Editor: September is Children’s Justice Center month, and I want to take the opportunity to thank residents of Wasatch County for their continued support of the CJC over these past 12 years. Over 1600 child interviews have been conducted at the center since opening. We have a highly trained multidisciplinary team of professionals that are determined and dedicated to serving victims of child abuse in our county. I am very proud and honored to be a part of this inspiring group and this supportive community.
I’m often asked what the Children’s Justice Center is and what we do. In response, let me share some basic information about the center here in Heber.
The CJC, located at 1540 E 980 S (next to Old Mill Elementary), provides a child-friendly atmosphere designed to help children feel safe and comfortable while they are being interviewed regarding alleged abuse. The center is a gathering place for children and their families to meet with investigators and team members about these allegations. While here, professionals from several different agencies collaborate on each child’s case. This team approach increases coordination among child protection and criminal justice agencies, allowing them to track a child’s progress through the investigation, judicial process, and treatment.
Specially trained professionals talk to children about the alleged abuse they have experienced. The goal is to minimize trauma to the child by reducing the number of times a child must talk about his or her experiences. The CJC provides the team of professionals with ongoing training to ensure that the children of Wasatch County receive the most proficient care possible. State of the art recording equipment is used to preserve interviews for evidence and eliminate the need for multiple interviews. Families are provided with referrals for support services, such as therapy, medical care and victim resources.
The centers were originally established to serve children 17 years of age or younger who are victims of alleged sexual or physical abuse. In recent years, there has been an increased demand for services for other crimes involving children, such as domestic violence, drug endangerment, and internet exploitation. In 2013, over 73 interviews have been facilitated for alleged victims of these crimes against children in Wasatch county.
We are not, as many people assume, a “half-way” house for troubled youth. No one spends the night at the CJC. Also, the CJC is not the place to call to report child abuse. The Child Abuse reporting hotline is: 855-323—3237. This is a centralized intake number for Utah. The intake workers take the information that is reported to them and contact our local Child Protection workers to investigate. Professionals meet children and their families at the CJC after a report has been made and an interview has been scheduled.
To get involved and support the CJC and child abuse victims in our community, the CJC will be starting a children's clothing and diaper bank for the use of our community partners who work with families in need. We will be taking donations of NEW children's clothing, socks and underwear, and packages of diapers (not newborn). If anyone is looking for a service project, a drive for these items would be a great help! Also, The Friends of the CJC are always looking for volunteers to assist with fundraisers. The CJC relies on grants, a legislative allocation, but mostly donations from the community to keep the doors open. Please call 435-657-1000 for further information.
Kenna Jones, Director
Wasatch County Children’s Justice Center
A Usual Antagonist Reply
Editor: I appreciate Councilman Capson’s lengthy letter in last week’s Wave. I wish more members of our elected bodies would take time to explain their view so that us commoners would better appreciate the complexities of the issues they deal with.
I attended the truth in taxation meetings where the proposed increase in the fire tax was presented. In the first meeting, I suggested that the council could demonstrate some leadership by placing the tax on the 2013 ballot and perhaps at a lower rate. I did not point out the obvious, that the lower the tax increase, the greater the likelihood of its passage. I did say that if a citizen’s petition drive was successful, the fire department would get nothing.
I also noted that the department should consider using volunteers, especially with a workload shifting away from structural fires toward grass and brush fires. I did a quick search and found that as recently as 2004, 74% of all firefighters are volunteers and that more than 70% of all fire departments are entirely staffed by volunteers. This was brought up again in the second truth and taxation meeting. I spoke with a couple of members of the council after that meeting and they insisted that volunteers would not work in our valley. I have to think about that. Why would that be the case? What would be so different about our young men and women that we could not find people who were really willing to serve?
Other letters have been written about the performance of the council at the second truth and taxation meeting and I don’t need to add to that. Following that meeting, a petition drive was launched to place the tax issue on the 2014 ballot. Interestingly, Mr. Capson called a special meeting to be held on August 28, to place a fire tax on the ballot. This meeting began with Mr. Capson advising us that the deadline had passed so the petition drive continues. Wow.
