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Front Page » July 3, 2007 » Local News » News
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Staff writer

The rocket from Arizona State University launches into the desolate landscape outside of Green River.

The desert near Green River is the perfect environment to explore the world of rockets. The White Sands Missile Base in New Mexico used Green River as a testing ground in the 1960s and 70s with the Athena and other rockets being launched from the Green River Test Site. But rocket launching is not just a part of Green River's past it is part of their future, too, as modern rocket scientists (and their students) came to Green River to launch their creations near the river southeast of town. At a place near Crystal Geyser, the students and their mentors gathered in the 100 degree heat to construct and launch the rockets.

Three teams of students, one from Utah State University, one from Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., and the final one from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin, came to the Utah desert to show their stuff. On hand to observe the competition were six judges from the aerospace industry and the world of academia.

These judges job is to rate each team on their projects and determine the winner of the Second Annual Intercollegiate Rocket Launch Competition. Before the launch competition began, the teams were required to send the judges an 11 page paper summarizing their rocket design. They must also give a 45 minute oral presentation summarizing their rocket design. This oral presentation took place at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum meeting room.

The Environmental Sounding Rocket Association, in conjunction with Alliance Technical Systems (formerly Thiokol) sponsor the competition for budding engineers to display their talents. Many aerospace engineers come out to the competition to watch and take notes on the quality of engineers being turned out by the universities. The future of the aerospace industry will be in the hands of the graduates of today.

At the launch site, the teams construct their rockets with the aim of launching it and its 10 pound payload 10,000 feet in the air. In addition to the successful launch, the team is required to recover the rocket and it must be in reusable condition. The payload must not be harmed and recoverable also. Maximum points are given to the team whose rocket reaches exactly 10,000 feet in altitude.

A barometric altimeter is installed in the rocket to produce a continuous readout of altitude which allows the team on the ground to know the exact height reached by the rocket. Within one hour of the recovery of the rocket, the team must submit a printout of the altitude to the judges.

Members of the Utah State team and other helpers ready the fuel supply and the rocket.

Paul Mueller, an assistant professor USU, said, "This competition is for students to show what they can do. This is the second annual competition and Green River has been good to us. We want this competition to grow and have many more teams. An observation team is here from UCLA with plans to compete in next year's contest."

Members of the team from Utah State University were: Wade Siddoway, Mike Hammond, Jim Sanders and Shannon Eilers. The team from Arizona State was: James Villarreal, Mark Sipperly, Jacob Dennis and Tom Villarreal. Representing the Milwaukee School of Engineering were: Brian VanRoy, Graham Motzing, Joe Nelson, Sarah Johnson and Matt Woodruff. The safety person for the competition was Ralph Haycock, an adjunct professor from USU.

First place: Milwaukee School of Engineering, with rocket that reached approximately 10,900 feet with fully functional payload and recovered flawlessly

Second place: Arizona State University

Third place: Utah State University

Jim Furfaro Award for Technical Excellence (best paper, presentation, student design, and student knowledge and professionalism): Arizona State University. This award is named in memory of Jim Furfaro, an aerospace engineer at ATK, judge at last year's competition, and great supporter of student rocket projects who tragically died in an auto accident near Logan in 2006.

The US Forest Service started the Jungle Burn on Thursday.

The Ferron/Price Ranger District implemented a prescribed burn within the Ferron Creek drainage area located near Ferron Canyon Road between Willow Lake and Ferron Reservoir.

The burn started on June 28 and will continue until completed. Burn operations may resume the week of July 9. The burn is weather dependent and happens when conditions are favorable.

The burn was ignited by hand ignition and helitorch (aerial ignition). Helicopter activity will last approximately two days.

By burning under controlled conditions, effects of the fire can be managed. While the prescribed burn is taking place, the burn area will be closed to the public and there may be delays or temporary closures on Ferron Canyon Road, Forest Development Road (FDR) #022.

Traffic may be routed around to the South Side Road, FDR #043. Willow Lake Campground as well as Ferron Reservoir Campground will tentatively remain open for public camping and recreation during burn operations. However, heavy smoke conditions may be experienced at times.

Prescribed burns are used for a variety of resource benefits including improved wildlife habitat, reduced fuel buildup from insect killed trees, and to support ecosystem diversity.

