Education dominated the 2014 election cycle, both locally and on the state level.
Locally, more Morgan residents threw their hat in the ring for an education position than any other government position on the ballot.
Morgan City has made a stride forward in coordinating community events. This move involved hiring a new event coordinator to work with the city council in not only making sure that big events are successful, but assisting in economic development and day-to-day operations as well.
More than half of the county’s registered voters turned out on election night. This high voter turnout rendered many local races just too close to call.
As polls closed, it appeared only one local incumbent lost a bid for re-election. On Nov. 4, Political newcomer Ted W. Taylor appeared to have won over incumbent Bruce A. Galbraith for the Morgan School Board District 2 seat.
Just a few short weeks before election day, local candidates attended the Oct. 23 meet the candidate event sponsored by MOREPAC at Larry’s Spring Chicken Inn. While six candidates for the Morgan County Council, county recorder and county clerk positions answered audience questions, a majority of the evening was spent discussing education with four candidates for the local and state school boards.
Mountain Green resident Ray L. Worthen, Democrat, is taking on Republican incumbent Melvin R. Brown for the Utah State House District 53 position representing Morgan, Summit, Duchesne, Rich and Daggett counties.
Worthen, 67, is a retired engineer who has lived in Morgan County for 16 years. He was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in Ogden. This is the first political office he has pursued.
The process that bypassed seven Morgan residents who filed for a spot on the state school board produced two candidates. David L. Clark, of Providence, will take on incumbent Terryl Warner, of Hyrum, for the Utah State Board of Education District 1 position on the Nov. 4 ballot.
While working out kinks with utility companies, progress on the Morgan Bike Park has been a little slower than anticipated. However, the Morgan County Council has caught organizer Jason Johnson’s vision and has unanimously allowed him another three years to build up the park.
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who represents Morgan County in Washington, was selected today to be the next chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. Senator Lee will assume the post at the start of the 114th Congress in January.
A 15-year-old female was involved in an ATV accident Sunday evening in Peterson. Morgan County Sheriff Blaine Breshears said the accident did not end up as a fatality even though the female was not wearing a helmet.
In a 5-2 vote, the Morgan County Council gave 56 building lots known as the Whittier Estates Subdivision in Peterson the nod to move to the next development stage.
The 104-acre subdivision at 4000 N. Morgan Valley Drive includes 34 half-acre lots, 20 one-acre lots and two 20-acre lots. Twenty-one half-acre lots will likely be in the first of three phases in the development’s upcoming preliminary plat approval application, said Blair Gardner, representing both the buyer and seller.
The pressure is mounting. The past three public meetings with Yaryca’s 3,000 acres on the agenda have seen standing-room-only crowds, television media, environmental group pressure, and plenty of public comment.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the applicant backed down a bit, asking for a work session before the Morgan County Council voted again on amending the future land use map amendment that could make way for a new resort on the north end of East Canyon Reservoir. At the council’s Sept. 3 meeting, it was a tied 4-4 vote and Council Chairman Logan Wilde was not present.
The Morgan City Council met this week to discuss capital improvement rankings, Tucker Farms rezone and Riverbend apartments.
When city or county governments would like to seek funding for projects through grants or loans, those projects must appear on their Capital Investment Plan. This plan goes before the Council of Governements (COG) and that body then assigns importance to each line item.
The COG consists of both city and county councils as well as the school district.
Changes were made to the 2015 plan at the latest Morgan City Council meeting. The plan currently includes sewer improvements as the highest priorities.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) was in Peterson Wednesday serving a search warrant with the help of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. FBI agents were in the area near Hinds Quick Stop participating in the search warrant.
Jared Byron Hoopes, 38, of 4020 N. 4000 W., Peterson, was booked into Weber County Jail Wednesday evening charged for five Class 2 felony counts of sexual abuse of a child, and 20 Class 2 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
ICAC is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the internet to exploit children. The task force is funded by a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and administered through the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Every homeowner in the county saw a home valuation increase on their tax notices sent out this month.
County Assessor Gwen D. Rich reported a significant increase in the county’s taxable value to the state this year. From $856 million in taxable value in 2013 to $907 million this year, taxable value increased a whopping $51 million.
