Castle Valley Comments – Aug. 1, 2019

Thirty-five years ago this week, this column reported on a fire in Castle Valley which was reported to Castle Valley Fire Chief John McGann at his home. Children who lived near the end of Shafer Lane spotted a fire in a storage shed on the campus of the Castle Valley Institute (now the DayStar Adventist Academy) and called the telephone operator to report the fire. The operator, who apparently thought it was a prank call, either hung up on the oldest daughter who made the call or maybe put her on hold, but either way, the kids decided to go to Plan B. They ran a quarter-mile down the road to Chief McGann’s home to report the fire personally. The fire was quickly extinguished as a result of the children’s quick action.

The children were honored by the fire department a few days later and were presented with awards and badges and got to ride in a fire engine and put out a “fire” for their good deed. McGann explained to them that the quickest way to report a fire was to call the sheriff’s dispatch office and they would notify the fire department through pagers, which are worn by fire department members. Little red telephone stickers with the sheriff’s dispatch phone number were available from the fire department to report emergencies at that time since the 9-1-1 system had not yet been instituted in Grand County.

Some of the Castle Valley children play in the water, which was provided by an engine from the Castle Valley Fire Department. The children meet every Friday morning for a story hour at the Castle Valley Library. The spray of water provided relief from the hot summer day. Courtesy photo

Last week, 35 years after the fire incident, the fire department was again involved with children. This time it was to spray water on the lawn behind the library for the kids to run through on that hot July day. Librarian Jenny Haraden regularly presents a weekly story hour at the library and she read a story about fire departments before ushering the kids outside to a waiting fire engine with a water cannon mounted on the bumper. Fireman Greg Halliday was operating the nozzle controls from the cab of the truck and covered the lawn with a fine fog spray much to the delight of most of the kids. Some of the more timid kids got a little individual attention. Halliday, a big kid himself, also managed to spray some of the parents who were huddled behind a tree, but Haraden, who set the example for the kids, got totally soaked.

It was with some mixed emotions when Pat and I said our good-byes to our grandson Braxten Pierce last Sunday evening in Moab as he sets out on a new chapter of his life. Braxten has been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will be serving in the African countries of Botswana and Namibia for the next 24 months. He will first go to a missionary training center in South Africa for several weeks before going to his assigned areas. It is with some relief to know that the Republic of Botswana enjoys Africa’s most stable democratic government, and the Republic of Namibia also looks pretty safe and seems to rely on tourism to partially support the economy. Maybe we can send them some of our tourists to help boost their economy. Anyway, having him going half a world away is a little worrisome but I’m sure he will adapt to their customs and he will come to enjoy and embrace the people of those countries.

When his sister, Alexa and her husband Jacob, return to school in Logan later this month we won’t have any grandchildren close by to hang out with. Pat and I have followed them for years when they participated in various activities and sporting events around the state and we will miss that. But what seems weird is that when Alexa leaves for college, Brian and Rhondelle will be empty-nesters, which makes Pat and me feel really old.

Besides having large crops of apricots and other fruit this year, there is another crop maturing that is not so desirable. Apparently there are large batches of goat heads along the sides of the roads in the valley. I used to call them puncture vines years ago as a kid in California, and if I wasn’t careful they would flatten a bicycle tire very quickly. There have been reports of the evil plant on Amber Lane and Bailey Lane but they are probably everywhere. People are asked to shovel them up along their streets and put them in a garbage sack so as not to spread the thorns.