Headlines Wednesday, March 12, 2014
come to Brigham City
By Mike Nelson
With the newly formed citizen task force studying the several options laid before them with respect to a public/private partnership between UTOPIA member cities and Macquarie Capital, the conversation returned to the Brigham City council chambers last Thursday with UTOPIA’s board chairman and Macquarie’s infrastructure project manager joining city officials at the table.
Jason Roberts, the city’s financial director and representative to the UTOPIA board, said the meeting was called to address the council’s concerns and answer any questions council members might have.
“We’re kind of big, we do this for a living and our claim to fame is infrastructure investment,” said Duncan Ramage, a senior vice president at Macquarie Capital who sits in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Ramage gave the council a brief overview of Macquarie Capital’s portfolio which included the companies assets that total more than $100 billion in infrastructure. He said about 100 million people rely on the companies bridges, roads, and other utilities, assets he said the company runs on behalf of the public.
“The reason we are looking at UTOPIA is that we see a great opportunity in this sector in particular—it’s an underdeveloped sector—one that is ripe for some long-term investment,” said Ramage.
According to Ramage, the basic idea is that a re-branded UTOPIA—perhaps “NUTOPIA”—would complete the build-out in all 11 member cities, provide a basic service to all addresses in the cities and to maintain the network. After the 30 year “service contract” expires, the company would hand the reigns back over to the member cities in a well-operable condition.
He said if the cost of the build-out is excessive or if the network goes down, Macquarie would assume that risk.
“Fundamentally, when we take a step back, it seems to be a great and elegant solution for the situation.
Ramage said fiber is critical to the growth of communities, business communities, education and healthcare institutions, and he said presently, communities like Brigham City are being underserved.
First-of-its-kind expo in
By Nelson Phillips
What do you get when you mix a cowboy event promoter from Wyoming, a former Box Elder County Commissioner, a regional farm implement superstore and really smart FFA kids with inventive minds?
Answer: A fun new event to be held annually at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds.
The first ever Box Elder Farm & Ranch Expo opened last Thursday and ran through Saturday. With dozens of vendors selling everything from Ford trucks to combines to solar panels and sweet almonds, and thousands of residents gathering to eat, listen to music and watch local farm teens show off their inventiveness, the inaugural event seemed off to a good start.
The brainchild of WBR Productions Promoter Jim Jensen, the expo almost didn’t happen in Box Elder County. He said he was originally looking at Weber County Fairgrounds after he was told they had the biggest and best county fair in the state. Employees at Coca-Cola, one of the event sponsors, suggested Jensen look into the new facilities at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds.
Smart meters tabled
By Mike Nelson
Brigham City council tabled a request from the city’s public power director to begin implementing smart meters—or two-way communication meters—within the city’s residential meter system following a presentation Thursday.
The move would have given the green light for the city to purchase the computers and back-end technology necessary to implement the systems with already budgeted for money from the city’s general fund. According to city officials, no stimulus money would be used as a part of the project.
As part of a future year’s budget, the city would look to spend about $150 on the new meters to replace the aging one-way RF meters—some of which are pushing 30 years old—at a price tag of around $80.
County offers retirement incentive
Box Elder County Commissioners approved a retirement incentive during last week’s commission meeting. The county has about 25 employees who are currently eligible for retirement either through years of service or their age.
Personnel Director Scott Ericson explained the concept, using a hypothetical sheriff’s office employee who is eligible for retirement with pay and benefits totaling $90,000 a year. A new employee for the sheriff’s office would receive $65,000 in pay and benefits. The gap in the pay and benefits between the two employees would be $25,000.
The commissioners approved a pay-out percentage of two-thirds, or 67 percent, that would be a one-time payment to the retiring employee, thus saving the county one-third of the retiring employee’s payment package.
Ericson said that if everyone who is eligible for the incentive wanted to take the voluntary offer, the county could save approximately $320,000 a year. If all the eligible employees wanted to take the offer, their retirements could be staggered, so everyone wouldn’t leave at the same time.
Renovation project set to begin at Box Elder Natatorium
An extensive reconstruction and renovation project is underway at the Box Elder Natatorium that will help extend the life of the building and enhance the learning environment for students, said Box Elder School District officials.
The pool and gymnasium will be available for use through the spring, but the men’s dressing rooms will be closed. Beginning May 30, the natatorium will be closed until Aug. 30, to accommodate construction.
The closure will result in no gymnasium or swimming activities during the summer. Individuals with natatorium passes may use the Bear River Natatorium. Natatorium passes will be available at the Box Elder Natatorium until its closure in May.
