Castle Dale City Discusses Economic Woes

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By Sara Price

Castle Dale City Council Member Dixie Thompson stated that one of the concerns at Meet the Candidates Night before the election was economic development in the city. She then introduced Emery County Economic Development Director Mike McCandless during the city’s most recent coucil meeting.

“The biggest problem in the county is the war on coal,” McCandless said. “No new coal fired power plants can be built, and the older ones that don’t meet air quality standards will have to shut down or convert to natural gas. Coal companies will have to export coal out of the country to have a market.

“The industries that support coal production are having problems. They will need to diversify to survive. The opportunities are supporting other energy extractions industries, including oil production, pipelines and refining. This development depends on transportation including railways and freeways, and engineering and surveying services.”

“Castle Dale doesn’t have an industrial business park to attract these industries,” McCandless continued. “The zoning for an industrial area needs to be in place with utilities for fast occupation. It needs to be private property for a quick sale also. The city needs to decide on a specific kind of business they want with a set location, and know the available skill set.

“They also need to provide tax incentives and capital improvement for new development. This development is geared towards industry, not retail. It is believed that a good industrial base will drive up retail sales. Tourism is a good opportunity, but there is inadequate lodging in the city. Emery County doesn’t have an inventory of commercial building ready to occupy and has lost opportunities as a result.”

“The city wants to work closer with the county economic development and assign a council member to do so,” said acting Mayor Brad Giles. “We will discuss this with the new mayor.”

Citizen Duane Gilbert asked the city council for help with the flooding from Cottonwood Creek. He wants the city to clear out the streambed from the dip to a quarter mile up-stream. The trees and sandbars in that area have caused flooding on his property. According to Gilbert, it used to be cleaned out every year, but hasn’t been for some time. He has had flooding in two of the last three years. The county has the equipment and could do it with the city’s approval.

“Get with Kyle Ekker and the county commission,” Thompson said in response to Gilbert. “It is mostly county property. The county does know about the problem.”

“Go to the county commission meeting every month and contact Kyle and also Jacob Sharp,” added Council member Julie Johansen. “There may be a problem with the Army Corp of Engineers since it is a streambed.”

Tyler Jeffs, representing Emery County Community Foundation (ECCF), asked Castle Dale to lease the property where the old sheriff’s office was located for $1 a year for 50 years. The parcel is 4.2 acres, and they want to develop it with a 20-unit motel. The rooms could have possible kitchenettes and be priced at $80-90 per night. They have $100,000 available to start the project. The plan is to sell the business when it becomes a viable enterprise. The city would then sell the property to the ECCF for market price. The agreement will include a termination clause for the city if the development is not working within five years. If the project is successful, the project could possibly expand on the adjacent land.

Giles stated that former Mayor Neal Peacock was in favor of this agreement. The council voted unanimously to move forward with the agreement.

City Recorder Lael White, reported about providing an online utility bill payment option.

“[City Treasurer] Jackie [Collard] and I are in favor of acquiring the ability for online and debit card payments for utility bills,” she stated. “Jackie has asked the people making walk-in payments, and many of them are in favor of it. The cost to us would be about $72 per month. We or the residents would be able to set up automatic payments every month, or pay one month at a time. Orangeville does this and have said that it has decreased delinquencies.”

“Keep looking into this,” Giles said. “Find out how much Wells Fargo charges for this, and how it will work. Will there be a link on our website for the residents to go to?”

Citizen James Nelsen expressed concerns over weeds on city property adjacent to his land. He has built a new fence on his property south of the cemetery and wants to protect it and the city’s liability by preventing weeds on the city’s property west of his fence. He is concerned about fire damaging the fence. If the city would provide a sprinkler system on its side of the fence, he would mow the grass. He will also spray if the city would provide the weed killer.

“We already have plans to level out the ground on that property, and will look into ways of keeping the weeds down,” Giles said.

Castle Dale City Fire Chief Ignacio Arrien addressed the council concerning attending inspection school.

“I have looked into this and decided to not attend because of the expense and time involved,” he said. “There is an abbreviated online course that I can take next July. I do need some knowledge of this because of the fire code for building; however, there is a requirement that when someone submits a building plan, they must already have the fire codes on the plans. I have told the building inspector of this. If a plan comes in without the code, I will refer them to the building inspector.”

Council members voiced their desires for the coming year during their special reports along with the departments of maintenance, fire department, and planning and zoning.

“I would like a sign on Oil Dome Road both coming from and going to the desert that says Castle Dale 1 mile all services,” said council member Joel Dorsch. “The state won’t allow us to put it on the highway. I will get a proposal ready for next month.”

Mayor Protem Brad Giles stated, “I propose that we make a trade for 40 acres of city land by the stock corrals for 40 acres of BLM land between the canal and the sheriff’s office,” stated Giles.

Jeremy Jewkes will get the proposal ready.

“We have protections in place for liability in the flood plain,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Kerry Lake. “There are no dwelling structures on the flood plain.”

Thompson asked if zoning laws are beneficial for attracting new industries to the area.

“There are a lot of areas zoned for industrial,” responded Lake.

Jason Kava was approved for fire department membership. Arrien reported that he also applied for a grant and was awarded $2,000, which will be used to purchase wildfire uniforms.

The mayor’s report included a question from the mayor whether staff could have their paychecks before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“There is the possibility of overtime for snow removal that weekend,” Arrien said. “I am on call, but will get the other paycards to the office Wednesday morning.”

“We need to an item on the agenda for next year’s holidays and dates for city council meetings,” Giles stated.

“The youth city council has its first activity next week,” Thompson said. “In December we will have an activity to answer letters to Santa gathered by the library. On Beautification, how can we encourage weed abatement?”

“If we pick projects and do them, homeowners will often be inspired to do more on their own,” responded Dorsch. “We can work with churches etc. to get some projects done.”

Councilwoman Julie Johansen reported, “Someone asked me to find out if we are receiving fees from participants for the events at the indoor arena,” said Johansen.

Arrien responded, “Yes we are.”

“The post office has told us that after January we will need to print a barcode on all bulk mailing to get the reduced rate,” added White. “There will be a meeting in December and we will need to purchase software to print the barcode on the mailings.”

“The drain on 200 West has hard water deposits,” Giles stated. “I will contact the CVSSD to take care of that. I want the office staff to send a bill to a contractor for a cemetery issue, and will get with them to let them know what needs to be done. I want the maintenance crew to go around the city and clean the storm drains of leaves.”

Brad Giles filled in for Mayor Peacock for this meeting as Mayor Pro tem and the final election results were opened and approved. Danny Van Wagoner was appointed as the new city mayor.

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