Headlines Wednesday, September 21, 2016
A community of caring
Residents of both Brigham City and Box Elder County, at large, rallied together at two events last week to raise awareness for, and aid in the prevention of, the suicide epidemic that is sweeping the state and the nation, and has hit Box Elder County particularly hard. Utah State Lt. Governor Spencer Cox was a keynote speaker at one event.
BC bond issue advances with public hearing
By Nelson Phillips
The Brigham City Council on Thursday set out the election procedures for a $26,000,000 general obligation bond that’s already been approved to appear on November’s ballot, and held a required public hearing on the issue to allow input from city residents. If passed in November’s general election, the 20-year bond would be used to pay for a new community recreation and senior center, seven additional sports fields, and would provide funding to convert the current senior center into property that would house the city’s two museums. The bond is estimated to cost residents with homes valued at $160,000 an additional $148.93 per year over current levels, with bond assessments on that home totaling $215.35 per year. Only three people rose to speak at the hearing, however, none of them actually live in Brigham City. Supporting the bond were Perry residents Shanna Hernandez and her daughter, Myranda, citing the economic benefits that the expanded sports field capacity would bring to the city, as well as the moral and physical benefit the sports programs bring to the youth. “We have an average of 15 people per team, and stay an average of three nights,” said the elder Hernandez, regarding her days as a “softball mom” when her daughter would play in tournaments held outside of Box Elder County. “We’d pay an average of $130 per night for a room, with 15 girls per team that’s about $5,900 per team per weekend for a tournament.” Hernandez also said that on a given tournament weekend there could be 60 teams, which meant $354,000 spending in hotel rooms alone. “I spent on average $1,000 to $1,200 per kid, just one kid, to be at that tournament,” she continued. “But guess what? She doesn’t do drugs, she got an education.” Myranda Hernandez added, “It would benefit the kids more than anyone else in this town.” She now volunteers as an umpire for the Brigham City Recreation Department, and went on to say that the youth programs are crowded and are without adequate space to play. Because they have to rely on local school facilities for some sports, scheduling can be difficult.
Commission approves capital improvement projects for county
By Nelson Phillips
The Box Elder County Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Committee has released its 2017 recommendations to the Box Elder County Commission, suggesting spending totaling $1,201,950 from more than $3 million in department requests. Recommended purchases include $36,050 for the purchase of a new vehicle for the Assessor’s office; $120,000 for a parking lot upgrade at the courthouse; $44,900 for a new skidloader at the fairgrounds; $280,000 for an excavator and truck at the landfill; $398,000 for a dump/water truck, a crusher truck, a telehandler and a trailer for the road department; and $323,000 for eight deputy vehicles and a transport vehicle for the Sheriff’s Department. Not approved were a $170,000 request for new asphalt in the vendor area of the fairgrounds, and a $1,900,000 request for a storage building at the fairgrounds for the county library’s Bookmobile. “The concern is that they’re both talking about the same area,” said County Auditor Tom Kotter, who was presenting the recommendations. “The CIP committee is saying they really need to see a five-year plan, to know what’s going to happen there. It doesn’t make sense if they’re going to re-do the area in a year.” According to Kotter, all of the budgeting for the recommended projects will come from the capital projects fund, except for the landfill and county assessor’s purchases, which have their own budgets. Kotter also stated that the courthouse parking lot project had actually been moved up to this year, as there was money in the budget and they could take advantage of combined pricing with other projects.
