Preston City’s planning and zoning commission approved a building plan for multiple housing units submitted for Country Haven Homestead at 314 West First North. The approval is for a plan that allows 20 units to be built on the lot and leaves 40 percent of the area as green space.
Commissioners David Cole, Steve Call and Fred Titensor agreed that the plan is congruent with current city ordinances the city has, but Cole suggested that the city consider a cap on units per lot.
“The 20 units seem a little dense on some of these lots,” he said.
“I wish the city would’ve taken into consideration the impact this will have on the city,” and current neighbors, said Commissioner Adrienne Alvey. “I think Preston City needs to consider also approving funding something to upgrade where the current residents live.” Titensor suggested the impact the development would have on the road.
Commissioners Penny Wright and Bernie Winn were not in attendance at the meeting.
Following the approval, Kevin Blanche made a request that the city purchase a lot he owns because the city is retaining a right to extend Fifth South through the lot in the event future development of the area necessitates it.
“We bought a piece of property with the understanding that Fifth south would not be on our property. I was then denied a building permit, for the road. ...the City decided to move road onto my property because of existing buildings on other property. I may not have purchased it if I thought there would be a road on it,” said Blanche.
Because the right-of-way for the road takes a portion of his half-acre lot, he lost out on a sale, he said. The buyer wanted a half-acre lot.
The commission denied the suggestion, citing future needs of the city. Discussion centered on the fact the former owner, the realtor nor the neighbors of the lot knew that the city had moved the right of way from Blanche’s neighbors’ lot to his because of structures now standing on the neighbor’s lots.
“There is not a hard fact of where any road is going to be in the city. (AA) Hudson made a plan, but it has never been accepted by the city.
Since before I was here, I’ve seen several roads shift up or down,” said city engineer Tyrell Simpson. “The major street plan was accepted by the city council last year. It doesn’t show roads, just proposed roads.”
“My proposal is that if the city wants to take some land, they can buy the whole thing,” said Blanche. “This sounds like an eminent domain situation. This road was not on my property, but it is being forced upon it. There is no documentation saying the road would be on this property. There are no structures on the property, so the city won’t have to deal with it.”
Blanche agreed that the city needs to maintain the right to build roads.
“The community shouldn’t abandon roads. but I was blindsided. This is something the city needs to address. Someone is going to be in my shoes.”
Alvey asked how other people who might be in the same situation find out.
“Do your due diligence and make sure you can get a building permit before you buy,” said Cole.
Despite expressing their compassion for Blanche’s siltation the commission denied his request.
They also denied an appeal from Scott Fellows to build a home at 900 North 1100 West due to the distance the home would be from a road.
Fellows noted that other homes in the city limits sit large distances from a road, and offered to help put a new road into the lot in the future, but the commission noted that there were several issues with his proposal meeting existing city ordinances.
“It seems like a practical spot to put a home, and yet I just watched a case study come through where a previous administration made that decision and it’s come back to bite us,” said Titensor. He does not want to approve something “that will catch up to the city, who knows when,” he said.
A reworked animal code that would simply require a lot to be at least a half-acre for animal rights was introduced to the commission. It was “loosened things up” in response to comments received from the public, as directed by the commissioners, and takes “care of all density issues, spacing issues. Other ordinances take care of smells and issues regarding commercial farming as opposed to hobby farming, said Titensor.
It also gets rid of grandfathering and the vagaries of having to have an animal on a lot at least one day of the year
“My kids had 4-H sheep, and it was a good experience,” said Cole, who agreed with the changes.
Animal rights within subdivisions will be left up to homeowner associations, said Oliverson. Residents Jeff Call and Dixon Beckstead reminded the city that not everyone wants more animal rights within the city and that the comprehensive plan does not promote or encourage animal rights.
“I don’t want a herd of cows crowded again my back door,” said Beckstead.
