Archive for April, 2009

Some say it isn’t four

By Emily Sanderson, April 15, 2009

SPRING CITY — After a well-attended public hearing on a proposed animal ordinance, the city council decided last Thursday to revisit the animal ordinance at a future public hearing.  The city council also approved an ordinance on dogs.

A number of residents who came to the public hearing upset with the proposed animal ordinance left agreeing that some kind of ordinance was needed in the community.

Councilman Boyd Mickel said this is the third time the farm-animal issue has come up.  Some in town wish all livestock would be banned, yet others want to continue with the traditions of the past, Mickel said.

Several of the council members stated that they keep livestock on their own properties.  “This city council doesn’t want to do away with animals in Spring City,” said Councilman Michael Workman.

“We want to solve problems and make compromises with people who have disputes,” said Mayor Eldon Barnes.

However, some still left resistant to the animal ordinance.

This ordinance “would basically take away my property rights,” said Lance Martin.  “It is concerning to me.  I don’t want to have to go to my neighbors to get permission about how I keep my livestock.”

The main concerns of residents who attended the hearing seemed to be the need for enforcement if a new ordinance is passed and the difficulty in determining the number of large animals that should be allowed on an acre of private property in town.

“If we have the ordinance, we need to be able to enforce it,” said Christine Simmons, who noted that the town has no dog catcher.

In response, at the city council meeting last week, the council agreed that an animal control officer needed to be hired.  In addition, they discussed the possibility of purchasing a kennel in which to place impounded animals.

At the April 2 hearing, several residents disagreed with the number of large animals allowed in an acre of land in the present animal ordinance draft (i.e., four horses, sheep or cows and their young).

“It is hard to come up with a magic number,” said Councilman Workman.  “Four may not be the right number, but there is a point when there are too many animals.”

“I don’t think we should set a number if we don’t know it,” said Chad Hardy.

Depending on how clean the owner keeps the animals, more animals can be kept without as many problems, some residents said.

But the problems with dust, flies and control if the animals escape their corrals are still compounded by numbers, city council members contested.

“I love my animals, but they need to be used,” said Kevin Chandler.

“The new animal ordinance covers cleanliness,” said Councilman Mickel, who explained that the reason the animal ordinance was pursued was that the present nuisance ordinance didn’t cover some of the problems that Spring City was experiencing regarding animals, including cleanliness.

An individual with a horse stable on his property should also be given an exception, some residents said, and Mayor Barnes agreed.  “We would be willing to provide permits if someone has the proper facilities, especially for horses,” he said.

In approval of the local dog ordinance, Dr. Malcolm Loomis, a local veterinarian, expressed the need to educate Spring City residents about the new ordinance, as well as the existing state ordinance regarding dogs.

“Most people aren’t aware of how severe Utah’s dog law is,” he said, explaining that on the first offense, such as a dog bite, an owner can be found liable, can be cited and can even lose his dog.  If “your dog bites me, you’re liable.  It doesn’t matter if it was provoked or not,” he said.

City Fire Chief Neil Sorenson has submitted his resignation, although he intends to continue assisting the fire department on a part-time basis.  The city’s firefighters selected Noel Bertelsen as their new chief.

A 4-H group offered to clean up the cemetery between the road and the fence, said Councilman Thomas Allred, who offered to donate wildflower seeds for the project.  He also discussed future projects needed at the cemetery, including new trees to replace dead ones and the replacement of picnic tables and the installation of cement blocks underneath them.

Regarding water rates, Councilman Mickel said there would be no need to raise rates this year if individuals who turned off their water connections for the winter turn them on again this spring.


Read Full Post »

By Emily Sanderson,  April 15, 2009

EPHRAIM — Happy birthday to Edith Willardson, who will turn 99 on April 24.

Willardson taught at Ephraim Elementary School for 26 years and also taught college algebra at Snow College when she was in her eighties.  She and her husband, George, enjoyed seven years of retirement when they did a lot of traveling together, but after George’s death, she returned to the classroom.

She taught at Snow College from 1982 to 1998, she says, “reteaching” some of the students that she taught at the elementary school.

“I thoroughly enjoyed teaching in Ephraim,” she says.  “The parents were all cooperative and helpful with the educational needs of their children.”

Both she and George, who raised their three children in Ephraim, were life-long educators.  “I have seen education grow and develop in Ephraim over the years,” she says.  “It has been a joy to see many students I taught grow up and become productive citizens.”

Willardson was raised in Fairview and Salt Lake City.  She met George when she was attending Snow College.  The Willardson family has pioneer roots in Ephraim.