I’m not a community activist. I hear nothing but praise for the fire department but outrage at the idea of a 76% increase in the fire tax. I know of no one who thinks their total tax bill is going to rise by that amount but several have told me that they can’t afford both a small fire tax increase and a tax increase for an aquatic center. It may be time for the county council to listen to some of us “usual antagonists” instead of looking at us as if we fell of the back of a turnip truck.
Sign the Petition
Editor: Last week Aubrey Pettinger wrote a letter to the editor regarding the petition to vote on putting the 80% fire tax increase on the ballot.
As a past EMT for 25 years with Wasatch County, I have been very familiar with what goes on with the EMT’s and firefighters in this county.
This county has been served well for many years by a great paid volunteer lire department and I do not believe things will change now. I feel bad that some of the firefighters might lose their jobs, but I also feel bad when anyone loses a job.
You were concerned that without experienced full time firefighters and EMTs until 2015, service in this county would deteriorate and that we would lose their expertise. All of the 41 firefighters have to have the same training whether full time or volunteer. The response time to any fire or EMS call is very fast and I think that this same great service will continue. EMS is a separate entity from fire.
When the full time firefighters were originally hired they were to cover the Jordanelle area only, not the rest of the alley, but the story changes from day to day and I am not sure anyone really knows what area they are supposed to be covering.
Before there were lull time firefighters, the volunteers took care of all of the equipment, training and teaching. All volunteer firefighters are well paid each month for covering the few fires that they go on.
If the full time firefighters are laid oft, I believe it will be because of the actions of the fire department management, the Wasatch County Council and poor budgeting, not because of this petition which will give the voters a chance to make the decision on whether or not to increase the fire taxes.
Find out All Facts and Sign Petition
Editor: I was shocked to read Councilman Capson‘s letter last week and saddened to read Ms. Pettinger ‘s. Having worked on Wasatch EMS for 26 yrs I am very familiar with how Fire and EMS operate in Wasatch County. Ms. Pettinger, while I could refute with details most everything you and councilman Capson have said, I do whole heartedly agree with your statement that ALL of us need to get ALL of the facts in this issue.
I believe the reason the firefighters are being laid off is because of this fire district being successfully sued multiple times by Jordanelle residents. I personally find it a bit strange that the good firefighters and not the managers responsible for the large monetary suits are the ones being laid off however - and the chief getting a raise? These firefighters were hired solely for Jordanelle and I guess if Jordanelle doesn’t want them then they shouldn’t have to pay for them. The paid-volunteer firefighters of Wasatch County do a great job and will continue to provide great coverage for our citizens.
There is no reason for any agency’s budget to be raised 80% in one year without every single citizen’s question being answered in good faith. Councilman Capson, I was so disgusted with county leadership 3 yrs ago I opted to back off and let others take a turn. We were called ‘trouble makers’ then, you are calling these folks ‘antagonists’ now. Thomas Jefferson once said “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.“ I value his opinion. To those people who have taken their time to actually attend the meetings, find out the facts and fight these questionable decisions I say “Thank You! “I would ask that all please find out ALL the facts and DO sign this petition.
Just the Facts Ma’am - and
Editor: Recently I read two letters to the editor from the September 4, 2013 edition. The first letter was from an author who asked readers to not sign a referendum petition without getting the facts. The author would lead you to believe the amount of the tax increase is so minor that there is no big deal revolving around this 80% tax increase. As stated in the letter to the editor, “The tax increase would be somewhere around $2.50 a month—an amount I think is completely worth the peace of mind knowing that there are people available to respond to an emergency”. What the author left out is that this fee is for one specific property value. Now, does the 80% increase happen before this $2.50 per month or after raising the fee to $4.50. If it is already added into the $2.50 fee, the base property value for this fee is approximately $161,000. There are many properties throughout Wasatch County that have values much greater than this base rate and would be more than $2.50 per month.
