Golf course report: director expects good year in 2019
Eagle Mountain Golf Course's Director of Operations Chris Marx delivers his annual report to the Brigham City Council aon March 7.
March 20, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Golf course report: director expects good year in 2019
Brigham City’s Eagle Mountain Golf Course is on course for a good year, according to a report offered to the Brigham City Council on March 7 by Golf Director Chris Marx.
The city-owned course is midway through an irrigation system replacement, which Marx reported as a very good thing, because “the old one is done for.”
“We had over 100 breaks again this year,” he said. “None of our sustain pumps are working at this point. Two of our major big pumps are pumps we borrowed” from a friend at an Idaho golf course. Marx reported that the irrigation system project is currently on time and under budget, and would be completed in time for the new season.
The city council approved $2.8 million dollars in the 2018-19 budget to replace the 30-year-old irrigation system, the maintenance costs for which have been the main difference between profitability and loss at the course for the past two years. Marx previously reported spending over $140,000 on repairs between September 2016 and December 2017.
Perry restaurant owner faces several sexual abuse charges
March 13, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
In a development that has shocked the local community, the owner of a popular restaurant in Perry has been accused of physically and sexually assaulting several women who worked for him.
Dustin Brent Rallison, 33, of Roy, is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges after an investigation by the Perry Police Department determined he assaulted multiple employees of the restaurant he co-owns in Perry, the Rusted Spoon.
Documents filed in Brigham City’s First District Court on March 8 charge Rallison with one 1st Degree felony count of object rape, three 2nd Degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse, three 3rd Degree felony counts of aggravated assault, and three Class A misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, stemming from incidents alleged to have taken place between April of 2017 and September of 2018.
Rallison is scheduled to make his initial appearance before Judge Brandon Maynard on April 22 at 9 a.m. in Brigham City. As of press time, he has not been taken into custody by police.
Mantua developer railed against at council meeting
March 13, 2019 • Sean Hales • Staff Writer
An appearance by developer Bill Jeppsen before the Mantua Town Council last Thursday that was highly contentious, ended with Jeppsen being turned away without approval for the 10th phase of his subdivision.
Motions were made to both table and approve plans for the phase, but both failed to advance, leaving Jeppsen to try his luck at the council’s next meeting. Jeppsen’s subdivision project has often been the focus of contention at planning and zoning and council meetings over the last several years.
The motion to deny Jeppsen’s plan was made on the basis of a claim from council member Nathan Blaine that a property line as drawn on the plans actually crossed over land that was rightfully his. Blaine recused himself from the discussion—and any eventual vote on the issue—as a council member in order to comment as an affected resident.
Tim Ballard of Operation Underground Railroad gives the keynote address at Friday’s annual Box Elder Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner.
Pedestrian death prompts BC mayor to seek traffic signals on North Main
March 6, 2019 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
“I expressed to UDOT that I had concerns about someone getting hurt, and now we’ve had someone killed,” Vincent said.
In previous meetings, Vincent said that UDOT officials demanded documentation supporting Vincent’s concerns. “Now we’ve got that documentation,” he said. “We’ve lost a life because they would not put a stop light. So now I’m not going to go easy on them. It’s past the time of turning a blind eye.”
At issue, according to Vincent, is not only traffic volume, but also speed, as drivers are coming from, or preparing to enter, the higher-speed limits on State Roads 13 and 38.
Contributing to the danger is all the foot traffic to and from convenience stores at 700 and 500 North. Also, due to vehicle traffic generated by nearby Foothill Elementary during drop-off and pick-up times, the area can be one of the busiest and most congested in town.
Vincent said his preference would be to have a traffic light installed at 600 North, which he says has become a main thoroughfare across Main Street due to its connection to Watery Lane. Additionally, Vincent would like a pedestrian signal and crosswalk at either 500 North or 700 North, if not both.
Vincent said that he assigned city staff last week to set a meeting with UDOT, but UDOT officials reached out to the city first.
“Why is it we sit back and wait for someone to die until we do something?” Vincent asked. “We should be proactive, not reactive.”
District 29 Representative and Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Lee Perry said he was not aware of any traffic studies of North Main Street completed by UDOT. The UHP has an office building just off Main Street on 700 North, and Perry added, “I think, based on personal observation, a traffic light may be merited in that area. I plan on working with the mayor’s office to ask UDOT to set up counters to help us get a better idea of what is happening.”
Scourge of child human trafficking takes center stage at annual event
March 6, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Box Elder County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser took a bit of a detour this year from the usual party politics, focusing instead on the scourge of child human trafficking, and on the work organizations in Utah and California are doing to fight it.
“We’re bringing awareness to something that affects all of us as human beings,” said Box Elder Republican Chair Jaime Munns. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, it crosses all political aisles. We wanted to put the politics aside for a little bit, and focus on issues that are important to all of us.”
Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) was founded in 2013 by Tim Ballard, who left his 10-year career as an agent for the Department of Homeland Security, where he worked on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to be able to operate outside of the borders of the United States. Ballard has assembled a team of security specialists who work with various national governments to infiltrate human trafficking organizations that operate within their countries, often posing as potential customers. The group gathers evidence and helps facilitate arrests, providing safe harbor and aftercare for the survivors of modern slavery, most of whom are children.
Ballard was the featured speaker at Friday’s event, held at the Brigham City Academy Center and attended by several hundred local Republicans, as well as fans of Ballard and his work from all over the region.
“Millions of children are enslaved, more people are enslaved today than at any time in the history of the world,” said Ballard. “That number is 30 million men, women and children who do not own their own bodies. They’re owned for sex, for labor, and for organ harvesting.”
To date, O.U.R. has rescued nearly 2,000 children in multiple operations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean.
More information on Operation Underground Railroad, including ways people can join the fight against human trafficking, can be found on the group’s website, https://ourrescue.org.
University study reveals no mass grave at Brigham City cemetery
March 6, 2019 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
One of the most fascinating local legends related to the transcontinental railroad suggests that Chinese railroad workers who died of cholera were buried in a mass grave in the northeast corner of the Brigham City Cemetery.
But that story can now be laid to rest after Molly Cannon, professional practice assistant professor at the Utah State University Department of Anthropology, was hired to use sophisticated technology to see what actually lies beneath the surface of the area in question.
On Feb. 21, Cannon reported that after using ground penetrating radar, which employs radio frequencies to provide images below the surface, and a magnetic radiometer, which looks at variations of magnetic signatures below the surface, no mass grave was detected.
Besides images of the cemetery’s irrigation system and some rocks and tree remnants, she did find one area with images “that have the potential to be some unmarked burial graves, but I can’t say that for sure,” Cannon said.
Mantua marijuana grower sentenced to 90 days in jail
February 27, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A man found with a marijuana growing operation at Little Valley Campground in Mantua has changed his plea to guilty and been sentenced to 90 days in jail.
