Every five years, Morgan County updates its general plan, a document that guides development in the community that is undoubtedly growing. Bill Cobabe, Morgan County Planning and Development Department director, says that while many residents understandably take notice of county code when a neighbor tries to rezone or change the use of their land, sometimes by then it’s too late.
In Morgan County, where there are at least a dozen gravel pits, it is difficult to get five miles away from mining activity.
“We are a gravel-pit-friendly county, or we have been in the past,” said Bill Cobabe, Morgan County Planning and Development Department director. And because gravel pits are a permitted land use in several zones of the county, as long as company owners mitigate impacts, “that will probably continue for the forseeable future.”
While the incumbents ruled the county’s first mail-in election, a proposition to increase sales tax to pay for transportation soundly died in Morgan County.
Incumbent Morgan City Mayor Ray W. Little held on for a win over challenger Gordon Tolley, securing the city’s top spot for the next two years. The vote was Little 65 percent (570 votes) to Tolley 35 percent (307) as of Election Night. Little began serving as a councilman on the Morgan City Council in 1994 and was appointed mayor in April of 2014.
According to figures released by the Utah Department of Transportation, more vehicle accidents along Interstate 84 occur near the Taggarts and Mountain Green exits than anywhere else in Morgan County. The deadliest stretch of I-84 through Morgan County is near milepoint 104—between the Morgan City and ranch exits—which has been the scene of two fatal crashes in the last five and a half years.
With mail-in ballots in voters’ hands over two weeks ago, the public joined the Morgan County Council in discussing Proposition 1, a sales tax increase that could aid in repairing county roads. Five of seven council members publicly voiced their support of Prop 1.
Daniel McBride will take on appointed incumbent Fran Hopkin for a two-year position on the Morgan City Council.
McBride also threw his hat in the ring for a city council appointment when Councilwoman Shelly Betz stepped down July 1. Although McBride was originally announced as the winner, the city council had to draw lots per state law, which resulted in appointing Bill Cobabe Sept. 8 as the newest council member.
Although Fran Hopkin was appointed to the Morgan City Council in May of 2014, he is seeking official election on the mail-in ballot being sent to registered voters next week. He is being challenged by Daniel McBride for the two-year seat.
Gordon Tolley will take on incumbent Ray W. Little for a two-year position as Morgan City’s next mayor.
Tolley, 65, has lived in the city for eight years and claims Morgan roots, as his great-grandfather farmed in Milton and is buried in the cemetery there. His wife, Pam, teaches second grade at Mountain Green Elementary.
Incumbent Ray W. Little is hoping to make his appointed mayoral position official for the next two years with a vote of city residents. Little faces off with candidate Gordon Tolley in a vote that will be conducted entirely by mail.
A transformer blow-out on Sept. 22. The 50-year-old transformer simply died of old age according to Morgan City Power employee Paul Simmons.
Since then there have been a few planned outages in the evening hours. There will be one more planned outage to transfer power to the temporary transformer.
The aged transformer was housed at the shared substation on Island Road replaced temporarily with a generator.
The Morgan County Council voted last week to amend the future land use map for the Rees property near the golf course to change from an agricultural 20-acre designation to a rural residential designation. “This type of zoning would be entitlements to 225 one-acre lots,” said Bill Cobabe, Morgan County Planning Director. “The potential impact is significant.”
A transformer blow-out on Sept. 22 left a third of Morgan City residents without power for most of the day Tuesday and then again for a few hours on Wednesday. The 50 year old transformer simply died of old age according to Morgan City Power employee Paul Simmons.
In a surprise turn of events, a Morgan County employee became the newest Morgan City councilman. Morgan County Planning and Development Department Director William “Bill” Cobabe will finish out the remainder of the term for former Morgan City Councilwoman Shelly Betz.
Adjusting property tax rates for local education is such a divisive topic in Morgan County that even the Morgan County School Board is split on the issue. For the first time in at least two decades, the board will have to reconvene their truth in taxation meeting in order to take a final vote.
Morgan County Council members were hesitant to say they support the State Legislature’s push to raise transportation taxes, but were unanimous in the effort to let the public officially weigh in on the issue. The council voted last week to allow the transportation tax question to be placed on the countywide Nov. 3 general election ballot to be conducted by mail.