A good question to ask, is what is this 80% increase actually paying for? The fire district has managed fire service in such a manner that they have had to spend $1million on legal fees in the last 3 years. They have budgeted between the County Fire and Jordanelle budgets another $419,742.53 for legal fees in the 2013 budget. Did you know that in 2004 the budget for legal fees was $750. They didn’t spend any of that line item. One lawsuit that the Fire District lost has a judgment of $1 million plus interest retroactive to 2010. Two other law suits are currently being litigated against the Fire District and a recent ruling would foreshadow a loss of these suits also. Poor management decisions are adding a great deal of tax burden to the taxpayers of Wasatch County that have nothing to do with day to day fire operations. We can hope Wasatch County Fire District’s duty to provide public safety will outweigh the knee-jerk reaction to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But, recent history would indicate it is time for new managers.
I can agree with the author that getting the facts before you sign a referendum petition is very important. That is exactly what taxpayers were trying to accomplish when questions were posed to the Fire District Board during the August 7, 2013 truth in taxation public hearing. Then, on August 21, 2013 these same taxpayers were told to look up their answers on the internet, suggesting a website that only had information from 2011 and a minimal amount of information at that. With no answers from the Fire District Board to probative questions, taxpayers are only asking for the opportunity to vote on this 80% tax increase for fire service, instead of blindly trusting the fire board to do the right thing.
The second letter, a lengthy one at that, sounded a lot like political campaigning. Except for the part where approximately 8 residents and area developers wanted a fire station built near the Jordanelle in 1999. The author would lead you to believe the County Commission at that time had little to do with that decision other than give permission to proceed with the project. Let us not forget that now in the Jordanelle and Heber Valley there are “antagonist”. Councilman Capson, your letter to the editor failed to answer any of the questions you were asked on August 7, 2013. Because, you choose not to answer questions posed to you is no reason to resort to name calling. These people are taxpayers, your employers, for whom you work. For the second time this month your performance is unsatisfactory. This pattern of conduct cannot sustain you in your current position.
Editor: When we came to the Valley (Summer 1961) we discovered the Hiatt name was well thought of in the county -- and deservedly so. Just out of high school Robert had left an adolescent legacy of being good at many things. As teens we viewed him as a gentle giant because not too many of the small towns in Wasatch, Summit and Duchesne counties were making boys his size. At first we thought the respect for him came because of that size. It didn’t take long to know and understand that respect held and reserved for Robert had to do with the kind of “boy” he was. He became the go-to guy at the auto parts store as we all began to grow up, purchase cars -- that wore model years in the 1950s -- and move quickly toward adulthood via baby moons, beauty rings, furry/fuzzies around the interior mirrors, fancy floor mats, dual exhausts and all that went with such car things. And, we discovered Robert could fix a lot of things mechanically. The engines did have to run before the beauty of the cars could be appreciated going up and down Main Street in the evening hours.
Time passed and he married very well. They raised a terrific family and Robert became yet another Heber Valley icon whom we knew and appreciated.
When the news of his death spread via social media and cell phones last week we began to hear and see the terms “wonderful,” “special,” “the best,” and “a great guy.” One comment that caught the attention of my heart was, “He was as fine a bishop as we’ll ever have.”
Those of us who grew to adulthood in the early to mid-1960s, in the Heber Valley, are spread all over the nation now. But we all remember Robert, LaRose and the touch they brought to the business, church and civic arena’s that is the Heber Valley. It doesn’t seem like you could come to mortality and do it any better than Robert did it – from boyhood to manhood. Our sympathy, our love and our respect to his family as another of our generation moves on.
Jon B. Fish
Come to Next WTPA Meeting
Editor: There has been some discussion here about the Wasatch Fire District’s 80% tax increase by citizens who showed up to the August meetings, and a councilman who decided to take a good amount of this paper to respond. I am happy to see this discussion begin, but it must be noted that the response from Steve Capson only happened after the citizens felt the need to file the referendum petition to delay the tax increase until it’s on the ballot in Nov 2014 for the voters to decide.