Aspen is being lost by encroachment of conifers. Aspen stands provide critical habitat for many wildlife species, forage for livestock and wildlife, and to protect stream flows in critical watershed.

Aspen regenerates by sprouting following a controlled burn or other disturbance.

If you need further information visit or please contact the Ferron Ranger District at 435/384-2372.

As of Monday, the fire had burned close to 2,000 acres and is being contained and closely watched by US Forest Service workers as the fire burns itself out.

Keven Mason from Rocky Mountain Power surveys the damage.

On Thursday at approximately 5:20 p.m. a truck with a trailer knocked down a power pole in the Harts parking lot in Huntington. The truck's trailer hit a guide wire which pulled down the power line across Main Street and snapped off the power pole. The downed line also burned the back of a Jeep sitting in the parking lot. The downed line snapped causing fire and shooting flames from the two ends of the line. Emergency crews responded and immediately shut down the traffic for one block, diverting the traffic around the block and out again by Wards. The driver was unaware he had struck the wire as the truck kept moving.

Harts reported their lights flickered and went off and them came back on again. No one was hurt in the incident. Work continued by Rocky Mountain Power over the weekend to fix the damaged lines and install a new pole.

Ken Secrest points out the areas of the two exploratory wells.

XTO Energy has been in Emery County for a few years now and it looks like they are growing by leaps and bounds. XTO will acquire all of Dominion's gas wells, production and exploration. Dominion is getting out of the producing end of the business, but will still maintain the utility aspect of their business similar to Questar in Utah.

Currently Dominion has two exploratory wells going in, one near Potters Pond and the other on the Skyline. Dominion held an informational meeting to explain the gas wells and let people know that XTO will further the gas exploration in the county and surrounding areas.

The work to prepare the roadways for the drilling activity is underway now in the two selected areas.

Ken Secrest from Dominion was in charge of the meeting. He thanked Huntington City for the use of their park and for the cooperative efforts of the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, Tom Lloyd for working so well with them on the wells. Nielson Construction has been doing the dirt work on the roads involved. Big Moe's catered the event in the park.

Secrest introduced Wendy Straatmann who is the general manager from Oklahoma for Dominion over wells and exploration. Straatmann said, "We are drilling two wells on the Wasatch Plateau. We want to limit the disturbance as much as possible. We will be using existing roads. We are a large utility company based in Richmond, Va. with a subsidiary office in Oklahoma City."

Straatmann mentioned that Dominion is one of the largest drillers in the Rocky Mountains with 8-10 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. They are selling off their exploratory division to XTO.

"XTO is an excellent company who will continue this project and we hope they are successful with these wells. There is a transition going on right now. We have been working with Damion Jones and Ray Truijillo and they have been learning about the project," said Straatmann.

Secrest described the location of the wells on a map on display. He said mag-chloride will be applied to the road on June 28 and they are building the upper portion of the road for the well near Potters.

They expect to be drilling on the Potters well on or about July 15-17. Well installation takes nearly 30 days. "We hope the well has a good show," said Secrest. Well depth will be 9,500 feet.

On the Skyline well the slide area will be reconstructed and that well depth will be 8,750 feet. By fall the drilling should be complete and surface equipment in before bad weather sets in. If these wells pan out then additional wells may be considered.

Frontier Drilling will do the exploratory wells. There is already an existing pipeline in place at the location and Dominion will sell gas into the Questar pipeline. The old wells in the area have been plugged. At the time of their closure it was not economical to extract there, but now the market has changed.

Straatmann is a geologist by trade. She said the approximate closing date for the sale of Dominion to XTO is Aug. 2. Dominion has a production office in Roosevelt which will stick around to make sure the transition is smooth to XTO. XTO is aware of all agreements made by Dominion and they intend to honor everything Dominion has in place. Dominion has 500 wells in the Natural Buttes field which is 25 percent of that field in the Uintah Basin.

XTO has purchased 140 million cubic feet a day in net production. This is what Dominion has sold in their exploratory and production division. They will concentrate on the pure utility side of the business.

The disturbed area for a well site is 2.5 acres during the initial drilling and establishment of a new well. After the drilling the site will be reclaimed to bring the disturbance to just a small area. These wells have been in the planning stages for two years now. The wells will be watched for production and results will be known in 6-12 months. Any decisions on further drilling will be up to XTO.

