Castle Valley Comments
July 5, 2018

A potentially dangerous fire broke out Monday afternoon, July 2 at 395 Castle Valley Drive. The fire department was paged out at 12:41 pm to a brush fire at the corner of Castle Valley Drive and Castle Creek Lane and they responded with four engines and nine firefighters within minutes.

The fire started when Annie Goodenough was operating a riding mower that became lodged on a rock and as she tried to free the mower she noticed smoke and flames. In the process of trying to free the mower, she injured her back but managed to return to her house to call 9-1-1, which activated the fire department. The Sheriff’s dispatch office received other calls as well. The firefighters had the fire under control quickly and because of the extreme fire danger, other agencies heard the page and were responding including three engines from the Bureau of Land Management, one engine from the State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) and the Grand County fire warden.

It was determined by the FFSL investigator that a spark from the mower striking the rock probably ignited the dry grass beneath the mower, which sparked the fire. There were no structures in immediate danger but the riding mower was a total loss.

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The town council and planning and land use commission are grappling with a decision regarding definitions of dwellings, kitchens, temporary dwelling and other definitions to change the wording of Ordinance 85-3. At the public hearing, which was held June 20, there was a lot of testimony regarding the interpretation and language of having primary dwellings and non-complying accessory dwellings for aged parents and the decommissioning of those dwellings when the need no longer exists.

There was much debate 20 years ago this week when a public hearing was held to determine whether to accept or reject an amendment to allow an accessory dwelling on a platted five-acre lot. Dorr Hatch was proposing an amendment, which would allow him to set a modular home permanently on his lot for a home for his aging parents. The public hearing drew a large crowd of people at the firehouse who were either for or against the proposed amendment and all who testified had valid comments. Some time later the planning commission came up with a plan to allow a second dwelling on a lot to be used for aged parents but would have to be decommissioned when the need no longer existed. At the time Hatch agreed to demolish the first home when it was no longer needed but the council voted at the June 20 meeting last month to let the building remain but decommission the kitchen so it couldn’t be used as a permanent residence.

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Thirty-five years ago this week this column reported that State Road 128 was still limiting traffic because of the road damage, which was caused by the heavy snow the previous winter. There were several locations along the route where the outside edge of the road was continuing to slough off due to the high water in the Colorado River. The trouble spots were just west of the Dewey Bridge and “around the eight-mile marker and near the White Ranch (Red Cliffs Lodge) where cracking of the pavement is evident and portions of the blacktop have sloughed off into the river,” according to the column. “(Utah Department of Transportation Foreman) McKinney explained that he plans to build up the outside edge of those areas with rill as soon as the river goes down and stabilizes. In the meantime he is closing it to all but local traffic in an effort to minimize damage to the road and avoid a serious accident.”

That same column reported on the eighth annual Castle Valley Fourth of July Picnic, which was sponsored by the Castle Valley LDS Church and was held in Willow Basin. A short program was presented followed by a potluck style picnic, and volleyball, horseshoes and baseball were some of the sporting events. That tradition carried on for many more years before it eventually lapsed into extinction except for a reunion gathering 15 years ago. This year the tradition is being continued for another year and a special invitation is extended to former Castle Valley residents. The event will take place at Willow Basin Saturday morning, July 7. The lunch meal will be furnished by the church and games will be available but it is anticipated that most will just want to sit around and visit especially since we are all a lot older than when the first picnic was held in 1976. Signs will be posted that will lead to the picnic area.

ByBy Ron Drake