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Front Page » December 18, 2007 » Local News » News
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Huntington Elementary teacher, Claron Durrant and student, Draydon Balone, work with the new Smartboards purchased with school trustlands monies.

Each year local schools are required to publicize what they do with their school trustlands monies as part of the grant process.The Huntington Elementary School Trustlands Committee and School Improvement Committee is very active in improving the learning at Huntington Elementary. The funds from the trustlands these past seven years have been well used in obtaining the necessary items needed to keep this school functioning at a higher level. This past year has been no exception. The trustlands monies were used for an update for the Yearly Progress Pro. The YPP is a tracking system for math progress for all grade levels in the computer lab.

With the YPP, the student's weekly progress in math is monitored. This gives the teachers a current knowledge of where each student stands; therefore serving their individual needs more precisely. Teachers have also been using this information to give accurate and specific whole group instruction.

There is a per student cost for this program and it recently raised from $6.99 per student to $7.99. The school will continue to upgrade and use this software each year to track the students progress in math.

Another area where the trustlands money was used is the purchase of seven LCD projectors.

Along with the projectors, the needed wiring and related equipment was purchased such as replacement bulbs. These LCD projectors are used in conjunction with the Smartboards. The school now has Smartboards in each of the classrooms. These Smartboards are amazing technology and the teachers have been trained on them extensively. "The students are really excited and willing to learn with the addition of these Smartboards," said Claron Durrant, committee chairman.

The progress of the students in math is kept by the Yearly Progress Pro math program.

"Smartboards increase the teacher's ability to introduce concepts to the students. It has also reached the kinesthetic learners, visual learners and auditory learners in an even broader sense.

"We believe the connection between educational technology and our student's future learning and success is crucial. We need to provide an education which will help our students truly succeed. Technology in the classroom becomes increasingly important as jobs become more technical each year and advances are made at a rapid pace. We must stay actively involved in our student's education to see that our public schools keep pace in this rapidly changing environment. We believe the installation of these Smartboards goes a long way in helping Huntington Elementary keep up.

"One advantage to using Smartboards with a group is it doesn't isolate students at individual computers. All students are interacting at the same time, as they all see they same thing on the screen. The large screens help children to be able to see what's going on. Students retain the information they learn because they are more engaged and motivated in the classroom.

"The list could go on and on. We are grateful for the opportunity we have had to purchase these Smartboards this past year with our school trustlands monies. We are looking forward as a commitee to meeting together on a monthly basis to plan for the use of next year's monies," said Durrant.

Local businesses team up to brighten holidays for elderly

Tillie Winder admires the poinsettia local businesses gave away at the Emery County Care and Rehab Center.

The spirit of the season is giving and give is what local businesses have done. An idea to spread a little cheer to local rest homes was started by the Eastern Utah Broadcasting system, which includes KOAL, KRPX and K98.3 radio stations, Gordon's Nursery and Floral and ECI-Electrical Contractors, Inc.

They teamed up to bring a bit of holiday color to the lives of residents of local nursing homes and care centers. On Dec. 11, Paul Anderson and Santa's helpers delivered poinsettias to the Emery County Care and Rehabilitation Center in Ferron.

The residents all expressed their surprise at the special delivery. Resident Clyde Cox said, "Look at the pretty flowers."

Merlin Black said, "How nice of them to do this for all of us."

Maggie Hansen never at a loss for words said, "How special this makes us feel." She directed those delivering the flowers to make sure they made it around to each room.

Anderson said, "We hope to do this every year. We are delivering 250 poinsettias to the area care centers."

Along with each poinsettia plant was a card which listed those who donated the flower. Each card said, "May the wondrous spirit of Christmas fill your heart today."

And the wondrous spirit did fill the halls and rooms of the care center as the flowers will brighten the rooms and hearts of the residents for weeks to come.

The residents expressed their thanks for the beautiful flowers and the surprise delivery.

Whitney Fauver and Larelan Huntsman serve homemade ice cream at the pioneer village before the Castle Valley Pageant in August.

The Castle Valley Pageant has been an annual tradition in Emery County dating back to 1978. Montell Seely is the man with a vision when it came to the pageant.

He wrote a story to depict the early settlers to Emery County who came from the Sanpete Valley. The settlers were instructed to settle the Castle Valley by Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was the last order or directive he gave before passing away.

Montell has a passion for bringing the stories of the pioneers to life. He wants to make their stories very real for the generations of today and those people yet to come. Part of preserving this story has been the presentation of the Castle Valley Pageant each year. The pageant grew from a two night production to eight nights.

