Archive for July, 2009

By Emily Sanderson

EPHRAIM, UTAH―Virginia Kirkman Nielson, a native of Twin Falls, Idaho, and resident of Ephraim since 1933, turned 100 years old July 19.

She is the daughter of Laurence Gomer and Nellie Marquardson Kirkman.  Laurence was the first stake president in Twin Falls and was also called to be a stake patriarch, and Nellie was the first stake Relief Society president there.

In fact, on July 26, 1919, a hot summer day 90 years ago this month, the first Twin Falls Stake was organized in her family’s one-room playhouse, which was painted to match their home.

“The brethren were drinking lemonade with ice tinkling in their glasses and fans whirring in our house when one of them suggested they adjourn to the ‘summer house’ outside. There the stake had its earliest beginnings, and father was assigned its president,” Virginia wrote in her personal history.

“Mormons were a minor group [in Twin Falls] and were ridiculed to a certain extent, rather ignored in city business.” Virginia recalls. “My best friends were Catholics who attended Sunday movies and had parties on Sunday, but I didn’t participate in these.”

Virginia recalls a number of General Authorities who stayed in their home when coming to speak at church, including President Heber J. Grant, Elder Melvin J. Ballard and Elder James E. Talmage.

Later as a well respected nurse at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, she tended to Elder Ballard following an appendectomy.

“He was quite reluctant to remain in the hospital. To check on him, I entered his room to find that he was missing!” Virginia wrote. “He didn’t want to bother anyone and ‘there was such an abundance of important items he had to take care of.’”

“His surgeon persuaded him to relax and remain as a patient until he was officially released,” she continues. “Brother Ballard recognized the ‘Kirkman’ on my nametag” as he was good friends with her father.

Virginia reminded him of his visit to Twin Falls when she was six years old. He had quoted Alexander Pope to Virginia and her older sister Phyllis, “An honest man is the noblest work of God.”

“We had interesting conversations as I cared for him,” she wrote.

Other patients she tended to include Emma Ray McKay (David O. McKay’s wife), Patriarch Hyrum Gibbs Smith, James E. Talmage, and Mayor of Salt Lake City Lewis Marcus.

Virginia became good friends with Sister McKay who stayed at the hospital for a lengthy time in preparation for surgery.

“I was delighted to see Brother McKay as he made several daily visits to see her. As he entered the hall and approached her room, he seemed to have a glow surrounding him. Always happy, smiling and expressing gratitude for the care his dear wife received,” she wrote.

Brother Smith “was extremely ill, was in constant pain and experienced partial paralysis needing much assistance. He was anxiously awaiting his time to be released from this earth,” she wrote. “Sister Smith and I were alone in the room when death came. She clung to me and we both wept, but she immediately accepted this with no questions.”

Brother Talmage “was certainly a remarkable man, and not very talkative. More of a thinker and a solemn speaker,” she says. “He loved people. That was his big feature. He was interested in every one of us.”

Another patient she tended to was one Glen J. Nielson, born and raised in Ephraim, Utah, and who had recently returned from a mission. They later married. Elder Ballard offered to officiate at their wedding ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.

In Ephraim, Virginia began working as a nurse immediately, as there were no other nurses available in the area. She served as a registered nurse at both the Mt. Pleasant and Gunnison hospitals for over 50 years. She also made house calls throughout Sanpete County.

“She delivered babies, gave people shots, and treated cancer patients,” says Larry Nielson, one of Virginia’s five children. “She had to have authorization from a doctor in order to do things. We would hear her get up in the middle of the night, and she would be off running.”

People didn’t always have money to pay her.

“Sometimes she would get nothing and sometimes it would be a sack of potatoes,” Larry says, but people appreciated her. “She got a call just yesterday from one [of her patients] who was just a little boy [at the time]. … He talks to Mother every six months and says, ‘you were our Florence Nightingale, our angel of mercy, who came and did it for nothing.’”

