Saturday, February 21, 2015
LOOSE PURSE STRINGS BRANDS CITY COUNCIL AS EASY COME, EASY GO SPENDERS FOR ELECTION YEAR 2015
EASY TO DO WHEN HIGHLIGHTING ALL ABILITIES & SEEGMILLER FARM PARKS
PUBLIC SERVICE MIXED WITH ENTERTAINMENT AT ELECTRIC THEATER MAY PROVE TO BE WINING TICKET FOR COUNCIL MEMBERS SEEKING RE-ELECTION
February 19th City Council Meeting brought out the LARGESS of City Council that may open the door for inclusion of Lions Sun Bowl Rodeo to continue its habit of watering at PUBLIC TROUGH.
Cowboys usually take pride in Riding Their Own Bronc’s but in the case of Lion’s Rodeo it seems that the good old boys continue to need a helping hand. I’ve jumped to this conclusion when I heard Councilman Hughes, who arrived late, but in time to vote in favor of the purchase of specialized play equipment and features like wheelchair-accessible ramps for children with disabilities and other special needs, state..... “I was initially reluctant about spending such large amounts on additions like the Train for the All Abilities Park”……I was taken aback as Hughes had displayed NO reservations in spending Thousands if not Millions of dollars on the Sun Bowl which is home to the Lion’s Rodeo. To have Councilman Hughes express fiduciary concerns was a welcomed recognition of righteous behavior when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. I was equally impressed with Councilman Bowcutt, who presents himself as being first and foremost, a “Member of the Lion’s Club” say, “I strongly second the motion. This is going to be probably one of the best things that St. George has done for years and years. “Being one of, if not the biggest advocate for the Lion’s Club, I could not help but wonder if Bowcutt, was including in his evaluation, all the taxpayer dollars that has been spent on the Rodeo Event, and that which he and Hughes have publicly stated they want to take to a greater heights. They, supported by Councilwoman Randall continue to expound on the importance of the Lion’s Rodeo, demeaning anyone who questions the wisdom of holding the Sun Bowl Event as an indispensable value that is worthy of Millions more taxpayer dollars.
My friends, this is where I can’t help but think of how badly we need a young energetic person, like Nate Caplin, an honest and humble man on the City Council. I was impressed by his sincerity when he sought a position in County Government. This being an election year I thought I’d come out and say it. I don’t know what Nate’s future goals might be, but I thought it might be nice to encourage him and others to start thinking about running for City Council.
Well, to get on to this Council Meeting you should know that Seegmiller Farm Park is fast approaching completion and that the Council voted approval of a fee schedule to rent the barn/pavilion. The rate of $360.00 up to 12 hours and $120.00 up to 4 hours was set. This will include the presence of a city employee to be present during rental period. A wedding is scheduled to take place towards the end of March 2015.
The public should know that the framing on the basement portion of the Electric Theater is up and we can expect that this phase will be completed towards the end of May 2015. The Council approved the purchase of Period Style Seating in the amount of $87,504.48 that is included in the revised budget. It will be interesting to see what the final renovation costs will be. It will be nice to have 288 comfortable seats available to the public. Wouldn’t it be nice to have comfortable and safe seating at the Sun Bowl.....If this is where the Council decides is the best investment of City resources. Time will tell. As they old saying goes, its only money, what the heck. Easy Come, Easy Go.
The Council approved sale of property to homeowners adjacent to the Millcreek Park at a price of $1.50 sq. ft. Perhaps this will be a source of revenue that the city may generate to help contribute to renovating the Sun Bowl. The Council approved the financial report for the month of January, 2015 with City Manager Esplin advising “We are in good Shape.”
The final item on calendar had to do with City Council discussion on opt-out options for curbside recycling. Folks, there has been a lot of discussion on this topic and it has become evident to me that this Council has been priming the pump for some time to get the public warmed up to accepting the inevitable. Due to this and fearing that I would hear Councilman Hughes say, If you like your Trash Man, you can keep your Trash Man, I left the Council Chamber. I thought a little humor might lighten the load so please excuse me for hinting of similarity with Obama Care. (Jimmie has perfected his Dog and Pony Show as he has become the most outspoken member of Council.) I believe we can expect curbside recycling will be approved and it will cost you about $4.00 a month. I am not certain that if you opt out it will be necessary for you to pay to do so. The final decision will be made some time in March and I will report to you what it will cost if you live in St. George.
