Castle Valley Comments
March 27, 2014
by Ron Drake
Mar 27, 2014 | 603 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Greg Halliday and Mark Roth of the Castle Valley Road Department burn tumbleweeds along Pope Lane. The tumbleweeds have collected on the town’s roads after strong winds pushed them out of the fields and onto the roadsides.                                       Photo by Ron Drake
Greg Halliday and Mark Roth of the Castle Valley Road Department burn tumbleweeds along Pope Lane. The tumbleweeds have collected on the town’s roads after strong winds pushed them out of the fields and onto the roadsides. Photo by Ron Drake
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The Castle Valley Town Council is considering the idea of holding future elections exclusively by mail, according to a discussion during the last town council meeting. The idea was spawned when Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley spotted an article in the San Juan Record newspaper while traveling through San Juan County recently. In that article, San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson informed the commissioners of the decision to hold the 2014 election in the county exclusively through mailed-in ballots.

Johnson said he has watched the voting trends closely for several years and felt that moving to mailed-in ballots is the way to go. He said that “this will be a simpler and best way to conduct voting in the county,” after closely watching the city of Monticello race last year. “I think it is time to move to mailed-in ballots for everyone,” he said. The San Juan Record reported that in Monticello, where mailed-in ballots were used to select a new mayor and two positions on the city council, 59 percent of the residents cast their votes. In Blanding, where traditional election-day ballots were used to select a new mayor and two positions on the city council, voter participation was only 29 percent.

Mayor Erley said the town would save a little money on judges’ salaries and the printing cost would be about the same. But according to the mayor, the voting participation should improve. Castle Valley Planning and Land Use Commission Chairwoman Laura Cameron pointed out during the meeting that Castle Valley has always had good voter participation, except during the last election when the only issue was when a write-in candidate challenged the incumbent for the position of mayor. Cameron, who has served as an election judge, added that the 14 hours spent on Election Day makes for a very long day.

Castle Valley Town Clerk Ali Fuller cited a town about the size of Castle Valley that switched to mail-in only voting and saw their participation “skyrocket” because of it. Fuller said later that statewide there has been very good feedback from town and county clerks who have saved their towns and counties massive amount of money and greatly increased voter participation. She said that Castle Valley already has relatively low election costs so the main improvement would be to try to increase voter participation.

Council member Tory Hill said that she would like to see what the community thinks about voting by mail. The council agreed and asked the citizens to contact the town clerk and voice their opinions about mail-in only voting. To voice your opinion on the topic, call the town clerk at 435-259-9828, or email her at: townclerk@castlevalleyutah.com.

On other issues during the meeting, Castle Valley Road Manager Greg Halliday voiced his frustration with the danger of tumbleweeds. He said they are in the fields and packed around houses as well as other buildings and trailers and have covered the town’s roads. He said that homes can be destroyed if a fire starts in some of these fields and gets pushed by the wind. He and Mark Roth have spent many hours burning piles of the tumbleweeds from the roads this past month and there seems to be no end to it.

After months of preparation, a public hearing and a public survey by the planning and land use commission, members presented their recommendations to the council for the town’s revised general plan. A public hearing that preceded the regular meeting was held to receive input on the general plan from the public, but after seven minutes and a few comments, the hearing adjourned. During the regular meeting the council adopted the general plan.

The council discussed leasing a new backhoe for use by the road department following a meeting with a sales representative from Wheeler Caterpillar last week. Council member Hill had some reservations after reading the fine print of the contract and wanted more clarification before voting on the matter. The issue for her and the other council members is that the company will charge for all labor on repairs and has to do the repairs. The company will also fix the major equipment problems but will determine what constitutes a major repair and what the town will be responsible for.

The annual spring cleanup will be held Saturday, April 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the town lot. As in past years, crews will not accept household garage or brush, branches or weeds or hazardous waste. They will accept non-commercial junk, furniture, most appliances, tires (four per customer), refrigerators and air conditioners, with a $10 and $20 fee for Freon removal. They will also accept recycling items this year, including plastics, aluminum, steel/tin cans, and newspaper. The list also includes office paper, glass, corrugated cardboard, magazines, catalogs, phone books, egg cartons, brown paper bags and everything else that is accepted at the local recycling station and the monthly paper drive.


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