Castle Valley Comments
July 31, 2014
by Ron Drake
Jul 31, 2014 | 658 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Castleton residents have had a problem with bears during the past few months and at least one family is very concerned. Dean Kerkling first mentioned that they were having an issue with the bears a couple of weeks ago while we were talking at the mailboxes in Castle Valley. A few days later Frank Mendonca sent a picture of a young bear that he took in his yard stating that it “has been hanging around for a couple of weeks raiding the apple trees.” He said it is unusual to see them at this time of the year.

Just up the road where Brandy Grits and her family live it is a bigger problem. She said this week that their issues began two months ago when a bear killed one of their goats. Since then, three more goats have been killed, reducing their herd from six down to two. Besides killing the goats, the bears scattered the trash, broke a tailgate off of a trailer, destroyed the fruit trees and did a lot of other damage during the nine or 10 separate incidents since the problems began.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources wildland resource division has set barrel traps and relocated one bear and killed a couple of others, according to Grits, who said that she has never seen such a problem with the bears since she lived there as a child. She has had to deal with coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions over the years, but has never had a bear problem like this. She has discouraged visitors to their home and keeps her own children in the house all day because of her fear of the bears in the area.

Division of Natural Resources Conservation Officer T.J. Robertson is not sure why the bears are coming down from the mountain because he said the mountain is in impeccable shape with a lot of food there. However, he said the smell of fresh fruit might be drawing them down and that area is sort of a “thoroughfare” for the bears. Although black bears typically look for berries and fruit, they will take down easy prey like goats and sheep. The young bears are trying to find their place in life and will also get run off the mountain by the older bears.

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During the last Castle Valley Town Council meeting, the agenda item dealing with the proposed budget increase was discussed at length. Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley said that a public hearing on the rate increase will be held at the Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 12. The council will vote on the issue during its regular town council meeting the following Thursday, Aug.14.

Jack Campbell, an audience member at the meeting, mentioned that, in addition to the need for equipment, inflation plays a large part for the need of a budget increase. He noted that there has not been a budget increase in a long time. Many Castle Valley residents seem to be supportive of the tax increase but are also reeling from sticker shock after receiving their tax notice in last week’s mail. A Salt Lake City resident who owns a home in Castle Valley said her taxes are going up $524 this year because of a combination of events that affect our tax rates.

Two officials with Emery Telecom spoke to the council. Emery Telecom is a nonprofit cooperative that serves four nearby counties and cities including Moab, Monticello and Blanding. Company officials were at the meeting by invitation, not to promote their company but to offer information about Internet technology availability and federal grants that are available. They said that there are federal grants available but to get a grant from the Community Connect Grant fund to provide a fiber network to Castle Valley would be “a long shot” because of the small amount of people being served.

If Emery Telecom were to receive such a grant, their plan would be to run fiber optic lines from Cisco to Castle Valley using existing power poles. But the expense of running lines so far for only 300 people and no major businesses would probably eliminate the community from grant consideration. They said Frontier Communications would get the first shot at a grant bid if one were approved and if Frontier didn’t want it then a reverse bid, which is opened up to other providers, would be available. The grant is to help rural providers put in service to rural areas. The monthly cost of such service to the customer would be comparable because rates are controlled by the Public Utilities Commission.

Mayor Erley relayed his experience with slow Internet service and said that he has to go to Moab to do a lot of his business or do it at home in the middle of the night because of the slow speeds. One of the problems, he said, is that a people are getting rid of their satellite dishes and streaming in movies and television programs from the Internet, which uses up a lot of bandwidth and causes problems for those who use the Internet for their personal and business use.

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