My friends it is important to know that successful completion of the All Abilities Park will require the help and support of the entire community. The Train Engine itself may cost close to $100,000 and the Railroad Track I expect will cost in the neighborhood of $500,000 or more. It is believed that operating costs will be defrayed as the Train is expected to generate a $100,000 annual income. I encourage those wishing to contribute to this worthwhile cause to contact Mr. Kent Perkins at City Hall. (435) 627-4000 Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, February 16, 2015
CITY VISION SESSION REVEALS TRUE
CHAMPAGNE TASTE = “WANTS”—LIONS SUNBOWL RODEO
BEER POCKET BOOK= “NEEDS”—POLICE-FIRE SERVICE-EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
FAR EASIER TO SPEND TAXPAYERS MONEY ON PLEASURES OF CHAMPAGNE
THAN TO PROVIDE FOR BASIC NEEDS AND EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES
The City Council Meeting of February 12 8:00AM to 4:00PM dubbed Vision Session followed set pattern of having Department Heads reporting on past accomplishments and presenting projected demands for service. (This started the Parade of Homes week that included a 3 day Presidents Holiday weekend. Did they really expect a large public turnout? Meeting room was filled mostly with City Employees and News Media. Very disappointing show of citizen participation.) What made this annual event more meaningful to me was a sharp contrast…..From what I had come to recognize as a canned practice of Department Heads staying within the budget limits/guidelines set by the City Manager. In other words “Don’t, Rock, The Boat”. THIS day I was surprised with a far more candid expression of conditions and realization of what past economic down trends had brought us. Department Heads appeared to have been freed from the uniform, keep in step mentality of years past. I attributed this to Mayor Pike and his quest for greater transparency…..Within acceptable business practices. The only hitch or contradiction to this new found transparency I found, is the “Come Hell or High Water approach…..We, are going to cram down your throat the gift to the Lions Club of a New Sun Bowl at TAXPAYER expense. It seems we just can’t get away from the “Bourgeoisie” approach of City Nobility…..Represented by 5 Council Members…..They can and do dictate to us how taxpayer money will be spent. Can’t you just hear Almquist, Arial, Bowcutt, Hughes and Randall saying? “Let them eat cake.” As an alternative to bread we can’t afford….Or in other words the Lions Club Sun Bowl…..We can’t afford! We WANT IT, but, DON’T NEED it…..With all the other events the city now enjoys…..Priorities NEED to be set. Do you honestly think that if they were spending their own money they would commit or invest MILLIONS of DOLLARS with so little financial return on their investment? If history means anything here is how it is done. Taxpayer money gets sucked in by starting with a small investment…..Like spending on Sod and other small expenditures. This eventually leads to saying…..We’ve already started by making a commitment to recreational needs of community and school kids…..So we might as well spend MILLIONS that will include helping the poor old boys at the Lions Club. After all you can’t put a price tag on Tradition can you? I expect City Nobility to imply…..Ed’s gone off the deep end. He has only been here 14 years and doesn’t have a commitment to “Tradition” like we do. He is not one of us and doesn’t appreciate or understand that we “Want” a Rodeo…..No matter how much it costs. Ok, Ed gets it. Just sit in the corner and be quiet and then, and only then will you be considered one of us. FOLKS, it’s just not in me to do that. I have been blessed and guided to always take the opportunity to be of service in the community. (Patriarchal Blessing)
I therefore will direct your attention to the purchase of the Electric Theater as a city investment in the Arts. The city hired a consulting firm from New York to evaluate the merits of providing a venue for the display and practice of various Art forms. It was determined that a Performing Arts Facility would cost upwards of 5 Million Dollars. It was concluded that the City could purchase and renovate the Electric Theater site at a cost of about 3 Million Dollars. Well, taxpayer money was committed to this endeavor and as things progressed…..The expected costs are fast approaching the 5 Million mark and may climb higher. It’s too late to turn back…..The City is now fully committed to spending Millions more than taxpayers were led to believe it would cost. I fear that the “Want” mentality of the Council…..mainly the mindset of Bowcutt, Hughes and Randall will lead us down the same path when it comes to the Lions Sun Bowl.
