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Front Page » May 21, 2002 » Local News » News
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News


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor


The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is the site of many field trips from groups throughout the state. The month of May has been busy at the quarry with students from Salt Lake, the Ferron kindergarten class and the first grade class from Huntington Elementary having all visited the quarry.

Mike Leschin from the Bureau of Land Management is the paleontologist on duty at the quarry. He answers all the questions the students have and explains the different aspects of the quarry to the students. Cleveland-Lloyd is the densest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur bone ever found, containing the remains of at least 44 allosaurs, this world famous quarry has produced more dinosaur mounts for display in museums than any other in the world.

The Emery County Public Lands Council met in their regularly scheduled meeting on May 14 at 10 a.m. in the Emery County Courthouse. Those council members present were: Kirk Johansen, Dickson Huntington, Vernell Rowley, Tom Roush, Craig Johansen, Wes Curtis, Val Payne, Dennis Worwood, chairman, Commissioners Ira Hatch, Randy Johnson and Drew Sitterud.

The first item on the agenda was the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. The subcommittee reports were next on the agenda with Craig Johansen reporting on water. Joes Valley reservoir started the season with 37,000 acre feet of water and the May 1 stream flow forecast by the Soil Conservation Service was at 47 percent of normal. Projections are that Joes Valley will have 13,000 usable acre feet of water by the end of the season which is the very lowest the reservoir has been since 1966 when it was first filled. There will be a problem with recreation with the water being below the boat ramp for most of the season. There will probably be a lot of complaints.

Huntington Creek is currently running 37 percent of normal. They have 14,000 acre feet of water allocation out of Joes Valley and are currently drawing 300 acre feet a day; at that rate it will last 108 days. Which is three months and 20 days which will be partly into August. Cottonwood is about the same with 15,200 acre feet of primary water and 5,000 acre feet of project water. They are currently drawing 240 acre feet a day which will last approximately 85-90 days.

The Ferron drainage is currently drawing 230 acre feet a day. Millsite had 9,500 acre feet of water in storage at the beginning of the season. The power company's average is 36 acre feet a day with two units running and 53 acre feet a day with three units on line. The Huntington power plant is currently drawing 36 acre feet of water per day. Roughly by the 1st of August we will run out of water, reported Craig Johansen. He also invited Darrel Leamaster from the Castle Valley Special Service District to give a report of what the cities are doing to conserve water.

Leamaster said each city has enacted some turn taking or restrictions. In Emery on the Muddy there is no water storage and Emery owns a good percentage of water shares in Muddy Creek. They are being careful in their use and will continue to use it until the water runs out. At Dells Camp the snow was off the Snowtel earlier than anytime in history. The snow is off all of the Snowtels now. It was on the other Snowtel sites five or six days longer than usual. There is not a lot of water on any drainage. Towns are limiting watering. Some with no watering after 9 or 10 a.m. in the morning and only after 6 p.m. in the evenings.

Clawson has the tightest restrictions with watering only on Wednesday and Saturday from 6-10 p.m. They will probably run out of water in August. There was a Ferron town meeting the other night where water restrictions were discussed. The even numbered houses can water on Monday and Thursday from 6-9 a.m. or 6-9 p.m. only. The odd numbered houses can water Tuesdays and Fridays the same hours. They will be patrolling closely. The first violation will result in a 14 day suspension of water and the second violation will result in the water being shut off the rest of the season. They have a water gauge marker which will be hung in the post office which shows exactly where they are on usage.They have used one-fourth of their available water already.

In Castle Dale you can water any three days from 6-9 a.m. or 6-9 p.m. In Orangeville the west side of town can water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the east side can water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Their church, park and school have also been put on a schedule. It is a tough situation and we are trying to control it. The culinary water comes from the same block of water for each city. When the secondary water is turned off you cannot water outside with culinary water there are no shares to cover this type of watering and the culinary systems do not have the capacity.

The springs which supply the water for Huntington, Cleveland and Elmo are holding up well. We do not anticipate any trouble with the culinary water, but if people abuse it we're in trouble. The springs at peak produce 600 gallons a minute but are now running about 450-460 gallons per minute, explained Leamaster.

The recreation subcommittee report was next with Roush saying that Public Trails Day will be held on June 1 at Pole Canyon. Rosann Fillmore from the forest service has also recommended that next year we do a project with them for the 100th birthday celebration of the forest service in 2003; so I put that out for your consideration.

The heritage subcommittee report was next with Curtis saying the Heritage Area Bill is starting to move. On June 6 in Washington there will be a hearing. This is exciting news, usually with a heritage area they recommend a two year study period, but ours has already had a seven year study period.

