2009 held a kaleidoscope of events for northern Arizona and southern Utah. Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president, took office, and the recession that began in the second quarter of 2009 deepened. Residents here, as in the entire country, had to reduce spending and hopefully retain jobs. But as with most years, there were many bright spots and happy occasions to celebrate and be thankful for.

January

Kanab resident Jerry Hutchings published a book entitled, “The City Within...Where Crisis and Opportunity Collide.” It was loosely-based on experiences he had when his young son Josh was tragically buried by a collapse of the Kanab Creek bank while playing with friends. The community responded with help to recover his body and support for his family.

Snow removal became another casualty of Kane County’s road fight with the federal government over jurisdiction. The gist of the conflict is how Kane County and the BLM have interpreted a May 2008 District Court decision by Judge Tena Campbell.

“There will be no maintenance on roads they say they have jurisdiction on,” explained Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw. “If they can’t identify their jurisdiction, why should we maintain them at taxpayers’ expense?”

Best Friends Animal Society CEO Paul Berry will leave the helm of the organization under mutual agreement between he and the Board of Directors. Berry had been involved with Best Friends since 2003, and had served as the CEO of the non-profit organization since 2006.

Dustin and Harmony Cox, of Alton, received the Utah Farm Bureau ‘Excellence in Agriculture’ award at their annual convention. The Coxes were recognized for their community leadership and successful hay brokerage and cattle business.

Kanab City Council places a moratorium on impact fees. The council voted to suspend impact fees for six months, and then review the situation to determine if fees should be reinstated at their previous level. The action came after learning there had only been one building permit issued after July 17 of last year, after having issued 20 for stick-built and 16 for manufactured homes the first half of the year.

Democrat Barack Obama made history when sworn into office last week as the first black president of the United States. In a largely conservative state and in the even more conservative Kane County, local residents had mixed emotions. Party affiliation and not race, appeared to be the basis for the local skepticism.

February

Roads are deteriorating on BLM lands. The maintenance standoff is a result of Kane County and the BLM’s interpretation of Judge Tina Campbell’s ruling concerning RS2477 issues.

The BLM believes the maintenance memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kane County for maintenance dating to the 1970s remains in effect, and Kane County still has the authority to maintain the roads.

The commission believes it is unfair to ask Kane County to maintain roads they have no jurisdiction over. They believe the issue comes down to road ownership.

Garkane Energy (who provides power to Kanab), was at a city council meeting to tell of a needed enhancement for distribution of power to the City of Kanab. Serious need was first discussed, and later best transmission line avenues.

In Fredonia, Use Tax was discussed at the town council meeting. The main issue was concerning what recourse a resident has if they feel they have been unjustifiably taxed. Town manager Tom Corrigan responded that residents could approach the Taxation Appeals Board with their complaints. The town would not be allowed to contact the Appeals Board on behalf or against the resident.

Kane Schools Foundation for Students celebrated their fifth anniversary. The non-profit organization has raised over $120,000 to nurture educational excellence in the seven Kane County public schools.

After three grueling days of a preliminary hearing, it all comes down to Sixth District Court Judge Wallace Lee’s written decision in the long-awaited case of the State of Utah against Rex Smart on whether to bind him over for trial. The case against the former BLM field office manager, who was charged more than a year ago on multiple felony sexual abuse charges against a minor, has been delayed by discovery, and prosecution and defense motions that have taken months for resolution.

March

Emergency crews from Fredonia and Kanab Fire Departments worked together to extinguish flames of a chimney fire at the Blue Sage Motel in Fredonia. The fire, which began in the back of the building, quickly moved through the layers to the front causing extensive damage.

Small Town Idol, held at CR Diner in Fredonia, has been a great success. Great competition and local support were signatures of the event featuring area talent. Brian Hilding of Fredonia beat out Brady Franklin of Glendale in a close race to win the title of Small Town Idol.

The Kane County Board of Education approved capital expenditures in the district totaling $385,920.80. Approved projects covered all seven district schools, as well as the district office.

The highly popular American Cowboy magazine has issued its top 20 places to live in the west, and Kanab is considered one of the best. What many of us already knew about Kanab’s charm, beauty and healthy living, has also earned it national recognition.

The Kanab City Council granted a Class D (beer) liquor license, pending a police background check and state approval, to Luo’s Cafe, a Chinese restaurant now occupying the old KC BBQ building near Ace Hardware in Kanab.

Sixth District Court Judge Wallace Lee has ruled there is sufficient evidence to bind Rex Smart over for trial on felony charges of sexual abuse of a child. Smart’s arraignment is set for April 1.

TV anchorman Dick Nourse retired a little over a year ago, after 43 years reporting the news. Nourse is now working with Dixie State College on a film called “Return to Little Hollywood,” a documentary about the film industry’s history in Kane County.

April

A founder and pillar of Best Friends Animal Society, Ernst Paul Eckhoff, 72, Kanab, died March 24 in a one-car rollover while traveling four miles west of SR-89 on Hancock Road. “One of the remarkable things about Paul is how well he was respected by the community,” said Gregory Castle, another Best Friends founder.

Major area employer Stampin’Up! told workers here last week that they should be readying themselves for the possibility of mid-April layoffs.

Kane County Hospital employees chose to cut work hours and eliminate overtime to avoid layoffs. The hospital board also voted for no cost of living or pay increases. Employees also had their health premiums increased.

Phil Keoghan, host of “The Amazing Race” TV show, was in Kanab last Friday morning on his cross country bicycle race to raise awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis. Keoghan also wants to demonstrate to people the benefits of cycling for health and a greener America.

By mutual agreement between state prosecutor Kane County Deputy Attorney William Bernard and Defense Attorney Greg Sauders, the arraignment for Rex Smart was rescheduled for April 16 in Panguitch, before Judge Bagley.

Another court ruling has gone against Kane and Garfield counties and the Water Conservancy District concerning the legal jurisdiction of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Management Plan, regarding some county-claimed rights. U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit Court in Denver, before Judges Henry, Briscoe and Lucero, said the counties are not entitled to challenge the Management Plan on the basis of the general claims they set forth in this particular complaint. The judges also chastised the continued litigation brought before the court, and encouraged everyone to basically figure out a way to get along.

The final four Junior Small Town Idol contestants put on a great show at CR Diner, with Savannah Andrews of Fredonia being voted as the winner.

Rex Smart pleaded not guilty April 16 in Panguitch before Judge Marvin Bagley in Sixth District Court to all felony sex abuse charges brought against him.

Three out-of-state couples rented a 20-foot speedboat and were touring Lake Powell when their recreational trip quickly turned into tragedy. While boating in Padre Bay around 5 p.m., strong winds began flooding the vessel and it quickly began to sink. Jim and Heather Brady were found near the shore of Padre Butte, taken to Page Hospital, treated for hypothermia and later released. Two women’s bodies were later recovered. Katherine Prescott, St. Petersburg, FL, was recovered near the shoreline on Saturday and Mary Anne Taranto of Prescott Valley, AZ was recovered on Sunday morning. Terry Taranto’s body was found on Monday, but Robert Prescott was still missing.

A 15-year old boy from northern Utah became separated from his hiking party in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. However, the story had a happy ending when the teen, who had a health condition, hiked Dry Fork Gulch for approximately a quarter mile and then climbed out of the wash. He was able to meet up with some campers who hiked out an additional six miles to make a 911 call to Kane County Dispatch.

Paria resident Dale Fausett has some unwelcome house guests. Killer bees have invaded the eaves of his home! He and the state of Utah are trying to figure out the best way to encourage their departure.