Let’s not forget that we live in the best country in the world. Let us celebrate those who came before; who fought and died for our independence from a king; the Founding Fathers who were inspired and had the fortitude to do something different that had never been done before in the history of the world.
Part of the Declaration of Independence says: “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The fourth verse of the National Anthem is my favorite:
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Recently, I have had many opportunities to go out and see what the land and terrain look like. Nothing beats feet on the ground.
Part of our discussion with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding possible flooding in Green River was a visit to the Curtis Rozman’s farm. Curtis discussed when his farm flooded in 2011 and almost went broke. This year the Bureau released water from Flaming Gorge Dam early and mitigated the possibility of flooding this year.
Public Land Council went on a field trip south of Green River into the Lower San Rafael. We stopped at the San Rafael River, Bull Bottom, Keg Knoll and finally Horseshoe Canyon. Continue reading Commissioner’s Report 35→
Today I would like to address some of the more common questions/complaints we receive about fogging.
Smell: Falls into two categories. “The stuff you use stinks, I need to close my windows” or “ I did not smell you, so you did not fog?”
For almost 30 years malathion (the stinky stuff) was in the fogging chemical rotation to one degree or another. The past two years we have not used it at all.
After many years of use, it is not surprising that some people may have been conditioned to automatically smell a stinky smell when they see or hear the fogger truck.
The complaint we get more often is you did not fog because we did not smell you. The chemical we use now has very little smell to it. Most people are not going to smell it even if the windows are open. Continue reading Mosquito Monday→
Just an FYI but it has been a media storm for me lately: a radio interview on KOAL with Delynn Fielding, CNN with John Sutter, County Seat with Chad Booth, and Heart of Utah with Randy Johnson. It’s been interesting ride.
I have been impressed by how the county pulls together to make sure that we are covered and protected, especially with the snowpack we received over the winter with the potential to overflow and runoff from the reservoirs.
We met at Huntington Plant with representatives from Rocky Mountain Power, Huntington-Cleveland Irrigation Company, Emery Water Conservancy District and Huntington City. It was good to listen, talk, and work together to make sure that all needs were being met so flooding would be mitigated. It was mentioned that the website from the EWCD is the envy of the state. Go to ewcd.org to see more. Continue reading Commissioner’s Report 34→
I am opposed to the Bears Ears National Monument, I have been from the start. I thought it was cowardice for President Clinton to announce Grand Staircase from Arizona. I have heard the plight of the locals and their representatives regarding Bears Ears and Grand Staircase. I have been in a public hearing with Secretary Sally Jewell regarding Bears Ears, where a quarter of the people in the room (the protesters) were from out of state. This designation puts a target and an interest in this area. Interest is good when it is managed, but there is no money for management, there is no plan for management in place right now.
People clamored to say they want protection, but it was already protected under current laws and regulations. It is sacred to Native Americans, I heard Commissioner Rebecca Benally say recently (I am paraphrasing), “It’s the equivalent of having someone walk through, take pictures (and possibly take stuff) from the place you worship, while you worship.”
Tourism is a good part of the economic pie, but when it IS the pie there is an imbalance. Look at Garfield and Kane counties their economies have slumped when the Grand Staircase NM was designated. It gutted the heart out of both counties. Sure tourism is up, but everything else is down. Even the promises from the federal government to allow grazing to happen at the levels previous to the designation hasn’t happened. The federal government will continue to take and take if we allow them to. (Cue, “I am from the government and I am here to help.”)
I am all for conservation; the best conservationists I’ve seen are the grazers, hunter, and fishers. They put their money and time into making and keeping our wild as pristine and wild as it can be to be enjoyed by others. Are there bad actors, of course, but should the act of very few condemn the rest?
The Antiquities Act of 1906 states, “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” With Grand Staircase-Escalante designated at 1,880,461 acres and Bears Ears at 1,351,849, I find it really hard to believe that it has been confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.
I will get off my soapbox now. I know others feel similarly and others not so much.
Bottomline, leave it a local decision with local control.