Virginia also grasped Ephraim’s history as if it were her own. She was instrumental in preserving history locally and throughout Sanpete County. Some of her accomplishments include preserving the Ephraim Co-op and Granary buildings on Main Street, developing Pioneer Park in Ephraim, sitting on the board that developed a multi-volume history of Sanpete County called The Saga of Sanpitch, and researching and participating in a documentary about the Blackhawk War that was picked up by PBS.

Virginia is still quite alert in her old age. She lives in the majestic Victorian home to which, as a young bride, her husband Glen brought her home.

“I had a wonderful early life, midlife, and old age,” she says. “I couldn’t ask for more.”


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Ephraim’s new centenarian says she ‘couldn’t ask for more’ from a long, full life

Virginia 100-1

By Emily Sanderson — July 22, 2009

EPHRAIM — Virginia Nielson, a woman who has dedicated her life to service, turned 100 years old July 19.  And she still resides in the same Victorian home she lived in as a young bride with her husband, Glen J.

Victorian women also provided her with examples which inspired her strong leadership qualities.  Her role models include Florence Nightingale, Helen Keller and her mother, Nellie Marquardson Kirkman.

Her mother was a cultured, refined woman who was the first stake Relief Society president in Twin Falls, Idaho, and her father, Laurence Kirkman, was the first stake president there.

“[My parents] were in everyone’s houses all the time, and no matter what ward you lived in, there were available to come to your home and talk to you,” Virginia says.

Despite this, her family of seven surviving children was blessed to be preserved from the epidemic of the early 1900s, but Virginia’s compassion for others who experienced illness and death in their families likely led to her decision to pursue a career in the medical field.


Even as a girl, Virginia showed determination, confidence and passion to accomplish worthy goals.  By the age of 11, she knew she wanted to be a nurse and saved babysitting money so she could go to college.

Virginia served as a registered nurse at both hospitals in Sanpete County (in Mt. Pleasant and Gunnison) for over 50 years.  She also made house calls throughout Sanpete County.

“She delivered babies, gave people shots and treat cancer patients,” says Larry Nielson, one of Virginia’s five children.  “She had to have authorization from a doctor in order to do things.  We would hear her get up in the middle of the night, and she would be off running.”

But people didn’t always have the money to pay her.

“Sometimes she would get nothing, and sometimes it would be a sack of potatoes,” Larry says, but people appreciated her.  “She got a call just yesterday from one [of her patients] who was just a little boy [at the time]. … He talks to Mother every six months and says, ‘You were our Florence Nightingale, our angel of mercy, who came and did it for nothing.'”

Loves History

Virginia also grasps Ephraim’s history as if it were her own.  She was instrumental in preserving history locally and throughout Sanpete County.  She was on the board that organized the Saga of Sanpitch, a several volume history of Sanpete’s pioneer beginnings, which is available online at http://www.mwdl.org.

She helped preserve the two-story Ephraim Co-op and Granary buildings on Main Street, which were built in the early days of Ephraim.  She also played a significant role in preserving three pioneer cabins, two of which are in Pioneer Park and the third, C.C.A. Christensen’s cabin, which is now located behind the old Bishop’s Storehouse on Main Street.

“These were truly pioneer cabins,” Larry says.  “C.C.A. Christensen’s cabin was brought from about six miles west of here.  It was being used as a granary on the Christensen farm.”

A fourth cabin, which was also used as a granary, was in the process of being torn down when Virginia tracked down the owners.

“Mother said, ‘Just hold it,’ and she ran to the city, and they were able to move it,” said Margaret Riding, Virginia’s daughter.  “They put it in our backyard for years before they got a platform built for it in Pioneer Park.”

Black Hawk documentary

Virginia also researched, wrote and got funding for the Daughters of Utah Pioneers historical markers at landmarks around the city, and she researched, wrote the script for and participated in a documentary that was picked up by PBS about the Black Hawk War in Utah.

