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DUP to replace massacre monument plaque

A new plaque has been approved and ordered to replace what the local organization of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers is calling “the inadequate 1932 version on the Bear River Massacre Monument.”

“The Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) are happy to announce that it should come in time for unveiling at the January 29, 2021, Northwestern Shoshone Memorial Service to honor the Indians slain in the 1863 encounter with Colonel Patrick Connor’s California Volunteers. The plaque has been approved by Darren Parry, a past leader of the NW Shoshone tribal council and advocate for his people,” said DUP Company president Alexis Beckstead.

“When I started attending the Massacre Memorials after I became DUP president,” explained Alexis Beckstead, “it was quite clear that the Shoshone were not happy with our plaque. I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone thinking ill of our society, so I did a great deal of research on the massacre and asked our Salt Lake Central board to consider allowing an additional plaque, assuming they would not want to take off the old one. President Ellen Jeppson surprised me by saying, “If the old plaque is wrong, let’s get rid of it and put up a new one. We want to get history right.” Beckstead was extremely pleased and so was her supportive company board. The new plaque says the following:

Bear River Massacre

In memory of the estimated four hundred men, women and children of the Northwestern Shoshone Nation who were brutally massacred in this vicinity January 29, 1863, by the U.S. Army California Volunteers from Fort Douglas, Utah, under the command of Colonel Patrick E. Connor. The attack took place in the early morning hours against a group of people with limited defense and without peaceful means first being sought when a conflict arose. Twenty-three soldiers died as a result of the encounter. Chief Sagwitch and other survivors joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, established a thriving farming community known as Washakie, and many helped build the Logan Temple.

“It’s wonderful to see and it is long overdue,” said Parry. “They went above and beyond. I wasn’t so much for the removal of the plaque but was for putting up another one to give the historical perspective. ... I’m looking forward to when they put that up and to share with the community what happened.”

The 1932 version that is currently on the memorial “was written by a leading citizen in Preston at a time when there was limited information about the event, especially from the Shoshone point of view. Many details are inaccurate and no mention is made of the Indians’ side of the story,” Beckstead said.

In 1989, historian Richard Dunkley who had thoroughly researched the massacre, approached the DUP board and asked that the plaque be changed to give a truer version of the massacre. Mae Timbimboo Parry, granddaughter of survivor Chief Sagwitch, also sent a letter at that time to the local DUP president asking that a new plaque be added with the Shoshone viewpoint. According to DUP minutes, the company board was about to go out, and it was decided that the new county board should meet with Mrs. Parry to discuss the matter.

“Apparently, this communication did not take place,” said Beckstead.

From 1985 to 1990, Allie Hansen of Preston, labored with a committee of area residents under the auspices of the Bear River Resource Conservation District to garner National Landmark status for the site so the name of the area could officially be changed from Bear River Battle to Bear River Massacre.

“This is great. This is a truer account than many that have been put forth before now,” said Hansen. As part of her work, the National Park Service provided a grant for a survey of the site.

In 1995, the results of the survey study were sent to the Franklin County DUP president. “The price paid by the Shoshone in the settlement of Idaho and Utah remains unacknowledged. … The site should commemorate not only the pioneers and soldiers that participated in the massacre but also acknowledge the lives of the Shoshone people that are lost on its soil,” it stated. The report said that the area needed to be protected and that the DUP should “seek to balance the story of the massacre with greater emphasis on the Shoshone viewpoint than what has been presented in the past.”

“One might ask why a more accurate plaque had not been added long ago. There are probably two reasons: 1) Leaders were afraid to change something that had been written in the past, fearing they might be changing history, and 2) Leaders moved in and out of positions so quickly that they were often unaware of the situation, or felt new leaders should take care of it,” said Beckstead.

“The Daughters of Utah Pioneers regret that it took so long to represent the Northwestern Shoshone properly. They have, however, tried to do it in other ways,” she said. In 1975, Afton Ellis Beckstead of the DUP had the Shoshone Trail restored between Cub River and Bloomington. When it was finished, Native Americans were invited to walk the trail and eat a steak and potato meal afterward in celebration.

The DUP has sponsored many historical speakers to come into the area to talk about the Bear River Massacre, which led to people being more informed of Shoshone’s history. One of the local DUP camps is named Sacajawea. The DUP also has a Native American display in the Preston courthouse.

Franklin County polls will be open for election

Voting in the General Election in November will be much the same as any other year with a few precautions taken to comply with state recommendations due to COVID-19, such as social distancing at the polls where voters will be able to vote in person.

If voters prefer not to go to the polls or will be out of town on election day they may request an absentee ballot by going to the County Clerk’s Office, or idahovotes.gov, and requesting a ballot before Friday, October 23, 2020.

Those who have already received an absentee ballot requested it when they requested the primary ballot in May. If they wish to vote at the poll instead, they must bring the ballot with them and the staff will spoil the ballot so they can vote at the poll. The polls cannot accept the absentee ballots except to spoil them.

There is a Ballot Drop Box at the County Clerk’s Office for voters who chose not to mail it absentee ballots.

To be counted, absentee ballots must be returned to the Clerk’s Office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Craner Field upgrade started

With the purchase of Craner Field, Preston City has begun its upgrade for city use.

