January

A missing 14 year old girl was found deceased below Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Initial investigation indicates an accidental fall. 

Best Friends seeks zoning change for a housing development. The project they’re proposing to build would address some of the housing shortages for Best Friends employees. The proposal is for 24 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom ‘Zip Kit’ homes that would be constructed on property just west of the new Kanab Creek Crossing into the Ranchos.

Best Friends is in the process of pursuing a zoning change from agricultural to residential multi-family housing. 

Commissioners finally give Recorder Ver Jean Caruso more space! This had been an issue for many years without being addressed. Caruso came the previous year to address the commissioners regarding the need for additional secure space to store documents and maps, some which go back to the early days of the county. 

“Ver Jean has been elected eight times. Whatever she says, listen to her,” said Dennis Mosdell of Kanab. “Give them the space they need. If Ver Jean says she needs it, she needs it.”  

The Commission voted unanimously in favor of the Recorder’s Office secure space request. It will have a secure vault, in the entire space formerly occupied by the Volunteer Center. 

Newly elected county officials got sworn into office on January 3, 2019. Thanks to all who have chosen to serve – Commissioner Andy Gant, Attorney Rob Van Dyke, Sheriff Tracy Glover, Clerk/Auditor Karla Johnson, Assessor Ryan Maddux and Commissioner Brent Chamberlain. Of specific note were two new Kane County Commissioners who were elected – Kanab residents Brent Chamberlain and Andy Gant. They will join Commission Chairman Lamont Smith.

A standing room only crowd of concerned citizens attended the Kanab City Planning Commission meeting on January 15, principally to express their concerns regarding the request from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to change a zoning designation to allow them to build 45 homes on a 30 acre parcel in the Kanab Creek Ranchos. Bart Battista, Director of Canyon Development at Best Friends, answered questions regarding Best Friends plans to build the homes. 

After 150 minutes of discussion and debate and with no KPC member making a motion to accept or deny the zone change request,  a motion was made by Colson and seconded by Clarkson to table the application pending the results of two studies to be conducted by Best Friends. The first is a traffic study concerning the traffic impact of all the new residents, the second being a feasibility and cost study to extend sewer lines to the homes. 

Government shutdown ended...for at least three weeks! With the enactment of the continuing resolution, different national parks and federal agency employees returned to work on Monday, January 28, after more than a month of government shutdown. The longest shutdown in history was the result of a stand-off between President Donald Trump and Republican and Democrat congressional members over the funding of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Concerning the unprecedented nature of the federal shut-down, a single private sector Utah company, Alsco Inc., is stepping up to keep the national parks open at least to President’s Day weekend. Alsco, a Utah-based linen and uniform rental company, donated $100,000 to underwrite expanded visitor and custodial services at Zion, Bryce and Arches National Parks. That will help by expanding on the skeleton services that currently exist.  The investment is hoped to help create a welcoming and pristine experience for national park visitors. 

February

The Travel Channel named a small town in each state on their list of 50 of the “Most Charming Small Towns in America.” Kanab was named the “Most Charming Small Town in Utah.” This wasn’t the first time Kanab made the cut, however. Last year, Kanab was named the “Most Charming Small Town in Utah” by Reader’s Digest.

Judge Robert Krombeen administered the oath of office to Serena Cutchen at an investiture ceremony. She will be the new Fredonia Justice Court Judge.

Kanab Planning Commission vote ends in tie on Best Friends housing project. This meeting was held at the Kanab Library to better accommodate many concerned/interested citizens. Best Friends project manager Bart Battista addressed the requests made by the Kanab Planning Commission at the January 15 meeting concerning traffic studies and sewer line connection. 

There seems to be no disagreement that affordable housing is a serious issue in Kanab, but the concern for many residents is whether existing zones should be changed to facilitate multiple housing projects, and how those zoning changes affect homeowners already living in those areas. 

After a tie vote, the issue will not be brought back to the Kanab Planning Commission, but now go to the Kanab City Council to decide for or against the zone change request.

Cody Stubbs, 138 pound wrestler from Kanab High School, won the Utah State Wrestling Title! Stubbs said that winning the title was beyond thrilling. He was also named the meet’s outstanding wrestler. According to Stubbs, the sport of wrestling has much life value. “I think it teaches kids mental toughness and dedication. I think if you can succeed in wrestling, you can succeed in life.”

The Department of Interior announced that the Bureau of Land Management has approved two historic mining projects in Utah. The $12.3 million Alton Coal Tract coal lease in Kane County, and two coal lease modification proposals for the SUFCO Mine in Sevier County.

“The war on coal is over, and the Trump Administration is committed to facilitiating much needed job creation and energy production,” said Assistant Secretary Joe Balash. “In coal towns across this country, the American dream is alive and well.”

Recently elected Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain, who has a long background in mining, said, “the recently announced coal lease agreement between Alton Coal and the BLM is good news for the economy of Kane County. While Alton Coal paid over $12,000,000 for the lease to the federal government, the economic boost to our local economy will over time be even greater. The expansion is expected to lead to the creation of over 100 new mine jobs and a number of indirect jobs, and will extend the life of the mine. In a county that relies so heavily on tourism and the associated jobs that tend to be seasonal and not high paying, it will be good to have these additional jobs in the area that will pay well and are not seasonal.”