George taught vocational agriculture and mathematics at Ephraim High School and later taught at Ephraim Middle School.  He also was in charge of the Future Farmers of America in Ephraim.  Several of the young “farmers” he advised achieved state and national acclaim.

Willardson will enjoy a small private party with family members but intends to have a bigger party next year when she turns 100.

Read Full Post »

Does water belong to individuals or Spring City as a whole?

By Emily Sanderson — April 8, 2009

MANTI — Approximately 50 residents from Spring City attended a public hearing last week to discuss what should happen to water that many residents feel should belong to the whole city in general and to no one in particular.

Or at least not to Joan Durfey, who has filed a claim on a significant portion of water flowing from Big Spring, from which the city derived its name.

Last’s week’s meeting, on Tues., March 31, was scheduled by State Engineer and director of the Utah Division of Water Rights (DWR), Kent Jones, to discuss the validity of Joan and Doug Durfey’s claim.

For two and a half hours, the Durfeys, Jones and city residents discussed events spanning the last 150 years that might or might now affect the Durfey’s claim.  The meeting was meant to be an informal, informational hearing to help Jones write a report which, by itself, would not adjudicate the matter but which could be used in administrative or judicial hearings later, should the need arise.

“The claim is as good as the evidence that supports it,” Jone said.

The Durfeys, who last year purchased and moved into the former Reid Allred home in Spring City, filed a diligence claim last October on water from Big Spring.  A diligence claim is similar to a water right application except that it asserts the de facto existence of the right by virtue of beneficial use of the water prior to 1903, when Utah water laws went into effect.  The diligence claim simply makes the right official with DWR.

At the hearing, Elijah Milne, attorney for Judy Allred, a Spring City resident who also has a claim to Big Spring water, referenced a portion of the state law which states that a consistent use of water is required to keep a water right valid, though Durfey’s attorney Craig Smith said the statute doesn’t apply in this case.

Milne, Allred and other presented information as evidence of the lack of consistent spring water use on the property from 1970 to 2007.

In 1970, Reid Allred — whose former property the Durfeys now own — passed away.  His wife lived alone on the property for the next 10 years.  From 1980 to 1984, she lived with relatives off the property.  In 1985, the property was sold to Jeanne Guelke.  From then until 2007, the home was either vacant or rented out.

Whether or not the spring water was used consistently during this time seems to be unknown, but a number of witnesses claimed the property’s connection to the spring was capped in 1990 when the city sewer system was installed.

“The pipe was running down … to Judy Allred’s property, where it teed off and went to the Durfey’s property. [Durfey’s connection] was a working line until a contractor severed and capped it in 1990,” said Dennis Watson, a Spring City native.  “Since then, no one knew what they had or didn’t have.  They still had Spring City culinary water, and they had irrigation water.”

No evidence

However, there is little or no evidence of what pipes may have been there since the Durfeys dug them up in December 2008 and installed new ones.

The property’s original hookup to Big Spring was made in 1928, when Reid Allred made an agreement with the Horseshow Irrigation Company, exchanging four shares of irrigation water for the right to use water from Big Spring, according to records submitted with the Durfey’s claim.

But according to a history submitted with the claim that was written by Reid Allred’s son, Ruel Allred, a verbal agreement separate from the written one with the irrigation company stipulated that the Big Spring water would remain with the Allred family should the property be sold to someone else.

“There was no conveyance,” said Dennis Watson, who says the certificate of ownership for the water mentioned in the agreement between the irrigation company and Reid Allred was never issued.

“[The certificate] is nonexistent with the Allreds, with the Durfeys, with the Horseshoe Irrigation Company or anyone.  So we have an agreement that was entered into in 1928 that was probably honored for whaterver reason, but there have been no conveyances,” Watson said.

In addition to these factors, whether the Durfeys’ claim is valid or invalid may depend on the amount of water the Durfeys are claiming in their filing.

The Durfeys originally claimed a significant portion of water from the spring, but they amended their claim shortly before last week’s public hearing with the help of Smith, reducing the amount of the initial claim by about a third.

Smith said the reduction was based on how much water the Durfeys were actually using.

“A water right in this state is limited by beneficial use no matter what you say or do, and so we look at the beneficial use that has occurred and continues to occur on the property.  We take the irrigation and the stock watering, and that is what it adds up to,” Smith said.

Beneficial use

The amount in the new claim is about 2,937 gallons per day, reduced from 4,276 gallons per day in the initial claim.  The 4,276 figure was the same as that in the 1928 agreement between Reid Allred and the irrigation company.