Two applicants have filed their intent to fill outgoing City Councilwoman Shelly Betz vacated seat on the Morgan City Council. F. William Cobabe and Danny McBride are awaiting the Aug. 25 city council meeting, where the council will appoint one of them to the seat to serve through January of 2018.
In an effort to provide more flexibility to property owners tempered with the safety of the traveling public, the Morgan City Council cleared up some gray areas in regard to fencing. After going back and forth for months with the building inspector and City planning commission, the council was happy to see these changes approved.
From rodeos to snow cones, baby contests to wrangler contests, donut eating contests to livestock shows to quilt raffles, Kris Krammer has seen it all; actually, she has overseen it all for the last six years but this will be the last year she attends our beloved Morgan County Fair as its chairman.
Morgan County deputies helped capture a pair of wanted fugitives who were camping at East Canyon State Park on Saturday, July 11. Regina Collins, 35, and Daniel Lyman-Muzzy, 31, were wanted for crimes in several other states and allegedly stole a pair of semi-automatic handguns from a Salt Lake City pawn shop June 25.
When Morgan City split from its economic development consultant and hired its own economic development/event coordinator, the Morgan County Council was watching closely. Now county officials are wondering if they should make the same move.
Could a new distillery intent on using local agriculture products be the next economic development effort to come to Morgan County? According to input during Tuesday’s Morgan County Council meeting, council members seem unanimous in welcoming the venture into the county.
A brazen, broad, daylight drug deal in the Ridley’s parking lot landed two Morgan residents in jail on multiple felony charges. Deputy Gary Dudley was passing by when he observed what appeared to be a drug deal taking place in the east end of the Ridley’s parking lot. Both suspects were well known to Morgan deputies. Dudley was immediately contacted by a citizen who reported seeing an exchange of cash for a small bag.
After the daunting task of crunching numbers, the Morgan City Council gave final approval for the 2015-16 RDA and city budgets. In addition, approval was given for a 14 percent sewer increase and a $1 increase per garbage can within city limits.
The Morgan County Council has pulled some things off their economic development consultant’s table, but put others in its place. In the meantime, the council is keeping the consultant on a “short lease” while watching for action.
Selection of the newest Morgan County School Board member came down to two issues: special interest groups and homeschooling. In the end, three board members voted for Ronald Blunck while opponent Lydia Nuttall had the approval of only two board members. Both applicants answered a series of 14 questions in a public interview period Tuesday.
With application deadlines looming for six open local government positions, now may be the time to get involved. Available positions include a Morgan County School Board member position, Morgan City Mayor and four Morgan City Council spots.
Of all the issues considered by the local and state Farm Bureau this year, access to rivers is one of the most pressing for Morgan County, Morgan County Farm Bureau Vice President Randy Sessions recently told the Morgan County Council. Other issues include a countywide fencing ordinance, Taxing issues, sage grouse, and animal control.
With only three more months left of the Morgan School District’s official budget year, things are looking up while the school board approved continuing with immediate “Band-Aid” solutions to house future growth.
Envision Utah President Robert Grow related a thought that Larry H. Miller once shared with him. Miller said, “I would give back every car I have ever sold if Utah could go back to the way it used to be.” However, until a proper time travel device has been invented, all we can do is look to the future to ensure our children will be able to enjoy the same opportunities and environments that we have in our communities today.
The UDOT 2015-2040 Long-Range Transportation Plan puts Morgan County on the map for state road projects. The plan puts widening Highway 66 in the nearest future, moves a new Mountain Green Interstate 84 interchange up on the priority list, and adds a new Interstate 80 interchange on Highway 66 to the list.
After being dropped by Morgan City, consultant Better City may be facing the same fate with its current client Morgan County. But as some Morgan County Council members noted, in a county almost entirely privately owned, economic development is dependent on landowners and not the government.
It is the classic chicken-or-egg question haunting Yaryca land owners and the Morgan County Council. What comes first: amending the future land map or getting a developer on board? At their last meeting, the council decided the question was just too scary to answer when the future of 2,600 acres lies at issue.
While the Morgan County Council failed to agree to open all county offices on Fridays, all council members did agree to at least open the recorder’s office from 1 to 5 p.m. every Friday beginning May 8.
Representatives from Weber Human Services say they would like to see more Morgan County residents take advantage of their services including mental health, substance abuse counseling, prevention services, and aging services.