Scouting for Food adjusts to COVID, but is needed now more than ever
The annual Scouting for Food drive will be a little different this year due to COVID-19, as Scouts will not be engaging in a statewide campaign to distribute donation bags to homes, but the program is even more important because of the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many hardships upon families, and new people, including parents working in the service, restaurant and hospitality industries, are turning to local food pantries to help feed their children,” said Allen Endicott, executive of the Boy Scouts of America’s Crossroads of The West Council. “We encourage individuals, community groups and businesses to join the Scouts in collecting food and bringing their donations to drop off sites around the state, so pantries can keep their shelves full all year and Utah’s kids won’t go hungry.”
Donation bags are available at:
Bank of Utah, 80 E. 800 South, Brigham City, and Red Hanger and Arctic Circle locations throughout the state
Drop off donations through Feb. 12 at:
· Bank of Utah, 80 E. 800 South, Brigham City
· Box Elder Community Food Pantry, 272 N. 200 West, Brigham City
· Red Hanger and Arctic Circle locations throughout the state
· Smith’s locations (Feb. 6 only)
Non-perishable food such as beef stew, chili, soups, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and boxed meals
February 3, 2021 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A rash of vandalism calls that began last Thursday morning, and have continued over the weekend, are being investigated by police in both Brigham City and Perry.
According to Brigham City Police Lt. Anthony Ferderber, on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 28, reports came in that 15 cars all over the city, as well as a church building and the Hallmark store on Main Street, had their windows shot out late Wednesday night by what appears to be high-powered BB guns.
“At this point we’re thinking it was kids driving all over town causing the damage,” said Ferderber.
Vandals shot windows: in a car at 300 East 300 North, a car at 500 North 300 East, a church building at 900 North 600 West, a car at 600 North 300 East, a car at 800 South 200 West, a car at 400 North 300 East, a car at 400 North 600 West, a car at 100 South 600 East, a car at 1000 East 600 South, a car at 100 South 600 West, a car at 500 South 700 West, a car at 600 East 100 South, the Hallmark store on Main Street (pictured), a car at 200 South 500 West, a car at 900 East 300 South, a car at 100 West 300 North, and a car at 700 North Highland. Police believe another vehicle on Highland Boulevard was also targeted, though it wasn’t reported. Thieves also broke into a truck parked at the Brigham City Holiday Inn, which may be related.
Ferderber said vandals also struck two or three locations in Perry, and the two departments are working together on those incidents.
Over the weekend additional incidents were reported, including a car windows shot out near 300 East and Forest Street, and at 600 South and 700 West, and the window of a home near 500 N. Highland Blvd. Police are not sure whether the latest incidents were the same perpetrator(s).
So far, no witnesses have come forward, but police believe that someone saw something, and are also hopeful that home security cameras may have caught the vandals on video.
Normally property damage charges are misdemeanors, but the combined high dollar amounts from numerous cases could push the charges to felonies if the incidents can be tied together.
Brigham City police are asking anyone with any information on the incidents to call Detective Cody Herbert at 435-734-6650 during normal business hours. On evenings and weekends people should call Box Elder Dispatch at 435-734-3800.
Loni Newby / Box Elder News Journal (Above) Employees of Mellen Glass carefully remove the shattered glass from the storefront of Coppin’s Hallmark on Main Street in Brigham City last Thursday, after it was shattered in what police are saying is a spree of vandalism in Brigham City and Perry. (left inset) A hole shot in the glass of a home on Highland Boulevard over the weekend is among the latest incidents of vandalism in Brigham City since last Wednesday night. Over 20 windows in cars and buildings have been shot at by high-powered air rifles.
Brigham City pool reports good year despite pandemic
January 27, 2021 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Brigham City swimming pool managed to have a better year than expected in 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of people allowed inside the facility.
That was the takeaway of a report delivered to the city council by Brigham City Community Activities and Services Director Kristy Wolford, as she filled-in for Pool Supervisor Amber Moore, who was away on family business.
“The attendance numbers last year were 29,000, down about 5,000 from the previous year,” said Wolford. “As we sat here and discussed how we were going to open the pool with COVID, as you remember we decided we had to change our capacity to meet the requirements. We changed our capacity from 1,500 down to 575, so the impact to our daily total was seen due to those restrictions. But to only be 5,000 down from our regular admission was quite a feat for this team to do.”
Swim lessons were also down during the pandemic, going from 1,100 students in 2019 to 770 in 2020. That number, which represents a 30% drop, corresponds almost equally to the 33% reduction imposed on the size of swim lesson groups, going from 12 in 2019 to eight last year.
The biggest drop, according to Wolford, came in the number of pool parties scheduled, going from 67 in 2019 to just 29 last year. Attendance per party was also down, averaging 70 people, down from 150 in 2019. Wolford said the reduction was obviously because of COVID-19.
Mantua asks county for voice in developments that could impact town
January 27, 2021 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The town of Mantua wants a say in approving developments being considered near their town, but that are within the jurisdiction of the county, and is asking the Box Elder County Commission to enact regulations that would give cities and towns a voice when development impacts their communities.
Mantua Mayor Mike Johnson appeared before the commission on Wednesday to make his case, citing ordinances from other nearby counties, as well as current state law in support of his request.
“The reason I’m here, and I’m sure this carries over to several other communities, is that Mantua is concerned that several people have expressed interest in developing properties within the expansion area of our town,” said Johnson. “Those developments, of course, would be in the county’s jurisdiction. We are concerned that we would have very little say in that, as currently constituted.”
Johnson read portions of a letter from Mantua’s attorney, Seth Tait, saying that Utah state law prohibits developments with densities greater than one residence per acre within a municipality’s “development area” unless notice is given to the municipality, and any concerns are addressed.
The Tait letter also cited a Cache County road ordinance that states developments in unincorporated areas cannot connect roadways to a municipality’s roads without written approval from the municipality. Box Elder County currently has no similar provision, and Mantua would like the county to adopt one.
“What we’re asking is to maybe adopt something along that order,” continued Johnson. “If we were to get a large development on the north end of town, outside of our jurisdiction there, all of that traffic would be utilizing our roadways, etc. That’s why I’m here, to bring this to your attention and see if we can get something going to protect the towns on that.”
The commissioners wanted to gather more information before making any commitments.
“I would be interested to see what the current Cache County ordinance states, and what the definition of an ‘expansion area’ is,” said Commissioner Jeff Scott. He also said he’d like to see how the Cache ordinance relates to annexation, if it does.
“This would maybe go both ways?” asked Commissioner Stan Summers. “When the towns put in an ordinance that would create a problem on our roads?”
“I would think so,” said Johnson. “That would only be right.”
The commissioners directed staff to obtain information in preparation for a possible ordinance.
Dr. Marion Bishop gets her COVID-19 vaccination at Brigham City Community Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
December 30, 2020 • Loni Newby and Sean Hales
The first COVID-19 vaccinations were given to frontline healthcare workers at Brigham City Hospital today, Wed. Dec. 23.
The first physician and nurse to receive the vaccination weighed in on why they opted in for the vaccine as soon as it was available to them.
“I’ve just seen so many COVID patients in the last 10 months. I’ve seen the worst things the disease can do,” Dr. Marion Bishop said. “It’s not a theoretical problem for me or for the people that I work with in the emergency room. It’s a very real problem. So the chance to be vaccinated is a huge gift. I’m just grateful for every single bit of effort and energy that went into the research and development of this. It’s life changing for us on the front lines.”
Bishop said working in an emergency room is never easy, and the last year has required more hours and hard work than normal.
“That we can continue to work that hard without the additional worry of what might happen to our family or to ourselves if we take the illness home is just such a gift. I can’t even explain it,” Bishop said.
Nurse Alivia Eyre, said “I started off a bit nervous because you hear all these horror stories on social media about how the vaccine was created and how it was rushed. I don’t feel like it was rushed after debating about it. It’s gone through all of the safety processes that it was supposed to go through. And I feel like if I get the vaccine it will show everybody else that knows me that it’s safer. It’s a vote of confidence.”
Eyre said she’s glad for the extra protection due to the things hospital staff see in COVID patients that the majority of the public doesn’t.
Record-setting voter turnout in county helps drive Republican landslides in local, state races
November 11, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
While votes are still being counted in many cities and counties throughout Utah and the United States, it is safe to say that Box Elder County is solidly Republican territory.
With a record number of eligible county voters casting ballots—nearly 90%—GOP candidates up and down the ballot won by large margins. Every Republican on the ballot, many running unopposed, took at least 78 percent of the vote. That percentage dipped for statewide races, where the GOP mostly had lopsided wins. Nationally, the news for Democrats was better, with media outlets calling the U.S. presidential race for Joe Biden, and the possibility still existing for the party to gain control of the U.S. Senate.
(as of Monday, Nov. 9)
Incumbent county officials who ran unopposed and captured 100% of the votes were: Assessor Rodney Bennett, Recorder Chad Montgomery, Treasurer Shaun Thornley, Commissioner Stan Summers.
Unopposed candidates for the Box Elder School Board were Tiffani Summers (Dist. 1), Connie Archibald (Dist. 2) and Bryan Smith (Dist. 6).
Incumbent District 5 Boardmember Nancy Kennedy defeated challenger Todd Cordner, 1,687 votes (55%) to 1,380 votes (45%).
Utah House District 1 Republican incumbent Joel Ferry cruised to an easy victory, winning 79.41% of the vote, while Democrat Amber Hardy took 13.19%, and Constitution Party candidate Sherry Phipps taking 7.41%.
In Utah House District 29 (Box Elder County, northern Weber County) Republican Matt Gwynn won the seat being vacated by Representative Lee Perry, winning by 78.57%. Democrat Kerry Wayne took 18.33%, while United Utah candidate Tanner Greenhalgh took 3.11%.
First District Juvenile Court Judge Kirk Morgan was retained by a margin of 87.01% to 12.99%.
Staff Sergent David Kilfoyle is photographed with fellow soldiers while serving as a driver during the Vietnam War. He is a 26-year military veteran with service in the U.S. Army and Utah National Guard. He now serves as the post commander for the American Legion in Tremonton.
State program to help residents honor veterans during pandemic restrictions
In order to help residents honor service members on a Veterans Day subdued by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, in partnership with the office of the governor, has launched a campaign to encourage Utahns to celebrate and honor veterans in their communities.
“This year’s Veterans Day will be unlike any other in recent memory. To protect our veterans, especially our older and vulnerable, we cannot gather for traditional Veterans Day observations like parades and ceremonies,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “However, while we cannot come together, I urge all Utahns to take steps to honor and thank veterans for their service.”
Gary Harter, executive director of UDVMA said, “Public health steps like social distancing are necessary to help control the spread of COVID-19, but at the same time the pandemic has exacerbated feelings of isolation for many veterans of all ages. Utahns can help make a difference by reaching out to veterans in their local communities.”
As part of the #HonorUtahVeterans campaign, Utahns are encouraged to take action to express gratitude for those who have served, and are invited to commemorate Veterans Day in the following ways:
· Fly an American flag;
· Reach out and thank veterans in the community—whether by phone, letter or video call—for their selfless service;
· Don’t know a Veteran? Participate in the #HappinessForHeroes initiative, and write a letter or send a message to residents at Utah’s four veterans homes. Alternatively, Utahns can reach out to the Salt Lake City VA Health Care System to send a message to a VA patient;
· Share messages of support and gratitude for veterans on social media by using the hashtag #HonorUtahVeterans; and/or
· Watch the Utah National Guard’s 65th Annual Veterans Day Concert today, Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 9 a.m., online at www.facebook.com/utahnationalguard or ut.ng.mil.
Utah is home to nearly 140,000 veterans and thousands more guardsmen, reservists and active duty personnel. To learn more, visit the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs website at veterans.utah.gov.
DCFS Case Worker Cheryl Burgan accepts the 2020 Dennis B. Vincent Crime Victim Service Award from Karrie Vincent and Penny Evans of New Hope Crisis Center.
Sergeant Andy Marchant (R) accepts the 2020 Dennis B. Vincent Crime Victim Service Award from Karrie Vincent (L) and Penny Evans of New Hope Crisis Center.
Results from ‘instant survey’
at BE general plan workshop:
· 97% rated the current quality of life in the county as “good” to “excellent”
· 66% think growth in the county is happening either “fast” or “too fast”
· 73% said effects of growth on them was “somewhat negative” or “very negative”
· 43% said job opportunities had improved in the last 10 years; 15% said nothing had improved.
· “Preserving open space” was listed as the top concern going forward, followed by “job opportunities” at 12%.
October 28, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The long process to plan how Box Elder County intends to manage future growth began in earnest last Wednesday, as the county held its first open workshop with interested citizens via an online meeting platform.
The workshop, and accompanying survey, mark the start of putting together a new general plan for the county, gathering public input to assess what issues are important to residents as the county grows. A general plan is the legally required blueprint from which a city or county bases land use planning and zoning. Typically it will list both near and longer term goals, as well as set a future land use map, all of which are then used to help guide decisions by local officials. Box Elder County hasn’t updated its general plan since the spring of 1998, more than 22 years ago.
Workshop host Christie Oostema Brown, a consultant with Salt Lake City-based People + Place, welcomed approximately 45 online participants to the workshop, explaining how the process would work.
“This is the public visioning and general plan process,” she stated. “We are at step one tonight, kind of a ground level public workshop with a real-time survey peppered in. That will be followed immediately by an online survey.”
From the online survey, which is available to all Box Elder County residents and can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/boxelderbrainstorm, Brown and other consultants will glean what growth issues are most most important to county residents. The consultants will then take those issues model potential outcomes resulting from possible courses of action. From those scenarios county residents will be given a chance to rate which outcomes are preferable to them, and those will be tabulated and incorporated into a general plan for the county.
Brown presented competing issues for people to think about. For example, the desire to have large lots and open spaces, while high—and increasing—housing costs are being driven somewhat by a lack of housing inventory. According to information Brown displayed in the workshop, household income in Box Elder County has risen 63% since 1994, but in that same time period housing costs have risen 375%.
“If you already own a home, maybe that doesn’t matter, but if you’re looking to buy one, or your children are looking to buy one, [housing costs] could get out of whack pretty quickly,” said Brown.
The county has created a website to further explain the planning process, and to help people get involved and voice their opinions. It can be found at www.boxeldertogether.org.
Nancy Browne / Box Elder News Journal
While many fruit stands are out of peaches, Nielson’s in Perry is still selling them. A hard freeze in April severely reduced harvest yields for many farmers, and a severe windstorm last month further damaged some trees crops.
Farmers get mixed bag in 2020 with weather, pandemic
September 30, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Despite a peach-killing April frost, COVID-19, and a drastically curtailed Peach Days, some fruit stands and orchards along Highway 89’s historic Fruit Way did remarkably well.
That’s because people started canning—many for the first time—and so farmers were able to sell large quantities of other produce like tomatoes, beets and green beans to make up for the lack of peaches.
COVID-19 and the cancellation of Peach Days were not particularly problematic because “we lost 90 percent of our peaches anyway in the April frost,” said Paul’s Patch Manager Becky Kloos. “A lot of people didn’t know about the frost and thought we were out of peaches because of COVID,” she said. “I’ve been told that it was the worst frost in the area since any of the fruit stands first opened up.”
She said home canners saved Paul’s Patch this year, but it created a new challenge of keeping fruits and vegetables stocked because there were runs on them much like toilet paper and bottled water in grocery stores.
“People were very understanding of the fruit stands and knew that we were trying to do the best we could,” Kloos said. “A lot of people are trying to reach out to local businesses to support us. They recognize we could be in trouble so they come here instead of Walmart.”
All employees wear masks and customers are encouraged to also, and everyone is practicing social distancing until the fruit stand closes near the end of October, she said.
Gray’s Orchard Fruit Stand closed nearly two weeks ago after running out of peaches, according to owner David Call, who said he “has no complaints” about how the season went.
Box Elder County Republican Party officers, L to R, Brandon Manscill, Jaimie Munns and Dale Milsap. Manscill resigned in May following discovery of missing funds.
September 2, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A series of financial irregularities identified through an internal audit has led to the resignation of a local Republican Party official, and resulted in a felony charge being filed in 1st District Court.
In the court filing dated Aug. 28, the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office has charged Brandon Duane Manscill, 35, of Deweyville, with one count of second-degree felony theft, alleging that Manscill misused thousands of dollars in party funds during his tenure as treasurer.
“Defendant was the treasurer of the Box Elder Republican Party,” stated the charging document. “While acting in this capacity, Defendant embezzled $6,956.50 from the account to help pay his personal bills, such as his mortgage.”
According to a statement issued by Box Elder GOP President Jaime Munns, Manscill resigned his position in May, following discovery of the missing funds.
While fair attendance is typically limited to those participating in specialty events on Monday and Tuesday, the unique appearance of a starkly empty area where commercial vendors and carnival rides are usually placed shows a marked difference from previous fairs. The focus is largely on livestock shows and auctions, now streamed online, to ensure that the young people who raised animals this fair season wouldn’t be left behind with changes due to the pandemic. The Home Arts building will still feature many contributions of local artists, and fair food will be available, and the Golden Spike Rodeo will go on.
Share the Magic”
Visit BoxElderCounty.org/fair for more information
Rodeo tickets are by reservation only, available at www.goldenspikerodeo.com Face Covering will be required to attend the Rodeo.
Home Arts Entries
Director Cheryl Howe 435-279-0043
Entries accepted Aug 18-19 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and 5-7 p.m. at the Home Arts Building.
Entries accepted in person, excluding baked or prepared foods (canning allowed)
In lieu of judging, the public will vote for their favorites, with additional winners selected by directors, ribbons and prizes will be awarded.
Fine Arts Entries
Director Marie Miller 435-279-5133
Entry window is closed, online voting is open to the public on Facebook
Entries accepted and displayed online. One entry per person.
In lieu of judging, the public will vote online for their favorites.
Voting for the Public will take place on “BEC Fair Fine Arts” on Facebook through Aug. 23. To vote click “like” on top three favorites per division, there will be nine divisions.
Winning entries and slide shows of all entries will be displayed during the fair
Ribbons and prizes will be awarded (winning entries will require frames and hanging wire)
Fine Arts dates to remember:
Aug. 21Drive-in Art Show
East Side of Home Arts Building
Aug. 24People’s Choice Winners announced
Aug. 25Winners deliver art to Home Arts Building
from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. And 4-7 p.m.