The pageant has taken on a life of its own and for the 25th anniversary of the pageant, Montell and his wife Kathryn and other family members prepared a book of the history of the pageant along with stories from those who have been actively involved in the pageant over the years.

Many actors have come and gone, but there are some who have been involved in the pageant for the past 30 years never missing a beat.

Montell had the idea for a pageant in the back of his mind since he was a missionary in the Central Atlantic States, he was assigned to labor on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina. The Cherokee Indians produced a pageant to tell their story of how the army rounded up the Cherokee Indians and marched them all the way to Oklahoma. This tale of their journey became known as the "Trail of Tears."

Montell as a young missionary had the opportunity to see this pageant and it made an impression on him. He had long thought Emery County needed a pageant and wished someone would put one together. He never thought that someone was him, he wasn't the pageant writing type, just a farmer; not a writer.

But, things began to change, in 1977 the LDS church initiated what they called the Activities Committee. Carol Driggs was called to be the Cultural Arts Specialist. She asked Montell who was a first counselor in the Bishopric at the time, exactly what her job was to be. Montell said to her, "What this area needs is a pageant that will tell the story of the colonization of Castle Valley. One that will pay honor to the stalwart pioneers who settled this valley." Driggs answered, "If someone will write the script, I will certainly try to direct it."

After several attempts to get local writers involved, it came down to Montell writing the script or watching his idea fade away. So he along with Kathryn began the chore of writing the pageant. Montell didn't see himself as a writer and it was a time consuming laborious process. Creating dialogue for the characters and interaction between the characters took a lot of time. The key for Montell was using real stories for the script, things that happened to the people along their way into the Castle Valley; a baby being born along the way, a baby dying along the way, a reluctant wife; all became story lines for the script.

The story of Wink and Anna in the pageant is based on Montell's grandparents dilemma of whether to come to the Castle Valley, before or after their baby was born. In those days, if you were absent from a homestead for more than six months, you would forfeit your claim to the land and a squatter could take over. In the end, the trip is made with a midwife in tow and the baby is born along the way.

The story of Joe and Tilda was based on real settlers named Joseph and Matilda Curtis Boulden. Their baby passed away above Upper Joe's valley and was brought on into Castle Valley to be buried.

Montell based the story of the reluctant wife on two couples he knew where the husband was willing to come to Castle Valley, but the wife didn't want to leave the comforts of the Sanpete Valley which was already settled. Niels Peter Miller and his wife Ellen were one of these couples. Miller made his wife a dugout which was a cut above many at the time. Upon their arrival in the valley, Ellen said, "Has it now come to this that I have to live underground? This line is in the pageant script. Many of the reluctant wives came to love the Castle Valley, but some never did. Grandma Montell upon arriving in Emery County tells how that was the first time she ever swore, uttering, "Damn a man who would bring a woman to such a God-forsaken spot."

Montell thinks this shows the spirit of the woman, not afraid to speak her mind, filled with emotion. But, she didn't quit, she didn't go back and stood by her husband in the Castle Valley soil.

Another scene, Montell said had to be in the pageant was about water issues, water was and still is always a topic for debate.

When Montell finished the script, Mrs. Driggs told him the story lacked romance and needed a love story. So the story of the courtship of Abe and Neva was added to the script. There were many single men who left Sanpete to come to the Castle Valley leaving sweethearts behind. Ken Driggs wrote the love song for Abe and Neva's scene.

Montell then set upon the task of finding the spot for the pageant to be held. It needed to be outdoors and have a theatre feel to it. He searched high and low, discarding several sites, when on a trip up the church mine road to Des-Bee-Dove. He found the spot. He got out of his pickup and walked up a hill, trudged through some cedars and there it was, laid out just as he imagined. He thought, 'This is the right place.' His soul was filled with joy as he scanned the site and knew it had been prepared for this purpose of bringing the story of the Castle Valley pioneers to life.

The site came to life with the pouring of a concrete pad for the stage and benches for seating. A dugout was constructed in 1978 by Wayne and Elaine Wilberg. A log cabin was donated in 1987 by Perry and Olive McArthur of Huntington.

Everything came together and the first production was held Aug. 11 and 12, 1978.

The pageant has evolved and changed through the years to what it has become today. Now it seems another change is in the works. The pageant went from a local production to being one of the church sponsored pageants similar to the Manti Pageant, Hill Cumorah and others.

There is a pageant review committee set up by the LDS church. They came and reviewed the pageant a couple of years back. According to Mark Justice who is the current pageant president. They look at the pageant for quality, its main purpose, and if it is serving that purpose. Pageants are used as missionary tools for teaching about the church.

