Applauding an Ethical Public Servant
Although we were not always on the same side on legal issues, we never doubted LeEllen McCartney’s integrity. She conducted herself professionally and honestly. Her account in the Insider of the disdain showed to her by commissioners is troubling enough but the ethical questions she raises are even more so. According to her letter, Wayne County commissioners only want a lawyer who can bend the rules, not guide them through the rules. We applaud LeEllen for removing herself from an untenable position.
Chip Ward, Brian Swanson, Pat Priebe, Judy Hopkins, Lorraine Miller, Tyler Ward, Veronica Egan, Barry Morgenstern, Johanna Wilson—residents of Wayne County
Let’s Work for Positive Change in Managing our Forests
Cut it or Burn it? What do we want to do with our forest. Many see it one way, many another. In 1992 Panguitch City Council asked for a meeting with the Forest Service and Kaibab Sawmill and the City Council. The concern, the Bark Beetle. I will never forget Devon Owens walking into that meeting and saying to the Forest Service, ”We will save your forest for you and it won’t cost the government one dime, all we have to do is cut one small area before the 18th of June as that is the day the Bark Beetle flies to new trees to lay their young.” The offer of course was not accepted because that would not give the Forest Service time to do and Environmental Impact Study. We had good men working for Kaibab who wanted to solve the problem. We had good men working for the Forest Service who wanted to help us solve the problem. We only found regulatory stale mate. Twenty Five years later we have a mountain of dead and burned trees and Kaibab and the jobs they provided are gone. The Forest Service is still not allowed to do anything except try to put out a fire that did not have to be this bad. We need a serious look at government regulations that will not allow good men on the ground to make decisions to benefit the area they are paid to manage.Twenty Five years ago everyone said to develop tourism. We did! Now we see that it too is fragile and can go up in flames just like the trees.What if anything are we going to learn from this history lesson? Yes Panguitch, Panguitch Lake and Brian Head will pick up and go on. We have this beautiful area because we have taken care of it for over a hundred and fifty years. We have preserved our land while making a moderate living off the land and not abusing it. We do not want to change that. We need to work together with our elected officials, private business, and land managers to help make our communities in Garfield County economically sustainable. Let’s not let this tragedy go to waste like our timber has, let’s use this to work for positive change in management policies that will benefit all concerned.
Elaine Baldwin, Panguitch
“The House that Cate Built” with a little help from my friends…
First and foremost, this is a public ’Thank You’ to all of the folks who helped me realize my dream!It’s also the story of how a determined, middle aged woman embarked on a journey to build her ‘dream’ home in the remote, pioneer community of Escalante, Utah, acting as the General Contractor with the help, and sometimes the hindrance, of many. That was over 8 years ago…It’s a modest house, just a little over 1600 square feet, in what I like to call a ‘Southwest, Northern New Mexico Territorial, Prairie Farm House’ style! I had purchased the land nearly 15 years ago, a beautiful, 2-acre parcel with ancient Apricot, Apple, and Black Locust trees on the edge of city limits, along the Escalante River with the most spectacular views of the Canyon and surrounding cliffs.For years it was my escape from the hustle and bustle of my business, a B&B in town. Most evenings I would walk over to feed my critters and ponder the ‘Master Plan’. During that time I worked on the infrastructure, landscaping, fencing and donkey barn… as I had the cash. One day, I received a serious offer to buy the B&B and knew I had to move quickly and start building the house.A local contractor friend was desperate for work during that time, as the real estate and construction market had just tanked and he was willing to take on my project as he had time and I had money. He erected the basic structure in just 10 days. Then it all came to a screeching halt when the B&B deal fell through. Construction stopped and wouldn’t begin again for another 5 years until the B&B finally sold.It’s not been an easy road to build a house in an area with limited contractors and services. It’s proven to be a monumental task and countless hours of my own blood, sweat, and tears…a lot of tears! I’ve had my hand in nearly every aspect of the project from designing and drafting the plans, obtaining the