It was the last county council meeting for council members Sunday, Lundgren, and chairman Creager. The next council meeting will be in the new year and will see a new council seated and a new chairman chosen. The council thanked those who were leaving for their service and Chairman Creager took a moment to share his thoughts at the end of his service. The following are Chairman Creager’s parting remarks to the county:
Many years ago, a woman by the name of Leila Brough, penned the words to a very special song. She used the music from an old song called Illinois Loyalty. I believe this song has had a profound impact on many people. The song begins with the words:
“In the valley where skies are so blue, where our hearts are all loyal and true, where there’s joy in the air and goodwill everywhere…”
The beginning of this song does not make reference to school pride, it simply describes the integrity and goodness of an entire community.
I remember my growing up years in the beautiful Morgan valley. What would Morgan County be without good, honest individuals like Raymond Larson, Glen Thurston, Keith Little, Paul Turner, Otis Rose, Ralph Carter, Ray and June Wiscombe, Mac Noyes, Paul and Beverly Warner, Lloyd Warner, Harry Wilkinson, Jerry Peterson, Reid Wilde, Joseph and Thelma Rees, Ada Waldron, Verl and June Poll, Bob Poll, Frank Bohman, France Porter, Max and Velma Widdison, Don and Verra Brough, Ted London, Joe Francis, Lincoln Jensen, TJ Stuart, Charlie Kippen, Norma Criddle, Herb Crittendon, Ford Dickson, Ivan Carter (my first scoutmaster), Pete Evans, Emma Harding, Kenneth Adams, Gale Allen, Rich Clark, Charlie Pentz and Golden Porter? Selfishly I would also add my own parents, Sid and Nell Creager. Truthfully, this list could and should be much longer than it is. But the message is still the same. Morgan County has been blessed with great people.
How could Morgan’s commercial community have survived without the dedicated commitment of good honest individuals such as Joe Williams, Russ Carrigan, Bert and John Wilkinson, Merle Smith, Ken and Lyle Tucker, Tye Little, Jack Olsen, Jay Hopkins, John, Jack and Hal B. Heiner, Earl Butters, Gilbert Francis, Henry Carter, Wally Green, John and Eileen Johnson, Mac McHonahay, Leon Clark and Pam Clark Turner. The generous service of Bert and John Wilkinson cannot be overlooked. Even more amazing, their personal commitment to community service has been passed from them to their posterity, now reaching multiple generations.
Does anyone growing up in Morgan ever remember going into the Valley Implement and not have Tye Little offer them a sucker or a bottle of pop? What would an old fashioned small town Christmas be without the sacrifices of Whitey and Darlene Little and all of their children and now grandchildren? The beautiful decorations on the hillside and the memories of listening to Christmas music late into the evening, has created a special feeling throughout the entire community.
The legacy found in Morgan County did not come easy. Many people sacrificed not just money, but time, and lots of it. How can this legacy be carried forward? I believe there is only one recipe: That good people do hard things, for unselfish reasons.
Public service is not easy, especially in Morgan County. In fact, I would say this could be the hardest thing I have ever done. An individual who I have a great deal of respect for, told me that he “cannot understand why the county does not support the elected officials, they eat them.” Harsh words, gossip, half-truths, criticism, threats, meanness to ones family, long hours, etc. can wear one down quickly. And yet the service is needed. The community needs good people to stand up for honest principles.
With all its difficulties, this spirit of commitment still lives in our community today. I have had the pleasure of working with some of these great people.