Virginia was quite a find for her husband Glen.  As a well-respected registered nurse, Virginia cared for many prominent patients in Salt Lake City, including Mayor Lewis Marcus and LDS Church leaders President Heber J. Grant, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, Elder James E. Talmage, Emma Ray McKay (David O. McKay’s wife) and Church Patriarch Hyrum Gibb Smith.

Glen was a recently returned missionary in the early 1930s when he showed up aas a patient at LDS Hospital where Virginia worked.

“His girlfriends from Ephraim would flock around his bed, and when I went in to take his temperature, I had to remove them just to get by,” Virginia recalls.

Mutual respect

But “acquaintance led to mutual respect and appreciation,” stated a biography of Virginia published in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers magazine about 10 years ago.

“He was a wonderful man,” she says.  “He didn’t have a lot of money, but he had a good car, so he came up [from Ephraim] every possible weekend.”

Glen proposed to her a number of times until “finally he pinned me down,” she says.  “He had so many girlfriends, and I thought, ‘do you really think he has made up his mind?’  But I just really liked him.”

The actual proposal happened when they were on their way to her parents’ house in Twin Falls for Thanksgiving.

“He pulled over to the side of the road.  Then he said, ‘I want a definite answer.'”

Virginia had a good job and a good salary.  She would send money home to her parents, so agreeing to marry at that time in her life was a difficult decision.  But Elder Ballard, when he heard about their engagement, offered to marry them in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.

Only nurse

And Sanpete County is very fortunate to have such a remarkable woman more here.  Right after her marriage, she was the only available nurse in the area.  And beyond that, her determination to preserve historical buildings in Ephraim has had a significant impact, not only on the city’s landscape, but on its values and priorities.  Glen and Virginia have five children: Catherine, Larry, Barbara, Marilyn and Margaret.

“I had a wonderful early life, midlife and old age,” Virginia says.  “I couldn’t ask for more.”

Nurse Virginia-1

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But defensive zone prevents fire spread


A firefighter shoots water onto the smouldering fire Tuesday morning after the home went up in flames the night before. Wildland firemen checked for hotspots along the hillside surrounding the home throughout the night, but vegetation around the home was not affected by the blaze.

By Emily Sanderson — July 22, 2009

PINE MOUNTAIN — A four-alarm fire in the heavily-wooded foothills of Horseshoe Mountain was prevented from spreading to a wildfire Monday evening because a defensive zone around the perimeter of the  home had been properly established, said Thomas Peterson, Sanpete County Fire Warden.

“If the [Hunsakers] hadn’t have done the defensive zone, we would have lost that mountain,” said Jerry Reno, resident of the nearby Whispering Pines community.

The home, however, is a complete loss.  Only stubble remains of the two-story structure.

“I think it is sad about all the memories,” said Carly Pangos, neighbor and friend of the Hunsaker family who lost their home.

The home, built with solid log construction, was used by the Hunsaker siblings for family reunions and vacations not that the elderly parents have passed away.  It was also where the family stored many antiques and keepsakes.  No one was home at the time the fire was spotted.

Volunteer fire crews from Mt. Pleasant, Fairview, Spring City and Moroni were called to fight the blaze, which was first reported Monday around 6:45 p.m.  Including the 10-member county wildfire crew, 49 firefighters and 15 fire trucks and other vehicles came out to help, said Cameron Parry, Assistant Fire Chief in Mt. Pleasant.

“Since we have limited manpower and resources, we like to have as many personnel on hand as possible,” Parry said.  “It being about 100 degrees [Monday], people can get worn out fast.”

And it was a very hot fire.  The blaze and smoke could be seen from across the valley.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation at press time.

About five years ago, a state wildland fire crew removed excess shrubbery around the Hunsaker home, creating a 30-foot fire break, Peterson said.

