Dave Erley completed his final council meeting as Castle Valley mayor on Dec. 13 and was awarded a plaque during the meeting that stated “Mayor Dave Erley (2010 – 2017) with deep appreciation for your tireless work on behalf of our favorite valley, especially its water. The Town of Castle Valley.” The plaque was crafted of wood from a walnut tree that was cut down by the late Earl Hotz on the old ranch house property years ago. Bill Hedden made it. The mayor was also given a tee shirt from former mayor Bruce Keeler that read “I survived eight years as Castle Valley mayor.” The shirt was presented to Keeler 12 years ago at the conclusion of his eight-year term and he decided to pass it down to Erley who said he plans to do the same for the next mayor that serves eight years. Erley was also honored with a potluck gathering later in the month.
Incoming mayor Jazmine Duncan received the oath of office during a small informal ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at the Castle Valley Town Hall. The new council member, Harry Holland and the incumbent council member, Robert O’Brien received their oaths of office at different times later in the week. In September, the town issued a notice of cancellation of the municipal general election for Castle Valley because the number of candidates did not exceed the number of open at-large offices for which the candidates filed. No one else filed for the council seats by the end of the deadline in June and there were no write-in candidates by the deadline in September so there was no reason to hold an election.
The town council held a public hearing in January regarding a new ordinance establishing procedures for governing, amending, conditioning, revoking and enforcing town water use agreements and permits. Six people spoke against the proposed ordinance stating government over-reach and bureaucratic interests at the expense of town citizens. Town water agent John Groo said there were some valid points made that he intended to address but there were also considerable misunderstandings and distortions about what was being proposed and he wanted to address them as well. The issue was discussed again in March when several changes were made and the new ordinance was finally approved in April.
During a council meeting in May, an announcement was made about the collaborative effort between the town and the Castle Valley Fire Department to drill a well and install a large-volume pump at the Castle Valley Cemetery. The town’s road department and the fire department both need a convenient and permanent location to fill water tanks for fire and road use. The cemetery district was supportive of the project, as they will also have use of the water for a few trees and simple landscaping. The well will be built this year to see if it will support the large water demand.
The town council also awarded the annual anonymous $2,500 scholarship to Alexa Pierce in June, approved survey work at all of the street dead-end cul-de-sacs to clearly identify their location for eventual road work, and approve changes to ordinance 85-3, the town’s land use law.
The Castle Valley emergency responders were called out to 25 incident in the Castle Valley area during the year. Thirteen of those calls were for medical calls and 12 were for fire related incidents. In January, the fire department put their new wildland fire engine into service after nearly a year of work by the department members and, like the town, two fire district commissioners received the oath of office without the need of an election because no others filed for the seats.
Rocky Mountain Power worked the past year to upgrade the electrical system to make the service more reliable to the Castle Valley area. In February, district manager Dan Vink told the community that the utility invested $1.5 million on upgrades since 2013 and planned to spend another $1 million in 2017 on the most troublesome 13-mile stretch from Pack Creek to the Porcupine Rim. Vink said the electrical lines serve 670 customers on the 125-mile line, which is the longest line in their system. In October the power company replaced major power poles and electrical lines at Pack Creek and Porcupine Rim to the valley floor. To do this they had to shut the power off and switched to generator power to supply electricity to the 370 customers in Castle Valley for two 12-hour days. The rest of the line went without power during those two days. There were still several power outages during the year.
Two of our long-time residents died during the year. They were David Silverman and Jay Kratz.