The Emery County Economic Development Council meets monthly at 7:30 a.m. to discuss economic opportunities for Emery County and further the cause of economic development in the county. At the November meeting, Mike McCandless, Emery County Economic Development Director said that Sen. Bob Bennett's rural economic conference will be held in Price in May 2005. Plans are currently underway for this event. It is in its fourth year with prior conferences being held in St. George, Richfield and Cedar City.
Bennett's staff members will be in Castle Dale on Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. to discuss the conference and take input for breakout sessions. They will also be in Carbon County on Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. at the community center in room 250.
McCandless reminded the council of the public meeting to prepare comments in response to the Bureau of Land Managements Resource Management Plan. The information meeting will be held on Nov. 16 in the county building at 6:30 p.m. BLM officials as well as Ray Petersen, public lands director, Kathleen Truman and McCandless will make presentations and discuss the alternatives and potential impacts. The meeting will also provide information to ensure your comments will be considered by the BLM.
Ruth McCoard from the BLM said so far they have received 50,000 comments, most of which are from the environmental community. She said to be specific in your comments and not just offer opinions. All statements must be backed up by factual information to warrant any change in the draft RMP document.
Petersen informed the council to get involved and inform yourself and become familiar with the document and the alternatives. "Now is the chance to have input," said Petersen. McCandless said the county is in a unique position to have input into the process and the BLM has been listening. McCoard pointed out that the BLM is required to follow its policy and procedures in regards to any changes in the draft document. Only Congress can change the process the BLM must follow.
McCandless mentioned the subgroups of the public lands council have been working to prepare responses for the BLM.
The forest service also held their first public meeting and will be traveling around the state hosting meetings on their preliminary analysis of the management situation. This analysis is the first step in revising the existing Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. The Castle Dale meeting was on Nov. 1. Meetings will follow in Monticello on Nov. 3; Moab Nov. 4; Nov. 8 in Manti; Nov. 9 in Nephi; and Nov. 10 in Provo. Comments on the notice of intent must be postmarked by Dec. 21.
The economic development council wants to develop a plan to be incorporated into the county master plan. Chairman Marc Stilson wants to develop an economic plan with the help of the cities and the county. If the interest isn't there then the plan will just be developed within the economic development council.
Phil Fauver spoke of a planning effort for the county and cities where they bring in three or four events to the county that will draw a lot of people. One such event he mentioned is a giant flea market, where vendors from all over are invited into the county. Possible locations for the event could be the rodeo grounds in Castle Dale or the large empty lot in Huntington behind the Riverside Restaurant. Fauver said he had collected a list of all the vendors who come to the Melon Days celebration and they would be invited to such an event. He said the idea came up because of the interest generated by the Service Discount Store which is open every Friday in Castle Dale. Planning efforts and goal setting will be discussed in earnest at the December meeting.
Commissioner Drew Sitterud mentioned the state will make $50,000 available to the county to revitalize the county general master plan and the county is interested in working with groups interested in this plan.
Fauver wondered if anyone liked the idea of the giant flea market. The council was favorable to the idea and one comment made was to focus more on local vendors rather than bringing people in from the outside and to market what we have here.
Connie Copenhaver from Green River said the local vendors at Melon Days are given discounts, but they could not put their event on with just local vendors because there just aren't enough of them. She said that Green River has formed committees to look at bringing in various events, an OHV rally and a marathon are being considered at this time.
Commissioner Sitterud said that Tyrell Jewkes is looking to bring a flea market and climbing festival to the county in April of next year and that Fauver could get in contact with him and maybe work together on the event.
Sharon Earl from the Emery County Chamber of Commerce said the county already has a perfect starting point with the Castle Valley Pageant and the number of visitors it draws each year.
McCoard again reminded those present that BLM land is needed for events like a climbing festival and marathon and other activities of these types. She said to make sure that comments are made known to the BLM of a desire to hold such events. Those making comments will gain standing and have a voice in the process. McCandless pointed out that one of the alternatives would make large gatherings of this type difficult.
It was suggested that Dwight Rimmasch, the Utah Travel Division Marketing Manager come to the county to hold some workshops on destination tourism and how to draw people into the county.
Truman said we have a lot to work with in the county. The lamb fry supports the local industry. People are repeat visitors to the county to see the pageant and eat at the lamb fry.
Earl said the first three days of the lamb fry before the county fair starts would be a perfect opportunity for other events. She wants to encourage people to stay for more than just a few hours and to stay in the county for a few days.
Truman mentioned the quilt festival idea that was brought up at the economic summit or something similar where classes are offered for a fee and would attract people.
Linda Jewkes said the idea of a lamb fry is common to us here, but she participated in a lamb fry in Monticello where it was a novelty. She suggested we build on it and become the lamb fry destination for the state.
Truman said the Spanish Trail is being listed on the National Register and scoping meetings will be held on the development of the trail. The Spanish Trail includes 10 counties in Utah and following the Trail could be a destination.
In other business, Shanae Butler said the business students are ready to go with the newsletter and just need information to include in the letter. She was interested in getting a calendar of events to include and was directed to the county website. Also business spotlights can be included in the newsletter. Butler is also setting up an email account which the council members can use to get information included in the newsletter. The first newsletter is scheduled to come out in Jan. 2005.
Jewkes mentioned a couple of meetings held last year where agencies offering similar services came together to discuss ways to avoid duplication of services. She said the meetings were worthwhile, but went no further. She suggested the agencies meet again to try to coordinate services and to invite chairman and directors and those who can make decisions in these matters.
Earl said the meeting was very informative and there was a lot of duplication going on. She said the whole point would be to select something for each group to specialize in. She mentioned that the county isn't moving forward and things are just being rehashed that were talked about 20 years ago and nothing ever gets done. She would like to see ideas utilized and put into effect. "Let's choose something and make it go," said Earl.
Jewkes said they will try again and get a meeting set up for sometime this month. The next meeting of the economic development council will be on Dec. 7 at 7:30 a.m.