Conservation group honored
The West Box Elder County Coordinated Resource Management Group, which has been hailed in the past as an exemplar of public-private cooperative conservation efforts, was recently honored by the Bureau of Land Management for its efforts and dedication in rangeland management to benefit both agriculture and the sage grouse. As part of the BLM’s 2106 Rangeland Stewardship Awards, the WBECRM received the Sage-Grouse Habitat Stewardship-Collaborative Group Award, and was commended “as an ideal example of a community-based land stewardship organization that is committed, engaged, and active across land ownership boundaries.” The WBECRM is a collaborative effort between private landowners and agricultural operations that use public land for grazing, and public agencies including the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, and various state agencies to improve habitat for the sage grouse, which was considered last year to be listed through the Endangered Species Act. It was, in part, the efforts of the WBECRM and other similar groups throughout the West that helped keep the bird off the list. Following numerous WBECRM habitat restoration projects in areas that are considered some of the most important sage grouse areas in the state, surveys have shown consistent population increases for the bird. In a statement made this summer following a tour of conservation project areas in West Box Elder by federal and state land management officials, elected officials and other stakeholders, WBECRM coordinator Diane Tanner said, “We are very proud of what we have done together.”
Box Elder County announces bridge closure
The Box Elder County Road Department has announced that the bridge over the Bear River on 6900 North (west of the Buddhist Church in Honeyville) will be closed from Monday, Sept. 19, through Thursday, Sept. 22, in order to allow crews to perform surface work. Motorists are urged to pre-plan for alternate routes, as no traffic will be allowed on the bridge during the project. The bridge is expected to re-open on Friday, Sept. 23.
AG issues fraud alert
The Utah State Office of the Attorney General issued a fraud alert last week warning residents of a scam in which an autodial call claims that the AG’s Office is investigating the legality of the call recipients’ accounts. The call then directs the individuals to call an instate phone number. The AG’s Office will not contract a third party to notify individuals of accounts or investigations. Anyone who receives such a call should contact the AG Office at 1-800-244-4636 or online at http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/contact-us.
Road rage suspect arrested
A suspect in the road rage shooting reported on in last week’s News Journal has been identified. Cory Bryan Hinsz, 37, of Spokane, Washington, was taken into custody by Idaho State Police, and has been extradited to Utah on initial charges of first-degree felony attempted murder, and third-degree felony discharging a firearm from a vehicle. According to witness reports, Hinsz got into a driving dispute with four people in a white 2011 Dodge pickup in the early morning hours of September 7. Both vehicles were driving north on I-15 through the construction zone, when the situation escalated. After repeated passes and slowdowns, Hinsz is alleged to have pulled up alongside the pickup near exit 357, firing a shot from a handgun that struck the pickup in the support column between the windshield and driver’s door. The four men exited the freeway and called authorities, and Hinsz was picked up about 40 miles into Idaho. No one was injured. A spent shell casing and a Ruger LCP .380 handgun were recovered from the red 2001 Ford Focus that Hinsz was driving. Hinsz was arraigned in front of First District Court Judge Brandon Maynard on September 19, where bail was set at $15,000. As of Tuesday morning he had not yet made bail. Hinsz is next scheduled to appear in court on October 3.
Vasquez gets 10-years-to-life
A Tremonton man has been sentenced to 10-years-to-life in the Utah State Prison. In a plea arrangement that saw 11 felony counts dropped, Arcadio Vasquez, 48, changed his not guilty pleas to guilty on one count of first-degree felony rape of a child, one count of first-degree felony forcible sodomy, one count of first-degree felony rape, and one count of second-degree sexual abuse. As part of an arrangement for the guilty pleas, in addition to dropping the 11 other felony charges, prosecutor Blair Wardle agreed to accept the recommendations of Adult Probation and Parole on all of the remaining charges except for child rape, for which he recommended to the court to impose a minimum of 10 years in prison. That is what First District Court Judge Brandon Maynard did at the Sept.12 hearing. Vasquez was arrested by Tremonton police in March of this year and charged with 15 sex offenses against multiple female victims, the events taking place from 2004 to 2015, with at least one of the victims being under 14 years of age at the time of the assault(s). Utah’s Jessica’s Law, which enhances penalties for rape of a child to a minimum of 25 years, doesn’t apply unless the victim is 12 years old or younger. A 10-years-to-life sentence means that Vasquez won’t be eligible for parole until the 10 years are up, and could remain in prison for the rest of his life, at the sole discretion of the parole board.