Director Josie Hinkle 435-458-3786
Entries accepted in person, maximum of two entries per person which must be in different categories. No frames allowed, photos should be 8” X 10” and permanently attached to a thin mount board.
In lieu of judging, County Commissioners and directors will select their favorites
Winners will receive ribbons and prizes will be awarded
(No entries will be released on Saturday night.)
No Florticulture competition for 2020, entries will be accepted next year
4-H see website for entry information.
Friday, Aug. 21
DuskDrive-in Art Show
East Side of Home Arts Building
Saturday, Aug. 22
Dusk Movie in the west rodeo parking lot
Monday, Aug. 24
9 a.m.-all day Draft horse show / heavy horse show
6 a.m. 4-H / FFA Hogs weigh in
12 p.m. 4-H / FFA Market goat weigh in
2 p.m. Goat show
Tuesday, Aug. 25
7 a.m.4-H / FFA Swine market show
8 p.m. 4-H / FFA Swine market champion class show in auction barn
4-6 p.m. Chicken youth show check-in at bandstand
6-8 p.m. Chicken youth show judging
8 a.m. Rodeo timed event slack at rodeo arena
Box Elder County Fair Concert
6:30 p.m. Dinner for those who have purchased a dinner and concert ticket
8 p.m. Ryan Shupe concert (tickets required)
The Ryan Shupe Concert will have three levels of ticketing available, $9 per person for concert entry only, $18 per person for a meal plus concert entry, or $35 per person for VIP dinner and concert ticket. Social distancing will be practiced, tickets are limited. The opening act will be Silvermen. Call 435.200.5050 for details or purchase tickets at skicpr.com. Specific details on event location were not available at the time of press, but flyers indicate it will be held at the Fairgrounds.
Wednesday, Aug. 26
8 a.m. 4-H / FFA Fat Lamb show
small indoor arena
8 a.m. Rabbit Youth Show
check in at bandstand
8:30 a.m. Rabbit Youth Show judging
10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Home Arts Building open
6:45 p.m. Pre-rodeo at the arena
8 p.m.The Golden Spike PRCA Bronc Riding Classic Rodeo
Thursday, Aug. 27
10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.Home arts exhibit building open
11 a.m.4-H / FFA beef market show
6:45 p.m.Pre-rodeo at the arena
8 p.m.Golden Spike PRCA Rodeo
Friday, Aug. 28
8 a.m. Horse show
judged events at rodeo arena
10 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Home arts exhibit building open
10 a.m. Beef heifer show
2-5 p.m. Bucket calf show
6:45 p.m.Pre-rodeo performance
7:45 p.m.Parade of champions
8 p.m. Golden Spike PRCA Rodeo
Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night
Saturday, Aug. 29
10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.Home arts exhibit building open
10 a.m.Antique tractor parade
small outdoor arena
10:30 a.m.Antique tractor pull
small outdoor arena
6:45 p.m.Pre-rodeo performance
8 p.m.Golden Spike PRCA Rodeo
Aug. 31-Sept. 2 All entries/Awards released
Home Arts Building from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. And 4-8 p.m.
Chamber of commerce announces modified Peach Days activities
August 19, 2020 • Sean Hales • Staff Writer
While the Peach Days celebration the community looks forward to every year met its match in the form of a global pandemic, organizers have not given up completely, and recently announced several events appropriate in this era of masks and social distancing.
Taking place Sept. 8-12, Virtual Peach Days 2020 with the theme, “It’s the Pits,” will feature the following activities:
· Fruit display: It wouldn’t be Peach Days with the celebration’s longest-running tradition, which will be located near the Box Elder County Courthouse.
· Service week: The Box Elder Chamber of Commerce is partnering with United Way of Northern Utah to turn a negative into a positive for local charitable organizations. Residents are asked to take the time and/or money they would have spent at Peach Days and donate it to a non-profit. Organizers have set a goal of getting 20,000 dollars/hours.
· Goosechase: This week-long scavenger hunt and mission-completion contest will spotlight Peach Days’ heritage and traditions, as well as local businesses. Examples include: porch and business window decorating; post a favorite peach recipe; post pictures/stories of Peach Days past, including in old Peach Days shirts; and trivia contests.
·There will also be a Peach Queen essay contest in which those who would be eligible to participate in the pageant can submit an essay for a chance at winning one of six $200 scholarships. Eligibility criteria include: Living within Box Elder High School boundaries for at least six months prior to Sept. 10; enrolled as a junior or senior in Box Elder High School as of Sept. 10, 2020, or have graduated from high school with either a diploma or G.E.D.; 26 years old or younger as of Sept. 10, 2020; and never have been married. Contact the chamber of commerce for more information and or to sign up.
· Main Street businesses will host sidewalk sales and activities during the Not So Peachy Celebration on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12.
· The Box Elder High School cross country team is planning virtual 5k and 10k runs. The traditional fundraiser for the cross country team will be held Sept. 7-12, during which time runners can take to either course and post their time to Runner Card. There will be no prizes or awards this year, but shirts are available. Participation costs $10 without a shirt or $20 with a shirt. For more information or to register, visit www.runnercard.com and look under “road races” on Sept. 7-12.
There will be a limited number of Peach Days 2020 “It’s the Pits” shirts. Pre-orders are available on the chamber of commerce website, www.boxelderchamber.com.
The chamber’s Facebook page will have more details and announcements as the week of not-Peach Days approaches, or call the chamber at 435-723-3931 for more information.
Due to liability concerns, Brigham City and the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce ask that any groups or organizations seeking to sponsor or hold activities in conjunction with Peach Days, to refrain from using “Peach Days,” or “Brigham City Peach Days” to promote the event.
BC Truth in Taxation meeting sees very sparse attendance from residents
August 19, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Whether it was lack of interest, a lack of knowledge about the meeting, or a lack of ability to get online, the Aug. 13 public hearing on Brigham City’s proposed property tax increase saw very little public participation.
A total of six members of the public chose to participate in the meeting, with two residents delivering remarks through the Zoom virtual meeting application, another that spoke through a wireless microphone standing outside the council chamber, and three writing emails that were read into the record. The Brigham City Council Chamber has been closed to the public since mid-March due to precautions the city has taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with all public meetings being streamed over the internet to the city’s website and to YouTube.
As of Monday night, the truth in taxation meeting held in June had been viewed on YouTube 42 times in a city of nearly 20,000 people.
The proposed tax increase is relatively modest, with the city choosing to adopt the same tax rate as the previous year, rather than a large increase such as the 111% increase originally proposed in 2019. After a large showing of strong public opposition at a public hearing, last year’s tax increase was modified to approximately 69%, which was the first rate increase the city had seen since 2001.
This year’s increase, which will keep the same tax rate as 2019, will still result in a property tax increase since property values have risen. The city estimates that the taxes on a home valued at $246,000 will be $16.91 higher than if it had gone with the certified tax rate, from $226.90 to $243.81 annually, an increase of approximately 7.42%.
“The actual tax rate we’re looking at is the same percentage tax as last year,” said Councilmember Joe Olson. “The actual tax rate is not increasing, though the revenue should increase due to increased home values.”
“It’s exactly the same, that’s correct,” confirmed Brigham City Finance Director Derek Oyler.
The certified tax rate, which the city can just choose to adopt without a public hearing, adjusts every year to provide the city with the same revenue, not including revenue from any new growth or development, as the previous year. If property values go up, the certified tax rate itself goes down, and vice-versa. The formula doesn’t make allowances for inflation and other cost increases to run a city, meaning that over time a city loses purchasing power by adopting the certified tax rate.
“Last year when we spoke about raising taxes, we had several people get up and say how reckless it was to wait years and years to do this,” said Mayor Tyler Vincent. “We were asked last year that we not do that again, and that we incrementally raise a little bit as we go so that we don’t have to bite off so much. That was one of the things the citizens asked us to do last year in those meetings.”
The council did not vote on the budget or the tax increase, preferring to weigh the comments received before making a final decision. A vote has been scheduled for the meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20.
Discovery Elementary Principal Megan Bushnell walks through a classroom that has been set up for social distancing by the teacher. She said the school is planning to stagger student arrivals and dismissals and limit unnecessary exposure to aides, adults and kids in other classrooms.
Educators prepare classrooms for ‘distance learning’
Masks are mandated, but officials optimistic kids can follow social distancing protocols, reducing the need to constantly wear them
August 19, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Despite the mask-wearing mandate for every person in school buildings and buses this year, school district officials say it can be kept to a minimum if everyone will stay six feet apart.
District officials say teachers are setting up classrooms with less furniture to allow more space, and will provide opportunities to let students go outside or some secluded area of a classroom to get a break from their masks in cases where social distancing isn’t possible.
In fact, district officials told the Box Elder School District Board of Education Wednesday night that it’s quite possible some students may be able to sit in a class all day without ever wearing a mask.
Superintendent Steven Carlsen told the board that “a little silver lining in all this” is that schools normally have a 10 percent absentee rate each day and if you couple that with all the students staying home using online learning, it will allow for more social distancing.
He also said he’s expecting teachers to stay back six feet from students as much as possible so they can remove their masks for better communication. Speech and Dual Language Immersion teachers will use masks with clear plastic so students can see their mouths.
Volunteers with Acts Six Soup Kitchen in Brigham City work in the kitchen preparing pan after pan of tamale pie to serve that evening to families in need. This particular meal required 35 pounds of fried up ground beef.
August 12, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
One way to judge the effects of COVID-19 in Box Elder County is by the numbers.
On the rise since public health measures were enacted on March 16, meals served at the Acts VI Soup Kitchen went from approximately 100 a week to 193 as of Aug. 6, while some 3,600 initial unemployment insurance claims were filed in Box Elder County.
Those claims equate to an average of 171 initial claims filed per week during the pandemic as compared with 18 per week prior to it, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
After the unprecedented unemployment surge last April, Box Elder’s unemployment rate hit 5.1% in June. Other than the previous two months, the rate is higher than any time since mid-2013.
There are some positive indicators for the county despite seeing a 1.5% job loss in March. Unemployment has been dropping from its peak in April and construction permitting remains high, according to Workforce Services.
Death penalty sought in 2019 murder case
August 5, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Box Elder County Attorney’s Office has filed a notice in Brigham City’s 1st District Court advising of intent to seek the death penalty for a 2019 freeway shooting that left a Salt Lake City man dead and his passenger injured.
Jonathan Mendoza Llana, 46, of Los Angeles, is being charged with aggravated murder for the death of 50-year-old Dennis Gwyther, whom Llana allegedly shot on the night of May 22, 2019, while both men were driving on I-84 near Snowville. Gwyther, the driver, suffered fatal gunshot injuries, while his unidentified passenger took a bullet in the arm. Llana is charged with attempted aggravated murder in the case of the passenger.
The death penalty notice, filed on July 22, came within the 60-day time period allowed following Llana’s arraignment, which took place on June 8.
Fire fighting crews get a bit of a break...sort of
Box Elder County firefighters didn’t have to contend with any large fires this week, in spite of triple-digit temperatures.
As predicted by County Fire Marshal Corey Barton, the Messix Canyon fire on the Promontory peninsula was contained late Tuesday into Wednesday morning last week. Final figures for that fire put it at 780 acres, a bit smaller than the estimated 1,000 acres that was previously reported. According to Barton, costs to the county to fight the fire came it at just over $100,000.
Barton said that with the extremely hot temperatures the Bear River Valley has been experiencing, the vegetation is extremely dry and can be set off by a single spark.
“The grass is so dry we’re getting fires from trailer chains, flat tires, and obviously the discarded cigarettes. But we’ve been lucky this week that we’ve been able to get on them really fast to keep them from spreading,” he said.
Barton urged people to check their tow chains and tire pressures before heading out on the roadways.
Suspect in counterfeit case still at large after high-speed chase through Brigham City
August 5, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Brigham City Police Department is on the hunt for a suspect in a counterfeit money case, after concern for public safety caused an officer to withdraw from a high-speed pursuit through residential neighborhoods.
The incident began on Saturday night, when police received a call advising them that there was a man trying to pass $70 in counterfeit bills at the Smith’s fuel station. When an officer arrived, he was told the man had entered the main Smith’s store. While entering the store, the officer spotted a man fitting the description of the suspect out in the parking lot. Upon seeing the officer, the man quickly got into a Chevy Trailblazer and sped off out of the parking lot, southbound on 100 West.
“Believing the driver was in the commission of a felonious crime or had just committed a felonious crime, I got back into my vehicle and attempted to catch up to the vehicle,” wrote the officer in an incident report.
The report claimed that the suspect was traveling at a high rate of speed, estimated to be 80 miles per hour, and running stop signs. The officer attempted pursuit, but temporarily lost sight of the vehicle. He spotted it again when it was trying to leave the Deseret Industries parking lot toward 100 West. The officer pulled in front of the vehicle with his lights and siren on, and was getting out to make an arrest when the suspect rammed the police cruiser, causing damage to the push bar and bumper. The suspect then drove off again at a high rate of speed.
“He went back north bound on 100 West hitting speeds in excess of 80 mph, again running stop signs,” wrote the officer. “I continued after him for a couple blocks before I determined that the pursuit was too dangerous, and I advised dispatch that I was terminating the pursuit.”
The suspect has been identified as Nicholas Andrew Jensen, 34, and is believed to live in the Brigham City area. He is described as a white male, six feet one inch tall, 175 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. At the time of the pursuit on Saturday he was wearing long hair tied back in a ponytail, and had a brown mustache and goatee. The vehicle he was driving is a grey 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer, with Utah plates, V837WX. The vehicle has probable front end damage.
Jensen has multiple drug offenses on his record, and is also wanted for questioning in several other crimes. Anyone with information as to Jensen’s whereabouts is asked to call the Brigham City Police Department at (435) 734-6650, or Adult Probation and Parole at (435) 734-2066.
Box Elder School District will register students this year with options for both in-person and online learning.
All students planning on attending classes in Box Elder School District, either in-person or online, will need to register for classes beginning Tuesday, Aug. 4. Registration for all schools will be conducted online, and links to access registration information and materials will be available on every school’s website.
Every school handles students new to the district differently. Contact individual schools for information about registering those students who have not previously attended school in Box Elder County.
Online learning registration
Those students planning on participating in the district’s online learning options will need to complete a separate registration form, which is currently available. A Google form available on the district website, www.BESD.net, needs to be completed and submitted by Friday, Aug. 7. Parents registering their students for online learning will need to commit to a full trimester. Parents can reevaluate the situation at the end of each trimester and return their student to school if they choose.
ACYI registration information
As with all other schools in Box Elder School District, registration for in-person learning at Adele C. Young Intermediate School will open on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Visit www.acyi.besd.net for the registration link.
Students with completed registrations will have their schedules available on Monday, Aug. 17.
Fee waivers must be completed according to the district’s fee waiver procedure and mailed to the school at 830 S. Law Drive, Brigham City UT 84302. Allow up to two weeks for processing.
Seventh grade students must have a current immunization record on file at the school showing the required immunizations: Tdap; 2 Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); 3 Hepatitis B; 2 Varicella (Chickenpox, history of the disease is acceptable); 1 Meningococcal. Any student missing these shots will be sent home on the first day of school.
Parents of any new students in Box Elder School District who will be attending ACYI need to call 435-734-4940 to set a registration appointment.
Summer band will be held this year from Monday, Aug. 10 to Friday, Aug. 21. There is a $35 fee. For more information call J. Paul Ward at 435-787-4921
July 29, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Just like so many other issues today, the decision whether or not to enroll kids in school this fall, or keep them home using online curriculum, is creating dissonance in the community.
According to district officials, as of last Friday, a little more than 200 students registered for online learning, or about 3.3%. The deadline to register for online learning is Friday, Aug. 7.
Parents in Box Elder School District weighed in on the subject last week via the Box Elder News Journal’s Facebook page
Sheila Beck said she will be sending her kids to school with masks because at home “I don’t feel like they intake the information as well because they aren’t as focused. Then it becomes a chore with fights and both sides crying, instead of a learning experience.”
“I am not a fan of masks personally,” said Amanda Hymas-Kunzler, “but I will do whatever it takes to get our kids back to school. There is no substitute for face-to-face learning. I’m hoping everyone can see how much the district and teachers are trying to do their best to help.”
On the flip side, Tatianna Loveland wrote, “I am not comfortable with the way schools are being forced to do things and making kids wear masks. Kids need to be kids. I am choosing to keep my kids home ‘til things go back to normal.”
Tyler Hutchinson, a father of five, said, “We do not feel safe sending our kids back to school even with the stated changes, it just doesn’t feel like enough is being done to protect everyone, from teachers and other staff to our children. How do you get hundreds of kids to follow these rules all the time to prevent the spread of this virus?”
He did say, however, he is concerned his children will miss out on critical communication skills by not attending public school and that online curriculum may not be able to help the child who struggles with a concept or subject.
Non-traditional learning doesn’t have to be overwhelming; there are countless resources to help, say seasoned homeschooling parents like Anna Olsen of Brigham City.
She said, homeschooling or online resources is also great for giving parents the chance to teach their own values as opposed to mandated ethics that teachers are required to present.
Olsen homeschooled her 10-year-old daughter, Adalyn, last year and will do it again this year although her other two daughters, age 17 and 13, have opted to attend school in person.
Her advice to people doing it for the first time is, “Don’t overcomplicate things. Children are natural learners. You are your child’s best teacher and number one advocate. I’ve been talking to so many moms who are terrified they will mess up their kid. But the best thing they can do is to cuddle them, read to them, sing, cook, shop because everything can provide a learning opportunity.”
She said, of course, there are some sacrifices in time, resources and energy, but when real learning takes place in the home, “and you see the lights flick on in their eyes, it all becomes worth it.”
For parents who may work outside the home and must rely completely on online learning, some options include Utah Online, K12, or Utah Connections. Box Elder School District also is offering online learning but asks parents to commit to a full trimester.
An algae bloom on the southwest shoreline of Mantua Reservoir in 2017. Officials have identified harmful blooms at the reservoir this year, but tests for toxins have come back negative.
Mantua Reservoir under harmful algae bloom watch
While tests for toxins are negative, residents and visitors urged to be cautious and take precautions
July 29, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
State and local health officials have confirmed the presence of harmful algae blooms in Mantua Reservoir, but so far tests for the dangerous toxins that can be produced by the blooms have come back negative.
A report on social media from a woman that her dog died after being in Mantua Reservoir in mid-July caught the attention of state and local health agencies, but testing so far has not revealed harmful levels of toxins present in the water.