Of that increase, about $19.2 million was due to new growth, or homes constructed and new businesses locating in Morgan, Rich said. This year’s $19.2 million increase in new growth outshines last year’s $6.3 million increase.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources awarded Trout Unlimited a $17,000 grant for preliminary work on a Weber River design study in Morgan County from the diversion dam at Como Springs into Morgan City, including the stretch of the river near Riverside Park.
The study is slated to begin in October when water levels are lower to fund preliminary conceptual designs for river restoration and will likely involve survey work of the waterway.
“The project is a cooperative one across the watershed that will benefit fish, wildlife, anglers, recreational water users and agricultural producers,” said Paul Burnett with Trout Unlimited, a nationwide nonprofit organization aiming to conserve and protect cold water habitat.
When Superintendent for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind Joel Coleman was named the interim Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Utah this week, it was not in an open public meeting, something that has Utah State Board of Education Member Terryl Warner worried.
A landowner involved with plans for a 2,980-acre resort near East Canyon accused the Morgan County Planning chairman of trying to sabotage the Yaryca Master Planned Community during a Aug. 14 public hearing. Many local residents praised any efforts to put a stop to the resort proposal.
During the Morgan County Planning Commission public hearing regarding the Yaryca development Aug. 14, a third of the dissenters taking the microphone spoke out against Yaryca because of the impact it could have on the Greater sage grouse, a candidate for an endangered species designation.
It was standing room only at the Aug. 14 Morgan County Planning Commission as more than 200 people crowded the Morgan County Courthouse and 45 people voiced their opinions about the proposed Yaryca Master Planned Community.
Applicants asked the commission to amend the county’s future land map in the East Canyon area, an action that could eventually make way for a new resort community.
In a 4-2 vote, the planning commission voted to let the Morgan County Council know they support the future land use map amendment, re-designating 2,980 acres from natural resources and recreation to master planned community.
More than 200 people crowded the Morgan County Courthouse auditorium during a public hearing Aug. 14 to amend the county’s future land map in the East Canyon area to eventually make way for a new 2,980-acre resort. The landowners asked the planning commission to consider re-designating 2,980 acres currently designated natural resources and recreation to master planned community.
At the Aug. 14 meeting, many residents asked for specifics, wanting to know exactly what the land owners planned to do with the 3,000 acres. That Thursday, they were tight-lipped. However, they laid out grand plans during the July 10 meeting a month earlier.
The Utah Transit Authority board recommended not proceeding with placing a Morgan County annexation measure on the November ballot, saying an overwhelming majority of the feedback they received was in opposition.
“Public input weighed heavily on the decision,” said Ryan Taylor, UTA coordinated mobility manager. “We weighed all factors including public support, the nature of the county and its rural setting, and the needs of the community at this time.”
UTA and Morgan County Councilman Logan Wilde agreed that this is just not the proper time for a “marriage of Morgan and UTA.”
The UTA board subcommittee met and made the recommendation Wednesday. The Morgan County Council can still vote whether or not to keep the tax increase issue off the ballot.
Potholes, patchwork and standing water, oh my!!
The Morgan County Council unanimously approved up to $400,000 in road repairs Tuesday, getting a solid start on a much-needed road repair and maintenance program in the county.
As many as 11 projects totaling 4.1 miles of county roads are on the list, ranked in order by the county facilities director and contracted engineer.
“The council had no input on the areas that are being worked on. It is not a political thing,” said Morgan County Councilman Robert Kilmer. “It is strictly based on a professional analysis of what needs to be fixed first.”
The full Senate agreed recently to include Senator Mike Lee’s proposal to reform transportation funding in a package of amendments on the Highway Trust Fund. The Transportation Empowerment Act would allow states to keep the vast majority of revenue each raises through the gas tax, making it easier and more effective for communities to develop the transportation system they want and need.
Rather than pursue establishing a municipal service fund similar to that used for garbage collection, the Morgan County Council would rather try to negotiate its agreement with Morgan City to provide ambulance service.
Not every member of the Morgan County Council agrees with putting a transit tax on the ballot, or how the county should fund road repair and maintenance.
“I am not sure if I am in favor of a transit tax,” Morgan County Council Chairman Logan Wilde said.
The county has been discussing raising sales tax to fund transit, perhaps through an agreement with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA). That tax must be approved before an additional tax meant to provide funds to repair and maintain county roads could be added to the sales tax increase.
Wilde said he is concerned with the view that passing the transit tax is the only way that could lead to funding county roads.