The pageant committee received a letter from Ronald A. Rasband which states, "From time to time it is necessary to adjust our programs to meet the needs of the expanding Church. In this light it has been decided that the Clarkston and Castle Valley Pageants will be performed on an alternating basis, so each would operate every other year.

"The Castle Valley Pageant will run as scheduled in 2008, then will not be performed again until 2010. It will then continue on even-numbered years. We trust that this change will relieve any burdens an annual production would place on the members of your stake and community. It is our intent that this change will bless the lives of the families who participate in the pageant while still maintaining the important tradition of the pageant in the Clarkston and Castle Valley areas. We appreciate the countless hours of sacrifice by those who have served so diligently over the years to carry out these pageants.

"Further, it is hoped that producing the pageants every other year will increase anticipation for the pageants and their positive influence in your areas. We appreciate your support of this decision and invite you to communicate this adjustment to the members of your stake," wrote Rasband.

Justice said they were surprised by the decision and will continue the pageant on its new time schedule.

The Emery County Public Lands Council discussed a timber theft at their December meeting.

"The logging project on East Mountain is scheduled to be complete in four days," said Adam Robison, forester for the School and Institutional Trusts Lands Administration. This project is in Mill Canyon and is a legitimate operation. A recent timber theft on East Mountain is located over the ridge from this logging. Those involved with the timber theft have been located and prosecuted. The prosecuted persons were ordered to pay restitution and these funds have enabled the SITLA logging operation to partially repair the damage done by the timber thieves.

Robison stated he is monitoring the run off in the area of the logging project. He is concerned about the amount of sediment being deposited into the streams. During the spring of 2007, he noted that nothing unsatisfactory was discovered in the amounts of sediments being carried in the run off.

Sherril Ward, public lands council member, reported a great amount of pine needles this year in irrigation systems downstream. Robison replied with the mortality numbers of the fir trees on the forest, this will be a problem for many years and is not caused by the small amount of logging his contractor is doing on East Mountain.

Robison said the project on East Mountain was carried out to take out the dead and beetle infected trees on SITLA property. "This will promote aspen regeneration in that area. We are reseeding with grasses but we are not replanting fir trees," said Robison. He noted wildlife is beginning to move into the area where the dead and dying trees have been removed.

Robison went on to say there are several projects like this one continuing around the state. The reasons for this clean-up effort is to reduce the amount of fuel for potential wildfires. "When the amount of deadfall builds up and if a fire were to come through, the fires burn so hot the soils are destroyed," stated Robison. This makes vegetation regeneration very difficult. "We did the best we could for the area. Our ultimate goal is to help the vegetation return."

Three other items were reported by Robison. A land sale is being prepared for the Lawrence area in May. It will be 60 acres. The proposals for the Green River industrial park have been advertised. The RFP should begin to come in and the goal for beginning of development is March 2008.

The final item was to inform the public lands council of the advertisement of the Cottonwood/Trail Mountain coal lease. The specifications of the lease allow a 1.8 mile safety zone from Joe's Valley Reservoir.

Council member Gary Petty thanked Robison for the work. "It is very encouraging to see someone doing something about the beetle killed trees," said Petty.

Mesia Nyman of the US Forest Service reported concerning a camera installed at the Olsen Canyon road west of Joe's Valley. At the present time the road is closed to motorized travel. She noted that many people are continuing to use this road and the camera was installed as a result. "During the past few weeks the camera has recorded several incidents of travel on this road. We are conducting an investigation now," said Nyman. She also stated the NEPA process has begun on that portion of the road.

"The ninth circuit court from California has placed an injunction on all the forest service treatment projects back to 2004. We are now stopped on all of our fuels reductions projects. No matter what we do, we get hammered on out of state law suits. We have stopped all projects at Joe's Valley and Scofield. We will be forced to do NEPA and EIAs on all projects now," Nyman concluded.

Ray Petersen, public lands director, stated the Wild and Scenic Rivers draft is out and does not list the Huntington Creek or the Left Fork as suitable for designation as Wild and Scenic. He also said Judge Kimball recently ruled against all four of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance points of their suit against the Lila Canyon mine project.

Priscilla Burton reported on this issue also. She stated all parties have signed an agreement as of Dec. 11. The project will go ahead and bids will go out soon.

Ward reported on the water year. "As of Dec. 1, we were at 26 percent of normal for the water year. Following the two amazing storms, we are at 102 percent," said Ward.

The Emery County Public Lands Council meets the second Tuesday of each month in the Old Courthouse at 10 a.m.

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