As reported in the May 2, 2018 edition of the News Journal, Bradley Rick O’Grady, 36, was taken into custody by Box Elder Narcotics Strike Force agents on April 21, after a search warrant executed at 130 N. Main Street, lot 4, in Mantua found evidence of a drug growing operation, including a “large amount” of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, as well as methamphetamine and two illegally-owned firearms.
Brigham City considers buying rights to national pickleball tourney
February 27, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Brigham City is strongly considering buying the rights to a premier pickleball tournament the city has hosted for the last three years.
The Tournament of Champions, which began in Ogden in 2014 but moved to Brigham City in 2015, is one of the up-and-coming sport’s top three national tournaments. Started by millionaire philanthropist John Gullo and his American Dream Foundation, it is the “Wimbledon of Pickleball,” according to Gullo. Last year’s tournament attracted over 450 players, both amateur and pro, with the pro players splitting a purse of $55,000.
Box Elder County Commissioners Jeff Hadfield, Stan Summers and Jeff Scott pose in front of the new wrap for UTA busses that was unveiled at the state capitol last week. The wrap is the famous picture taken on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County when the transcontinental railroad was completed, and advertises a celebration scheduled for May 9-11 at Golden Spike National Historic Site for the event’s sesquicentennial.
Box Elder legislator files bill that would reduce wait times at railroad crossings
February 20, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Commuters being held up by trains on Forest Street in Brigham City may soon be getting some measure of relief, if a bill proposed by State Representative Joel Ferry becomes law.
Ferry, a Box Elder County Republican representing Utah’s 1st District, has introduced House Bill 205, which would limit railroad switching operations to no more than 15 minutes if they block a road that carries more than 5,000 vehicles a day, or if five or more cars have been stopped in either direction.
Photo courtesy Dean Anderson
Kirk Ward and Jerry Estep with Box Elder County Search and Rescue examine foot tracks discovered by the Box Elder County Horse Posse during a search operation in 2017. Box Elder County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dale Ward is overseeing from horseback. The two groups are preparing for a busy year as thousands are expected to visit Box Elder and explore its vast western desert during the 150th celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
Sheriff’s office coordinating with Feds to keep visitors safe as security plans steam ahead for Golden Spike’s 150th anniversary
February 6, 2019 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
As preparations and events are underway for Utah’s statewide celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad that united the nation at Promontory Point, local planners are making safety and security a top priority.
The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department, including its Search and Rescue Team and Sheriff’s Posse, is coordinating with federal agencies to ensure the safety of thousands of visitors expected at the Golden Spike Monument area, May 9-12.
That weekend is the main event of Utah’s Spike 150 initiative that is providing activities throughout 2019, designed to share the story of Utah’s contribution to the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869.
“We’re treating this the same way as the county fair,” said Chief Deputy Sheriff Dale Ward. “We’ll draw on every law enforcement deputy we have, but also will supplement our forces with corrections deputies so we’ll essentially be doubling up.”
He said his department would also “beef up patrols in the desert and along the Wasatch Front because of the influx of people who will be coming in.”
Because the event will be held at a national park, sheriff’s deputies will be accompanied by federal officers to help with safety and security.
Leslie Crossland, Golden Spike Monument supervisor, said she loves that it’s a multi-agency effort including the National Park Service Incident Management Team, sheriff’s office, roads department, search and rescue teams, ambulance crews and fire departments.
Mantua police chief fired after arrest for DUI
February 6, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Mantua Police Department chief arrested for driving his patrol vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance last Tuesday has been released from his position.
In a statement released Jan. 31, Mantua Mayor Mike Johnson, the town’s previous chief of police, confirmed that Zilles had been fired as a result of the arrest.
“Chief Zilles has been terminated. We wish to commend the Utah Highway Patrol for the professional manner in which they handled a difficult situation. It is always unpleasant when called upon to take such action against another police officer,” wrote Johnson, who wished Zilles well, and blamed prescription drugs for his current troubles.
“We also hope that Mr. Zilles can work his way thru this tough time and find a better path in the future. It appears that prescription meds have claimed another good person’s reputation. We are so thankful that no property was damaged and no people were injured in this unfortunate situation.”
Zilles had been the chief since July of 2017, having worked part-time for the Mantua Police Department prior to that.
According to a statement by Lt. Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol, Chief Shane Zilles, a former Cache County Sheriff’s deputy, was observed traveling at a high rate of speed and driving erratically by troopers patrolling Highway 91 near Wellsville in Cache County.
ISU football players file civil rights lawsuit against Idaho, Box Elder County officers
February 6, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A case has been filed in Utah’s U.S. District Court alleging that two Idaho State University football players had their civil rights violated by Utah and Idaho law enforcement.
The complaint was filed by Nehemiah McFarlane and Atoatasi Fox in December, accusing members of the Utah Highway Patrol, Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office and Oneida County Sheriff’s Office of false arrest, illegal search and seizure and use of excessive force based on race.
According to the documents filed by Orem attorney Daniel Steel, on Dec. 14, 2016, McFarlane and Fox were on their way home during Christmas break when McFarlane’s 2017 Chevrolet Camaro hit a patch of ice and slid off of I-15 somewhere between Malad, Idaho, and Portage, Utah. The car sustained some front end damage, but the pair decided to try and press on.
Before reaching the freeway exit at Portage, the men reported hearing a “scraping” noise coming from the car, and pulled over to call for a tow truck.
“Fox, who had been visiting with his mother and girlfriend while on the trip was in the middle of face-timing his girlfriend when they were suddenly and unceremoniously confronted by and ordered out of the Camaro at gunpoint by several police officers,” reads the complaint.
Brigham City mayor, musician combine forces to bring all-day music festival with big-name band
January 20, 2019 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
Two Brigham City men, each with a specific set of skills and influence, have been able to accomplish together what neither one could on his own, and this summer, Brigham City will host an all-day music festival headlined by 70s and 80s hitmakers, Little River Band.
For years, Brigham City’s “music man,” Bob Cosgrove, has wanted to organize an event with a big-name talent that brought the community together to share his passion for music.
Cosgrove, a self-taught musician as well as a music lover, is responsible for the Brigham City Christmas Music Spectacular that played at the Tabernacle for years; he brought former Kansas frontman, John Elefante, to perform at Relay for Life in 2014; and he spearheaded the recent dinner and concert series at the Academy Conference Center that hosted Utah’s Thurl Bailey. But he could never get legs underneath his most ambitious project: bringing a big-name act to Brigham City.
Similarly, Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent had wondered why Brigham City couldn’t host a concert with a marquee act like he had seen in other nearby cities, such as Styxx and Kansas at Layton’s amphitheater. Vincent said he floated the idea to some within city government, but, like Cosgrove, he met skepticism that stymied any progress because, in part, “it’s a big undertaking for us to do that,” Vincent said.
However, in discussions about the Academy Conference Center concerts with Cosgrove, Vincent and Drewes Floral owner, Kelly Driscoll, it came out that both Cosgrove and Vincent had the same idea.