approvals and permits, and enlisting all the subcontractors, tradesmen, craftsmen, and handymen…to working with them side-by-side.I’ve relied on friends and called in favors, cajoling and bribing at times to get the job done! It certainly ‘took a Village’, or in my case, several villages and counties throughout Southern Utah from Loa to Richfield, Ivins to Apple Valley, and Panguitch to Cedar City.I need to thank my neighbors for their tolerance all these years; they’ve put up with all the excavating, drilling, hammering, traffic, dust, loud music, and probably some cussing…mostly without complaint…and some have even pitched a hand to help!There have been over 50 men…and one woman who have contributed their knowledge, skills, equipment, materials, and time to finish this house. Some don’t want the publicity and the rest know who you are and how much I appreciate your friendship and hard work! While it’s not feasible to list all the folks who have helped, there are some I must acknowledge.Special thanks to: Kerry Ence; Reed Munson and his great guys; the Escalante Home Center and Loa Builders team; Lenza Wilson Electric; Blaine, Darrell and Terry from Escalante City; Dave, from South Central Communications…and Doren before him, who is sorely missed by us all…Phil and Paul of Unlimited Plumbing; Cade and Chris at Croft Heating and Air; Merrill at Garkane Power; and Garfield Ready Mix. Last, but certainly not least – to Jared, the Building Inspector, who waited patiently through hits and misses for that final inspection last month and my ‘Certificate of Occupancy’. I thought I’d never see the light at the end of that tunnel!!!Let us all try to be good neighbors and help where we can, settle our differences and issues face-to-face instead of using social media to hurt and humiliate, regardless of race, religion or politics, or when and how someone came to live in our great, little community. There’s enough strife and hatred in the world around us without attacking our own…
Cate Vining, Self-professed technophobic ‘Luddite’ of social media…and grateful ‘Outsider’ of 17 years, Escalante
Noel’s Bombast Not Appreciated
The blame so freely flung by Mike Noel re: the reason the forest is burning is unfortunate to say the least. Before we two-leggeds arrived on the scene and began to count trees in board feet and creeks and rivers in acre feet the landscape took very good care of itself indeed, and included mixed conifers,wet meadows, beaver ponds, and a full compliment of critters that included everything from Boreal Toads to wolves. Fire was but one tool it used, along with rain, wind and wildlife. It is simply trying to restore itself the way it has for countless millennia, using occasional cool fires to clear out excessive fuel. But,after more than a century of fire suppression, livestock grazing and rampant invasive species, plus a hotter, drier climate, fire now takes the form of destructive, wind driven crown fires. The forest cares not a fig that we have built our towns and businesses in its midst, nor does it care whether the fire originated with a lightning strike, weed torch or campfire. It’s simply trying to re-balance itself the only way it knows how.At this point, though, given the herculean if not impossible task of cleaning up our messes, it may be that we are in for a lot more “catastrophic wildfires.” Land managers, conservationists, ranchers, loggers and scientists have been striving for years to come up with ways to clean up the messes we’ve made. We all have different goals, whether it’s more board feet or more biodiversity, and we need to learn to cooperate with each other as well as with the landscape. Noel’s incendiary bombast is at least as dangerous as a weed torch in that regard.
Veronica Egan, Teasdale
Noel Pushes Own Agenda; Represses Dialogue
Amazingly, I am actually in agreement with Mike Noel! I think several environmental groups mis-handled the Cedar Mountain timber sales of some years ago. But that is as far as my agreement goes. His derogatory and vituperative rant against environmentalists is a great example as to why opposing sides cannot engage in meaningful dialogue. I also think it was incredibly insensitive to push his own political agenda on the backs of many fellow citizens who have suffered great loss from the Brian Head fire. If it were not for the “bird and bunny lovers, tree huggers and rock lickers” wild, beautiful Utah would be “privatized” into exclusive hunting ranches, ranching operations, mines, timber allotments, and high dollar developments. Meanwhile the likes of Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop, Mike Noel, Mike Lee and company will scurry off to their own retreats while the rest of us are pushed into a few tightly controlled state campgrounds.
