Castle Valley Comments
January 2, 2014
by Ron Drake
Jan 02, 2014 | 797 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Recent foggy nights in Castle Valley have resulted in ice crystals forming on top of the snow that blankets the area. Photo by Ron Drake
Recent foggy nights in Castle Valley have resulted in ice crystals forming on top of the snow that blankets the area. Photo by Ron Drake
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“It is that time of year again when the folks in Castle Valley start putting their refuse in our campground dumpsters,” stated Rock Smith recently. Smith, the recreation branch chief of the Moab field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), said it mostly happens when the BLM does not have camp hosts and fewer people are in the campgrounds during the winter months.

Smith wants to remind Castle Valley resident that it is illegal to put their household garbage in the BLM dumpsters and the agency will prosecute anyone caught doing so. Katie Stevens, an outdoor recreation planner with the BLM, said that there is a $125 minimum fine and the penalty could go up to $250 or $500 for offenders that are caught illegally dumping.

Several years ago, after a similar warning was issued in this column, two Castle Valley women were cited and received a $125 fine after rangers found evidence of their illegal dumping in the dumpster at Negro Bill Canyon. Apparently, most of the offenders prefer to use the dumpster at Big Bend Campground, according to the BLM officials but they all will be checked and the offenders will be cited. The two Castle Valley women said they no longer use the BLM dumpsters and found it is cheaper to take their garbage to the transfer station in Moab or pay Bob’s Sanitation to pick it up weekly at the end of their driveway in Castle Valley.

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An update from Double E Construction of Green River states that the night road closures are no longer expected for the remainder of a road construction project near Dewey Bridge. The Utah Department of Transportation commissioned the project for slope stabilization and shoulder improvement on state Route 128 at mile-marker 28, just downstream from the bridge.

Nighttime road closures went into effect Nov. 4, when the full width of the road was required as workers stabilized the edge of the road and installed guardrail at that hazardous section of the river road. Daytime work will still allow only one-way traffic. Due to the narrow road and one-way traffic, any wide trucks or other vehicles with wide loads should use an alternate route, according to the contractor. The project is scheduled to be completed Jan. 30.

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A look back on the Year 2013 indicates that it ended pretty much like it started: really cold. Various people around the valley registered temperatures of anywhere from 8 to 12 degrees below zero for much of the month last January, and the cold was responsible for many frozen pipes. In fact, Bill Rau, who kept a log of the temperatures, said it didn’t get above freezing for 35 straight days. Contrast that to last summer, when backyard thermometers registered between 105 and 111 degrees and it even got up to 102 in Castleton at the 5,830-foot level.

Thunderstorms in August filled the creeks to overflowing and knocked out the road to the upper 80 acres several times, as well as some of the roads in the lower Castle Valley. In September, I recorded rain every day for a week, which totaled 2.19 inches of moisture. Lightning was responsible for a damaged breaker box and electrical line at a home on Shafer Lane and a tree fire on state land above the town limits.

Our electrical power went down a couple of times during the year. On Oct. 3, we had a power failure that lasted for six hours, the result of a weather-related pole fire, and on Nov. 28, some of us were without electricity for 30 hours because of the wet, heavy snow. The Internet also went down shortly after that, followed by the phone service later the same day. Both were restored by 11 p.m., about 16 hours after services went down.

Talks between Grand County Emergency Medical Services and the Castle Valley Fire Department began last February regarding an emergency medical responder team in the valley. The 60-hour class began in November and is scheduled to be completed in January. An EMR team should be in place by March.

During the year the Castle Valley Town Council appointed John Groo as the water rights agent in January and accepted the resignation of Jeff Johnston as a road committee member in February. In February, the council put a moratorium on conditional use permits for auto repair shops and related businesses while public hearings were held to determine the will of the residents and the environmental impacts. The council eventually voted unanimously in favor of amending Ordinance 85-3, which prohibits home and premise occupations for auto repairs.

The annual spring cleanup in the valley was canceled and then reinstated after a meeting with the Grand County Solid Waste Special Service District board. Illegal dumping and the related excessive costs threatened the annual event.

There appeared to be no need for a primary or general election, but a filing by Oscar Duncan as a write-in candidate for mayor required a general election. Mayor Dave Erley received 53 votes and Duncan garnered 36 votes. Rio Dunton and Dakotah MacFarlane shared the annual Castle Valley scholarship.

We lost four of our residents to death during the past year. Mary Rees died Jan. 7, former resident Doug LaMunyon died April 18, Craig Hemsley passed away Aug. 22 and Patt Plastow passed away Sept. 21. They all will be missed.

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