Straatmann said they want to keep the view and the well will match and blend into the background with a color of olive black which is the color of all wells in the forest.

"These wells can mean a lot to the future of your county and we have tried to use all Utah contractors with the work we do. Also royalties are an asset to the county," said Straatmann.

Ray Trujillo from the Orangeville office of XTO said they are excited about the purchase and it will be a good thing for the county and for the company. They are still in the process of working out the details and more information will be shared as it becomes available.

In the June meeting ot the Emery School District Board of Education, Board President Laurel Johansen welcomed Kari Alton to present a report on the Tobacco Use Prevention Program. Alton discussed the goals, methods, and results of the program, which operates on a three year grant that may be extended based on need. Superintendent Kirk Sitterud and President Johansen both expressed their appreciation to Alton for her work in the program, as well as their support of program goals.

The District Employees of the Year were recognized. Superintendent Sitterud first presented the Teacher of the Year award to Tanie Worthen. The superintendent recognized Worthen for her 28 years of teaching in the school district. In addition to being an excellent teacher, Worthen has served as a faculty representative, school coordinator for the national geographic bee, and has implemented a popular dance program with sixth graders.

Johansen also recognized Worthen for having instilled a love of reading in all five of her (Johansen's) children. The superintendent next presented the Classified Employee of the Year award to LeRoy Maxfield, recognizing Maxfield's ability to accomplish major projects with skill and knowledge. The superintendent also expressed appreciation to Maxfield for all that he does for the school district. Maxfield expressed thanks for the award, adding that he feels that each member of his maintenance crew is truly deserving of the award. Members of the board each expressed their congratulations and appreciation to Worthen and Maxfield.

Following the presentation of these awards, a public hearing was entered into to receive comment on the tentative budget for fiscal year 2008.

Business Administrator Jared Black gave a short presentation on the proposed tentative budget for FY 2008 and recommended the board approve it as presented. During the presentation, members of the board asked various questions about the budget. No other comments were made.

The hearing closed and the general session reconvened and the board approved the tentative budget for fiscal year 2008 as presented.

Following approval of the tentative budget, another public hearing was entered into to receive public comment on opening and adjusting the budget for fiscal year 2007, which ends June 30.

Black explained that during the year there had been a number of changes in revenues and expenditures in various programs. These changes make it necessary to adjust budgets for these programs.

The board approved the changes.

Superintendent Sitterud presented the following policies to the Board, recommending that they each be rescinded: GCPC: retirement of professional and support staff; GDPC: retirement of professional and support staff; GCPCA: early retirement; GDPCA: early retirement; GCPCAA: early retirement; GCPCAB: district purchase of employee service credit; and IKFBA: graduation exercises�certificate of progress.

Sitterud explained that the six policies on this list are intended to be replaced by the new staff sick leave payout and longevity policies. Policy IKFBA is no longer valid since the law does not currently allow Certificates of Progress.

For these reasons, the Superintendent recommended that the Board rescind each of these policies. After consideration by the board, the board approved the action.

Superintendent Sitterud next presented the following policies to the Board, recommending that each be approved or revised as presented:

New Policies for Approval: GCBDB: staff sick leave payout; GDBDB: staff sick leave payout; GCBDC: staff longevity benefit; GDBDC: staff longevity benefit; and revision of existing policy: GCFF/GDFE: post-retirement employment.

Sitterud explained that the new policies are the result of many months of work by a committee of employees tasked with reducing the OPEB liability of the district. This committee included board members as well as administrative, certified, and classified employees. These new policies are the unanimous recommendation of the committee and are intended to replace the early retirement policies that were just rescinded. Sitterud added his appreciation to all those who worked on the committee.

Black explained the purpose and details of the new policies, answering various questions in the process. Black also noted his appreciation of all members of the committee.

Sitterud mentioned that the post-retirement employment policy (GCFF/GDFE) needs to be revised in order to comply with current policies and rules of the Utah Retirement System.Following these comments, theboard approved the changes.

Sitterud then presented a revised policy coding system to the board for approval, explaining that the revisions will put the district's policy manual in compliance with the most current NSBA standards.

After a brief review of the coding system, the board approved unanimously.

The next action item was the consideration of a new school psychologist position in the School District. The funding for this position would be through special education funding. The District each year sees more and more students with disabilities that are behavioral in nature. These students need specialized help, which includes coordination between teachers and parents.