“My dog is dead, and I’m frustrated beyond belief,” wrote the woman, complaining about what she perceived as a lack of knowledge, and a lack of urgency, on the part of the Bear River Health Department. After a phone call to the agency revealed that they didn’t know whether the water had been tested, she urged people to stay out of Mantua Reservoir. “Please don’t wait for the signs to go up. Stay away, and keep your children and pets away too.”
Two major fires, multiple smaller ones keep crews busy
July 29, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Box Elder County firefighters have had their hands full as crews battled two major wildfires in the western desert, plus several smaller ones throughout the more populated areas in the last week.
According to Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton, nearly all of the fires have been human-caused, and were highly preventable.
“People just need to use some common sense and be safe,” Barton said, when asked what he’d like people to know about the current fire situation. “I saw a trailer the other day with his chains an inch above the ground, so every time they hit a bump the chains are going to hit and cast off sparks. People just need to remember it’s hot and dry out there. We’re under full fire restrictions in unincorporated Box Elder County right now, and those violating those restrictions not only can, but will be, charged.”
The Messix Fire, as it appeared from the air on July 27.
County Fair submission information released
July 22, 2020 • Loni Newby • Associate editor
A large part of the tradition of the Box Elder County Fair is the ability for residents to enter projects for competition and display during the fair. Without a formal Box Elder County Fair Book, the entry guideline overview is included below. Additional scheduling information is available on boxeldercounty.org/fair which will be updated.
Home Arts entries will be accepted in person, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays August 4-5, 11-12, and 18-19 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and 5 -7 p.m. There will be no baked or prepared food competition this year, canned food entries will be allowed. In lieu of judging the public will vote in person for their favorite entries, additional winners will be selected by directors. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded. The director is Cheryl Howe, who may be contacted with additional questions, 435-279-0043.
Fine Arts entries will be accepted and displayed online, only one entry per person. In lieu of judging the public will vote online for their favorites. Winning entries and slide shows of all entries will be displayed during the fair. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded. (Winning entries will require frames and hanging wire.)
Entries will be accepted online via email Aug. 9-15, details will be forthcoming. On Aug. 18-23 an online gallery and online voting will take place on Facebook, voting is open to the public. On Friday, Aug. 21 a Drive-in Art Show will take place at approximately 9 p.m. (or dusk) where the entries will be projected on the East side of the Home Arts building, which can be viewed from a distance. On Thursday, Aug. 24 the People’s Choice Winners will be announced on Facebook. Those winners will deliver art to Home Arts building on Tuesday, Aug 25 to the Home Arts Building from 10 a.m - 1 p.m. And 4 – 7 p.m. Marie Miller is the director of the Fine Arts Competition and questions may be directed to her, 435-279-5133.
Photography submissions will be accepted in person on Tuesday, Aug. 25 from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. And 4 -7 p.m. at the Home Arts Building. There is a maximum of two submissions per person, each in a different category, no frames allowed. Photos must be 8” X 10” and permanently attached to a thin mount board. In lieu of judging, County Commissioners and directors will select their favorites. Winners will receive ribbons and prizes will be awarded. Questions may be directed to director, Josie Hinkle, 435-458-3786.
There will be no Floriculture competition this year, it will return in 2021.
Entry information for 4-H competitions will be available on boxeldercounty.org/4-h-department.
The Home Arts Building will be open to the public from 10 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Aug. 26-29. Masks are requested inside the building.
Entries may be picked up along with any awards Aug. 31 – Sept. 2 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. and 4 – 8 p.m., no entries will be released on Saturday evening due to large crowds.
For more information please visit BoxElderCounty.org/fair for best results use a computer rather than a mobile device. General Fair Inquiries can be directed to the Fair Office 435-695-2551.
Mantua council votes to approve town-wide parking prohibition
July 22, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
The Mantua Town Council approved moving forward with changes to the town’s ordinances that will make it illegal for anyone except residents and their guests to park on alongside the town’s roads.
More than two months after the council discussed and took action to alleviate the problem of visitors parking on Main Street by prohibiting parking on the east side of the road, the situation has not only continued, but also grown which forced the council to consider expansions to parking prohibitions that include the west side of Main Street, and beyond.
Mantua Reservoir, and nearby adjacent land, are owned by Brigham City, including a wide swath abutting both the west side of the reservoir and Main Street. Part of that land, nearest the reservoir’s beach and boat dock, was paved to serve as a large parking lot. The remaining portion to the north remains unimproved, and at Mantua’s request, had large boulders placed to prevent people parking there, nearer to Town Hall.
Councilmember George Wouden suggested having Brigham City remove the boulders to give access to the unimproved area, but other members of the council pushed back against that idea.
According Councilmember Sandra Russell, visitors to the town—the number of which has grown significantly due to people seeking outdoor recreation opportunities during COVID-19— don’t use the available parking spaces in the lot. She related that on one “high impact” day, the parking lot was only half full, but around 50 cars were parked on Main Street.
“I think that people have plenty of places to park,” said Mayor Michael Johnson, adding later by way of example that if all the parking spots at Willard Bay are occupied, visitors have no other recourse but to go somewhere else. “We don’t have to provide parking for everyone all the time,” he said, and if all allowable parking is taken, “people should have the courtesy to go somewhere else to recreate.”
Masks, physical distancing, assigned bus seating part of new normal at schools as part of re-opening plan
July 22, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Some 143 people attended the virtual meeting Wednesday, of the Box Elder School District Board of Education to weigh in on the final plan that gained board approval for re-opening schools on Aug. 31.
Attendees submitted a long list of questions, which the board said would all be answered via its website at www.besd.net. The actual plan, “Return to Learn,” is also posted there, as is enrollment information for online learning.
The plan was thoroughly examined during marathon meetings of the board and district officials beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and ending at nearly 9 p.m.
The plan details a new normal for everyone involved in student learning, including requiring face masks, physical distancing, constant sanitizing, staggered lunch times, assigned bus seating, plexiglass guards, face shields, grab-and-go meals, entry/exit flow paths and quarantining when necessary.
Because of concern that mandatory mask wearing during hot days at the beginning of the school year, the board approved a minimum day schedule for the first two weeks of school.
“School day means a minimum of two hours per day per session in kindergarten and a minimum of four hours per day in grades one through twelve,” explained district Superintendent Steven Carlsen. Teachers would still work a full day and students would get credit for a full day.
Some 80% of the schools don’t have air conditioning, he said, “and when it’s 90 degrees outside, it’s 95 degrees inside. With masks, it just makes it worse.”
Students also will wear masks on the bus and sit in assigned seats by family, according to the plan. This will help with contact tracing if a student becomes sick.
While breakfast will be eaten in the classroom for elementary students, lunch times for both elementary and secondary schools will be staggered and should be eaten outside, weather permitting.
In the classrooms, the plan calls for minimal student movement and groupings, physical distancing, sanitizing routines and no sharing of supplies. Also, lockers will not be used because they tend to be congregation spaces. Instead, students are encouraged to use back packs.
Reasonable accommodation will be offered for special education students who are unable to wear masks where it is required for other students.
Carlsen suggested teachers and staff will need to be vigilant about spotting and stopping incidents of “mask shaming, which is a whole new level of bullying. We must teach them to be kind.”
Recess zones will be utilized in elementary schools with playground equipment sanitized regularly.
Both elementary and secondary schools will require students to follow traffic flow patterns on the right while practicing physical distancing.
Carlsen said release time options in individual schools are still under discussion, but could include releasing walkers first, then car riders and finally bus riders.
Assistant Superintendent Keith Mecham suggested that bathroom breaks, usually encouraged only between classes, may need to be allowed during the class period also to avoid congestion. All restrooms also will display signage on proper hand hygiene.
All large gatherings, including back-to-school nights and band and choir concerts may be held differently, according to the plan. There will be no school wide assemblies or after school clubs in elementary schools. Clubs can meet in secondary schools if physical distancing can be maintained.
Parents who opt to keep their students at home can register for online classes beginning Aug. 3, but need to understand that they must commit to this decision for a full trimester. Fees will be similar to those paid students attending school in person.
Elementary online students will have Canvas language arts, math, science and social emotional courses for a trimester, overseen by a teacher who will communicate with students regularly.
Both elementary and secondary online students will have a teacher who will communicate with them regularly with assessments scheduled and given in person, “just because of the honesty factor,” said Carlsen.
“Our hope is that we can work with your child and keep them in line with their peers who are attending in person,” he said, “so that if the desire arises, they can return to in-person and be right on par with their peers.”
The board also decided that Dual Language Immersion (DLI) classes will not be done online because it didn’t work during the soft closure when COVID-19 first hit at the end of school year.
“If parents want DLI classes they’re going to have to be in school to do it,” said Carlsen. “It was a tough decision but we felt that’s how we have to do it.”
Grab-and-go breakfast and lunches for online students will be available for pick up at each school and will be the same meals being served at the schools. “So, hot meals will still be sent home in proper packaging to keep them hot,” the superintendent said.
If a student has symptoms of an illness, that student and a portion of the classroom may have to be quarantined, said Carlsen. The teacher is responsible for providing homebound education for those students online or even the whole class, if necessary.
If a teacher gets sick, other teachers may have to help fill in, he said. “Teachers have to be nimble and cognizant of having lessons prepared on Canvas.”
School board President Karen Cronin explained that “if someone gets COVID, the school district will work with the health district and all classes will go online.”
She said there are two different kinds of online: one where the in-person teacher provides online class work for a single student or more who are sick, and a completely different specifically hired to teach students online for an entire trimester.
With all sporting events approved by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) as long as counties remain in the yellow or green phase, the district has decided to do temperature checks before each scrimmage and game and have athletes answer six questions about their overall health.
Getting spectators at indoor events to practice physical distancing and wear masks hopefully will not be a problem, he said.
In the meantime, every effort is being made to keep schools clean and sanitized starting with ionization wands provided to each school that allow custodians to rapidly kill germs of all kinds from door knobs, rails and desks. They were paid for in part by an $800,000 CARES Act Provider Relief Fund from the federal government.
Also, during the last five minutes of school or class, teachers will squirt some sanitizer on each desk and students will wipe them down so that the next student can come into a clean desk, Carlsen explained.
While hand sanitizers will be available all over the schools, handwashing will be encouraged because medical professionals have said handwashing is actually better because it cleans the hands all over instead of just the palms, which is what people often do, he said.
Many doctors also have said temperature checks “are not always a good indicator,” he said, but thermometers will nevertheless be at every school. “We’re not going to stand at the doorways in schools checking temperatures. It’s just not feasible.”
Parents are encouraged to keep their children home if they have a fever, cough, cold or flu like symptoms until symptoms have subsided. But COVID isolation rooms will be provided at each school until parents can pick up their child.
Parents are also encouraged to send their children to school with a mask and help them understand the changes they may see at school are designed to keep them safe.
In a plea to parents, Mecham said, “There’s a lot of smart people in the state and the nation working on this so I hope you’ll stick with us and give us a chance to work this all out.”
Cronin added, “Our number one priority is safety. One life lost is one too many. There’s going to have to be some sacrificing to mitigate this.”
The location of the Dennis Hill fire in Box Elder County.
Dennis Hill Fire burns 4,000 acres and counting
June 22, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A fire that started on Monday in western Box Elder County has grown to an estimated 4,000 acres as of Tuesday morning, and was reported as 20% contained.
The Dennis Hill Fire is located west/southwest of Park Valley and just east of Hwy 30 as it heads southward toward Nevada.
A tweet sent out by Utah Fire Info on Tuesday morning noted that the fire was being spread on Monday by 20 mile per hour winds, which are expected again on Tuesday. As of press time on Tuesday the fire is being fought by an estimated 18 engines from several local fire departments, as well as three aircraft, three bulldozers and a road grader.
Crews are focusing right now on building fire breaks around the blaze in order to get it contained. According to information releases on Monday, there were no structures or people in the area that were being threatened by the fire.
Box Elder County Commission
These are the most recent numbers as of Monday, July 6. Results are unofficial
Stan Summers 38.87% (4,737)
Kris Udy 33.68% (4,105)
Mitch Zundel 17.27% (2,105)
Alden Farr 10.17% (1,240)
Voter turnout: 71.17%
Crowds pack attractions at Forest Street and Main Street at a previous Peach Days celebration. Logistical challenges to keeping such large crowds safe during COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the celebration this year—the first in its 116-year history.
July 8, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Brigham City’s resilient Peach Days celebration—which has not been completely cancelled in 116 years, according to officials—succumbed to the threat of COVID-19 last week as the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce reluctantly announced it’s cancellation.
Monica Holdaway, executive director of the chamber, was quoted in a statement about the cancellation as saying, “While we are disheartened at the thought of a year without this traditional event, we feel that moving forward with the given uncertainty would be a risk to our community, businesses, volunteers, vendors and guests.”
Peach Days started in 1904 as a day off from the peach harvest.
The decision was made by the chamber’s board of directors after members consulted with city officials, the local health department and community groups.
Holding Peach Days was always a long shot with a side of hope, but when an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the Bear River Health District began occurring last month, it became the final nail in the coffin.
“We are obviously very sad,” Holdaway said through tears in an interview this week. “I put my heart and soul into Peach Days every year and it’s a big deal not to have it.”
She said in March she was telling some 230 vendors who had signed up she was hopeful the pandemic would be over by July, but it just didn’t happen and in fact, got worse.
Some have wondered why Lagoon can operate while Peach Days can’t, so Holdaway explained that Lagoon is considered a permanent facility and venue built for a specific purpose whereas Peach Days is not.
Corinne City will hold their annual fireworks on Friday, July 3, at dusk at the Corinne City Park. Social distancing is recommended.
Fireworks will be launched from a location that is yet to be announced on the Willard City website. The City Council has asked that residents watch the fireworks from their own residences to provide a safe environment and comply with COVID-19 social gathering advisories.
Brigham City will hold it’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display with modifications in an effort to comply with public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning at dark on July 4, fireworks will be fired off from Eagle Mountain Golf Course in order to prevent large gatherings at city parks. The golf course will be closed and off limits to the public for the show, and residents are encouraged to watch from their homes or other viewing locations where social distancing is possible.
To help limit the spread of COVID-19 that has recently accelerated in Utah, citizens are asked to avoid large gatherings and refrain from saving or reserving spots. Park restrooms will not be available for public use.
The city also asked that residents use personal fireworks at their homes, following prescribed rules for use and complying with current fire restrictions in the city.
No fireworks will be held, but a variety of activities will be taking place to celebrate Independence Day.
·Perry’s Got Talent voting will take place this week on Perry City’s social media, they have a presence on Facebook and Instagram.
·Uncle Sam & Miss Liberty will be drawn at random from all submissions and announced on Friday, July 3.
·Perry Patriotic Baby Contest will be drawn at random from all submissions and announced on Thursday, July 2.
·Community Awards were collected last month ans honorees will be announced on Thursday, July 2.
·Thursday, July 2, from 6-8 p.m. Perry City Highway Cruise will take place, this event is an opportunity for those with a cool car, motorcycle, patriotic decorated vehicle or those who just want to ride along for the nostalgia of cruising to participate. Honk, wave and play music for those around. Parking at the park is allowed, but please remain in vehicles for social distancing purposes.
·Friday, July 3, private parties are invited to put on their best firework displays while adhering to the fire safety guidelines in place. Neighborhood barbecues are encouraged with social distancing and groups no larger than 50.
·On Saturday, July 4 Find the Liberty Bell & Declaration of Independence located somewhere in Perry to get a prize. There will also be a shooting competition held at Three Mile Creek Gun Range, pre-registration is required for that event.
County asks to go green on COVID health guidelines
June 24, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Box Elder County has petitioned the Bear River Health Department and the state with a request that the county and its residents and businesses be able to operate under the “green” COVID-19 public health guidelines, the most permissive restrictions available during the pandemic.
“The way the procedure works is that any municipality, be it a city, a county, a town, they send a letter to the local health department,” said Commissioner Jeff Scott, who sits on the board of the Bear River Health Department. “They look at it, and they send their thoughts in accompanying our letter to the state. The state reviews it, and they can either deny our request, or they can grant it with conditions, whatever they choose to do.”
Scott shared that the commissioners have received numerous requests from local mayors and citizens to be allowed to move to green, as people want to get on with their lives.
“If you want to stay home, if you don’t feel comfortable going out, then stay home,” he continued. “But if others want to get back to normal, let’s do it. We’ll still encourage people to be smart. We don’t want this to turn into a super-spread zone.”
Commissioner Stan Summers commented that the biggest problem he saw was that there really were no guidelines as to what “green” was.
“We’ve been petitioned by multiple businesses, council members and mayors saying they would like us to petition to go to green, and then maybe see what that looks like, hopefully as soon as possible,” he said. “I’m sure you at the health department will figure that out,” he told Scott.
The commissioners stated that Box Elder County has seen only one COVID-related death, and that person wasn’t even in the county when he contracted the illness and died.
According to the latest report from the state on June 9, Box Elder County has diagnosed 59 cases of Covid-19 infections. Of those 59, 20 have recovered, but cases in the county, and the state, have been spiking lately, with 30 new cases diagnosed in Box Elder within the last week. Cache Valley, in the same health district, has seen an increase of 567 cases in that same timeframe, many of those attributed to an outbreak at a Hyrum meat packing plant.
According to Commissioner Scott, only 19 cases in Cache required hospitalization, and in Box Elder the number is only five, underlying the case to go for green.
The motion to send the petition was passed by the commission unanimously.
As of Monday, about 30% of registered Box Elder County voters who received a ballot to vote in Utah’s by-mail primary election had returned their ballots.
In some corners, there is concern that making postage required to return ballots through the mail might be seen as restrictive and limit voter turnout. According to information from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), only 11 of the 29 counties in Utah are providing prepaid return postage for mail-in ballots.
“That means hundreds of thousands of voters in the other 18 counties—including Box Elder County—are being told they need a stamp to return their ballot,” read a statement from the ACLU.
But no stamp is required to vote, according to both the ACLU and Box Elder County Clerk Marla Young. There are three secure drop boxes where voters can drop off their ballots (see list and locations below), and ballots sent through the mail will be delivered with or without postage applied.
“The Utah Director of Elections has confirmed multiple times that the postal service will deliver any unstamped ballots to the county clerk’s office and charge your county for the missing postage,” according to the ACLU. Young confirms the claim, writing in an email, “...yes, it is true that they [U.S. Postal Service will send us all ballots and we will pay the postage due if there is not a stamp on it.”
