Castle Valley CommentsJan. 17, 2013
by Ron Drake
Jan 17, 2013 | 724 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My thoughts have been with Mary Rees this week after learning of her untimely death last Monday evening, Jan. 7, at her home in Castle Valley. She was discovered by friends who were sent to check on her after telephone calls went unanswered.

Mary’s daughter, Hilary, of Tucson, tried unsuccessfully to contact her mom by phone for several days and began to worry about her. So she contacted a family friend, Bill Hedden, to check on her. When Bill arrived he found the front door open and Mary lying just inside on the floor at the bottom of stairs, apparently having been there for several days. The Grand County Sheriff’s Office was notified and began an investigation into her death.

Speculation on the scene was that she fell on the stairs, but an autopsy performed by the Utah State Medical Examiner’s office in Salt Lake City revealed that she suffered a pulmonary embolism, which led to her death.

“That explained a lot,” said ex-husband Tom Rees of Moab. “She was not the type to trip or fall.”

Tom and Mary divorced years ago but maintained a close relationship over the years.

A memorial service, which was held at Pack Creek Ranch Saturday, Jan. 12, drew a lot of people who were supportive and offered many positive thoughts, which helped the family with closure, according to Tom. Mary leaves behind her two children, Tait (Koel) of Boulder, Colo., and Hilary, a college student from Tucson. Tait and Koel are expecting their first child very soon.

Tom and Mary were well established when we moved here in April 1978, and Mary taught us how to prune our fruit trees and many other gardening tips shortly after we arrived, while Tom helped me build trusses for our new home. The only picture of Mary that I have was one of her and Tom standing in front of their newly completed home. It was taken in March 1978. The house received several additions over the years and is a lovely home.

Mary could be seen many days parked along the Castleton Road as she walked the red hills at the base of the mesas close to her home and also collected seeds for her successful native plant nursery here in the valley. We will miss her quiet and pleasing demeanor, while the community loses another Castle Valley modern-day pioneer.

* * *

“Foundation drilling on [state Route] 128 will require one-way traffic with signals in two locations during the week of Jan. 14 to the 18,” according to the news release from Flatiron Constructors, the contractor of the Lions Park Transit Hub and Colorado River Pathway Project. Flatiron’s Project Information Coordinator Ken Davis said the areas of one-way traffic will continue 24 hours a day as needed. The work on the pedestrian tunnel and transit hub will also continue through the month.

* * *

Six members of the Castle Valley Fire Department attended the annual Winter Fire School at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George last Friday and Saturday. The event is hosted by the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy at Utah Valley University in Orem. Nearly 60 classes are available to fire departments across the state, with top-notch instructors from all over the country assembled to teach the classes.

The local firefighters who attended the school included Lesley Craig, Jazmine Duncan, Greg Halliday, Chris Michaud, Mitch Stock, and Robert Russell. The classes offer all aspects of structural and wildland firefighting, wilderness medicine, fire apparatus and pump maintenance, arson investigation, and experiencing a live flashover fire, among many other classes.

* * *

Some residents were organizing an effort to bring television signals to Castle Valley 30 years ago this week. One resident approached the county commissioners about getting a television translator that the county owned and was previously used by the residents of Thompson Springs. The commissioners agreed to let Castle Valley have the equipment if a special service district could be formed to manage it.

At the same time, Moab’s United Cable office showed an interest in servicing the area with television signals by setting up four channels and maintaining the equipment for a yearly fee. If that possibility didn’t materialize, the organizers planned to pursue the possibility of setting the county equipment on Porcupine Rim above Porcupine Ranch, where power is close by. The translator would pick up signals from Cedar Ridge near Green River, Utah, then re-broadcast into the valley. The translator handled only one channel. Either way, a special service district would have had to be set up to fund the project.

Neither of those options happened and residents eventually were able to take advantage of technology that allowed individual homes to purchase their own television dish receivers.


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