But city resident and historian Kaye Watson still questions the amount, saying that her similar household, with similar acreage and livestock, uses only 2,000 gallons of culinary water in an entire month’s time.

Despite evidence presented at the hearing, many residents, including Mayor Barnes, seemed willing to accept the Durfey’s claim on some of the water from Big Spring.

“It changes things a lot for me that the Durfeys have altered their request,” Mayor Barnes said.  “I still think it would be an issue if they tried to take it away from Spring City.  [If Judy Allred can get reconnected to the supply], I don’t think it will affect the Durfey’s at all because they have reduced the amount of their claim.”

Mayor Barnes and Warren Monroe, an engineer the city hired, announced in the hearing that Spring City is also in the process of filing a diligence claim on a portion of the Big Spring water in order to protect access to it at the Spring Monument, which furthers the city’s interest in the Durfey’s claim.

Reduced claim

Although the Durfeys have backed off on the amount of water they are claiming, residents are upset about something else.  Last December, the Durfeys dug up the old pipe running from Big Spring to their property.  In that process, a pipe running to Judy Allred’s property was allegedly cut, according to a number residents and Allred, who witnessed the dig.  In any case, Allred’s connection to the spring has not functioned since that time.

“I think a lot of this could be solved if the Allreds were given [back] what they have already owned all this time,” said Mark Allen, a resident of Spring City.  “I haven’t lived here very long, but I promise you, Mr. Jones, that if I would have walked up to the Allreds’ house an said, ‘You know, I do have a right to this spring.  I would like to take a certain amount.  Could I take it?’  they would have given it to me.  Up until October — you asked, you would have received.  That is one thing that I do know about this town.”

Read Full Post »

By Emily Sanderson — April 8, 2009

SPRING CITY — A monument on the corner of Main Street and 100 North in Spring City contains a small drinking fountain and a faucet which is piped from Big Spring, the water source from which the town gets its name.

Big Spring, located under Main Street just south of 100 North, was once directed into a trough to provide water for traveling horses and for anyone who needed drinking water.  The spring was available to all, even during the heat of the summer when the wells of some local residents would go dry, says Kaye Watson, who has written a history of the town.

So when local residents thought they might be deprived of use of Big Spring, they rose up in protest.

Joan Durfey purchased the Reid Allred property in 2008 which has a long history of the use of Big Spring water.  Last October she filed a claim with the Utah Division of Water Rights for water from the spring.  Two months later, she sought and received a digging permit from Spring City and hired a backhoe operator, who dug up the pipes running from the monument to her home about a block away.

Durfey’s attorney, Craig Smith, said she dug up the pipes to simply replace them with new ones.

“Just like everything else, pipes get old, they corrode, and they stop doing a good job of relaying the water,” Smith said.  “They corrode, and you put in a new pipe.  Everybody knows this.”

However after Durfey started digging last December, Judy Allred, Durfey’s neighbor, whose property also had longstanding access to the spring, suddenly wasn’t getting water through her spring-connected pipe.

“I said to [the Durfeys], ‘What are you doing?  My pipe is right there.  You are digging up my pipe so I will not have access to the spring water,'” Allred said.

Dennis Watson, who witnessed the event, said that the told Durfey, “When you cut that line, what do you think is going to happen to Big Spring water users downstream?”

She replied, according to Watson, “That is not my concern.  I am taking what’s mine.”

The enmity between the Durfeys and Allred has gone deeper than water, though.  Allred filed a complaint April 1 with the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office that Joan Durfey was stalking her.  Sheriff’s deputies said they could take no action until Durfey took a specific threatening action.

In response to Durfey’s dig allegedly cutting off water to Allred, an ad was published in the Pyramid newspaper that encouraged Spring City residents to submit letters to the Utah Division of Water Rights (DWR) protesting Durfey’s claim.  Further discussion about her claim occurred in a public meeting held in December 2008.

Durfey was outraged at the protests.  “The hate that we have felt from the ill-chosen words and actions of a handful of citizens have cut us to the core,” Durfey wrote in a letter to Mayor Eldon Barnes.  “We demand that you post in the city newsletter that the water at the fountain is still flowing and has not been affected in any way, despite … rumors.”

DWR’s state engineer, Kent Jones, scheduled an informal hearing on March 31 to get to the bottom of the matter.

When the meeting was scheduled, flyers were posted throughout town declaring, “Save our spring.  Your input is going to make the difference.  Will the spring remain a community resource or will it be turned over to private hands?  Please come and show your support!”