Ballots need to be placed in a drop boxes by, or postmarked, Tuesday, June 30, in order to be counted.
Ballot drop box locations:
Box Elder County Courthouse
1 S. Main Street, Brigham City
Box Elder County Fairgrounds
320 N. 1000 West, Tremonton
Perry City offices
3005 S. 1200 West, Perry
2020 Primary Election Changes
· All of Box Elder County is voting by mail.
· There will be NO regular polling locations.
· There will be NO early voting.
· There will be NO same day voter registration.
Primary Election day is Tuesday, June 30. Due to COVID-19, the Utah State Legislature passed HB3006 which makes the 2020 Primary Election entirely vote by mail.
There will be a limited drive-thru voting location at the Box Elder County Courthouse 1 S. Main Brigham City, Utah from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Photo identification will be required.
To vote, a person must be a U.S. citizen, resident of the State of Utah for over 30 days preceding election, 18 years of age by Nov. 3, 2020, and registered to vote in Box Elder County.
Bookmobile officials make case for service, new building
June 24, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Members of the Box Elder County Library Board appeared with a local Bookmobile employee at Wednesday’s meeting of the Box Elder County Commission, making their case for the county to construct a building to house the county’s two bookmobiles, while also defending the Bookmobile program, generally.
The question has become a campaign issue in this year’s race for County Commission Seat C, currently held by incumbent Stan Summers. Summers and candidate Mitch Zundel have expressed support for the program, while candidates Kris Udy and Alden Farr have questioned the need for and relevance of Bookmobile mobile library service in the internet age.
Bookmobile driver and librarian Brad Rhodes, who has worked with the program since June of 2000, began his presentation by saying plans for a storage building had been in the works for upwards of 17 years.
“As early as 2003 I’ve been personally planning and preparing, with the library board, for a building the Bookmobile could call its own,” said Rhodes. “A building that gave us sufficient room for our current book collection, and would even allow that collection to grow. A building that gave us protection for our Bookmobiles that kept our Bookmobiles from thieves, vandals, weather—especially water and frost damage—and accidents.”
According to Rhodes’ testimony at the meeting, the county’s Bookmobiles have had windows broken out, fuel siphoned out, and batteries stolen. He said that Bookmobiles parked near Willard Elementary have been hit by other county vehicles, have been hit by teacher’s cars, present a safety hazard for students, and have experienced numerous water leaks through the years. A building, he argued, would have solved most of these issues.
In 2019 the Box Elder County Capital Improvement Project Committee recommended $1.6 million in funding for a building that the library board had been saving up over several years for, and the county commission approved that recommendation.
Six different sites for the Bookmobile building have since been considered, with the latest being near the racetrack at the county fairgrounds. Issues of space and drainage at the fairgrounds recently led county officials to drop that idea, but now they and Rhodes were proposing the building be located at 120 North Country Club Drive in Tremonton, the site of the old airport hanger just west of the fairgrounds.
“This location is one mile from the freeway exit, it has a dedicated turn lane east and westbound, it has power, water and sewer in place, is nicely central to the county, and the county owns the property,” said Rhodes. “We come before you today to ask that the county proceed immediately with the library board’s planned, prepared for and budgeted building project.”
“I appreciate all the work, and the last 17 years of people that have budgeted for these guys to put the money away, to be able to do that,” said Summers. “I think what hit me the hardest was when Brad told me we were basically the only county that doesn’t have a facility to call their own.” Summers said he realizes it’s a “hot topic,” but that he wasn’t going to get into the politics of the situation. “I’m here to back you 100 percent,” Summers said.
Commissioner Jeff Hadfield stated that with the investment in the Bookmobiles already made, he believed there needed to be a building to protect them and help them last longer, while also providing a secure place for books. He added that he’d want to make sure all of the drainage and planning issues were anticipated and taken care of at the new location prior to construction beginning.
County building inspector Codey Illum said an engineering study is planned for the site to make sure any issues could be mitigated prior to beginning construction. He also said they would need to send the project out for a new bid due to the new location.
Commissioner Jeff Scott asked whether the Bookmobile service was in decline, and losing patrons.
Rhodes answered that even without budget increases or participation from elementary schools, the Bookmobile circulation has been steadily growing since 2016, and they were unable to keep up with current demand because they lacked the storage space for books.
“It just goes to show you that you can’t always believe what you hear,” said Scott. “Circulation is not down, and you guys are being fiscally responsible.”
Courtesy Follow the Flag w/ permission of family
Officer lost in training accident has local ties
Box Elder High School graduate and former resident of Perry, Utah, 1st Lt. Kenneth Gary “Kage” Allen was involved in the crash of an F-15C Eagle in the North Sea during a training exercise on June 15 and did not survive. He was a member of the 48th Fighter Wing, and identified by public affairs as the assistant chief of weapons and tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron, stationed at RAF in Lakenheath, Suffolk England.
Allen played on the BEHS soccer team and was a member of student council. He was an outstanding student academically and represented BEHS at Boys State in 2010. He went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Allen was a newlywed, marrying Hannah Hansen Allen on Feb. 20, 2020, before he reported to his duty station at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
He is the son of Mark and Debbie Allen, of Perry.
Due to the late-breaking nature of this story, the News Journal was not been able to make contact with the family by press time. Those who would like to share memories of Allen may do so by emailing here. See next week’s edition for a full story and tribute.
Cops corral ‘naked cowboy’ near Weber County after theft at Perry Maverik
June 17, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Customers and staff at the 1100 South Maverik in Perry saw more than they wanted to early on Thursday afternoon, as a middle-aged man wearing nothing but a cowboy hat entered the convenience store and tried to purchase some items.
According to Sgt. Brian Nelson of the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP), the 55-year-old man walked into the store, filled a cup with ice, grabbed a Moon Pie, and took the items to the checkout counter to pay.
“He then told the cashier that he forgot his wallet, grabbed the items and walked out of the store without paying,” said Nelson.
Police were called, and while Perry officers responded to the Maverik, UHP troopers located the man in a borrowed vehicle heading southbound on I-15, traveling at excessive speeds.
“The trooper that located him radared his speed at 96 miles per hour in the 75 zone,” continued Nelson. “When the trooper attempted to stop the subject, he slowed and then waved at the trooper several times, and continued for approximately one mile. He finally did stop near the Weber County line.”
The man was still wearing his cowboy hat and nothing else when he was pulled over. Troopers were able to quickly determine that the man was having some type of mental breakdown, going from very calm to angry and agitated, and then back to calm again within seconds.
“He also made statements which didn’t make sense, including that his father was Donald Trump,” Nelson said.
Medical personnel were called, and the man was transported to Ogden Regional Hospital to be evaluated. The owner of the vehicle was contacted, and retrieved the car.
“We were just lucky to be in the right place to locate the man after he left the store,” said Nelson.
‘A big guess’
School board approves budget that will change drastically after state deals with budget shortfall
June 17, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
The Box Elder School District Board of Education went through the motions last Wednesday to approve a 2020-2021 budget; a budget that is likely to look dramatically different by this time next year.
“May I emphasize...This is all a big guess,” said BESD Business Administrator Rodney Cook at last week’s board meeting.
“The state may turn this into a whole different budget in the next few weeks,” said board of education President Karen Cronin.
The state has asked all departments, and school districts through the Utah State School Board, to prepare budgets anticipating budget cuts of 2%, 5%, and 10%. Legislators are preparing for a potential budget shortfall of between $1.3 billion and $2 billion due to an economy slowed by efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19. Recently, economists officially declared the U.S. entered a recession.
According to Cook, the state education officials advised districts to prepare budgets that anticipate no increase in revenue, so the 2020-2021 budget approved by Box Elder’s board of education is the nearly same as the 2019-2020 revised budget, including growth due to increased enrollment. That budget ended with a total of $128,046,023 across all funds. The 2020-2021 budget came in a little lower, at $127,632,653, “because of interest and other expected decreases,” according to Cook.
There are two parts to the reasoning for passing what is essentially a “base budget,” to comply with state law. Much education funding is earmarked for specific budgets, and those funds cannot be intermingled. Relatedly, even though the district is required to pass a budget by a certain date, no one knows how much money will come from the state until the Legislature takes action.
“We have to cut according to what line items are cut by the state [board of education],” wrote Cook.
With the budget as approved at last week’s meeting, Cook is anticipating having to dip into existing fund balances to make ends meet. The general fund shows a shortage of $947,7979, which will be paid for out of the general fund’s balance from 2019-2020, which is estimated to be $1,603,336. The school lunch budget will also have to have a portion of next year’s cost covered out of an anticipated $406,751 fund balance.
“This is not common in either of these funds, but with a zero budget and projected increased costs, that is what I am expecting,” wrote Cook in an email response to follow-up questions.
Salaries and benefits across the district take up 86% of the total budget, and nearly 70% is spent on costs related to direct instruction of students.
According to numbers presented in the district’s budget document, $61,646,428 pays educators’ salaries and benefits, as well as equipment and supplies related to the direct education of students. Principals and other building administrators and support staff, and necessary equipment and supplies account for $5,287,642; and salaries, equipment and supplies in the district office come to $787,802.
Approval of the budget means a planned Truth in Taxation will not take place this year.
According to Cook, financial institutions, such as those from which the district might seek loans, like seeing taxing entities hold Truth in Taxation no less than every three years since it shows “sound financial principles” of making sure that revenues are keeping pace with costs. The district’s last Truth in Taxation was in 2017.
“I had been preparing the board for one this year,” Cook wrote, “but with the economy, I visited with Karen [Cronin] and she did not think it was a good idea this year. So I did not recommend it.”
Failed fugitive apprehension causes stir in BC neighborhood
June 10, 2020
A large law enforcement presence near a home in the Grandview area of Brigham City caused quite a stir in that neighborhood on Friday morning.
Multiple reports of police running about with guns drawn were received at the News Journal, but Brigham City police said it wasn’t their operation. Law enforcement sources confirmed that it was a joint operation between the U.S. Marshal Service and Utah Adult Probation and Parole, seeking to take a fugitive into custody.
As it is an ongoing case, no information was released regarding the fugitive’s identity or the events leading up to the raid. Sources did state that the fugitive was not where they believed he would be and was still being tracked.
34 acres south of Mantua rezoned for residential
June 10, 2020
More housing developments may be coming to the Mantua area after the County Commission approved a rezone request to designate 34.35 acres south of town as rural residential.
The new zoning designation changes the land from MU-160 (Multiple Use 160 acre) to RR-5 (Rural Residential 5-acre), which would allow for the construction of single-family homes on minimum five-acre lots located at approximately 1675 South Willard Peak Road.
According to Box Elder County Planner Scott Lyons, there was initially some question whether the land could be used for home construction due to the hilly terrain.
“The members of the planning commission went up and looked at it,” said Lyons. “One of the biggest concerns at the public hearing was whether the land was developable due to steep slopes.” After visiting the site and reviewing a conceptual layout proposed by the landowner’s surveyor, the members of the planning commission voted to recommend approval of the rezone request.
The county commissioners voted unanimously to accept that recommendation.
Child has close call on Willard Bay
June 10, 2020
A five-year-old girl gave her family quite a scare on Friday as she passed out in the waters of Willard Bay State Park after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.
According to Park Manager James Morgan, the child and some siblings were playing in the water behind the family’s boat on Friday morning while the boat was experiencing mechanical difficulties. Authorities believe that carbon monoxide from the boat’s exhaust gathered on the surface of the water, as it was a calm and windless morning.
When the family noticed she had lost consciousness, they pulled the young girl out of the water and tried to make for shore, but couldn’t because of the mechanical problems. The family flagged down a local fisherman in a small boat, who took the girl to shore while emergency services from Brigham City were called.
After a few minutes on shore the girl regained consciousness, and she was checked out by medical personnel. The girl was transported to Brigham City Community Hospital, where she was examined and released.
“You’ve really got to cut your engine when you have people in the water near your boat,” said Morgan. “An idling engine can put out a lot of carbon monoxide, and on a calm day it can collect on top of the water to dangerous levels.”
27-townhome development approved
June 10, 2020
Another corner of the former Bushnell Army Hospital/Intermountain Indian School will be turned to multi-family residential units, following a preliminary plat approval at Thursday’s Brigham City Council meeting.
Located south of 400 East and 860 South, the Langford Townhomes development will eventually feature 27 separate townhomes to be built in three phases. Phases one and two will feature renovation and reconstruction of existing buildings into 20 units, while the third phase will see all new construction for the final seven townhomes.
“This will be a nice improvement on that corner, on that bend,” said Councilmember DJ Bott, following a short presentation by City Planner Mark Bradley.
“Will those windows be golf-ball resistant?” asked Councilmember Tom Peterson, noting the proximity of the development to the 16th hole at Eagle Mountain Golf Course.
After a few more golf-related jokes, the council unanimously approved the preliminary plat for the development.
Brigham City decides against continuing with COVID utility deferrals
June 3, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Brigham City Council on Thursday voted to get tougher with delinquent utility payers, after finding that a program the city put in place during the April billing cycle to help those who might be impacted financially by the COVID-19 economic crisis wasn’t making much of a difference anyway.
“About 60 days ago the council voted to give the mayor the authority to not shut off utilities for nonpayment, and I believe that expires today or tomorrow,” said Derek Oyler, the city’s finance director. Oyler continued that since the COVID-19 economic crisis began in March, the city has had 21 residential customers who haven’t made a utility payment. “Of those 21 folks, 19 of them have been habitually late in paying their bills previous to what we’ve done here.”
BC to open swimming pool with revised rules
June 3, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Brigham City will open its community swimming pool on June 13, after the city council consented to policy changes to allow for limited occupancy and proper social distancing.
“A lot of people are talking about the concerns over COVID and what we’re doing,” said Kristy Wolford, the city’s community activities director. “We’re absolutely following the governor and his guidelines, we’re in contact with the Bear River Health Department, we’re talking to the national pool people, we’re keeping in touch on every avenue that we can that deals with pools and COVID.”
Maximum occupancy rates for the entire pool property is approximately 1,250 people at one time. During COVID, that will be reduced to 565.
Primary election key dates and information
June 9: Primary election ballots mailed to voters.
June 19: Voter registration must be completed. To vote in the Republican primary, a voter must be a registered Republican. Registered Democrats will recieve a Democratic ballot. Unafilliated voters will not recieve a ballot and will need to request one. Party affiliation changes need to be made prior to June 19. Same-day voter registration will not be accepted.
Mobile voting location on Election Day: Box Elder County Courthouse, 1 S. Main Street, Brigham City, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Photo identification required.
Ballot drop boxes: Box Elder County Courthouse, 1 S. Main Street, Brigham City, Utah; Box Elder County Fairgrounds, 320 N. 1000 West, Tremonton, Utah; and the Perry City Offices 3005 S. 1200 West, Perry, Utah.
County clerk explains pandemic-related changes to upcoming election
May 27, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Like everything else during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been made to the way the upcoming June 30th primary election will be conducted.
According to Box Elder County Clerk Marla Young, those changes, mandated during the recent special session of the Utah Legislature, will temporarily suspend all “in-person” voting, close all regular polling locations, and do away with early voting locations. The legislature gave counties an option to operate mobile voting, “like a drive-thru,” said Young, a program that Box Elder chose to adopt, along with six others out of 29 Utah counties.
“As the County Clerk, I felt it important to give options to our voters,” Young said. “There are always people who need assistance on Election Day.”
The county’s mobile voting location on Primary Election Day will be at the historic county courthouse, 1 S. Main Street, Brigham City, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Photo identification will be required.
Deadlines have also been changed for the primary. Voter registration must be completed by June 19, and there will be no same-day registrations allowed. Party affiliation changes must also be made by June 19. Rather than requiring ballots be postmarked prior to Election Day, those postmarked on Election Day will now be accepted.
Election results cannot be released prior to 10 p.m. on June 30, and the election canvass, where county officials count and certify results, may be extended to 21 days following Election Day, rather than the current 14.
Young stated that while many things did change, other things did not.
“We will still have accessible options for those with disabilities,” she said. “If a voter needs special methods of voting, our office will do what we can to accommodate them.” Anyone needing special accommodations should call (435) 734-3393 to make arrangements.
Since it is a primary election, all registered Democrats and Republicans will receive a ballot in the mail. Those registered as unaffiliated must request what type of ballot they would like to receive, and affiliate with the Republican party if they want to vote Republican. Those registered as other parties will not receive a ballot. Party affiliation changes need to be made prior to June 19.
Drop boxes will be available to securely submit completed ballots. There will be three outdoor drop box locations for this election: Box Elder County Courthouse, 1 S. Main Street, Brigham City, Utah; Box Elder County Fairgrounds, 320 N. 1000 West, Tremonton, Utah; and the Perry City Offices 3005 S. 1200 West, Perry, Utah.
Every ballot received will have the voter’s signature verified against the county’s voter registration system, and voters will be notified if their signature does not match. Ballots from voters who do not respond to letters or requests for verification will not be counted.
“The Clerk’s office works very hard to make sure all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballot,” Young said. “We take it seriously on the matters of privacy, efficiency, and voter outreach. We have policies and procedures in place that safeguard each election.”
This year’s primary is a busy one. The Democratic ballot has the U.S. House District 1 race. The Republican ballot includes races for U.S. House District 1, Utah State Governor, Utah State Attorney General, and Box Elder County Commission (see related story on page one).
Primary election ballots will be mailed June 9.
“Please contact the County Clerk’s office if you do not receive your ballot or if you need assistance. We are happy to help,” Young said.
Voter registration and party affiliation can be done online at www.vote.utah.gov. Additional election information can be found at the county’s election website, www.boxeldercounty.org/elections,
BC Library reopens
Box Elder County has moved to the yellow, or low risk, phase in the Utah’s Health Guidance System, which means that the Brigham City Library will reopen for limited hours on the following days and times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. To 8 p.m.; the library remains closed on Sundays and the last Friday of each month as well as on state and federal holidays.
Curbside service is still available for anyone with concerns about coming into a public space. Call the library at 435-723-5850 to set up an appointment and/or for placing materials on hold.
Staff will be available by phone on a limited basis, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays 10a.m. – 8 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Books and other library items due between the dates of 9 January 2020 - 18 May 2020 have had their due dates modified to Monday, June 15th, 2020. No late fees will be charged on books or other library items due during this closure period (16 March - 16 May 2020).
