The council reported that the city has made the final payment on the city building.
4th of July Committee Report
The fourth of July committee reported to the council. They reviewed the agenda of events and talked about the many hours volunteered to make the day a success. They asked the city for an additional donation to the event and asked for help with the electrical at the park as well as the business licensing. The council expressed support and committed to help the committee solve the problems they are having.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) advises motorists and truckers using Interstate 84, as well as local residents in eastern Morgan County, that work will begin on a project to replace the roadway decks of the I-84 bridges over the Union Pacific Railroad at Taggart, Morgan County, beginning this week.
In a move that will provide some help for budget shortfalls at the Sheriff’s office, the Morgan City Council determined to contract with the county to have the services of an additional deputy for 84 days during the summer months.
The Morgan County Republican party elected new county officers at a well attended organizing convention on April 9 at the Morgan County Courthouse Auditorium. Outgoing president, Larry Hatch, expressed thanks to the party’s delegates for turning out in very nearly perfect attendance. It was the county delegates who cast the votes that put the new slate of officers in their respective positions.
In council meeting Member Ned Mecham came out swinging against the animal control building. Mecham said, “I have talked to people from both ends of this county. The only ones I hear that are excited about this building is on the county council. I haven’t talked to one person in this county that think it’s a great idea for the county to go more in debt. Last year we went one and a half million for the road bond and this is another $600,000 that has been approved for a building for twenty five years. I haven’t talked to anyone that thinks that this county going into debt is a good thing. I know if this is put on the ballot, I know that the county would defeat it and I know our budget this year. I know that the road department is a mess and is going to need to take money out of the general fund. I know that our Sheriff’s department is going to need money out of the general fund…I know we are going to need more money for the school resource officer. I know that diesel now is up 30-35% and I know gasoline is up 30-35% which is going to take a lot more money for fuel out of our general fund. I think it is a disservice to citizens of this county to go further in debt…”
Federal charges have been filed against former Morgan County council administrator Garth Day. Charges were dropped at the state level several months ago as the investigation was turned over to federal officials. At the time that the case was turned over to federal jurisdiction, County Attorney Jann Farris said, ““My fear is that Garth will be released immediately from the prison [state prison] due to the non-violent nature of his crimes and his lack of a criminal record and prison overcrowding. I do not feel like that would be appropriate considering the damage he has done. In the federal system he will more likely get and serve a significant prison sentence. In my judgment that will be in the best interest of justice.”
Morgan County has three active political parties: The Constitution Party, The Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
In odd numbered years, each of these parties holds an organizing convention. The main purpose of the convention is to elect county party officers to serve for two year terms. In the case of the Republican party, we elect a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, a Secretary, a Treasurer and an At Large Member of the State Central Committee. We call this group of five The Executive Committee.
The people currently serving in these positions are (Listed in order): Larry Hatch, Corey Leishman, Bret Haney, Sherm Farnsworth and Jennie Earl.
Any resident of Morgan County who is willing to affiliate with; and register as a member of the Republican Party, is eligible to run for one of these offices. If you wish to run for a party office, you will need to be in attendance at the Republican Party Organizing Convention on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at the Morgan County Courthouse Auditorium. The event will begin with refreshments served at 5:30 p.m. and informal visiting until about 6:00 p.m.
About 6:00 p.m. the party chairman will call the meeting to order. The main item of business will be the election of officers; however, other business will be conducted as required. Those desiring to be on the ballot, for any of the five offices listed above, should arrange for someone who is a registered Republican to nominate them. A second to the nomination is not required, but is allowed if the candidate desires that to be part of his nomination. Seconds will be counted as part of the candidates two minute introductory speech time.
Voting will be by secret ballot and balllots will be counted by independent judges: meaning the judges will not be members of the party executive committee or county delegates.
Those voting will be Official County Delegates who were elected at the Precinct Caucus Meetings in 2010, or appointed to fill a vacated delegate position in the case of a resignation or some event that made a delegate ineligible.
We, the party leaders, hope to have at least two nominees for each of the five positions open for election. Please see our paid advertisement in this issue of the newspaper. Thanks for your consideration.
The county council autorized a budget of $6,000 to pay members of its Swift Water Rescue Team on Tuesday. The swift water rescue team was formed to manage an increasing number of incidents on rivers in the county.
The discussion continues on whether the county ought to build a facility to replace the animal control building currently rented from veterinarian, Dr Lott. It also seems that the project has come full circle.
In a controversial move, Governor Herbert signed into law House Bill HB477 and in one stroke of the pen significantly reduced the openness of Utah government. He took this action after repeatedly supporting a policy of transparency.
In the council meeting on Tuesday the council remained deadlocked on the issue of the land purchase from the school district, effectively killing the land purchase. Members Ned Mecham, Don Mathews, and Howard Hansen were in favor of the purchase, Members Ronda Kippen, Lyle Nelson and Chairman Tina Kelly were opposed. Member Kilmer chose to abstain. The issue needs four votes to proceed.
In a five to two decision on Tuesday night the council voted to eliminate the current volunteer board of appeals in favor of a one person professional paid position to hear and decide appeals cases. The county will contract with one or more individuals, likely from outside the county, to hear the cases.
A lively debate ensued in the county council when an item about the upcoming plans for parks was raised on Tuesday. Member Ronda Kippen who has the portfolio assignment on the council for parks brought forward items to inform the council of plans for a bowry at the park in the Cottonwoods and also identified manpower gaps for the care of the parks. The county has recently had turnover in the jobs that have traditionally maintained the parks and now is faced with the dilemma of how to address the needs as spring approaches.
After several back and forth discussions the county has made an offer to the school district to purchase land adjacent to the Fair Grounds. With a vote of 4 to 2 in favor, the council approved an offer to the school district of $59,800. The council also stipulated that the county would not participate in the surveying or fencing costs. The purchase will be paid for from the restaurant tax fund. Members Nelson and Kippen voted against the offer and member Kilmer, who works for the school district, abstained. Member Nelson expressed concern that the county was paying more per acre than the school district had paid in their recent purchase.
Stacy Lafitte is the clerk/auditor for Morgan County. Lafitte was born and raised in Morgan and with the exception of one year attending Utah State University, has lived here in the county. She grew up in a small family of her parents and one younger brother.
Sheriff Breshears has had many challenges in his first two weeks in office. As he took office he was already faced with a department poised to hire four new officers to fill vacancies left by officers who had left to pursue higher pay, to replace his position, and to evaluate potential replacements for an officer on leave. He had stated in his campaign that his goal was to persuade the county council to raise the pay for officers to try to head off the turnover problem faced by the department.
The number one story for Morgan County in 2010 was Garth Day. It seemed that the council administrator position brought controversy with him from the beginning. First, the position of council administrator, and then the person filling the position became controversial.
At the end of 2009 the county completed the Fairgrounds Parkway and the new bridge that was a part of the project. 2010 saw a verbal battle with the developer, Morgan Valley Partners, to receive payment for the developers portion of the project.
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:
At a hearing on Monday the county indicated that the prosecution of Garth Day will likely be handed over to federal authorities. For the past several months the FBI has been investigating the actions of Day in allegedly committing fraud and forgery at the same time as the county investigation has been proceeding. The FBI has met with county officials, obtained documents of actions by Day, and identified areas for prosecution.
At the council meeting on Tuesday the county council passed the general plan. It took about fifteen minutes, but the plan itself has been many years in the creation. The general plan sets the foundation for the direction of the county in years to come