Archive for February, 2009

By Emily Sanderson — Feb. 18, 2009

SPRING CITY — At the Feb. 5 city council meeting in Spring City, the city’s historic spring was a major topic.

“We have been deeply, deeply affected by this,” said Joan Durfey to Mayor Eldon Barnes.

“I have been trying to protect you,” replied Mayor Barnes.

Durfey, a resident of Spring City, said she and her husband Doug have been the subject of scrutiny regarding her claim to water rights of the historical Big Spring, which runs through Spring City.  She says that although the city claimed in a letter to the editor (published in the Messenger Jan. 28) that the Durfeys have claim to 100 percent of the water, she denies their intent to use all of the 9,000 gallons a day of measured output on the spring.

However, the present application, available on the Utah Division of Water Rights’ website at http://waterrights.utah.gov/cblapps/wrprint.exe?wrnum=65-3767, claims their interest in the spring is 100 percent.

“Surely no one needs 9,000 gallons a day for ‘a .90 acre lot in Spring City with four animal units and one domestic household,’ as listed on the claim.  The property that the spring water has been piped to has four shares of Horseshoe Mountain Irrigation water that came with the property, in addition to culinary water every household in Spring City has access to,” says the letter submitted to the Messenger by Councilmember Kimberly Stewart.

Several Spring City residents protested the Durfey’s application, which was submitted Oct. 27, 2008.  Names of all 42 households contesting the application are listed on the Water Rights website.

“You are not making it clear what the city is doing,” Durfey said.  “It appears there is a contest between the Allreds, the Durfeys, and the city … but we have had the right to use the water since October.”

A brief recess was called in the middle of her address to the city council because of the tension in the room.

Mayor Barnes said the State Engineer will schedule a public hearing to discuss the protest of the Durfey’s application.  The city may contact an attorney when the date of the hearing is determined.  There has been some delay in this process because a new State Engineer was recently transitioned in.


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By Emily Sanderson — Feb. 18, 2009

SPRING CITY — A public hearing was held prior to the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Feb. 5 to take comments regarding an amendment to the water ordinance to allow for installation of master meters to meet the needs of the city’s existing trailer court, as well as future needs, such as apartment complexes.

The city will charge individual trailer residents the base rate.  Any overage will be charged to the trailer park manager for him to divide among residents as he sees fit, said Mayor Eldon Barnes.

“A master meter will allow us to see what is really happening,” Mayor Barnes said.  “This is the cleanest way for us to do it.”

Installation of the master meter will cost around $5,000, and the Mayor indicated that the city will pay for the trailer park’s installation, but they reserve the right to charge future developers for such installation in the future.

A separate ordinance may be pursued to specify the billing method for residents on the master meter.  New language in the water ordinance will be developed to address concerns residents brought forward in the public hearing regarding guest houses.  If a resident is using a guest house as a rental, the resident will be charged for two base rates, and the resident will be required to have a special permit, Mayor Barnes said.

The council approved blueprints to add on to the fire station, contingent on government funding, which may be available in the new few weeks.  The approval was given if the funds become available and on the contingency that the funds will not require matching funds from the city.

Fire Chief Noel Bertelsen requested approval of plans to add on to the fire station.  His design would add 40 feet to the side bay, classroom space and a corrugated steel roof.  It would increase the present fire station to the size the fire department originally intended.  During the original construction, more funds than planned were used to build a historic-looking facade to match the schoolhouse.

The new size would provide for three small fire trucks or two large ones.  In the next few months, the fire department will be able to replace an old brush truck that is about 50 years old.

“The fire station has gotten way behind over the years,” Bertelsen said.  “We need to have a bumper and a back-up that are ISO certified,” meeting national standards.

The fire department is required to handle structural fires and urban interface wildfires.  Spring City has a contract with Sanpete County that provides them with funds to fight wildfires over a large area surrounding Spring City.

David Allred of Spring City addressed the city council with the request to organize a youth sports program that would work in conjunction with the program in Mt. Pleasant.  The program would require a coordinator working on at least a part-time basis throughout the calendar year.  Depending on the season, the coordinator would help organize basketball, softball, soccer, flag football and other sports teams.

There was concern among city council members that there may not be an advantage to Spring City starting a league of its own that would be more expensive than the fees Mt. Pleasant charges.

The City Council approved the hiring of an athletic director who, at minimum, would work with the sports program coordinator in Mt. Pleasant to help get the word out to youth about signing up for different sports teams.

