Odds and Ends in Utah This Week

Boy, is this a slow week for news; not much is going on locally or on the home front.  So that means lean pickings for this week’s blog posting.  I have another history article for the Islander at the ready, but you’re probably tired of me defaulting to that (I’ll save it for a later date).

Okay, the garden is still producing more than we can eat, so friends and neighbors are being gifted with veggies.  The cantaloupes are finally ripening–all at once–so we’ll be handing them out as well, as how much cantaloupe can we eat?  There are about 10 huge ripe melons waiting to be brought in.

We finally got rain last week: about 20 minutes-worth of wind-driven precipitation and then it was over.  Just enough to taunt us.  We did get a few drops last night, but just enough to wet the streets and sidewalks.  Now the forecast is for more dry hot weather in the valley.  Mostly, if afternoon storms develop, they clump up over the mountains, teasing us from 7 miles to the east.

In other news, a suburb of Salt Lake City, West valley City (think Chester, PA, but with Hispanic and Samoan gang activity mostly) just hired a new police chief after almost a year of botched police work and narcotics graft, along with a hideous crime rate.  Chief Russo is from Covington, Kentucky.  A national search provided a good pool of candidates and because he ruffled a lot of feathers back home (Covington is just across the river from Cincinnati), he impressed the West Valley powers-to-be with his swerve.  The didn’t want to hire within and continue the graft and corruption.  West Valley is a rough neighborhood and you can bet when you hear of a crime it will be in West Valley City.  A judge recently had to dismiss over 100 drug cases due to corruption and incompetence of the West Valley Narcotics Strike Force.  The fallout was all–yes, ALL–of the cops on that detail were fired!  In fact, one of the most well-known cases from a few years ago was the Susan Powell disappearance and consequent investigation (thought mishandled by many because her husband, a prime suspect was let go free to move out-of-state) happened in West Valley.  There are a few pockets of fairly decent middle-class neighborhoods and the Powells lived in one.  He later killed the couple’s two young sons, and torched their house in Washington state, ending his life.  They never did find Susan’s body (suspected to be down one the thousands of abandoned mine shafts that are throughout the desolate west desert of Utah).  Anyway, that’s what the new top cop is walking into.  I wish him well.

Meanwhile, land speed records are being attempted out on the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah.  One car, developed by local university students used bio-fuel made from algae and another guy with a specialized motorcycle is going for an unusual speed record: he’s blind.  Haven’t heard the outcome of his effort yet.

That’s about it for the moment, just life as usual.  I do wish folks would still be all riled up over back-yard chickens.  The Chicken Chronicles series was much more interesting….

Hold the presses!  I just got an e-mail from the editor of the Islander and It’s a let-down: the owner is ending publication of the paper immediately.  He’s losing lots of money on the paper and he’s cutting his losses.  So no more history articles on behalf of the museum.  That’s too bad.  I shall miss those deadlines.  Well, it was a fun ride while it lasted.



Published in: on August 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

The West’s On Fire….Again

The national news has been widely covering the delayed, but extensive burst of 2013 wildfires now burning in 11 states, and Utah is one of them.  Poor Idaho, just north of our state border is really suffering and it will be a miracle and a testament to the skill of firefighters and hot shot teams if the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, isn’t damaged and out-lying multi-million dollar homes of the rich and famous aren’t burned.

Idaho Fire

Here in Utah, the fires–this year caused by dry lightning and not target shooters or fireworks–were to the south, east and north of us, but not close enough to threaten our neighborhood.  Mostly, the fires are on the mountain sides or in the rocky canyons and at one point we could see smoky haze from the Rockport 5 fire, near Sundance and Park City.  It’s out now, but they did lose 8 homes completely.  All that changed last weekend when a lightning strike hit something in Farmington Canyon, about 20 minutes south of us along I-15.  Now that’s getting a bit close for comfort.  The Interstate runs through Farmington along the Great Salt Lake marshes and the distance between the lake and the mountains is at its narrowest along that stretch.  And there, too, is the local amusement park, The Lagoon, which has been a feature for decades.