The library’s public Wi-Fi may be accessed on personal devices from inside the building during our modified library hours and outside of the building from 10 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Monday - Thursday and from 10 a.m. -5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. The online library is available at bcpl.lib.ut.us.
Brigham City Splash Pad open
The Splash Pad at John Adams Park, 600 E. 100 North, Brigham City, is now open for use. The splash pad will be open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Please adhere to State and Local Health Department Guidelines regarding social distancing. Questions may be referred to the Public Works Administrative Offices by dialing 435-734-6615.
The Mantua Town Council hopes to move parking for those visiting the reservior to the large, paved parking areas prepared for that purpose.
No (more) parking
Mantua Council votes to prohibit parking on street near reservior
May 13, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
After a full hour of wrangling, the Mantua Town Council Thursday voted to prohibit parking along the east side of Main Street, between the entrance to Mantua Reservoir and 600 North.
Parking on Main Street has long been a hot-button issue, especially for the 14 families living along the street where visitors to the lake often park despite a large parking lot nearby.
One of those homeowners, Kevin Cantrell, who was invited to speak at the meeting, expressed concerns about all the increased traffic along the reservoir, safety for residents because of strangers in their midst, wear and tear on the roads, and the compromised quality of life for people living along Main Street.
He suggested possibly reseeding the area along Main Street to create a buffer to parking there. Council members assured him that Brigham City is planning to do that.
Councilmember George Wouden said Brigham City, which built the reservoir in 1959 and owns much of the land around it, has created new parking in lots south of the beach for about 20 cars, plus openings from Main Street to get to the parking.
“It’s helped a lot,” Wouden said, adding that “Brigham also plans to put rocks along the parking spaces so that people aren’t parking willy nilly.” Also, the parking lots are so new many people may not even know about them yet.
May 13, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Golden Spike National Historic Park has a new permanent resident, and he weighs 3,000 pounds.
“Distant Thunder,” a full-size bronze statue of an American bison, was delivered to the park on a flatbed trailer last Wednesday, where it was finally positioned onto its permanent spot by crane.
The statue, designed by renowned Utah sculptor and artist Michael Coleman, was commissioned by Golden Spike Foundation member and philanthropist Naoma Tate, who donated it the Golden Spike National Historical Park.
“It was really Naoma’s vision about doing this, and it was Naoma who commissioned Michael Coleman, one of the most prominent living western artists, into creating Distant Thunder,” said Doug Foxley, chairman of the Golden Spike Foundation. “It is a great and generous gift from the Hal and Naoma Tate Foundation.”
Members of the Golden Spike Foundation and park rangers assist the crane operator’s crew in the final placement of “Distant Thunder,” the 3,000 lb bronze bison statue that was donated to the Golden Spike National Historic Park on Wednesday..
Loni Newby / Box Elder News Journal
Employees of Bear River Valley Hospital in Tremonton wave and shoot video and pictures as a formation of F-35s fly over head last Thursday. The event was scheduled by Hill Air Force Base to honor all Utahns doing their part during the COVID-19 pandemic, from frontline medical workers to regular citizens simply staying home as much as possible to help “flatten the curve.”
COVID-19 tests now being offered in BC
The Bear River Health Department, in partnership with the Utah Department of Health and Community Health Centers, Inc, is now offering COVID-19 tests in Brigham City.
Patients can stop by for a drive-thru test from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bear River Health Department office, located at 817 West 950 South in Brigham City. The testing will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
For more information call the health department at 435-792-6500.
BC looking for beautiful yards
Brigham City Public Works and the city’s Urban Beautification Committee are seeking nominations for Yard of the Month for June of 2020.
Nominations for June must be received no later than May 22, and may be submitted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 435-734-6615.
“Please help us recognize those who take time to beautify their yards and in turn beautify our community!” wrote the city on its social media page.
Brigham City opens some public facilities
The Brigham City mayor’s office announced that as of Friday, May 1, the city’s pickleball courts, tennis courts and disc golf course at John Adams Park will be open for public use, following updated public health guidelines from the state. Social distancing guidelines should be strictly adhered to when using these facilities.
All park boweries, park playgrounds, basketball courts and the skate park at Constitution Park remain closed to the public.
For more information call 435-734-6621.
Home rehabilitation grants available
The Brigham City Redevelopment Agency, in conjunction with the Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation is now offering grants for low-income households to help fix up their homes.
A total of $15,000 will be distributed to qualifying applicants, and can be used to replace substandard roofing, soffit, fascia, gutters, exterior doors, windows, exterior walls, siding, substandard wiring and fuse boxes, or to repair broken concrete or install driveways, or wheelchair ramps.
“Seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income families are encouraged to apply,” said the city in a news release.
Applications for the program can be found online at www.bcutah.org/community--economic-development-ced-department.htm.
For more information call Brigham City Community Development at 435-734-6604.
Financial crisis has cities scrambling to set next year’s budgets
May 6, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
As the financial crisis caused by efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic deepens, Utah cities and towns are trying to set their budgets for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, unsure of how much of a hit their balance sheets will end up taking before the crisis is over.
In Utah, municipal budgets go from July 1 through June 30 every year. By Utah law, those budgets must be set, approved and submitted to the state before June 22, unless a property tax increase is being considered, in which case the budget must be approved by Aug. 17. In a year of extreme economic uncertainty, the possibility of any city raising taxes rates is unlikely.
Normally, cities are fairly good at forecasting revenues will be, consisting primarily of property taxes, sales taxes, and federal/state grants and disbursements. But this spring has been anything but normal.
In order to enforce social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, entire industries have been shut down, retail outlets and restaurants have been closed, and tens of thousands of Utahns have been added to the unemployment rolls, at levels not seen since the great depression of 1929.
So how does a city create a budget in such an atmosphere? “Very carefully,” said several municipal officials around the county.
“What our philosophy in Brigham City is, right now, is that we’re trying to prepare for a best-case scenario while being ready for a worst-case scenario,” said Brigham City Administrator Jason Roberts. “That’s really what we’re trying to do with everything related to COVID-19.”
According to Roberts the city is currently preparing for a possible $300,000 loss in previously anticipated sales tax revenues, a figure arrived at through internal projections based on where the city’s sales taxes come from. Year to year, sales taxes account for approximately 20 to 30 percent of Brigham City’s annual budget.
“We just don’t know where we’re going to come in with any certainty,” Roberts continued. “In our budget process we are identifying expenditures that can be done later in the year that will cover a $300,000 shortfall, if we need to do that.” The city is hoping that the identified budget items, such as vehicle replacements, retiring personnel replacements and other costs, can simply be delayed until the revenue picture improves. Roberts said that some of the items may end up being cut completely if the crisis continues, however.
Adding to the budgeting uncertainty is a delay in state reporting of March sales tax numbers, which may provide some indication of how deeply the economy has been affected by the current crisis, which began on March 16. According to Eric Cropper with the Utah State Tax Commission, the March filing returns were due by the end of April, but several businesses across the state are late in filing, and those numbers are not yet available.
“March will be a good indicator, and April will be worse,” said Shanna Johnson, Perry City’s finance director.
Perry is currently looking at approximately $250,000 in impacts to sales tax revenue as that city’s “worst case scenario,” Johnson revealed to the city council in a recent budget meeting. That number is also based upon internal projections, using the 2007-2008 recession as a guideline.
“I hear so many things it’s hard to really know where to go,” Johnson told the council. “You hear that it’s going to bounce back quick, you hear it’s going to cause a full-on recession, then you hear things like it’s going to go away during the summer months and then we’ll be right back to this in the fall. So it’s really hard to know where we should pinpoint the numbers. I think that taking a safe approach and re-evaluating it might be the best thing for us to do.”
Council discussion with Johnson and Mayor Kevin Jeppsen supported that view, so Perry is currently creating a budget in line with their projected worst-case scenario, and will re-visit the budget and make amendments should the revenues end up coming in higher.
“We could re-visit the budget in September, and have a whole new budget that includes all of the [departmental] requests if it looks great. We could re-visit it in December if we start seeing the same thing. We can amend it as many times as we want, and add back as we see improvements,” said Johnson.
Perry is also looking into the possibility of refinancing its sewer bond, possibly lowering the rate or extending the term in order to save some money in the current economic situation.
Similar discussions are being held in every city and town in the county, state, and perhaps, the nation, right now, as local governments grapple with the current and ongoing effects of the pandemic.
‘Take coronavirus seriously’ says nurse working on front lines in New York City
May 6, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
As Utah eases some of the restrictions designed to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, a nurse from Mantua working in America’s largest hotspot for infections and deaths is urging people to remain vigilant.
Given the advance warning of the devastating nature of the virus from places like Washington state and New York City, and the decisive actions of state and local leaders, Utah has been able to flatten the curve and keep the rate and number of infections relatively low.
“It’s part of our upbringing to be prepared,” said Katie Flinders, a 50-year-old nurse from Mantua who has been working with COVID-19 patients in the hospital at New York University.
Between that and the differences in population density in between Utah and places like New York City, Utah is unlikely to see the same levels of “devastation,” but Flinders urges people to take the disease seriously and remain vigilant in adhering to hygiene and social distancing guidelines.
“It is much worse than the flu,” Flinders said, adding that anyone who says otherwise is “absolutely wrong.”
While some used the number of deaths attributed to seasonal flu as evidence that COVID-19 is not worse, Flinders said that COVID-19 just passed that mark after only four months.
As more is learned about the disease, there is some speculation that the death count might be higher; people who succumbed to the effects of the disease but were never tested, for one reason or another.
Flinders said young people have been suffering strokes due to the effects of COVID-19, and that health care professionals are seeing long-term impacts to major organs, particularly kidneys.
Mantua resident and registered nurse, Katie Flinders, enters data into a computer at New York University Hospital, where she is working to help ease the burden during that city’s COVID-19 crisis.
Cancelation of season due to COVID-19 hits high school seniors hard
Courtesy Amber Earnest
Box Elder High School lacrosse players Ellie Earnest and Brooklyn Smith pose for a photo as the sun sets on a camp the high school players held for area youth on Feb. 28. This was the first year lacrosse would have been played as an officially-sanctioned sport of the Utah High School Activities Association, until the season was canceled due to concernes about the COVID-19 pandemic
Editor’s note: The Box Elder News Journal will publish stories in upcoming editions highlighting senior members of Box Elder High School athletic teams. This week’s highlights for baseball is on page 6.
April 22, 2020 • Jeremy Jones • Staff Writer
The Utah High School Activities Association announced last Tuesday that all spring sports and activities, including state championships, were canceled to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement came on the heels of Utah Governor Gary Herbert making the decision to keep all Utah schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
The statement from the UHSAA did acknowledge the impact of the decision, saying, “The Board of Trustees… recognizes the overwhelming disappointment this decision is for the students and athletes, especially seniors.”
That statement has hit home across the state and is felt by not only students, but coaches, parents, and any supporters of those students across the board.
Jesse Roberts, head baseball coach at Box Elder High School, said he felt absolutely sickened when he heard the news that the season was officially over.
“We have a group chat going for our team and when I first heard the news, I couldn’t really respond for about 24 hours,” Roberts said. “I didn’t really know what to say for a while. I just felt sick to my stomach knowing what this means to our guys.”
Roberts said how deeply he felt for seniors who were having their last year taken away from them.
“As a coach, I hate senior day every year anyway because I don’t like saying good-bye to those kids,” Roberts said. “You get so attached over the years, so hearing the news that we’ve already had our last game and it’s over just multiplied that problem for me. Those kids have dedicated four years to our program, so this is a really big deal.”
Bees’ head softball coach Brian Merrill also felt sadness and frustration, especially for his group of seniors. “The seniors are losing a lot and I feel bad for them. They’ve all put in a ton of work over the years and it’s a real shame to not get to see that work completed at the high school level.”
Local health officals warn against developing a false sense of security after CDC guidance on masks
April 15, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
While a recommendation made earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the general use of masks when people go out in public, local health officials are concerned that people might gain a false sense of security from the use of masks, and forget or ignore other hygiene or social distancing guidelines.
“A mask is simply another tool to help reduce the spread,” wrote Mike Weibel, the emergency response coordinator with the Bear River Health Department in an email. “But we still have to be vigilant about all of the other precautions.”
Weibel said a brief overview about the novel coronavirus and how it is transmitted is essential to understand the purpose of wearing masks and their limitations.
The virus is spread through aerosolized droplets from the mouths and noses of infected persons when they “breathe, talk, cough, sneeze, etc.,” according to Weibel. Only certain specialized equipment—like the oft-discussed N-95 masks that are critical to protect medical personnel, but are in short supply—can help prevent a person from becoming infected from those aerosols. The N-95 masks filter out a minimum of 95% of “very small particles” 0.3 microns in size.
Another factor is proper fitting, so there are no gaps through which aerosols can bypass the barrier, and most available or homemade masks will be unable to accomplish that.
“N-95 masks are still in short supply, and they should be reserved for our healthcare providers,” Weibel wrote. Additionally the CDC recommends preserving medical-grade surgical masks and the N-95 for health care workers.
The benefit of masks in slowing the spread of COVID-19 is largely in preventing asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers from unknowingly infecting others.
“Many of the other masks available, including the homemade ones, likely won’t protect you from getting the virus. But, what they will do is reduce the chances of you spreading the disease to others,” Weibel wrote, and included an emphatic plea for people to not develop a false sense of security when wearing a mask.
“I have to emphasize, this is not a substitute for social distancing or any of the other forms of non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Weibel wrote. “It is still VERY IMPORTANT to wash your hands regularly and try to keep them away from your face, cover your cough, stay home when you are sick, and stay away from people as best you can. The 6-foot rule still applies!”
But following all the guidance might be easier said than done, especially when wearing a mask. Those familiar with wearing masks for an extended period of time know the temptation to constantly readjust the mask.
“It is possible to pick up particles of the virus from others onto your hands and move them to your mouth when you touch your face...its important to wash your hands regularly and try very hard to keep from touching your face even when you are wearing a mask,” Weibel wrote, adding that people should wash or sanitize hands before putting it on or removing it, and to take it off touching only the straps or elastic bands used to secure it.
Between the guidance to use masks, the weeks already spent under stay-at-home recommendations and other restrictions, and improving weather that might build peoples’ desire to be more active, Weibel said he is concerned that people might become complacent which could lead to a spike in the number of infections.
“It has been quite difficult the past several weeks with voluntary and non-voluntary restrictions,” Weibel wrote. “I understand that. I know this is affecting all of us. But while these measures are very necessary, they are only necessary for a few months. When I think about that, I remind myself that life changed considerably for our grandparents and great-grandparents during World War II. They made some tremendous sacrifices then. And those changes lasted four years. Today, we’re only looking at a few months.”
Weibel later clarified that when he wrote “a few months,” he wasn’t referencing a specific forecast for when social distancing and other restrictions will be lifted, but rather that he was “talking in generalities,’ and that “ Until there are new directives from the local, state or federal jurisdictions, I can only assume that we will be working on this for a little while more.”
Weibel said he has seen some “fantastic” things during the crisis, such as efforts to make and provide cloth masks, and he hopes that individual efforts in response to COVID-19lead to long-term benefits to pubic health.
“I do hope people build habits and continue to practice washing their hands regularly, covering their cough and staying home when they are sick because these simple steps help prevent the spread of many diseases all the time – not just during this COVID pandemic,” Weibel wrote.
To see the CDC’s guidance on masks, as well as a video of how to make one, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html.
2020 weekly average claims prior to March: 13
Week of March 15: 196
Week of March 22: 307
Week of March 29: 329
Unemployment claims up sharply in Box Elder
April 15, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Residents of Box Elder County filing for unemployment benefits have spiked dramatically since mid-March, due entirely to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of certain business operations that have accompanied the fight to contain the virus.
According to data provided by the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the county averaged 13 new unemployment claims per week heading into the pandemic in early March. During the week beginning March 15, that number rose to 196, and then to 307 the week beginning March 22. The week beginning March 29, which is the latest data released, 329 people filed for unemployment, a 25-fold increase in less than one month.
In February the unemployment rate in Box Elder County was a very healthy 2.5%, a full point lower than the national average of 3.5%. The unemployment rate for March has not yet been released, but state employment officials said it will be significantly higher.
“Saying the number will jump significantly would be an understatement during this pandemic,” said Brooke Coles, a public information specialist with DWS.
Some help is on the way, however. The DWS website states that Utah is one of the first states in the country to make a $600 federal stimulus program available.
“Claimants will see it included in their weekly benefit payments moving forward and retroactively for those that received a payment this week. Additionally, the application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance making benefits available for self-employed individuals and others who aren’t eligible for traditional unemployment benefits will be available at jobs.utah.gov beginning early next week. Claimants should expect 21-30 days for the processing of these applications,” reads the website.
Box Elder County Economic Development Director Mitch Zundel expressed guarded optimism that the county, and the country, would bounce back after quarantine restrictions are lifted, as long as they’re lifted soon.
“I do think that this is going to end, that the economy will bounce back, and we’re going to be just fine here shortly,” said Zundel. “Looking at the numbers of the people that have COVID-19, it seems like we’ve hit a plateau of sorts, we’ve had one new case in the last four days. The numbers seem to be showing that what we’re doing with the social distancing is working, so hopefully we can get back to somewhat of a normal life. If we do that I think the businesses will pick back up.” He tempered that optimism, however, with the knowledge that the pandemic response is a fluid situation, saying that if stay-at-home directives and business operation restrictions go on for several more weeks or months, all bets are off.
DWS has setup an information portal for individuals whose employment has been affected by Covid-19 at https://jobs.utah.gov/covid19/. Information and guidance on several different state and federal assistance programs can be found there.
Box Elder County cancels annual tax sale due to COVID
April 8, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Property owners who are five years delinquent in their property taxes are going to get one more year to catch up and prevent their property from being auctioned by the county, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Given the current environment with the COVID-19 pandemic, the tax sale for this year has been cancelled,” said Box Elder County Auditor Tom Kotter in an interview. “Those properties that were on the sale, unless brought current, will be on the sale in 2021. I just didn’t see a way for us to conduct the sale this year in a safe manner.”
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Box Elder County Commission, which for the first time was held electronically due to public health concerns and social distancing requirements, the decision was made to forgo the sale, although there was some confusion as to whose decision it was, and how that decision should be implemented.
“I do believe that, in light of this COVID-19, that Tom [Kotter] has suspended or postponed all the tax sales until next year,” said Commissioner Jeff Hadfield. “Is that correct?”