Tom Stechschulte, Hatch
My Reasons for Resigning as Wayne County Attorney
Dear Citizens of Wayne County:
As many of you know, I resigned my position as your County Attorney effective the 1st of July 2017. After hearing a number of false, and frankly outrageous rumors, I want to explain to you why I chose to leave my position before my term expired. No…Sheriff Taylor and I did not have a “knock down, drag out” fight along the side of the road. Sheriff Taylor is a wonderful law enforcement officer and he has my respect for trying to ensure law and order in Wayne County with limited resources and not a great deal of support. No…my resignation was not a part of a “plea deal,” where I agreed to resign in exchange for a guilty plea from a defendant. I prosecuted criminal defendants based on the evidence I could prove, the law that must be applied, and (I hope) common sense. No…I did not resign because I wanted more money. I ran for this position with the understanding that it was a part-time position. The responsibilities of the position have greatly increased, and thus the time I needed to devote ensuring the County was properly represented also increased. I still tried to keep the position as a part-time job, but I also wasn’t going to do the job “half-way.” My military career taught me that when something needs to be done, you do it. For this budget year, I asked for and received, an increase in my salary to reflect the increase in work. Although the County Commission did not give me what I asked for, they did give me a small salary increase for this year’s budget. I was willing to go forward with this. I resigned my position for a number of reasons. Frankly, some and maybe the majority of the reasons are personal. I had hoped to manage the personal reasons over the next year and a half in order to complete my term. However, that became difficult when certain issues I have had with the County Commission came to a head. I do not want to “air my dirty laundry” here, but I do feel that those who voted me into the office need an explanation.
As background, when I was appointed, then elected, there had not been a County Attorney who was a resident of the County in quite some time. For that reason, there was no infrastructure in place to support the County Attorney, and nothing budgeted for that support. I was provided a small office in the Courthouse basement, with a telephone, a table, and a chair. I bought my own computer, my own printer, my own desk, my own filing cabinets, and my own office supplies. During the next year, the County did start providing paper, printer ink, office supplies, and two new filing cabinets. However, I provided every other thing I needed to act as your County Attorney. Please don’t get me wrong, I understand budgetary realities facing the County. Like budget problems facing school teachers, I accepted that sometimes you do what must be done to ensure you are effective; even when the money isn’t in the budget. In an effort to be creative and reach solutions to my workload and budget, I repeatedly proposed that the County Commission authorize a part-time (10-20 hour a week) assistant for the County Attorney. This person would have taken all the administrative responsibilities that took up a great deal of my time, including victim-witness education mandated by the Utah Code. I could have then focused on legal work and legal issues. In other words, rather than paying me (at an attorney’s salary) for doing administrative work; the County could have paid an assistant at an assistant’s salary and saved money. Unfortunately this was denied. I then tried to work with the Clerk/Auditor to have a “shared” administrative person; to do legal assistant work part of the time, and personnel work part of the time. Again, this was denied. It seems there wasn’t money in the budget. I know that the County operates on a “shoestring,” and that it is often a difficult job to allocate funds to all the programs that need them. The County Commission demonstrated how hard decisions must be made when they took the Economic Development Coordinator position from full-time funding to part-time funding after losing a grant that funded the position, or when they eliminated an assistant position in Emergency Management because they determined that there was no need for the position. But, when the County Commission repeatedly refused to fund a part-time assistant for me in order to meet very real needs, but decided to reinstate an assistant position they had previously determined was not necessary, I believed it to be a wrong move and resigned early in protest. Additionally, there have been differences of opinions between me and the County Commission. I was elected to represent the citizens of Wayne County, just as they were. Our statutory responsibilities are different, but intersect. As County Attorney, I was statutorily responsible for providing legal advice to the County’s elected officials; including the County Commission. I took that responsibility seriously. However, they repeatedly sought legal advice from other attorneys and disregarded the advice I was elected to provide. The Commission repeatedly disregarded my advice regarding statutes relating to Open Meetings, for example. Additionally, as County Attorney, I was responsible for criminal prosecutions. The County Commission has nothing to do with prosecutions, other than providing funding for necessary programs. However, after a friend of a Commissioner complained that his son had a ticket, I was “directed” to drop a perfectly legal case. I refused to do so, since the Commissioner’s interference in the case was extremely improper. The Utah State Bar’s Rules of Ethics require me to represent my clients “zealously.” If I am not provided the tools to do so, it is necessary for me based on my ethics, to terminate that representation. Unfortunately, I had to make that choice here.