At the August 7th meeting Mr. Capson made it quite clear that the citizens could ask “rhetorical” questions, but the fire board/council would not have to answer them. Then the public was told the numerous questions that were asked would be answered at the next August 21st meeting. So the citizens showed up again, only for their questions to be ignored and the tax vote taken.
This referendum petition wording is quite clear, and short. It says that the Wasatch County registered voters who sign want this tax increase to be brought to the voters in Nov. 2014. That’s it. Why would the representatives of our county not want their constituents to vote and have a say in their own government? And why would they call the citizens who are trying to get transparency and accountability of their local officials antagonists? Does that mean these concepts are in direct conflict of their own priorities, since antagonist means “somebody or something opposing or in conflict with another”?
If you believe that the public has the right to vote and participate in their government, please sign the petition. We need 1800 signatures in 30 days and we need your help! If you see a table on Heber Main Street with a banner that says NO 80% Tax Increase, please stop and sign. If you would like a petition to gather signatures yourself email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 435 709-8688.
Our next Wasatch Taxpayers Association meeting will be Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6:30pm at the Senior Citizen’s Center. We will be updating the public on everything that has been happening this summer, including petition signing, and an update on the Heber Light and Power Attorney General’s letter demanding the board return the money. Get the answers to your questions at the next WTPA General Membership meeting, and bring 5 people with you. We have been working diligently to bring transparency to all Wasatch County government and we need your support!
Eighty Percent Fire Tax Increase
Editor: If you think using 80% was "misleading," and your preference is to say it was ONLY 1.5% of all county property taxes, (60% of which are for schools); wouldn't it be LESS misleading, and fairer, for you to say the increase is 11% of Wasatch County property taxes?
I'm fairly certain most interested folks didn't need a dissertation on mil levies (tax rates) from the Fire Board. What they would have liked was answers to the questions posed at the "Truth" in Taxation Public Hearing.
There were many unanswered questions in the December 2012 Hearing and more in the August Hearing. At the conclusion of the August meeting, both the Fire Board Chair and the County Council Chair indicated they would make a decision in two weeks and bring answers to the questions.
Two weeks later, the public was told at the tax increase approval meeting that 'We (fire board) are transparent.' and presenting a fine list of websites, I would suggest that there may have been a few, shall we say, inconsistencies with the declaration that the Fire District SSD is "transparent." The promoted site, transparent.Utah.gov (an excellent informative website has NO information about the Fire District after 2011.
Additionally, there was NO discussion even among the Board as to their rationale for a unanimous approval.
After the voters, taxpayers, citizens, residents (not antagonists) began a referendum petition to allow the people a vote on the increase, the Fire Board called a minimal notice "Special Meeting" to resolve to place the issue on the ballot in 2013. At the "Special" meeting they agian determined that they did not understand the law and could not do that. (Also remember the ill fated pool bond election 'decision' that was cancelled for failure to read the law.)
Perhaps if they had spent less of the Million dollars on litigation in the last three years, and, instead, had asked the lawyers what the COULD do, rather than "how can we get ourselves out of this self-directed mess?" they might not have accumulated the deficit in the first place.
The primary question to be answered is why is the LARGE tax increase suddenly needed? With $300K+ allocated to the 2013 budget for further lawyer fees, (60% of the deficit")is this a justification for a tax increase? Is it planned to continue to fight the taxpayers or to fight actual fires? Many more questions can be found at wasatch.blogspot.com.
All have been emailed to the Fire Board with virtually no response. Solutions suggestions have also fallen on deaf ears. Let's hear some ANSWERS.
Great Tire Service
Editor: I am sorry for the lady and her bad experience with Walmart and her tire purchases.. I would like to tell about a positive experience I had with the Tire Factory in Heber City.
Two years ago I purchased a set of tires from [Tire Factory]. their price was competitive with Costco. My son was driving near Park City when he hit something that caused a tire to go flat. By the time he stopped, the tire was shredded.
Someone from the Tire Factory drove to Park City, put on the spare tire for him, and the tire was replaced with a tire of similar tread - all free of charge. Plus I get the pressure checked and tire rotation free. Why would anyone buy tires from anywhere else?