“I don’t know whether he has the ability to postpone or suspend it, but I do believe he has the ability to simply not put any of the delinquent properties on the tax sale list,” said Commissioner Jeff Scott, who then asked Box Elder County Attorney Steve Hadfield for clarification on the law.
“Basically the ordinance that we have gives him the ability to take anything off the list,” replied Attorney Hadfield. “The problem is that conflicts with state law. We are going against state law by doing that, but with the virus issues I think that there’s some legitimate reason not to go ahead with it.”
The question was also raised whether the commission even needed to vote on the matter, or if that decision was under the purview of the elected county auditor. Steve Hadfield replied that the law was unclear.
“I don’t think it hurts to make the motion,” the attorney said. “And he may appreciate that because then he can say he was directed not to.”
That seemed good enough for the commissioners.
“I don’t know if it makes any sense to go ahead with sale when people may be struggling,” said Commissioner Scott.
Commissioner Stan Summers made a motion to “support the auditor and not have the tax sale this year,” citing the problems being experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The motion was passed unanimously.
It has been Box Elder County policy to wait until a property has been delinquent on its taxes for five years before being seized and put up for sale, which is done by auction at the county courthouse. Proceeds from that sale are then used to pay back taxes and late fees owed on the property, with any remaining money above what is owed refunded back to the property owner.
County commission approves $200,000 in tourism grant funding
April 8, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
The Box Elder County Commission on Wednesday awarded $200,000 in Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) grants to various recipients in the county.
The grants are funded through two separate taxes, a 4.25% tax on hotel stays and a 1% tax on restaurant bills, and are intended for projects supporting or promoting tourism within the county. The advisory board each year looks through and ranks applications received for the grants, and then gives recommendations about which projects to fund from the total available.
County Tourism Director Joan Hammer reported to the commission that $200,000 was collected for the grants, and requests totaled $312,632. Hammer qualified requests by stating that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions on large gatherings, no event-based requests will be funded until it becomes clear that the events will be held.
“We’ll work with the individual organizations, we won’t just send out their grant checks right away,” she said.
By far, the big winner in this year’s selection was Brigham City Corporation, which was awarded $60,000 to help with expansion of its pickleball complex at Pioneer Park, as well as $5,500 for replacement banners on Main Street. The city is expanding the pickleball complex as part of its agreement to buy and host the Tournament of Champions, a professional national pickleball tournament that is considered an important stop on the tour to national championship events.
Willard Bay State Park was awarded $40,000 to help with its “Fantasy at the Bay” holiday-season light display, which has been growing in recent years, and has become a Christmas tradition for many northern Utah families.
The Town of Plymouth was awarded $25,000 to help pay for bleacher replacement at its town-owned rodeo grounds.
The Old Barn Community Theater in Collinston was awarded $16,960 for building upgrades, and the Town of Deweyville was awarded $10,867 for the construction of a sand volleyball court at the town park.
Other awardees were the Box Elder Junior Livestock show, which was awarded $10,000; Tremonton City, awarded $7,000 for a mural and public art; West Box Elder Soil Conservation District, awarded $6,043 for signage; Historic Downtown Brigham City, awarded $5,000 for art projects for Main Street; Idaho District 8 and 9 High School Rodeos, awarded $6,930 for events to be held at the county fairgrounds; Brigham City Fine Arts Council, awarded $2,700 for its Music in the City concert series; Corinne Historical Society, awarded $2,000 for its Centennial Train project; and the Wasatch Front Junior High Rodeo Club, awarded $2,000 to go toward rodeo events at the fairgrounds.
The commissioners approved the awardees as recommended on a unanimous vote.
Grant applications are typically open through the end of February each year.
County landfill temporarily closed to non-account holders
In an effort to eliminate person to person contact during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Box Elder County Commission has temporarily closed the Little Valley Landfill to all people who don’t have a billing account with the county.
“We’re working on having people be able to pay before they go,” said Commissioner Stan Summers at Wednesday’s commission meeting. “So right now it’s just (open for) those that have accounts, so there’s no interaction between people.”
Summers estimated it would be a “week or so” before a system is worked out to setup residential users with accounts.
“We are putting in something where people can pay online, and go up there and not have to handle money or things like that,” he said.
The landfill will be closed until April 20, unless the state or local health department orders an extension or lifts restrictions and social distancing recommendations early. The landfill will remain open for current account holders, such as municipal or commercial garbage services.
Those experiencing a hardship because of the closure are asked to call the landfill during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m. at 435-744-2275, where special arrangements may be made.
Brigham City Recreation raises select fees
The Brigham City Council, meeting electronically on Thursday evening, voted to follow the recommendations of the city’s recreation department and implement fee increases on select city activities.
“Really this is just housekeeping, being able to maintain the quality of programs, as some prices that are necessary to run the programs have risen over the years,” said Michael Barlow, Brigham City’s recreation supervisor. “I’ve tried to make reasonable and small adjustments that will also help us hit our budget goals.”
Included in the fee increases are youth basketball skill sessions going from $15 to $20, T-Ball from $22 to $25, Awesome Adventures from $80 to $85, men’s basketball from $395 per team to $425, men’s softball from $295 per team to $325, and co-rec softball from $295 per team to $325. A new addition is ponytail softball skills session for $20.
A complete list of city-sponsored recreational activities, along with their fees, can be found at www.bcutah.org/recreation.htm .
During council discussion on the issue, Councilmember Tom Peterson suggested that the city look into replacing some of its “dilapidated” sporting equipment.
Councilmember Joe Olson suggested that the city look into equipment manufacturers and retailers who might be willing to donate sporting equipment to the programs, something that Barlow said he and his staff were already looking into.
The fee increases were passed by the council in a unanimous vote.
BC changes ordinance to allow cannabis processing
The Brigham City Council approved a request by medical cannabis grower True North for a zoning amendment to allow for processing as well as cultivation in the MD (manufacturing distribution) zone where the company resides, along 1200 West.
According to Economic Development Director Paul Larsen, the company wasn’t able to apply for a processing permit when it applied for its cultivation permit last year, as that did not exist yet in state code, and city code had not yet been passed.
“True North applied to the city prior to us adopting the cannabis ordinance,” said Larsen. “The application was made under Utah code in effect at the time, and it specified cultivation, it didn’t say anything about processing, and there was really no discussion about processing until after the city had adopted our ordinance. In the ordinance that we adopted, production, which includes both cultivation and processing, would not be allowed in the MD zone.” The change in in the zoning ordinance would allow for processing solely at the True North site, not in the zone, generally.
Cannabis processing takes the raw plant material, and processes it into legal products such as THC oil or edibles. True North’s request would allow processing inside its secured, gated and fenced area, reducing the likelihood of theft or other security breaches as it wouldn’t have to transport product to a separate facility for processing.
After some discussion about future roadways in the area and how they would relate to the True North property, the council seemed satisfied, and passed the zone amendment unanimously.
True North will still need to have a development plan submitted and approved by the council prior to beginning cannabis processing on the property.
Staff at Eagle Mountain Golf Course check in guests through the snackbar window in order to accommodate social distancing recommendations.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course employee Teyen Hollingsworth disinfects a cart prior to it going out on the course. Disinfecting carts before and after they go out, as well as allowing just one rider per cart are changes made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 1, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Brigham City’s Eagle Mountain Golf Course is currently open for play during the novel coronavirus pandemic restrictions, with some changes to the way it operates.
Director of Golf Operations Chris Marx appeared before the Brigham City Council at the March 19 meeting, giving his regular annual report while updating city officials on the current situation.
“I wanted to share with you the things we are doing out there to try and protect our public,” said Marx. “There are 100 golf courses in our state, and I know of six that are shut down at this point due to the coronavirus. Many people, including myself, disagree with shutting down golf courses, because we believe it’s a place where we can actually keep our social distancing, where we can keep it so people aren’t cooped up sheltering in place, where they can have a release and an outlet.”
Golfers can now check in through the snack bar window, allowing employees and customers to keep their distance from each other. Eagle Mountain is also still offering golf cart rental to single riders, cleaning and disinfecting the carts before and after each use. Golf groups are currently limited to four people at a time, and staff is keeping up with the latest COVID-19 news, learning how to keep themselves and golfers safe.
Grocery stores respond to panic buying with rationing, special hours
March 25, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
While the Brigham City area’s three grocery stores, Walmart, Smith’s and Kent’s, have quickly become among the local heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, they suggest the more quickly panic buying stops the more quickly consistently stocked shelves will return.
“We’re still getting daily shipments that are larger than normal but the logistical system is still trying to catch up,” said Jon Fawson, operations director for Kent’s Market. “When people stop panic shopping, we’ll get caught up.”
In the meantime, Kent’s is open as always from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., weekdays and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays, but is now offering an exclusive shopping period for senior citizens and high-risk customers from 6 to 9 a.m. every day.
All customers are limited to two of any product to ensure fairness, he said, because trucks from Associated Warehouse aren’t delivering on a regular schedule anymore and “we can’t predict when they’ll come in or what products they’ll have.”
Kent’s CEO Dave Lloyd said he is grateful for the supportive attitude displayed by customers and even credited many of them with “picking up just one item and saying ‘I’m going to leave the other one for the next person.’”
He said he is equally grateful for Kent’s employees, many of whom have worked extra hours, coming in at 4 or 5 a.m. to meet shipments and then cleaning and stocking shelves.
“We’re still getting daily shipments that are larger than normal but the logistical system is still trying to catch up. When people stop panic shopping, we’ll get caught up.”
Nancy Browne/Box Elder News Journal
The line of senior citizens waiting to shop at the Brigham City Smith’s Monday morning extended nearly the length of the building’s front. Many were able to get a 12-pack of toilet paper, which was the first item on their grocery list that day.
New merchant group aims to liven up BC historic downtown
March 25, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Several merchants in downtown Brigham City have formed a new cooperative committee to help draw customers their way through coordinated promotions and activities.
Calling themselves “Brigham City Old Towne,” the group aims to do more and go further than the already existing Historic Downtown Brigham City, another downtown revitalization group to which many of them still belong.
“All the things that are happening there are good, and I appreciate them and I’ve been a part of them” said Michelle Whitley, owner of Monarch Tea House, regarding Historic Downtown Brigham City. “I started Brigham City Old Towne because there is more that we can do for our businesses that they just don’t have the time to do.”
The idea began last December, when Whitley got together with B&B Billiards owner Annette Jones and brought Santa Claus to downtown, a proposal that didn’t gain traction in the other group.
“We did it anyway, and it was a great success, a lot of fun,” said Whitley. “So we decided to go ahead and start another committee, not to replace Historic Downtown, but for merchants who want to do more.”
So far approximately 12 businesses are participating in Brigham City Old Towne, which meets monthly to plan for quarterly events. Currently they are putting together an activity tentatively called the “Main Street Hop” scheduled for the Saturday before Easter, planning for Easter-themed activities to be held at each participating merchant.
“It’s a true committee,” said Whitley. “Right now Tina from Main Street Haircutters is taking on the Main Street Hop project.”
The new group meets at the Hampton Inn on the first Monday of every month at 8:30 a.m, holding what Whitley calls a “brainstorming session” for around 90 minutes. She welcomes any downtown merchants who would like to participate and help plan activities.
“The spirit of our committee is fun, to make it fun to come to downtown,” said Whitley.
Brigham City Old Towne currently has a Facebook page that can be found by searching the group’s name, and is currently working on a website.
Anyone with questions or suggestions can contact Michelle Whitley through the Facebook page, or by simply dropping in to the Monarch Tea House.
Candidates officially declare for office
March 25, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Election 2020 passed another milestone this last week as candidates officially declared for local and state offices before the March 19 deadline.
Locally, four candidates have filed for County Commission Seat C, a seat which incumbent Commissioner Stan Summers ran for unopposed in 2016. Republicans Kris Udy, Mitch Zundel and Alden Farr have joined Summers this year in declaring candidacy for the seat.
Both Summers and Farr have already collected enough signatures to go directly to the June 30 primary ballot, with Zundel telling the News Journal that he has collected the required 520 signatures and just has to turn them in.
Udy is planning on winning her place on the primary ticket through the Box Elder County Republican Convention, which was originally scheduled for April 16 but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other local races, County Assessor Rodney Bennet, County Recorder Chad Montgomery, and County Treasurer Shaun Thornley are all running unopposed.
In the Box Elder school board races, Tiffani Summers is running unopposed for District 1, Connie Archibald running unopposed for District 2, and Bryan Smith is running unopposed for District 6. Incumbent Nancy Kennedy is being challenged by Todd Cordner for the District 5 seat.
Moving on to multi-county candidates, Republican incumbent Joel Ferry has filed for his seat from State House District 1. He is facing challenges from Amber Hardy from the Democratic party, and Sherry Phipps from the Constitution party.
Cancellations, Closures and
Reduced Community Services
Box Elder Food Pantry
All appointments are now done over the phone. The pantry doors are closed to the public. Pantry orders will be brought to customer’s vehicles by a pantry worker.
The pantry is also in need of monetary donations. People can donate online at the pantries website or mail in a check. www.boxelderfoodpantry.org.
Brigham City Community Hospital will not hold its Diabetes Class in March. Attendees should still plan on meeting in April, until further contact. Dianne Curtis, 435-734-4339.
Boys & Girls Club
The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Utah has suspended all child care and after school activities for the duration of the Box Elder School District Closure. Accommodations for food and at-home activities may be made by contacting the club through the group text feature available to member guardians.
Brigham City Corporation
Effective immediately Brigham City Senior Center, Brigham City Museum of Art & History, and the Brigham City Public Library have been closed to the public.
Meals on Wheels recipients will continue to receive home deliveries. Take-out meals will be delivered curbside at the east door of the Senior Center, 24 hour advance notice must be received to make those reservations by calling 435-226-1450. There is no entry into the building except Meals on Wheels Volunteers. The suggested donation for the meal for those 60+, their spouse, or disabled child: or for volunteers is $3 for those under the age of 60, the full cost of the meal is $7.40.
Library patrons may continue to use online services (eBooks, downloadable audio books and online tutuoring from their homes. The staff will be taking phone calls Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. To assist library patrons with question that they may have. The drop box for books has been locked, late fees will not be charged during the closure period and a grace period for at least one week after the library reopens will be in play, fines will not be charged.
The Academy Center events with over 50 people have been cancelled for the next two weeks. Events scheduled for the next eight weeks will be notified that their event may be canceled. Refunds will be offered to anyone with a scheduled event within the next eight weeks that would like to cancel.
Brigham City is following Governor Herbert’s and CDC guidelines, and will continue evaluating the situation over the next two weeks. Information and guidelines about COVID-19 is available on the state of Utah website at coronavirus.utah.gov/.
New Hope Crisis Center
New Hope Crisis Center is temporarily suspending some services, we will be providing crisis/essential services only.
Crisis/Essential Services include shelter, domestic violence services, and sexual assault services. If you are in crisis, please call 435-723-5600 before coming to the New Hope Crisis Service.
For the next two weeks all groups and class are suspended.
Until further notice, New Hope Crisis Center is closed to the general public.
Church Services with 100 or more attendees have been suspended until the direction is given by Governor Herbert to resume group gatherings. Many individual denominations are offering an online study program and or recorded services, see their respective websites or social media pages for details on participation.
March 18, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
From public education to business to elections to entertainment, the coronavirus pandemic has made dramatic changes to the way people in Box Elder County live their lives.
The pandemic, or more precisely the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, have touched every resident, causing far-reaching effects that are nearly impossible to quantify.
Probably the most noticeable change so far was the decision made by the Box Elder School District on Friday to close to students all public schools in the county.
There had been numerous reports of panic-buying—residents stockpiling and hoarding food and supplies from local grocery stores— shooting across social media. Grocery store shelves of staple foods, cereals, canned goods, bread, ground beef, eggs, butter, as well as baby supplies like diapers, formula and wipes, were emptied in short order, causing extreme anxiety among county residents who didn’t participate in the hoarding.
Attempts to speak with local grocery store managers regarding shortages, re-supply efforts, hours and rationing policies were referred to their individual corporate offices, with managers stating that they weren’t permitted by their companies to speak with the media. Calls and emails made to those corporate offices have yet to be returned.
The latest round of panic-buying followed a first round a week before, when hoarders went after and bought out all of the local supplies of toilet paper, hand-sanitizer and disinfectant solutions.
On the election front, both of the county’s major political parties, Republicans and Democrats, have cancelled their local caucus meetings originally scheduled for March 24, and are tentatively moving forward with delegates from the previous 2018 election.
“The state and county parties are working to conduct conventions virtually using the delegates currently in place,” wrote Jaime Munns, Box Elder Republican Party chairperson. “We will begin reaching out to precincts and discussing with precinct chairs the necessary precautions and instructions.”
In-person county and state nominating conventions have also been cancelled, with each party currently devising an online alternative for delegates to virtually vote for their party’s nominees. Questions should be referred to the individual political parties.
Multiple concerts, sporting events, trade shows and meetings have been cancelled or postponed, with entire seasons of professional and collegiate sports being cancelled.
Guidelines issued by the Utah Department of Health, in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), are currently asking people to avoid gatherings where there are 50 people or more present, in an effort to slow transmission of COVID-19. President Trump issued new guidelines Monday limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
People with mild symptoms of the disease, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, are being asked to self-quarantine at home during the duration of their symptoms.
“If you have symptoms that are mild, it can be managed at home, and you don’t need to access care,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, an epidemiologist with the state health department. “Just self-isolate at home. Not everyone is going to be able to get tested, and we want to ensure that those who need a high level of care are able to get it.”
If your symptoms are more severe, you are asked to call your healthcare provider to make arrangements for care prior to just going in to your doctor or a hospital.
At this point there is no cure for COVID-19, so the best course of action is prevention. People are being asked to thoroughly wash their hands often, to refrain from touching their face, to repeatedly disinfect surfaces that people touch, to avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands, and to maintain a six-foot space between you and other people who may be infected.
As of Monday, there were a total of 39 confirmed cases statewide out of 700 people tested. Of those, four were in Davis County, 18 in Salt Lake County, one in Washington County, 11 in Summit County, one in Tooele County, one in Utah County, one in Wasatch County, and two in Weber County. 10 of those confirmed to have the virus were from visitors to the state, and not residents.
Two more confirmed cases were added Tuesday morning, and Bear River Health Department announced its first confirmed case. No information regarding the case, including where in Box Elder, Rich or Cache County the case occurred was released by the health department.
