Castle Valley Comments: Jan. 9, 2019

Ron Drake

The average temperature for December was in line with our available average compilation, according to our official weather observer, Bob Russell. He said our December average high was 39.7 degrees compared with the 40.9 historical average. Our average low was 20.4 degrees compared with 22.6. He said our frigid last three days of single digits in December pulled us down a little. It was a different story with the snow. “We struggled to get a white Christmas with just a trace of snow but our 6.5 inches on the 28th brought our total to 7.6 inches, well above our historical 4.1 inches,” he observed.

“Our average max temperature for January is 40.2 degrees and the minimum is 20.1. In 2019 our average high temperature was above 32 degrees after Jan. 6. We should expect 3.8 inches of snow for the month although in 2019 we had 8.3 inches for the month with some snow on the ground for 22 days.”


A lot happened as we look back over the last half of 2019. In June, Joe Auer was recuperating after a near-death experience after a BASE-jumping accident. He jumped from a 500-foot cliff down Kane Creek north of Moab and his parachute opened facing the cliff. It took Grand County Search and Rescue 3.5 hours to get him down to a waiting helicopter where he was flown to Grand Junction.

Hanna Pearl Owen was the recipient of the annual $2,500 Castle Valley scholarship. She is pursuing a biology program at Vassar College. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican candidate for Utah governor, made a scheduled appearance in Castle Valley in June. It was part of his visit to all 248 incorporated cities and towns in Utah.

In July the Castle Valley Fire Department completed a Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan for the Wildland/Urban Interface. Fire Commissioner Leta Vaughn was the force behind the updated five-year plan. A public hearing was held to approve the plan. The fire department also hosted the Second Annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast and parade.

The valley and state, for that manner, experienced a light fire season. The local fire department responded to a half-dozen small fires and some of those were illegal controlled burns. They also responded to several calls to assist Grand County Search and Rescue and assisted with a dozen ambulance calls in the area. The firemen were also called out to help find an elderly gentleman who wandered away from home late one afternoon.

The first of many reports involving bear activity in the valley started in July when Roni Hemsley spotted one running beside her car late one evening in July. They were found sleeping in trees, rummaging in beehives, and generally causing havoc all summer and into late November in the areas including Castleton and Dewey.

In August this column featured Kathy Russel, who was part of the 400,000 young people who descended on the Aquarian Exposition 50 years ago. It was commonly known as the Woodstock Music Festival and went down in history as three days of living in peace and harmony and rock ‘n roll.

In September the town council passed a resolution that canceled the municipal election. Only two people filed for the two open council seats. Tory Hill filed for re-election and Pamela Gibson was the only candidate for the other seat held by Alice Drogin who chose to not run for another term.

In October Castle Valley resident Hollan Moore was deployed to the Middle East.

He is an Air Force reservist with the 67th Aerial Port Squadron, which is attached to the 419th Fighter Wing of Hill Air Force Base. The annual gourd festival went off without a hitch and the weather cooperated until the very end when the wind kicked up. Michael Ford Dunton made a temporary donation of a metal 1-ton sculpture to the town.

In November Emily Svendson found her small herd of goats after they didn’t return home after following her on a horse ride. She was relieved to find them the following day across town in a canyon.

In December the community hosted a variety of Christmas activities. The community potluck, the DayStar Academy musical and dinner, and a chamber music performance under the direction of Debbie Holland were a few of the events that were held. The annual Christmas Eve brunch, hosted by Cris Coffey, finished off the celebrations.

The valley lost three residents and former residents to death during the year. David Hotz died in August followed by Floyd Stoughton in September and former resident Marjory Stucki who passed away in November.