I want to close by saying that I was honored to be able to work for Wayne County and her citizens. Moreover, I was privileged to be able to work with hard-working and knowledgable people in County government, like Ryan Torgerson, Colleen Allen, Sharon Torgerson, Sheriff Taylor and his deputies, as well as Tawni Nelson, Teresa Brian, DeAnn Shaugaard and all the other folks who work in the Courthouse. They really do have the County’s (your) best interests at heart. They are asked, day in and day out, to do a job without necessary support or the tools they need to do the job right. Yet they “make do.” They shouldn’t have to. Those folks are the true treasure of Wayne County.
LeEllen McCartney, Teasdale
Well Done, Torrey Town
Congratulations [to Torrey Town] on a job well done on the water crisis. Many people of the town of Torrey don’t know me because I am an outsider. I am a retired Utah State Park Manager that has worked at: Lake Powell, Utah Lake State Park, Wasatch Mt. State Park. Scofield State Park, Steinaker State Park, Red Fleet State Park, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Recreational Area, East Canyon State Park and Deer Creek State Park. During these 27 years, I worked and managed numerous water systems. Deer Creek State Park was the last Park I managed with four different water systems and a visitation of up to 500,00 visitors per year. As a Manager of many different water systems throughout the State of Utah, I can appreciate the many problems that the Town of Torrey faces with the miles of pipeline that I have seen and hiked. I was extremely impressed with the amount of time that the Mayor and town council and maintenance solved the problem and provided the Town with this valuable resource. I do caution the Town not to exceed this resource by over-development.Many thanks for an excellent job with the crisis.
Paul Dixon, Torrey
Things Our Family is Grateful For
We live in San Diego, but we have a vacation home in Loa where we spend a good deal of time with our kids and grand kids. Upon our arrival in Loa my top priority is to go to the post office and get the back issues of the INSIDER out of our box, catch up on what’s been happening since our last visit, and learn what’s going on in the community currently that our family needs to know about.
We’re grateful for the interesting and informative content within each issue of the INSIDER.
We’re grateful for the ads and articles that inform us of special places and events.
We’re grateful for the ads and articles regarding where to go to get a good meal, since we like to go out to eat while we’re here.
We’re grateful for the church ads and announcements of upcoming religious events, so we know where to go for our spiritual food.
We’re grateful for the weekly articles “WILLS, TRUSTS, AND MORE” by Attorney Jeffrey McKenna, that translate legal terminology into simple language that older folks like my husband and I can understand and act upon.
We’re grateful for the page with all the funny jokes, poems, and stories which make us laugh as we share them together as a family.
We’re grateful for our home away from home in Loa; for the beauty of our surroundings; and for wonderful friends and neighbors.
Thank you, INSIDER, for all of the above, and much more. You make us feel right at home.
For the Murray Family,
Merry Murray, Loa
The water emergency in Torrey was stressful and unpleasant but I am thankful for all those who worked hard to resolve it. Mayor Scott Chesnut worked day and night to find the problem and fix it. Jeri Johnson, the emergency management coordinator, spear headed the response. Colleen Dudleston and Paula Pace practically camped out at the town office so they could notify the agencies, get help, take calls, and get out alerts. Help from the State, the County, the Crisis Management Director, the State Engineer, the Central Valley Health Department, the Division of drinking water, the Rural water association was deployed. They immediately went to work on an plan of action and then spent days working with Scott, Dustin and volunteers from around the County and did not leave until a successful outcome was reached.
