Winter in Monument Valley.  Angel Coggeshell photo
Winter in Monument Valley. Angel Coggeshell photo
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Blanding discusses new community center ideas
Jan 21, 2015 | 893 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Blanding City Council discussed a proposed new community center at the January 13 council meeting. Councilman Robert Ogle reported that the San Juan Foundation is serious about their commitment to the building of a center. He added that all entities need to step up within a prescribed time frame, or the center will go away. Councilman Kelly Laws pointed out that the proposal only guarantees funding for two years. He said it has taken five years to strike the balance at the wellness center. Laws expressed concern that the city cannot afford a community center since they already have a wellness center. In further discussion, the hope was expressed by Councilman David Johnson that Utah State University would put their name on the project and the only expense to the city would be a transfer of land. Councilman Joe B. Lyman said, “It needs a sponsor, and that sponsor cannot be the city”. Lyman went on further to explain that the city can easily be overextended financially if it sponsors another enterprise. In other matters at the January 13 council meeting, City Engineer Terry Ekker reported on natural gas and water use. Gas use is up, as is anticipated with the arrival of colder temperatures. The city is working to get all three deep water wells back online. With the January 13 storm, the water situation is better than in previous months. Police Chief Watkins is working to pin down law enforcement statistics for his reports on police activity. Watkins said some statistics have changed, such as the “citizen assist” category, which can mean many things, such as helping change a tire, etc. Watkins said he hopes to get the statistics pinned down, so they can be more accurate and meaningful going forward. The Blanding City Fire Department was able to hold a training event in December, which is unusual because they are usually busy fighting fires during that time. The training was how to evacuate the dialysis unit at Blue Mountain Hospital in case of a fire. Fire Chief Craig Stanley said the fire department, as well as hospital employees, learned a lot from the training. Use of the city recreation center remains stable. This is reported as a “really good” indicator that the city has put together programs the community participates in. The council approved a resolution to allow Jason Watkins to move a mobile home onto the back of his lot for the use of an aged or handicapped family member. The conditional use permit will have to be renewed annually. The council reviewed the city 10-year plan. Councilman Lyman said, “The thing I like about the 10-year plan is that it keeps the important things on the radar.” He added, “These are real needs and not fluff.” The council unanimously approved the 10-year plan. Terry Ekker presented a resolution to address an Updated Water Conservation Plan. It was noted as part of the presentation that the residents of Blanding appear to have caught the vision on water conservation, as savings appear on the water report. Discussion also covered alternate watering schedules as not being effective. They may be removed. Possible additions to the plan may be the ability to raise rates to encourage conservation. The resolution was accepted with proposed changes and approved unanimously. City Manager Jeremy Redd asked city residents and employees to report any concerns with sidewalks, manholes and potholes to prevent possible injury due to hazards. Redd would like to see the city create a proactive plan to address these issues. (Staff writer Roma Young contributed to this story.)