Trees were thinned by 60-80 percent, and the undergrowth was removed around the home.  The tops of trees were also separated, opening up canopies.  As a result, the house fire didn’t spread to the surrounding vegetation, said Shiloh Neale, a county wildland firefighter.

Whispering Pines also participated in the defensive zone effort five years ago, which was funded by federal matching grants.

“It is very important that [rural homeowners] clear a defensive zone of 30 feet around their homes,” Reno said.

Reno said the community’s fire trailer, which carries a fire hose, helped to fight the fire using Whispering Pines’ fire hydrants.

The fire trailer was also used a month ago when lightning struck near the home of Dave Simpson, a Whispering Pines resident.

The fire trailer prevented the fire from getting out of hand, saving the home, Reno said.

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Deck Stain Ideas


A wood deck should be cleaned each year and re-stained about every three years. Re-staining requires pressure cleaning, sanding, and reapplying the stain and sealer. A semitransparent stain is the easiest to maintain, except, of course, for non-wood alternative decks, which simply require the occasional hose-off.

Deck Stain Choices

There are a lot of deck stain ideas out there, and it can be difficult to choose which one is the best for your situation. Different than other stains or finishes, deck stains are often combined into one product that works as both a pigment and a seal.

This Old House suggests using a semi-transparent combination stain and seal. Some pigment is more likely to provide UV protection, and the partially transparent quality provides for easier maintenance and longer lifespan. They recommend an oil-based stain for best results, although a water-based stain is more forgiving for damp conditions and humid climates. Finishes should also do three things: repel water, preserve the wood with a mildewcide, and screen out the UV rays. Although an opaque stain will provide UV protection, it often requires more frequent maintenance and shows sign of wear in high-traffic areas more quickly.

Prepare Wood Well First

A dirty deck will not accept a new stain and sealer product. Thus, the quality of your finished product also relies heavily on the effectiveness of your power washing beforehand.

Rent a power washer that gives you 3,000 psi. Spray everything down first, followed by a thorough scrub with a deck cleaner. Make sure to wear protective boots, waterproof pants, goggles, and heavy gloves, as cleaner usually contain detergent and bleach, which work best on dirt and mildew. This Old House recommends focusing on the railings first and scrub the ground planks last, scrubbing no more than a 200 square-foot area at a time. Then rinse off the soap with the power washer. Wait four days with no rain before sanding.

Sanding and Finishing

HousePaintingInfo.com suggests at least a light sand after washing which will open the pores in the wood and smooth any rough surfaces caused by use over time. Use a power sander to ensure a more even sand. Rinse the wood another time to remove sawdust and let dry for at least one day before applying the finish stain and seal product.

If this is the first year you are applying a new product, apply only one coat and apply a second coat the following year. This allows the wood pores to absorb the stain more effectively and will increase durability and wear time. Then the finish should be good for three years before re-staining is required.

Non-wood Alternative Decks

Decks made of recycled plastics such as milk jugs and grocery bags are a viable alternative to wood decks for a comparable price, although pressure-treated pine will cost a little more. Some are all plastic, while others are a composite of plastic and wood fibers. These decks are very durable, are attractive, are heavy like wood and are straightforward to install. They come in a variety of colors and wood-grain styles, but they require much less maintenance. A simple hose off or wipe-down with dish or car wash detergent, and you are on your way.


Wood Deck Refinishing Maintenance and Care

How to Spruce Up Your Deck, by Sal Vaglica, This Old House Magazine

High Tech Decks, By Jeanne Huber, This Old House Magazine

Deck Defense, by Fran J. Donegan, This Old House Magazine

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Outdoor swing sets for your back yard or for a public playground must be appropriate for the ages of your children, and they must be safe and durable. Many swing sets available today are customizable, and they are a step above the swing set you used as a child.


I have great memories of playing on outdoor swing sets as a child. I loved big swings that allowed me to swing high as I felt the wind rush against my face. The swings were the highest in demand of all the playground equipment at my elementary school.

