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Headlines Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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Solar power’s growing popularity creating issues for commercial and public energy managers

By Nelson Phillips
Staff Writer

Solar power is booming in Utah right now, but faces some regulatory uncertainties, as well as issues with public utilities that could very well make or break the industry’s future in our state.
According to an industry report put out in February, the number of Utah workers engaged in the solar power industry swelled 65 percent last year, from an estimated 2,679 in 2015 to 4,408 by the end of 2016. Across cities and towns in Box Elder County the growth is evident, as neighbor after neighbor begins sporting the shiny black panels on their rooftop.
Government incentives, improved technology, decreasing costs, ecological benefits and rising power rates have combined to make the industry a viable alternative, convincing scores of Utahns that solar power has finally become cost effective, as well as environmentally friendly.
Perry homeowner Marc Stromberg installed solar panels on his home in April after being visited by a salesperson from GCE Solar, headquartered in Ogden.
“I’d been thinking about it for years, and my neighbor across the street had put in his,” said Stromberg. “This gal came by and knocked on our door, and we invited her in.” After surveying the Stromberg’s power needs, GCE came up with a proposal for 27 panels, guaranteed to last 25 years and rated for 40 years, along with an inverter and battery system installed, for approximately $32,000. “The federal government right now gives you a 30 percent tax credit, and the state of Utah has a $2,000 credit, so if you subtract that I’m in it about $20,000.”

A long time coming

Vietnam War veterans walk toward the Box Elder County Courthouse in between a large crowd that gathered to give them the welcome they deserved when returning from the war. On the steps of the courthouse, the Box Elder High School band played patriotic anthems. See story and more photos on page 9.

School board selects new superintendent

By Nelson Phillips
Staff Writer

At a special meeting on Tuesday, May 16, the Box Elder School District Board of Education chose a replacement for retiring superintendent, Ron Tolman.
Steve Carlsen, who has most recently been superintendent for the Carbon School District for the past six years, will begin his duties at Box Elder School District on July 1. Prior to his time in the Carbon School District, he spent 10 years in the North Summit School District in Coalville.
Originally from Paris, Idaho, Carlsen has been a health and science teacher, an assistant principal, and principal in his career prior to entering district administration.

News Briefs

County discusses potential flooding in June
At Wednesday’s Box Elder County Commission meeting, Commissioner Stan Summers warned that the county may see more flooding problems from the Bear River as the high mountain snowpack melts.
“It kind of depends on how hot it gets and how quick it melts, but they’re predicting that it could get as high as 1,000 cubic feet per minute above flood stage by mid June,” said Summers, who attended a meeting with state water officials the previous week. “If people are down in the flood plains, where it’s flooded before, they’ll want to take precautions and not put livestock in those areas.”
Summers said that officials are projecting Bear Lake to fill to capacity, which means that the excess water will be flowing down the Bear River.

Box Elder County child drowns in Cache river
A 2-year-old boy from Box Elder County lost his life Sunday morning after falling into a tributary of the Blacksmith Fork River in Cache County.
According to a press release issued by the Cache County Sheriff’s Office, the boy, Titan Chavez, had been camping with his parents, Reymundo and Tessa Chavez, approximately two and half miles up the Left Hand Fork area of Blacksmith Fork Canyon. The child came up missing at around 10 a.m. after being left unattended “for just a few moments.”
Family members searched for the child for 30 to 45 minutes, and reported him missing to Cache County authorities shortly after 11 a.m.
The boy was located in the river at approximately 12:15 p.m, half a mile downstream from the campsite.
“The child was unresponsive at the time he was found,” wrote Lt. Mike Peterson of the Cache County Sheriff’s Office. “EMT’s from the Hyrum City Fire Department and paramedics from the Logan City Fire Department arrived and confirmed that the child was deceased.”
Investigators from the Cache County Sheriff’s Office and a representative from the State Medical Examiners Office are conducting an investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the child’s death. Peterson stated the evidence is leading them to believe that the child fell into the water and was swept downstream.
“This is a stark reminder of the dangers surrounding rivers and streams this time of the year,” continued Peterson. “We are encouraging all people who recreate around water to be vigilant in keeping a very close eye on children. There is still a lot of snowpack in the mountains. Warmer late spring and early summer temperatures will certainly result in continued swift and high water conditions for several more weeks.”
The names of the boy and his family have not yet been released, pending completion of the investigation.

Brigham City Council amends budget to
include $107,000 in spending

Brigham City approved adding $107,267 to the fiscal 2016-17 budget on Thursday, taking care of needed repairs at the swimming pool, and funding additional projects for the current year.
The council approved $71,227 from the general improvements fund to repair the watering system at the golf course, pay legal and staff time costs for the Comcast license renewal, fund an impact fee study, finish paying for the Macquarie fiber optics study, purchase school crossing lights for 600 South and 700 East, and to replace a police car that was wrecked last year.
Additionally, $31,860 was approved from the general fund to re-surface the slide at the city’s municipal swimming pool. The surface of the slide has deteriorated down to the point that fiberglass was showing through, and the resurfacing should prolong the life of the slide for seven to 10 years. Funds from a tourism tax grant totaling $4,180 was approved to purchase bleachers for the city’s sports complex.