“I started this, actually, several years ago, and it was just, ‘No, no, no, we can’t do it.’ But when Mayor Vincent opened up and said, ‘Gosh, I’m jealous, I wish there was a way we could do it,’ I sat down and showed him, look, we can do it. I’ve got the contacts, I just need the place, and the permits, and everybody to stop telling me ‘no.’”
Read more in print or online editions of the Box Elder News Journal
What you need to know
WHAT: Brigham City Summer Music Festival featuring Little River Band
WHEN: Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (free to attend); 5:30–9:30 p.m. opener and Little River Band (tickets required)
WHERE: Watkins Park, 705 W. Forest Street, Brigham City
TICKETS: $45 for adults; kids 14 and under, $15; available at Smithstix.com beginning Thursday, Feb. 7.
The Brigham City Summer Music Festival is an all-day event, but tickets will only be needed for the two final shows of the day, opening act A Toast to Bread and Little River Band.
“They can come for free and hang out all day,” organizer Bob Cosgrove said.
The music, food and activities will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. There will be food trucks and food booths on site.
The park will be cleared prior to the main acts and doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
Seating will not be provided for general admission, so bring blankets or chairs.
Celebrating an early graduation to ensure his mother, Sherri Madson, would be there, Tyson Madson poses with his parents and Box Elder High School administrators. Sherri Madson has been battling liver cancer and received news that treatments were not working as hoped, resulting in a drastically reduced life expectancy. Pictured are (L to R): Randy Rasmussen, assistant principal; Greg Madson, Tyson’s father; Tyson Madson; Sherri Madson, Tyson’s mother; Jamie Kent, principal; and Mark Taylor, assistant principal. See story on page 11.
Dying mother gets gift of seeing son graduate high school
January 23, 2019 • Hailey Hendricks • Staff Writer
Like many parents, Sherri Madson dreamed of the day she would see her youngest child, Tyson Madson, walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.
But that dream become urgent when she learned that the treatment for her stage four liver cancer wasn’t working, limiting her life expectancy.
“One thing she [Sherri] told me many years ago, was that she wanted to live long enough to see all her children graduate,” said Box Elder High School Principal Jamie Kent. “It was something on her bucket list.”
Thanks to Kent and school counselor Annette Whitaker’s inspiration, they, along with the help of many others, realized they could make this dream come true for Sherri, who has been a school teacher and counselor in Box Elder County for the last 24 years.
“It was so neat to see everyone step in and help,” Kent said. “We care about each one of our students and their families at Box Elder High, and we realized this would be an important event for Tyson.”
Kent said the graduation ceremony held Saturday, Jan. 19, was set up “just like it would be for graduation in the spring.” That included Tyson and two classmates, Jarom Olsen and Savanna Crane, wearing their cap and gown; a talk from school board member Connie Archibald; singing of the school song; and of course, Tyson receiving his diploma.
For Sherri, this is a moment she’ll never forget.
“It [the ceremony] was absolutely perfect,” Sherri said. “I finished my bucket list...The talks were perfect and they [school and district administrators] did a great job with making them pertinent and helping him [Tyson] feel comfortable.”
In a statement to the News Journal, Sherri included a personal message to Tyson.
“I love you son,” Sherri said. “Keep after your goals and dreams. Even when you are struggling; please choose kind; you’ll never regret it.”
County planning commission denies Blue Ox rezone
January 23, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
After a public hearing, a request to rezone 144.35 acres along Highway 89 in South Willard from 20,000-square-foot residential lots to a higher-density master planned community was recommended for denial by the Box Elder County Planning Commission at its Thursday meeting.
The planning commission is an advisory body which studies land use proposals and makes recommendations to the County Commission whether they should be approved or denied.
Blue Ox Development, operating as South Willard Development, was previously denied an application to rezone the land for gravel mining in March of 2017. Under the new proposal, the development group sought approval for the rezone for a housing development, but making the area in the foothills of South Willard suitable for such a purpose would only come after 15 years of mining, according to documents submitted to the county.
“The request basically is to create their own land use code for that 145 acres,” said County Planner Scott Lyons, explaining the proposal to the commission. “The proposed zones and uses by the applicant would include a mining quarry sand and gravel excavation zone, and this would be basically a 15-year period of excavation, proposed to bring the land, to level it out for future development.”
Lyons also placed into the public record 39 letters he had received from area residents, with 37 opposing the rezone, one supporting it, and one supporting the development but opposing any gravel extraction.
County commissioners hold informal meeting with municipal, community leaders to discuss issues
January 23, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The three-member Box Elder County Commission gathered with various county officials and municipal leaders at JC’s Diner in Elwood to discuss local issues.
In attendance at the meeting, hosted by JC’s Diner owner Jim Abel, were commissioners Jeff Scott, Jeff Hadfied and Stan Summers; County Clerk Marla Young; County Planner Scott Lyons; Sheriff Kevin Potter and Chief Deputy Dale Ward; Fielding Mayor Chuck Earl; Mantua Mayor Mike Johnson; Tremonton City Manager Shawn Warnke; Dean Anderson of Tremonton; Honeyville Mayor Paul Orme; and Portage Mayor Nick Tree.
“Things are going well,” began Commission Chair Jeff Scott. “As we visit with folks from around the state, and our counterparts around the country, I wouldn’t trade the issues we have here in the county for anything that they have elsewhere.”
Scott continued that the county isn’t immune to problems, but said that those problems are less severe than in other places because people and officials in Box Elder County work together to address them.
“For the most part we all work really well together,” said Scott. “That doesn’t mean we always agree, and that’s fine, we shouldn’t have to, but we still work together and come to a consensus, get things done and help each other out.”
The hazy days of winter
Fog blanketed the area last Friday, as seen in this image taken from the crosswalk on 800 West and 400 South, Brigham City. It temporarily lifted during the late morning only to return again in the afternoon. The forecast calls for storms today, Wednesday, Jan. 16, through Friday, with highs hovering around the mid-30s. Mountain snow is expected to be heavy at times on Friday.
Brigham City’s first female council member dies at 92
January 16, 2019
Beth Gurrister, Brigham City’s first female city council member, died on Friday, Jan. 11 at the age of 92.
Gurrister was elected to the council in 1977 and served three terms.
During her tenure in office, former Brigham City Mayor Lou Ann Christensen worked with Gurrister and was very impressed with the interest and energy Gurrister had in bettering the social situations in the city and county. “Beth is an amazing person, a remarkable jewel.” Christensen said in a 2017 story about Gurrister. “It was very impressive how Beth worked to improve housing, family services, and economic development in this area.”
If that had been Gurrister’s only accomplishment, it would be notable enough. But the woman, described as a “5-foot-2 bundle of energy” in her obituary, compiled an impressive resume in Box Elder County and beyond thanks to passionate devotion and committed service to the causes and ideals she held dear.
