The Ferron Special Events Center Committee meets regularly to discuss the center and various funding options. Kathleen Truman is helping the committee prepare grants for money to do a feasibility and community impact study. Mayor Garth Larsen said the prepared document will also be used to request funding from other sources as well.
Truman said, "We are submitting a grant to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Rural Community Assistance. We will prepare an opportunity need statement. It looks good that there are buildings in place at the rodeo grounds already. The purpose and need for the project will be list our area as suffering an economic downturn and we also hope to diversify the economy and build heritage tourism. We will be serving the needs of Emery County by presenting an economic opportunity. A committee has been organized and the Emery County Community Foundation will manage any donated funds coming in.
"A 50 percent tax credit is available on your taxes for charitable donations to the foundation for the events center. Our goals and objectives are to improve the accommodations for the Southeastern Utah Junior Livestock Show, provide county recreation and attract new businesses to the area. The work plan includes clearing property that the city already owns which will enhance the look of the city," said Truman.
Mayor Larsen also pointed out the burning and demolition of the old homes would also include disconnecting utilities and other things which would take quite a bit of time.
Bob Bennett said, "We will also be constructing some new hog pens for the stock show."
It was pointed out grants would be prepared for submission to the Economic Development Administration and also the CIB board in December for construction funds. Emery County would qualify for grants through the EDA for high rates of unemployment, low per capita income and actual or threatened employment resulting from changes in economic conditions, like coal mine closures. The possibility of designing the center to be built in phases was discussed.
Truman said, "Twenty-five thousand dollars will do a nice feasibility study with detailed analysis and not just generalities. The feasibility study will be available to submit with grant proposals."
Mayor Larsen said, "Our goals are to improve accommodations to perpetuate the stock show by building a much larger facility. It will give the stock show a new place, but the same home. We want to keep it here always. The economic impact study will help generate ideas for other types of activities the center could accommodate, such as using the indoor arena for 4-H and roping activities and numerous other events. Last year we had 258 exhibitors from Brigham City to St. George, they came from all over the state. We had 348 animals. The sale generated $90,000 for the exhibitors.
"This center could house high school rodeos, state 4-H competitions, state riding club, BMX, motocross, car shows, RV shows, craft shows, the possibilities are endless," said Mayor Larsen.
The dimensions of the building are 165' x 300' with a covered area of 45' x 300' for stalls. Total roofed area would be 210' x 300.' Seating capacity would be up to 2500 people. Plans are also in the works to improve the RV parking at the rodeo grounds to provide trailer hookups. The showers and concession areas are also on the improvement list. The old barn will be turned into permanent horse stalls.
"The stock show is a huge draw for the area and people arrive with their camp trailers and stay for the whole event. The judges stay in the local motel and also in Castle Dale if the need arises. A lot of the exhibitors bring parents and grandparents. Many of the people who support the stock show also stay up at Millsite and enjoy the accommodations there," said Bob Bennett.
Mayor Larsen said, "The reason we decided to follow this through was because the existing stock show barn needs extensive renovations, so we decided instead of putting our energy into the old barn a new facility would be more feasible."
Other committee members mentioned further activities the building could be used for and how it could be a benefit to local schools. Mentioning indoor volleyball, indoor soccer, wrestling matches, wrestling tournaments, exceptional rodeos, and indoor football practices in inclement weather. The committee views the project as a benefit to the whole county.
Committee member Brett Behling had done some homework since the last meeting. In talking to the directors of the Panquitch facility he found they had built their facility with borrowed money by taking out city bonds. They told him grants were hard to come by. Eldon Whittle pointed out that they have a tax base in the area which isn't the case here.
Behling said, "The CIB doesn't fund arenas any more because they had a bad experience with the Moab facility. It was thrown together and the building has gone through several managers and sits idle most of the time. It's used to keep the locals happy. So the CIB has moved away from that to more essential items. I like the idea of building in phases."
The possibility of using volunteer labor and getting people to buy into the project was discussed. With the suggestion from Behling that they start simple and add to it as funds become available.
Mayor Larsen said they will need a county wide campaign to make the events center a reality. The entire county will have to buy into it. It was mentioned at this time by Bryan Erickson the coming of the Arapeen Trail and how Ferron is a perfect jumping off spot for access to the mountains and also the desert. "We need to capitalize on what we do have in the county, horses or whatever and take advantage of it," he said.