Rapid growth and booming visitation from tourists have been profitable for local businesses but it is clear that Torrey’s water infrastructure is vulnerable and also needs to grow and improve. The Torrey council understands that and began applying for grants and loans over a year ago for upgrades to the system and have persisted even when they were turned down and had to reapply. Torrey was at long last awarded a grant and loan. A public hearing will be scheduled soon putting an end to the application process providing all goes well.
There were many others in town and in the county who stepped up and pitched in who I have not listed here, including neighbors who helped neighbors who could not haul water on their own. Although our water system may have been overwhelmed, our town government and our community are strong.
Chip Ward, Torrey
Is This Your Grandpa?
My family and I have just finished a 10 year project of putting together a book about my parents homesteading 160 acres in the foothills of Utah’s Uintah Mountains in north central Duchesne County. In doing research on this we found that my father, Ralph Nephi Rowley, worked for the US Forest Service and in 1938 and ’39, he was a foreman on two or three bug crews down in the Powell Forest.
I have two pictures that had the names of the men on the back and I thought it would be interesting to see if anyone would know any of these men. This picture is of my father on the right and Quinn Roundy on the left. Quinn and my father became very good friends and stayed in contact for many years.
I picked up a copy of your paper in Tropic a week or so ago. I was very interested in the story about the airplane that crashed in Wayne County in 1943. Enclose are the pictures and my check for a six month subscription to The Insider.
Keith Rowley, Duchesne, Utah
Kudos to Mack
Letter to FYI Panguitch columnist Mack Oetting,
I do not write letters of this nature often but I want to congratulate you for describing Mr. Zinke’s Garfield County visit for what it was – a farce. A pretense and fabrication of American ideals.
My brother and I have lived in Wayne County since 1989. We know national parks and monuments are the property of the American people. Not the domain of three county commissioners.
If these individuals are allowed—legally—to alter the status of a national park area that was orchestrated with due process of law for the people of America, then what is the difference between their tactics and those of any dictator?
The business community of Garfield County needs to attract the attention of the national news media, informing them how county and state politicians here repeatedly shun their attempts to be heard. (Is this the real tactic of the Utah Republican Party?) And their craze to chop up a national monument, a “gold mine” of spectacular and scientific heritage. What type of Utahn would be eager to turn this over to large corporations and gas companies to be plundered and devastated?
Remember, too, GSENM is not a city, county or state park. It is national! And this deserves national attention from every member of congress to every working man and woman.
The county commissioners will not object to this if they sincerely believe they are acting purely in the best interest of their county.
On another note, though I have no knowledge of the individuals named in your weekly columns you also include small notes on a broader national level. For example, your comments about December 7, 1941, and of the World Series last fall pitting Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs. Please keep inserting these little tidbits. They are enjoyable–and sometimes enlightening—material and reading.
For your time and attention, I wish to thank you.
Don (and Ron) Brondz, Hanksville
I was out cleaning up my yard today and all of sudden I felt the urgent need to talk to a friend. Nothing too serious just a friendly how do you do? Together, we both share someone special in our lives that share a special day and that would be today. With friends and good people that you know it doesn’t take a long drawn out conversation to get your point across because together you spend enough time communicating that doing so on a regular occasion doesn’t need to take up a major part of your day.
Anyway, during the course of my friend and I’s short conversation via Facebook messenger, something we use quite often because it is easy and we both have a lot to do. We were able to connect with a part of our past that we both had in common, and that would be special people that we love that are no longer in this world with us. But the amazing part of the our short and sweet conversation was that there was once a time when it seemed more people, that lived in close proximity to each other (like our town,) made a little more effort in public to talked to each other. And in doing so there didn’t seem to be as much animosity and as many mis-understandings as there seems to be these days.
That is not to say that there weren’t heated arguments in front of the Torrey firehouse on Town Council nights over all sorts of things from stealing water to fire trucks. Barking and nuisance dogs have always been a source of controversy too, but rarely did those confrontations result in years and year of snubs and avoidance at the local post office like they do today.
