Headlines Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Fair starts with energetic flair
Restless Heart performing at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds on Saturday night.
By Nelson Phillips
The 2016 Box Elder County Fair got off to a rousing start Saturday night with a concert featuring fan-favorites, Due West, who performed last year, and the still energetic headliners, country supergroup, Restless Heart.
This was the second annual All American Country Tour concert put on to raise money for the Utah Honor Flight, an organization that flies World War II veterans to Washington D.C. to see the war’s memorial. An unofficial estimate put the crowd at around 3,000 people. Crowd donations alone, not counting ticket sale proceeds and corporate donations, totaled more than $3,000, from the $1s, $5s, $10s and $20s stuffed into tip cans that were passed during the Due West performance.
“We made a lot of money for Honor Flight tonight,” said County Commissioner Stan Summers as he watched dozens of people line dancing in front of the stage as Restless Heart performed “Alright Already.” A final tally has yet to be made, but county officials said that the donation to Utah Honor Flight would be significant.
Restless Heart was bound to be a big draw for the event, with members of the band saying Utah has always been one of their top markets.
“This is one of our favorite places to come,” said band member Greg Jennings. “We’ve always had a good reception here every time we’ve played. We’ve always had good crowds, and we have great friends here.”
“Utah was our biggest market back in our heyday,” added Larry Stewart. “We became an arena act in Utah before we did anywhere else. This was it, beautiful women screaming ‘The Bluest Eyes in Texas,’ he laughed.
City council green lights G.O. bond
By Nelson Phillips
The Brigham City Council on Thursday voted to place a $26,000,000 general obligation bond on the November ballot to finance a new Senior and Community Center, as well as complete the sports complex on the west side of Brigham City.
The proposal was scaled back from a planned $31,350,000 bond by reducing the number of multi-purpose fields planned for the sports complex. The reduction was recommended by a task force appointed by the city administration to study the plans and costs associated with the project.
“We’ve had 20 plus people, and we’ve met every Friday for a few hours since mid July,” said Keith Mecham, acting as spokesperson for the task force. “We really felt like we needed to cut something from that $31 million,” he continued, stating that they worked with city personnel to get the number down to $26 million, which the task force considered “reasonable.”
City Administrator Jason Roberts then explained that in looking for cost savings they had cut four of the planned 11 multi-use fields from the sports complex, stating that additional fields, if needed for city-hosted tournaments, could be rented from the school district.
“I like the compromise with what we’ve got on here,” said Councilmember DJ Bott about the scaled down version of the bond. “I like the lower number, especially if we can still accommodate tournaments and bring people into the city.”
“I like it too, and I agree with you,” said Councilmember Tom Peterson. “My only concern is that if we do this bond we’re going to max out our recreation spending for the next 20 years, and then [the remaining fields] will just sit.”
After some back and forth on whether they should try and get the whole project or the reduced project as recommended, and whether they felt there was enough public support to pass the bond, the council unanimously decided to put the reduced plan on the ballot at $26 million.
Under the new amount, voters will now be deciding if they want property taxes on a $160,000 home to be $148.93 higher than last year or a total city property tax burden of $215.35. Business property taxes on the same value property would be $270.78 higher than last year, equalling $391.54 total.
The city will now prepare voter information pamphlets which will contain project details along with arguments for and against the bond.
County books in good order, audit finds
An annual independent audit of Box Elder County finances has shown no serious errors or discrepancies for the 2015 fiscal year.
Accountant Mike Ulrich of Ulrich and Associates conducted the audit, and appeared before the Box Elder County Commission on Wednesday to discuss his findings.
“The financial statements reflect fairly the financial condition of the county as of Dec. 31, 2015,” said Ulrich, meaning that that the county’s books were accurate.
According to figures Ulrich supplied, the total net position of the county—meaning the value of all assets owned (cash, property, equipment) minus liabilities—was $43,299,862, which was an increase of $888,528 over the prior year. $5,285,872 of that total was unassigned, meaning those funds could be carried over from year to year and spent how the county sees fit, and amounted to roughly half of what the county is allowed by law to keep on hand.