Mayor Larsen encouraged committee members as they are traveling to visit some of the other facilities in the state. Bob Bennett mentioned an Angus show they are going to in a similar facility in Cedar City.
Truman said they should know by the first of June the status of the grant money for the feasibility study. It was determined the committee would meet at that time.
Paul Crawford said, "Don't get discouraged if this moves along slowly. Many projects have a slow start. The salinity project that we started is now almost complete. We had a lot of people who said we couldn't do it and a lot of people who didn't see the benefits and the need for it. Now Emery is going forth with a project and Carbon County is still working on theirs and Huntington is starting to buy in. These things can be done. It takes time and don't let the naysayers discourage you."
Whittle said, "I think we should set our goals high and keep them high. Big goals will help our city, communities and county. It would be a nice thing for the county. The stock show is a highly successful and established event and we need to get behind it."
Gordon Bennett reiterated the need for the people to get behind them. Mayor Larsen said they are going for the grand idea and won't take no for an answer and they will keep after it. They want to add to economic development and it can be done. "That's our course," he said.
Committee members and their affiliations are: Ferron Mayor Garth Larsen, Bob Bennett is on the livestock show board and lives in Elmo. Donna Sorensen from Ferron is on the Ferron Beautification Committee, Phil Funk from Ferron is in the "Over the Hill Gang" riding club and the Emery County Racing Association, Gordon Bennett from the Ferron City Council, Brett Behling, concerned Ferron citizen, Eldon Whittle, from Ferron who is active in 4-H and is the President of the Emery County Horse Council, Paul Crawford who described himself as the 'original, concerned citizen' is also from Ferron, Wade Allinson, from the ATV club, David Hinkins, from Orangeville, owner of the Rainbow Glass Ranch who also races horses, Dennis Worwood, county extension agent from Ferron, Bryan Erickson, from the Ferron City Council, Larry Winn from Ferron with the Emery County Racing Association and Diane Bott from Castle Dale who has been active in the stock show.
Mayor Larsen said they are interested in some representation from Huntington and Cleveland residents if any of them are interested to please contact Ferron City.
The Castle Country Rural Alliance held their first public meeting on March 23 at the Canyon View Junior High in Huntington. The meeting was well attended with more than 150 people present. Spokesman for the group, Paul Conover introduced the panel to the audience and also the moderator for the evening. Panel members included Jim Parker, former BLM state director, Dave Skinner, Montanans for Multiple Use and Rick Crawford from Garfield County. The moderator was Jeff Durrant from the Brigham Young University Geography Department.
Conover described the alliance as a work in process which provides assistance for projects. He described the group as being interested in the monument proposal as well as other issues which include water, grazing, mining, recreation, tourism and OHV use. He said they are forming a nonprofit organization whose current board of directors includes: Tory Killian, Kay Jensen, Norman Dingman and Paul Conover. He said they still have committees to fill.
He said they want to have public input in responding to the monument proposal, BLM Travel plan and forest resource management. Conover mentioned the county commission has been listed with cooperative agency status in regards to the forest plan. He said, "It's important for the citizens to learn the issues and more important to help to make final decisions."
Durrant spoke next, "My students and I have talked to several of the ranchers in the area and have also sent out a survey. We are currently processing the results of that survey. I was a little hesitant when they first asked me to participate tonight. First of all I am an outsider and this is a grassroots organization and I live in Utah County. Second, I see a lot of OHV people here and OHV use is a major concern. Third, I can't take the notes that I usually do at all the meetings I attend.
"I recently talked to Dickson Huntington a rancher in the area who also is a member of the public lands council. He told me it was a very good article I had recently submitted to the local newspaper. Then he asked me, 'What's the solution?' I don't have a big solution," said Durrant.
Durrant introduced Parker who spoke to the audience next. He said, "I retired from the BLM in 1995 and am a private consultant for Garfield County. I was the deputy director of the National BLM in Washington D.C. The BLM isn't always the enemy and maybe they can be a friend. I've met some good folks in the BLM. A lot of them wanted to do what was right but they are manipulated by special interests. They need to find balance for multiple use.
"I've seen the BLM going through a transition and moving towards more protection and it has been a jerky process. A lot of the calls have been made from the secretary's office where staffers have made the calls. It's been hard to keep someone in the national director job. The theory that in order to get rid of conflicts you need to get rid of the people (on the land) makes it much easier. And in some cases they have welcomed a transition to eliminate a use. BLM has gone through a greening process where they desire to become more like the good guys.