A quarter-mile walking path has been mapped out around the field’s perimeter, and estimates made on costs, but funding and budget will be the driving force in the timeline, he said. “We probably won’t start ground breaking on it till next spring,” said Councilman Todd Thomas, who is heading up the effort.

The upgrade will offer many opportunities in which the community may participate. Thomas is in the process of sharing those plans with local service clubs and has received a positive reception.

First on the list is to remodel the existing restrooms into an ADA compliant facility, and getting the softball fields ready for play next summer. Other projects are: a taller flagpole with lighting for both the US and Idaho flag display, conversion of grass fields to dirt for regulation softball play, improve storage shed capacity, provide more garbage cans, new signage at the field’s entrance, evaluate lights, water and other infrastructure, build protective screening for bench areas on the softball fields that would be similar to those near the rodeo grounds, flower gardens and more trees, and possibly a picnic pavilion.

Beutler Middle School named Blue Ribbon School

West Side Joint School District’s Beutler Middle School has been recognized as an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools National Blue Ribbon School for 2020 by U. S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

“I am really proud of all the hard work this award represents. Without the entire team of students, parents, teachers, and administrators, our school would not have the academic success it enjoys. This truly is a community award because of all the stakeholders involved in the process,” said Julie Nash, Beutler Middle School’s head teacher.

The school was nominated last November based on ISAT testing scores last November.

At Beutler, 74.4 percent of the students were proficient in English language arts and 67.4 percent were proficient in mathematics. More than 40 percent of Beutler’s students come from an economically disadvantaged background.

In order to be nominated for a National Blue Ribbon award, a school must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state, ranked on the performance of all students who participated in the most recently administered state assessments in English language arts and mathematics. Idaho nominees must have at least 40 percent of their students identified as economically disadvantaged.

“After the nomination, we had to go through a rigorous application process that was sent to the federal governmental agency in charge of this program. The application took around 30 hours of work. The national program accepted our application and we were awarded the title. Originally, I was supposed to travel to Washington, D.C. to accept the award, but with COVID, the event is now being held virtually on Nov. 12-13,” said Nash.

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content, states the award.

The Education Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores and graduation rates:

· Exemplary High Performing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

· Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The U.S. Education Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education (CAPE).

School profiles of all 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools can also be found at https://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners.

FCMC honored for fifth year

To celebrate its fifth year being named among the top 100 critical access hospitals in the county, the Franklin County Medical Center offered a free drive through lunch to its employees and the first 100 visitors on Oct. 1.

In addition to a hamburger, chips and a drink, free t-shirts, candy bars and other gifts were presented to friends and employees by hospital administrators and board members.

“Amidst uncertainty, transition and strain, these top performers are excelling in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, and operating at a lower cost than their peers. These groups serve as a benchmark for other rural facilities as they strive to achieve similar results and provide a blueprint for successfully navigating the uncertainty of the new healthcare,” states the Chartis Group, which sponsors the recognition for rural hospitals. Shoshone Medical Center is the only other Idaho hospital that received the designation.

The award is based entirely on publicly available data each year, said Darin Dransfield, CEO of FCMC. “Rural hospitals are analyzed through the lens of iVantage Health Analytics Hospital Strength INDEX, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance in the United States. Utilizing 50 individual indicators, the INDEX assesses performance across eight pillars of performance that span strategic and operational decisions. Hospitals recognized as a Top 100 facility had one of the 100 highest overall scores among all Critical Access Hospitals nationally,” he said.

”This achievement is very gratifying and validates our daily commitment to providing the highest quality of care through leading healthcare practices. Working with an outstanding team that commits daily to providing safe, quality, patient centered care we are able to push for performance improvement to better serve those in our community. This recognition is an impeccable reflection of how dedicated we are to those we serve,” said Dransfield.

Weston City proceeds with ordinance review

Weston’s mayor, Greg Garner, is taking on the Mayor’s Challenge where he must walk 10,000 steps each day for the entire month of October, to earn the city $1,000. So if you see him walking through the neighborhood wave hello to him.

The water project is proceeding with the water storage tank up and running and the new well drilled and connected. The only thing left is to build a new well house to contain that new well. The city has given a tour of the area to several contractors for their consideration in making bids on the project by Oct 20.

June Aston clarified an error from the previous month when Brent Webb made a request to rent any excess water leftover from the city park. Aston reminded the council that under the Weston Irrigation Creek Company’s bylaws the water in the ditch is provided on a first come first serve basis and any unused shares of water literally flow on to the next person downstream, and therefore cannot be rented out unilaterally by the council, but can be done if all the people on that ditch agree.

When the discussion revealed that an unidentified person had moved their shares of water up Weston Canyon, ostensibly against the company’s bylaws Aston leaned forward in surprise. “What!?” she asked. She and the council reflected on the long, and sometimes bloody, history of water right fights in this part of the world.

The codification of the city ordinances is nearing completion. Shannon Ellsworth of Sunrise Engineering did send a message to the council indicating that in her research there were several ordinances that were out of date or otherwise no longer relevant to the current status of the city. The current plan is to have those ordinances set aside for the council to review independently. Once the codification and review of the new ordinances are completed the council intends to revoke all current ordinances to clear the slate and install the new unified codebook in their place.