The original building consisted of a multi-purpose room, which was used for church services as well as socials and sport activities. It also included a library, kitchen, baptismal font, two bathrooms and five classrooms. Branch members performed some of the labor, such as roofing, carpeting, landscaping and the concrete sidewalks
In the mid-1970s, when the Castle Valley subdivision began to populate, the few church members who lived here then would have to travel to Moab every Sunday to attend one of the Moab wards for their weekly services. Many of the families were financially strapped in those days and they sometimes had trouble keeping a vehicle running and would have to pool rides, some riding in the back of a pickup truck to church during the cold winter months. Eventually, their numbers increased to the point where officials from church headquarters in Salt Lake City approved a new church unit to be formed in Castle Valley in April 1978.
Richard Stucki was selected to lead the group as the first branch president and would continue in that position for the next nearly 13 years. His original councilors were Jerry Ehlers and Walt Cluff. Some of the early residents who were part of the newly organized church unit included the families of Richard and Marge Stucki, Jerry and JoAnna Ehlers, Walt and Penny Cluff, Jack and Mary Cluff and Fred and Darlene Officer. Other early members included Gene and Norma Montague, Ken and Ruth Johnson, Lou and Joan Schmidt, Chuck and Ruth Fenton, Mike and Chris Ricketts and Pat and myself.
I was the second to serve as the branch president for the next nearly 11 years, with Richard Williams, Tony Martineau and Doug LaMunyon serving as councilors at various times during my tenure. Otis Willoughby was then the branch president for five years with councilors Richard Williams and Darr Hatch, and 18-year resident Richard Williams now serves in that capacity with myself and Hatch as his councilors.
Our good neighbors at the Day Star Academy, a private Seventh-day Adventist high school, provided their facilities for our meetings for the next four years after the Castle Valley LDS unit was organized, until our new building was completed. Two additional classrooms were added to the original building a couple of years after we moved in to accommodate the expanding membership.
The building served us well for the next 14 years, but the increased numbers forced a major addition project that would nearly double the size of the structure. Again, we imposed on our Seventh-day Adventist friends for several months while the construction was in progress. Bruce Nelson Construction of Springville, Utah was the contractor on this project and the addition brought what it is today – including three large classrooms, which open up into one large room and serve as the chapel, three smaller classrooms, two additional bathrooms, a mechanical room and a custodial room. The new building was dedicated Friday, April 12, 1996 by LDS general authority Elder Earl C. Tingey.
The building served the community as the only public facility for many years. It hosted property owners meetings, town council meetings, voting, plays, funerals, weddings and all kinds of social events. It will continue to be there for the needs of the community as necessary but primarily serves as a place for worship and learning.
Thirty years later, only about six of those original faces of the branch family are still here. Many others have tried to live this rural life but moved on to larger cities, and the two school bus loads of children who used to live in the valley have grown and moved on to create lives of their own. People will come and go, but this Castle Valley edifice should remain here for years to come.
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Twenty years ago this week, the town council announced that there was money left in the CIB fund to spend on the drainage project. During the past year, the town purchased culverts and the county road department matched the money with labor to install them according to the engineering study. The town also purchased a flared-end section for the large culvert at Castle Creek and Castle Valley Drive, at a cost of nearly $1,000. An engineer said it would protect the culvert and increase capacity. Flared ends were also purchased for many of the smaller culverts in the valley for the same purpose.