Headlines Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Anticipated Procter & Gamble expansion takes first step
Approval of a state incentive program sets the stage for the Procter & Gamble plant to nearly double in size with an expansion project.
By Sean Hales
An incentive plan worth more than $11 million was approved last week by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development for a planned expansion of the Procter & Gamble manufacturing facility in Box Elder County.
According to information from the GOED, the plan provides Procter & Gamble with up to $11,146,615 in tax credits if and when the company meets goals for capital investment and job creation. The expansion is expected to generate $400-$500 million in capital investment to build the new facility, and to create 200 new jobs over the next 20 years.
The maximum amount of the incentive represents a 30 percent discount of the new state taxes the company would pay for the expansion over the 20-year life of the agreement. Procter & Gamble will get a portion of the total tax credit each year that it meets criteria contained in the agreement.
One of those criteria, as required by law, is that wages paid by Procter & Gamble, including medical benefits, must be no lower than the county’s average wage. In the last two years, that number was a little more than $34,000 annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Proctor & Gamble received a similar incentive package when they opened the Box Elder facility in 2011, and according to Michael Sullivan with the GOED, the company “absolutely” met their end of the bargain for capital investment and creating good-paying jobs.
“They have been an incredibly good partner,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said Procter & Gamble directly employs approximately 300 people, and pays no less than 125 percent of the county’s average wage.
The agreement with the state is just a first step in the proposed expansion. Box Elder County Economic Development Director Mitch Zundel said local taxing entities have all approved an incentive package set up by the county that is expected to be formally approved by the Box Elder redevelopment agency at its meeting in June.
The expansion still has to go through the proper permitting processes, but the facility is expected to be completed by 2018, according to Procter & Gamble spokesperson, Jeff LeRoy.
The proposed expansion will add about 600,000 square feet, nearly doubling the size of the paper manufacturing facility.
LeRoy was unable to say whether the new facility would manufacture paper products, such as the Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels manufactured at the current plant, or another of the company’s many products. He said that the expansion is part of the company’s strategy to build more “multi-category” plants in North America. Box Elder was selected for the expansion over other of the company’s manufacturing sites.
“The Box Elder plant is an important part of our North American manufacturing network,” LeRoy said.
Judge: Griffin had adequate defense in murder trial
By Nelson Phillips
Retired First District Court Judge Ben Hadfield, called by the Utah Supreme Court to hear evidence in an April 9 proceeding related to the appeal of convicted murderer Glen Griffin, found against the defense’s claims on every point that Griffin was inadequately represented at his original trial.
Griffin attorney, Jennifer Gowans, argued at the evidenciary hearing on April 9 that Logan Attorney Shannon Demler had a conflict of interest when cross-examining key prosecution witness Benjamin Britt due to a short-lived client relationship with another potential prosecution witness, Hadfield wrote, “Demler had no conflict of interest with Griffin. Further, Demler’s prior representation of Archuletta did not adversely affect his cross-examination of Britt. The Archuletta interview and Griffin trial were more than 30 months apart.”
Hadfield also discounted Gowan’s argument that Griffin’s defense attorneys failure to call Steven Wells as a witness for the defense showed ineffectiveness of counsel. Wells testified on the stand that he saw another suspect in the murder, Craig Martinez, show up at a party with what he said was blood on his shirt around the time of the murder.
“Wells does not recall the date,” wrote Hadfield. “Defense counsel’s questions provide a specific date, but Wells’ answers are consistently vague and unsure.” Hadfield also wrote that Wells had admitted to alcohol and drug use, that he could only see Martinez that night by the light of a campfire, and that he had been convicted of lying to police, which made him unreliable. Hadfield ruled it was the defense counsel’s decision not to call Wells due to limited resources, and wanting to focus on countering the state’s most powerful evidence, Griffin’s DNA found in blood on dollar bills given to two other witnesses outside the crime scene.
Willard discusses anticipated $55k budget shortfall
By Nelson Phillips
In a three-hour meeting last week, the Willard City Council heard a preliminary budget presentation for the coming fiscal year, agreed to try and combine the city’s Founder’s Day celebrations with Willard Bay State Park, and discussed basing ambulance services in Willard’s fire house.
The budget presentation, offered by City Recorder Teri Fellenz, includes slight increases over 2014-15 revised budget numbers in many departments, with large cuts in others. The total proposed budget is $2,017,793.
“This is a pretty bare bones budget,” said Fellenz, explaining that the city has made all the cuts deemed possible and still came up almost $55,000 short in the General Fund. “There’s just nowhere else to cut,” she told the council. “We are frugal in what we spend. There are probably trainings that we should go to that we don’t, because we don’t want to pay for an overnight stay, and things like that.”
A proposed $17,984 increase in the police budget was largely due to the city planning to add and outfit another part time officer, while cuts in the fire and streets budgets (see accompanying graphic) were mainly due to grant funds received in 2014-15 that are no longer available, including the $94,000 grant the city is using to complete the 200 West trail project.
City revenues are projected to fall by $234,600, with the majority of that being due to grants received this year but not next.
Auto thefts on the rise
The Brigham Police Department is urging residents to secure their cars following a recent increase in vehicle burglary activity.
According to BCPD Interim-Chief Lieutenant Michael Nelsen, warmer weather has resulted in a marked increase in reports of vehicular break-ins. Items stolen are mostly cash and valuables that are visible through the windows. Non-monetary items have been found discarded in the general vicinity.
Nelsen said it is noteworthy that very few of the burglary reports included damage to the vehicles, such as broken windows. Rather, the thieves have gained easy access to unlocked vehicles.
“Lock your cars, even when you’re at church,” said Nelsen.
The incidents typically occur in the evening with the cover of darkness, but it is not unusual for thieves to try door handles while walking down the street, to see if they can gain access to a vehicle.
BRAG announces travel voucher program
Transportation in rural areas of Northern Utah can be a challenge for many people. Public systems are non existent in many areas and for low income families that can create barriers to accessing medical care, employment, education, and other opportunities. BRAG was able to secure federal funding as the basis for two programs offering transportation reimbursement. One program focuses on older adults and those with disabilities in need of transportation to medical appointments. The second program helps low income families trying to work and gain an education.
BRAG’s Medical Voucher Program is designed to reimburse a volunteer driver who provides transportation to low-income older adults or those with a disability as they travel to medical appointments. The client is able to designate their own driver, who will then need to apply for participation in the program. The Medical Voucher program is available in rural areas of the BRAG tri-county area.
The Mobility Voucher Program for Families aims to help low-income families with one or more children under the age of 18 who are trying to get ahead in life. They are going to school and/or working. Perhaps they’re participating in a treatment program to overcome addiction, they may have recently been released from incarceration and are employed or returning to work after disability or unemployment. This reimbursement program lessens the burden of travel costs for those living in Box Elder or Rich County.
Find out more about these voucher programs by calling the BRAG office at 435-752-7242 or toll free at 877-772-7242. More information is available at www.brag.utah.gov or mobilityvoucherprogram.weebly.com
Cemetery clean up begins June 1
Brigham City cemetery crews will begin their Memorial Day clean up on Monday, June 1, at 7 a.m.
Residents who want to save decorations should remove them from graves before Monday, June 1. Any shepherd’s hooks should also be removed. Flowers properly arranged around headstones and in good condition will not be removed until such time as they become unsightly. Artificial flowers stuck in the grass will be removed and disposed of at that time.
Removing decorations from the grave sites of non-family plots is a class B misdemeanor punishable with fines up to $1,000 and potential jail time of up to six months.
For more information or assistance, contact the cemetery offices at 435-723-5813.