WHAT: Box Elder Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet
WHEN: Friday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Box Elder County Fairgrounds’ Fine Arts building, 320 North 1000 West, Tremonton
TICKETS: Cost $30 per ticket or $300 per table (includes eight seats and other benefits). Please RSVP by Jan. 11 to 435-723-3931, or by email to email@example.com.
Chamber bestows posthumous honor on BC law enforcement officer
A beloved member of the Box Elder County law-enforcement community will receive a posthumous honor as Total Citizen of the Year when the Box Elder Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual awards banquet on Friday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds’ Fine Arts building.
Former Brigham City Assistant Chief of Police Dennis B. Vincent died in November 2018 due to complications from a stroke and aneurysm.
In addition to the Total Citizen of the Year, other honors will be awarded. Following are profiles of those who will receive awards.
Willard murder trial set to begin in April
After multiple motions to reschedule a preliminary hearing that went on for months, and finally an agreement to waive that hearing altogether, a five-day jury trial has been set for April 2019 for accused murderer Chay Lance Blair.
Blair, 26, faces a first-degree felony murder charge in the Nov. 1, 2017 death of Cody Henderson, as well as a third-degree felony charge of desecration of a corpse.
The original date for the preliminary hearing, a proceeding where a judge decides if there is enough evidence to bind a suspect over for trial, was set for June 14, 2018. That was rescheduled to June 28, then Aug. 9, and then Sept. 13, when Blair, through his attorney, Bernard Allen, waived his right to the hearing and requested a jury trial.
First District Court Judge Thomas Willmore granted that request, scheduling a five-day jury trial for April 1- 5 of 2019.
Brigham City gets clean 2017-18 audit
For the past 32 years Brigham City has received the Government Finance Officers’ Association’s Achievement Award for Excellence in Fiscal Reporting, and with the presentation of the 2018 audit it appears the city will again receive that award for the 33rd consecutive year.
The audit of Brigham City’s books, performed by accounting firm Keddington and Christensen for the year ending June 30, 2018, showed no material errors or misstatements, and that the city has once again accurately reported its financial condition. The results of the audit were delivered during the Dec. 20 city council meeting.
At the meeting, Finance Director Derek Oyler characterized the city’s current financial condition as “very good,” offering a brief rundown of the city’s position from the previous year.
A look back at 2018
This year had plenty of tragedy, triumph and political intrigue
Twelve months after a tragic beginning to 2018, Box Elder County has seen evidence of a resurgent economy; Washington, D.C.-esque political intrigue as part of a contentious and controversial election year; a frightening lack of moisture that led to a highly active fire season; and other events that caused sadness, celebration or concern.
Following is a summary of week-by-week review of the news that impacted residents throughout the last year, and may continue to in the future. It is not a “Top 10” list, and includes content from throughout the newspaper, not just what appeared on the front page. For the entire review, please see our online or print editions. MORE....
Current Perry police sergeant selected as city’s next chief
In a weeks-long process that whittled two dozen applicants down to one, current Perry City Police Department Sgt. Scott Hancey has been named as the city’s new police chief.
Hancey will take over from current Chief Ryan Arbon on Jan. 1. Arbon was elected as the new Weber County sheriff in November.
The city received 22 applications for the position, and a committee comprised of “two law enforcement pillars of the community, two councilmembers, and the remainder was made up of people from the administration” narrowed the field to 12, Perry Mayor Kevin Jeppsen explained at the Dec. 13 council meeting. The committee chose Hancey, which was approved by a unanimous vote of the city council.
Hancey grew up in Brigham City and graduated from Box Elder High School in 2006. He earned his law-enforcement officer certification from Weber State in 2008, and has been employed with Perry City since 2009.
This isn’t the first time that Hancey has served in the role, having been named as the interim police chief from February through May of 2016, after the Perry City Council decided not to to re-appoint then-Chief Dale Weese.
“I’ve done this before, and I enjoyed it, but back then I didn’t think the timing was right,” Hancey told the News Journal. “This time I knew it was something I wanted to do almost right away.”
Perry taking steps toward constructing new city building
Perry City has approved a contract with a Salt Lake architectural firm to assess the city’s needs in planning and constructing a future municipal services building, which would house city administrative operations as well as the police department and emergency services.
At the Dec. 13 City Council meeting, a $5,800 proposal from JRCA Architects was accepted, the lowest of three bids the city received. The contract allows JRCA to begin work on a master plan for a new facility based on the current and anticipated needs of the city, and to come up with recommendations as to suitable building sites and design concepts.
“We obtained proposals from three different architectural firms for conceptual design of a city hall building,” said City Planner Bob Barnhill. “What this would do is assess what type of building would fit our needs, what type of a site would be required, and what type of money and budget would be involved for that type of a project. That lets us assess the feasibility of that type of project, and set a timeline and some goals towards that.” Barnhill continued that the information obtained would allow the city to make “further decisions” about the project at a future point, and suggested that funding for the assessment project could come from city impact fees.
Photo courtesy of UDOT Region 1
Crews installed a stoplight that became active Dec. 14. Residents have been asking for traffic control through the area. Those requests have picked up in recent years following the deaths of two teenagers struck by cars.
Willard City gets stoplight at 750 North
Willard City has now joined the ranks of larger cities with automated traffic control, after the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) installed the city’s first set of stoplights at 750 North Main.
Activated on Dec. 14, the lights are intended to make the notorious intersection less dangerous for traffic leaving I-15 and heading north on US-89.
Concerned that frequent drivers along the highway may not pay attention to the new light out of habit, UDOT also installed warning lights for northbound and southbound traffic that flash yellow when motorists should prepare to stop.
“There (is) a new signal at 750 North in Willard that hasn’t been there before. So you’ll all need to start paying attention if you use US-89 because you may have to stop there occasionally,” wrote UDOT Region One Communications Manger Vic Saunders.
Social-media posts regarding the new traffic lights have been largely positive.
Washington County case causes Box Elder concerns
December 12, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Unverified claims on social media and circulation of a story via the “rumor mill” created a local stir about a mass shooting at the Perry Walmart.
The situation arose due to threats a Clearfield man made while in Washington County to his Box Elder County girlfriend’s family about committing a mass shooting at a Walmart.
Milton Bowcutt, 26, was apprehended on Dec. 7 near Rockville by Washington County Sheriff’s deputies, with help from both Hurricane and Springdale police departments, after threatening to “shoot up” a Walmart and commit “suicide by cop,” after he was prevented from seeing his as-yet-unidentified Box Elder County girlfriend.
According to the probable cause statement filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brent Obray, earlier in the day Bowcutt had “threatened” his girlfriend in Box Elder County, who had reported it to police. A Box Elder County Sheriff’s deputy was at the home investigating the report when Bowcutt called the girlfriend’s aunt, who put the call on speakerphone.
