The restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to ease up in Utah and around the country as people are beginning to return to the new normal life.
Some contend that we are moving too fast while others say its not soon enough. Either way, Pat and I went to church at our little Castle Valley Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the first time since early March when all of the church’s buildings around the world were shuttered and all activities were canceled.
The church issued pretty strict guidelines to follow in an effort to keep everyone safe at our meetings this week. Masks were strongly encouraged and they are available at the door for people to use. Song books were nowhere to be found so people had to bring their own hymnals or read them from a device or maybe just hum the song if they didn’t know the words. Singing through a mask sort of created a muffled effect, which in my case is probably a good thing especially if maintaining a sacred atmosphere is desired.
The service was to be no more than 45 minutes long and social distancing was encouraged. We were also encouraged to not loiter around after the service or at least go outside to talk if you just had to reconnect with someone you haven’t seen for several months, and everything was to be sanitized after the meeting.
Several days ago the church announced that the semi-annual general conference of the church, which will be held in October, will be similar to the one last April. The event will be held in a small chapel with only the speakers present and prerecorded music. The church is trying to be responsible and do its part to help contain the spread of the virus by not allowing people from all over the world to congregate in the massive conference center in downtown Salt Lake City.
The only other public building in Castle Valley will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Mayor Jazmine Duncan said that they are “playing it by ear” right now as to when the town building will reopen. She said that all of the town business is getting done in a timely manner without the building open. It will be a council decision but she thinks they will wait until the danger goes to “green” before they open the building up because they won’t have money in the budget to do the extra sanitizing that it would take to be safe.
All of the meetings related to the town government have been held electronically. They have received no complaints and she feels that a lot of the residents wouldn’t want to be there anyway. Many of the residents of Castle Valley are in the high-risk age category and are taking extra precautions.
Castle Valley Librarian Jenny Haraden said this week that the library, which operates in the town hall, is working on plans to offer curbside service sometime before the end of June. She said a system will be worked out to order online, receive notification of the arrival of the books, and then set up a time to receive them at the library. An official notification will be announced when the service begins.
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The valley received over an inch of rain during a storm that hit last Friday and Saturday and another .07 Monday evening. On Saturday we saw rain, hail and high winds during the storm but there was no major damage or injuries reported. Several of the upper side roads received some damage from flooding, and the flood water and mud crossed Castle Valley Drive in a couple of locations but didn’t seem to impact travel. The high wind dropped tree limbs everywhere and dislodged a solar panel from the town’s electrical solar system. The panel received some damage to the frame.
Some of our valley residents were without electricity for a period of time in late May, which was caused by high winds. Dave Eskelsen, a spokesman from Rocky Mountain Power, stated that two separate incidents caused the problems. At 7:30 p.m. May 29 wind caused a line to come loose resulting in the power outage to 210 customers in Castle Valley. The service was restored at 2:55 a.m. Saturday morning.
Later that morning at 4 a.m. trees knocked out a primary distribution line, which caused the lights to go out for 570 customers. The power from that incident was restored at 6:20 a.m.