Residents are encouraged to not panic, wash hands regularly and stay home if feeling ill.
Box Elder School District announces two-week ‘soft closures’ in effort to battle the spread of coronavirus
March 18, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
In keeping with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s announced soft closure of K-12 schools for two weeks to stop the spread of coronavirus, Box Elder School District Superintendent Steven Carlsen notified parents that schools will close March 16-27, followed by spring break March 30-April 3.
Carlsen explained that a soft closure means students will not attend school but facilities will remain open for staff. Beginning today, students started using online curriculum.
Students who don’t have internet connectivity at home were told to check out a Chromebook from their school to complete assignments or pick up hard copy curriculum or have it mailed to them.
Parents also were asked to take a survey that will tell the school district who has internet connectivity and the number of devices upon which students could receive an online curriculum.
Breakfast and lunch services will be provided—starting today—during the school closure, Carlsen explained. The meals come in grab-and-go bags and are served during the school’s regular scheduled times at each site.
There are no extracurricular practices and activities during the two-week closure and the district is “encouraging all parents to limit large group gatherings during this time,” Carlsen wrote to parents.
An education software called Canvas, is where teachers will install lesson plans for students to work on at home. Then the next day teachers will assess student work and install a new lesson plan. Instructions for parents on accessing curriculum for their students will come from the individual schools.
He said Box Elder is fortunate to have spring break fall at the end of the two-week soft closure to give even more time to wait out the coronavirus.
Scott Lyons tells school board Wednesday to build the new elementary school in a way that will better accommodate children with special needs. He was the only person to speak for or against the proposal in the public comment portion of the meeting.
March 18, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
The Box Elder School District Board of Education Wednesday approved the hiring of VCBO Architectural Firm to design a proposed $30 million elementary school to replace aging Foothill and Mountain View elementary schools.
After receiving eight bids, the school district considered five companies for the contract after a request for proposals was published through the state’s procurement agency.
A committee of 10 people consisting of school board members, district leaders, a representative from outside the district and chairpersons from the community councils of both affected schools reviewed the proposals and conducted interviews.
BESD Director of Facilities Corey Thompson said the committee unanimously chose VCBO, which has a long track record as architect for many schools in the state including Box Elder School District.
Business Administrator Rod Cook swears in new school board member Tiffani Summers Wednesday after outgoing board member Lynn Capener said his goodbyes and left the building. She will fill his spot until the end of his term, Dec. 31, 2020.
Cutline: Board Chair Karen Cronin thanks outgoing school board member Lynn Capener for his more than 11 years on the board after presenting him with a trophy in the form of an old time school bell.
STORY UPDATED Monday, March 16, 9:32 a.m.
Funeral service for a man killed in a workplace explosion last week will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, in Honeyville, but due to concerns about COVID-19, only immediate and extended family, and friends that could be considered family, attend the services.
According to an investigation of the explosion that occurred at the HyPerComp facility in Brigham City on Tuesday, March 10, Alex Stoddard, 33, was transferring oxygen between two high-pressure vessels at about 7 a.m. when one of the vessels ruptured, causing a chain recreation of explosions as other high-pressure vessels in the area were compromised. Stoddard was the only employee in the building at the time.
Stoddard earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Utah State University, with minors in business and technical sales. He was the executive director of Bridgerland Literacy from 2015-2016 in Logan Utah.
Information posted to a GoFundMe account described Stoddard as having “the purest heart of anyone” and who was always seeking ways to help others.
“Once you had the privilege of knowing Alex, he would tell you his life story and you had his listening ear and helping hand for life. He was kind, light hearted, and unafraid to be himself in every way,” the description read.
Stoddard leaves behind his wife, Laura, and three children: Darren, August and AnnaLee.
A GoFundMe account to help cover funeral costs and provide financial support for the family has been established. Donations made be made by visiting www.gofundme.com/f/alex-stoddard-family-support-fund.
Tips to stay healthy:
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Stay home when you are sick.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
· Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often, using either soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel for at least 20 seconds.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or known as COVID-19. Worldwide there have been approximately 92,000 cases diagnosed worldwide with 3,137 deaths confirmed in 68 countries, including six in the U.S. as of Tuesday.
March 4, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
While no cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported in Utah, inquiries to local hospitals and the Bear River Health Department have increased significantly since Friday, and residents in several western states have been emptying stores of certain items as the virus spreads rapidly throughout the country and internationally.
“There’s a high degree of concern from people living in the Bear River District,” said Keith Larsen, epidemiologist for the Bear River Health Department. “But there’s no real panic yet.”
He said local health professionals are taking the virus seriously because it’s only a matter of time before it spreads into Utah. And once that happens “we’ll do our best to keep it from spreading.”
The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or lung issues are the most at risk “and all of our prevention advice is going toward them,” said Larsen.
“We’re being told that a vaccine is about a year out and we’re not sure about the fatality rate because there’s not enough data yet,” he said, adding “all we can do is plan for the worst.”
A person’s biggest risk of getting the coronavirus is exposure to someone who is already infected with it or traveling to areas with reported outbreaks.
As of Tuesday, more than 92,000 cases have been diagnosed worldwide with 3,137 deaths confirmed in 68 countries. So far, there have been six deaths in the U.S., all in Washington state, with known cases nearing 100 confirmed in 13 states. By way of comparison, so far in the 2019-2020 flu season, 16,000 people have died and 280,000 people have been hospitalized according to early estimates from the Centers for Disease Control.
Countries with the highest number of cases include China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan, France and Germany, in that order, according to the (CDC). Some 44 confirmed cases in the U.S. were reported to be passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined at sea for about two weeks in Japan.
A run on medical face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, bottled water, and even toilet paper and food storage, has caused retail chains including Costco, Walmart, Target and Home Depot to run out of supplies, including the Brigham City Walmart, among others. One Facebook post showed a picture of a sign in a warehouse outlet saying that the store cannot sell bottled water by the pallet.
According to Larsen, however, the face masks aren’t much good since “they’re hard to wear, hot, messy” and people often wear them incorrectly, covering their mouths but not their noses.
He said people should refrain from purchasing face masks anyway so that supplies can go to health care workers in hospitals and medical offices where exposure is more likely.
The best way for people to protect themselves is to “wash their hands, wash their hands, wash their hands,” Larsen emphasized. “We’ve been beating that horse to death, but that’s what works.”
He said people should wash their hands using hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds and if they use hand sanitizers, the product should contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.
This year’s batch of flu shots, won’t guard against the Coronavirus, said Larsen, but they are still available and people are encouraged to get one to help shore up their overall health.
Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to Nathan Miller, public relations and communications manager at Brigham City Community Hospital.
He encouraged people who develop these symptoms to call the Bear River Health Department at 435-792-6500 or 877-229-8825 after hours to determine the best course of action before just showing up at the hospital where they could spread infection.
“Brigham City Community Hospital and our trained staff remain fully equipped to care for and treat those with an airborne illness while ensuring the safety of all our patients, colleagues and visitors,” Miller wrote in an email. “Additionally, we are reinforcing effective environmental cleaning and visitor policies that support infection control.”
These mailboxes at the Britney Greens Apartments in Brigham City were broken into sometime over the President’s Day weekend.
February 26, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Sometime over the President’s Day weekend, nearly 90 mailboxes at the Brittany Greens Apartments in Brigham City were broken into after a thief, or thieves, pried off metal backings.
According to investigators with the United States Postal Inspection Service, a total of six mailbox stands were hit at the complex located at 460 West Westland Drive, affecting 90 residents who now have to worry if their items were stolen or their identities compromised.
“On Saturday [Feb. 15] when the mail carrier delivered, the boxes were fine,” said Liz Davis, a senior postal inspection agent with 20 years of federal law enforcement experience. “On Sunday there was no mail delivery, as usual, and then Monday was a federal holiday, and no mail was delivered that day. So this happened somewhere between the Saturday morning mail delivery and Tuesday morning, when the mail carrier found that the boxes had been compromised.”
February 26, 2020
Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A Dominion Energy contractor laying natural gas lines in South Willard accidentally breached a main water line on the afternoon of Feb. 18, causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, and creating a general mess for residents and various companies.
Damage estimates are still being assessed, but officials from South Willard Water Company, the privately owned co-op that services the unincorporated community, say that some homeowners have experienced losses, though the details are not available yet.
“The Canyon Pipeline Construction Company was working on the Dominion Energy project here near our tanks, and one of their excavators hit one of our main lines,” said Natani Woods, with South Willard Water. “Based on our SCADA system, our estimate is we lost anywhere from 700,000 to 800,000 gallons of water.” The total storage capacity in the South Willard tanks is just over a million gallons.
The torrent of water coming down from the breach along 7615 South was significant enough that the Willard City Fire Department was called to to help crews from UDOT control traffic, as well as clean mud and debris from Hwy. 89 while shutting down sides of the highway in each direction for a short time.
Woods said that the water system in the township was shut off for approximately three hours, as crews from Canyon Pipeline and South Willard Water worked to turn off the water system and repair the breach.
“We’re still processing damages,” continued Woods. “I know that there was some damage to individual homes, but to the extent of what that damage was, I’m not sure.” She said that there were also damages to the road and to the yards along the road.
Woods continued that the damage assessment, and who is responsible for what, is still being determined.
“I can tell you that the water line, our line, was blue-staked correctly,” she said. “Beyond that, as far as who is legally responsible, I’m not sure how that will pan out, but we’re working through those steps right now.”
Don Porter, a media relations specialist with Dominion Energy, said there was some confusion as to which line was blue-staked, however.
“They found the pipeline that South Willard Water said was there,” said Porter, adding that the crew from Canyon Pipeline also found other pipes that weren’t on any map or diagram. “So they started digging, and sure enough, they hit another pipe that wasn’t, that nobody even knew was there, and that’s what drained that tank.”
Porter continued that an investigation will be taking place to determine what exactly happened, saying it would be a while before anything definitive is announced.
As it stands now, the breach in the water system has been fixed, and the South Willard Water System is refilling its tanks, while continuing to provide water to residents.
Water and mud flowed down a South Willard street after an estimated 750,000 gallons were lost when a water main was breached on the evening of Feb. 18.
Parents question wisdom of replacing two schools with one big school
Nancy Browne / Box Elder News Journal
Steve Hansen was among the crowd of citizens at the Wednesday school board meeting who voiced concern about a plan to build one large school to replace two aging elementary schools. He said the district needed to update their answers to public questions about the new school on its website.
Alex Hawley and Julie Johnson of United Way Northern Utah present a grant check for $10,000 to Penny Evans and Karrie Vincent of New Hope Crisis Center. The money will be used to create a specially-trained team to examine sexual assault victims at hospitals in Brigham City and Tremonton.
February 19, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Eight Box Elder County non-profits were selected out of 40 to receive grant money from a pool of $200,000 given out this year by United Way of Northern Utah.
During a Box Elder Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday, four of the non-profits received their checks. They included New Hope Crisis Center, Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah, Acts Six Soup Kitchen and Brigham City Fine Arts Center.
The other four, Box Elder Community Pantry, Brigham Suicide Prevention, Pregnancy Care Center of Brigham City and Box Elder School District Foundation, received theirs through the mail or personal delivery, according to Kaylie Astin, United Way marketing manager.
The other recipients were in Weber County, she said, but to be selected all of the 40 had to meet with the mission of United Way, which is to promote education, income and health in communities.
United Way is funded through a large number of partners, Astin said, but the biggest portion comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Kent’s Market owner Kent Beckstrom (right) and his wife, Jeri. After Kent Beckstrom passed away last Thursday, employees spoke about his unique management style that incorporated liberal doses of love and learning.
Courtesy Mel and Vauna Palmer
(from left) Kent and Jeri Beckstrom, Lloyd and Betty Beckstrom, Linda and Dennis Davis, and Vauna and Mel Palmer during an Associated Food Stores trip to Hawaii. Kent Beckstrom said he wanted employee Mel Palmer to accompany him on the trip, and that Beckstrom would pay for Palmer’s fare on the cruise. However, if Palmer wanted his wife on the trip, they would have to cover her fare. When Palmer went to present Beckstrom with the money to cover Vauna Palmer’s fare, Beckstrom said he had already paid for Vauna Palmer, and that he had just wanted to ensure they saved up to have spending money on the trip.
February 12, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
A significant member of the Northern Utah Business Community, and one with a special connection to Brigham City, died last week.
Kent Beckstrom, 83, the owner of Kent’s Market grocery stores, died on Thursday, Feb. 6, from conditions due to heart disease.
Beckstrom was the owner of five grocery stores and two hardware stores with locations stretching from Tremonton to Ephraim, Utah. Through the years he served on many industry boards and committees, including the board of directors for Associated Foods, including as chairman of the board; the executive committee of the Utah Food Industries Association and held leadership positions on many others. He was recognized in 2015 for his accomplishments in the industry with Associated Food Stores’ Donald P. Lloyd Spirit of Independents Award.
Beckstrom was born in Spanish Fork on Sept. 18, 1936, and graduated from Granite High School in 1954. As a youth he exhibited the drive and work ethic that defined his adult career; he worked multiple jobs growing up, sometimes at the same time.
He attended the University of Utah, but the most life-changing event came when Beckstrom started working at Albertson’s in 1956.
After 18 years with Albertson’s, Beckstrom decided he’d had enough of the rigid structure of larger grocery chains, and wanted to try his own skills and ideas. Soon, Beckstrom opened a store with a partner, and in 1975, the first Kent’s Food opened in Brigham City. From there, Beckstrom grew his business conservatively—a little at a time—with a mind to accumulating as little debt as possible and paying off any necessary debt as quickly as he could.
While Beckstrom was known as a savvy businessman—a quality that certainly contributed to his success at a time when small, independent grocers faced increasing pressure from large chains and the internet—those who knew him best say his love of people and his understanding that success is a team effort played just as big a role.
“He gave his employees the chance to learn and grow without fear of making mistakes,” wrote Jon Fawson, a more than 20-year employee at Kent’s. “He believed that empowering the employees to make decisions and take risks was the key to running a successful store. He simply asked that we never stop learning. He was an amazing teacher and loved passing on his knowledge to anyone who would listen.”
Mel Palmer, the longtime store director at the Brigham City Kent’s, and who worked for Beckstrom for more than 40 years, was almost positive Beckstrom had already made some of the mistakes he allowed his employees to make. Palmer said Beckstrom saw value in any idea, whether it resulted in success or failure.
“He never quit teaching. He was constantly teaching,” Palmer said.
Beckstrom was not a pushover, however, and “he expected results,” Palmer said. One method of getting those results was to include managers in the stores’ goal-setting process, rather than unilaterally determining the numbers he expected them to hit. Doing so, Palmer said, made the managers more invested in the outcome; made them feel like partners in a common cause.
“He was the smartest businessman I’ve ever been associated with,” Palmer said. “He got the very best out of people.” Palmer added later, “I never felt like an employee.”
“To [Kent Beckstrom] it was important that the employees loved their job and had fun coming to work each day. He brought an excitement and love of people to work every day. To Kent, the people who worked at the stores weren’t simply employees, they were family.”
Box Elder Sheriff’s Department settles civil rights lawsuit
February 12, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Box Elder County and the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department have agreed to pay a total of $10,200 to two Idaho State University football players who were wrongly arrested in December of 2016 on suspicion of robbing a Malad, Idaho, bank.
A Jan. 18 agreement reached with the players also states that the county will pay all “reasonable” attorney fees and court costs incurred in their civil rights action, which claimed that racial prejudice led to their false arrest, an illegal search and seizure of their car, and also that being arrested at gunpoint constituted the use of “excessive force.”
In December of 2018 McFarlin and Fox filed a lawsuit in Utah’s U.S. District Court, charging officers from the Utah Highway Patrol, Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office with violating their civil rights.
The Utah Highway Patrol agreed in December to pay the pair $21,000 to settle the case. An Idaho Falls attorney, Bron Rammell, told the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Tuesday that a settlement between McFarlin and Oneida County is also close to being finalized.
Inquiries to the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department and attorney’s office have been referred to Salt Lake attorney Blake Hamilton, who has been representing the county in the case.
Messages left on Hamilton’s voicemail, one last June and another on Monday, have not been returned. In court filings, Hamilton argued that Box Elder deputies acted in “good faith,” believing there was probable cause to detain McFarlin and Fox, and impound their vehicle.
The case against Box Elder County will be dismissed once the payments to the plaintiffs, their attorneys and the court are made. Final court costs and attorney fees have not yet been established.
Box Elder Search and Rescue veteran recognized for 50 years of service
After 50 years of rescuing lost, snow-bound travelers or participating in the morbid task of gathering up the dead bodies of accident victims, Bruce Andersen was recognized recently for his years of service to Box Elder Search and Rescue (S&R).
At its annual banquet in January, Search and Rescue presented 81-year-old Andersen with a plaque and a hearty “thank you” for his 50 years of service, 30 of which were spent as an officer and the rest as secretary.
Brigham City man arrested on suspicion of criminal homicide
February 12, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A Brigham City man is being held without bail in the Weber County Jail after admitting to being present when a North Ogden man was shot to death early on Saturday morning.
According to a press release issued by the North Ogden Police Department, Brian Christopher Jenson, 29, was arrested along with Ogden resident, Ryan Joseph Dash, 33, on suspicion of murdering 29-year-old Dalton Wood.
North Ogden police were dispatched to 432 E. 1700 North at 12:17 a.m. on Saturday to reports of shots being fired. When they arrived on scene they found Wood on the street with a gunshot wound to his chest and a shotgun wound to his lower extremities. Wood was taken to McKay Dee Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead.
Witness statements and a subsequent investigation quickly led police to suspect Jenson and Dash in the shooting. Dash, who had been released from prison less than a month prior, was located at an Ogden residence where police observed him loading belongings into a truck. Dash was contacted, and after initially attempting to flee from officers, he surrendered. In an interview with detectives from the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, Dash initially denied any knowledge of the murder, but later admitted that he shot Wood with a handgun and a shotgun.
“Dash explained that he had assaulted [Wood’s] brother previously, and that in response,
Wood had threatened him,” reads a probable cause statement filed by Detective Paul Rhoades. “They arranged to meet at a location in North Ogden. Dash stated that Wood was alone, and that Wood had his hands in his pocket. He admitted that Wood did not brandish a weapon. Dash stated that he then killed the [expletive.]”
The statement continued that Dash had insisted that he acted alone in shooting Wood, saying he threw the weapons, a shotgun and a handgun, off an overpass and into the mud in Box Elder County, and that he burned his clothing in a church parking lot.
