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.
Anna Crockett, holding one of her dish towels, says she was excited to learn of her selection as a finalist for the Home Shopping Network.
Three Box Elder businesses selected to pitch products on Home Shopping Network
November 7, 2018 • Nancy Browne • Staff Writer
Three small businesses based in Box Elder County were among 11 winners chosen from Utah to market their products on the popular Home Shopping Network (HSN).
They were selected after competing with 31 small Utah businesses at the Academy Conference Center in Brigham City on Oct. 28. The event was sponsored by Shop Main Street America and Women’s Leadership LIVE.
Wendy English, director of the Brigham City Small Business Development Center, who helped put the event together, said, “Women’s Leadership LIVE came to Brigham City in search for five amazing entrepreneurs to introduce to HSN, but to our surprise we have selected a top 10 plus an Entrepreneur’s Choice.”
The three from Box Elder County include, This Old Peacock House, Crockett Gear and Hwy 102 Soap Emporium.
“I’m so happy for them to get this kind of exposure,” said English. “These are good companies and it’s been an honor to work with these people. Utah is a cool and unusual state right now because there’s a lot of entrepreneurial spirit.”
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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