“The population came to us with issues and opinions. Most of these people were here when a comprehensive plan was written,” said Alvey.
A public hearing on the new ordinance will be held on Sept. 23.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Aug. 10, that 10 Utah temples, including the Logan temple, will be among several around the world that reopened last week for all ordinances for living people to take place by appointment.
Temples in Idaho remain in Phase I, open only for sealings between endowed men and women.
Larry Stevens, Preston, who has been waiting to return to work at the temple, said he continues to wait. He was instructed that at present, a limited number of temple workers will be returning to their shifts. They will be chosen from those aged 60 years of age and under who are in good health who may be called to help if an appointment has been made during the shift they covered. If more help is needed, then those age 70 and under who are in good health will be called.
Steven said his supervisor wrote that “at most, there will be two own endowments per shift.”
“It’s an on-call situation,” he said. “So I wait patiently and do family history and hope things pass quickly so we can all get back to work as a worker and a patron.” Being over age 70, he doesn’t expect to be called back very soon. So he continues working on finding his ancestors and is currently working on a line of relatives who lived in the 1600s in England.
Stevens said he has worked in temples for over 20 years, including a stint in the Madrid Spain Temple. “We learned the Spanish temple ordinances. Not a whole lot of people who have done that, so we are blessed to do that as well,” he said.
Following a series of public hearings, Preston City Council unanimously approved opening the city’s budget for $265,000 to purchase Craner Ball Field on the south side of Preston, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. City officials intend the 5.5 acre field to remain as a recreation parcel for the community.
The funds for the purchase come from the city’s reserve, said Mayor Dan Keller.
“The council has made a brave decision. This is not something that we take lightly to open the current budget. The funds of the city of Preston are funds specifically designated, but we felt like the was an opportunity to increase the recreation potential of our community. Our community is growing, and this recreational park will really be beneficial to the community,” said Mayor Dan Keller.
“It’s not an expense — it has increased our assets,” said councilman Brent Dodge.
The council also approved a $34,000 contract with West Tech to conduct a pilot test between two methods intended to contain phosphorous that now escapes into Worm Creek from the city’s current sewage treatment plant.
The council spent time asking Colter Hollingshead and Ryan Spanton about the limits of both methods and were told that if a sand-trap method will contain the phosphorous, it would be the cheaper way to address the problem. If it does not, then a membrane method will. It, however, is far more expensive to install and use.
The pilot test is expected to last four to five weeks and will look at effluent to determine what is going in and what is coming out of the sewer plant. Phosphorus is the test’s biggest concern, but will look at other elements as well, said Hollingshead.
On average 13.6 pounds per day of the element are leaving plant now, and the goal is to get it down to .75 pounds per day — a 96% reduction, he continued. “We’ll see which of these methods is more successful at meeting that requirement. Many communities in Idaho, Utah and throughout the nation are dealing with this.”
The sand trap method is expected to slow down phosphorous enough that it will not go into the water supply. There’s a concern that the technology won’t be able to slow it down enough, said Spanton.
Then membrane technology completely stops particles from getting through, but there is a higher cost to use it.
“We hope the less expensive method will work. It is actually less to operate and in licensing.
He also said that different water picks up different chemicals in its pathway and that temperature can affect how well a filter works. “We want to make sure the plant is not too small for doing the job,” said Spanton.”Piloting allows you to narrow in on the right size.”
“Is there a chance the city will spend $34 million and this technology won’t work?” asked Mayor Keller.
Hollingshead said the estimated $34 million figure the city has been quoted for the sewer plant upgrade covers the membrane technology.
“If the membrane technology is put in, and for some reason didn’t work, then we could go to DEQ and say we’ve used the best technology there is. The likelihood of that not working is low,” he said. There is potential the sand method won’t work. That’s the purpose of the pilot.
The estimated cost of using the sand-trap method is $28 million.
