The date for the dinner and program will be 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at the school’s dining hall and the program will commence at 7 p.m. in the chapel, both at 320 E. Castleton Drive. Everyone is invited to both events. In order to plan for dinner they ask that you RSVP at 435-259-7719 if you plan to eat before the program. Thirty-five years ago this week, this column mentioned a similar invitation to Castle Valley residents for the school’s Christmas program that year. “The program will feature the school’s choir in addition to smaller singing and instrumental groups,” I wrote back then. Since that time they have added their popular bell choir to their repertoire.
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Hardly anyone noticed, but big changes have occurred at the lower end of the valley on the property owned by Randy and Kaaron Jorgen. On their property is where the first permanent structure in Castle Valley is located, which was built in 1885 by Matt Martin.
Matt and his brother John came to the Colorado Plateau from Iowa during the silver strike of the 1880s, but ended up as ranchers in Castle Valley. The sturdy cabin on the Jorgen’s property was built by Matt about 1885 and is partially built out of railroad ties and pilings from railroad bridge trestles, according to a state historian, who visited the cabin. Matt’s brother, John, worked as a surveyor for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad for a while, before heading to Castle Valley, so he had connections to the railroad company for materials.
The previous owner of the Jorgen’s property built a new structure and attached it to the old cabin about 25 or 30 years ago, which enlarged the square footage of the home. After the Jorgens built a new home on the property this past year, they had the addition to the cabin demolished, leaving the old cabin “released from bondage,” as Jorgen describes it. There is also another cabin nearby that was built around 1900.
But the real story is the new house that was designed by Randy. It was designed for function, comfort and economy but not necessarily for style. It is for “old folks comfort,” according to Jorgen and is designed for mobility, comfort, and accessibility on a single level with no steps.
The building features double outside walls and the void between the two walls is insulated with a commercial celluloid material, giving it an R-40 rating and the ceiling is insulated to an R-70 rating. He says that it takes only 500 watts of electricity to heat the house on an average day.
Living in a wildland/urban interface like we do, the building is also designed to be safer and more fire resistant during wildfires that could happen in the valley. The building design includes a metal roof with a special underlayment under the metal to displace the heat, concrete based siding and other non-combustible materials to help prevent ignition.
The house also has triple pane windows throughout. There is no gas or wood for heat or appliances, relying strictly on electricity from Rocky Mountain Power and solar panels to power the house for heating and cooking. Their goal is to achieve a “net zero” home from the solar panels and have just a minimum power bill from the utility.
When the attached building to the old cabin came down in about an hour and a half, the contractor was able to bring down the wall of the addition without disturbing the wall of the cabin by making a few selected cuts with the saw and was able to save the historic old building. And now, in terms of engineering, the most modern home in the valley sits right next to the oldest house in the valley and both are engineering marvels although 133 years apart.