The building was built in 1980 and over the years humid conditions and hard, chlorinated water have accelerated wear on the original infrastructure, pool area and locker rooms, according to BESD Facilities Management Director Jim Christensen.
The remodel project includes replacement of the mechanical and plumbing systems, as well as the complete remodeling of the locker rooms to address current needs of staff, students, and teams. The bid price for the project is $ 3.6 million dollars and is being funded through the district’s capital outlay funds.
Honeyville man dies in avalanche
A Honeyville man was killed last Friday following an avalanche while snowmobiling in Summit County.
Ryan Noorda, age 39, was snowmobiling near Gold Hill Basin with his brother when the avalanche was triggered. His brother found him using an avalanche beacon and attempted CPR until he flagged down another snowmobiler who contacted Summit County Search and Rescue. CPR efforts to revive Noorda were unsuccessful.
An account has been set up to receive donations at America First Credit Union by friends of Ryan Noorda of Honeyville, who died in an avalanche in Summit County on Friday. Any money raised will be used to help with funeral expenses and to help out his family.
Bird Refuge proposes aerial spraying of invasive species
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge recently proposed the use of aerial applications of herbicides as a method to help control the refuge’s invasive phragmites grass.
“The ability to apply herbicides aerially allows for more effective treatment in areas that are difficult to reach using ground-based methods,” said Howard Browers, the park’s wildlife biologist.
Presently, the refuge plans to continue their integrated phragmites treatment which includes prescribed burns (one is planned for the week of March 10), grazing, mechanical methods as well as ground application of herbicides. Approximately 1,000 acres of phragmites are scheduled to be treated this year.
An environmental assessment for the aerial herbicide proposal has been prepared and is available for public review for 30 days at www.fws.gov/refuge/bear_river_migratory_bird_refuge. Hard copies are available at the Wildlife Education Center, 2155 West Forest Street in Brigham City.
Bird Refuge accepting applications for YCC crew
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge will have a Youth Conservation Corps crew (YCC crew) this summer. Applications are being accepted immediately for local youth, ages 15-18. The eight-week program will run from June 16 through August 8 and pays minimum wage.
The YCC crew will work on a wide variety of projects including trail maintenance, wildlife surveys and invasive plant control. Applications are due to the refuge by April 12. For more information or to get an application visit the refuge website at www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147508820 or email Katie_mcvey@fws.gov.
Brigham City sets spring clean-up dates
With the spring season fast approaching comes the annual tradition of spring cleaning as Brigham City begins the clean-up of the cemetery and the city through concerted efforts to restore the area to the colorful tones associated with the renewal of spring.
The annual spring clean-up at Brigham City Cemetery will begin on Monday, March 24. All flowers and decorations not in permanent containers, and those in such containers that are wilted, damaged or faded will be removed. Christmas decorations and those of past holidays will be removed to make way for Easter decorating.
When the clean-up sweep is done, all decorations removed are taken to the county landfill for disposal, but there is a chance to reclaim decorations prior to the clean-up. Keep in mind, it is considered theft of personal property to remove decorations from plots that belong to others and is an offense—a class B misdemeanor—punishable under law.
Patrons bringing in decorations for spring or for the rest of the year are encouraged to wait until the clean-up is completed before freshening up displays. All flowers, real or artificial must be placed in a container or attached to the monument to allow easy access for lawn mowers. Flowers and approved items that are properly displayed are allowed throughout the year.
To protect maintenance workers and cemetery visitors, absolutely no glass containers are permitted, nor are any objects such as wire, iron (shepherd hooks), sticks, or pegs driven into the ground. These items will be removed immediately upon discovery.
If you have questions concerning the clean-up or Cemetery operations please contact the cemetery at 723-5813.
Democrats set caucus
The Box Elder County Democratic neighborhood caucuses will be held on Tuesday, March 18, at 7 p.m. Democrats of northern Box Elder County will meet at the Tremonton Senior Center. Democrats of southern Box Elder County will meet at Box Elder High School, room P4.
For more information please contact Anna Thompson at 435-363-5222 or Penni Dennis at 435-230-4540.
SUP offers scholarship
The Box Elder County Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers is accepting applications from high school seniors for its annual Tomorrow’s Pioneers Scholarship award until March 28.
The scholarship ranges between $500 and $1,000 and is available to students who have overcome trials and obstacles in their lives while demonstrating “pioneer” values. One scholarship will be awarded to a student at both Box Elder and Bear River high schools.
Applications are available in the schools’ counselor’s offices. Additionally, nominations are accepted from the club’s members, teachers, administrators and the general public.
For more information, visit www.sonsofutahpioneers.org/youth-programs/college-scholarships or email John Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.