2008 was a year for southern Utah and northern Arizona, much like what most every part of the country experienced- a tumultuous time! It featured a moderate housing market and economy for the first part of the year, but when the big banks and auto industries were failing, and the Federal government (meaning us), were called to bail them out, most everyone began to get nervous. Subsequent lay-off and reduction of expenditures, demonstrated that people understood the brevity of a recession .The general election while historically electing our first black president, offered some hope for change, but most everyone understood, it was time to knuckle down, cut back on out-of-control spending, and get back to the basics of putting food on the table and a roof over their heads.

These were the top stories in 2008-

May

Rene C. Berkhoudt has been selected as the new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Manager in offices headquartered in Kanab.

“I’m really honored and happy they selected me,” said Berkhoudt. “The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a very special place.”

A traffic stop by UHP Troopers Russ Whitaker and Nick Berrie, resulted in the seizure of $79,326 in suspected drug money.

Conflicting stories from the two car occupants after they were caught going 71 in a 60 mph zone, cued officers that not everything might be kosher. A search led to money hidden inside the door, and the arrest meant that Martin Arvizu and passenger Manurel Encinas, of Phoenix, AZ., would get to experience southern Utah hospitality in the Kane County jail.

The annual Greyhound Gathering was a howling success. The 2008 event was met with bright sunny weather. Over 220 hounds and humans enjoyed the beauty of Kanab.

Race car team owner Roger Penske sent his private jet to Kanab to pick up a special Indianapolis 500 week guest. Penske of Indianapolis 500 fame, is honoring Kanab resident Jim Travers, who has made Penske and countless others millions of dollars through race car innovations.

One dead and one critically injured in car/motorcycle accident. Gilbert Adams, 67, and Mary Ellen Adams, 62, Avondale, AZ were traveling southbound on SR 89 on a 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan. Gilbert apparently didn’t see a vehicle stopped to turn toward Best Friends, failed to stop and rear-ended the turning vehicle.

Gilbert was dead at the scene, and his wife Mary Ellen was flown to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas in critical condition.

Famed Koffee Klatcher and roving Southern Utah News reporter Doug Duncan, turned 90! We are so glad he is here, and wish him many more years of happiness.

June

Kanab resident Sue Markham is spearheading a community garden.

“The property has been donated for this project and for this year there are 23 shares of water available for irrigation,” said Markham. The property is at 1100 South behind Kanab Country Auto.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will have its first public scoping meeting for the Lake Powell Pipeline project June 10 in Kanab at the Kanab Middle School.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department and the Utah Department of Health are reporting the first identification of West Nile Virus in Utah for 2008. A dead crow, found in Kane County tested positive at a private vet lab.

Harry Barber has been named the new BLM Kanab Field Office manager. Barber worked in the Kanab Field Office from 1997-1998. He then transferred and currently worked at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument as the assistant manager.  

Kane County Travel Director Ted Hallisey was placed on paid administrative leave for refusing to attend a June 9 closed session meeting concerning his job performance. “I was denied the opportunity to have my attorney present,” said Hallisey.

The Duck Creek Community Church. Several denominations and many people helped the congregation and Reverend Steve Altig realize the dream of building the Church.

“Everyone pitched in. We got people to pray for us,” exclaimed Altig. “The whole time God’s hand has been in this.”

Thong rejection replaces bikini ban. In a unanimous roll call resolution amendment to the Cowboy Waterin’ Hole rules, the Kanab City Council voted to change controversial pool rules. The original rules that included only modest dress, prohibiting bikinis or Speedo swimwear, made quite a splash. Those rules will be eliminated and wording changed to “no thong swimwear.”

Fire restrictions implemented in Kane County. Due to high fire danger in southern Utah, Color Country Interagency Fire Management officials implemented fire restrictions on all public lands and unincorporated state and private lands east of State highway 89 in Garfield and Kane County.

The current Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee recommends a 200-bed jail to Kane County Commissioners to address the county’s ongoing jail dilemma.

“This is the most efficient, economical and financially sound solution to the challenge that exists,” said Safety Ad Hoc Chairman Byard Kershaw, in a letter presented to the Commission.

Mayor Kim Lawson cut the ribbon to officially open the New Kanab swimming pool, the Cowboy Waterin’ Hole on July 4th.

A tour bus with 55 passengers, most of them teens, rolled onto its top and caught fire in Red Canyon, about eight miles east on Highway 12 in Garfield County. Miraculously, there were no fatalities and no life-threatening injuries.

The Kane County Commission has fired Office of Tourism Director Ted Hallisey.

Hallisey and attorney Adam Ford felt the dismissal was politically motivated due to Hallisey’s announced candidacy for District 73 state representative against Kanab resident and incumbent Mike Noel. 

26 family members and friends got a little more adventure than they bargained for, when the caravan of vehicles in which they were traveling became stranded overnight on a remote Kane County road.

A tour guide had told the group that he knew a “short cut” for their planned travel between Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon. They got lost and stuck 2 1/2 miles northeast of Tibbett Canyon, approximately 90 miles from Kanab.

They fortunately were all safe, thanks to rescue and assistance from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

Dog Town Assistant Manager John Garcia and Manager Michelle Besmehn are the humans featured on the National Geographic special to air on the Society’s work with Vick’s dogs. But both trainers will tell you, “it’s the dogs that are the real stars.”

An archeological find north of the Kanab port of entry is believed to be that of an early Pueblo culture related to the Virgin Anasazi that occupied the location A.D. 800-1000.

The Kanab swimming pool was closed briefly. “Due to severe harassment the pool management and staff have quit and the pool will be closed for the season.”

The sign was posted on the front door of the new pool, after staff got tired of dealing with some angry and demanding pool users. Kanab City is scrambling to address the staffing problem.