A few weeks prior to the hearing, Durfey revised her filing which reduced her initial request by about a third.

Smith, the Durfeys’  attorney, says the public protests of Durfey’s claim have been unnecessary.

“There has been a lot of ado about nothing, as important as the people think it is,” he said.  “First of all, there was a misconception that the Durfeys are claiming the entire flow of the spring.  That is not true.”

Mark Allen, a resident of Spring City, says the public concern is not just about the Durfey’s claim but about Judy Allred’s loss.  “The question in the matter is not only about the water claim that [the Durfeys] are asking for on the spring, but it is also about the action that ceased the water flowing down to [Judy Allred’s] connection and to whoever else was connected to it,” Allen said.  “Who gives who the right to take that water, and who gives who the right to take it away from someone?”

Allen said that he is now considering filing a claim on the spring that comes in below the kitchen of his historic hotel that he manages.

Elijah Milne, attorney for Allred, agreed.  “They say that, ‘We are not going to stop anyone else from … [their rightful] beneficial use,’ but that is exactly what they’ve done.  They say, ‘We will not interfere with anyone,’ but that is exactly what they’ve done,” he says.

At the public hearing last week, state engineer Jones explained how diligence claims (the type of claim filed by the Durfeys) are different from water applications.  Claims indicate that there was water usage from the water source before Utah water laws went into effect in 1903.

“If you have a diligence claim, and if you have the water right, you have the right to improve the way the water is taken.  You can do it from the time you acquire the water,” Jones says.

However, the validity of Durfey’s claim is still presently in question.

Allred herself had also filed a diligence claim in 1991 for water she receives from Big Spring.  At the hearing, Jones told Allred that it would not be illegal for her to do what it takes to re-establish her connection right now.

Allred began digging to do just that on Monday.

“I just want my water,” she told the Messenger.  She says as long as nothing gets in the way of that, she’ll be okay.  But if the Durfeys’ claim on the water interferes, she says, the matter will probably go to court.

Read Full Post »

By Emily Sanderson, April 8, 2009

EPHRAIM — Rep. Brad Winn provided a report on the legislative session at the Ephraim City Council meeting April 1.

The state reduced its budget by 17 percent, but the legislature was able to replace 8 percent for only a9 percent felt cut this year, Rep. Winn said of the budget overall.

“There are a lot of people who will be negatively affected by this, and we feel very bad about that,” he said.  “But that is the dilemma we’re in.  We have to balance the budget.”

Because of federal stimulus funds that became available, the legislature did not have to use the Rainy Day Fund.  “It all depends on when you anticipate on when this recession will get worse,” said Rep. Winn.  “We will save the Rainy Day money in case things get worse.”

The legislature estimates that the recession will last for three years before things begin to get better, he said.

Rural issues were better represented in this session than in recent past sessions, Rep. Winn said.  What has been called the “Cowboy Caucus” has been increasingly outnumbered as urban centers in Utah continue to become more populated.  Utah is now one of the most urban states per capita in the United States.

Nonetheless, Rep. Winn said funding for rural issues was addressed regarding water, loan funding for farms and farm co-ops, as well as rural health.

The state supports the Gooseberry Narrows project now that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is in favor of North Sanpete County receiving the water.  The state also funding a new nursing program at Snow College.

A bill was also passed that affects the ability of municipalities to charge impact fees to public structures being built including schools.  “There are some limitations, but [municipalities] can still charge fees if there are legitimate impacts,” Winn said.

Mayor Cliff Birrell praised the Messenger’s publisher Suzanne Dean for the staff editorial published April 1 which said the state legislature used wisely the funds received from the federal stimulus package.  The funding given to the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison preserved 200 jobs in Sanpete, and the funding given to Snow College and public education will allow school districts to preserve jobs.

“Thank you very much,” Mayor Birrell said to Rep. Winn.

“Public service isn’t always easy but it can be very rewarding,” Rep. Winn said.  “I couldn’t be more proud of the people I represent.  I want to help preserve the rural way of life.”

Jared Latimer provided a report on projects that the Central Utah Arts Center is pursuing for 2009.  A lot of CUAC’s focus this year is on education.

“All students from kindergarten through sixth grade were invited to participate in CUAC’s biggest art project ever,” said Latimer in printed materials he prepared for the council.  “We wanted to create a very special portrait of our county.  Local PTA/PTO groups and CUAC have invited all interested elementary students to capture an image and sound that represents an important part of where they live.”

