Morgan County Council thinks their quandary with getting high-speed internet to the county as well as their struggles with Lost Creek being shed as a state park would be good fodder for a local television program.
Chad Booth, host of County Seat aired on public television and five cable stations, visited the Morgan County Council seeking ideas for future episodes. The public affairs program began in 2011 and focuses on issues that affect county government. The show airs every Sunday morning on ABC 4 Utah.
Producers say the program provides a platform that allows county leaders to reach the public with news that affects viewers at the local level, specifically in rural areas of the state. Past episodes have covered issues such as energy, roads, land issues, law enforcement, economic development, sage grouse, noxious weeds, urban rural wildfire interface, mental health, extension service, and the challenges of nonurban counties.
Booth encouraged Morgan officials to proactively make issues public via an episode on his program “rather than have someone else define the parameters.
“When you say, ‘When people find out about this, stuff is going to hit the fan,’ that is the time to call for an episode. Too often, you spend time defending instead of defining the issue. It is better to get out in front,” Booth said. “The biggest problem we face is getting the issues from this (council) table to the public.”
Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said the lack of broadband is holding up economic development in the county.
For now, high speed Internet is only available in Morgan City and sections of Mountain Green. Councilman Robert Kilmer said he is not able to stream television programs over the Internet at his home in Porterville unless it is at 2 a.m.
“How do we get technology into these rural counties so they can move into the 21st Century?” asked Councilman Logan Wilde.
“Rural communities suffer because of lack of broadband capacity,” Councilman Lyle Nelson told Booth.
Morgan is likewise suffering since the state parks system dropped Lost Creek Reservoir, Wilde said. Since, county, state and federal agencies have shared in the maintenance and upkeep of Lost Creek.
“When they close down a state park, problems come,” Wilde said. “Local agencies have to pick up the pieces.”
Booth said the challenges Morgan County faces with Lost Creek are similar to ones Beaver County is facing when its state park was dropped from the system.
Wilde also suggested that the state needs to step up its responsibilities relating to the Weber River.
“The Weber River will end up being another problem for Morgan,” Wilde said. “It should be a state park because of the volume of people using it. If you have volumes of people using it, you have volumes of problems.”
Councilman Austin Turner said on an given weekend, you can find as many as 3,000 people floating the Weber River on tubes through Morgan County.
“It has become a very big draw,” Kelley said.
Booth said state parks has an obligation to enforce the surface of all bodies of water in the state.
Kelley also suggested advertising the annual county fair on the television program.
Booth liked the idea, saying that viewership of the program has increased. He said federal and state agencies watch the program, as well as the governor.
“The message is getting out,” he said.