The Pace Hill Road was especially treacherous last Saturday night as people struggled to get up the hill into Castle Valley after turning off state Route 128. When Pat and I showed up at about 8:30 p.m. there were 12 cars parked along the road at the bottom of the hill, while another half-dozen cars were abandoned at the parking area at the bottom of the hill. A few others were strewn along the road as they had traveled as far as they could before losing traction and had to park where they stopped. After a while, a snow plow from the Grand County Road Department showed up to remove the snow and sand the road, allowing those still waiting to make it up the hill and to their homes.
Pat and I were returning home that night from family functions in the Vernal and Roosevelt area and had to deal with snow and snow-packed roads the whole way home. The farther south we traveled, the worse the weather and roads got. We made it safely out of the Uintah Basin, over Indian Canyon and south from Crescent Junction on U.S. 191 – where only the rumble strips kept me on the road – only to be stopped at Pace Hill. We decided that we should have stayed another night in Roosevelt, except that their 22 below zero nights weren’t a good option either.
Early Sunday morning, road manager Greg Halliday went to the town road shed to fire up the grader and begin clearing the valley roads, but an electrical problem wouldn’t allow the machine to start. A mechanic was summoned from Grand Junction Monday and the roads got graded Tuesday. It takes Halliday a full day behind the controls of the grader to clear all of the roads in the town.
Former mayor Bruce Keeler and former resident Karen Nelson recently received a handicap accessibility award during a banquet in Salt Lake City. The award, known as the Community Justice Award was presented by the Disability Law Center after reviewing small community polling places and public buildings around the state. Keeler said the group was impressed with what the town did to the community center when it was constructed nearly nine years ago.
Before the construction of the town hall building, the town bought an office trailer to be used as the town hall but the building wasn’t Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Keeler said that a remodel of the building with a ramp would have cost twice as much as the trailer cost. The town council at the time decided to scrap the office trailer and apply for a loan from the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) to build a building. When the CIB approved a combination grant/loan, Keeler and council member Nelson required a lot of additions to make the new building more accessible. “We got recognized for it, the town should be really pleased with this,” Keeler said.
During the ceremony, Keeler and Nelson received an engraved gavel in recognition for their efforts in making the town building more accessible to people with disabilities. “Many small towns do half of what is necessary or nothing at all and we did a bunch of stuff to make that happen,” Keeler said.
During the regular Castle Valley Town Council meeting last month, the council approved a non-routine conditional use permit for lot 306. Greg Nunn agreed to comply with conditions required by the Castle Valley Planning and Land Use Commission for establishing a small jerky and meat processing facility.
The council also approved the 2014 town council regular meeting schedule. The council will continue to meet on the third Wednesday of each month, with the exception of January. That meeting was moved from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22, the fourth Wednesday.
Mayor Dave Erley discussed with the council the town’s capitol needs while planning for the future. He told them that he is “finding it daunting trying to keep costs down at the same time doing our responsibilities.” He said that he would rather put $30,000 into the town’s own equipment rather than hiring a contractor to clean Placer Creek, as an example of the town’s equipment needs. He said that in looking at his tax bill, the town gets only 9 percent of the resident’s tax bill as compared to Moab, as an example. He asked the council to be thinking about it so they can have a healthy discussion about it in the future.