This meeting highlighted Department Heads report that identified the following. 1. It has been a tough year for police in number and type of calls for service. Shortage of, Police Officers are still being felt. Duly noted was increase in vehicle accidents associated with decrease in Traffic Enforcement. As, police personnel, become available more officers will be assigned to Traffic Bureau. 2. NEED for TWO Fire Stations in Little Valley Area. Staffing issues exist. In order to keep Insurance Fire Rating of 4, Fire Station needs to be located within 5 miles of structure. At present portions of Little Valley exceed 5 mile limit and Fire Rating may go as high as 10. This will cost high valued homes greater premiums. Due to decline in number of Reserve Firefighters over the past few years, it has become necessary to instead, hire part-time Fire Fighters and pay them a salary that will keep them on job. These firemen will be paid adequate hourly rate that will not include insurance benefits. Airport is NOT staffed with full time professional Firefighters. (2-14-15, Airplane fire on runway. Blaze underneath fuel tanks. SGFD dispatched to Airport. How far did they have to travel to airport? Time and distance is of the essence. We can be grateful this was not a commercial passenger plane full of passengers.) The immediate future will require the purchase of New Engine Pumper, Ladder Truck and Brush Trucks. Fire trucks and equipment are very expensive and have to be ordered a year or longer in advance in order to get them when needed. Human Resource Department reported that part-time employees are leaving for full-time jobs. Leisure Services Department is feeling the pinch. Calls for service are going up. Compensation program requires updating for city to be competitive and to provide fair compensation to valued employees. Folks, I haven’t space to list the demands placed on Legal Services Department and how over worked and burden this department has become. We have incredibly gifted and dedicated city employees. It is imperative that Priorities be established. Please take the time to communicate your values to elected officials. Thank you, ED BACA
Sunday, February 8, 2015
THE TIES THAT BIND
WHO LOVES YOU BABY? NO COINSIDENCE CHAMBER OF COMMERECE CHOSEN TO RECEIVE FIRST STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS - GENERAL PUBLIC INVITED TO ATTEND NOON LUNCHEON IF YOU CAN AFFORD TIME AND MONEY TO PAY FOR PRIVILEGE
Its unavoidable…..I cannot hide my disappointment in political activity coming out of City Hall leading up to City Council Meeting of February 4th…..Like many of you I looked forward to hearing the 1st State of the City Address. It should have been presented in the People’s House…..City Hall Council Chamber…..Or if necessary another Public Venue where citizens could gather and receive the fruits provided by Taxpayer Dollars. Instead the Public was given the opportunity to pay to hear what progress is being made within City Government…..Public denied the opportunity to mingle and talk among ourselves and with those elected to represent us. Historic Event Honors went to the Money Makers (Chamber of Commerce Members)…..Many of whom…..Do Not live within the City Limits, and cannot vote in city elections. Perhaps this gives us an understanding of where the saying comes from…..Money Talks (Money gives one power and influence to help get things done, get one’s own way) or The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer. (Mark 4.25 “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath”). Folks, as you know I am a supporter of the Mayor and his efforts to make a positive change. It may be the Mayor, may no longer be as friendly as he once was given my straight talk. I understand how important it is for him to maintain his standing with Council Members……Those I am willing to call to task. I have found when you challenge one you in effect take them all on as they band together, especially during an election year which this is for, Almquist, Arial and Hughes. However, distasteful it may be, I feel these thoughts needed to be publicly expressed. My feelings could best be summarized in Matthew 25.30…..“And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. FYI, I have taken to using religious wording, given that all Council Members are active Church members and thereby, my words hopefully, will not fall on deaf ears. I am equally concerned that public office holders may be giving the appearance of a Pied Piper….. Giving taxpayer money away by co-sponsoring events….. Then seek support for re-election to office from recipients of taxpayer money. Appearance of wrong doing is harmful to all.
Having gotten this matter off my chest I will move on to reporting on Council Meeting. It began with a Pastor from a Christian Church located in the City of Washington giving the invocation. He was followed by a Boy Scout leading the Pledge of Allegiance. My friends, there were 30 Boy Scouts present, including their leaders, who recited Scout Law/Motto. These young men represented different Wards/Troops. I wish to stress the importance of this…..As it presents a clear picture of the True Character of our community that extends far and beyond the political concerns I voiced earlier. I believe we need to protect values we hold near and dear…..By the manner in which we conduct our political business. We should do nothing to draw demeaning comments by questionable political practices. Those wishing to attack religious beliefs eagerly await an opportunity to do so…..Regardless of which religion we may choose to practice…..I know this is a delicate topic and I do not take it lightly, nor will I shy away from it.….. We must stand up and be counted. An example of this came from an unidentified person who simply stated “If it wasn’t for Mormon Values, many of us probably wouldn’t have moved here.” We need to remember this as do our elected officials. (City Ordinance and Code Enforcement Reform remains unanswered).
City Council Workshop Meeting January 29th Greg McArthur, Director of Chamber of Commerce presented to Council an update on earlier request for the City to make available to the Chamber the Old Water Conservatory Building (Now owned by the City) located across the street from where the Chamber is now housed. Mr. McArthur presented remodeling plans. The Conference Room is to be made bigger (36 ft.) with an open office space area. If the proposal is approved by the City, the Chamber will spend $100,000 up to $150,000 on the building. At the end of rental agreement the building will revert to the city with all remodeling in place at no cost to City. I asked Mr. McArthur if he expected the rent to be $1.00 per year and he replied that he was hoping so. City Mgr. Esplin then asked that the completed proposal be submitted to the City as soon as possible for final approval. From Mr. Esplin’s demeanor I surmised that this was a done deal as Mr. Esplin usually gets what he wants. I was impressed with Mr. Mc Arthurs update on growth of Chamber, 100% plus since he took the reins as director. Mr. McArthur has also grown and developed as evident by his improved administrative skills. I would not be surprised to see him follow in his grandfather and father’s footsteps by one day becoming a member of the City Council. After all if Jimmie can do it so can Greg. I think he favors his mother’s side of family, an attractive and likeable young man.