In his report, Obray wrote that he was informed by Box Elder County that “Milton stated if he couldn’t see his girlfriend he would go to a Walmart and shoot it up. Milton also informed her he bought a new gun and ammunition today. He said once he shot up Walmart, he would do suicide by cop.”
A grand entrance
A smiling Santa Claus disembarks from a Brigham City fire truck after making a conspicuous entrance on Main Street.
Failure to follow safety rules, excited puppy leads to hunting accident
November 28, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Failure to follow safety rules and an excited young dog combined Friday in an incident that sent a man to the hospital with a severe injury to his arm.
According to the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department, two hunters were in a pit blind at the Chesapeake Duck Club in Corinne when one man stood up to stretch. The other hunter had brought his young dog with him, and when the first hunter stood up, the dog became excited and tried to run out and “somehow discharged the shotgun” belonging to one of the hunters.
“The single round struck the victim in the left forearm causing a rather substantial injury” said Chief Deputy Dale Ward of the Sheriff’s Department. “He was loaded into a private vehicle once they got back to the club and was being driven to the Brigham City hospital.” Ward said that a Brigham City ambulance intercepted the vehicle, and the victim was transferred into the ambulance. Once stabilized at Brigham City Community Hospital, the victim was taken to McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, where he was treated and later released.
Grand jury adds charges in Kingston case
November 28, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Federal prosecutors have filed additional charges against brothers Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, along with their associate Lev Dermen.
The original indictment filed on Aug. 1 charged the trio with nine counts of filing false returns and five counts of money laundering. The new indictment, handed down by a grand jury and filed Nov. 20, increases the false tax return charges to 14 counts, and money laundering charges to 10 counts. The indictment also includes a notice to seek forfeiture, allowing the federal government to seize any assets it believes the men gained through criminal activity.
The two Kingston brothers and Dermen are accused of defrauding the federal government out of $511 million, and attempting to defraud over $1 billion, through the filing of false tax documents to claim renewable energy credits. They were arrested on Aug. 23 as they were about to board a flight from the United States to Turkey, where prosecutors say they stashed a significant amount of assets gained through their fraudulent enterprise.
BC Water Dept. employee gets nod for Jim Davis Public Service Award
November 28, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A longtime public works employee was given one of Brigham City’s highest honors last week, as he was named the recipient of the 2018 Jim Davis Extraordinary Public Service Award.
Each year since 2002, the Brigham City mayor and city council have bestowed the award on a local employee or citizen whose time and talents have been used to benefit others in the community in a manner considered above and beyond their duties. The award is offered in memory of the service and dedication rendered by Brigham City Public Power Director and City Councilman Jim Davis, who died suddenly in 2002 from an aggressive form of cancer.
The Mayor’s Office accepts nominations each October for someone fitting that description, asking nominators to include examples of why their nominee deserves the honor. This year that honor went to Water Department Supervisor Rene Cedillo, who has been with the city for 27 years.
UTOPIA liens largely unpaid
November 21, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A special assessment area that allowed for voluntary liens on homes in Brigham City to help fund the city’s UTOPIA fiberoptic buildout has had significant numbers of participants failing to pay the monthly fees.
In 2009, Brigham City created the special assessment area, which allowed homeowners to pay a $3,000 UTOPIA connection fee up-front, or place a lien against their home for that amount while making $22.50 per month payments. The city was then able to bond against the liens and complete the fiber optic buildout.
According to city Finance Director Derek Oyler, of the 1,201 homes that opted for the lien, 632 have been paid off, 552 are currently active, 17 have been written off, and 452 are delinquent in their payments.
“There’s almost $203,000 in arrears on those accounts,” said Oyler. “One thing to note that is a little interesting there are 46 accounts that have never made a payment.”
When asked by Councilmember DJ Bott if those delinquent accounts were still getting UTOPIA service, Oyler answered that his staff was still digging into those numbers and would present them during a UTOPIA presentation in January.
School board accepts audit showing loss
November 21, 2018 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
The Box Elder School District Board of Education accepted the annual audit report for the 2017-18 fiscal year that showed an $870,000 decrease in property taxes.
Auditor Fred Burr with Wiggins & Co. reported an overall loss of $6.7 million after expenditures exceeded revenue, but that’s because the debt service fund and capital projects fund both had balances that were too high and needed to be lowered.
“We lowered the tax rate on purpose to generate less revenue in these funds,” he explained.
The school district had a $2.5 million profit in its general fund account partly because of a $3.5 million increase over last year in the Weighted Pupil Unit, and state equalization money that was distributed to Utah school districts. In the last couple of years, the legislature has increased the amount paid to districts per student, and also created a system that essentially distributed some money from more affluent districts to those not as well off.
The district’s debt went down by $5.3 million as bond balances were paid off, but about $29 million in debt is outstanding from when the district consolidated and refunded bonds in order to save on interest.
County unveils tentative $35.7 million 2019 budget
November 14, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A tentative budget for the county and redevelopment agency of $40,878,162 for fiscal year 2019 was presented at Wednesday’s meeting of the Box Elder County Commission.
The proposed budget is $833,000 less than estimated actual budget expenditures for 2018, but $5,530,662 more than projected revenues for next year. Box Elder County typically spends less and receives more revenue than the total amount budgeted, due to the County Auditor’s Office estimating expenses high and revenues low so budgetary surprises are kept to a minimum. Any actual overages in spending over revenue would be taken from existing fund balances.
According to County Auditor Tom Kotter, the reason for the lower expenditures next year were primarily due to changes in the Corridor Preservation Fund, the County Clerk’s Office, and department heads seeking savings.
“Overall, the anticipated 2019 budget for Box Elder County is $35,738,162,” said Kotter. “That’s actually a little bit down from last year’s budget. One of the reasons for that is corridor preservation, where last year we budgeted $2 million, but this year we’re budgeting $1.5 million. In Marla’s [County Clerk Marla Young] office there was a large expenditure for some election equipment, and that’s one of the things that have come down. That and I think the department heads really looked at their budgets and looked for ways to cut back.”
Copies of the tentative budget can be inspected at the County Auditor’s office, and also online at the county’s website, www.boxeldercounty.org .
Saying ‘Thanks for your service’
The Benson Sisters performed a USO-style act with singing and dancing as part of the Veteran’s Day celebration at the Brigham City Senior Center on Friday. Members of the VFW Post 1695, presented a flag ceremony prior to the show.
Funeral services for Dennis Vincent will be held Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m. at the Box Elder Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 420 South 800 West, Brigham City.
Viewings will be held on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Gillies Funeral Chapel, 634 East 200 South, Brigham City, and on Saturday at the stake center from 12 to 12:40 p.m.
Interment will be in the Brigham City Cemetery, where police honors will be accorded.
October 31, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Brigham City’s assistant chief of police, Dennis Vincent, 53, passed away at the University of Utah Medical Center on Friday, due to complications following a stroke and surgery to correct two brain aneurysms.
