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Headlines Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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‘Drug crossroads’ of the West

Photo Mike Nelson / Box Elder News Journal
Officers from Utah Highway Patrol, Idaho State Police, Box Elder County Sheriff's Department, Cassia and Oneida County Sheriff's Departments (Idaho) participated in a 6-hour long drug interdiction operation near the tri-county corner along a stretch of Interstate 84 and other nearby roadways connecting Utah and Idaho. The multi-jurisdictional effort resulted in more than 50 traffic stops and multiple arrests.

By Mike Nelson
Associate editor

Five law enforcement agencies from Utah and Idaho joined forces in a multi-jurisdictional drug operation near where Box Elder County Sheriff Lynn Yeates referred to as the “drug crossroads of the west.”
Officers from Utah Highway Patrol, Idaho State Police, Box Elder County, Cassia County (Idaho) and Oneida County (Idaho) met in Snowville Thursday morning to conduct a briefing before kicking off their sting. Cassia County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Horak said since Colorado and Washington states have legalized marijuana there has been a significant increase in transportation of the substance between states.
Horak relayed statistics of traffic stops between Sweetzer, Idaho and Snowville—a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 84—showing nearly half of all stops resulted in officers finding illegal drugs or paraphernalia.
“For every 100 traffic stops, about 40 percent involve drugs,” said Horak.
Cassia County Sheriff Jay Heward said the ultimate goal of the operation was to show that the agencies had the ability to work together in solidarity at the tri-county border area and to rid the highways of trafficking of illegal narcotics.
According to UHP Lt. Lee Perry, within 30 minutes of the briefing, his officers stopped a Cadillac out of Oregon heading to Colorado. The vehicle was stopped just 10 miles east of the Idaho border for a suspected window tint violation.
“The occupants said they were reporters for “4:20” or some such marijuana-related organization,” said Perry.
The 69-year-old driver consented to officers searching his vehicle but his two male passengers, ages 46 and 32, refused consent. With that, a nearby K-9 walked around the vehicle and indicated a “positive hit.”
Perry said the subsequent search resulted in officers finding multiple bottles of cannabis oil and wax, marijuana, vaporizers used to ingest the wax and oil, and other drug paraphernalia.
The driver was issued a warning for his window tint and released. The two passengers were arrested and booked into the Box Elder County Jail.
Two hours later, a second stop of a rental vehicle for a traffic violation yielded 40 pounds of marijuana in two large duffel bags in the trunk of the car. Perry said troopers recognized indicators of criminal activity from the driver who gave consent to search the vehicle. He was arrested and booked into jail on felony drug charges.
In all, the agencies collectively made 52 traffic stops which resulted in nine citations, 61 warnings, 11 misdemeanor drug charges and four felony drug arrests.

Brigham City approves first phase to implement smart meter program

By Mike Nelson
Associate editor

Following some discussion and threats of law suits from citizens regarding smart meters, Brigham City Council unanimously approved in a motion Thursday to move forward with the city’s advanced metering infrastructure project.
According to City Attorney Kirk Morgan, the general policy of implementation—which was also officially adopted at the meeting—will protect citizens and address safety issues while providing citizens an opt-out option for those who do not wish to have the smart meters installed on their homes.
“The technology is good and Dave [Burnett, Director of Public Power] has spent three years studying these meters,” said City Administrator Bruce Leonard. “What we’re trying to do is build a system that protects us from disaster and gets us back up and going as quickly as we can.”


Missing Honeyville teen found safe, man arrested

A 15-year-old Honeyville girl is back home after going missing for five days. Following a search by Box Elder County Sheriff’s deputies, aided by volunteers from a motorcycle club dedicated to finding missing children, and a massive social media campaign, the girl was located in a Weber County home linked to a South Willard man.
Chad Flitton, 38, was taken into custody on April 15 and booked into the Box Elder County jail on charges of harboring a runaway, obstruction of justice, making a false written statement to police, and reckless endangerment of a minor.
Hours after Flitton’s release on bail, it was reported by family members that Flitton again picked the girl up late Thursday night, dropping her off at the Sheriff’s office after again being contacted by deputies.
“He thinks he’s in love with her,” the distraught father of the girl told the News Journal. “As far as I’m concerned he’s nothing more than a criminal pedophile.”
According to family members, the trouble with Flitton began approximately three months ago, when he introduced himself to the girl at Crystal Hot Springs, where she was recreating with friends.
“He told her he was 25,” said the father. “And if you’ve seen him he can pass for 25, he looks young.” The father relayed the story of Flitton befriending the girl, even continuing the lie about his age to both him and the girl’s mother, who lives in Tremonton. “He was charming and respectful, and told me he liked my daughter, but would wait until she was 18 to start anything serious. He told me he was a returned missionary, which made me feel better about the situation.”

Utah’s Own seminars to debut in Box Elder County

By Mike Nelson
Associate editor

Brigham City’s own Afton’s Floral will play venue for the first of its kind Utah’s Own Summit tomorrow, April 24, to showcase a variety of locally produced food and agricultural products as well as to serve as a launching pad to help start-ups and small businesses break out into the market.
“It’s an honor for Box Elder County to be the location for the first of many Utah’s Own Summits throughout the state,” said Wendy English, Utah Small Business Development Center. “We believe that the Utah’s Own program not only benefits small business owners, but we have evidence that employment and opportunities for success increase when Utah’s Own is utilized.”
Kyle Kanno, owner and operator of Afton’s Floral and The Honey Jar said 14 food vendors, who are members of Utah’s Own, will be on-hand for a class from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. to help and assist as many as 40 new businesses who are signed up to attend the summit to perfect their products and learn tricks of the trade. He said it will be a sort of testing ground where he and others will offer some feedback as third parties.
“People produce good things but sometimes they don’t know the business and marketing side of it,” said Kanno. “It can be intimidating to a lot of people.”
The joint effort sponsored by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Utah Small Business Development Center, was spawned early in this year’s general legislative session. Rep. Lee Perry (R-Dist. 29) said he recognized the progress and potential of Utah’s Own and, after paving the way for appropriations at the legislature, issued a challenge to Agriculture Commissioner and former Box Elder County Commissioner, LuAnn Adams, who cheerfully accepted.
“There’s a lot of excitement about this and I’m pretty pumped,” said Adams. “I always tried to help out at the county level but if I can help at the state level, how sweet is that?”
Adams said another dozen Utah counties have signed up to hold similar Utah’s Own summits in the near future. According to Perry, it will be events like these that help springboard locally owned small businesses into the market.
“Several Utah-based companies have started in Utah and expanded outside Utah’s borders,” said Perry.
Kanno’s homegrown honey company, sold under the name, The Honey Jar, has recently received a contract with Smith’s to distribute honey to 220 Utah stores. He said their first order was 100 cases of honey and he expects them to order 100 cases each month.
“We wanted to be able to provide things you can’t get in town,” said Kanno. “Your artisan breads and cheeses and other items that people in town want and won’t have to drive to Ogden or Salt Lake to buy.”
In the future, Kanno said he has plans to hold quarterly tasting events of products in order to allow people to come in and try new things and to provide a social and cultural atmosphere in the store. Anything that brings in good reviews, Kanno said, he will keep on his shelves available for purchase.
The tasting event will run from 1-5 p.m. Many vendors will stay later or at least leave their products for people to try.
“If I have people keep coming, I will stay until 10 p.m.; I want them to come in for the experience,” said Kanno.
Afton’s Floral is located at 96 South Main Street. For more information visit www.utahsown.utah.gov.