My friends, when you recognize the close working relationship that exists between the City and Chamber of Commerce it is easy to see why the Mayor elected to make the 1st State of the City Address before the Chamber of Commerce. I don’t agree with it but I understand it.
Public Comments February 4th Council Meeting: Lauren Cummings asked that funds from the newly approved Rap Tax be utilized for a Dog Park and proposed Millcreek Park be selected. You can tell this will be a re-election year for Councilman Hughes when he let Miss Cummings know that approval was given to things, not all of us participate in, but some of us do. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to the Dog Park or the Lions Rodeo at the Sun Bowl. I guess Jimmie and I have a lot to learn.
Public Hearings: City approved approx. 105.9 acres generally located between 3000 East and the Virgin River and fronts on Mall Drive to be changed from Low Density Residential, Medium Density Residential, Open Space and Commercial to Medium Density Residential, Professional Office, Open Space, and Commercial. Also approved zone change from Open Space and A-1 to RE-20 on property located at approx. 3900 South and Bentley Road. You can expect to see residential development near adjacent Flood Plain. Mr. Esplin qualified his remarks by saying this was a request for a zone change not development. He, I believe was saying we have concerns yes, but we will cross that bridge when we discuss Development. Councilman Hughes said he would prefer to see cows out there but was willing to accept what was coming. It was duly noted that Councilman Hughes made motion to approve request, seconded by Councilwoman Arial. Councilman Bowcutt voted to approve. Councilman Almquist voted NO. The motion carried 3 to 1.
Mayor Pike reported that Councilwoman Randall was excused from tonight’s meeting as she was helping her daughter. Meeting ended with request for Closed Session. Wording of statute authorizing a closed session is deserving of greater public scrutiny. Appearance of a “Shadow” government should be dispelled. Thank you, ED BACA
Saturday, January 31, 2015
GOLLY! SURPRISE, SURPRISE!
LIONS CLUB TO KEEP RODEO
AT SUN BOWL
As I sat quietly contemplating how I should present the happenings of the January 29th City Council Meeting I took the time to listen to the sound of falling rain and thought…..How good it felt to be in a home surrounded…..With a variety of people who by and large shared my values of the American way of life. I looked outside to see the Stars and Stripes, beautifully draped on the 30 foot flag pole my wife gave me as a Christmas present and which my two great grandsons helped place in this land called Zion.
In my mind’s eye I saw a picture of the duly elected Mayor and City Council…..With the bowed head of the City Manager. As I envisioned this body…..I paused to think about how unusual it is…..To have in the United States of America…..A body of elected officials who are all members of the predominate Church, in a city of nearly 100,000 people. I asked myself…..How is it possible to administer and guide this fast growing city without engaging/including those with a differing point of view? Are mixed messages sent by claims of wanting to listen…..When an issue (Sun Bowl) is Fait Accompli. Is this a condescending act, fostered to pacify those outside of the Church or those not in agreement…..From actually contributing, an alternative course of action? I have become accustomed to the cold shoulder treatment from City Gentry, but, there are many who do not understand this defensive posture. On this evening I was able to feel the warmness of friendly banter with Councilman Bowcutt and a good natured exchange with Councilwoman Arial, in the exercise of civility. I thought, not everyone is able to walk the talk of being in support of freedom of speech…..Especially when you are on the receiving end of public criticism when holding public office.…. I imagine it must be difficult to choose not be offended when listening to others exercise their freedom of speech. Arial and Bowcutt appear able to build upon the good intentions of others…..Even when they disagree with what is being said. The Sun Bowl Renovation is one example of this. Awakened from my reverie, I recalled the invocation given by Reverend, Alex Wilkie, who inspired those present to place into perspective…..Gods hand in the proceedings which took place. Reverend Wilkie not only talked, but acted on his spoken words by presenting the Mayor with a donation to the All Abilities Park building fund. Reverend Wilkie in retirement continues to be an amazing man and a positive role model to all of us.
UDOT dropped a bombshell….It is time to bring St. George into the planning for completion of I-15 Corridor. An Underpass…..It has been decided that going Under the Freeway is preferable to going Over the Freeway. Five option plans were provided for what is now called the Mall Drive Underpass. Cost of plan #1 is 23.3 Million Dollars. Plan #2. 24.5 Million. Plan #3. 13 Million. Plan #4. 15 Million. Plan #5. 35 Million. As expected the exact spot for placement of the underpass will be a deciding factor. The greater the cost, the greater the matching funds will be to the city. UDOT is looking ahead to the year 2040 and it is important to have the City onboard in order to coordinate site selection and of course making sure the money will be available. A good thing to do and it benefits the city to plan ahead. It was interesting to learn that the City of Washington will benefit from the decisions made as well. It was right for City Manager, Esplin, to raise the question as to what monetary contribution might be expected from Washington City. At present, SG City does not have any capital outlay funds for I-15 Underpass. A lot of thought and planning will be required during the next few months to get city up to speed and onboard.