A zoning permit for Brandon Vincent was denied by the city council with the request that he get approval from the Board of Adjusters.  Vincent purchased a plot of land that is too small to build a home with the current city zoning requirements.  He has requested that the city waive the setback requirement, which was not required when the plot was originally established several decades ago.

A dilapidated trailer is currently onsite, and Vincent’s present building plans, a modification of his original submission, include a second floor and a basement in order to fulfill the minimum 1,000 square-feet requirement, but the most recent request has not been presented to the Board of Adjusters.

Although residents surrounding the property are all in support of the new structure, the City Council decided that the Board of Adjusters, which is more familiar with building and zoning requirements from a legal standpoint, should review the matter.

A new member of the Spring City Planning and Zoning Committee was approved by the council.  Michael Black, a former alternate member for the committee, has become a full member.  Lonnie Brewer was also approved as a new alternate member.

A write-off of approximately $800 in utility bills was approved by the council.  A former Spring City resident whose home was foreclosed on has moved out of the area and cannot be found.  He was previously diagnosed with cancer and was unable to work.

Another utility write-off was approved regarding a clerical error in a bill for Mayor Barnes’ son.  Documentation is on file with the date he had requested utilities be turned off in a home he was renting that had been foreclosed.  Members of the family went to clean after the request was made to turn off the utilities, and the individuals were witnessed on the property.  Mayor Barnes abstained from the vote.

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By Emily Sanderson — Feb. 11, 2009

EPHRAIM — At the recent Ephraim City Council meeting, a house bill presently before state legislators may influence the agreement between Ephraim City and the South Sanpete School District regarding the new elementary school scheduled for construction this year.

H.B. 259, Prohibition of Impact Fees on School Districts and Charter Schools, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, in addition to prohibiting a municipality from charging impact fees, would prohibit a municipality from requiring “a school district or charter school to participate in the cost of any roadway or sidewalk, or a study on the impact of a school on a roadway or sidewalk, that is not reasonably necessary for the safety of school children and not located on or contiguous to school property, unless the roadway or sidewalk is required to connect an otherwise isolated school site to an existing roadway.”

If H.B. 259 passes, the negotiation process between the city and the school district would change.

South Sanpete School District has already requested that the City of Ephraim waive impact fees for the school’s construction, and the city has considered this in exchange for a long-term lease of the Green Space, the playground at the present elementary school located on Main Street, to be used as a city park.

The city and the school district have agreed to pool costs in building a road that will be adjacent to the new school and the middle school (approximately 600 South), but other matters, such as the impact-fee exchange and the question of who will build the sidewalk between 300 South and 400 South, are still under negotiation, said Richard Anderson, city manager.

The school district is “no different than any other developer” regarding the development of the street.  Since the city owns land on the other side of the street which they are presently developing as a city park with soccer fields, the city would be responsible for building their side of the street, and the school would be responsible for building their half of the street.  The elementary school scheduled for construction in Gunnison this year is experiencing some of the same issues, Anderson said.

Volunteer firefighters from Ephraim attended fire school last month, and two firemen are now certified to do fire safety inspections on businesses.  Presently, the city requires fire safety inspections for businesses required by the state to have them.

In 2008, a new law required that cigarettes sold throughout Utah be “burn free,” which means a cigarette is now designed to go out unless it is in the process of being smoked.  This was done to help reduce accidental fires.  In 2010, a law will go into effect requiring that all newly built residential homes have indoor sprinkler systems to help prevent fires, according to Kerri Steck, Ephraim Fire Chief.

Ephraim City’s utility board recently obtained some water rights and will be constructiong a water storage tank.  They will also pursue expansion of the city’s sewer system, either by building larger lagoons or developing a water-treatment process to provide secondary water for agriculture, said Councilman David Warren.

Councilman Kim Cragun said he has submitted the application for Ephraim to be a Tree City in 2010, which will be the 12th year that the city has had this designation.

Ephraim city agreed to an offer for a plot of land located at 67 E. 450 North, just east of the Eye Center of Ephraim.  Charlene Ignacio, who lives in Hawaii, offered $50,000 for the land.  Proceeds from the sale will be put in the fund to build a new rodeo arena.

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img_0521Brad Taggart is speaking with Steve Brenchley of Nolte Engineering during a recent open house held in Ephraim City to discuss the proposed Main Street improvement project.

