What started out as a Morgan County deputy noticing a driver driving without any lights on along Interstate 84 ended up in a high speed chase spanning three counties and the first officer-involved shooting in the county in at least 15 years.
The Nov. 20 canvas changed the outcome of the Morgan County School Board Precinct 1 race between incumbent Jody V. Hipwell and Lydia Nuttall by just one vote. On election night, Hipwell was the winner by 23 votes. After all the provisional ballots and absentee ballots were counted, Hipwell won by 24 votes.
In both of Morgan’s only contested local races, the incumbents came out on top—so far. In the Morgan County School Board Precinct 1 race, Jody V. Hipwell beat out opponent Lydia Nuttall by just 23 votes. Although the final count Tuesday was 418 to 395, county officials are waiting until Nov. 20 to count all absentee and provisional ballots. Precinct 1 has 28 provisional ballots and 12 absentee ballots, or 40 votes that could still make a difference.
Many view Morgan County as a sleepy town slightly removed from the crime and drugs along the Wasatch Front. But Interstate 84 makes sure the county is on the footpath of many criminals travelling to and from other locations.
Mike Waite is the newest full-time Morgan County employee, accepting the newly created county facilities manager position. When the job description was created in June, the Morgan County Council envisioned the position would oversee the county’s parks, road, weed, fairgrounds, and building and grounds departments.
Although the Morgan County Council prepared an offer to purchase the former bus garage property on State Street, the Morgan County School Board decided to accept another offer from a commercial entity.
The Morgan County Council has agreed to purchase the former bus garage on State Street from the Morgan County School District for an undisclosed amount to be paid over a three-year period.
The facility will be used as storage for various county equipment including sheriff department and emergency vehicles. Presently, a majority of such equipment, valued at several hundred thousand dollars, is stored outside and subject to weather deterioration.
Chairwoman Tina Kelley cast one of two opposing votes, saying the county had other financial priorities such as replacing a boiler for the county building.
The Morgan County Council has agreed with moving forward on hiring someone to help with the county’s economic development goals.
"We have difficulties in the county," Councilman Lyle Nelson said. "We are hailed as the county that is difficult to do business in, or get a business started in. I have heard horror stories of those that gave up trying."
He said the answer to turning that around is to hire at least a part-time economic development director or consultant.
"We need someone on our side that can actively recruit," Nelson said. "We need to put some money into someone here consistently that answers the phone."
In the throws of budget turmoil, the Morgan County School District is motivated to sell its old bus garage property on State Street. Superintendent Ken Adams said there has been interest in outside parties purchasing the commercial property, including renewed interest from Morgan County. The school board went into executive session Tuesday to discuss real estate negotiations with the county. They planned to have something in writing for the Morgan County Council to consider during their Aug. 21 meeting.
Soon after parents buy the new school clothes, pack the backpacks, and pay registration fees, they will be facing another school-related expense: new taxes. On a split 3-2 vote, the Morgan County School Board narrowly passed a tax that will increase the property tax on a $200,000 home $14.96 a year.
Matthew Godfrey, Morgan City’s economic development consultant, is “very confident” he has found a developer who wants to build a hotel in the area. However, Godfrey says a letter from the Morgan County Council supporting improvements along the banks of the Weber River near Como Springs and the county fairgrounds would go a long way in bringing a hotel project to fruition.
The Morgan School District’s financial situation is so complicated, it is going to take a combination of many options to solve, or even squeak by from year to year, school board members agreed. The solution rests on raising taxes, a voted leeway, and possibly even more cuts that could directly affect the classroom.