In selecting the right swing set for children today, you have a number of options within an adjustable price range. Many swing set manufacturers allow you to customize your swing set with pieces that are most appropriate for the ages and interests of your children, not to mention the space available.

Swing sets available today are also more durable and are made with fewer rough or sharp edges. Check that the manufacturer uses rust-proof, stronger metals and well finished woods. Redwood is the best choice for wood, as it is more resistant to decay.

Hazardous Toxins

Beware of wooden swing sets manufactured prior to 2002 that may have been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) which has been found to be toxic to humans and to the environment. SchoolClearingHouse.org provides instructions on identification of woods that have been treated with CCA as well as proper methods for disposal. However, the EPA has ruled that disposal of these woods, whether it has been used in the building of swing sets, outdoor decks or picnic tables, is not required if a proper sealant is applied after the fact. Public playgrounds are required to seal these woods. The EPA provides information about sealing, as well as follow-up care and maintenance.

Swing sets manufactured outside of the United States have the risk of being coated with lead paint. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has more information on identifying lead paint on playground equipment.

Metal Swing Sets

The most popular and longest lasting swing sets purchased by consumers today are metal because they are the most cost effective and last longer. Compare $300 (retail price) for the most popular metal swing set to $1,200 for a comparable wood structure at one online vendor for back yard swing sets.  Metal swing sets also take less time to assemble. The tubular steel swing sets of today often include a weatherproof coating that protects it against rust.

Whether a swing set has a metal or wooden frame, however, the weight capacity is typically the same for structures made for comparable age ranges. In addition, manufacturers of both are likely to take precautions to reduce injury. Swing sets for young children and toddlers typically have different safety features, such as vinyl-covered chains on the swings.

ASTM International is an independent organization that researches common injuries and prevention of those injuries in terms of legal liability to the manufacturer. Many swing set manufacturers use the standards established in ASTM F1487, a document that may be purchased through the ASTM International’s website.


Removing or Sealing CCA-Treated Wood Products, http://www.schoolclearinghouse.org


ASTM International, http://www.astm.org

US Consumer Product Safety Commission – Public Playground Equipment, http://www.cpsc.gov

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Proper tree trimming methods begin at planting, both in selecting the species and in determining the location you plant it. Use lateral or “natural” tree trimming methods instead of trimming a branch for length and leaving stubs. “Topping” or “rounding” is hurtful to a tree because it reduces the tree’s food-making ability and making it more susceptible to disease.

Healthy Trees

Trees add beauty to our community and help reduce energy by providing a cooling umbrella over a home or structure. They are shown to reduce the temperature of asphalt- and cement-covered city centers. They are also great for the environment because they consume carbon dioxide.

Using proper tree trimming methods for a tree in your yard or community is an important part of maintaining a tree’s health and longevity. The Arbor Day Foundation provides a number of guidelines for proper trimming.

Don’t Top a Tree!

The number one rule the Arbor Day Foundation emphasizes is to never “top” or “round” a tree or cut main branches back to stubs. Arborists say it drastically reduces a tree’s food-making ability and makes it more susceptible to insects and disease. In addition, the branches often grow back in odd, bushy patterns, often longer than they were before topping.

Arborists who trim back trees to protect power lines use the “natural” tree trimming method that trims a tree back to the nearest lateral bud or branch instead of leaving stubs. Each branch is considered separately in whether it interferes with a power line. Although a tree can be left looking bare after “natural” tree trimming, it will fill back in and look healthy by the next season.

If a tree’s height is worrisome, check the overall health of the tree. Remove branches that are hollow or rotting, especially if the tree is near a home or other structure, but otherwise, a tall tree should be just fine to keep in a yard or park.

Proper Pruning

Never remove more than one-fourth of a tree’s volume in a year, and for deciduous (leafy) trees, don’t prune upwards more than one-third of the total height of the tree, the Arbor Day Foundation recommends. The branches of a tree should be no more than one-third the size of the trunk, and most trees should have only one trunk.