Vincent suffered the stroke on Thursday, Oct. 18, just after completing a required annual physical fitness test for the Brigham City Police Department. He was rushed to Brigham City Community Hospital, where he was quickly diagnosed and transferred by helicopter to the University of Utah’s Neuro Critical Care Unit in Salt Lake City. There he underwent surgery to repair the aneurysms, which had burst, causing bleeding in the brain.
After eight days of monitoring brain pressure and activity, doctors told the family that the bleeding had caused irreversible damage to Vincent’s brain, and the heartbreaking decision was made by the family to turn off life support. An avid supporter of organ donation, Vincent was then rushed into surgery again for doctors to harvest organs that could provide others with the opportunity for life.
According to Vincent’s older brother, Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent, the deep sorrow that the family felt was tempered by the knowledge that even in death, Vincent could continue helping others.
“This is our worst day, but because he’s donating his organs, it’s somebody’s best day,” said the mayor, recounting the words of Dennis Vincent’s wife, Karrie. “For her to say that, just after losing her husband, in my mind that was just incredible.”
Following the funeral service at the LDS stake center, the funeral procession for Assistant Police Chief Dennis Vincent will depart the Box Elder Stake Center, 420 South 800 West, heading north to Forest Street. The procession will turn east at Forest Street and continue to Main Street (eastbound traffic on Forest Street will be closed except to the procession). The procession will turn south on Main Street. Intersections at Main Street will be blocked from Forest Street to 300 South where the procession will turn east to the Cemetery.
Law enforcement will provide traffic control throughout the route and the procession is expected to take between 30 minutes and one hour.
Parking at the cemetery may be limited, due to law enforcement representatives from surrounding areas being present.
Residents who want to see the procession and pay their respects are asked to line Main Street from Forest Street to 300 South. The procession will enter the cemetery’s main gate at 300 East 300 South. That intersection will be blocked off for the funeral, procession, and graveside service.
Perry adopts ordinance mandating secondary access for subdivision
Hoping to prevent future situations like one earlier this year during development of the Suncrest subdivision, the Perry City Council on Thursday adopted an ordinance that changed city code to require secondary access into and out of subdivisions with more than 30 buildings.
The law was adopted to clarify ambiguities in city code, making it clear that neighborhoods under construction must have two ways to move traffic in and out, mostly to accommodate needs in the event of an emergency. Those ambiguities allowed the developer of the Suncrest Subdivision to begin construction on a nine-lot phase of the development that would have forced over 100 residences near 100 West and 1900 South to use 1750 South as the only route in and out of the neighborhood.
That number of residences all using a single access road was deemed too high last July by Brigham City Fire Marshal Michael Young, who also serves Perry though a contractual arrangement between the cities.
Willard approves by-laws for embattled sewer system
In a sign that the cities of Willard and Perry are continuing to bridge their differences over a jointly-owned wastewater treatment facility, the Willard City Council adopted a set of bylaws governing the operation of the plant at its Thursday meeting.
The bylaws were negotiated by representatives from both cities, with input from legal counsel, and bolsters the powers of the treatment plant’s board of directors in governance and financial control over plant operations, which is a shift from Perry City’s position under the prior administration.
Under the new bylaws, the facility manager will be selected by the board, and report directly to the board, although he or she will still technically be an employee of Perry City, and subject to Perry City policies with regard to pay and performance incentives. All plant employees will report to the manager, and to the board through the manager.
At the Willard meeting there was no public discussion of the agreement to the bylaws, as the members of the council were already familiar with its contents, and passed the bylaws agreement unanimously.
Perry City Council has yet to vote on the agreement.
Thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled in Plymouth
Former Washakie company, United Fuels, takes more than a week to report event
October 24, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A large crude oil spill that occurred in Plymouth near the end of September was caused by a worker forgetting to close a manhole cover on an oil storage tank before the tank was filled.
News of the spill was first made public at the Oct. 17 meeting of the Box Elder County Commission, when County Fire Marshal Corey Barton reported it to the commissioners.
“We had a pretty good crude oil spill at United Fuels, formerly WRE (Washakie Renewable Energy),” said Barton. “They were filling one of the big crude oil tanks up there, and left the man-door open.”
Barton reported that 4,235 gallons ended up being spilled at the plant, and that clean-up was happening under the supervision of the state of Utah.
A state of emergency
October 24, 2018 • Sean Hales • Managing Editor
One of the warmest and driest summers on record, combined with record-low snowpack and spring runoff, has forced Governor Gary Hebert to declare a state of emergency.
The drought Utah is currently experiencing is so severe and widespread, it is impacting numerous sectors, and could have consequences for the pocketbooks of many citizens, particularly in rural areas, according to a report from the state’s Drought Review and Reporting Committee.
“The rainfall we have received helps, but the drought is at a level unseen for many years and will not be solved with a small series of storms,” Herbert said in a statement. “In some areas, the drought is at, or near, historic levels. Such difficult conditions are harming the quality of life and the livelihoods of many Utah families and agricultural producers. The ramifications of drought extend beyond our depleted water supply. Drought harms our industries, agriculture, recreation and wildlife, and it worsens wildfire conditions and air quality.”
Last week, Utah Governor Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency that will allow those most directly impacted by the drought to seek assistance through state and federal programs. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designates all of the state’s 29 counties as drought disaster areas.
Due to the widespread economic impacts, all residents have been asked to help conserve and reduce water consumption. Seasonal water conservation ideas include: fixing any leaks, only running dishwashers or washing machines when they are full, turning off the water while brushing teeth, and reducing showers by at least one minute.
Additional conservation resources include: SlowtheFlow.org for tips and tricks; UtahWaterSavers.com for rebates related to water conservation equipment, such as smart timers; LocalScapes.com to improve water sustainability of landscaping; and Water.Utah.gov/H2Oath to commit to conserve.
BC trails task force postpones plans for 1100 South route after facing obstacles from UDOT
October 24, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The Brigham City Trails Task Force has temporarily walked away from plans to develop a trail system along 1100 South, and re-focused its efforts on getting a trail system started along Mayor’s Pond and Box Elder Creek, where it has found fewer problems and a couple of large possible benefactors.
Mylinda Mortensen, who chairs the task force, appeared before the Brigham City Council on Thursday to give an update on the new plan. Mortensen explained that the original 1100 South trail plan has run into issues constructing a trail system next to a state highway.
“We weren’t having much success in planning the 1100 South because it was giving us a lot of headaches,” said Mortensen. “UDOT [Utah Department of Transportation] had some challenges that we didn’t want to face, so we shifted it to Mayor’s Pond, which is naturally beautiful and wonderful. We saw low-hanging fruit there.”
Mortensen continued that the task force had been working with Staker Parsons, which owns a lot of land near Mayor’s Pond, and together walked the area and made a preliminary plan to build a trail system along Box Elder Creek, looping around the Staker Parsons gravel pit, with an access at Beecher Avenue.