Public relations have always been a problem in politics, kissing babies and handing out bubble gum cigars are only good for about a week after an election, and then things get real come swearing in time. And I use the term swearing in rather sarcastically because there is a lot of swearing going around if you run for office and it is your first time in front of an angry crowd of your closest friends, neighbors and disgruntled constituents. It gets worse when you take a closer look at the town books and have to suggest raising taxes or water rates! But if people in small towns, and maybe even big towns too, spent just a little less time avoiding each other at the post office, or the Chuckwagon in our case, and spent a little more time on the porch talking to one another, I think a lot of the gnashing of teeth and constant trips to the clinic for blood pressure medication might be significantly reduced.
Adus Dorsey, Bicknell
I just read the May 30, 2017 Salt Lake Tribune article covering our State Representative, Mike Noel criticizing Torrey residents on opposition to the proposed gravel pit, on State Land, west of Town.
Representative Noel is quoted in the article as saying “You hypocrites down in Torrey, listen up,” Noel, R-Kanab, said at a May 17 interim legislative meeting during which he singled out residents’ opposition to a gravel pit proposed on trust lands about a mile upwind from town. “You’re getting money, and you’re criticizing the Legislature, you’re criticizing the miners. Don’t ask for money from mining to take care of your water system if you are going to sit there and criticize the people where the money comes from.”
The article also states that “State Rep. Mike Noel, whose district covers Torrey and several southern Utah counties, is arguing that because the grant money comes from federal mineral leases, people should not oppose drilling if their town relies on infrastructure funded by the CIB.”
I can’t believe that Mike doesn’t know the difference between State Institutional Trust Lands and Federal Lands. The Community Impact Board, established by Utah State Statue 35A-8-301 receives its funding for mining on Federal land not State land. His criticism of Torrey elected officials, residents and businesses shows that he is both ignorant of State law and that he is the hypocrite that should “listen up”. He had no problem asking for a CIB grant for a seasonal home subdivision (read non-residents, tourists) in his home town of Kanab but thinks that Wayne County should not have the right or the obligation to question development within the County that could have impacts on its economic growth.
I too share the desire that all the residents of Wayne County can reset the debate on the gravel pit to one of solution rather that litigation. We are all neighbors working together to make this area a wonderful place to live, work and pursue our aspirations regardless of family roots or newly found love of this beautiful County. Dialog is important and the County Commission meeting, City council meetings are important places for this to take place. We don’t need a rude lecture from an embarrassingly uninformed State Representative.
Doug Hunter, Teasdale, Utah
Theft at Henrieville Cemetery
To whom it may concern;
To the person or persons who took the horse shoe flower vase that was at Cloyd Neilson’s grave. Shame on you! It was made and put there out of love for him and you came along and disrespected him and his family by taking it. When you work as hard as we do to make our cemetery beautiful then maybe, just maybe, you have a right to steal it. Shame on you! You know who you are and I would like to meet you to see if your hands have blisters on them. Only the devil would make you do this. Shame on you! Maybe if you bring it back you won’t be damned or haunted for the rest of your life. By the way, he liked yellow roses! Bring it back and if you still want it so badly, maybe my son will make you one. Shame on you!
Signed, the Doyle Neilson Family in Henrieville
All for One and One for All
Over the past months, I have witnessed the discussions on the monuments issue and am saddened by the division that it may be causing among people whom I consider my friends. Regardless of how it turns out in the end we will all still be neighbors living in this small community and we cannot afford to be divided. I am reminded that we live in a town of amazing people who care about each other in so many ways and who are unique, interesting, giving individuals who are willing to give a helping hand to those in need. One resident said this is the best place to raise two girls because of the amazing women we have here. Some of our women are caregivers for family members. Others have accomplished great things. Bertha Fullmer at age 89 parachuted from a plane. Donna Jean Wilson was our first water master.