The city council also voted unanimously to not increase property taxes by the maximum amount level allowed by the State of Idaho of 3% in the upcoming budget. That increase would have amounted to $3,954.
Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you. Not everyone has the opportunity to increase their income by 3% or 6% when you add in the county taking the 3% increase,” said resident Alan Holt, during a public hearing on the matter.
“Property taxes have gotten out of control. I hope the future council will be able to budget without increase,” said Mayor Keller. Philosophically, the city’s economy should be able to fund financial growth in the city, said the mayor. Property tax liability is a tough, tough situation, particularly for the aged and newlyweds, he said.
This year, 58 cities in the state of Idaho and 28 counties are participating in the program that will pay for city police salaries if the property taxes are waived for the year.
The mayor then noted that the city is selling the rodeo arena to the county for $125,000, which will reduce the amount the city needs to reappropriate from $219,864 to $94,864. Part of the reason this appropriation is needed is to cover a $150,000 commitment made by a prior city administration to match a grant to improve the airport. The appropriation will also allow city employees a 3% increase in salaries.
That brings the total for the city’s 2020-2021 budget to $6,488,187. It was unanimously approved.
It was also noted that as part of the CARES Act, the city received a $30,000 grant to install runway lighting, reconstruct the runway, and make other airport upgrades.
The council was then advised that Amy Burbank has been hired to replace Sally Moser who retired Aug. 14, from 22 years working as the secretary for the police department.
The council also approved hiring Nick Conley as a reserve officer. Conley spent eight years as an officer in Soda Springs and is POST certified.
Correction: In a previous article, the Citizen reported that Bill Craner donated Craner Field to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Transfer of the land did involve an exchange of funds, said Brett Stewart, president of the South Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
LaRee Westover feels that she, like Robert Frost, has taken “the path less travelled,” and it has made all the difference.
She has been a midwife. She has been a home schooling parent. She is a business woman, a wife, a mother, and grandmother. But at the heart of all she is, and has been, she says, is a teacher. And it is to “all who have the heart of a teacher” that she dedicates her new book, “Educating.”
“I have drawn from my collection of loose notes, poignant personal memories and pages of journal entries. ...I hope that the principles, coupled with the events and difficulties of my life, may inspire those who have chosen to live their lives differently from their neighbors,” wrote LaRee in her book.
If she could only share one principle, it would be that: “it is okay to choose differently, to be who you really are.”
Although LaRee has had the book in her mind for years, two years ago she quietly began putting in words the attitudes and ideals that she employed to teach six college students, three of which hold PhD degrees. They are her children. One of them holds international acclaim for writing her own book. “Educated” was written by Tara Westover.
Taking a break from a recent class she was teaching as part of her successful business, Butterfly Expressions, Westover explains that she hopes her new book will encourage parents faced with the new normal of online, at-home schooling, that they can do more good than they know.
“The educational changes being implemented as a result of Covid-19 are changing perspectives about education. Parents everywhere are now carrying more of the responsibility of educating their children, and they are discovering how challenging— and how rewarding—it is to interact with your children in this way day in and day out. I see parents having the same desires for their children’s educations that we had in our day,” LaRee has said.
LaRee’s first two children were attending public schools, but when her third child became physically sick from anxiety about kindergarten, she decided she could provide a better atmosphere for him to learn at home.
Over time, she taught all her children. She recognized that most of them came with ADHD, and one came with a variety of learning disabilities. But the kids never knew it. To their mother, her children’s challenges weren’t disabilities. They were merely differences in how individuals learn.
“I didn’t learn like other people, but it was fine,” she said her son with learning disabilities told her. “I don’t think it ever occurred to him that he couldn’t learn. He learned differently, but he had his own talents and abilities.”
Since this child was not going to learn the way the average child did, LaRee found new ways to engage him: games with his older brothers.
“They would cut letters out of sandpaper so he could feel them.” She also discovered that letters in the color green were easier for him to remember. That child was a tactile learner.
