2016 was a year of surprises-some good, some bad. Kane County and surrounding areas had a banner year economically. But then there was that flooding thing! New businesses were started, and tourists visited in record numbers. But then there were the challenges of waiting lines at over-crowded parks!

In other words, it was like most years! 2016 was a collage of ups and downs, tears and smiles, heartaches and joys. Let’s take a look back at 2016 in review.

January

Jared Hess will be the featured keynote speaker for the 2016 “Raising Kane” business summit. People are excited to hear from the well-known director of “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre.”

New Kanab City Council members were sworn into office. Mayor Robert Houston and City Manager Joe Decker were on hand to congratulate new council members Jeff Yates and Michael East.

A new monument honoring pioneer Jonathan Heaton was dedicated at the Heaton Family reunion in Moccasin.

Byard Kershaw was selected (of three candidates) to fill the city council seat recently vacated by Kent Burggraaf.

The Raising Kane Business Summit held on January 15 at Stampin’ Up! was full of good news! Kanab City Mayor Robert Houston said the city would see some wonderful benefits of a great upcoming tourism season. “Our largest revenue source is sales tax, $1.3 million last year.” There were 74 building permits issued in 2015 with 21 being new homes!

Former Kane County Sheriff Lamont Smith was sworn in to fill a vacant Kane County Commission seat. Smith received the majority of the votes cast by the 47 Republican delegates. Other GOP candidates were Tim Esplin, Bruce Nelson Harris, Wade Heaton, Michael Petullo and Charlie Saba.

The vacancy was left by Commissioner Doug Heaton’s departure at the end of 2015.

Protesters arrested and one killed January 26 in Oregon occupation. According to the press release, the FBI and Oregon State Police had proceeded with an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. “One individual who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased. We will not be releasing any information about that person pending identification by the medical examiner’s office.”

Others arrested in the action were; Ammon Bundy, Emmet, Idaho; Ryan Bundy, Bunkerville, Nevada; Brian Cavalier, Bunkerville, NV; Shawna Cox, Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Payne, Anaconda, Montana.

Utah singer Alex Boye rocks out to a packed house in Kanab! Boye, who has a sky-rocketing career, has made several records including ‘Africanized’, and has had his own show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He performed Friday and Saturday night, with a Saturday matinee as well.

Kanab was fortunate to win Boye’s performance, (due to his popularity), in a Facebook contest concerning small towns.

Local resident LaVoy Finicum has been identified as the man shot during the conflict with police in Oregon. He was one of the protesters who had occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

February

Kanab businessman perishes in fire. Logan S. Brown, 37, Kanab, perished in a fire that occurred at 510 North 100 West. Emergency responders arrived on scene to find the structure (shop) fully engulfed. Due to the fire’s progression, firefighters were unable to perform any search until the fire was contained. The cause of the accidental fire has been determined to be a wood stove that was too close to combustible materials that had been charred from a previous incident.

“This is the first structure fire fatality we’ve had since records began being kept,” said Kanab Fire Chief Joe Decker. “This is devastating on the family and also difficult for the firefighters who were on scene.”

Volunteers break ground on new mountain bike trail in Kanab. With direction provided by the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Trail Care Crew and the American Conservation Experience Crew, volunteers broke ground on the first section of single track trail above Jacob Hamblin Park.

LaVoy Finicum was laid to rest. The funeral was attended by approximately 1000 mourners. Finicum, whose desire for freedom from what he and others believed was a tyrannical stranglehold on the rights of Americans by the federal government concerning public lands issues, compelled him and other armed individuals to occupy a structure on the Malhauer National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oregon on January 2, 2016. Finicum, who operated a ranch in Arizona near the Utah state line, was shot and killed by law enforcement on January 26, a day before his 55th birthday. His wife Jeanette and 11 children, he leaves behind.

Kane County Treasurer Georgia Baca is under investigation for possible misappropriation and fraudulent transfer of public funds. The Kane County Commission has requested the State Auditor’s Office to conduct a full audit, and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office has asked the Attorney General to conduct a criminal investigation. Both the audit and the criminal investigation will be conducted over the next several weeks and possibly months.

With a perfect weather weekend Kanab’s Second Annual Balloons and Tunes Roundup went off without a hitch. Thirty-nine balloons (and their crews), were in attendance.

March

The Kanab City Council awarded the airport terminal project to RBI Contracting of Kanab.

Kanab residents and long-time skate track supporters Cheryl Brown and Karen Kelly, along with State Representative Mike Noel, made a presentation to the Economic Development Appropriations Committee in Salt Lake during the legislative session.

They were there to request funds in support of the K-Town Plaza project. The $200,000 they received will go a long way toward building the teen-friendly outdoor recreation center.

Utah State Auditor releases findings on Baca investigation. The State Auditor’s office said preliminary findings were that there were 46 bank transfers totaling $34,000 to personal accounts held by Baca. Kane County Treasurer Baca submitted a letter of resignation March 14 before the Kane County Commission.

The Kane County Hospital Board recently approved a tele-medicine agreement with Intermountain Healthcare concerning stroke response.

The Kane County School District’s Big Water School, a Title One school, was recently designated as a Turnaround School by the Utah State Office of Education.

April

Kane County resident Orval Palmer became only the sixth person in the U.S. to receive the John C, Holm Award. The rare honor was in recognition for exemplary reporting of meteorological observations from Alton. The award said Palmer’s observations were a valuable asset to the nation’s climate and weather program.

The Southern Utah News won the Utah Press Association’s General Excellence Award at the Better Newspaper Contest in Salt Lake. While receiving numerous awards through the years, 2015 brought the SUN the top general excellence honor for the first time in 24 years, naming it the best in its circulation category in the state!

The SUN received eight first place awards, five seconds and five thirds, for its writing, advertising, layout and photography. Of the 23 categories the SUN entered in the contest, they placed in the top three in 18.

The Kane County Drug Task Force made a dent in local illegal drug use when they arrested 10 Fredonia and Kanab residents in a week-long drug investigation All told, the arrests totaled 16 felony charges, involving amphetamine distribution, and scores of other charges, including resisting arrest.

Kevin Blomquist took the oath of office as the newly-appointed Kane County Treasurer. He will complete the term of Georgia Baca through the end of 2016. Baca resigned last month after an investigation discovered inappropriate handling of county bank deposits.

Many local citizens, motel and hotel owners, restaurants establishments, grocery stores, tourism-related shops and services, as well as off-road tour operators, are against the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to change how the iconic Wave lottery is offered to the public. Local opponents charge the proposal would devastate the local economy.