Local business buys piece of Watkins Park
The Brigham City Council on Thursday approved a plan to sell a 3,700 square foot strip of land at Watkins Park to Big J Milling and Elevator Company, which borders the park on the northwest corner.
The company needs the land in order to construct a scale south of its main building, and has offered to relocate the city’s berm and walkway, and pay for any work needed to accommodate any power and sprinkler issues.
City Administrator Jason Roberts said he had determined a fair price by looking at the purchase of land for the city’s pickleball courts, which was $62,000 an acre, adding three percent to that, and then charging for nine percent of an acre, a figure which comes in at $6,930.
Roberts said he didn’t believe the transaction would affect the use of the park at all, and might actually enhance safety by diverting scale traffic away from Forest Street.
The council approved the proposal unanimously, with Councilmember Alden Farr absent.

BC gains approval for CDBG project
A public hearing was held on Thursday on Brigham City’s proposal to obtain and spend Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds on upgrades to the Senior Center’s electrical system.
Economic Development Director Paul Larsen stated that the city’s application for the funding through the block grant program was successful, and that the city would receive $163,404 for the project.
As part of the grant process, a second public hearing needed to be held prior to the city allocating the money. No one rose to object to the project.
The CDBG program began in 1974, and is one of the longest running programs from the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department. Financed through federal tax dollars, HUD gives grants directly to larger cities, and relies on the state to administer the money for smaller cities, such as Brigham City. The state of Utah then allocates the funding to the Bear River Association of Governments, which disburses it according to the program’s objectives of low income benefit, slum or urban blight prevention, or urgent community need.

Semi driver loses life in I-15 accident
A driver of a semi lost his life on Friday after a suspected medical incident caused him to lose control of his truck on northbound I-15.
Charles P Ganieany, 43, of Idaho Falls, was northbound on the freeway near mile marker 390 shortly before 4 p.m. when his semi, which was pulling two asphalt tar tankers, crossed the median and both southbound lanes of travel, traveled up an embankment and rolled back down, landing on its wheels.
Other motorists attempting to help Ganieany found him unbuckled and unresponsive, and attempted CPR. A Box Elder County deputy arrived a few minutes later and also attempted to resuscitate Ganieany, but he didn’t respond.
The driver was transported to Bear River Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.
A secondary accident at the scene happened at approximately 5 p.m. when a 2008 Chevy Cobalt ran into the rear of a 2006 Dodge pickup that was stopped by a deputy while the first accident scene was being investigated. The male driver of the Chevy didn’t notice that traffic was stopped until it was too late. The Chevy caught on fire after striking the Dodge, but the flames were quickly suppressed by troopers already on the scene.
The driver and his female passenger were both wearing seatbelts, and he reported that he was unhurt, but the passenger complained of injuries. She was transported by ambulance to Bear River Valley Hospital, and later flown by helicopter to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.

Youth Brigham City Council gives update
Ten members of the Brigham City Youth City Council (YCC) appeared before the actual Brigham City Council on Thursday, offering a report of the previous year’s activities.
Activities included setting up flags for veteran’s headstones at the cemetery, visiting the state legislature, raising $15,000 for the United Way by selling cereal, staffing and writing letters for the community center’s “Breakfast with Santa” children’s activity, putting on a ball for senior citizens, participating in the Meals on Wheels fundraiser, designing and setting up Brigham City’s booth at the county fair, sponsoring the annual “Donut Race” at Mantua Reservoir, helping with and marching in the Peach Days parade, collecting 2,000 pounds of food during the Box Elder Community Pantry’s food drive, as well as many other charitable, community-oriented educational and leadership projects.
The Youth City Council focuses on giving service throughout the community by participating in various projects each month, and seeks to learn more about city and state government through tours, guest speakers and interaction with city officials.
Youth City Council is free to join, and open to all Box Elder High students from 9th to 12th grade who want to serve their community and learn about local government.

Commission approves corridor preservation funds
Box Elder County commissioners on Wednesday approved over $979,000 in corridor preservation fund requests.
The Local Corridor Preservation Fund (LCPF) was created in 2005 by an act of the Utah Legislature, and allows counties to charge up to $10 extra for each vehicle registered in that county, the proceeds of which are held by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and administered by local county councils and commissions. The funds raised in a county are earmarked for acquisitions of property, such as rights of way purchased from private landowners, in that specific county, but have now also been approved by the legislature for secondary use for road maintenance and also road construction. The local Council of Governments, or COG, serves as an advisory body approving the individual city and county-wide plans for LCPF fund disbursement, and the County Commission gives final approval and requests the funds from UDOT.
The first request approved was for $83,377 to add a drainage component to the county’s right of way study currently underway, in an effort to identify and mitigate future drainage issues on the county’s roadways.
A request by Perry City for $795,376 was approved to help widen city rights of way on 1200 West, 1200 South, 900 West, and Canyon View Drive. An additional $101,000 was approved for Perry City to perform overlay maintenance on 1200 West heading out to Walmart. A third request by Perry for $50,000 for overlay maintenance on 1200 West south from Maddox Lane was not approved, with commissioners saying that the funding may be approved later in the fall.
All of the approved projects were formally passed by the local Council of Governments prior to County Commission approval.