Castle Valley Comments
May 1, 2014
by Ron Drake
May 01, 2014 | 989 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some of the residents of Castle Valley were without electrical service for five hours last Saturday evening, while others hardly noticed a problem. Pat and I were just settling in for the evening when the power went down, so we activated the ever-ready lanterns and found something to read to pass the time. Eventually, we began to feel cold and hungry so the wood stove was fired up, which not only provided heat but also a pot of canned stew that was warmed on the stove.

A Rocky Mountain Power spokesman said the outage that affected part of the valley occurred at 4:41 p.m. and was restored at 10:28 p.m. It was caused by a utility pole fire somewhere that affected 588 customers. The spokesman also had a report of an outage at 9:31 p.m. that was also restored at 10:28 p.m., and another starting at 4:03 p.m. and restored at 5:20 p.m., as well as a problem in the Moab area during the evening.

He said a combination of wind, rain and dust causes arcing of electricity, which results in a utility pole fire. The nasty weather we were experiencing that night provided the perfect recipe for the electrical problems that occurred that evening and the following day when numerous power bumps were noticed. The Castle Valley Fire Department received no calls associated with pole fires during the period.

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The Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, which is sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), and supported by Fire Adapted Communities and State Farm Insurance is scheduled to be held in Castle Valley on Saturday, May 3 during the national event. Castle Valley Fire Department was awarded a $500 grant, part of the $10,000 in funding made available to implement Wildfire Preparedness Day neighborhood projects.

A local project in the valley has been identified to clear grass and brush away from homes and premises during the national project and local volunteers are needed to help that morning. Volunteers should meet at the Castle Valley Town Hall at 9 a.m. and bring a shovel, rake, pitchfork or similar tool to help clear brush and grass to be stacked next to the road for the chipper. People should also wear gloves, boots and a hat if desired, and bring water.

In conjunction with the project, the State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands will bring a large wood chipper the following Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. They will reduce trees and limbs to usable wood chips that will be deposited on your property. So far, nearly 20 people have signed up for the service on Tuesday, one day later than originally planned. You can sign up to have the chipper visit your property by calling Bob Lippman at 435-259-1182.

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Among the items that were discussed during the last monthly Castle Valley Town Council meeting on Wednesday, April 23, was the need for a major temporary tax increase to cover the town’s budget. Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley said that 10.6 percent of the county tax bill goes to the Town of Castle Valley and that in order for the town to cover the proposed budget, the tax would have to be doubled for two years, be high for the third year then drop to a budget of around $180,000 per year after that to cover the major needs of the town. He stated that he is not happy with the proposed increase but felt it was needed to manage the responsibilities of the town.

Erley mentioned reading in a local paper that the county will spend $80,000 to maintain the paved bike paths in the county, which caused him to re-evaluate what the town spends on the Castle Valley roads. He said the town ran its road department for $51,000 and he would like $68,500 for the 2015 budget. He said the road budget ran over because of the major repairs needed for the old road equipment. Instead of putting more money into the old equipment, the road department is considering leasing a backhoe and grader, which would be a fixed cost rather than the unpredictable repairs.

He also said that the town hopes to continue putting $10,000 a year aside for the eventual repaving of Castle Valley Drive, and start putting $15,000 per year for three years in a fund for the eventual replacement of the large culvert under Castle Valley Drive at Castle Creek, which will cost around $150,000. That fund would be used to help obtain a CIB grant for the remainder of the cost.

Erley listed a number of other issues, including money to handle water issues since the town is listed as a water supplier. Money also needs to be budgeted for water right and water protection issues, a water study, which may include finding a location for a municipal well, and to monitor the current well sites for quality.

The town council proposed putting together an information sheet listing the need for a tax increase. A public hearing will be held to before a new tax increase can be adopted.

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