‘We’ve got your six’
Brigham City Assistant Police Chief Dennis Vincent and his wife, Karrie.
October 24, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
An outpouring of love and support has followed a tragic medical incident befalling Brigham City’s assistant chief of police.
Last Thursday morning, Assistant Chief Dennis Vincent—simply “chief” to many people—collapsed after taking the annual physical fitness standards test for the department. Vincent was rushed to Brigham City Community Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke from a ruptured brain aneurysm. He was then transferred by air to the University of Utah Hospital’s Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU), where he underwent surgery to stop the bleeding in his brain. During that surgery, a second brain aneurysm was also found and corrected.
Vincent has been kept heavily sedated since the surgery, in order to allow his brain adequate time to heal without movement. According to Brigham City Police Chief Mike Nelsen, doctors have been closely monitoring Vincent, concerned about possible brain swelling.
“The next few days there are concerns of the brain swelling which can be very unpredictable. Apparently, there will still be no visitors for at least three to five days,” wrote Nelsen in a social media update on Saturday.
On Sunday and Monday Vincent’s condition remained critical, with pressure levels in his brain fluctuating, but reducing as of Monday evening.
Chief Vincent started his law enforcement career with Willard City in 1990, also working for Perry City that same year. Within four years he had become chief of police in Willard, before joining the Brigham City Police Department in 1994.
With Brigham City, Vincent has served in the patrol division, detective division, Narcotics Strike Force, and SWAT. He has served as commander of the SWAT Team and is also currently serving as the commander of the Narcotics Strike Force.
He is the younger brother of Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent.
Trooper Eric Ellsworth was killed after being struck by a car in November 2016. Ellsworth had responded to a call about a downed power line.
The widow of Utah Highway Patrol trooper Eric Ellsworth is suing both Rocky Mountain Power and the teenage driver of the car that struck him in November of 2016.
The initial lawsuit was filed in February of 2018, but the first hearing wasn’t held until Oct. 4, when Rocky Mountain Power argued a motion in front of First District Court Judge Brandon Maynard to dismiss the suit.
After oral arguments were heard from both sets of attorneys at the hearing, Judge Maynard said he would take the matter under advisement, and issue a ruling at a later date. As of press time on Monday, that ruling had not yet been made.
Ellsworth is seeking damages from both parties to recoup medical and funeral expenses, as well as lost wages, damages for loss of care and comfort from Eric Ellsworth, damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Man convicted of killing son in 2000 gets early parole
October 10, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A Brigham City man who was convicted of killing his infant son in September of 2000 is being granted early parole.
David Mathew Ayotte, now 44, was originally scheduled to be released in April of 2022, but in an Oct. 2 decision the Utah Board of Pardons reduced the time by nearly two years, to Jan. 21 of 2020.
“The Board of Pardons recognizes and commends Mr. Ayotte for his rehabilitative, life skills and education efforts and achievements and changes the parole date because of those efforts. He is encouraged to remain engaged in such efforts until he is released,” read a note by the Board of Pardons entered into Ayotte’s hearing record.
Brigham City bans smoking, vaping in parks, cemeteries, or during mass gatherings
October 10, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
If you’re a smoker or vaper having a drink at the B and B during Peach Days, you’ll now have to go a lot further than outside to get your nicotine fix.
On Thursday, a bare quorum of the Brigham City Council voted to ban smoking and vaping in city parks, recreational areas including trails and playgrounds, at the cemetery, or within 50 feet of what the city called “mass gatherings,” meaning an outdoor assembly of 50 or more people gathered on city property. The ordinance specifically exempted the city-owned golf course from the new restrictions.
Car burglars apprehended in Brigham City
October 3, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
One adult male and three juveniles from the Ogden area were taken into custody on Saturday, on suspicion of multiple car burglaries, a problem that has been plaguing Box Elder County this year.
“Our guys caught three juveniles and an adult, and we tied them to a string of 12 different car burglaries from Willard to Perry, Brigham City and Mantua,” said Lieutenant Chris Howard of the Brigham City Police Department.
According to police the adult suspect, identified as 22-year-old Ramone Aguilar, was the driver of a stolen car that the three male juveniles, ages 15, 15 and 16, would ride in as the group broke into cars, stole valuables, and ran back to Aguilar to make a quick getaway.
Formal charges against Aguilar have not yet been filed, but he was taken to the Box Elder County Jail and booked on preliminary charges of auto burglary and attempted auto theft. The case is still under investigation, and more or different charges may apply pending the outcome.
Howard said that the suspects may be responsible for more area auto burglaries, but can’t say that definitively yet.
As more information becomes available, the News Journal will report it in future editions.
Willard moves ahead with Community Reinvestment Area
October 3, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Willard City is moving ahead with a proposal to create a Community Reinvestment Area along west 750 North, to help facilitate funding needed to upgrade the city’s water system.
The current plan, devised by Box Elder County Economic Development Director Mitch Zundel, a former Willard City Councilmember, creates the area, which allows the collection of tax increment that will be used to make payments on a bond used to improve the city’s water system to accommodate new development.
An official cost assessment has not yet been completed, but Zundel estimated that the city would need around $2.5 million to upgrade the city’s storage capacity, and replace substandard water lines which would allow for adequate pressures down 750 North, where a large transit-oriented commercial development is being planned.
Tax increment is the difference between current taxes assessed on a property, and the increased tax assessment once the property is developed. When a reinvestment area is formed, tax entities agree to accept the current value of the property in taxes for a period of years, letting the increase go to pay for improvements to the property in the form of infrastructure, water, power, sewer, roads, etc.
Residents urged to secure vehicles, valuables, homes as string of burglaries continue
September 26, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A rash of vehicle burglaries in both Brigham City and Box Elder County that began in June shows no signs of stopping, and has continued into September.
The Brigham City Police Department has logged 46 vehicle burglaries from June 1 through Sept. 24, as well as seven car thefts where citizens left their keys in the car. Total numbers for the county weren’t yet available, but the Sheriff’s office reported that burglaries were “way up,” including 15 in one day on Sept. 16.
“These are crimes of opportunity, meaning valuables left in the vehicles and the doors left unlocked,” said Chief Deputy Dale Ward of the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department. “It is believed that there are multiple suspects and they likely have a group that is out on foot and being monitored by someone driving the getaway vehicle. The suspects are also believed to be driving stolen vehicles and will steal a vehicle if available, unlocked and keys in it.”
Brigham City Council approves contentious annexation
September 26, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A petition to annex a 3.75-acre parcel on West Forest Street into Brigham City generated significant opposition at Thursday’s city council meeting, highlighting the ongoing issue of growth.
Bret and Marianne Craynor want to ready their property at 3100 West Forest Street, which is located in unincorporated Box Elder County, to build a home. In order to do that they need to be able to tap into a Brigham City culinary water line running adjacent to the property. But according to both the Craynors and Brigham City Public Works Director Tyler Pugsley, the city can’t provide a tap unless the property is actually part of the city.