Special cameras and audio recorders were made available at CUAC and at all elementary schools in the county, Latimer said.

An exhibition showing the art will be held April 10 from 6-8 p.m.  All images displayed will be for sale, and proceeds will go toward education in our schools, he said.

Of artists presented at CUAC, 45 percent are Sanpete residents and 38 percent are Utah residents, with only 17 percent of the artists being from out of state.  However, 36 percent of exhibits are from out-of-state sources, he said.

Classes that are available at CUAC include an adult ceramics course, including hand building, wheel, glazing and fire techniques ($90); digital photography, including basic concepts and techniques used in photography with an emphasis in digital practices ($50); and introduction to painting, including an introduction to painting principles ($50).  For more information, see http://www.cuartcenter.org.

Latimer approached the city council for a donation to the center.  The city council said they would consult the city manager regarding how much they have allocated to CUAC in the budget this year.

“CUAC is continuing to take off.  It is receiving a lot of recognition outside of the state and in Germany.  We get applications for exhibits from all over,” Latimer said.  “I think we are recognized as a leader in the Utah art community.”

Council members also discussed their concern about the level of competition among youth sports leagues.  Councilman David Warren said in recent years there’s been a change in focus from recreation to competitiveness.  When children are young, there should be more focus on learning the sport well.

“There is a later time for kids to be competitive,” Councilman Warren said.

“I’m okay with the competition, but the lack of sportsmanship is a problem.  Sportsmanship has got to be there,” said Councilman David Parrish.  “I actually threw a parent out of the gym one time because of the way he was treating his child [in the effort] to be more competitive.  Now should be a time when kids should develop motor skills.”

In other matters, a conditional use permit was issued to Bryan Reid of Royal Sales & Service, LLC, a multiservice business located at 322 E. 300 North in Ephraim.  Reid, a military veteran, provides repairs for vacuums and sewing machines, carpet cleaning in homes and businesses, auto detailing, computer assistance and other services as needed.  He can be reached at 340-1182.

Two council members requested going into executive session, but the council was unable to do so because it was not listed on the agenda.  The council members sought to nominate members of two new committees that they would like to form, including a rodeo committee and a heritage committee.  The nominations will be done in executive session in a future city council meeting.

Read Full Post »

By Emily Sanderson — April 1, 2009

EPHRAIM — Ephraim city is considering utilities improvements.

The city council discussed proposed projects to upgrade the city’s sewer and power systems at a meeting on Wednesday, Mar. 18.

Chad Parry introduced the topic during a report he gave to the city council.  He and other Ephraim city workers recently attended a rural water training seminar in St. George where he said he obtained a lot of useful information.

“A lot goes into water systems to make sure we have good drinking water,” Parry said.  “And we have good drinking water in Ephraim.”

Parry added, “There are a lot of new high-pressure systems coming in throughout the state.  These cities will need education about how to manage them.”

A water and sewer upgrade will not be required for the new school or for construction of a road, slated to begin this month, because of routine improvements that have occurred over the last few years.  But something needs to be done about the sewer lagoons, Parry said.

“We don’t have any odor problems, and everything is working well, but we are just running out of room,” he said.  “So we will need to make some decisions.”

Parry said they’ve had some recommendations from an engineering company, but since the lagoons are built in wetlands, they are limited as to how much of the surrounding land they can use.

“There are a lot of options, and technology is changing all the time,” he said.

Federal stimulus funds should be available to help with this project and with the installation of a new water storage tank, said Richard Anderson, city manager.

Nolte Engineering is working on the design for the new water tank, he said.

David Warren said the city needs to upgrade to a new electricity plant, and the utility board is resurrecting plans for a hydroelectric plant that was designed for Ephraim in the 1980s.  Sunrise Engineering will decide if the plans are still feasible.

“We’re researching to see if federal stimulus funds are available for the ‘green energy’ project,” Anderson said.

In other business, the Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands will provide two used cattle guards that city crews will install on Ephraim Canyon Road to prevent cattle from grazing in residential yards.

Also, a new committee has been formed to improve communications between the city and Snow College.  The committee will meet on a quarterly basis.

“Snow College offers so much for our community,” said Councilmember David Parrish.  “This committee will help both of us.”

“There have been some problems, and I think we can fix things,” said Mayor Birrell.

Finally, the Utah Heritage Foundation has given the Ephraim Public Library an award for preservation and restoration.  The library board will accept the award at a ceremony Friday, May 1, at Fort Douglas on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake.

Read Full Post »