2015 was an exciting year for Kane County. It was one of real growth, with Best Friends Animal Society expanding more into the community, two large new motels being built, new pharmacy and soda fountain opened, two new restaurants added, and more building permits issued than ever before! Kane County’s Visitor Center and Volunteer Centers have made enormous strides in not only attracting visitors, but organizing great events for both travelers and local residents alike!

But as with most community changes, there have been differences of opinion and bumps along the way! However, southern Utah’s future looks bright. This is the final segment of a three part series recapping events of the past 12 months.

September

The prolonged lawsuit the city has had with companies involved with the construction of the swimming pool was settled. Rocky Mountain Construction and Landmark Aquatics, the principal defendants have agreed to pay the city $130,000, with RMC agreeing to aide in repairing the pool. 

The golf course issue remains on the respirator. The mayor reported a conversation with a Mr. Martella, who stated he formerly owned 90 percent interest in the golf course properties, but had sold it to another party. The mayor anticipates the person holding the majority interest in the golf course itself will make a decision soon on its fate. 

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman was found guilty concerning the May 10, 2014, protest of the Recapture Canyon closure.

“I guess you could say I’m ‘barn again,’” said artist Larry Nielson with a chuckle, of his barn board paintings. The amazing Ephraim artist was in Kanab for Western Legends to show and sell his unique brand of art. The images and creations are mesmerizing, often using the natural aspects of the wood piece to accentuate his painting. 

Kane County Office of Tourism hosted Kevin Cullen, the star of Motorhead Traveler, for several days of fun in Kane County. His crew came and filmed a special to air on September 11. The episode features Coral Pink Sand Dunes, fishing on Lake Powell, Peek-a-boo slot canyon, photo tips from Terry Alderman, and fun at the Little Hollywood Cowboy Dinner Theater. 

Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Region has temporarily closed access to the river raft launch near Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, due to an estimated 500,000 pound rock slab that is beginning to slide from the canyon wall and into the river below. 

Crazy, torrential rains hit the Hildale/Colorado City area on September 14. Twelve people died in the flash flood, with one still missing. This community of 7,700 people received the brunt of the incredible storm. The first flood came raging down the canyon, and numerous people went to watch the amazing display of Mother Nature. And then a second storm surge caught people off guard. Their vehicles were swamped and they tried to get out. A full size van and an SUV were inundated, and the two vehicles were carried along with the flood. Occupants and others trying to help those in the vehicles were swept away.  

Seven individuals canyoneering in Zion’s Keyhole Canyon perished when flash flooding inundated the narrow slot canyon in which they were hiking. Six California residents and one Nevada resident were found dead.

Hot Mamas Pizza and Brew was a total loss when fire consumed the building on September 9. The owners plan on rebuilding.

Grand to Grand Ultra Marathon organizers Colin and Tess Geddes pose with participants before the start of 2015 race. The GtoG has grown in participation and media exposure every year since its inception.

October

Three local heroes, Cloyd Chamberlain, Neil Crosby and Julian Fox were recently honored for their service to our nation. They were recipients of an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to view the war memorials that have been erected in honor of their and countless others’ sacrifice and service on behalf of our free nation. 

A rare Blood Moon eclipse occurred on September 27. 

A funnel cloud was spotted dropping out of the sky east of Kanab. No damage was reported.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a plane crash near the Cliff Dwellers Airport in Marble Canyon, Arizona. A resident reported hearing a plane engine before hearing a loud thud. A Vancouver, British Columbia, couple was attempting to land. Upon approach to the landing strip, they experienced a wind gust, which caused their experimental aircraft to lose altitude, coming into contact with the sandy terrain prior to reaching the runway. The couple only had minor injuries, and did not require medical assistance. 

Shooting began September 28 in Kanab on the feature film, Links of Life. It is a full-length movie on how two people connect while trying to get a Wave lottery permit. While they fail in getting the permit, their Utah adventure brings them together in a wonderful plot.

Kane County won the top award in the marketing competition at the annual Utah Tourism Conference held in Bryce Canyon this year. Ken Gotzenberg and Camille Johnson accepted the award for “Best Overall Idea,” for the new “Magically Unspoiled” branding and campaign, which included the attention-grabbing tagline, “Abra Kanabra!”

Cliff jumping accident at Lake Powell, man missing in 150 feet of water. William Burke, 29, of Jackson, Wyoming, was reportedly attempting a cliff jump of about 90 feet. Witnesses said that after entering the water, he did not resurface. The search is ongoing.

The iconic Kanab landmark Denny’s Wigwam has changed hands, only the third time in its 45-year history! Original owners Denny and Kathy Judd pose in front of the retail store/restaurant/bar with recent owners Pat and Victor Sandanato, and John Schoppmann representing the newest owners, Forever Resorts. The restaurant and saloon (formally Calvin T’s at the back of Denny’s), will be a year-round venue, and will be called the Iron Horse Restaurant and Saloon. 