By Emily Sanderson — January 28, 2009

EPHRAIM — Residents attended an open house at the city building Jan. 21 prior to the city council meeting to view concept drawings for the Main Street revitalization project.

The concept drawings, which were prepared by Nolte Engineering, a consulting firm that specializes in such projects, compiled ideas from a number of sources, including preliminary drafts from the Landscape Architecture Department at Utah State University, said Steve Brenchley, who represented Nolte that night.  He is based in the Fort Collins, Colo., office.

Revitalization of Ephraim’s Main Street will focus on the streets and sidewalks in the center of Ephraim, specifically on both sides of Main Street from 100 North to 100 South and on 100 North from Main Street to 100 East.  The city will rely on federal and state grants to fund 70 t0 80 percent of the current concept, the total of which is estimated at $4.5 to $5.5 million.  Estimated start of the project has been delayed until 2011 because of a lack of federal grants available at this time due to the challenging economy, according to the Nolte’s proposal.

“We may be behind the eight ball right now, but I think we still have potential,” Brenchley said.  “There is not a lot of money to fund the project right now, but there will be in the future.  We can start small and focus first around the library.”

Although the improvements are supported by many residents, some are concerned that the beautification will not necessarily lead to increased business to Main Street businesses.

“I am an optimist,” said Councilman David Parrish.  “We have to move forward on creating a vision.  We will have opposition no matter what.  I just hope we don’t lose momentum.”

“We have a lot of things to consider, but we need to keep pushing,” said Mayor Cliff Birrell.

More information about the concept plans may be accessed at http://www.ephraimcity.org.

In other matters, Kim Pickett of the South Sanpete School Board addressed the council regarding the proposed road and sidewalks to be built in conjunction with the new elementary school.  The school board is not in favor of helping fund curb, gutter and sidewalk on the west side of 300 East beyond the site of the new school that would provide safe passage for school children from 300 South to 400 South.  Additional negotiations need to take place before building plans can be finalized, Pickett said.

“We are interested in the sharing of resources, but we don’t want to build the sidewalk.  We don’t want to set a precedent,” Pickett said.

But city council members disagreed.

“You are creating the need for the sidewalk,” said Councilman Kim Cragun.

“It is exciting to have a new school,” said Parrish, “but [Ephraim residents] have already agreed to be taxed in the bond election.  Now we are asking citizens to pay ‘hidden taxes’ for this sidewalk.”

Pickett, however, reiterated the school board’s interest in coming to an agreement.  “We can work with you.  Conflict is not part of our vocabulary,” he said.

The council voted in favor of the annexation of land northwest of Ephraim which may be used for a sod farm, and it also adopted recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Committee to update subdivision ordinances.

Six new Recreation Board members were approved by the council.  They include Mike Anderson, Mike Tanner, Scott Hansen, Tish Larsen, Helen Cox, and Victor Munos.

Cragun indicated that activities at the 2009 Scandinavian Festival to be held in May will include a music writing contest and a golf tournament.

Councilman David Warren said he attended the plein air art exhibit on display at Zions Bank and heard viewers suggest that the Central Utah Art Center would do better if they displayed “regular” paintings instead of the abstract works presently on display.

“I still think it is good to have exposure,” he said.

Councilman Terry Lund reported that the Housing Authority has hired an investigator to handle a case against a building contractor named David Schroeder.  He failed to pay his subcontractors after getting paid for a home he built for the city, so the city was forced to pay the subcontractors.  The matter involves $16,500 and Schroeder’s contractor’s license is at stake.

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By Emily Sanderson — January 28, 2009

MT. PLEASANT — Scores for the Iowa test taken last September by grades 3, 5 and 8 show that North Sanpete schools have improved from last year but are still about average in the nation, according to results provided by the North Sanpete School District.

In the five subjects that students were measured (language, reading, math, science and social studies), grades 3 and 5 struggle in math, but grade 8 at North Sanpete Middle School has maintained a competence comparable to a high school freshman level late in the school year.

The Iowa tests provide several scores, including standard score (SS), grade equivalent (GE), national percentile rank (NPR), and national curve equivalent (NCE).

The standard score takes scores and other factors and enters them into a formula.  Grade equivalent represents the level of skill and knowledge based on grade level.  For example, 3.5 represents student comprehension at about halfway through grade three.

National percentile rank measures how the students’ scores compare cumulatively to students throughout the country.  For example, a score of 64 means that the students scored better than 64 percent of all students nationwide.  National curve equivalent is similar to the national percentile rank except that it grades on the curve.

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