Another child learned “upside down, hanging from a swing set.” The point, she said, is that everyone can learn, they just learn their own way. “ADHD is not a disease. Its genius intellect. They are the most brilliant kids on earth, that’s why they can’t hold still,” she said.
One son called her three days into a special program for giving mechanical engineers opportunities to apply the principles they’d excelled at on paper. “He was bored silly,” because he’d already learned what they were trying to teach as a kid helping his father build hay sheds, build fences and other hand’s-on activities.
That way of learning, she said, was really no different than the way her father taught her. A postal worker who received his high school diploma when he was 90 years old, Richard Hunt inspired LaRee with tales of Roman history as he peeled apples with his daughter.
Today, LaRee’s daughter and partner, Valaree Sharp and teaches her children at home, as do others of her children.
“Homeschool is only hard with the first one because after that, you’ve got the older children to help to teach the others. And they learn it. When they have to teach it, they really learn it,” Valaree said.
Learning is one thing, however, and testing is another. To help her children pass the tests required to gain college entrance, she said she took a year just to teach them how to pass tests.
Her main educational desire, is that children learn how to think, she said.
Another portion of LaRee’s book addresses her experiences as a midwife, and healer through her herbal remedies. Included in the book is a chapter on the premature birth of one of her grandsons.
“He slipped into this world at one pound, 14 ounces,” during one of the worst winter storms she remembers. Keeping him alive required getting him and his mother from home to the Franklin County Medical Center. LaRee delivered two children at a hospital herself, she said. It took time, she said, for her to feel confident enough to handle a delivery herself.
The prevailing attitude that has guided the path she has taken, she said, is the idea “I can do it, myself.”
This isn’t LaRee’s first book. She’s written four others about various aspects of applying herbs and essential oils for better health. Despite her excitement for having completed her memoir, LaRee said she does have concerns.
“It may make my daughter mad,” she said. It doesn’t fit the narrative found in “Educated.”
Furthermore, since that book captured the attention of the world, LaRee and the rest of her family has been continually faced with the dim view many readers of the book hold for her and her husband’s views and way of life.
For eight years in a row, Butterfly Express, which was founded by LaRee but is now owned by Val Westover, enjoyed 30%-50% growth each year, said Valaree, but business fell off once “Educated” gathered a large audience. Westovers have been thankful they have been able to keep their 25 employees busy. This year business is gaining a little, she said.
The woman Tara Westover describes as a powerless wife who buried her worries in herbal concoctions in “Educated,” has a completely different view of herself.
“I want to tell the story of my life as I really lived it. I want my grandchildren to know who their grandmother is and was, and I want to be a force for good in their lives. Also, I feel a compelling desire to shine a light of accuracy on homeschooling, herbal medicine, and the living of a conservative and Christian way of life,” LaRee writes on the Indiegogo website where her book is being pre-sold.
“I hope this modest memoir may bolster someone’s resolve to achieve their own goals in spite of naysayers and roadblocks,” she writes.
Following a call at 11:04 p.m., Aug. 11, to the Preston Police Department for assistance at a possible domestic dispute on West Oneida, police officers as well as Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputies discovered that 34-year-old Thomas W. Waddoups had entered a home and battered the occupants. While leaving the the residence in a vehicle, he struck a parked car, and ended up striking another parked vehicle at another residence.
While at the second residence, Waddoups made threats to people there and at one point, attacked an adult male with a knife.
During this altercation, the victim sustained several lacerations on his head, neck and abdomen, states a report by Chief Dan McCammon.
Waddoups was arrested at the scene and is currently being held in the Cache County Jail on felony charges of battery with intent to commit a serious felony, and two misdemeanor charges of battery, as well as misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry, leaving the scene of an accident and having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle.
The victim with knife wounds was treated and released. Police continue to sort out the details of the crime, said McCammon. It is not yet known whether this was a random or pre-calculated situation or not.