“I’m really excited,” said Schoppmann, Executive Vice President of Forever Resorts, of the latest Kanab acquisition. “We feel like there is a lot of opportunity here. We’re excited to be a part of the Grand Circle.”

Red Rocktoberfest 2015 was a huge success! Locals and visitors were out in force on Saturday night in Kanab, shopping and enjoying great sales and commercial businesses, visiting with each other as well as visitors, eating fabulous food, and enjoying great music and ambiance! Congratulations to the organizers and volunteers for a fabulous event!

The first pharmacy in town began in 1916 as a soda fountain. Kanab United Drug celebrated its grand opening on 176 W. Center, not only as a full service pharmacy, but opening its own soda fountain as well! Kanab resident Kelly and David Shakespeare are the proud new owners.

November

Winners in the November Kanab City Council elections were council incumbent Joe. B. Wright, and political newcomers Jeff Yates and Michael East. In other election news, the race for four seats on the Kane County Hospital Board went to Karen Alvey, Sherry Noel, Chad Szymanski and Ed Browning. 

Long-time Pipe Spring National Monument Superintendent John Hiscock has recently retired. He was given a wonderful send-off and retirement party by his former staff at Pipe Spring and the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.

The Kanab Cowboys knocked off #2 ranked Duchesne 16-14, to earn a spot in the 1A state football championship game. 

Built in 1957 to support those working on the Glen Canyon Dam, St. Christopher Catholic Church has stood the test of time. St. Christopher Catholic Church is undergoing a major remodeling project that should be completed by Christmas. The Church has 30-40 regular members, and an average of 20-25 Sunday tourists. Mass and services are handled by to St. George priests, who each come over once a month. 

Best Friends Animal Society bought the Four Seasons Motel so their staff, consultants and visitors, will have a place to stay in Kanab. “In the short term, we want to make units available to our staff due to the shortage of affordable housing in Kanab,” said Eric Rayvid, Best Friends Director of Public Relations, and said the sale closing took place last week. “We need it for bringing in those involved with Best Friends. It will provide much-needed short term housing.”

The Kanab Cowboys football team finished as the runner-up in the 1A state championship game, falling to Diamond Ranch 23-20 in a hard fought ballgame. 

Two local artists, Cyrus Mejia and Gary Kalpakoff, will open the Raven’s Heart Gallery. The gallery will feature art with heart, expressing kindness, compassion and respect for all life. The new gallery is located at 57 West Center Street in Kanab. 

December

The Lake Powell Pipeline Preliminary Licensing Proposal was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 1, 2015. 

Fodor’s Travel. a leading name in travel recommendations for almost 80 years, named Utah the Top Destination to visit in its fifth annual Fodor’s Go list which highlights 25 can’t miss spots around the world. This is the first time Fodor’s has selected a top destination for the year, rather than a roundup of equally worthy locales. 

Comfort Suites, located at 150 West Center Street in Kanab, has opened and welcomes people to come and take a look around. The brand new motel was constructed on the old Treasure Trail Motel site. All 82 rooms are suites, featuring sofa sleepers, refrigerators and microwaves. Kanab native Jessie Riddle is the general manager.

The annual Christmas Light Parade reached new heights, as it was the biggest and best yet. After the parade, magical lanterns were launched in a fundraiser for Sub-for-Santa.

Plane crash kills Hurricane couple. Shawn and Bonnie Ackerman died when their single engine plane crashed north of Sand Hollow Reservoir. The couple owned the Zion Fly Inn, a hotel-style house for pilots at the Sky Ranch Airpark.

Kanab City Council must pick a replacement for Kent Burggraaf. City council member Burggraaf took a job with the Utah State Attorney General’s Office, leaving a vacancy on the city council.

Kanab girls win Cowgirl Classic. Kanab beat up on Gunnison 48-27 in the first game of the tournament, then nipped San Juan 39-35, to claim the championship.

Kane County Commissioner Doug Heaton stepped down to go on an LDS mission with his wife. Heaton’s term has one year left, expiring on December 31, 2016. The Kane County Republican Party is responsible for picking his replacement.

Kanab Live Nativity draws large crowd. The community turned out to witness the Live Nativity, held this year to a packed house at the Kanab High School football field. Mariah Wheeler directed the production, as she has done for the last five years.

Juniper Ridge Restaurant opens to rave reviews. Kurt Jacobson, along with partners Don and Boyd Corry, opened Juniper Ridge in the former Traveler’s Inn. The interior and exterior features log and framing accents, designed by Jacobson. The Corry brothers have operated Kanab Custom Meats for many years, taking over the business their father Lamar started.

Tickets to two concerts by famous artist Alex Boye were sold out immediately, so he added an afternoon matinee. The dates for the concerts are January 22 at 7 p.m., and January 23 at 2 and 7 p.m.

Eight Cowboys named All-State. Seniors Alex Foster, Brandon Southwick and Danion Barnson, along with juniors Derrik Fox and Morgan Barton, were named to the 1-A football first team. Named to the second team were juniors Layne Anderson, Monte Glover and Kason Whitesides.