Bruce Sanders had a gift of understanding issues quickly and fairly. He provided solutions to many difficult problems. Lynette Stephens always had a smile on her face, even throughout difficult moments. She was completely committed to every assignment given to her. Chad Hawkes had a gift with computers. He helped Morgan County move the Information Technology forward. David Gardner understood zoning laws very well. He served tirelessly both on the Planning Commission as well as the County Council. Karen Sunday put her heart and soul into all assignments, but she will long be remembered for her commitment to outdoor parks and recreation programs. Howard Hansen could not be mean to anyone. His expertise with mechanical systems continues to save this county thousands and thousands of dollars in maintenance costs. Rod Haslam has such a big heart, he has already worn one out. His expertise with the County Fair as well as the fairgrounds, has left a Master Plan that can be followed for many years to come. Al Lundgren has brought a great legal perspective that has helped the council wrestle with many issues and ordinances. His confident understanding of policies, as well as voicing strong motions has been invaluable. Don Mathews carries with him a very good fiscal understanding of the county finances. Moving forward, we are all in good hands because of Don. Rhonda Kippen’s knowledge of both development and construction has been a tremendous asset to the council. Her expertise with security and performance bonds will keep the county much more safe. This is something very needed. Teresa Lake has been such a hard worker. She has kept the council informed and organized at all times. Her handling of elections has been first rate. And finally, Tina Kelley. She works harder than anyone, studies more, gives more of her time than full-time employees, comes thoroughly prepared to all meetings, and follows the code with exactness. She has taken notes that date back many years. I have a great deal of respect for her and consider her to be a good friend.
I have served with many other wonderful people, and I am grateful for the experience I have had to rub shoulders with them.
Many things have been accomplished. The citizens in Croydon and the terrific employees of Holcim have a wonderful new road to travel on. Something they very patiently waited for. We have new roads as well as road improvements in many locations throughout the county. We have passed a new general plan. This has taken the better part of four years to accomplish. There have been improvements to several chapters within the Land Use Management Code. We have a new Geotechnical ordinance.
A new salary plan has been implemented, something the county employees did not have in the past. Even in difficult financial times, the council has been committed to pay raises consistent with this plan. All county codes and ordinances have been codified and can be found online. We have a wonderful relationship with Morgan City. Mark Miller with Wasatch Civil Engineering, our contracted county engineer, is the very best in the business. Our Community Development department is as talented as it has ever been. How we maintain the county parks has never been better. We have a new bridge at the fairgrounds. The road to Round Valley is so much safer for the community. Fifty-five plus acres owned by the county near the fairgrounds, can now be accessed for greater use. A master plan for the fairgrounds has been completed.
Ten years ago, no buildable lots were available in Morgan County. Today, over 1,500 lots have been approved. This is equal to over ten years of future growth, not including new development that will surely come. Although slow in coming, economic development has progressed. Tools, as well as infrastructure, have been put into place to support future economic growth.
We have converted from analog to digital over-the-air television broadcasting. Relationships with state organizations have significantly improved. Grant funding for road and bridge projects has been obtained in excess of nearly four million dollars. Bond funding has been obtained for a new emergency services building, without the need to increase taxes. This will provide additional space in the county building, extending its life by ten to fifteen years. This list could continue, but suffice it to say, much has been accomplished.
The county is fiscally sound. The general fund, including additional revenue specific funds, have reserves in excess of 1.5 million dollars.
The citizens deserve to know about the challenges Mr. Garth Day has brought upon the county. We have an insurance policy that has a malfeasance clause covering up to one million dollars. We have already filed preliminary documentation with the Utah County Insurance Pool. They are simply waiting for Morgan County to provide proper documentation regarding the funds needing to be reimbursed. No tax payer money, I repeat, no tax payer money will be lost. Mr. Day has an obligation to pay a debt to society. I am confident this will be properly handled through the justice system, and I am satisfied with that. Beyond that, I have no need for a pound of flesh. I believe the price he and especially his family has paid, and will continue to pay for many years to come, is sufficient. In my opinion, moving on and putting this behind us, will be in the best interest of the county.
Moving forward, what I believe this community needs is an environment that invites good people to become more involved. It is easy to stand on the side of the road and throw rocks, but it is more meaningful to step off of the curb, get involved and make a positive difference. This community was not built by individuals that stood on the side of the road. It was built by citizens who sacrificed and worked hard.
I believe that this still is the valley where skies are so blue. I still believe that our hearts are loyal and true. And I believe that there is joy in the air and goodwill everywhere. Because of this, we all have something to be grateful for this holiday season. Merry Christmas to all!!!!!