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Garland opts to recertify own justice court

Garland City has decided to keep operating its own justice court, at least for now.

The Garland and Tremonton police departments merged earlier this year and have been operating under the supervision of Tremonton Police Chief Kurt Fertig. After both sides found that move to be mutually beneficial, the cities recently started discussing the possibility of folding Garland’s justice court into Tremonton’s as well.

The issue became time sensitive because both cities’ courts were up for recertification this year, a process that individual courts must go through every four years.

Tremonton recertified its court in October, and the Garland City Council voted to do the same for the Garland court at the council’s most recent meeting on Nov. 13.

Garland had been considering dissolving its court and merging into the Tremonton operation, but reconsidered on the advice of state court officials.

Jim Peters, justice court administrator for Utah State Courts, visited the Garland council on Nov. 13 and recommended the city recertify its court “so you’re not forced to make a decision between now and January 31, and you have another four years to figure things out with regard to efficiencies you want to achieve, the service you want to provide residents, and any other concerns that may be before you.”

Garland could still work out a deal with Tremonton if it so desires, Peters said, and wouldn’t have to wait another four years. On the other hand, he said that if Garland chose to dissolve its court and for some reason an interlocal agreement with Tremonton didn’t work out, all of Garland’s court cases would default to the Box Elder County court in Brigham City, forcing Garland defendants and officers involved in those cases to travel to the county seat for their proceedings.

“It would be inconvenient to say the least,” Peters said, adding that using the county court system works for Brigham City because it’s the county seat, but most other cities operate their own courts, even in nearby Mantua.

When asked to respond to a question from Garland Mayor Todd Miller about the pros and cons of dissolving the court and defaulting to the county, Peters said “I can think of a lot more cons than pros.

“If you dissolve the court, I can almost guarantee you’ll never get it back,” he said.

Peters said state law was recently clarified to state that if an interlocal agreement between two jurisdictions expires, both parties revert to the systems they had before, so as long as Garland stays certified, “you would get your court back.”

However, recertifying would not prevent the cities from combining their courts under Tremonton’s roof if they decided to go that route. And if a combination didn’t work out, Peters said it would only take a couple of months to get the city’s own court up and running again, as long as it was certified before the agreement was made.

“So there’s no downside” to recertifying, Miller said.

‘Tis the season: Annual Jubilee of Trees stokes holiday spirit, raises funds for hospital

Over the past decade, Bear River Valley Hospital’s Jubilee of Trees has become a staple of the holiday season in northern Box Elder County, and this year’s event certainly didn’t disappoint.

More than a dozen decorated trees graced the Box Elder County Fairgrounds Event Center over the weekend of Nov. 16. Some were creative and quirky, such as a construction-themed tree and a rainbow/unicorn theme. Others served as touching tributes to those who have passed away, some way before their time.

The trees, and the money they raise to benefit various programs and community initiatives at the hospital, certainly weren’t the only attractions. Kids and their families were delighted by a visit from two reindeer that made the journey over from Willow Park in Logan, and children came decked out in their cheeriest holiday attire for some one-on-one time with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Bear River Valley Hospital spokesman Chad Hunt said the event has grown in terms of popularity and donations every year, with the Intermountain Foundation pulling in nearly $75,000 last year from the silent auction that serves as the centerpiece of the Jubilee.

The event was originally held at the hospital, but organizers moved it to the fairgrounds six or seven years ago.

“It’s been an incredible home for the event. We look forward to having it there,” Hunt said. “We’ve had great support from the local community, lots of our local businesses, and just people who are willing to support the event and make it thrive and help provide better health care in the northern end of our county.”

The weather was ideal on Saturday for a visit from Santa’s reindeer, and kids lined up by the dozens to pet the animals and have their pictures taken with them before heading in for milk and cookies with Santa (and to let him know how nice they’ve been this year before sharing their wish lists).

The main dinner and auction took place Saturday night, but that wasn’t the end of it.

Another poignant tradition associated with the Jubilee of trees is the Evening of Remembrance, when those who have passed on in the course of the year are highlighted and honored. In contrast to past years, organizers saved the remembrance event for last this year.

Study released on Bear River water development

A study released by the State of Utah last week provides a new outline for how the Bear River could be dammed and channeled to provide water in the future for the rapidly growing population along the Wasatch Front and throughout northern Utah.

The latest feasibility study regarding the Bear River Development project came from the Utah Division of Water Resources. It outlines 13 potential reservoir combinations and pipeline alignments, and provides updated cost estimates for future water projects on the Bear River.

At full development, the Bear River project would deliver 220,000 acre-feet (enough water to cover one acre, one foot deep) to residents in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake and Weber counties.

Four area water districts would be in charge of purchasing and delivering the water as allowed by the Bear River Development Act of 1991. Under that legislation, the Bear River Water Conservancy District and Cache Water District would control 60,000 acre-feet each, while the Weber Basin and Jordan Valley conservancy districts would each get 50,000 acre-feet.

Eric Millis, director of the Division of Water Resources, said in a news release that the latest study builds on previous studies and updates hydrology, data and population projections.

“When the legislation passed almost 30 years ago, the projected need for this water was in 2015,” Millis said. “Thanks primarily to conservation efforts, new technology and some smaller water development projects, current projections indicate the need for this project has been pushed out between 2045 to 2050.”

Thirteen different conceptual design scenarios have also been evaluated “to determine the most effective and least costly potential reservoir combinations,” the news release stated.

Cost estimates for the different scenarios range from $1.5 to $2.8 billion. Under the Bear River Development Act, the state will fund the planning, studies, design, construction and environmental mitigation costs of the system, and the four water districts involved will repay the state.

Under one scenario that would provide the entire needed water supply at the lowest cost, the cost to build dams, piplelines and other infrastructure would come to $470.4 million within the Bear River Water Conservancy District. That would mean an annual repayment of $21.9 million from the district to the state, at an annual cost of $365 per acre-foot.

The study looks at several potential reservoir sites in Box Elder County, including White’s Valley, Washakie (near Plymouth), Fielding and South Willard. It also looks at several possibilities in Cache County.

“As development has increased, particularly in Weber and Box Elder counties, we recognized the need to acquire land and rights-of-way (as authorized in the Act) to reduce future impacts to surrounding communities and also save costs,” said Marisa Egbert, planning manager for the project. “We are currently working with willing sellers and UTA to acquire properties for corridor preservation.”

While the Bear River system is expected to deliver 220,000 acre-feet annually, the state said not all the water is expected to be depleted from the watershed. Return-flow projections show that at full development, an estimated 85,600 acre-feet would be depleted from the watershed. Current modeling indicates this amount of depletion from the Great Salt Lake watershed would reduce the lake level by an average of about 8.5 inches and as much as 14 inches, according to a 2016 white paper published by Utah State University, Water Resources, Salt Lake Community College and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

The project is currently in the planning phase and will eventually undergo an environmental process through the National Environmental Policy Act prior to final design and construction. The next steps in the planning phase include additional studies concerning climate variability and Great Salt Lake modeling, studying additional pipeline corridor options and corridor preservation.

To review the feasibility study online in greater detail, visit Water.Utah.Gov/Bear-River.