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The value of farmers’ markets: human interaction and local impact

Guest Perspective by David Walker 06/22/16

Are we missing something when everything we consume is ordered online or purchased from the largest retailer at the cheapest price? Are we short-changed when the very act of paying for our goods is a machine interaction? We just might be.
This Saturday, Historic Downtown Brigham City is sponsoring a farmers’ market for the summer growing season and we believe there is great value in what we are doing.
Public markets have been in existence for millennia. They represent the very essence of free enterprise and entrepreneurial activity. Whenever and wherever individuals, families, and clans have had excess to share and with wants they desire to meet, public markets have and do exist.
But public markets have a much greater impact on a small community than the distribution of goods and services. They can, in fact, help build a community, and we believe that is a good thing for Brigham City, particularly as we attempt to revitalize the historic district.
The consumption of locally-sourced and organically-raised produce is one such benefit, but there are others. There is the very real economic development activity of a small cottage industry testing the market for new products, which can ultimately lead to a full-fledged business. There are artists and entertainers that gain exposure to audiences. And there are social service and education opportunities that may reach those in need as in no other way.
Perhaps most important is the opportunity, as human beings, to be human. To interact face to face, to share a freshly prepared meal, to meet budding artists, and to admire the next generation of talent, or to learn the latest about healthcare or healthy living. Indeed, to relax and interact with one another as friends and neighbors.
Please support the Brigham City Farmers Market this summer, conveniently located in the Box Elder County Courthouse parking lot from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. each Saturday through September.
Brigham City Farmers Market: Eat well, live happy, and love life.


National Police Week: In Utah, relationship between law enforcement and public is mutually supportive

Writer's Block by Nelson Phillips 05/18/16

This week you’ve probably been seeing a lot of blue across your social media accounts, especially if you have friends or family members in law enforcement as I do.
Although these online observances are a relatively new phenomenon, the reason behind them has been going on for 53 years now. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in October of 1962, every May 15 has been set aside as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week that contains it as National Police Week.
“Whereas the police officers of America have worked devotedly and selflessly in behalf of the people of this Nation, regardless of the peril or hazard to themselves; and Whereas these officers have safeguarded the lives and property of their fellow Americans; and Whereas by the enforcement of our laws, these same officers have given our country internal freedom from fear of the violence and civil disorder that is presently affecting other nations; Whereas these men and women by their patriotic service and their dedicated efforts have earned the gratitude of the Republic” reads the resolution.
But with all of the political and social unrest in recent years, after Ferguson and Baltimore, after dozens of YouTube videos showing cops doing and saying bad things, does the American public still agree with the resolution passed in 1962? It would seem the answer to that question depends on where you live.
Box Elder County Sheriff Kevin Potter says that his deputies feel great warmth and support from our local communities.
“There are a lot of places in this country where the relationship of the police and the people they serve is terrible,” said Potter. “We’re lucky in that we don’t have that where we live. People are happy to see us, even if they’re having a bad day, even if arrests are being made they still support us, still stand behind us.”
Potter gave examples of people lining the streets for the funeral of Sheriff Yeates last year, or more recently for the funeral of West Valley City officer Doug Barney, who was killed in the line of duty in January. “There was a NYPD officer at the Barney funeral who said ‘We’ve got you beat, we can put 20,000 cops along the parade when one of ours is slain. But we don’t get the citizens lining the streets like you do in Utah.’ And it really struck me what amazing support we have here in Utah, and especially in Box Elder County,” said Potter. “I want the people to know how much that means to us.”
Potter’s praise also extended beyond the public to the men and women of the Sheriff’s Department.
“Our deputies and employees give tremendous service. They’re there in the middle of the night when you call 9-1-1, they’re missing their kid’s birthdays and Christmases, they’re sweating and bleeding and getting hurt” all because they want to serve, he said.
Chief Mike Nelsen of the Brigham City Police Department echoed many of the Sheriff’s sentiments.
“For generations, the brave women and men of law enforcement have answered the call to serve and protect our communities. They often work long shifts in dangerous and unpredictable circumstances, but yet the officers show the courage and honor that represent the best of America. They give up precious time away from their own families so that we can be safe and sleep well at nights,” said Nelsen. “During Police Week, we express our gratitude for these public servants who wear the badge and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. We also remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty.”
Nelsen went on to thank the people of Brigham City and Box Elder County for the support shown to law enforcement, and asked that the public show their support a little more openly for the next few days.
“If you see an officer this week, tell them you appreciate them. They would put their life on the line for you,” said the Chief.
We live in a world of instant communication, where a bad deed by a law enforcement officer somewhere can spread like wildfire across the country, and it can color our view of the entire profession. As a journalist and as a citizen, I’ve had contacts with many in the profession, a couple of which I’d just as soon forget, but many, many more that were very positive experiences. Law enforcement officers are people, and subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as any of us. They have bad days, they have struggles in their lives, they worry about their children, they worry about money and their future, and sometimes have to worry about their own safety. But they also worry about the public, about you and me, our safety, and our kids and our communities. That’s a noble calling.
When I’m listening to the scanner during a major event, it still amazes me how dedicated these men and women truly are, to the public and to each other. They actually do rush in when others run away, whether it’s an overturned propane tanker near the Brigham City Airport threatening to explode, or a (luckily false) rash of bank robberies in Tremonton.
Although I wouldn’t shy away from a story of police wrongdoing, which is a necessary check on the tremendous amount of trust and power bestowed upon those who wear a badge, I also don’t shy away from giving credit where credit is due.
This week, and most weeks for that matter, my view of the law enforcement profession is colored by what I see, and in Box Elder County that color is true blue.