Think Ahead at Planting

Proper maintenance of a tree begins in selection of the species. Do your research to know how big a species is expected to get over time, what fruit or blossoms it produces (and whether they fall and are sticky) and whether the species is appropriate for your climate and will thrive there?  Also, be wise in where you plant the tree so that it won’t interfere with nearby structures and power lines, and it will have enough space to develop a healthy root system.

The way that a tree performs in the wild is a good indication of how it will perform in your landscaping plan. For example, in a jungle, tall trees shade the smaller trees and underbrush. Smaller trees and underbrush, such as ferns, which evolved in such shade require it. Consult your local arborist to select a tree that is indigenous or compatible with your area and landscaping plan.


9 Things You Should Know About Trees, www.arborday.org/trees


Botanical Resources, The Huntington Library

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Without the proper lighting, sloped ceilings can be lost from view and leave heavy, dark space above what could be an airy, majestic room. Installing recess lighting above with adjustable aim for each fixture, as well as task lighting where needed, will make your room warm and inviting.

Sloped Ceilings

Rooms with sloped ceilings, whether they are the grand room, the kitchen, or an upstairs bedroom, give a house character and uniqueness, but installing effective lighting can be a challenge. Lighting with only traditional table lamps and small wall sconces that point straight up can leave the room feeling like a cave.

Using two sources of lighting―recess lighting above with adjustable aim for each fixture as well as task lighting where needed―can make your room warm and inviting.

Sloped or High Ceilings

Fairchild House Interiors provides excellent suggestions for lighting in rooms with sloped or high ceilings. Homeowners, even at the construction phase of the home, should visualize where they plan to place furniture and other items so they can work with an electrician to assign appropriate task lighting. They also suggest using taller table lamps and tall wall sconces to fill more vertical space and give more interest to the room.

Some design suggestions they provide also have an impact on lighting, such as choosing a different color of paint than white to paint the walls in a room with a higher ceiling and using a trendy texture which will add variety to the way light is reflected. Using rich, darker colors will bring the ceiling down to size. Also, paint the walls and ceiling the same color so that the two will work together as a cohesive whole.


For a kitchen with a sloped ceiling, This Old House recommends using track lighting above, which often can be installed using the existing electrical housing box. They also recommend under-cabinet lighting using halogen bulbs, which last 2,000 hours, or the newer xenon bulbs, which last 10,000 hours and are cooler to the touch.

For both kitchens and rooms with high ceilings, dimmer lights are recommended so that the lighting can be adjusted for the occasion. Make sure that there are enough light sources in rooms with sloped ceilings which will showcase the unique ceiling lines, as this can make all the difference.

For the Electrician

Housing fixtures that have a socket aiming mechanism allow a lamp to aim straight down regardless of ceiling pitch and can be installed onto a sloped ceiling. The H6451C housings provided by Cooper Lighting is designed for ceilings with a 10- to 45-degree slope. The lamp socket and trim can also be adjusted 20 degrees laterally for a compound sloped ceiling or to compensate for off-axis aiming. The housing fixture is also energy efficient. It is sealed and gasketed to limit airflow between two different plenum areas, or the space above the ceiling or below the floor where cooled or heated air is distributed.  It can also be used in direct contact with insulation.

Using appropriate lighting in rooms with a sloped ceiling can play a significant role in the esthetic feel to your home. Installation may be done fairly easily using existing housing fixtures, but don’t hesitate to hire an electrician to help you with more complicated plans.


Overcoming the Challenges of High Ceilings, www.fairchildhouseinteriors.com, http://www.fairchildhouseinteriors.com/press.php?id=30

Sloped-Ceiling Recessed Lighting – Cooper Lighting’s H6451C, Nursing Homes, July 2001

Light Up Your Kitchen, by Scott Gibson, http://www.thisoldhouse.com

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