UDOT representatives provided an update on current and future projects. In motion is the continuation of improvements to be realized on Bluff Street from St. George Blvd to Red Hills Parkway. These and other projects are to be publicly presented on February 10th from 10AM to 5PM at the Dixie Convention Center.
To me the Bigger Bombshell was Mayor Pikes notice that a Semi-Pro Football team is coming to St. George. The name this team is to be known by is…..Are YOU ready for this? The ZION-LIONS. Mayor Pike suggests that the SUN BOWL be the site for 9 Home Games the Zion-Lions are scheduled to play…..Beginning March 21st. Discussions are in progress to arrange for placement of sod on the Sun Bowl arena. You can expect that the Lions Rodeo will take place at the end of the football season. Mayor Pike displayed a beautiful black shirt with the Zions-Lions logo prominently displayed on the front side. A baseball cap also with a Zions-Lions logo was shown to Council. A purchase of one of these two items will be your ticket to enter future games. You may go to Zionlionsfootball.com for more details. A very attractive shirt and cap that got Councilman Bowcutt, so excited that he asked to take both items to a Lions Club meeting later that night, promising to return them to Mayor.
My friends, perhaps you now understand why I spent so much time on the first part of this article. It is clear that this may very well be the first step to renovate the Sun Bowl for the Lions Club. (Fait Accompli) It is also clear that the spending of Millions of dollars on a New Sun Bowl will be placed in abeyance and that the public can only expect the spending of Thousands of Dollars on renovation of the Sun Bowl. After all we DO need seats with backs and some decent toilets and refreshment stands. Not to mention improved conditions for stock and viewing conditions for fans. I confess, it is exciting to be a part of fast growing community and I am grateful to Mayor Pike for not fearing to be more transparent and permitting light to enter city government. With tongue in cheek…..We as a community will come to see the spending of taxpayer $$$ on the Lions-Sun Bowl Rodeo as our contribution in support of President Obama and his efforts to transfer the wealth of the nation to those in need. In this case the Lions Club. (Joe, I love you man.) Thank you, ED BACA
Sunday, January 25, 2015
BIG WIN FOR ALL THREE
UNIVERSITY - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – CITY
LIONS CLUB & CITY POLITICS
AWAITING VERDICT ON DETAILS OF SUN BOWL PRESERVATION
January 22nd City Council Meeting could not have begun on a more positive upbeat note, with the city receiving a tremendous THANK YOU from Justin Tubbs…..Who in effect was speaking on behalf of all Special Need’s recipients for the All Abilities Park. Justin, assisted by two Sisters, stood up, his leg in a brace, and with walking tools, made his way to the podium. Justin addressed the Mayor and Council and stated, “Thank you so much, for allowing a person like me to break ground at the All Abilities Park…..I think I’ll just live there.” Justin went on to state “I think I’m in St. George now, and it’s AWESOME!”
Justin, let all of us know, those present in the Council Chamber and the entire City of St. George……Just how very thankful he was and how AWESOME he thought the All Abilities Park to be. Justin got the Mayor to say the word AWESOME with him and soon the entire City Council joined in……Followed by the entire audience all loudly saying AAAAWE-SOME! Justin then turned, assisted by the Sisters and walked out of the Council Chambers still saying the word AWESOME. Folks, it was truly an inspiring moment for all of us to hear Justin speak and gain a better understanding of what it means, “To be in the service of your fellow being.” It makes you proud to be a member of this community and a citizen of St. George.
Agenda Item 6 G. Staff Reports: Take public comment on the sale of approximately 6.0 acres of City property located between 100 South Street and 200 South Street in the vicinity of existing Elks Baseball Field…..Folks, this in effect is about Selling Elks Baseball Field and adjoining acreage owned by City……To Washington County School District who wants to build a new Elementary School on this site so they can finish negotiations to sell the old/existing…..East Elementary School…..To Dixie State University…..Who needs and wants the property on which East Elementary School sits…..Located directly across the street from the University. It makes perfect sense to bring these 3 governmental agencies together to meet the needs of each entity. A declared; WIN, WIN, WIN for all involved…..One that would serve the best interest of the community.