Farmington Fire

The fire started right behind it and I found an image which shows just how close it was to the park.  Houses are just to the right and left of The Lagoon, as real estate is at a premium there.  Fire crews had it contained by weekend’s end and there were only a few hot spots still smoldering.  More thunderstorms are expected for the next few days; a double-edge sword: rain and lightning.  Frankly, out where I live, we could use rain as we haven’t had any since June and we’re parched.  In fact, the west, Utah included, is facing a record water shortage.  For instance, Lake Powell, a large recreational lake/reservoir in southern Utah formed by the Glen Canyon Dam is down 100 feet!

On a lighter note, some promised follow-ups to items I shared in earlier posts.  First, that Roy High School student who threatened to bomb his school and now, after a stint in Juvenile Detention, was running for mayor of Roy, actually got 48 votes in the recent primary (probably all family and devoted friends); not enough to remain a viable candidate.  So that’s put to rest.

And even closer, in our back yard, an update on the wall of sunflowers.  They’ve grown even taller and are showing off with their bright yellow blooms.  Here see the before and after for yourself:

Sunflowers on wall

Sunflower II

Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Local Newsworthy Shenanigans

This summer has had its share of odd news items including lost campers (an entire family went missing for a weekend, but were later found unscathed), hikers falling and needing to be rescued (note to self: don’t go mountain trail hiking in flip-flops), and families complaining about $500M bond issues for building more schools (property taxes will go up about $225.00 per home, per year) as the number of students is escalating (yet said complainers, on average have 5-8 children!).

Those items are fairly ordinary, but we have been treated to three events in particular that are really worth sharing.  In fact, they can’t fall under the usual heading of “The News You Probably Missed” because 2 of them made the national news.  But just in case you did miss them, now you’ll be caught up with the Utah News Follies.

Earlier this summer, local mayoral and town council candidates threw their hats in the ring and started ramping up for the primary elections in a few weeks.  The Syracuse mayor, Jamie Nagle, has done a fine job (I think) for the past 4 years and was going to run again, but has withdrawn her name.  The town council and she had a contentious relationship (read toxic) and I think she wised up and thought better of another 4 years of nonsense.  Okay, that’s not too extraordinary, but consider the situation in Roy, a town up the road about 7 miles from us.  A very young man–he’s 19–has made his intentions known that he is a serious candidate for mayor and has all the answers as to how to run a small town.  (You know the saying: Hire–or elect–a teenager while they still know everything!)  And, what, do you think he bases this claim of experience and having the right stuff on?  Well, last year he terrorized the Roy High School with threats of blowing up said school with bombs.  After his trial and conviction he spent the last year in juvenile detention apparently talking with other young offenders and solving the problems of the world.  He contends he is now completely rehabilitated.  And he’s running for mayor….

And while I’m on a “winning the votes” theme, another near-by community, Riverton, recently crowned their Miss Riverton, a winsome,  blonde young lady, whose talent was playing the piano and her platform was “Fit for Life.”  This crown would include her in the competition for Miss Utah, who would then represent the state in the Miss America Pagent.  So where’s the odd news angle?  Well, she and 3 of her friends were arrested last week for throwing home-made liquid bottle bombs at the home of a former girlfriend of one of those friends, as well as other random targets.  WOW!  And that could have been Miss America.  I do believe she has just forfeited her crown to the runner-up!  And you were under the impression Utah was squeaky clean….

Finally, putting the squeaky clean theory to rest, an enterprising family man in a Salt Lake City suburb was just busted for running an unlicensed bar in a residential neighborhood–out of his garage.  He didn’t advertise, but, then, he probably didn’t need to; word of mouth works pretty well here.  The converted garage door did have a bulldog face logo, complete with a spiked collar.  I think one of his neighbors finally ratted on him: “It’s too bad, they were a nice, quiet family.”  He has pled not guilty, but with all those liquor bottles and glasses still on shelves and the biker community knowing about the place, that will be a challenging defense for some lawyer.  And the Utah lawmakers thought they had the infamous Zion Curtain firmly in place….

So, now you’re all caught up with the local news that’s worth knowing and if you meet someone from Utah, you can have an intelligent conversation!

Published in: on August 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment