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Archive for October, 2009

By Emily Sanderson — Oct. 21, 2009
RUIAN, China — Three teachers from Wasatch Academy are teaching at Ruian High School in China this school year as part of the partnership between Ruian and Mt. Pleasant.

The teachers are Phillip VanDenBrink, David Brackett and Timothy Lesotho.  Recently, VanDenBrink emailed responses to a list of questions from the Messenger.

“I taught for four years at Wasatch Academy, so Chinese students are not new to me,” he writes, referring to the fact Wasatch attracts students from around the world, including China.

Before teaching at Wasatch Academy, VanDenBrink gained experience teaching in Paris, France and Germany.  “Teaching in a foreign country is not entirely new for me, but the Chinese culture is far different from European cultures,” he says.

Ruian students are not used to being around people from the United States, so they are shy and are afraid to speak in English.

“Socially and culturally, they have a strong group mentality,” he says. “Students want to learn about the United States and are excited when I do group activities in class, something the Chinese system does not often use.”

The students are very advanced academically, he says.  The curriculum for the course is college level.

VanDenBrink and the other teachers are getting accustomed to Chinese customs and cultures.  One major difference between China and the United States is that the parents take care of school faculty.

“We just finished an eight-day break for the National Day and Harvest Festival, and parents took the new teachers to see some of the local attractions — Buddhist temples, mountains, rivers, an ancient block printing press, etc.,” he says.  “They really make the new faculty feel welcome.”

VanDenBrink and the other staff from Wasatch Academy live in a western-style apartment complex that the high school provides.  They also have access to good food.

“The school cafeteria is good, another similar aspect to Wasatch Academy.  Teachers must pay for every meal, but a good meal can still cost less than $1 USD,” he says.  “Outside of the school there are various restaurants, even western places like KFC and pizza places.  This city has three KFCs. No McDonalds, but something tells me there might be one in the future, as western culture is seen as modern.”

The students in Ruian will be receiving diplomas from both Ruian High School and Wasatch Academy.  They will be attending school in Mt. Pleasant during the summer to student such classes as AP U.S. History, a course they are not able to take in China, says Jules Hartley, assistant communications director at Wasatch Academy.

The academy anticipates housing 85-90 students from Ruian next summer for about six weeks, but they may need to extend the time, Hartley said.

In exchange, a teacher from Ruian will teach Mandarin Chinese to students at Wasatch Academy.

Wasatch Academy is seeking to offer the same program to schools in Shanghai and Beijing, China.  Such a program could potentially support 1,200 Chinese students, says Joe Loftin, head of school at Wasatch.

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Ephraim Elementary School
Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 26-30.

Ephraim Middle School
An orchestra concert will be held thursday at 7 p.m.

Students will Run 4 Life on Friday.

A band concert will be held Thursday, Oct. 29.

Fairview Elementary School
Bus safety assemblies for different grades were held Monday in conjunction with School Bus Safety Week.

School picture make-ups will be held today.

Frank Cole, author of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters, will speak at an assembly at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Walk to School Day will be on Friday.

Fountain Green Elementary School
Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 26-30.

Frank Cole, author of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters, will speak at an assembly at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Gunnison Valley High School
Gunnison Valley High School drama teacher Mark Lyons and 24 students participated in a “Shakespeare” Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Cedar City.  The group is sitting in the Adams Memorial Theater, which was considered the closest replica of the original Globe Theatre where Shakespeare plays were originally performed, until the London Globe Theatre opened a few years ago.  Students also participated in a theater workshop, went on a backstage tour and watched two plays, “The Complete Works of Wm. Shakespeare Abridged” and “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

Manti High School
A texting and helmet safety assembly will be held on thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Dead Poets Night will be held Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Elementary
Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 26-30.

North Sanpete Middle School
The Halloween Dance will be held Oct. 30.

North Sanpete High School
The FBLA Dance will be held on Friday.

Gunnison Elementary
Lunchroom workers Patty Westenskow and Charlotte and Nadine Hansen are dressed in baseball caps with puppy paws painted on their faces as they serve Lisa Burrell and her daughter, Aubreyann, during National School Lunch Week at Gunnison Elementary School.

The theme for the event, which ran from Oct. 12-16, was “An All-Star School Lunch.” Each day’s menu was named after a famous NBA coach.

The week was proclaimed in 1962 to raise awareness of the role a nutritious school lunch plays in children’s lives.  School lunches are required to provide a third of the recommended dietary allowance of protein, vitamins and minerals. They must have limited fat and satuated fat, and be served in age-appropriate portions.

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By Emily Sanderson — Oct. 21, 2009

During the month of October, schools in Sanpete County have been celebrating nationwide Red Ribbon Week.

Red Ribbon Week is designed to stress the importance of staying away from drugs.  In recent years, some schools have added alcohol and violence to the campaign.

Local schools are combining education about substance abuse with fun during their Red Ribbon weeks.

During Mt. Pleasant Elementary School’s Red Ribbon Week, which will be Oct. 24-30, students will have dress-up days each day of the week.  Monday is sock day, Tuesday is hat day, Wednesday is crazy hair day and Thursday is sports day.  On Friday, students will wear their Halloween costumes.