On its face it doesn’t appear to be too complicated, does it? THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT is that the site of the New Elementary School / Current Elks Baseball Field is located next door to the Sun Bowl…..Home of Lions Club, Annual Rodeo Event site…..The Lions Club has asked the City to HELP them build a New Sun Bowl or help them renovate the Old Sun Bowl. In other words subsidize or give Tax Payer $$$ to the Lions Club to lessen their burden. After all the Lions Club gives a great portion of the money generated from the Rodeo to needy causes. Therefore, it is alright to spend Taxpayer $$$ so that the Lions Club can satisfy its goal of being an active civic organization giving its money to individuals or organizations the Lions Club determines to be deserving of support. Not a bad deal is it?
Attach yourself to City Government by annually asking for and receiving Taxpayer $$$ so that you can successfully operate. (Rodeo co-sponsored by City) As stated at this City Council meeting by representative (s) of City Government this could make it a Win, Win, Win, Win….The forth winner being the Lions Club. Of course as Councilwoman Randall would have you believe…..This is all done with absolute Transparency. Never mind the fact that all sales and purchases of property are done behind closed doors.....And of course Taxpayers should discount any appearance that Lions Club Members…..May be active politically…..In Municipal Elections…..Councilman Bowcutt is believed to be an active member of the Lions Club. (I don’t think you can get elected without support of Lions Club, as former mayor belatedly learned.)
If this is not enough to get you thinking about how Power and Authority Corrupts I will share with you what took place during the last election campaign in which candidates and supporters were present. The issue of the Sun Bowl was raised. Candidates Bowcutt and Randall were present as were Councilman Almquist, Pike, Hughes and then Mayor McArthur. Almquist and Hughes openly supported candidate Randall who supported the Lions Club and Sun Bowl…..Mayor McArthur was known to be courting the support of the Lions Club of which I believe he was a member. As a result of the political interest being voiced in support of keeping the Sun Bowl at its current site…..The then existing City Administration brokered an agreement with the Lions Club that the Sun Bowl would be kept at the existing site for 5 more years thereby insuring that the Rodeo would continue to be held at this location. On its face, it appears to me for the City to now represent that the Preservation of the Sun Bowl is only now to be decided is somewhat disingenuous…..as all the players involved (Save Mayor McArthur) currently serve in City Government…..And have openly declared their support of the Lions Club. The Lions Club has been the winner for the past year and remains in the Driver’s Seat. The only thing to be decided is whether to tear down and build a NEW Sun Bowl or to Renovate and how much Taxpayer $$$ will be spent on the project and where will the Taxpayer Money come from?
This City Council appears to have committed itself to supporting the Lions Club. One can only hope that they are not being described in Doctrine and Covenants section 121.39. “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” Public discussion and complete transparency is called for when deciding the fate of the Sun Bowl. Let it be known I am a flag waiver and I love anything cowboy. I would like to see a Rodeo in City…..Where we see American Flag fly. Those elected should act in best interest of City at all times. Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, January 19, 2015
A CHILDS HANDPRINT INBEDED IN CONCRETE MAY BECOME THE SYMBOL FOR WHAT IS MEANT WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORDS “TO BE IN THE SERVICE OF YOUR FELLOW BEINGS” WHEN LIVING IN THE CITY OF ST. GEORGE, Utah.
YOU ARE TO SEE CHILDREN PRESSING THEIR HANDS INTO CEMENT THAT BINDS, PARK AND US TOGETHER. THIS WILL IDENTIFY CHILDREN AS CONTRIBUTERS TO THE BUILDING OF A PARK DESIGNED TO BRING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD TOGETHER TO LAUGH AND PLAY IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS.
THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE CITY WAS PUT ON DISPLAY WITH THE GROUNDBREAKING OF “ALL ABILITIES PARK” THAT IS YET TO BE NAMED AND KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY THE ETERNAL LOVE A GRANDPARENT HAS FOR HIS GRANDCHILD.
January 15th City Council Meeting began at the All Abilities Park site, 1851 South Dixie Drive on a beautiful winter day that brought with it a spirit that is sure to warm the cockles of your heart and tickle your innards. Make no mistake. This endeavor has taken lots of time and energy and doesn’t come cheap. It has taken lots of money and is expected to cost a lot more. It is I believe, well worth every penny. This can’t be said for all civic expenditures. I believe it is safe to say, that far too, often it appears, taxpayer money, is spent for political expediency and maintaining of the status quo. However, at this time and for this cause, the City Council Got It Right. When you do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of cost, the good people of St. George will stand with you. The All ABILITIES Park is such a cause. Folks, it just makes you feel good and grateful for blessings received.
This day was underscored by Director of Parks & Leisure Services, Kent Perkins, informing us that in all the dedications and groundbreakings he has attended in his 32 years of service with the city…..This may be the Very Best. My friends, along with the many parents present with their special needs children…..Kent was unable to conceal his emotions as he looked upon the faces of special needs children facing him, surely associating them with those in his family. Mr. Perkins drew our attention to a banner which declared “We Are Able” and stated that this Park will allow children and adults to participate at a level in which…..They Are Able. This Park will enable us to show through words and deeds that as a community…..We can proudly stand and say “We Do Care.” Opening Day is expected to be this summer.