On June 10, two officials from the Department of the Interior, Kate Stevens and Brenda Barnett will be here for three days. They will visit the Highway 89 Heritage Area and they will come over here to see the San Rafael Heritage Area.

Kathleen Truman said they are inviting all of the cities to participate and they would like to have a representation of the Castle Valley Pageant in the Castle Dale Park and also a lamb fry lunch for the visitors. They have four weeks to get a plan together and they also will have folk artists at the museum. People from the historical society are also interested in coming to meet the people from the interior department.

Truman also mentioned that Rosann Fillmore is working on the Seely Creek Guard Station determining those with common interests and people interested in the history and preservation of the site. The restoration will cost between $30-100,000 depending on if they find lead paint or not. The site is also eligible for the National Register.

Curtis also mentioned that Keith Allred from the Kennedy school of government at Harvard has been here and met with people here. He thinks the monument is a good concept. He believes that public involvement and input by the stake holders are an important part for analyzing a monument proposal. The process has not yet been outlined. There isn't an official project yet, but plenty of time will be allowed for the process.

Payne mentioned that Allred is looking to come out again soon because he felt the need to spend more time with the locals. Curtis pointed out that the heritage area will stand on its own whether or not a monument is designated, because it deals with preserving heritage and economic potential. Although the two do fit together hand and glove as a tourist destination, one is not dependent upon the other.

Payne said, "The Heritage bill has been discussed extensively and I think it is proper for this body to formulate support of the Heritage bill in a formal sense. We have never gone to the county commission and indicated formal support."

Peggy Harrison from Congressman Chris Cannon's office said the resource committee in Washington wants the county to send people to testify in support of the Heritage bill.

Commissioner Johnson concurred that they should voice full support from the public lands council and the commission for this bill. A motion was made, seconded and approved that the public lands council give their endorsement of the bill.

The access management subcommittee was next with their report. The county submitted their recommendation on the route designation to the BLM naming Alternative one with modifications. A letter was sent to all council members with a copy of the report submitted to the BLM.

The grazing subcommittee was next with Huntington saying his subcommittee had also met with Allred and he feels like they are on the right track to do some good things with him. An environmental organization has a movement going for legislation to buyout and retire grazing permits. The program is voluntary.

Curtis considered the buyout as a pie in the sky idea which is extremely unlikely and very difficult to get anywhere and not something to lose sleep over.

Huntington mentioned the passing of the Farm Bill recently which he said of the entire document the wording for ranchers was less than 1.5 percent. He said that with the drought in the area the ranchers could use some help.

The BLM update was next with Tom Rasmussen, acting field manager for the Price District Office speaking. His first comment was to clarify that they had not made any decisions on the San Rafael Route designations and that the 14,000 comments received would all be reviewed.

Floyd Johnson from the BLM said they received between 3-5,000 form letters. We've gone through them all now and they are in a stack, we are now looking at specific letters to identify specific concerns and issues. These will be passed on to a specialist to analyze by the first part of June.

Rasmussen mentioned the Last Chance drilling operation which has been on the television news and in a Salt Lake Tribune article. He said the oil and gas leases have been active in the area since 1960 when Royal Dutch Shell had a drill hole there. Maralo LLC, an oil firm, is reentering the hole and testing various zones. Last summer they contacted us with a notice of staking on June 18, 2001. The project was on the BLM bulletin board on our website until it crashed on Nov. 2. The public was well informed that the project was going on. The road people, and Val Payne from the public lands council and Capitol Reef all participated in an onsite walk through of the area involved.

The oil company taking a drill rig through Capitol Reef has gained national notoriety. The drill rig currently onsite will use the northern route to leave the park.

Payne commented that he had been down to the area in question and what's being said is a 'bunch of garbage.' The damage to the road didn't effect the desert habitat and two-thirds of the loop road was not effected. Only a two mile length of road was effected. Not the entire length of the road as was reported. The wetlands in question are in Sevier County and are merely seeps along the road. Payne reported that culverts had been replaced and the work for them was being done entirely from the road with no impact to the sides of the road. They have also put down gravel along some parts of the road which in fact has made the road better. The company has already fixed the road. "Most people will take it at face value and it looks like a lot of country was destroyed but that's just not the case," said Payne.

Rasmussen reported next on the Wilcox property in the Range Creek area which encompasses approximately 3,000 acres, with the lower part of the property being in Emery County. They have no planning yet on how to deal with that area, but various agencies will also be involved with the project. Waldo Wilcox has until July 31 to remove personal belongings from the property.