Thanks to Blake Spalding for the traditional 4th of July Ice cream social and talent show and Easter egg hunts. She has been known to help out many in town in so many ways. She is known for her award winning restaurant and for employing many in town. Another thanks to Chylene Mackey for all the kindness and medical care we have all received at one time or another. I think more than one baby who could not wait to get to the hospital has made its appearance into this world with Chylene’s assistance. I would also like to thank Peg Smith for her long running public communication internet service. She gets announcements out to everyone whether for an event, something for sale, a lost dog, or needing a ride to somewhere. I hope she can continue Pegboard for a long time. Peg also serves as secretary of planning commission.
Thanks also to our first responders, our teachers . the library volunteers, our music talent the BCA, the church, our school board member and all who contribute so much to our town.
Thanks also to the amazing men in the community They contribute in so many wonderful ways as fathers, farmers, teachers, public servants, ranchers, entertainers, caregivers,They do it all.
I would to honor a special couple, Bob and Naomi Brems ages 94 and 93. Bob just came home from the hospital after a miraculous healing and surgery. Naomi Is thankful to have her sweetheart home again. They have been married 75 years. We know them best for the corner garden spot next to the post office they planted with gorgeous flowers, plant and shrubs. They tended it up until about two years ago. It was amazing to drive by and see them there working on the garden. Their yard at home is a paradise of flower gardens green lawns, and pathways where you can sit and enjoy beauty and peace. They have spent their lives creating and tending these beautiful surroundings.
Mostly I want to tell my neighbors how much I appreciate all of you. When we can all come together to solve our problems we discover we all want the same thing and that is to be happy to be able to make a living, so we can continue to live here and that our children can stay here and make a living.When we accept our differences and celebrate them we can be pretty amazing. Our motto should be ‘All for one and one for all.’
Mary Jane Coombs, Boulder
It is puzzling why the Garfield County commissioners feel the need to spend taxpayer funds to create a resolution (No. 2017-4, as reported in May 18 Insider) to reverse the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, which is in San Juan — not Garfield — County. A PDF available on-line of this resolution (as of May 20) states this:
“RESOLUTION REQUESTING AND RECOMMENDING THE REVERSAL OF THE DESIGNATION OF THE BEARS EARS AREA AS A NATIONAL MONUMENT
BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED, the Board of Garfield County Commissioners expresses its unanimous opposition to the U.S. Presidential National Monument designation on December 28, 1996, under the federal Antiquities Act of 1906 of approximately 1.35 million acres known as the Bears Ears area located in southeastern Utah.”
Please note, in the first place, that the resolution makes no sense, since the headline is about Bears Ears, but the year (1996) seems to reference Grand Staircase. Second, and more important, why are the members of Garfield County commission spending Garfield County taxpayers’ money on this resolution, which is not Garfield County business? If the commissioners are fiscal conservatives, why are they wasting our money?
If the Garfield commissioners feel that the monuments somehow damage the local economy, it surely would be interesting to know what their salaries were in 1995, before the designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, since the salaries are pretty hefty now — more than the wages of many locals who are not complaining about the alleged economic disaster created by Grand Staircase. Anyone can access the information regarding commissioner salaries on the internet via www.Utahsright.com. In 2014, our clerk/auditor received over $100,000 in salary and benefits; our commissioners (whose jobs are presumably part-time) received over $70,000. I am glad our public officials seem to be enjoying more than a subsistence income despite their complaints about the local economy, yet these salaries are considerably more than those of the clerk/auditor and commissioners in our neighboring Wayne and Kane counties. If the local economy is as devastated as the commissioners would have us believe, where are the funds for those salaries and benefits coming from, if not tourist taxes and property taxes on land rising in value, due at least in part to the national monument?
Of course the Garfield County commissioners are entitled to their personal and private opinions about Bears Ears and other matters — just as all citizens are entitled to our own views — but it is wasteful and irresponsible for them, as an elected body, to squander our tax dollars making resolutions about matters that are not the direct business of Garfield county.