Jon Crawford further explained the need for the position, adding that the funding is already in place and is structured to be on-going funding through State Special Education programs. The board approved unanimously.

Sitterud also presented to the board a letter of resignation from Tiffany Christiansen, recommending that the board accept Christiansen's resignation, effective at the end of the current contract year. Christiansen will be moving to Spanish Fork due to her husband changing jobs. The board accepted her resignation.

Superintendent Sitterud next presented a revised extracurricular pay schedule noting that it has been several years since the schedule has been revised. JJ Grant then explained that the schedule reflects an increase of 10 percent to all assignments, with two exceptions.

First, the summer band pay has been changed to a flat amount of $9,000, which will be distributed among the band teachers at their discretion. Second, the schedule includes a new flat rate for summer weights ($800) and football conditioning ($850). These adjusted amounts have been factored into the tentative budget.

Sitterud recommended to the board that the following persons be approved for hire, beginning employment at the start of the appropriate contract period for the 2007-08 school year: Dixie Fielder, counselor, Emery High; Jimmy Jones, assistant principal, Emery High; Linda Wilberg, work-based learning coordinator, Emery High; Tony White, social studies teacher, Green River High; Robert Maughn, special education, PE, health, French, and driver's ed; Green River High; Burke Simmons, music, art, and media, Green River High; Patrick Brady, assistant principal (additional prep period), Green River High; Christine Shaw, special education teacher, Huntington Elementary; Sara Grindley, educational assistant, three hour, Cottonwood Elementary; and Doris Price, preschool educational assistant, three hour; Janice Mortensen, preschool educational assistant, three hour.

Superintendent Sitterud asked the board to consider approval of the District Comprehensive Guidance and Work-Based Learning Programs. The programs were approved. The Superintendent then presented to the board a request from the Emery County Assessor to rent a district school bus for the upcoming County Assessor's Conference. The bus would be used to transport conference participants to tourist sites in the area. The county is willing to pay rent and provide liability insurance. It was approved.

Business Administrator Black next presented several bids to the board for consideration and approval.

The first set of bids reviewed was for summer carpet and tiling projects which will take place throughout the district. It was approved to accept the combined bid of $49,718 from Affordable Flooring.

Bids for heating upgrades at the two junior high schools were next to be reviewed. Black stated that three bids had been received for this project: Pinnacle Heating for $91,000, C and C Heating and Air for $97,875, and SR Mechanical for $168,000. The board accepted the bid of $91,000 from Pinnacle Heating.

Next, bids for a parking lot behind the new gymnasium at Green River High School were reviewed. Black recommended awarding bids for this project to High Desert Excavating ($6,832 for the preparation and base work) and to Nielson Construction ($28,304 for laying 3" of asphalt).

Lastly, bids for a parking lot behind the new gymnasium at Green River High School were reviewed. Black next requested board approval for the construction class at Emery High School to build a house on district owned property next school year. He recommended the board approve a budget of $150,000 for this project. He indicated the funds were a part of the capital outlay fund balance that has been held over from the sale of student built houses.

Another action was for the board to declare the following vehicles and property as surplus and authorize the business administrator to advertise them for sale: D10, a 1995 Astro; D13, a 1994 Corsica; D14, a 1982 Sierra; D23, a 1996 Corsica; D36, a 1991 Dodge Pickup; 941, a 1994 Bluebird bus; 942, also a 1994 Bluebird bus, and a 1988 John Deere 314 Mower. The motion passed unanimously.

Superintendent Sitterud briefly reported that the optional Extended Day Kindergarten will be offered at Book Cliff Elementary this upcoming school year. There is not enough funding for two programs. The district will hire an educational assistant to work in this program.

The superintendent also wanted to recognize Camille Fehlberg as one of 25 national recipients of the "Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year" award. Fehlberg will receive a $7,500 scholarship and will appear in the June 22 edition of USA Today as well as either Sports Illustrated or ESPN the Magazine. She will also travel to Florida with her parents to receive the award. Members of the Board wished to express their congratulations to Fehlberg and her parents.

Black asked Maxfield to update the board on the status of the gymnasium construction in Green River. Maxfield indicated that the project is still expected to be completed by the July 5 deadline. Hatt commented that the new gymnasium is an impressive facility and adds a new dimension to Green River High School.

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