The National Park Service gets more money and more credit. The park service is a model plan for protection. You may find that happening in the San Rafael. That kind of management was used to design the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument laps over into other public lands. National Recreation Areas are managed much looser. A monument is used as a way to get funding. Since the establishment of the GSENM there have been 15 other BLM monuments come into existence. It's an interesting process to draw more money to the agency.
"You need to find out who your BLM people are and talk to them and tell them where you're coming from. Many BLM people have no background in the West. They know nothing about grazing, mining and timber. Be friends and help them understand and you'll be more effective. Knowledge is power. Your county commission has met with frustration and they have been upset. They have been trying to do something for so many years to protect the Swell. They see this as a help to the economy. A San Rafael destination for tourism. Give the county commission information, they need to hear from you.
"Ask them questions like: 'How would designation impact the local economy? How would it impact your use? How would it impact recreation and the culture of those who live here? Is it an opportunity? Is there a better alternative and if there is what is it? What does the San Rafael have to offer and what would designation change? Is designation of the San Rafael Monument a good idea?'
"There is much frustration, but I encourage you to look at the facts and draw your own conclusions. Get involved in the planning process. I have an outsider's view concerning Emery County. It is a large county with a relatively small population and 73 percent of the county is BLM. That is a large portion of the county where there isn't much control. Unemployment in the county is 8 percent and the 4th highest in the state. What would designation do? It takes three service jobs to make one mining job. Some of these service jobs are only for six months. These things are important.
"Recreation is a major issue. There were 4.8 motorized visits to public land and 1.4 million nonmotorized visits last year. There is a lot of competition for tourist destinations. In Utah there are five national parks, seven monuments and 45 state parks. That's a lot of competition. What's unique about the Swell to draw people here? Monuments are designated to protect the 'thing' not the land around it. The management comes from FLPMA. What is a monument? Whatever the plan says it is. Sixteen percent of BLM lands are in some kind of designation as monuments and conservation areas.
"Multiple use is hard to define that's what the conflict and the fights are about. BLM has 150 plans to be revised. One-third of those plans existed before FLPMA and are old and outdated. In working with Garfield County, the BLM and Congress there was a large lack of inventories of resources in the monument area. The inventories were ignored and the inventories of the roads were ignored. The planning was controlled out of Washington. All calls were made out of the secretary's office in my view there was a predetermined outcome and this 'busy work' showed little results. The public meeting process was very broad. With meetings held in Arizona, Las Vegas and other places. There were 8,000 postcard comments which didn't mean much and the important comments were ignored. They ignored planning terms. Their planning question asked, "What is your vision for the area?" It never asked what exists in the area. It never referred to multiple use. It used new age terms that changed the dynamics of it. They ignored public input. There was a conflict over access roads. The BLM has no authority to close roads.
"They closed roads and ended up with 886 miles of public roads. They limited the size of groups that could use an area. They ignored existing rights. They ignored the State right of way to trustlands. These rights are the county's. They ignored grazing as a protected value. Human history stopped and current history was ignored. Archeolgy became more important. They limited camping and didn't deal with the local communities. They drew boundaries up against communities which didn't allow for growth.
"Get organized and get involved in the planning. Become familiar with regulation and the law, get a handle on those. See that the county's plan is up to speed on public land. FLPMA and NEPA have specific steps and requirements on what BLM is required to do. It's a statewide problem, become an example," said Parker.
Questions from the audience were fielded by the panel. One citizen wanted to know what has happened to the lifestyle in Kane and Garfield counties and if they have been helped or hurt or restricted by the monument?
Parker answered that it's still too early to tell, but tourism has been flat. They have other tourist draws in the area with Bryce Canyon and others. He also stated that none of the county commissioners ran for re-election. It hasn't been a great experience for them.
The next citizen said that BLM land is public domain owned by the people, and they (BLM) are supposed to manage it. He also stated there is oil, gold, silver and uranium on the desert and 'we can't afford to lose it. Multiple use is for everybody. It is our claim, the only freedom we have. I don't think we need a monument. Land use planning takes care of it.
One citizen was interested in knowing who takes care of search and rescue on the Escalante Monument. Parker responded that the county takes care of it and that the BLM has some law enforcement but not search and rescue.