City Manager, Gary Esplin, who usually shy’s away from making public speeches took the podium and acknowledged with tears in his eyes, that he had been inspired by his deceased grandson “Shane” and that like Kent, going on his 39th year of service…..Has Not Ever been involved in a project such as this. Mr. Esplin expressed that he envisions the day when other cities in the USA desire to build an All Abilities Park they will choose to fly to St. George to see what we have accomplished. Mr. Esplin reported that the City has issued bonds and has sold property to finance building of this Park, acknowledging the many contributions and support received from the private sector. This truly is a community project.
Mayor Pike made brief remarks thanking City Staff, especially Mr. Perkins for contributions to this project. Mayor Pike stated “As we vote to spend dollars it is not done lightly.” “You put in as taxpayers to produce All Abilities Park.” “It is a park for Children of All Ages.”
St. George Exchange Club presented a Donation of $100,000 pledging an additional $30,000 which they have already collected for All Abilities Park. Terry Draper, representing Intermountain Healthcare stated they were pleased to lend support in amount of $25,000. Austin Anderson, for his Eagle Scout project Troop 518 conducted a fund raiser at local carwash for purchase and planting of trees at park. Austin’s brother, Nolan, now deceased would have enjoyed All Abilities Park. Austin donated $547.00. Mr. Perkins noted that children with Special Needs want to be part of the project and all donations will be gladly accepted including those from individuals present today in amount of $27.00, $1.38, $13.00, and $6.00. Special Needs participants wanting it known, “I Helped Build My Park” will be invited to leave their handprints at selected sites throughout Park. Upon conclusion of ceremonies the City Council returned to City Hall where remaining agenda items were heard.
AGENDA ITEM: Gary Sanders and Stefanie Bevans, representing Arts Commission reported that 6 pieces of Art are recommended for purchase, as part of the city’s collection. Thousands of dollars for Art has been included in this budget year. Council approved purchase. Kudos; to Stefanie Bevans, who contributes many hours on behalf of the Art Community and City.
AGENDA ITEM: Proposed Draft for Special Events Permit Process and Ordinance submitted by city staff. Folks, a young lady named Tiffany Barton sat quietly in attendance for this discussion that to some, would be nothing more…..Than the City going through the C Y A motions akin to following Standard Operating Procedures……Having been caught with their pants down when dealing with a Code Enforcement Issue. It turned out to be far more than that as surprisingly, city leaders (Mainly Mayor Pike and City Mgr. Esplin) seemed to do an about-face for the City…..In that they managed to present an impression of sincerity about wanting to correct the misconception that the city, (Police & Fire Dept.) had acted with malice or improperly….. When enforcing a City Ordinance…..That denied a Citizen….The right to dance. The Draft Proposal that I believe was given life by the verbally gifted Tiffany Barton…..Who in the aftermath of fiasco/hysteria referred to by City Mgr. Esplin, brought us to this moment…..The City carving out and identify its objective as being …..To Promote, yet Protect…..Struck a Positive Cord to move the Special Events Permit Process forward. The simple and expected things like…..Definition, Permit Requirements, Application Process, Appeals Process, Time Limits, Fee’s……And yes, new ground rules on who is authorized to approve permits and when and how direct appeals or request for waivers can be made directly to City Council. The BELL RANG LOUD…..When Councilman Bowcutt, unashamedly voiced his concerns as to the negative effects a too restrictive Ordinance might have in the support given to the Lions Club for the Rodeo Event. Councilman Bowcutt was straight forward with his concern for the Lions Club. I respect him for his honesty and openness and find it refreshing for a member of the City Council to do so. (Others quickly pointed out that when the City co-sponsors an event like the Rodeo, it provides an avenue for the Lions Club not to have to pay for Police or other services or materials provided by the City.) I believe it is legal and understood that the City may use public $$$ to subsidize or support EVENTS like the Rodeo…..When a profitable return can be realized that benefits the City/Community. It should NOT however be allowed to become an Annual Entitlement to Lions Club….Equal consideration should be given to other organizations. Note: Tiffany Barton was recognized by the mayor and invited to express her concerns as she had played an integral role in bringing this matter before the Council. Ms. Barton did so in a manner befitting a young lady of notable character and integrity. Council is to be prepared to act by next Tuesday. (Co-sponsorships and Entitlements warrant further public discussion. Who routinely gets Co-sponsorships/ taxpayer $$$ and why?) Thank you, ED BACA.
Monday, January 12, 2015
PRINCESS DECREE’S “THEY GOT TO GO” AND SO SHALL IT BE.
