Monday, July 6, 2020

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Moab, UT

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    Town Council nixes use of gravel pit

    Castle Valley Comments

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    The Castle Valley Town Council met electronically by conference call May 20 to discuss a variety of items on the agenda.

    The first item was a public hearing by the Municipal Building Authority (MBA). This is a board of directors consisting of the town council members who oversee the town buildings that were financed by the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB). In this case the building authority authorized the yearly payment of $7,125 for the CIB loan payment for the town hall building.

    Pamela Gibson and Tory Hill were also sworn in as members of the board and Hill was selected to continue as treasurer for the board.

    A public hearing was also held to amend the 2019-20 budget where money that wasn’t spent in certain areas of a category was shifted to other areas within a category. A public hearing is required to shift funds around within categories. The council also approved the tentative budget for the fiscal year 2020-21. Mayor Jazmine Duncan said the town did an awesome job of cutting expenses and living well within the town’s means and put a substantial amount back into the general funds. Another public hearing will be held at the June meeting to approve the 2020-21 budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

    an image of gravel
    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    The town clerk said that she has not received any letters of interest for the annual $2,500 scholarship. Town Clerk Jocelyn Buck posted another announcement for a graduating Castle Valley high school senior to submit a letter of interest with proof of acceptance to a college or trade school. The town has offered this annual scholarship since 1991 and an anonymous former Castle Valley resident has generously furnished it.

    The grant has helped many of our children toward their first year of college, many that have gone on to great things. Our community used to have an abundance of high school seniors, but it seems that the demographics of the valley have changed over the years and have shifted to seniors of a different age. If we have a high school senior who is interested or has questions about the scholarship, they can contact the town clerk at 435-259-9828.

    The town used to be able to obtain gravel for the roads from a gravel pit at Ida Gulch, which is located a quarter-mile east of the Castle Valley turn-off on Highway 128. Last year the town learned that the pit would no longer be available to the town. Since then the town has been looking for a source of gravel for the roads.

    While perusing a USGS map, Greg Halliday, the former road manager, found a gravel pit listed on the map that is located a quarter-mile east of the reservoir known as the Quakie Shake Pond. The body of water got its name because of a shingle factory that was located near the reservoir that made, according to a tag found on my shingles, “taper sawn aspen shake shingles” out of quaking aspen trees. The gravel pit has a history of use and Halliday thinks it might have been used to gravel the Loop Road at some point in its history.

    After previously viewing the site, the road committee recommended using the gravel pit at their last meeting. Mayor Duncan told the council that she also recommended using the pit but Council Member Tory Hill countered by saying that the pit is not gravel but “junk” with mostly cobble rocks in it, and that they won’t get road base out of the pit.

    She also pointed out the dust that the pit would cause, the danger to the aquifer, and also mentioned that the tranquility of the reservoir would be impacted. “You’ll just end up with a big-ass hole,” she stated.

    Council Member Harry Holland, in an effort to appease the road crew and committee, suggested saying “no” to the pit and vote to buy as much commercial gravel as possible. Council Member Bob O’Brien suggested putting $5,000 toward gravel to which Hill answered that “if there is money there we’ll do it.” In the end, Hill motioned to say “no” to the gravel pit and the motion passed 4-1.

    A discussion ensued about possibly not having enough money because of the financial downturn caused by the pandemic to offer town employees with an annual 2% cost of living raise. Holland calculated that only amounts to about $1,800, and by not paying the raise might affect the rest of their careers. He also talked about the message that it would send to employees. As an alternative, they talked about paying 4% the following year when the town might be in a more financially stable situation.

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