Castle Valley Comments
August 28, 2014
by Ron Drake
Aug 28, 2014 | 1464 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is back to school time for the students of DayStar Adventist Academy of Castle Valley and there have been a few changes in the staff this year, according to school principal Alexa Hernandez. Classes began last Monday, Aug. 18, with 25 students enrolled and a few more expected to arrive during the week. They hail from many parts of the Untied States such as New York state in one case, and from several countries and regions, including Chili and South America.

Longtime school president and farm manager Jerry Harris and his wife, Wendy, along with their two girls Heidi and Kayla, recently moved to Dowagiac, Michigan, where Jerry will be the assistant professor for the agronomic sciences program at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. They were residents of Castle Valley for the past 18 years.

The new school president is Scott Learned, who moved here with his wife, Linda, last spring. He is a graduate of Southern Adventist University with a degree in biology and secondary education, and taught four years at Columbia Academy in Columbia, South Carolina, before opening a cabinet shop 24 years ago. At DayStar Academy his goal is to provide students with the opportunity to learn the skill of a trade and business principles, so they will be able, upon completion, to start their own enterprise. They will focus initially on agriculture, auto mechanics and woodworking.

The new farm manager is Shawn Speidel who, along with his wife, Chelsea, moved here from Colorado Springs, Colorado. They have two young children, Malachi and Sarah. Speidel has a degree in horticulture science from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and owns and operates Soil Fertility Service. As a member of the Adventist Agricultural Association, he is a strong believer in chemical free, veganic gardening, which he says is considered a step above organic gardening.


After the heavy rains last Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 19, several of our roads were impacted from the resulting runoff. A drainage that runs from Keogh Lane heavily impacted all of the road crossings of lower Pope, Miller, Shafer and Buchanan lanes. The road to the Upper 80 section of the River Ranchos was washed out where Placer Creek crosses and two residents on Taylor Lane were also cut off by the rushing waters. Castle Valley Road Manager Jason Matz, road commissioner Greg Halliday and employee Mark Roth were out early Wednesday morning working on the most immediate problems, and work still continues to fix the other problem areas. Matz and Roth have been working on the roads and the culverts since the storm and reported last Tuesday that all of the plugged culverts are clear and ready for the next storm.

Another storm hit the area last Friday and Saturday, leaving 1.15 inches of moisture in my rain gauge, but the steady rain didn’t seem to cause any further damage to the roads. As a result of the recent weather the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has terminated the fire restriction order that was initiated last month. The order rescinding the restrictions stated that: “Recent precipitation, moderate fire indices, and non-critical fuels status have resulted in reduced fire hazard on Bureau of Land Management administered lands in southeastern Utah.” The termination includes all BLM Canyon Country Fire Zone lands within Emery, Carbon, Grand, and San Juan Counties.


Thirty years ago this week, similar to this current column, “Castle Valley Comments” reported about the fall classes at the Castle Valley Institute — now DayStar Academy— which had 40 students enrolled. The school’s new principal, Dick Forrester, said that year’s students came from as far away as Japan, Korea, Africa and Mexico, as well a from all over the United States. Forrester said the school functioned on a work-study program, which gives the student practical training on such vocations as farming, carpentry and mechanics, as well as academic studies.

The school has been in continuous operation for more than 40 years now and continues to educate and prepare students and produce quality fruit and vegetables.

Twenty-five years ago this week, I reported that Lisa Bowthorpe, the daughter of Monte and Phyllis Bowthorpe of Castle Valley, won first attendant in the Blue Mountain Rodeo, which was held in Monticello later in the week.

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