First District Court Judge Thomas Willmore will decide if there is enough evidence to continue holding Blair—has been rescheduled twice, once due to a court scheduling conflict, and another at the request of Blair’s attorney, Bernard Allen. The hearing to set a preliminary hearing date was also rescheduled multiple times at the request of Allen.
Blair is charged with murdering 27-year-old Cody D. Henderson, an Ohio resident who was visiting the area. Henderson’s body was found on Nov. 1 inside the garage of Blair’s home at 435 South Main Street in Willard. The discovery of the body came after a woman called Willard Police Chief Jean Loveland, who who said her daughter had received a call from Blair admitting to killing Henderson and leaving his body in the garage.
Hearing set to determine jury trial in Tremonton murder case
A Tremonton man charged with first-degree murder is set to go before a judge on Wednesday, July 11, to determine if there is enough evidence against him to be bound over for a trial.
The preliminary hearing for Brandon Keith Thompson, 30, will be held in Brigham City’s First District Court in front of Judge Brandon Maynard at 1:30 p.m.
Thompson is being charged with one count of first-degree aggravated murder in the death of Michael K. Hogensen, 33, a friend who was a guest at Thompson’s Tremonton home.
Thompson is also being charged with second-degree felony possession of a weapon by a restricted person, and second-degree felony obstruction of justice.
According to police documents, Thompson called 911 in the early morning hours of April 16, claiming he had shot Hogensen in self-defense.
to Brigham City
Portions of a Christmas-themed movie, “Miracle of Music,” by Production Media Films L.L.C., will be filmed at various Brigham City locations July 13-17.
There is an opportunity for residents to be involved as extras in the movie on the nights of Monday and Tuesday, July 16 and 17, for the filming of scenes depicting a Christmas festival. Filming will be done overnight.
I-84 crash claims one life
A 19-year-old Idaho man has died, and an 18-year-old female passenger was seriously injured, when the car they were driving rolled off the freeway on Saturday night.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, Cesar Perez Torres of Buhl, Idaho, was driving westbound on I-84 near mile marker 8 when he lost control of his 2006 Ford Mustang at approximately 11:40 p.m.
Investigators say the car drifted into the center median and then came back across both westbound lanes, leaving the roadway and rolling several times. The vehicle’s roof and side windows crushed as it rolled, causing fatal injuries to Torres.
The passenger, identified as Citlaly Castellanos of Twin Falls, Idaho, suffered serious injuries in the crash. She was transported by ambulance to Bear River Valley Hospital in Tremonton, and subsequently airlifted to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
Both occupants of the vehicle were wearing seat belts.
BC approves airport fees for skydivers
The Brigham City Council on Thursday approved several new airport fees, including a per-jump charge for skydivers that the city anticipates will come.
The new parachuting operations permit will cost thrill seekers $2 per jump, to help cover airport costs to maintain a landing zone. City officials reported in early June that at least one skydiving company had been interested in basing out of Brigham City’s airport.
Other fees approved in the same resolution include a four cent per gallon fee on aviation fuel bought at the airport, and a $25 per month aircraft tie-down fee, for those who want to rent space for their aircraft. A yearly tie-down fee of $275 was also approved.
Tie down fees at the airport had remained at $15 per month or $150 per year since 2002.
Utah economy shows growth
June 20, 2018
Data released by the state’s Department of Workforce Services shows that Utah’s employment numbers for May showed an estimated 3.5 percent year-over growth from May 2017, adding 51,900 jobs in that time.
Year-over private sector employment grew by 3.9 percent. Nine of the 10 private sector industry groups surveyed posted job increases in May, with the largest employment increases coming in trade, transportation, and utilities (12,400 jobs); professional and business services (9,100 jobs); and construction (7,400 jobs). Those three sectors also showed the fastest employment growth.
The state’s unemployment rate for May dropped one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month, matching the drop in the national unemployment rate.
“May was an especially positive month for Utah’s labor market,” said Carrie Mayne, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Services. “Gains across the gamut show that Utah’s businesses are performing well and absorbing the state’s labor force growth.”
Box Elder County saw more modest growth than the state, improving it’s employment numbers 1.6 percent, year-over.
Willard City sets fire restrictions
June 20, 2018
Beginning on June 22, citizens of Willard will be prohibited from burning open fires or using fireworks on the east side of town.
At its Thursday meeting the Willard City Council passed the new restrictions, which encompass all areas east of Highway 89, and will last until Sept. 15, unless rescinded earlier.
The restrictions proscribe setting, building, maintaining, attending or using open fires of any kind, except campfires built within the facilities provided for them in permanently improved places of habitation; discharging or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices including explosive targets; and cutting, welding, or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
“The state has changed how they bill for fire suppression,” said Willard Mayor Ken Braegger. “If a fire starts in our city limits and goes into other properties, we hold the lion’s share of taking care of that. The value of not allowing a fire to start in our city limits is huge.”
