The committee of That Famous Preston Night Rodeo has begun the work of expanding the rodeo arena.
“Since we had to cancel the rodeo this year, we turned our energy towards starting this great project,” said committee chairman Kris Beckstead. Furthermore, the committee recently signed a 30-year lease of the rodeo grounds, at $1 per year, with Franklin County, which recently purchased the grounds from Preston City.
“We are ... putting in about 60% of our new grandstands. They are ordered and the old is coming out now. They have been working on getting out the old seats since last week,” said Beckstead. “We will need to remove the steel trusses and get all the concrete work done prior to the new seats coming. We are hoping to have it installed before the first of the year.”
Although the work has begun, the committee still needs funding to finish the expansion of the stands. Having signed the lease with the county enables the committee to pursue funding that wasn’t possible before having the lease signed.
The committee has $300,000 committed towards the project from the Larry Stokes Family. The complete project was estimated to cost $2 million when the committee first announced their plans to expand the arena.
”Anyone who can help us complete this project, please open your hearts and your wallets! We need everyone’s help,” she said.
Franklin County continues to own the property and the rodeo committee will own the facilities.
”We want and need the rodeo,” said Franklin County Commissioner Boyd Burbank. To that end, and to benefit the county fair, the county has recently completed several upgrades to the property between the rodeo arena and the Robinson Building, such as a new bathroom facility. While asphalt laying machinery was onsite, the rodeo committee agreed to pave the 8’ alleyway west of the grandstands, between the arena gates and the animal pens.
By NECIA P. SEAMONS
Maple’s transition from green to vermillion is a process called senescence, or dormancy, which allows the trees and other hardy perennial plants to survive the cold temperatures and meager daylight of winter. As the number of daylight hours falls below 12, chlorophyll production in the leaves dwindles, causing leaf colors to change. Without chlorophyll in the leaves, yellow, orange or brown cartenoids, become visible in the cells of the leaf. Other red, purple or blue pigments, called anthocyanins, then lower excess carbohydrates in the leaf, creating the peak color people love in the fall.
The dining room of the Preston Senior Center is reopening Oct. 2. Curbside lunch pick-ups will continue to be available as well, said Lindsay Broadhead of the center, but seniors who enjoy the center’s lunches are encouraged to return to the dining room for socialization.
The impact COVID-19 has had on the senior population over the last six months has been tough.
“It’s killing them. They are having a rotten time,” said David Priestley of Priestley Mental Health in Preston. “I have a bunch of clients — they are just holing up. They aren’t doing anything, not going anywhere. It is tough.”
“The need for social interaction is important. I’ll say this, there are studies that show that persistently feeling socially isolated or lonely can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” said Mike Hirschi. “The lack of connection can have life treating consequences,” said Hirschi, Area V Agency on Aging Director for the Southeast Idaho Council on Governments.
“The lack of connection can have life threatening consequences,” testified Brigham Young University professor, Julieanne Holt-Lunstad before the US Senate in 2017.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over a quarter of the U.S. population — and 28 percent of older adults — now live by themselves.
Priestley said that if a person’s support system is the community, the isolation created by social distancing has been especially hard, and he encourages people to take the initiative to get out of isolation one way or another.
“My invitation would be exploring alternative options for people (and) for people to do that for themselves,” he said. He has noticed an “all or nothing” attitude in regards to social distancing and suggests moderation and creativity in applying social distancing in other ways to stay engaged with society.
“We don’t reach out. We don’t call people. Then they don’t, then we are sad. (For example,) if my kids don’t call me then I’m sad, but I don’t call them. ...If you want something done differently for yourself, you have to figure that out.” Priestley suggests setting up a calling system to keep in touch with people.
“In the sense that we are so used to, or sad about how life has been, we aren’t paying attention to how it is, or how it could be,” he suggested. Isolation is “the saving grace on one end and is a devastation on the other. While we are protecting the physical well-being, our emotional, mental, social and spiritual take a hit. That’s four of the five areas of balanced living.
“They have to be balanced out — that’s why people are feeling depressed, four of the five legs have been pulled out from under them,” said Priestley.
Hirschi said the agency on aging recognizes the need for balance and has suggested to senior centers that make sure visitors and employees follow health guidelines set by the Southeast Idaho Public Health Department (SIPH) and open as they feel they can.
“We are concerned about social isolation and loneliness,” he said. The council on aging gives each of the senior citizen centers in their area the best guidance from Gov. Little’s office and health departments but leaves the decision on whether to open or not, up to the local boards.
According to Hirschi, senior centers in Bear Lake, Caribou, Oneida and Bingham counties have put together plans to keep people six feet apart and are serving meals to their patrons in their dining rooms. People are encouraged to keep their masks on until it is time to eat in order to limit the amount of time of exposure if someone does have the virus.
“It’s going to mitigate your potential for contracting the virus if you are exposed in that setting,” he said. “It is how long and how much of the virus you are exposed to, not just being exposed.”
Guidance from SIPH indicates that Franklin County is at moderate risk in regards to the pandemic, with an active caseload of 34 on Sept. 28. There have been 123 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Franklin County. SIPH maintains that people should wear face coverings, limit gatherings to no more than 150 people and vulnerable populations should take extra precautions.
In the last week, 35 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Franklin County, bringing to 123 the total number of cases that have been confirmed in the county; 34 of them were active on Monday, Sept. 28. One of those cases has been hospitalized — a male over the age of 50.
That makes four Franklin County residents hospitalized for the virus and three of those have been released.
As of Sept. 28, nine of the active cases were students in the Preston School District, five at PHS and four at PJHS. A total of seven other students have recovered from COVID-19.
Too keep the public informed of infection levels in the district, a counter has been set up on the school district’s website: prestonidahoschools.org/Content2/covid19case.
For each positive case school district personnel contact students who can be confirmed as having been in close contact with the student while symptomatic. They are then asked to wear a mask at school and any related activities, unless they show symptoms. Students with symptoms are asked to quarantine themselves until they are well.