Fracking company wants to buy water from Kanab City...18,000 gallons per minute! Chad Staheli of Southern Red Sands LLC told the Kanab City Council that his company is planning to mine, process and ship fracking sand from their claim on SITLA land near Red Knoll. (Location would be north Highway 89 on the sands, and then off about a mile or so heading to the west on a gravel road.)

The 15 acre plant will require 18,000 gallons of water/minute to process the sand. Staheli described the water needed as ‘an obscene amount,’ but reported that the company will be spending a lot of extra money to build a “closed loop system,’ which will reclaim 95-96 percent of the water. Southern Red Sands hopes to purchase that water from Kanab City. 

“The benefit to the city is: no infrastructure costs, no wells, no piping. We are not leasing the rights, not buying them. We are simply plugging in as a service customer.”

SRS will be drilling a well on-site and using Kanab’s surplus water rights for a period of time. “For the life of the mine...the life of the industry,” Staheli said. 

After the presentation, Mayor Robert Houston said that the city is in negotiations with SRS, he emphasized that two things must happen before we get serious. First, the city must find an expert to make sure the water is actually available and second, the city negotiates an acceptable contract.”

Cedar Mountain miracle – gas explosion sends four to hospital. Cedar Mountain Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Adam Scott thinks the February 23 propane explosion in Duck Creek at the Falcon’s Nest Cabins could’ve been tragic. But he said while the situation was frightening and sent four to the hospital, the fact they’ve all been treated and released is a wonderful outcome. 

The situation happened when a young family was renting the cabin for the winter on a monthly lease. The father, pregnant mother and 15 month old child had been out for the afternoon. They had left the heat on when they went out. 

Upon coming home, the place was cold and the propane was off. They asked the facility manager to come and re-light the pilot light.

“He got it lit,” said Scott. “Then when he was turning it over to automatic, the explosion occurred.”

March

Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway closes due to road damage from storms. The first switchback on the Zion-Mt. Carmel road was severely undercut after recent storms. Zion Canyon has received 10.12 inches of rain in the last five months, compared to 2.77 inches in the same period last year. 

The 20th annual Kanab Women’s Forum gets underway this week. Keynote speaker will be businesswoman and Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller of the Larry H. Miller group.

Dixie Brunner, editor of the Southern Utah News, received the 2019 Womanhood Award. “She exemplifies courage as a wife, mother, journalist and friend. She stands up for what she believes in and remains fair in her coverage of local, state and nationwide events.”

Kanab City Planning Commission passes Best Friends building project. Best Friends, after a tie vote previously could have taken their zone change request to the Kanab City Council, but chose instead to go back to the KPC and ask for a slight variance to the original zone change request. 

Southern Red Sands project. A new business endeavor on 640 acres of SITLA land north of Kanab near Red Knoll promises to be a sandy venture. Because ‘sand’ is the business focus and apparently, it’s really good sand. Newly-elected Kane County Commissioner and company manager Andy Gant said, “We can operate for years on a 10 acre parcel. For the first five to seven years, we will only probably use 20 to 30 acres.”

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search and rescue operation for two lost persons  east of the Hutch Mountain area. One person was located alive (a 35 year-old female), and the was other deceased, 38 year-old Ryan Long of Leupp, Arizona.

April

Kanab City Council passes Best Friends zone change request. Over 150 people crowded the Kanab City Library for the meeting, where the hot topic was once again the possible final approval of the zoning change for the Best Friends housing development in the north Ranchos. 

Mayor Houston explained how he believed in property rights, but that no one person has more rights than the other. He recommended four conditions to the city council on which the zone change approval should rest: 

1) All lots to be hooked up to the city sewer system.

2) If development is not started within 12 months, zone reverts back to RA.

3) A minor collector road will be established for the property north to Powell Drive.

4) All lots on the west side of the parcel will be zoned RR-1 (Rural Residential one acre) with the remainder equally divided between R-1-8 (8,000 square foot lots) and R-1-15 (15,000 square foot lots).

After much deliberation, the council voted four to one (with Councilman Michael East being the sole no vote) to approve the change, with only two conditions. Those conditions were the lots all be connected to the city sewer and those adjacent to the homes on Hamblin and Kanab Creek Drives be R-1-20, with the remainder of the parcel an equal mixture of R-1-8 and R-1-15.

Deputy’s stolen truck recovered. Kane County Sheriff Deputy Brent Smith returned home after church and noticed his pickup was missing. He called in a report to the Sheriff’s Office. It was only a short time later that Big Water Marshal Russ Johnson stopped the truck near Big Water. Johnson and Deputy Gray arrested Brandon Blass, 44, of Salt Lake. 

A tour bus collided with an SUV east of Kanab on Highway 89. Two people in the SUV were transported by helicopter to Dixie Regional Medical Center, while another passenger was taken to Kane County Hospital and later airlifted. No passengers on the bus were seriously injured. 

The Southern Utah News was awarded the coveted General Excellence Award at the Utah Press Association’s Better Newspaper Awards. They won 12 first place, 10 second and three third place awards in the Group 1 division. 

Photographer Ken Koontz’s shot of Toroweap won him the cover of the 2019 Southern Utah Vacation Guide

Fredonia High School grad Cameron Aston is the 2019 Valedictorian at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. He will graduate with a major in mechanical engineering and a CAD/CAM minor. 

An 80 year old woman from Auburn, Wash., was killed in Kanab when struck by a turning truck as she was crossing state route 89A. She was crossing the street with her husband, who managed to jump out of the path of the turning truck.