In addition, the school will have separate assemblies for each grade where guest speakers will address drugs, alcohol and violence in an age-appropriate way, said Principal Rena Orton.

Fountain Green Elementary will also observe the week Oct. 24-30 with events arranged by the PTA.  On Monday, wristbands will be distributed, a magic show will be presented and students will make safety posters.  On Tuesday, there will be a schoolwide picnic.  Wednesday is walk-to-school day.  On Thursday, the local fire department will come to speak about safety, and on Friday, the PTA will sell popcorn after school.

Ephraim Middle School and Gunnison Valley Middle School held their Red Ribbon weeks during the first week in October.

Gunnison Valley Middle School’s theme was “What’s Right with Me?” Each dress-up day centered on creative ways to combat drugs.

At Ephraim Middle School, the Utah National Guard brought a tank and spoke to students about staying away from drugs.

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By Emily Sanderson — Oct. 21, 2009

GUNNISON — Anticipating budget cuts during the legislative session next January, and under the advisement of risk managers, the South Sanpete School Board revised three staffing policies at the Wednesday, Oct. 14, school board meeting.

The board revised the annual review process for provisional teachers — those who have served for less than three continuous years at the district.  They also revised the policy for orderly termination and made some adjustments to salary lane changes.

Although additions to the policies were already assumed, the revisions made the practices official, said Superintendent Don Hill.

“When a provisional teacher’s contract is not renewed, he or she is not entitled to due process or to file a grievance,” the revised orderly termination policy reads.

“Provisional employees are at-will employees,” said Hill, who noted that he also is an at-will employee.

A bill that will play out in the legislative session this year would further limit provisional employees. The bill advocates the ability of a local school board to extend provisional employee status past the current three years to a fourth and fifth year, if warranted. This would mean the teachers would be at-will employees for a longer period.

Sometimes provisional employees are not ready to obtain Career Educator status, the board agreed.

After hearing reports last month that the state will experience an estimated 15-percent budget cut this year, school boards throughout the state are wondering how these budget cuts will play out.

“The budget is going to be very difficult this year.  We will have to work through that,” said Hill on a KMTI radio address last week.  “We will have another down year in terms of funding, and we are not unique in that.  State offices will also experience cuts.”

Despite the grave news to provisional teachers, who are likely to experience heavy lay-offs, efforts are being made by the school board to assist these and all teachers.  Teachers who successfully pass the Praxis Test, a test taken for recertification, will receive 2.5 quarter hours of recertification credit, which will raise their salaries.

In recent years, teachers have had to pay for the $150 Praxis Test themselves, where in years past the district was able to cover the costs.  By giving recertification credit, the district hopes to reduce some of the burden to teachers, Hill said.

In other matters, the school board wanted to let schools know they don’t want to discourage field trips, despite previous instructions for schools to reduce the number of field trips.  The board has been blamed for the cancellation of some field trips, including a science field trip and a trip to Lagoon, said Board Member Larry Smith.

“Field trips are good if they are the rights ones,” said Board Member Kathy Frandsen.

“Trips need to be educational,” Smith said.  “Transportation costs should be considered.”

Because transportation funds were cut $100,000 last year, the use of buses for field trips should be limited, but smaller groups that could fit into one or two vans or Suburbans are more feasible, the board agreed.

In response to new state laws, the school board passed a revised bullying/hazing policy which added provisions to address cyberbullyinh — bullying by text, email or social networking site which can be visible to innumerable peers — as well as bullying of a sexual nature.

Most bullying occurs in a sports environment, and the penalty for bullying can be exclusion or loss of extracurricular activities for an entire semester and even the dissolution of a team.

“Students can experience devastating long-term psychological effects from bullying, and we take it very seriously,” Hill said in a KMTI radio address last week.

The district intends to follow up on the revised policies with training for faculty, staff and coaches.  Since the policy was originally enacted in 2005, students have been required to sign a form saying they will not engage in bullying activities.

Construction of the new elementary schools in Ephraim and Gunnison are on schedule, and both should be done in time for the 2010-2011 school year.  The district has biweekly meetings with the architects and builders, who keep them apprised of progress.  In addition, remodeling work at Manti Elementary is moving forward. Students recently moved into the new kindergarten room there.

“We appreciate all the architects and builders are doing, and we look forward to having those buildings next year,” Hill said.

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By Emily Sanderson — Oct. 21, 2009

SPRING CITY — Separation of powers was a major topic of dispute in the debate between mayoral candidates at the Meet the Candidates Night Thursday, Oct. 15.

Incumbent Mayor Eldon Barnes released former Zoning Administrator Keith Chandler last summer, and Chandler is now running against Barnes for mayor.

“The planning and zoning committee, zoning administrator and others should be re-empowered to make binding decisions as is done in other cities. This excellent separation of powers is a buffer between those passing the laws and those called to implement the ordinances,” Chandler says on his website. “Micromanagement of daily affairs by the city council and the mayor is improper.”