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Monticello considers Dark Sky, Recapture resolution
Jan 21, 2015 | 874 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two items generated much discussion and community comment at the first meeting of the new year for the Monticello City Council. The January 13 meeting was also the first council meeting for new City Manager Ty Bailey. The city planning commission had developed a proposed Dark Sky Ordinance over the previous months that was forwarded to the city council. After much discussion of the pros and cons of such an ordinance, Mayor Tim Young summarized the discussion by saying, “I see no imminent threat and no immediate benefit” to the city of a Dark Sky Ordinance. The council agreed, and the ordinance was tabled indefinitely. It was noted that the new streetlights which go east on Center Street are considered dark sky compliant, as the light is shield downward. Another example of new construction which is dark sky compliant in Monticello is the new elementary school. Both of these projects occurred without an ordinance in place, and the question was raised if this might be a natural “way things are going.” Councilman George Rice said, “It is impossible to get a definition of dark sky.” City resident Tom Wigginton said that “lumens” and other technical terms in a dark sky ordinance make it difficult to understand exactly what is required. Bailey concurred with the decision of the council, pointing out that city buildings and infrastructure would need to comply with the ordinance, and it may require a budget. Dark Sky Ordinances have been passed by a number of western communities in an attempt to “protect” the view of the night skies by community residents. The Four Corners School had asked the City to look into such an ordinance because Night Sky programs will be offered at the Canyon Country Discovery Center, which is under construction on the north edge of town. The proposal was developed by the city planning commission. Officials state there would be few, if any, current residences or businesses that would have been impacted by the ordinance. The next item, which drew a lot of attention from the council and had several comments by residents, is whether the city would adopt a resolution regarding the closure of Recapture Canyon by the Bureau of Land Management. The council will hold a work meeting before the first council meeting in February to discuss what could be included in a resolution. Monticello took advantage of the low gasoline prices when they voted to fill the city storage tanks at the Hideout Golf Club, not to exceed $4,000. With gas prices as low as they are, city officials said this was an opportunity they could not pass up. City Manager Ty Bailey is working to find out the fuel capacity in the airport tank to take advantage of the fuel prices and add to the tank at the airport as well. Bailey was unanimously approved as the City Treasurer. The 2015 meeting schedule was approved, and two items were postponed until the next meeting. Items postponed are business license fees and the purchase of an airport courtesy car. (Staff writer Roma Young contributed to this story.)
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Postal changes are coming
Jan 21, 2015 | 1670 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DUST IN THE WIND
by Bill Boyle The U.S. Postal Service recently approved some changes that could have a significant impact on mail delivery for the residents of San Juan County. As part of a wide-ranging effort to cut costs, the USPS has decided to close the mail sorting facility in Provo, UT. The current plan is that mail from Southeast Utah will be sent to, and sorted in, Grand Junction, CO rather than on the Wasatch front. This will add at least a day to mail delivery from this area to the Wasatch front. In 2014, the USPS discontinued local mail delivery directly to Southwest Colorado. As a result, delivery to our Southwest Colorado subscribers was delayed by up to a week. We eventually lost patience and have simply taken the bags to Southwest Colorado on our own. If it took a week for mail to get from Monticello to Dove Creek via Salt Lake City, I can only assume that it could take up to a week for mail to get from Monticello to the Wasatch Front via Grand Junction. • • • • • While we all enjoy the dramatic drop in gasoline prices at the pump, there may be challenges for local governments when property values are set. Oil and gas properties account for approximately one third of the total tax base for San Juan County. While the complete impact may not be known for months, we can only assume that the dramatic drop in gas prices will be matched by a dramatic drop in property values. It is not just oil and gas properties that will be impacted. The price of copper on the open market has dropped in the past three months by approximately 20 percent, from a high of $3.10 to a low of $2.55 a pound. This will result in an inevitable drop in the value of the Lisbon Valley Copper Mine. • • • • • It was an eagerly anticipated moment after the January 13 snowstorm when the new sledding hill at Monticello Elementary School was opened. During the design phase for the new school, the request we heard again and again and again was to keep the sledding hill. The grand opening of the hill was a huge success if you measure it by the sound of 300 ecstatic students. • • • • • We are glad to introduce a new feature in the San Juan Record through the 2015 session of the Utah State Legislature. The news service will focus on events in the legislature, which will open in coming days for a 45-day session. Capital West News Service is the work of journalism students at Brigham Young University. The initial story, on page 3, discusses the legislative compromise from the Count My Vote initiative, which was passed in the 2014 session. It is written by Christopher Larson, a BYU student who attended school in Monticello. • • • • • In addition, a story on local restaurants by Mary Cokenaur is on page 16. Mary has lived in San Juan County for several years and currently works at the visitor center in Monticello. She writes a food blog, Food Adventures of a Comfort Cook, found at http://www.comfortcookadventures.com/ • • • • • Things are reportedly looking better for Monticello resident Paul Langston, who was shot in the jaw in a freak accident on January 10. A benefit dinner was held January 20 at Monticello High School. While Langston is reportedly doing better, it will be a long, hard road to recovery. A website on his behalf can be found at http://gfwd.at/14lyfb6 Other friends with San Juan County connections are also facing difficult and expensive challenges. Ashley Irvin, the daughter of Monticello native Verna Black Askwig, is in need of a heart transplant. Ashley is a Division I athlete who has faced a number of health challenges. A Dash4Ash 5K race begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 24 at the St George Crosby Family Confluence Park. Her story is told at http://www.gofundme.com/heart4ash. Bernie Sammons, 1980 graduate of Monticello High School, is undergoing extensive cancer treatments at the Huntsman Cancer Center. His story is told at www.gofundme.com/BSammons.
