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 was the challenge of waiting lines at over-crowded parks! In other words, 2016 was like most years! It was a crazy collage of ups and downs, tears and smiles, and heartaches and joys. Let’s take a look back at 2016 in review.

September

Out of 58 national parks, nearby Bryce Canyon was chosen as one of five to be featured in a 360 degree virtual tour for the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Park Ranger Kevin Poe guides and narrates the Bryce Canyon portion in “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.”

Kanab City Manager Joe Decker outlined measures the city will undertake to mitigate damages caused by floods initiated by torrential rains similar to those experienced this past month in the city.

Hiker rescued after five days. Jerry Mitvalski, 72, born in Czech Republic, spent over five days and nights lost in the remote wilderness between the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Monument. “I was overjoyed when the helicopter spotted me and I knew I was going to live,” said a very grateful Mitvaiski.

The new Kanab City Airport terminal is finished! Jeff Turner is manager at the airport, located at 2738 S. Hwy. 89, Kanab.

Property owners object to Church Wells solar plants. A Conditional Use Plan application was submitted to the Kane County Planning Commission by a representative from Glen Canyon Solar (GCS), a Salt Lake utility company that produces electricity through renewable energy. GCS proposes construction of seven solar power plants to be constructed on approximately 4800 acres in Kane County.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar Mountain Fire Rescue, Alton EMS, and Classic Lifeguard Helicopter responded to the North Fork area of Cedar Mountain for an ATV accident where the driver went off a 40’ cliff while riding his ATV. The rider was airlifted to the hospital. While the extent of the rider’s injuries are unknown at this time, he is expected to make a full recovery.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument celebrated its 20th anniversary on September 18, 2016. President Bill Clinton signed the proclamation that established the controversial 1.9 million acre monument in 1996.

Criminal act leads to Garkane power outage. On September 25, power was knocked out for thousands of Garkane’s southern system customers. It was determined the main transformer was shot with a high-powered rife in multiple places. Because of the extensive damage, repairs are expected to be ongoing for the next 12 months. Garkane has put out a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person/s responsible for the vandalism at the substation.

October

The proposed solar farm on Kane County’s east side has some nearby residents not feeling sunny! Church Wells resident Connie Kirk says while she’s not against solar power and supports alternative energy – its not that appealing when its planned for your own back yard! “I’m concerned about several things,” said Kirk, “the area’s scenic beauty, wildlife, dust during construction, and noise.”

The Grand to Grand Ultra 2016 was a great success! The male winner of 2016 is Florian Vieux of Switzerland. He set a blistering pace, setting a new course record. He finished the 170 miles in just under 30 hours! Female winner Emilie Lecomte, of France, amazed everyone. Had she competed last year, she would have been the overall winner. She finished in 32 hours, and was only 26 seconds behind the second place male winner. “I have a passion for running, for life, and to get to the finish line,” said Lecomte

Felony charges against Baca. Multiple felony charges have been filed against former Kane County Treasurer Georgia Baca in Sixth District Court by Special Agent Christopher Walden, of the Office of the Attorney General. Her initial court appearance is scheduled for October 20.

Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant which opened last month, is getting rave reviews.

Panguitch cowboy Lance Miller earned the title of Senior Pro Rodeo Saddle Bronc champion. Miller manages the beautiful Triple C indoor rodeo arena in Panguitch, and was instrumental in getting the Senior Rodeo Championship to hold the competition there. During the rodeo, it was announced they were also awarded the 2017 competition.

Definition of tiny homes added to Kane County Land Use Ordinance. Shannon McBride, Kane County Planning and Zoning Administrator, recommended the definition of tiny homes be added due to the increasing interest in small/tiny homes that is taking place in the county. A tiny house is a permanent structure built on a foundation that is less than 400 square foot in size, and is for a dwelling purpose.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will be conducting a public forum to discuss short-term rentals in Kanab City.

Former Kane County Commissioner and beloved area rancher Norm Carroll, of Orderville, has passed away.

November

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump shocked many political pundits by winning the 2016 Presidential Election over Democrat challenger Hilary Clinton. In Utah, Trump collected 375,006 votes to Clinton’s 222,858. Republican Mike Noel handily defeated challenger Ty Markham for State House District 73. In local races, challengers Lisa Livingston, Karen Kelly and Danny Little were elected to the Kane County School Board.

Ryan Shakespear, 42, from Cedar City, died after slipping off a cliff while hunting. It appeared he lost his footing and fell approximately 150 feet near Wahweap Wash, located east of Grosvenor Arch off the Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Kane County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue responded in a big way again! In another accident the same week, a 27 year-old Montana man received severe injuries after falling about 30 feet while rock climbing in an area southeast of Church Wells near Birthday Arch.

What was first referred to as Kanab’s K-Town Plaza project, is now the Jacob Hamblin Recreational Facility. And the terrific part is – the enormous project is nearing completion!

Kanab resident Shauna Cox was one of seven acquitted on charges of conspiring to impede federal workers from doing their jobs by force, intimidation or threat, during the 41 day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. “This is our first step in restoring our Constitution,” commented Cox of the verdict. “We have no separation of powers, and to restore our domestic tranquility, we must restore our Constitution.”

There was a supermoon in the cloudless night sky over Kanab on November 13-14. This phenomena was last seen January 26, 1948, and will not occur again until November 25, 2034! During a supermoon, the full moon appears 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal.

An incident at the Kane County Public Safety Facility ended quickly. It occurred when inmates in one of the eight jail sections who were to ‘rack in,’ which means return to their cell from a community area, didn’t. Several individuals were upset about an issue, and refused to obey the order. Fortunately, the situation was quickly abated. Deputy Ted Bernard was able to have voice contact with the unruly inmates, eventually convincing them to return to their cells.

Two Kane County ranching families were selected among 15 finalists in the state in the Utah Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement in Agriculture Award. Congratulations to the Shane and Star Stotlar, and Shay and Megan Hunt families.

Internationally known destination marketing whiz Roger Brooks gave a Power Point presentation on his experiences secret shopping in Kane County. The state has hired him to help rural Utah counties better capitalize on tourism marketing. He knows what he’s talking about and some of what he said about Kane County was painful. Brooks said his first impression of Kane County was low quality, trashy appearances, with struggling businesses ... and certainly not living up to its marketing potential. Ouch!

December

Food for good thoughts. The cheerful group at Honey’s Marketplace had a benevolent focus – gathering ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal to be delivered to the reservation elders near Navajo Mountain.

Magnet Drug Bust near Fredonia. The Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team, and an Arizona Criminal Justice Commission supported task force, conducted a search warrant on the Arizona Strip November 21 that resulted in five felony arrests, and the seizure of drug paraphernalia and multiple firearms.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes and Drug Task Force, acting on a tip from the public, conducted surveillance throughout the night on December 6, which resulted in a drug arrest, and the seizure of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, guns and cash. Domingo Monteil, 24, St. George, was arrested with 35 grams of meth, 12 grams of heroin, and marijuana.

A 61 year-old youth rehabilitation facility staff member at Turnabout Ranch in Escalante, was killed by one of his 17 year old male charges.

Kanab City to move into new digs soon. It will be located at 5 South 100 East and will be much larger, with nearly 6,000 square feet, as compared to the current office with about 1,000 square feet. The new location will also feature a large, comfortable city council chambers.

Kane County sues feds for violating law. Kane County has joined suit with counties in five western states, including a soil and water conservation district against the Department of Interior for violating federal law for adopting planning rules for the BLM that will change the way public lands are managed. The suit said the new resource planning rules will severely impair the county’s ability to work on future planning and management issues to the detriment of their citizens.