“Giving the zoning administrator too much power was what got us into trouble,” Barnes said, referring to an incident that happened five years ago when a zoning administrator gave certain applicants preferential treatment. “Elected officials should be the ones to review and make decisions.”

Since Chandler was released as zoning administrator, the city council has allotted time in their monthly meetings for review of all building permit applications.

“When you hire that person, you give that person authority,” argued Chandler. “What is the point of having a planning and zoning committee if the city council reviews everything?”

Common issues that Spring City mayoral and city council candidates seek to address upon election are city buffer zones and city boundaries, lot size, updating the city’s master plan written three decades ago and revisiting the recently passed large animal ordinance.  There is also a strong desire to reduce the factional divide in town between long-time residents and newcomers, as well as between artists and farmer/ranchers.

“In my experience as a prison warden, I learned that there is no problem that can’t be overcome,” Barnes said.  “I have a pretty good ability to take criticism and to still keep the objective in mind.”

In addition, Barnes said he prefers to work in a team environment, something for which he has received criticism.

“The best decisions are made by more than one person.  That is why I spend a lot of time discussing things with the city council,” he said.  “The longer it takes to get something done, but it is the better decision.”

Chandler, who has experience running a business, said in his career, he has focused on creating unity within organizations between manager and employee.

“I want to create unity among people in the city.  I want to see that everyone is treated fairly and equally,” Chandler said.  “I want there to be transparency in meetings so that people can see what is going on in the city government.  I also want to clean up ordinances on the books to make sure they are enforceable.”

Chandler has been involved in a real estate venture near Spring City.  He purchased seven individual lots which he then sold to a contractor with the option of purchasing back part of the property in the future. “After months and now years of unsuccessfully dealing with Spring City” to annex the property into city boundaries, the contractor decided to build the homes as part of the county, he says.

“I believe this is an example of shortsighted politics.  Property owners like this will now build off the grid.  Spring City Corporation will lose the future income from these and other similar property owners as they drill wells in local aquifers, build septic tanks in areas that could be served by our sewer system and avoid our most profitable resource, Spring City power,” Chandler says.

Barnes’ campaign focuses on the things he has accomplished in the last four years, as well as the things he would like to accomplish in the next four years.  Some of his accomplishments, many of which he identifies as the result of citizen participation, include resolving issues with the local trailer court, installing a new water tank, facilitating upgrades on the city’s hydro plant, improving utility billing to save money, upgrading fire department services and equipment, reintroducing the city recreating program, opening a new section of the cemetery, increasing surveying accuracy and filing claim on the spring on Main Street to protect the interests of the city and its citizens, according to a flyer he has distributed.

In the next four years, Barnes would like to encourage tourism by building a bike path, improving sidewalks throughout town and helping to preserve sheepherding and agriculture.  He also wants to encourage small “cottage” businesses along Main Street.  In addition, he wants to promote service from members of the community to assist in city functions.

Four candidates are running for two city council positions: Noel Bertelson, Steve Black, Mindy Hardy and write-in candidate Kenneth Nunley.  Adam Burningham, who file for candidacy, has since withdrawn from the election.

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EPHRAIM — Ephraim City is considering the purchase of a used street cleaner from Lehi City for $43,000, said Chad Parry, Ephraim facilities manager.

Residents complain that Ephraim’s streets aren’t clean enough, said Richard Anderson, city manager.

The city council approved purchase of a newer model street cleaner contingent on Parry’s comparing the annual maintenance and operating costs to determine if purchasing it will be more economical than keeping the old machine.

The present street cleaner will require from $5,000-10,000 to fix, Parry said.

The newer model has fewer moving parts and uses a hydraulic vacuum system instead of sweepers, and the fan, the most expensive part of the vehicle, was recently replaced.

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By Emily Sanderson — Oct. 14, 2009

SPRING CITY — The Spring City Fire Department responded to two arson fires during the month of September — a car fire and a haystack fire, said Noel Bertelson, Spring City fire chief.

Fire trucks responded to the haystack fire around 10:15 p.m. on Sept. 4 at Matt Briggs’ farm on Sorenson Lane, west of U.S. 89.  The estimated damage cost of the 110 tons of hay burned is $25,000.

The state fire marshal determined the fire was arson by “the way the fire spread and how bad it was burning when we got there,” Bertelson said.

Briggs lives just off U.S. 89, and Bertelson said he could see the flames when he arrived at Straights Junction.

“There is no way to know if it was a malicious act against Briggs or if it was a random act,” Bertelson said.

On Sept. 20 at 10:10 a.m., fire trucks headed to the turnaround point on Canal Canyon Road at the base of Horseshow Mountain, where a 2003 Chevy Silverado 3/4-tom pick-up burned.  The vehicle belonged to Garrett Blain of Ephraim, Bertelson said.

The fire started on the driver’s seat of the truck.  A rock was used to break a window.

The vehicle, which was a total loss, was worth $20,000, and the owner said a $5,000 gun was also inside the vehicle.  However, the state fire marshal found no evidence that the gun had been there, Bertelson said.

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