When he reads the fine print about sales tax for funding roads, Wilde said there are too many stipulations.
There is demand for industrial park real estate in Morgan County, and the county should be looking into making it easier for new businesses to use such space, said Better City, the county’s economic development consultant.
The site most suitable for future industrial park development in Morgan County is on 125 acres near the recycling center, property currently owned by the Clarks and the Thackerays, said Ryan Hunter, Better City director of economic development.
Morgan City Mayor Ray Little wasn’t surprised at the location, saying it has been identified for years as a prime spot for industrial development. “My intuition is it is a good spot,” Little said, noting that sewer trunks have already been brought to the land.
The Morgan County Council will move forward with a request to annex into the Utah Transit Authority’s service area, but not because all council members want the service or approve of raising taxes. Instead, council members want the public to weigh in on the matter officially by visiting the ballot box.
Some 302 voters determined the outcome for the one school board seat involved in a primary election Tuesday. The 24.77 percent of 1,219 registered voters in that district eliminated Roland Haslam from the race and sent Ted W. Taylor and incumbent Bruce A. Galbraith on to the November general election.
Candidates for the District 2 and District 4 Morgan County School Board positions met for a debate June 12. Voting for the primary election involving Roland Haslam, Ted Taylor and Bruce A. Galbraith for District 2 will take place Tuesday, June 24.
Alan Vesper withdrew from the District 4 race, making a primary election with Anna Phelps and incumbent Mark Farmer unnecessary. Phelps and Farmer will proceed to the general election in November.
Haslam, Taylor, Phelps and Farmer were present for the debate sponsored by Morepac, a political action committee with the mission to “facilitate community awareness through public forums and provide accurate information on educational and economic issues.”
Farmer said the roles and responsibilities of a member of the board of education are three-fold including providing quality education that exceeds state requirements and prepares students for college, providing education consistent with the standards of the community, and handling the fiduciary responsibilities entrusted to the board.
Taylor said if elected, his responsibilities are to his constituents and representing them. This would include making sure students receive the best education available, allowing the public to approach the board, and ensuring sufficient funds are in the budget to pay for expenses.
Phelps said that there is more to ensuring a great education, including taking care of teachers, board members acting as facilitators, and board members attending all government council meetings. “Academics are the first priority of a board member,” she said.
Fireworks and Independence Day celebrations go hand in hand. Public firework displays are a much loved tradition in Morgan, but government officials ask that you use common sense and courtesy when conducting backyard displays.
Morgan City and Morgan County have adopted the Utah code when it comes to private firework displays. According to Utah code 5-4-5, “It is unlawful to discharge fireworks in such a manner that the fireworks project over or onto the property of another person without the consent of the person owning or controlling such property.”
This makes it difficult to let off fireworks in smaller subdivisions. With the removal of some height restrictions, even legal fireworks can end up in someone else’s yard, or worse, on their home. Local officials are asking residents to consult their neighbors before the launching of private firework displays to prevent any discord.
If you happen to see any violations of the above provisions, please go through the proper authorities for enforcement of this code. Enforcement of this code is handled by your local fire chief or police department. Residents must be willing to make an official statement in order for the ordinance to be properly enforced.
Fireworks may only be discharged three days before the holiday, on the holiday and three days after, so your window for Independence Day fireworks has passed. This information will however, apply to Pioneer Day celebrations.
Dalton J. McFall, 24, will be in court June 18 on three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, three counts of dealing in materials harmful to a minor, one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and one count of lewdness involving a child.
Morgan residents hear President Obama regularly; however, it is not common that President Obama hears Morgan residents. On May 13, President Obama not only met with a Morgan resident, but also spent time learning from a small group of law enforcement representatives including local man Keith Squires.
The last few months have brought many changes to the Morgan City Council. The resignation of Mayor Jim Egbert resulted in bringing Morgan City their new mayor, Ray Little. The domino effect of Little’s appointment to the mayoral seat was that his council seat was left vacant.
While new taxable property is on the increase in Morgan County—which would benefit Morgan County School District finances—so are requests from large tax payers to adjust taxes downward—which could cause a one-year increase on property taxes.
Four Morgan County sheriff deputies were involved in a high speed chase Friday, May 9, in speeds that reached up to 110 miles per hour. While a high speed chase on Interstate 84 through Morgan County is not unusual, the fact that four deputies were on duty to handle it was, said Deputy Scott Peay.