Jenson was pulled over by Brigham City police officers later that morning outside his home. He was taken to the Brigham City police station, where he was interviewed by Weber/Morgan Homicide Task Force detectives.
After initially denying any knowledge of the incident, Jenson finally admitted that he had accompanied “three associates” as they went to the North Ogden to talk to Wood about comments he had directed toward them recently, after they had assaulted Wood’s brother.
“Jenson admitted that he was aware that his associates were armed with firearms, and he claimed that he, himself was armed with brass knuckles,” wrote Detective Rhoades. “Jenson denied firing the weapons himself, which contradicts other information received in the course of this investigation.” Rhoades then wrote that Jenson agreed to take detectives to where he and Dash had disposed of the guns.
Jenson was then moved to the Weber County Jail. Formal charges have not yet been filed against either man.
Bear River area homeless count hits all-time high
February 5, 2020 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Any notion that homelessness is not a problem in Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties took a hit last week according to the Bear River Area Local Homeless Coordinating Committee when an army of volunteers went out at 4 a.m., Jan. 23, and counted 59 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Traditionally, Point-in-Time (PIT) counts, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) each year, only yield homeless figures in the tri-county area ranging from one to five individuals.
But this year some 43 heads of households and 16 minors were counted as homeless by PIT volunteers. Four of them were in Box Elder County, with the remainder in Cache County, reported Jess Lucero, associate professor of social work at Utah State University and Bear River Area Local Homeless Coordinating Committee University Representative.
One reason for the higher count was the record number of volunteers (91) who found people sleeping in their cars, in storage units and sheds, finding warmth in 24-hour establishments or transit locations, or passing the nighttime hours walking through the streets, she said.
The volunteers, mostly from Utah State University and the Families Feeding Families organization, found that more than half (53%) were families, with 62 percent identifying as male. Some 42 percent were experiencing homelessness for the first time and half of the households had been homeless for three months or less.
Volunteer teams also handed out blankets and care items donated by the Hyrum Humanitarian Center, and other donations from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Einstein’s Bros Bagels and Smithfield Sinclair.
“Nearly one in five renter households in our area pay more than 50 percent of their monthly income for housing costs, making it extremely difficult to manage other financial obligations or weather even minor financial crises,” said Lucero.
“Homelessness is among us in the Bear River Region. These are our friends, neighbors, and acquaintances,” she said. “Not only does helping individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness make sense from a financial standpoint, it is just the right thing to do.”
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Election 2020 gets underway in Box Elder County
February 5, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
It’s been less than three months since the municipal election, but the 2020 general election is already well underway in Box Elder County with candidates expressing an intent to gather signatures ahead of the candidate filing dates the week of March 13.
Several local candidates, as well as state and federal office candidates, have filed their “intent to gather signatures” to be placed directly on the primary election ballot.
County Commissioner Stan Summers will face a challenge for his seat from Brigham City Councilman Alden Farr, who was just re-elected to his city council seat in November.
If both candidates can collect 520 signatures from registered Box Elder County voters by April 2, they’ll be able to skip the county’s Republican Convention on April 16 and go right to the primary, scheduled for June 30.
“Commissioner Summers ran unopposed last election, and I think people should have a choice when they vote,” said Farr, when asked why he chose to throw his hat in the ring. “Right now I’m working on gathering signatures hoping to get on the June primary ballot. I have been going door to door in the county to gather support and hear what is important to citizens.”
For his part, Summers welcomed Farr into the race, saying he felt it was a good thing to discuss varied points of view.
“Discussions are good for democracy, and I look forward to having those discussions with Councilmember Farr and with Box Elder residents,” said Summers.
Other local candidates who have already filed their intent to gather signatures include District 1 State House Representative Joel Ferry, who must collect 1,000 signatures by April 10 to skip the state’s Republican Convention on April 25 and get directly on the primary ballot; and Box Elder County Recorder Chad Montgomery, who needs 520 signatures by April 2 to skip the county GOP convention.
The “Super Tuesday” presidential primary in Utah is set for March 3. Appearing on that ballot will be Democrats Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Nathan Bloxham, Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg , Roque De La Fuente III, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.
The Republican ballot is slim, with much of the party’s focus on the reelection of President Donald Trump.
Courtesy Brigham City Police
One of nine cars in Brigham City that had it’s windows shot out between Friday and Saturday night.
Vandals shoot out nine car windows in two-day spree
January 29, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Brigham City Police Department is searching for an individual, or individuals, that shot out multiple car windows all across the city on the nights of Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24 and 25.
“We had eight different occurrences, with nine vehicles total,” said Lt. Anthony Ferderber. Police are not yet certain of what caused the damage, whether a pellet gun or some other type of gun, but are sure it was a weapon that launched some kind of projectile. “They shot out windows, and you could see where some of them hit the metal on the vehicles as well, leaving dents.”
Police are asking victims and homeowners to check their doorbell and security cameras for anything unusual during Friday and Saturday night, to see if the perpetrators may have been recorded on their vandalism spree.
“If anyone does have video, if they wouldn’t mind looking through it, and if they find anything suspicious, please let us know,” said Ferderber.
Tips should be called in to Detective Herbert at the Brigham City Police Department, 435-734-6650.
Autopsy will help determine cause of Logan woman’s death
January 29, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A Logan woman was pronounced dead at Tremonton’s Bear River Valley Hospital on Saturday afternoon, after witnesses saw her struggling in the pool at Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville.
According to the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, 51-year-old Christina Bailey had been spending the afternoon at the resort with a friend, and was swimming in the large pool when at approximately 3 p.m. teenagers in the pool noticed her struggling to swim and determined she was in trouble.
“They called for assistance, and she was removed from the pool,” wrote Chief Deputy Dale Ward in a press release. Visitors at the pool with “medical backgrounds” began performing CPR, and kept it up until Tremonton emergency medical services arrived and took over.
Box Elder deputies, along with Honeyville first responders also responded, as did LifeFlight. Bailey was taken to Bear River Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“Our investigation cannot confirm whether the possible cause of death was drowning, or possibly another medical issue,” continued Ward.
Bailey’s body has been transported to the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City, where an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
As the investigation is still active, no further information has yet been released.
January 22, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
A lifetime of example forged in the fire of experience resulted in the dedication of Susan Poulsen, the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Total Citizen of the Year, to helping the needy and less fortunate.
Poulsen is most recognized for her work with the Acts Six Soup Kitchen in Brigham City, of which she is the president and director, but her service spans many years, and is founded firmly in her faith, her mother’s example, and the many other women Poulsen respected and admired, and whom inspired her.
Poulsen’s mother, Rose Trollinger, and Sarah Yates founded the soup kitchen in 1986. Both ladies have since been honored in their own right for their community service, with Trollinger being named the Peach Days grand marshal in 2000, and Yates being tapped by the Brigham City Area Chamber of Commerce for Total citizen of the Year for 2016. The accomplishments and contributions to charitable relief efforts and other community endeavors by Trollinger and Yates are well-documented.
According Tracey Mellard, who has known Poulsen for eight years and who nominated Poulsen for the honor, “That’s the explanation of Susie Poulsen...the women around her who were generous and kind.”
From its founding, Poulsen volunteered at the soup kitchen whenever the congregation of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church was in charge of preparing the meal for the homeless or needy. Poulsen continued volunteering at the soup kitchen as it moved from location to location. The soup kitchen moved from the Presbyterian church’s Gillespie Hall to the Lincoln Center, and later to the Eagles lodge at 912 N. Main Street in Brigham City, where it has been operating for nearly 10 years.
See the Box Elder News Journal's print edition or online subscription for entire list of this year's awards
Susan Poulsen, director of the Acts Six Soup Kitchen was named the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce’s Total Citizen of the Year for 2019.
January 15, 2020 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
The clock for a required 120-day public comment period to gather input about a proposal to combine two Brigham City elementary schools into one building officially started ticking last week at the Box Elder school District Board of Education meeting.
And there was plenty of public present to provide input, with concerns ranging from student safety to the impact on social and academic success at a larger school.
Prior to residents taking the floor, district officials and board members outlined the many factors contributing to the proposal to combine Foothill and Mountain View elementary schools into a single building. The proposed site for a new two-story elementary building is the 8.5-acre district owned property where the Hervin Bunderson Center now sits, at approximately 200 North and 700 East. The proposal is the result of a year’s worth of discussion by the school board’s Long-Term Capital Outlay Committee about what to do about the two aging schools, which are filled to capacity.
Foothill and Mountain View are two of the three oldest buildings owned by the district, and are, according to district Superintendent Steven Carlsen, highly disfavored by facilities and maintenance staff “because they have so many issues.” Due to the age, the buildings are also more expensive to operate than newer facilities, and the construction and style of the building— such as Mountain View’s sky lights—creates unique maintenance issues.
Both schools also have to house many classes in portable buildings. Enrollment bubbles and issues resulting from the Chinese dual immersion program at Foothill can exacerbate the problems facing the already cramped schools.
Carlsen noted one particular situation at Mountain View to illustrate the point. Immediately prior to the start of the school year, there were 28 kids in each fifth grade class. However, nearly every new arrival to the school was a fifth grade student, and eventually each class had 37 students and few options for ameliorating the situation.
“Those bubbles really mess you up,” Carlsen said.
Additionally, limited space complicates the unique situation created by the dual immersion program, which limits the number of classrooms available for students not participating in the program. With only one class for non-dual immersion students, it can pose serious problems for educators, for example, if a situation arises where a student needs to be removed from a class for their benefit or the benefit of their classmates.
The new school would accommodate six or seven classes for each grade level, with estimated class sizes ranging from 22 to 25 students.
The two schools have a combined population of 851 students. The new building would be built to house 950-1,000 students, which would accommodate the student population of the area for years to come, according to a growth projection study conducted by the University of Utah.
According to Superintendent Carlsen, student populations in the district have adhered very closely to the study’s projections, as have school-specific enrollment numbers.
Based on the study’s projections, “we do not perceive growth in these two areas [boundary areas of Foothill and Mountain View elementary schools] beyond the 950-1000 mark,” Carlsen wrote in an email.
With the exception of the Kotter Canyon development on the north side of the city, and the “wildcard” Mantua, the area inside the proposed school’s boundaries is built-out, Carlsen said at the meeting. But residents living in neighborhoods surrounding Bunderson noted that the area is beginning to transition from an elderly population to younger families with children, which may have an unanticipated impact on student population growth projections.
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Weber School District/MHTN Architects
The Orchard Springs Elementary School in Weber County was given as an example of a two story school at the Box Elder School District Board of Education meeting last week. The district is proposing to build a similar building on the site of the Hervin Bunderson Center to replace Foothill and Mountain View elementary schools.
Tentative schedule for
Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m., at the Independent Life Skills Center located at 960 S. Main Street, Brigham City.
March 11, 6:30 p.m., at Foothill Elementary
April 8, (TBA): Public hearing on boundary change and school closures concerning Foothill and Mountain View elementary schools at the Independent Life Skills Center, 960 S. Main Street, Brigham City.
May 13, 6:30 p.m.: Board vote on school closures and boundary changes and approval to go forward with the building of a new school. Located at Young Intermediate School in Brigham City
Bishop not running for Utah Governor
Congressman Rob Bishop, who is retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives this year after serving eight terms, has decided not to throw his hat in the crowded ring for Utah governor.
Bishop announced last July he would not be seeking re-election to Congress, but left the door wide-open for a possible gubernatorial run.
“I am not going to run for Governor because I am bored or want a job,” said Bishop at the time, adding that there would have to be a reason for him to jump into that race.
Evidently he didn’t find that reason, announcing on Monday that he would not be seeking the office, and would instead be throwing his support behind the campaign of former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright.
Recreation department to move to restaurant
Sometime between March and June of this year, the Brigham City Community Activities and Services Department will depart its current home at the Hervin Bunderson Center to the vacant restaurant portion of the Brigham Academy Center.
In an email response to a request for information, Brigham City Administrator Jason Roberts wrote, “We have been informed by the school district that they are vetting plans to build a new school on the Bunderson site completed as early as 2022. Because of this, the City was notified that the school district would like us to be out of the building the summer of 2020.”
At the school board meeting, board President Karen Cronin said that the district had reached out in August to see if the city wanted to extend its lease on the building for a year, but had received no response from the city, and so the district moved forward with a proposal to build a new school on the Bunderson property.
Box Elder County Referendum Co-Coordinator Kris Udy shows Perry resident Diane Frampton where to sign the petition that would put the state’s recent tax restructuring package on the November ballot for voters to decide.
Summers says he will not run for Bishop’s Congressional seat
January 8, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Box Elder County Commissioner Stan Summers, who had been considering a run for the Congressional District seat being vacated by Rob Bishop, announced last week that he’s decided not to pursue that office.
Summers cited two reasons for his decision, one being the ability to take care of his family. The Summers’ have a gravely ill son with an extremely rare disease.
The other reason is his desire to continue serving as a Box Elder County Commissioner.
“If you know me, you know my family is always my first priority,” Summers wrote in a statement given to the News Journal. “As I have had time to truly consider a potential run for Utah’s 1st Congressional district, the saying ‘timing is everything’ rings true. I’m overwhelmingly appreciative of everyone who has expressed support for my potential candidacy. While I have not wanted to let anyone down who has encouraged this decision, I believe that this is not the time for my family and I to run for this seat.”
The statement continued with Summers announcing his intention to collect signatures to appear as a Republican candidate for his county commission seat, which he’s held since January of 2012.
“I look forward to continue working hard for the people of Box Elder. I absolutely love being your county commissioner. I am passionate about our community, and its crucial and exciting progress. I will be honored to run again as I continue to serve you in this capacity. Thank you again for your support and love. No one know what the future holds, but I know who holds our future,” Summers wrote.
Announced Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat include Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson, Morgan County Councilmember Tina Witt, and Davis County security consultant and trucker Cory Greene. One Democrat has announced her run for the seat, rehabilitation counselor Jamie Cheek from Ogden.
January 8, 2020 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A referendum effort to stall implementation of the state’s comprehensive tax reform package appears to be picking up steam.
If organizers from Utah 2019 Tax Referendum can obtain 116,000 signatures of registered voters proportionately across all Utah counties by Jan. 21, the controversial tax package would not go into effect. Instead, it would be placed on November’s ballot, allowing for voters to decide its fate. By Utah law, a referendum is binding, and cannot be amended by the legislature as propositions can.
“This tax bill was passed during a special session, without much conversation,” said Richard VanDyke, co-coordinator of the referendum effort in Box Elder County. “The added fuel taxes, and the reimplementation of the full sales tax on food are two issues that have gotten a lot of people really upset.”
The tax reform bill, SB 2001—which was passed by the legislature during a Dec. 12 special session—adds taxes to a select group of services such as installation services, pet boarding and grooming, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, sightseeing tours, vehicle parking and towing, dating referral services, identity theft protection, streaming media services like Hulu and Netflix, electronic security monitoring, and shipping and handling charges. Taxes will also be added to unprepared groceries and fuel, amounting to a 177% tax hike at grocery store checkout lines, and an estimated 10 cents more a gallon at the gas station. Taxes on diesel fuel are also going up.
To offset the grocery tax hike, the legislation offers a $125 per person state tax credit for a family of four earning up to $45,000 per year, and $50 for each additional family member. It also slashes the state income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.66%, while increasing the per-child tax exemption from $565 to $2,500. In the Utah Constitution, all of the revenue from income taxes are earmarked for schools, while sales taxes go into the general fund for the state to spend how it wishes. The tax reform package represents an effort to shift dollars away from school earmarks toward more discretionary spending.
Proponents of the tax reform package, including the Utah Taxpayers Association and all three of Box Elder County’s elected state representatives, say that the tax package as passed represents a net tax cut for Utah citizens.
“Those gathering signatures to repeal this bill are asking citizens to sign a petition that would actually undo one of the largest tax cuts in Utah’s history and hike taxes upwards of $200 million per year,” wrote Rusty Canon, vice-president of the Utah Taxpayers Association.
Referendum proponents, however, don’t see it that way. They argue that the referendum will not repeal anything. Rather, it will simply put SB 2001 on the ballot for the people to study and decide. They do, however, want people to vote no at that time.
“Raising the food sales tax 177% causes families to have less cash every time they buy groceries,” said Fred Cox, referendum organizer and former state legislator. “Also, low-income residents will not have the means to pay an accountant so the state can pay them back later. Pushing the gasoline state sales tax up by 35% means people will have less money every time they fill up their gas tank and the increase will drive up the price of goods. Reducing general funds to public and secondary schools will mean other taxes will go up to replace those. Likely, property and school district taxes will have to go up to make the difference.”
According to the latest figures from Utah 2019 Tax Referendum, Box Elder County has had 756 referendum signatures turned in out of 2,083 needed by Jan. 21. Many more signatures have been collected but not yet turned in, says the group.
The delivery of the first baby of 2020 at Brigham City Community Hospital required a long-distance digital connection to allow father, Steven Darias (pictured in cell phone) to witness the birth of his daughter, Ivy, who is pictured being held by mother, Liz, shortly after her birth on Jan 2. Steven Darias was unable to be present for the birth of his third daughter since he is deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.
December 31, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Due to multiple snowstorms during November and December, the Utah water year is looking good so far, with snowpack levels measuring above normal in nearly all mountain ranges that feed Utah’s river basins.
According to measurements taken Dec. 29 at SNOTEL (snowpack telemetry) sites in the Bear River drainage basin, which supply most of Box Elder County’s water, snowpack levels are currently averaging 107 percent of normal for this time of year. The Weber/Ogden basin sites, which provide Pineview secondary water for southern Box Elder County, are averaging slightly better at 112 percent of normal. The only area in the state currently below normal is the Raft River drainage basin in northwestern Box Elder County, which is measuring at a still respectable 93 percent of normal.
Water officials caution that the good start to the water year won’t mean much if storms don’t continue through the next several months. Just two weeks ago snowpack levels were 134 percent of normal in the Bear River basin, 144 percent in Weber/Ogden, and 341 percent in Southwestern Utah.
The 2018-19 water year for the state, which ended on Sept. 30, was well above normal, the tenth highest on record. That brought the central and southern areas of the state out of a severe drought from the 2017-18 water year, the driest on record since 1895, when record-keeping began.
While it’s too soon to tell what the remainder of this winter and coming spring have in store, reservoir levels across the state are in relatively good shape due to last spring’s wet weather.