Headlines Wednesday, November 25, 2015
In with the new
The new Utah State University-Brigham City campus building will be unveiled with a ribbon-cutting and open house on Tuesday, Dec. 1. (below) A real tree greets visitors in the main lobby of the building.
By Sean Hales
For around 40 years, Utah State Universty has had some sort of presence in Brigham City, first through workshops and most recently as the occupants of the rather inauspicious former Fred Meyer and commercial buildings on 1100 South.
But, after more than three years of work and collaboration by local governments and other taxing entities, businesses, and elected officials, Utah State University will have a more conspicuous presence when its new Brigham City campus building at 989 South Main Street is finally unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony next week on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
The upgrade to USU’s operations in Brigham City—a new $15 million, 50,000 square foot academic building that will stand as a centerpiece to future development in the south part of the city—has been highly anticipated by more than just USU. Businesses and individuals donated funds and governments entered an interlocal tax increment agreement through the Brigham City Redevelopment Agency to help fund the project and encourage the state to expedite the building.
BC finance director to replace city administrator
By Nelson Phillips
Brigham City Administrator Bruce Leonard is stepping down and retiring at the end of December, after having served Brigham City for the last 34 years.
At the Nov. 19 Brigham City Council meeting Financial Director Jason Roberts was unanimously approved as Leonard’s replacement, being promoted immediately to deputy city administrator while he learns the ropes. Roberts will officially become the new city administrator effective Jan. 1.
“I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Brigham City,” said Roberts on his new position. “I think we’ve done some great things over the last few years, and hope to continue doing good things for the people.” According to Roberts, the city is currently searching for a replacement for his former position as finance director.
Leonard, 70, began his career with the city in 1981, when he was hired as an engineering technician. Two years later, in 1983, Leonard was promoted to director of public works, a position he held for 23 years. In 2006 he was tasked by then Mayor Lou Ann Christensen to become the city administrator, with direct management over eight city departments.
“My wife retired last year,” said Leonard, when asked why he had made the decision to retire. “And we’ve decided we have things we’d like to do while we both still have some health.” He expressed that he was looking forward to this next phase of his life, but added that he would miss the people he’s worked with for so many years. Leonard also added that he thinks Jason Roberts was a great choice to fill his position. “I was pleased to see the council move in that direction. Jason is a good leader, he’s a solid person and he knows the city very well.”
Leonard had submitted his intention to retire once before, in 2013, but ultimately decided to stay on to finish goals “that would have remained unfinished had I left.” At that time, there was also some controversy regrading the process and selection of his apparent replacement, sitting city council member Scott Ericson.
Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent praised Leonard. “He’s a great leader,” said Vincent. “In my opinion the city wouldn’t be where it is today without Bruce’s skill, his leadership skills. He works with departments, he coaches, and they work things out, and that’s why they’re so successful. I’ve really enjoyed working with him for the past six years.”
Vincent also said he feels Roberts holds the same leadership skills as Leonard. “People in our departments like Jason, and they respect Jason. Jason has a lot to offer Brigham.”
BEHS students hear tales of addiction, imprisonment, regret
By Nelson Phillips
A program sponsored by the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office has prison inmates housed at the county jail meeting with groups of teens, telling them their stories, and explaining the choices that led to their incarceration.
The program, called CHOICE, is run by a deputy who once had problems of his own with prescription painkillers. On Friday, Deputy David Freeze, an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff’s department, told 59 Box Elder High School students from Teisha Sorensen’s Family Child Human Development class that after surgery to remove a brain tumor, he found himself addicted.
“They gave me a lot of morphine, and then Oxy for a couple months, and then Norco for a couple months. By the time a year was gone, I was very addicted to prescription pills,” said Freeze. “People have this misconception that if a doctor prescribes it, you’re OK. Addiction is a very real thing.”
Freeze went on to describe that even today, decades after he went through withdrawal and recovery, when life gets stressful, he still craves painkillers.
“These inmates, while not all of their problems are addiction related, it comes into play in every single person that comes through here.” Freeze explained that his painful recovery from addiction led him to want to help others avoid those traps, which is why he took on the CHOICE program, so that teens could possibly learn from other people’s mistakes.
Students were then introduced to Elizabeth, a 30-year-old mother of five serving time for drug distribution; Nick, a 33-year-old father of three serving time for burglary and theft; Jake, a 35-year-old Cache Valley native serving time for drug distribution; and Amber, a 30-year-old woman from Ogden also serving time for distribution.
While all four had different backgrounds—some came from dysfunctional homes while others had caring families—the common thread that bound them all together was addiction.
“I didn’t start doing drugs until I was 18,” said Nick, who also grew up in Ogden. “I went all through high school without doing anything. I started smoking weed with my friends, and then we started doing the harder stuff. And it all happened so fast, you could be fine one moment, and then you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd. Next thing you know you’re stealing from your own family, and stealing from other people, to support your habit.” Nick lamented that he hasn’t been there for his children, who are now entering middle school, and that, at 33, he was finally starting to understand what he had lost.