I appreciate the Insider’s reporting of the commissioners’ meetings. Voters and taxpayers need to know what our elected representatives are doing, and the commissioners would be wise to learn how to facilitate forums for public input that involve a broad spectrum of the community that they are paid to represent.
Geneen Marie Haugen, Boulder UT
Monument is the Correct Size
This week, DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke visits southern Utah in response to President Trump’s executive order to review national monuments that were established in the last 21 years. The order specifically targets Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and could open the door for reducing the size of or even eliminating protections for this gem of our public lands system.
Partners welcomes Secretary Zinke and the opportunity to educate him about how the folks who live here really feel about Grand Staircase-Escalante. While Utah politicians passed resolutions supporting a reduction of Grand Staircase, hundreds of community members spent countless hours attending meetings and writing letters of support for the Monument, imploring our representatives to listen to our stories about the importance of Grand Staircase-Escalante in our lives and in many cases, livelihoods.
More than 20 years ago, scientists carefully considered the boundaries of Grand Staircase before it was designated and subsequent challenges to these boundaries have failed to prove that any change is lawful. If Secretary Zinke conducts a fair and thorough assessment of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with input from all stakeholders he will undoubtedly find that it is the correct size to protect the world-class resources that it holds.
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
Gravel Pit & Hot Asphalt Plant in Upper Valley?
The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a final hearing on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 in Panguitch at the County Courthouse to approve – OR NOT – a proposed gravel pit operation and Hot Asphalt plant at Mile Marker 47.5 immediately adjacent to Highway 12 and bordering my property which I have owned for over 17 years. Please plan on attending and supporting the Upper Valley Residents in protesting the approval of this pending Conditional Use Permit.
The Upper Valley Residents and Property owners Association are “Connected to the Land” in Upper Valley. It is our home; We love this special place. A gravel pit and hot asphalt plant would adversely affect our lives and our property values.
We feel the Conditional Use Permit submitted by the applicant has also left many unanswered questions which by itself is reason for a denial by the Planning Commission. Also the ingress and egress onto Highway 12 with gravel and asphalt trucks would be dangerous to residents and tourists alike and we would hope that UDOT would not allow a right away permit
I need to say that the Commission members are aware of all of their own requirements for the permit approval and have been very deliberative in weighing the good of all parties involved and are aware of the general welfare of the public which I think is their highest concern. The CUP has been tabled twice as they have been very deliberative in weighing the good of all parties involved and I think that the general welfare of the public is their highest concern.
However I would like you to imagine a Gravel Pit and Hot Asphalt plant as your neighbor and the gateway to Escalante. Then write a letter and join the Upper Valley Residents and Property owners on May 17th in asking the Garfield County Planning Commission to PLEASE not approve this Conditional Use Permit in Upper Valley
Very truly yours, Steve Roberts, Escalante
I apologize that my letter concerning the decision on the Recapture Canyon trails near Blanding contained an error. The trail within the canyon will remain open to hikers and horseback riders but not bicycles. Under the 2008 Monticello Resource Management Plan bicycles are only allowed on designated Travel Plan routes, and the canyon bottom trail is not a designated Travel Plan route.
I hope that you will print this correction so that there is no misunderstanding about this among the cycling community.
Thank you, Ronni Egan, Teasdale
A Fair, Well-Reasoned Decision
The 12 year saga of the Recapture Canyon ATV trail has come to a long-awaited conclusion, barring appeal. Over 11 miles of motorized trails along the rims of the canyon will remain open and have several improved staging areas and informational kiosks, providing ample recreational opportunities to local residents and visitors alike. The canyon bottom will remain open to hiking, biking and horseback riding, but closed to motorized use, and the illegally constructed ATV trail, which the canyon has been reclaiming on its own in the past 10 years, will get more reclamation work, obliterating and re-vegetating portions along its length. The BLM is to be commended for making a fair, well reasoned decision that will help to protect the precious archaeological and biological resources within the canyon. This is management that considers all of the stakeholders as well as what’s best for the resource.
Respectfully, Veronica Egan, retired Executive Director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness
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