Governmental, business engagement in BC’s downtown revitalization is reason for optimism

Writer's Block by Nelson Phillips 02/17/16

Whether they supported funding it or not, even critics agree that the Academy Square building in downtown Brigham City has been restored beautifully. As people climb the grand staircase and turn into the ornately detailed ballroom for the first time, the most common reaction I’ve heard is a gasped “Wow.”
As a reporter, I’ve had a few opportunities now to attend functions there, and I have to admit, I’m impressed. The building is nothing short of stunning, mixing the old and the new in a way that seems to announce that Brigham City has not only arrived, but never actually left.
When I hear city officials proclaiming that it will one day prove to be the cornerstone of a revitalized downtown, a big part of me not only wants to believe them, but does. With the work the city and county have been doing to find the area a brand (birds, who knew?), the beginnings of a cohesive revitalization plan, and what seems to be a renewed commitment on the part of downtown business owners to innovate, upgrade and attract people back into the heart of the city, I have to say I’m cautiously optimistic for downtown’s future.
The stars seem to be aligning in Brigham City’s favor, beginning with the construction of the LDS temple that brings thousands of visitors into the city. That was followed by a general uptick in the economy that has seen sales tax revenues consistently outpace projections, enough to help the city fund the addition of nine more pickleball courts. Add to this the expansion of Utah State University Brigham City, which will hopefully keep many of our young people here at home instead of emigrating to Logan or Ogden, the awarding of high profile contracts to Orbital ATK that will keep hundreds employed for years to come, the expansion of Proctor & Gamble, and even the fact that UTOPIA is no longer losing money (and building in Perry!), I think the Brigham City Area Chamber of Commerce has a right to be optimistic as well.
And it’s this optimism that I try to dwell on as I circle the block for the third time trying to find a parking space for Academy Square. I’m still optimistic as I balance precariously on the snow-covered landscaping stones between the Academy building and the Hampton Inn, trying desperately not to fall and damage my tablet and camera, or worse, myself, as there is no real path there between the buildings from the hotel’s northeast parking lot.
“Next time,” I tell myself, “I’ll just park at the courthouse, or at Smith’s, and walk over.” But I never do. Instead I continually miss the one parallel spot open on Main Street, decide repeatedly not to risk parking a Suburban in a narrow 90 degree stall between two cars next to the Main Street Church, and eventually end up back at the same hotel lot, balancing on stones.
“Sorry I’m covered in snow and mud for our interview, Governor.” Just kidding, that never happened.
It was my interview with Jonathan and Courtney Johnson.


Do your part to revitalize downtown by supporting Academy Center

Guest Perspective by David Walker 01/13/16

A recent article in the Box Elder News Journal announcing the contract for management of the Academy Center generated a surprising number of comments on our Facebook page. It was accompanied by a stunning interior photo. Most expressed excitement for the building. “I’m really excited for all the possibilities...so beautiful,” read one. Another person wrote, “Really wonderful to have this addition to Brigham City.” And from several others, “It is so beautiful.”
There were, however, other comments, such as —“Really, in Brigham City. Wow.” And we have had numerous conversations with downtown merchants, property owners, restaurateurs, and visitors who have a great affection for this quaint little community, but cannot seem to view it from any perspective other than the past.
Historic Downtown Brigham City is a 501c(3) non-profit established at the encouragement of local and county officials to assist in revitalizing historic downtown. We have a lot of work to do. But if our focus is to bring life back into the historic commercial center of the city, we cannot do so by looking backwards.
Those who opposed the Academy Center project did so on ideological grounds, often voicing something akin to, “it shouldn’t even be here” or “it never should have been renovated.” Regardless of whether or not there is legitimacy in those claims—and we are not here to argue that one way or another—the fact of the matter is this: the Academy Square building and adjacent restaurant are here today. They are going to open and it portends great change in Brigham City, so long as it is managed properly.
Like other Main Street projects, we wrestle with the question of how to revitalize historic downtown in a way that preserves our history. Our hope is to add more restaurants, retail shopping, and art venues downtown. We have all the building blocks in place; historic infrastructure, city and county support, and a few brave merchants willing to duke it out in some tough economic times.
And now we have the Academy Center. The influx of visitors into our community will benefit everyone with increased economic viability for business, increased tax revenues for government, and an elevated cultural experience for the community.
We can’t change history. Let’s put past missteps in the past, and put our support behind this wonderful and historically significant facility, if for no other reason, than to make sure that the money that has been spent doesn’t go to waste.
Let’s get out and support the new Academy Center. If you haven’t seen it, you should really take the time for a visit. It really is beautiful, and yes, it really is in Brigham City.


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