Add your voice by leaving your comments (see below). I hope you will take a few minutes to leave your comment. Here is how to do it:
Recently, there was a dinner that was held in Huntington at Millers Landing that was about Suicide Awareness.
A local of Huntintgon, Tammy Oviatt, presented a business that she is working on called Take Five that will be a part of Gordon’s Nursery. She explained that she had the thought to do this when she lost her son. The area will include a walking park, benches, animals and ponds to help people take five minutes, regroup, and be able to get back to life feeling refreshed. It will be free of charge and that she is hoping to bring in rescue animals and let people help with the care of the animals.
Representative Eliason presented about suicide and stats within Utah. He started with a Youtube video. I have some notes from his presentation that I wanted to share. He said that for every completion there are 25 attempts. There is no single cause, but multi-intersecting factors. For many, they feel like a burden on friends and family. The manic that proceeds a suicide or attempt last about 15 minutes. During those 15 minutes, he said that a crisis has been reached, they are desperate to escape pain and thinking becomes limited.
We should assume that we are the only ones who are going to reach out. The number one reason for rural being so high with suicides is the lack of access to help. To the right is an image for “Safe UT” it is a chat/crisis line and an app that could help save someone’s life.
Bottomline, just listen. You could save a life.
Spring UAC Meeting – Federal Bills
There was a panel of representatives from state and federal offices. Cody Stewart talked bout the number of bills before congress. He said that, on a ten-year average, 6000+ bills are introduced, 154 are passed into law, and that there is an average of 36 regulations per bill.
He followed that up with how to be effective with a bill: 1 have a strategy, 2 have realistic expectations, 3 persistent follow-up, and 4 prioritize.
Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney does a good job representing rural Utah at NACo and UAC. I appreciate his testimony regarding Payment in Lieu Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The problem we have is the dichotomy or hypocrisy of the debate on public lands. The pro-public lands people say, “It’s our land, keep it open and accessible!” while at the same time decrying we receive “western welfare” in the form of (PILT) and (SRS).
Emery County is 92% public lands: 80% are federal lands (2,274,808 acres), 12% are state (335,085 acres), with only 8% private land (Garfield County has 3% private, we should count ourselves lucky). We have to petition (i.e. beg) legislators every year to make sure PILT and SRS doesn’t disappear or is reduced.
In 2016 the county received $282,924 from the state, that’s $0.84/acre, from the feds we received $1,290,199 that’s $0.57/acre for a grand total of $1,573,123. This is what the county receives as payment from the state and the feds in lieu or in the place of taxes.
If we were to receive from the state and federal government the minimum amount that the county taxes non-productive greenbelt, which is $5/acre the county would be receiving $13,049,465, that is about the whole budget for the county.
$13,049,465 vs $1,573,123 is big difference.
Economic development is hampered in Emery County in part due to the lack of private land available because of the amount of public lands in Emery County. While I would like to get rid of PILT and SRS, and “in lieu” let the state manage it, I am realistic that it is difficult with the partisanship in congress. For the record, I am not saying get rid of all public lands but there should be a balance and not to the detriment of people and economic development.
This is not just a county issue, Utah was ranked 51 (includes D.C.) in student spending in 2015. Utah has 64.5% public lands. Part of our property tax money goes to our schools. If there were more private property (or if the state and feds paid their fair share) we would have more for education, instead of taxing us more. In the image to the right, there was a poll that asked, “Do you believe more tax money needs to be allocated to fund Utah’s public school system?” 67% of the people that took the poll said yes. We have many good teachers and they go above and beyond (and spend their own money) for our kids. It just would be nice if our taxes didn’t have to increase to make a reasonable thing happen for the education of our kids.
Now, I don’t tend to dwell in the past, I hope for the future but I work with what is right now. So what can we do right now and how are to create economic opportunity with so much public land?
In a previous Commissioner’s Report, I wrote about moving SITLA parcels in our county to strategic locations and around our municipalities. I believe that there is and will be economic value in doing this. I have met with the SITLA Board and they are in favor of this idea. There are a lot of moving parts that include grazers, mineral lease permittees, BLM, FS, SITLA, private land owners and the municipalities, but an Emery Count Land Use Bill could speed up the process. In talking with Ray Peterson, Emery County Public Lands Director, the recent PLI had 100,000 SITLA acres that are available to be moved around in our county. We will be working with SITLA and stakeholders to figure this out. The checkerboarded map doesn’t make sense for the state or the county.