“We do have an ordinance that’s in place that we do not provide water or other utilities outside of city limits for any new development,” said Pugsley. He explained that the ordinance was updated around the same time the Waukegan line was extended to the Procter and Gamble facility.
Several area residents are already hooked into Brigham City water, having been grandfathered in to the service when the line was owned by West Corinne Water.
Opposition to the annexation centered around neighbor’s fears that the Craynors would develop a subdivision on the property.
Resident organizing concert series to draw crowds to struggling Academy Center
September 19, 2018 • Sean Hales • Managing editor
Following the second failed restaurant venture at the Brigham City-owned Academy Center complex earlier this year, and continued struggles with profitability of the conference building, one resident is looking to breathe some life into the facility by organizing monthly events that he hopes will draw crowds from Brigham City and surrounding communities.
According to information provided by Brigham City Administrator Jason Roberts, the Academy Conference Center complex showed a net loss of, and was subsidized for, $106,205 in 2105-2016, $212,924 in 2016-2017, and $190,750 in 2017-2018.
Bob Cosgrove, who has organized the annual Christmas concert in Brigham City for 10 years, and who has extensive connections in the music and entertainment industry, is hoping a series of events featuring dinner and premier entertainment will help reverse that trend.
Cosgrove’s Christmas concert has gained notoriety and is widely popular; Cosgrove said that last year there were attendees from as far-flung places as Rexburg, Idaho, and St. George. He’s looking to capitalize on the success of that event to help out what he sees as an important asset to the community both as a community building and historic icon, “because of my love of music and the history of it [the Academy Building].”
Due to the success of Cosgrove’s Christmas concert he has been asked to find entertainment for Peach Days and other events, including Brigham City’s annual ball. Discussions with Kelly Driscoll about the ball, led to the idea for the concert series. The first planned event will take place Oct. 19 and feature dinner catered by Maple Springs and the highly-popular local cover band, “A Toast to Bread.”
Cosgrove said he is currently in talks with other performers to present in the following months, and that he will spread the wealth of the events. He is looking at between four and five other catering companies to provide dinner for the concerts, and that each one will have a shot.
“We’re just trying to help everybody out,” Cosgrove said.
The event is not sponsored by, or associated with, Brigham City in any way, with Cosgrove finding sponsors to cover costs.
Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent said the city is excited to cooperate with the project, and that he, himself, supports the effort to help generate revenue for the building and increase usage.
“We need to figure out how to get more folks into the Academy Center,” Vincent said.
According to Vincent, ever since Brigham House, the second restaurant in the Academy complex, failed, the city council had been looking at ways to make the conference center and restaurant viable.
“We’ve been in forward gear since Enrique [Enrique Yescas, owner of Cobins Grill and Brigham House restaurants] pulled up stakes,” Vincent said about the restaurant (see related story on page 1).
Regarding the conference center, Vincent said the city is looking at revising the price charged to use the facility. That means coming more in line with the cost of other conference centers in the area, as well as looking at what cost the local market will support. The city is also looking at ways to increase usage.
Walker’s group issued an email on Sept. 13 that sets forth a three-step vision for the facility.
The group agrees that costs to rent the facility are too high, and that it’s essential for the city to find the “right balance in pricing that supports both local access and capitalizes on a top tier event facility.
Historic Downtown also suggests that the city market the entire property: conference center, kitchen and plaza, and emphasizes the elegant nature of the historic building.
“This is not a facility in which to hold community garage sales or flea markets. There is a big difference between a Community Center and a Community Center of Activity!”
The group also notes that there is a “mish-mash” of information online about the facility that needs to be cleaned up and centralized, and that “The most visible is currently managed by Historic Downtown on a volunteer led basis!” The city should also obtain intellectual property, such as domain names and social media channels as part of those efforts.
The second step would be to re-purpose the restaurant as a “shared use commissary, incubator, and commercial production facility to encourage the growth and development of small food related businesses,” including food trucks, start-ups, and existing vendors who need to expand production.
Such a course of action could “pave the way for several new restaurants which would be significant in the revitalization of Historic Downtown.”
“Without pointing fingers backward in time, the reality is that the restaurant was poorly designed as a standalone facility,” the email read. “Both former and current staff agree that there is conflict in using the kitchen in an event catering scenario while attempting to operate a full service restaurant. Both activities suffered when the kitchen was used simultaneously.”
Finally, Walker’s group said the city should re-focus on the history of the building, and it’s legacy of art and culture as the home of the Christensen brothers’ dance academy.
“As we build upon that legacy, Academy Square could become the go-to facility for many more art & cultural activities,” the email read, and noted the Academy Center Art Show and Sale, and the Nutcracker Festival as two such events. Both events are sponsored and organized by Historic Downtown Brigham City.
City looking at several ‘other angles’ for Academy Center kitchen space
September 19, 2018
When Enrique Yescas suddenly withdrew from his lease and shut down the Brigham House Restaurant at the Academy Center, he withdrew a much-needed revenue source that Brigham City had been relying on to help pay for the bonds it had taken out to create the project.
Initially Yescas had promised the News Journal that he would speak about the reasons behind closing the restaurant, but now he’s stopped returning calls, and city officials remain tight-lipped about the story, only offering that the separation was “mutual and amicable.”
Questions of what to do with the space, and how to recoup the lost revenue, remain, however, and one organization dedicated to the revitalization of Brigham City’s downtown has some suggestions.
“There’s no sugarcoating the challenges we face with the Academy Conference Center and the two failed restaurants associated with it,’ wrote David Walker of Historic Downtown Brigham City (HDBC) in a news release. “Especially challenging is the prospect of persuading a new restaurateur to make a third attempt, given the history and licensing issues at this location.”
HDBC, a non-profit organization run by Walker, is suggesting that the vacant restaurant’s kitchen could be rented out as a business incubator, to help local food businesses that don’t have the proper facilities or capital to startup or expand.
“The commercial kitchen at Academy Square (formerly Brigham House/Corbin’s) is being considered as an incubator for small food business startups and rental to existing vendors who need shared commercial kitchen space,” wrote Walker. His organization is now trying to gauge interest in such an arrangement, asking interested parties to fill out a survey located on HDBC’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/historicbrigham/ , as to how they’d use the space, and what they’d be willing to pay.
Brigham City officials say they’ve been contacted by Walker about the idea, and did a walk-through together in the kitchen to help explore the idea.
“The city is including this idea as an option for the city,” confirmed City Administrator Jason Roberts.
Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent said he wants to take a measured approach to make sure whatever solution is decided upon has the best chances for success.
“There’s some other angles I’m working on,” Vincent said. “I think we need to take it one step at a time.”
Ideas for how to utilize the city-owned restaurant space will be laid out for the city council in a future meeting.
Box Elder News Journal
PO BOX 370
Brigham City, UT 84302
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