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Simply red
Jan 21, 2015 | 627 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TIED TO THE POST
by Barry & Steve Simpson Sunrises and sunsets over this high desert country are fabulous at this time of year. They often look as if someone took a match and fired-up an entire bank of burners. Ripples of red, orange and yellow disperse across the heavens, warm my bones and afford me great comfort. The deep red tones, seen just before dawn and just as the sun sets, are the most rich and vibrant. It may sound funny, but because of the added inner warmth and marshaled mental state, my mind often focuses on friends and family. In Navajo relationships, the color red is especially meaningful. It is the color of their people, those who have welcomed us into their culture, tradition and lives. Many have shared with us their artistic aptitude. Their deep skin tones contrast with our “pink” coloration. Because of them, however, we have been able to sustain our trading post and live a satisfying life in this country, which is rife with canyons, mesas and mountains. To the Navajo, red (ltci, ltci’, litci ‘igi) is a powerful and symbolic color. It represents danger, war, and sorcery as well as safeguards against such occurrences. In the story of the Hero Twins, First Man gave a prayer stick colored with blue paint and sparkling earth, symbols of peace and happiness, to Child-of-the-Water to watch while his brother, Monster Slayer, went on one dangerous adventure after another. When the warrior got into serious trouble, the prayer stick turned blood red. At the close of the Night Chant, participants see the red of the sunset because Child-of-the-Water traveled on darkness when he journeyed to join his brother. The Navajo deity, Talking God, explained the color as it is represented in the War Ceremony, instructing Monster Slayer, “This [red] represents the blood that will flow on the soil. Both ours and that of our enemy.” The color red is also found in ceremonial baskets that symbolize the joining of blood, marriage, children, and family. The iron-impregnated cliffs surrounding our muddy red river valley reminds me of the ancestors of my wife and children, the first white men and women who fought their way across a wild and unruly landscape to establish our fair city. Their story is well known to us, and it goes something like this: “The Lion of the Lord (Brigham Young), he had a sacred plan, to spread the word of wisdom ‘cross a wild and ruthless land’. “John Taylor followed through when Brigham’s days were done; he sent the Saints a packin’ to the valley of San Juan. “San Juan Hill [the last hurdle into Bluff] was a gut-busting scramble; the trek so far, had worn us to the bone. “To go much further was too much to handle, ‘Stickety-To-Ti’ brought us here, it finally brought us home.” There’s more, but you get the picture. There was bright red blood on the red rocks of San Juan Hill and on the valley floor before civilization finally arrived in this lonely settlement. The Simpson family first came to Bluff in the mid-1950s, back when Daddy Duke’s hair color was still of a sandy red hue. There have been many a blood red sunrise and sunset since then, and over time our clan has set down roots and grown in this rocky red soil. Some have wished or tried to dislodge us, but our tendrils run deep, and the family tree stands fast. From Susan to Cindy, we have brought forth and raised our children here, and you will find their footprints memorialized in the concrete in front of our businesses. As it says in the chorus of the San Juan Camp song, we were and are; “Never far from failure, we strove to continue, sacrifice was assured to achieve a higher goal. “We faced a trial of strength and a test of dedication, stubborn faith and motivation allowed us to endure.” And endure we shall until the time one of the towering rocks comes crashing down on us, or they place us beneath the grey donies and iron red soil of cemetery hill.
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