Please send me your thoughts and, remember, be part of the solution.
Word from the County Weed and Mosquito Director, Cory Worwood:
One of mosquito controls biggest challenges is the public perception that the Fogger truck represents mosquito abatement. One complaint I get a lot is “you have not been doing mosquito control in my town because I have not heard the fogger go by.” Please keep in mind that most mosquito control is done during the day by a guy on foot or ATV. The goal is to kill the mosquito larva and pupa in the water.
Notice that most of a mosquito’s life cycle takes place in standing water.
Most of our mosquito control efforts are focused on finding, preventing, draining and treating standing water. The fogging trucks that drive around at night only kill adult mosquitoes and make up less than ¼ of our mosquito control efforts.
A lot of mosquito problems can be avoided by:
Fixing leaks promptly (Fields and yards)
Drain objects that hold water (kid pools, wheelbarrows, garbage can lids, tires, coffee cans)
Stop overwatering (if water stands in the same place for more than 5 days it could be making mosquitos)
Fill in low spots that hold water (Fields and yards)
Make sure water drains properly (If water is moving it’s not producing mosquitos)
After I was sworn in in 2015 I was asked by Pasty Stoddard, of the Emery County Progress, for some thoughts on what you would like to accomplish as a commissioner. Here is a follow up on what I have done and what is yet to be accomplished.
Here they are (in no particular order):
This may be the one I was most passionate about, hence I have this website and facebook page. I appreciate those who have taken the time to read, comment, and reach out to me on various subjects. Please feel free to share with your friends and fellow citizens of Emery County!
Work on being as transparent as possible. Letting the people of Emery County know what’s going on, giving them updates, and using social media. Along with being transparent is letting the people have a way to contact their elected officials for rants, raves or ideas. I believe that we will hear great ideas for Emery County from the people of Emery County.
This is one I am still working on, I am hoping to bring better light to what taxes are brought into the county and how and where they are spent.
Transparency in taxation. I want to create an infographic on what monies the county takes in as fines, fees, taxes, PILT, and grants; then break it down into how and where it all is spent. I believe in taxation with representation, we should know where the goes. So we all can have the correct information.
Jordan Leonard, out Economic Development Director, has been great to work with. I continue to work with him to retain and expand the businesses we currently have and to actively pursue bringing new businesses to Emery County.
I want to work with our economic development department to continue to move forward projects that are in play and work to make our county as attractive as possible to future business opportunities. With that, I want to work with the Emery County Business Chamber to help the businesses we have already in the county to grow and expand. We need to develop a more viable and diverse economy in our county.
In working with Shannon Hiatt, the Aquatic Center Director, I believe that the pool is being used more. We have a facebook page for the aquatic center; discount cards for showers, aquacise and lap swim; We are working to purchase a WIBIT with school district participation as part of a fundraiser for the swim team.
I maintain that the government should not be in the business of running businesses. The Aquatic Center is a great facility, but it needs to be utilized more. I want to see it priced competitively with the pool in Price and to develop more activities at the Aquatic Center.
We have many great people who volunteer a lot of hours on behalf of the county and to them, I want to say a big, Thank You! We wouldn’t be able to accomplish those things on our own. I love that we have so many that care and want to be involved.
One thing we recently did as a commission was to approve county employee prices at the aquatic center for all those who volunteer on behalf of the county (e.g. Special Service District Boards, County Boards and Committees, EMS and Search and Rescue, etc.)
I want to continue working with and supporting the great people on the boards and councils the county has to further the efforts of our county.
I hope everyone realizes we are all in this together (cue the song from High School Musical). It’s true and I hope those who know me and read this know that I have been actively working as commissioner for the benefit of the whole county.
With all this, I would like to help build a better unity throughout the county, we are one county.
As always, I would love your feedback on this and remember: be part of the solution.