One citizen wondered how the heritage issue here would be different than in Escalante. Parker said the same FL PMA rules apply. In the Escalante plan, multiple use was never mentioned in the planning process and talk of culture was never mentioned.
The next citizen was interested in grazing rights. He wondered if buying out grazing rights could be made illegal. Under the Escalante plan it guaranteed that all existing rights and uses would be protected, but outside groups are buying up the grazing rights. Parker suggested to get it written in the proposal but there was no guarantee it would help.
One citizen wondered how they would know what the final proposal is. Parker suggested the more specific the proposal the better off you'll be if anything goes to court.
The next citizen was concerned that we are controlled lock, stock and barrel by environmentalists and that we are in trouble. 'It's time to take a stand and follow through with what we want. Our freedom's at stake and we have been sold down the river by people we trusted. We can help the situation if we get together and do it.'
Conover showed those present a map of Emery County and the area to be included in the monument. The BLM travel plan throughout the whole area has four options. The county in order to help clarify the travel plan is putting together four maps with each of the options included on a separate map. Conover thanked the county for this saying this information is important and it will be more easily understood. Conover encouraged everyone to make their comments soon. He stressed the importance of diversified camping on the desert and letting the BLM know how important that is. "No one wants to camp 30 feet off the road and eat dust the whole time. Think about your options and get involved," he said.
Crawford was next to speak. He said, "In 1996 we had the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument thrust upon us; with no warning and input. I want to thank Jim for the input and facts and figures. I am a hunting guide and a contractor so I am not against development. I am against things that are done unconstitutionally. What will a monument provide? Will it be compatible to access? Will it enhance? What can you get from a monument that you don't have right now?
"In Garfield county we have had a struggle. What drives tourism? It's the economy. When the American dollar is weak, rural areas do better. The economy is bad all over the world. The monument won't change a lot of that future. Perhaps tourism will pick up.
"I'm biased because I have lived through the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument and what's happened because of it. Information forces you to make a decision. We did not have a lot of time to discuss it or think about it. In the first two years there was a slight increase in travelers to the area. Now there is a decline. Ruby's Inn at the mouth of Bryce Canyon has seen a decline. The federal government doesn't care one way or the other if it increases your prosperity. It doesn't have anything to do with your well being. We are subsidizing parks in these areas right now. The Grand Staircase Escalante Monument hasn't offset costs. Federal programs are designed to get bigger.
"A monument means more control of public lands. Constitutionally the federal government doesn't have the right to public lands. But, create a monument, then the land is constitutionally legal and held by the federal government. According to the constitution there are two types of land holding. A territory for the creation of states and a federal enclave which originally was land set aside for post offices and forts. Such locations within states with their agreement can become a federal enclave. That makes it constitutional. Once land becomes a monument you lose control. I have tried to be unbiased and with no choice, I have tried to be positive to gain something, if you couldn't do anything about it. Our county currently has a law suit against the monument and our county and people have standing in court.
"We lost 160,000 acres of SITLA land, mineral laden land and oil and coal tar sands. Also by creating the monument one-third of the grazing is gone. The Department of the Interior succesfully negotiated land exchanges which took that 180,000 acres from Utah and gave it to the American public. They purchased the coal leases from Andalex for the largest low grade sulphur coal deposit in North America. The monument is managed to protect it scientifically and to maintain its primitive frontier state.
"There has been more interest in the area by universities who come to study the archeology. Motorized access is limited, we've lost all the sand dunes and one play area. We did comment but it wasn't recognized. It's difficult to know what to do. The resources aren't there to manage the monument as they (BLM) would like. Get involved, stay involved, make comments, get standing, be on the list. I don't thing a monument will benefit you. I've brought some of our county newspapers if any of you want to look at them after the meeting and there are not many positive things to say about it (monument).
The meeting was opened up for questions again. One citizen said he'd been to the ATV store and they didn't know about the county meeting and a lot of people didn't know about it. Durrant said a notice about the meeting was at the convenience store he had stopped at.
One citizen said the environmental movement is popular across the country at this time and if we say we are against environmentalists we appear to be hicks. 'We are environmental. We care about the land. People have told me it's a good idea to support the monument to appease the wilderness people. People need to have a say.'
Crawford said, "If the consensus was to manage the monument as multiple use that would be good. But many commented on Escalante and they were ignored. So I am skeptical but there may be a way."