WITH A WAVE OF HER HAND “TERMITE TERRACE” SHALL BE NO MORE.
FOREORDAINED BY COUNCILWOMAN RANDALL APPEARING WITH ALL THE GRANDURE AND POMP OF A PRINCESS THAT SHE COULD MUSTER, CITY COUNCIL ACTS TO INSURE THAT “TERMINTE TERRACE” SHALL BE NO MORE.
January 8th City Council meeting got off to a slow start with the Mayor informing the audience that no one showed up for the Public Comment Segment of the agenda…..Save one person who resides in Washington City and thus did not meet the criteria for Public Comment as outlined only for St. George residents. However, the meeting moved forward in a very positive way with the Mayor declaring his appreciation to the entire City for making the celebration of Christmas and the Holiday Season a great success.
City Manager, Gary Esplin then took center stage to present the Bitter-Sweet honor of announcing the retirement of his close friend and confidant…..Phil Peterson, Financial Director and the appointment of his successor…..Deanna Brklacich to the newly created position of Administrative Services Director. My friends, being a close observer of city activities for the last twelve plus years I am able to share with you…..That I detected the genuinely sincere appreciation that Gary has for Phil…..No, appreciation is not the right word…..It, I believe would be correct to state…..The Love and Respect that he has for Mr. Peterson. Phil has not only worked for the City for the past 32 or 33 years……But they have known each other since grammar school. Gary, himself has been with the City for the past 38 years and as we all know…..No one person can take credit for building a great City. It takes a collective effort of a family of supportive City Employees. On the sweet side I can confirm/testify to you that Deanna has earned this new appointment…..Having been mentored by Phil for the past 20 years….. And from my close observations of her incredible job performance I can tell you that she is highly respected by her peers and those that have come to know her through her dedication to public service. Congratulations to all.
The Mayor having declared that the City is on good footing went on to appoint Mary Hatch, a non-resident to a four year term on the newly established Airport Board. (Non-residents are permitted to serve on the Airport Board in a limited number.) Mayor Pike continued to dazzle us with the ANNOUNCEMENT of the forthcoming State of the City Address which is to take place on February 4th at Noon. This event is to be Open to the Public and will be hosted by the Chamber of Commerce…..You will however have to pay for your lunch if you choose to attend. LOOK forward to public notice providing location and details. The mayor has committed to informing us of where we have been…..What we are doing…..And tease us with what the future holds. A giant step for transparency….. That hopefully will contain a Light at the end of the Tunnel for Code Enforcement Reform and Up Dating of City Ordinances.
Next Agenda Item: Consider awarding of bid for demolition of the West Cove Apartments affectionately known at “Termite Terrace”…..Built in 1942 at 100 South and 300 West. (New Mixed Use Commercial/Residential Development coming to neighborhood in near future.) This once desirable apartment complex has over the years deteriorated to an uninhabitable condition. City Manager Esplin, skillfully articulated efforts to find a workable solution to the now attractive nuisance which resulted in litigation now authorizing the city to entertain a bid of $90,000 to demolish the complex. NOT to be outdone, City Councilwoman Randall stated that as a candidate she had been contacted by residents living in proximity to the apartment complex asking that something be done. With the flare of a “True Princess”…..Towering above her minions…..Randall waved her hand in the air and stated “They Got To Go!” Well folks, that appeared to settle it…..Councilman Bowcutt who happens to live close to the apartment complex provided a second to the motion to approve…..Stating “A Very Strong Second”. My friends, it would take a man of steel to go against the “Princesses”…..In fact the entire Council voted in favor of the motion…… including the Iron Lady, Councilwoman Arial.
A little melancholy exists in all of us……Even for an Old Apartment Complex. While seated in my favorite Barbershop, a group of us were discussing the demolition of the apartments and a patron stated…..You know, that was the first place my wife and I lived when we were first married…..Maybe we should go back and sit on the porch one last time. Memories can be wonderful.
Last Item: Public Hearing to consider a General Plan amendment from Low Density Residential, Medium Density Residential and Commercial, to Commercial on property located between 3000 East Street and Mall Drive. My friends, as I previously reported to you this property borders the City of Washington and Signal Lights are soon to be installed at 3000 and Mall Drive. While residents of Washington expressed their concern with the now changing of 24 acres to Commercial, I believe it is safe to say that we can expect to see the larger 121 acres at this site to be established as a Commercial Shopping Center. It is anticipated that in the near future residents of Washington will find shopping closer to home…..Thus reducing the heavy traffic St. George is experiencing, on Riverside Drive, Mall Drive and Foremaster…..Extending to River Road. The City Council recognized this and approved the zone change.
We can all expect to see continued growth and development……Hopefully with a reduction in the number of Closed Sessions that deny public access and that will inspire greater public participation and transparency.
Thank you, ED BACA