Commissioner Hatch said he was glad the property would be state or federally managed because then the public wouldn't be precluded from using the area.

Rasmussen said they are still waiting for a word from the state office on how to proceed.

Rasmussen also explained that some smaller gas companies have an interest in leasing permits near Green River. He also said they are bound by internal documents to address wilderness concerns in these areas so leasing is on hold.

"Also a company out of Oklahoma wants to lease an area east of Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry. "We have an employee out now determining wilderness value of these areas. We have less land leased recently than two years ago.

"Phillips also has plans for expansion of their coal bed methane field with some being in Emery County. They plan to add 114 new wells on 80 drilling pads. They plan to do directional drilling.

"The problem they have with this is in pumping the water out because the casing is at an angle. But, they are going to experiment with it," reported Rasmussen.

The Board of Education for the Emery County School District met at their regularly scheduled meeting on May 7 at Emery High. Board members present were: Laurel Johansen, board president, Royd Hatt, vice president, Sam Singleton, Rue Ware and Marie Johnson. Superintendent Kirk Sitterud and Ross Huntington, business administrator were also in attendance.

The first item of business was the approval of the warrants and minutes. The next item on the agenda was the principal's report. Gwen Callahan, principal at Emery High was on hand to give their report. She said they are pleased with how successful the attendance policy has been.

"Last year, 164 first notices were sent out for excessive absences. Seventy-five second notices were sent out and 33 court referrals. This year we sent out 86 first notices, 13 second notices and six, third notices. We haven't had any court referrals this year. This attendance policy is working and we appreciate your support with it. We are also down to 18 students a quarter on probation.

"We had our accreditation this year. We passed and the only thing they said was that we're not tooting our own horn enough. It was amazing to the panel how we are able to run everything. They said we have an impressive faculty and facility. Our faculty came through really slick and they are impressive and we are proud," said Callahan.

Johansen said it is obvious things are under control at the high school and it is proven by the excellence students achieve. Johnson wondered how the student lounge is coming along. Callahan said the students love it and Mr. Card built the benches and Mr. Keele and his construction students had done a lot of work on it.

The next item on the agenda was Neal Potter from Waxie Sanitary Supply with a presentation on custodial supplies. He said their program is unique and is based on two principles which include maximum production and maximizing dollars spent. One of their ideas is 'just in time inventory.' "If we went to one of your custodial closets you would probably find 20 or more cleaning products. We cut those down to five with three specialty products, this maximizes dollars," said Potter.

He mentioned each program is tailored to the needs of the individual school district. They work to change some of how cleaning is done. The average school district will spend 15-24 cents per square foot for cleaning. School districts using this program reduce their expenditures to 6-12 cents per square foot. "We work to increase productivity. We align purchases based on need established by actual use history.

"We also work with motivational programs. One district that has been with us for five years has reduced absenteeism by 20 percent by teaching hand washing. We maximize buying power for commodities by combining purchases. There is nothing like our program in the industry," said Potter.

Superintendent Sitterud said their main job is to take care of buildings and save money and Johansen thanked Potter for the presentation whichwill be taken into consideration.

The next item on the agenda was the consideration for adoption of a resolution of the Board of Education of the Emery County School District authorizing the issuance and sale of general obligation school building bonds, Series 2002, in an aggregate principal amount of $1.5 million. Kent Michie from Zions Bank explained the bonds to the board. He said the bonds would mature between 2004-07 which is a fairly short payback. The interest rates are fairly low and these have an average rate of 3.34 percent. "I don't know of another case where bonds have been sold that low," said Michie. "Zions Bank is the underwriter and they sell to investors throughout the United States. It has a bond rating of triple A which is the highest. This is because of the bond's short character. The purchase contract will need to be signed on the 23rd of May," he said.

The resolution was adopted by the board members. Michie said the first case he ever worked on was for the Emery County School District about 23-24 years ago. He introduced his partner Alex Buxton who is working on his first case.

The next item on the agenda was the consideration for adoption of a resolution providing for the voters to authorize increasing the voted leeway from a tax rate of .000400 to .000800.

Superintendent Sitterud explained the dilemma the school district is in. He said they were already trying to plan for appropriate adjustments before the legislature's cuts. This doubled the shortfall the district is facing. Adjustments and cuts took care of half of the $550,000. The district has been cutting $500-600,000 per year for the past five-six years. That is a $3 million reduction from the budget these past years. "In order to maintain programs and help keep the class sizes low and buy books we are proposing to put a resolution on the June 25 primary election ballot," he said.

