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Front Page » August 15, 2006 » Local News » Rep. Matheson visits county fair-holds roundtable
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Rep. Matheson visits county fair-holds roundtable

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Staff Writer

Rep. Jim Matheson serves lamb at the lamb fry and holds discussion with county leaders.

Just prior to his appearance at the Emery County Fair, Congressman Jim Matheson held a round table discussion with the elected officials of Emery County. He met with the commissioners and the mayors to gather input on how each entity is doing and inquire if there is anything he can do to help.

Following his discussion with the officials, the doors were opened to the Emery County Economic Development Council. The ECEDC consists of business people and concerned residents who try to promote economic growth in Emery County.

Rep. Matheson received comments from a resident about the new training facility that just opened in Carbon County.

"What we need is sustained funding from Washington to insure this facility will remain open for a long time. We owe it to our youth to do something about training them for the future," said this resident.

"I couldn't agree more. We must have trained people to compete in this world. Teaching is a lifetime thing. I'll be happy to help you look for any opportunity to get funding, whether it be grants or anything else. I'm here to help you get what you want," said Rep Matheson.

"This energy thing is, I feel, going to last a while. We need a trained workforce. I'll be on the lookout for anything that will help you here in Emery County. The training center in Price is a great idea. Anytime there is $75 a barrel oil, the opportunities are out there and you need to seek out those opportunities," Rep. Matheson continued.

Another resident thanked Rep. Matheson for his help with the training center. He then stated that his company had been trying to open a coal mine since 1998. Rep. Matheson explained that this process should not take so long. "Get me the history and we can review it and ask for a congressional inquiry to find the bog down. There is no reason the process should take so long," said Rep Matheson.

A Green River resident informed Rep. Matheson that Green River is pursuing the idea of putting in a power plant. "How can you help us with that?" asked the resident.

"As you know, when I was in the private sector, that is what I did, power plant planning. As far as helping Green River pursue this idea, I can help with anything in planning stages. As far as getting through the red tape, there is not a lot I can do to help. The permitting process can be lengthy, as you know, and there is not a lot of help through that process. Although, at the moment there are some efforts to streamline that process. Power use and demand is only going to go up. I think it is wise for Green River to look into this idea."

Rep. Jim Matheson holds a discussion with local officials and the economic development council.

A Ferron resident stated, "Hundreds of billions of dollars are going into foreign aid each year. It seems easier for other countries to get money than rural municipalities. We would like to see a better way for rural areas to get some funding help."

"You are raising a very relevant issue. In many departments of government there are many opportunities for grants to help rural areas. I understand exactly what you mean and I know it is frustrating to many," said Rep. Matheson.

A member of the economic development council stated, "One frustration is the matching funds requirement to many of the grants available. Rural areas cannot come up with the matching funds."

"Matching funds grants force the most important projects to the top of the list. But you're right," said Rep. Matheson. The Ferron resident stated that in his opinion foreign aid grants should have the same requirements.

The next topic raised to Rep. Matheson was the number of beetle killed spruce trees in the forests. "We would appreciate any help you could give us in the process of removing dead trees. If we should have a fire we would lose our watersheds. The environmentalists stall or stop the process at every step, interfering with the responsible management of the forest," said an Emery County official.

"I understand your frustration. I voted for the healthy forest initiative. It was supposed to help, but nothing has changed. Congress should do its job now and hold those agencies accountable. I also supported the emergency management act that was to move the healthy forest initiative along," said Rep. Matheson.

SR-10 and 6 were the next topic. "Is there anything you can do to help us alleviate the problem of traffic and coal trucks on SR-10 and SR-6?" asked a resident.

"I would be happy to help, but my track record with the Utah Legislature is not good. But your issue is valid and I will help any way I can.

Commissioner Drew Sitterud informed Rep. Matheson that Emery County, along with other rural counties, is in need of a voice with the Utah State Legislature to keep the royalty monies in the counties.

"This is a very important rural Utah issue. The monies that are available from royalties is to deal with the impact the energy boom has on small counties. That money needs to stay in those counties," stated Rep. Matheson.

The reluctance of the railroads to extend service to rural areas was the next topic of discussion. "This is not just a Utah issue, although I am aware of its impact on the rural areas of Utah. Agriculture and other industries are also being held captive by the four railroads that operate in the U.S. Rail business is booming because it is still the most efficient way to transport goods. All of their attention is going to the high demand areas in the East and this hurts small areas. The service transportation board needs to look into this problem. As a matter of fact, a meeting is being held in Wyoming today and this may open eyes and start the process to get more rail service to smaller areas," Rep. Matheson said.

Another resident informed Rep. Matheson of his feeling about the need for a healthy workforce. "We need health insurance for workers. We need ala carte insurance programs that families can utilize. Many homes have both parents working and the insurance provided by each employer may overlap, but what the family really needs is another kind of insurance, such as dental or vision care," noted the resident.

A local businessman told Rep. Matheson, "Telecommunications are the key to a solid infrastructure. The local telecommunications company is in a battle now where some are trying to rewrite key issues that will hurt them very badly. They need help on a federal level."

A final comment was made by a local mining official. "We need your help concerning the changes that are being suggested concerning the two entry mining system." Rep. Matheson informed the official that a letter has been sent to Secretaries Leavitt and Chow informing them of the harm these new changes would make in Utah. He has requested Utah people to be on the committee for the discussions concerning the two entry system.

"These changes would be more specific to Utah than to anywhere else in the country, and the track record of Utah mines is great. It will hurt Utah mines if these changes are instituted. " Rep. Matheson stated.

As a finale to the meeting, Rep. Matheson said about Ferron's salinity program. "These projects are very important for several counties in Utah, Emery being one of them. This is a win/win program. Success stories such as Ferron's are great advocates for the continuation of projects like these."

Roger Barton was then introduced and he said that a documentary has been made about the Ferron salinity project and will be distributed nationwide informing others how to form a partnership like the one Ferron Canal Company had with farmers and business. The name of the video is "The Ferron Project: More Than Sprinklers."

Rep. Matheson then visited the Emery County Fair where he helped serve lamb at the lamb fry and also enjoyed dinner at the fair.

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