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Headlines Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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A rude (and watery) awakening

Residents in this Tremonton neighborhood near 1600 West and 125 North woke up Sunday morning to find their entire street submerged.

By Nelson Phillips
Staff Writer

The warm weather and rain that accompanied it last weekend made for more flooding in northern Box Elder County on Sunday and Monday, as water from melting snow inundated neighborhoods and caused hillsides to give way.
Tremonton residents in a neighborhood just west of the county fairgrounds went to sleep Saturday night with a few puddles in the road, but woke up with a foot of water along their street, inching closer and closer to spilling into their homes. The rain and melting snow in the fields surrounding the neighborhood overwhelmed the drainage system, which city officials said was obstructed under Utah Department of Transportation property outside of the city limits.
“There’s a big drain that goes into a smaller pipe, and the flow was not there,” said Tremonton Mayor Roger Fridal on Sunday. “The water couldn’t go anywhere.”
Neighbors, relatives, friends, city workers and strangers descended on the neighborhood, bringing sandbags and gasoline powered pumps, draining the road into nearby fields, which some say ran down and flooded other people’s homes. By Tuesday morning the situation seemed to be getting under control, but the weather forecast for the area calls for more rain on Wednesday, and snow on Thursday, so the problem could quickly return.
A homeowner on Bear Hollow Drive, just south of S.R. 30 between Riverside and Collinston, was surprised when a hillside across the street gave way about noon on Sunday, blocking the road and bringing a wall of mud and debris to the outside of the home.
“It just stopped on the front porch of that first house down there,” said Mark Millett, Box Elder County Emergency Management Director. “There was no structural damage, no injuries. We got there and found that they’ve hired a construction company to come and clean it up, and that they don’t need any help.”

BC mayor offers upbeat State of the City address

By Nelson Phillips
Staff Writer

In another State of the City address this year that offered attendees dessert, Brigham City Mayor Tyler Vincent on Thursday offered an upbeat, confident and slightly sentimental report on the condition of his city.
“I’m in my fourth year as mayor, and would like to thank the citizens of Brigham City for the opportunity to serve,” began Vincent, saying he’s been blessed with an “outstanding” city council that doesn’t always agree on everything, but always makes decisions they feel would benefit the citizens.
The mayor displayed a slide presentation as he spoke, highlighting the topics he thought were important with photographs and bullet points.
Starting with current and future power sources, Vincent stated that the city had changed from Rocky Mountain Power to the open market in 2015, and is planning for the future.
“We have contracts securing pricing through 2022, but we need to find long-term power generation for our electric source,” he said, stating that he and city officials attended “many hours” of training last year to see what sources were available. They looked at hydro, nuclear, natural gas and other sources, and came to a consensus that a “small modular nuclear reactor project” may be the most promising.
Speaking about the near-record snowfall the city has received this year, Vincent gave thanks to city snow-removal crews who worked around the clock, including Christmas Day, to keep the city’s streets clear.
“With a snowpack that’s currently at 180 percent of normal, we need to recognize the blessing of having a storm drain system to accommodate the water,” he said. “Since the flood of 2005 the city has spent about $4 million on improvements to Box Elder Creek, and other critical infrastructure. Because of these improvements, Brigham City is in a better position to avoid flooding than some of our neighboring communities,” he said. Vincent reported that since December the city has used 4,000 tons of road salt, crews have booked 1,600 holiday and weekend hours, and incurred over $40,000 in overtime costs.

County Commission drops public comment period from agenda

By Nelson Phillips
Staff Writer

Box Elder County Commission chairman Jeff Hadfield announced that the open public comment period has been dropped as a regular agenda item at the commission’s regular meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15.
For years commissioners have allowed constituents to take up to three minutes each during meetings to publicly state their concerns, but that opportunity was never required by law. Moving forward, anyone who wants to publicly address the commission during a regular meeting will need to request permission, in writing, to get on a meeting’s agenda. That permission may be granted or denied.
Public hearings on subjects up for consideration by the commission dealing with property, taxes, budgets and certain contracts are legally required, and are unaffected by the decision.
Hadfield told the News Journal on Thursday that the comment period hadn’t been added as a regular part of the agenda until around 2009 or 2010, and that having it could put the county at risk.
“The liability concern is if someone gets named or called out, and they’re not there to defend themselves,” said Hadfield, stating that the county could possibly be held responsible for libel in those situations.
Another concern that Hadfield expressed was that some participants tend to say incendiary things, which can offend others. He recounted a story where the director of a children’s group brought her kids to the commission meeting to receive an award, only to have them hear that their program was “unconstitutional” and a waste of taxpayer’s money, during the public comment period.


News Briefs

New BC police officer introduced
Officer Stephen Johnson was introduced to the city council on Thursday night, participating in the customary ceremony where his badge was pinned by his wife Lisa.
“I’m from Wyoming, and came down here because I wanted a better town for my family, and I’m really glad to be here,” said Johnson.
Chief Mike Nelsen said the Brigham City was in competition with another city for Johnson, but he chose Brigham City even though he was offered more money elsewhere.
“That just kind of shows you the integrity that this gentleman has,” said Nelsen.

County applies for Certified Local Government historical preservation grant
The Box Elder County Commission approved applying to become a Certified Local Government, making the county eligible for a $10,000 grant through the Utah Division of State History.
If approved, the grant would provide matching funds to the $10,000 earmarked for the refurbishment and replacement of the courthouse entry doors. Those additional funds could then be used toward other historical preservation projects, such as the Union Block restoration in Brigham City.
Box Elder County used to participate in the program years ago, but let it’s status slip.
Former Brigham City music director and museum volunteer Larry Douglas has offered his expertise and services to complete the application, and help oversee the program.
“I’m happy that the commission is renewing its local government status, and with permission from the county I will volunteer on the Certified Local Government Historic Preservation Commission, and help out the county with all of their projects,” said Douglas.

Box Elder County may offer fire suppression sprinkler system grants
County residents building homes that are required to install expensive fire suppression sprinkler systems due to their proximity to fire-prone wildlands, may soon be getting a break, courtesy of Box Elder County.
“With the new fire policy, we have a certain amount of dollars that we have to put into fire prevention,” said Fire Marshal Corey Barton, explaining his proposal. “So we’re taking 50 percent of that and putting it into a grant program for those that are in wildland interface areas, and required to install fire suppression systems.”
As currently proposed, the grants would be matching funds capping out at $4,000, and require at least three bids to make sure homeowners, and the county, are getting the best price. “It’ll take the sting out of the costs a little bit, and will be a great way to get fire protection out into the county where it’s needed,” said Barton.
“This would go towards our mitigation of the wildland fires, right?” asked Commissioner Stan Summers.
“Exactly, it does,” replied Barton, saying that the county fire prevention budget is about $113,000, money that will need to be spent anyway due to state commitments.
County Attorney Steve Hadfield said that a resolution would need to be drawn up for the commissioners to pass, and details worked out about how the money is prioritized and who makes the final decisions. The resolution will be prepared and voted on at the next Commission meeting, scheduled for March 1.

Rabies clinic scheduled in Brigham City
A rabies clinic to provide vaccinations for pets will be held Saturday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Pioneer Park Bowery.
The vaccination costs $17 for each dog or cat. Cats must be kept in a carrier and dogs must be leashed. Representatives from Brigham City will also be on hand to issue dog licenses. Licenses cost $10 for spayed/neutered animals and $17 if non-altered.
Payments for vaccinations and dog licenses are separate. Only cash and checks will be accepted.