“Obviously we’d like to see that a little higher because you’re saving for future periods, but by the same token you’re trying to balance expenditures and revenues,” said Ulrich. When questioned about what he sees in other counties by Commissioner Jeff Scott, Ulrich called the percentage of unassigned funds that Box Elder County is holding “about average” for what his office is used to seeing in the six other counties his firm serves.
Ulrich did raise an alert regarding the general fund balance, which decreased by $471,081 over the previous year.
Man robbed in failed drug buy
A man making a drug buy at the Perry Walmart was robbed by his would-be dealer last Wednesday.
According to a press release by Brigham City Police Department Assistant Chief Dennis Vincent, at about 6:53 p.m. on the night of Aug. 17, a man had made arrangements to meet another man at the Perry Walmart parking lot in order to purchase drugs. The deal went south when the buyer didn’t have enough money to complete the transaction. This enraged the seller, who issued verbal threats.
The buyer attempted to leave by driving eastbound on 1150 South, but the suspect drove past him and cut him off at the stop sign at 1150 South and Commerce Way.
“The suspect then jumped out of his truck with a knife and punctured both of the victim’s driver’s side tires, then reached into the victim’s vehicle and continued to yell and threaten the victim,” wrote Vincent. “The suspect then demanded the victim’s wallet and phone, the victim turned his phone and wallet over to the suspect at which time the suspect left the scene and proceeded towards I-15.”
The victim described the suspect as being an African American male in his 20s with dreadlocks, some of which were possibly pulled into a top ponytail or bun in the center of his head. The suspect was wearing a purple shirt, dark shorts and yellow/green socks.
The suspect’s vehicle is described as a black pickup truck with a raised area on the hood similar to a “hood scoop” and tinted windows. The suspect vehicle may be an extended or crew cab type vehicle.
If anyone has information that may further this investigation, they are asked to call the Brigham City Police Department at 435-734-6650 and speak with Detective Pyatt.
County hears pitch for joining Rural Utah Alliance
Salt Lake attorney Peter Stirba has formed a lobbying and advocacy group specifically for rural Utah counties, and appeared before the Box Elder County Commission on Wednesday to pitch the county to join.
According to Stirba, the Rural Utah Alliance (RUA) was formed in January of this year, receiving an appropriation from the state’s Legislature to get started.
The idea resulted from, discussions Stirba had with commissioners from rural counties who had concerns that they couldn’t get attention for legal issues, public lands issues, or other situations. He estimated that the initial organization will be 10 or 11 counties. Membership cost is $5,000 annually, but only $2,500 for the remainder of 2016, which would get the county a seat and a vote on the organizing committee.
No decision was made at the meeting, with commissioners saying they’d take the proposal under advisement.
County approves zoning and permitting changes
Commissioners approved a text amendment at Wednesday’s meeting that will allow areas in the Commercial Enterprise (CE) zone to store outdoor vehicles such as boats and recreational vehicles on those properties with a conditional use permit. Previously that practice was restricted only to General Industrial (MG) zones.
Another amendment was approved relaxing requirements that all sewer and underground utilities be present before a building permit is issued. Under the new rules, water would still be required, but sewer or septic, gas and power could be brought in during the construction process.
Other changes made include changing the ten foot public utilities rights of way around a property to a single right of way on the frontage of the property, and also having a hearing officer grant variances rather than the county commission.
All of the amendments were passed unanimously.
Aerial spraying to close Auto Tour
The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge auto tour route will have scheduled closures next week to allow for pesticide treatment of the invasive plant, phragmites.
Aerial spraying of pesticides will take place Aug. 24-26 on the wetland units near the auto tour route. The treatment requires 1-2 days, with weather being the determining factor of which days spaying will occur.
The auto tour route will be closed until 4 p.m. when spraying takes place. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and call the refuge during business hours at (435) 723-5887 for specific closure information. Check the refuge’s website for updates.