Superintendent Sitterud further explained that even with the increase in the voted leeway this year there will still be a tax reduction for county taxpayers. Eighty-four percent of the debt service will be retired with a lowering from .001785 to .000364. On a $100,000 home without the voted increase the property tax cut will be $78. With the increase there will still be a reduction of $56 per year on property tax paid on the debt service levy. If the voted leeway were to fail the district would have to reduce 20 full-time positions over the next two years and eliminate programs and field trips. The Emery district ranks 22 out of the 40 districts in property taxes and would rank 18 out of 40 with the increased voted leeway. "We will remain somewhere in the middle. Some districts will be raising their tax rates," said Sitterud.

Johansen said they want to keep the quality of education and keep the class size down. Sitterud said the district will be sending out an information brochure as the primary election draws nearer.

Teachers present at the meeting said the Emery Education Association stands behind it and is in support of the increase in the leeway.

The next item on the agenda was the consideration and the approval of a lease agreement with Zions Bank for physical fitness equipment and program. This is a three year lease which begins in June.

The next item on the agenda was the discussion of a fire curtain for the Emery High auditorium. The bids received for the curtain were higher than expected and the item was tabled until another bid could be secured.

The next item was the discussion of the student house construction project. Sitterud reported that the construction class is finishing their fourth house. There is a problem right now getting financing with the Utah Housing so Ed Clark has requested that they use funds previously set aside to begin their fifth home. The board approved the decision.

The next item on the agenda was the approval of the travel policy. This is for reimbursements of traveling expenses. The Emery policy is taken from the state travel policy with a few minor adjustments. If arrangements are made through the state travel agency then government rates apply for motels and this saves the district money for traveling expenses.

The Superintendent's report was next. Sitterud asked for the approval of Colleen Bott as the secretary for Castle Dale Elementary and for the early retirement of Norma Jean Hansen from Cottonwood Elementary. The board approved these actions. The school trust lands proposals from Canyon View Junior High and Ferron Elementary were approved. Sitterud pointed out how well Emery County students did at the recent technology state competition at BYU. The UHSAA recognized Ruth and Kent Stilson as the 2002 3A superfans. Sixth graders from Huntington Elementary wrote letters of appreciation to the school board thanking them for the installation of new lights in the gym. Tom Baltzer, principal of Huntington Elementary also sent a letter expressing thanks for the lights and also a new heater at the school. May 30 will be the closing social honoring retirees.

Johansen and Johnson will give out diplomas at Emery High graduation and Hatt will give out diplomas at the Green River High graduation.

Duane Merrell, teacher at Emery High expressed his concerns over the elimination of the early bird classes. He said it affects the good kids who are looking to pick up extra classes. He also expressed concern that not enough seniors are taking math and science classes and that perhaps the math and science requirements should be looked at again.

Neal Peacock, teacher at Emery High also expressed his concerns that the kids who want to excel will struggle. He said he will teach an AP American History class one year and an AP European History class the next year. He will teach an early bird student government class. He said he will have two preparation periods in the day and is willing to do that. A lot of the teachers are willing to do extra to make sure students wishing to excel aren't shorted. Don't consider the minimum amount of students in a particular class but rather the number of students a teacher teaches throughout the day. He stressed the need for looking at creative ideas to work through these issues.

The school board appreciates the caring teachers in our district and voiced their concern.

Bill Broadbear from the forest service was on hand at the Emery County Public Lands Council meeting on May 14 with an update on the Arapeen Trail system. He reported that the maps have been printed and are now available at the forest service offices in Ephraim, Ferron and Price.

He said they have been working on the project for 18 months now. They wanted a map to match what is on the ground. He pointed out the forest service travel map which has been around between 15-17 years is still the forest travel plan. The Arapeen Trail map features opportunities for ATV use. By doing this they hope to focus ATV use on the loops available. The Arapeen map focuses on trails around Potters Pond and south of there. Project coordinators spent six months developing and implementing a signing system.

Broadbear said work still needs to be done on trail head areas. "The signs feature trail guidelines and rules like respecting property. All trail heads will be marked with a bulletin board. The signs are all in tune with what is on the map. We borrowed the idea from the Piute trail system. The signs will help with educating the OHV users. They deal with rider etiquette, yielding to other riders, leaving wildlife alone and other information.

"This is our best shot for now. We expect changes and corrections will occur on an annual basis and it will probably be an annual printing. We expect feedback from various users and we would like to hear from them. As people use it we hope to develop a better trail system and a better product," said Broadbear.

Broadbear has training planned for forest service office employees on the use of the map. Seasonal workers will also be out on the trails giving out maps and educating the public.


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