‘Opportunity Zones’ identified in Box Elder
June 20, 2018
Two areas in Box Elder County were recently designated as Opportunity Zones, and stand to benefit from provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designed to spur economic development and grow jobs in “low-income census tracts.”
Opportunity Zones were enacted this year as part of the tax package passed by Congress in December of 2017. In qualified areas across the nation, Opportunity Zones will provide incentives in the form of tax breaks for investors, as well as create investment funds to facilitate development.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development, in coordination with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, identified and nominated areas in Brigham City, and Tremonton (see map), which were recently accepted as Opportunity Zones by the U.S. Treasury Department.
“Our goal is economic prosperity for all Utahns. Opportunity Zones will go a long way in helping to support growth in economically-distressed areas throughout the state,” said Governor Gary Herbert. “By working with these communities, the zones will attract more businesses and new investment.”
According to Box Elder County Economic Development Director Mitch Zundel, there are still a lot of unknowns as to how the system will work, specifically.
“All in all, it is a mechanism to capture investment into zones that need the investment,” Zundel wrote in an email, although he said it’s “up in the air as to how it will help or not help.”
Zundel said further guidance on the program and how investors can qualify will be forthcoming, and later in the year the treasury department will undertake the rule making process, with the creation of, or investment in Opportunity Zone funds beginning in the last quarter of 2018.
Areas considered for nomination were determined by information obtained from the Kem C. Gardner Institute, as well as economic narratives submitted by associations of government throughout the state, such as the Bear River Association of Government, which assists Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties. A primary focus of nominating Opportunity Zones was to support the needs of rural areas, and rural communities where attractive investment opportunities exist were particularly targeted. In all, 46 Opportunity Zones were designated in 32 different areas of the state.
More information about Opportunity Zones is available at www.irs.gov.
Residents speak up against BC budget transfers
June 13, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A proposal in Brigham City’s 2018-19 tentative budget to transfer 15 percent of the city’s utility fund revenue into the general fund was the subject of some criticism at Thursday’s city council meeting, as a small group of citizens spoke out in opposition to the idea.
The tentative budget includes a provision to transfer $3,871,241 from the city’s utility fund into the general fund, as well as $32,756 from the storm drain fund to the general fund. It also includes an additional $50,000 transfer from the utility fund to the emergency disaster capital project fund.
Julianne Larsen of Brigham City worried that transfers make the budget less understandable for common people, obscuring the true costs of running the city.
“You talk about taking money out of our utility fee, and transferring it into the general fee, and using it for whatever we need it for,” said Larsen. “It puts that money back into a fishbowl, stirs it up, and we then spend it. It’s not very transparent or accountable.” Larsen also wondered why city utility bills were “so high” when Brigham City could afford to take nearly $4 million in utility revenue and transfer it somewhere else.
Brigham City’s municipal power system is owned and operated by the city. Comparisons ran last year by the News Journal showed power rates charged by the city were slightly lower than those charged outside the city by Rocky Mountain Power. City officials have expressed that providing electrical service at a competitive rate, while being able to use some of the revenue generated to fund other city service without raising taxes was good for both the city and residents.
As the transfer is part of the budgeting process, no vote was taken, and no council members spoke to the issue.
A final budget for the city is expected to be passed at the June 21 meeting.
BC council hears case for library tax increase, delays action due to $495k surplus
June 13, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Brigham City Council on Thursday heard a presentation asking for an increase in the city’s library tax levy, but took no action on the issue, effectively pushing consideration of the proposal to 2019 or later.
During a budget work session held prior to the regular council meeting, Brigham City Library Director Sue Hill told the council that the last increase the library had seen to its mill levy was 17 years ago, under former Mayor David Kano.
“We told the council at that time that we could last at least five years, and it’s now 17 years,” said Hill, explaining that the increase was needed to fund rising personnel and media costs. “The library board has been trying for several years—you know that—to do a mill levy increase.”
According to Hill, the library had been running under budget for several years, and surplus revenue had been saved for future use, but over the last three years, the library has been drawing on those reserves. The library has been seeing steady increases in circulation, jumping from 82,000 in fiscal year 2011-2012 to 322,000 in year 2016-2017, due largely to increased use of electronic media.
“I’ve been careful with our money,” continued Hill, saying that the deficits started at around $6,000 three years ago, and have grown to approximately $15,000 in the current year, even after a $15,000 private donation. She explained that next year’s shortfall is estimated to be approximately $90,000. Currently the library has reserves in its unappropriated fund balance of $495,000, and a current year budget of $657,317.
With the recommendation of the library board, Hill was seeking an increase in the mill levy of .000105, which amounts to approximately $1 per month per household in Brigham City.
After some further discussion, the council decided to have staff study the matter to determine what the library will need to fund services moving forward, the results of which would be considered in next year’s budget process.
Box Elder News Journal
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