It was pointed out that the Red Rock Wilderness contingent is still alive and well and will still go ahead with their fight for wilderness regardless of the outcome of the monument proposal. Those who want protection are pushing hard.
Skinner was next on the agenda. He spoke of the environmental movement where he lives in Montana and how they have shut down lumber mills and put a lot of people out of work. His group Montanans for Multiple use is a grass roots group. He spoke of their Boston Tree party where they cut firewood. "They won't let them mill the lumber but they can use it for firewood. The logger has become an endangered species. Many mills have been closed since 1991. Since then 72,000 acres have burned on forests that could of been managed," he said.
Skinner gave his philosophy on what needs to be done. He said, "Speak up, stand up, show up, team up, split-up responsibilites, look-up contacts, dig-up information, saddle up and convoy around SUWAs headquarters, ante-up, hit-up, sign-up and don't give up and finally know when to shut up. He told the audience that SUWA is the 9th largest reciepient of charitable donations in Utah. They are the ones with the money. We have a heritage worth defending and it's worth it. Don't concede the battle to the environmental community."
Crawford said the monument doesn't meet SUWAs objective which is wilderness. The only woman in the 2nd congressional race, Carrie Towner of Draper said she supported the people in their efforts.
The next citizen commented that the county commissioners and the public lands council admitted that a monument designation would not keep Congress from designating wilderness. 'It doesn't keep Congress from making it a national park or enlarging it. It does not get rid of Wilderness Study Areas. There is no reason for monument designation, BLM already has an alphabet to control land. It doesn't stop wilderness,' she stated
It was pointed out that BLM has almost doubled the wilderness study areas. The question was asked what can be done? Parker said to get involved in the public process. The closer you are to the land the more important your comments should be. Get involved, get standing and stay involved. Notify your senators and congressman of your views.
One citizen wondered who was going to listen to what the people have to say. One citizen refered to wilderness as a transfer of wealth. He said we shouldn't give up or compromise more land to wilderness. 'They already have half the Uintahs, pretty soon there won't be a thing for the people.'
Crawford encouraged the Emery County commissioners to get in contact with the commissioners from Kane and Garfield counties to discuss the issue. Durrant encouraged the public to stay involved because the process could go on for quite awhile.
Conover concluded the meeting by thanking the speakers and encouraging everyone to put their voices together. He also encouraged those present to let the alliance know if they have their support by becoming members and becoming involved.
PacifiCorp donated a 19,000 square foot building to Emery County. This building houses the Industrial Business Incubator for Emery County and has been designated by the governors office as a Smart Site.
The goal of the business incubator is to create new jobs and thus add to the economic strength of the community. A successful incubator works well when the community supports and becomes involved in the program. A successful "incubator" in return, benefits the whole community.
The National Business Incubator Association defines a "Business Incubator as an economic development tool designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services. A business incubator's main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding. These incubator "graduates" create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, commercialize critical new technologies and strengthen local and national economies.
Critical to the definition of an incubator is on-site management, which develops and orchestrates business, marketing and management resources tailored to a company's needs.
Incubators usually also provide clients access to appropriate rental space and flexible leases, shared basic office services and equipment, technology support services, and assistance in obtaining the financing necessary for company growth."
A survey form will be sent to Emery County residents the first of April to assist in the gathering of data for the establishment of the Emery County Industrial Business Incubator. The survey is a part of the study being done to determine the feasibility and impact of the "Industrial Business Incubator" in Emery County.
Economic Associates of Utah, Inc., a consulting firm, is performing the study with the Emery County Building Authority and Emery County Economic Development.
"We believe the Incubator will make a difference in the economic strength of our community," said Dennis Nelson, member of the MBA. "We look forward to reviewing the completed surveys."
Mike McCandless, chairman of the Emery County Economic Development Council encourages everyone to participate by filling out the survey and promptly mailing it.
The survey form will be sent with your phone bill which you will receive around April 3. Survey forms can also be picked up at the Department of Workforce Services office in Castle Dale, as well as several other locations in the county. All Emery County residents are encouraged to take a few minutes to fill out this survey and mail it back by April 10. The survey form can be folded to expose the preprinted return address and prepaid postage notice and dropped in the mail. The information gained from this survey will be very important in evaluating the potential for the industrial business incubator in Emery County. As a means to get more response to the survey, a cash prize drawing will be awarded from surveys returned by the April 10 deadline.