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Every year has its trials, tribulations and triumphs, and 2021 was certainly no different.

Following are some of the stories that helped define the year in Franklin County — not a comprehensive list, but a series of snapshots for which the year will be remembered.

Shoshone gather on ancestral land

For the first time in 158 years, the descendants of the survivors of the Bear River Massacre were able to honor the memory of their dead on their own land.

On Jan. 29, in a private ceremony, a few members of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone gathered on the western bluff that overlooks the bend in the river where their ancestors gathered along the Bear River near hot springs for their winter camp for generations.

For the first time in history, the memorial was held on the sacred land, purchased piece by piece by the Shoshone over the last several years.

Now, the Northwestern Band is raising funds to build the Boa Ogoi Cultural Interpretive Center, named for the Shoshone phrase “Big River,” as their ancestors had called the Bear River Valley, to serve as habitat restoration for the area, reintroducing native plants, as well as educating the public on the massacre and the Shoshone people.

Winter weather proves deadly

Franklin County Search & Rescue Team assisted Bear Lake and Caribou County search & rescue teams in an attempt to rescue a snowmobiler following an avalanche east of Mt. Sherman on Feb. 20.

It took about an hour for help to reach the people who had reported the avalanche. Other riders on snow machines in the area began to conduct a search using a search line with snow probes.

The missing snowmobiler’s sled was located and clues were found on where to look for the missing person. He was located under a large amount of snow and deceased when found. The victim was identified as 48-year-old Allen Foss, of Preston.

Between Feb. 13 and Feb. 20, there were 14 recorded avalanches in Cache Valley, on both sides of the state line.

Earlier that week, two snowmobilers from the American Falls area were rescued after spending two nights in the snow in the high country of eastern Franklin County. They had taken a wrong turn and became stranded.

The day after the fatal avalanche, on Feb. 21, Franklin County Search & Rescue responded to two separate incidents in which snowmobilers in the area had been injured. All were safely brought off the mountain.

Early signs of another dry year

A wet and cold February brought snowpack levels to near or above normal conditions across most of Idaho, stated the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s March 2021 water supply outlook report.

The Bear River Basin improved from February’s dismal 68% to March’s 85% of normal. But although storms in February and March brought above normal precipitation to the Bear River Basin, it won’t be enough for shareholders of the Twin Lakes Canal Company, said its president, Hank Povey.

“Twin Lakes is not full yet, and the streamflow is not coming up like it normally does. We need to be full plus have a good streamflow to fill everyone’s needs,” he said. Reservoirs on the east side of the valley are in the same situation.

Sheriff takes aim at gun restrictions

On April 8, Franklin County Sheriff Dave Fryar took to Facebook to reassure local residents that he would stand for their rights in light of executive actions announced by President Joe Biden as part of an effort to curb gun violence across the nation.

“I want to make it clear that I as your elected sheriff, support the Second Amendment. You, Franklin County Citizens, elected me and have trusted me to serve in this community for 35 years. You are who I will stand by if those rights are taken from us,” he said.

Earlier that day, Biden announced executive actions to address what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence in the United States. They include redefining firearms to bar the sale of “ghost guns,” or handmade, self-assembled firearms that don’t include serial numbers, as well as the use of stabilizing braces on pistols.

He also called on the Senate to expand background checks, and urged Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Uncontrolled burns

Pillars of smoke rising from fields and road-sides is a common sight each spring in Franklin County as farmers rid them of dry weeds. What’s not so common have been the evening winds whipping hidden embers into unexpected night fires.

Passers-by reported one near the Franklin County Gun Range on the weekend of April 10, and another down HWY 91 on April 12, said local fire marshall Matt Gleed. That second fire lodged in a stand of trees and during the night, one of them fell on the highway. The state highway department was on site April 13 removing the rest of the trees.

Also on April 13, another fire erupted in the hills northeast of Franklin, where a property owner had been burning trees along a fence line the day before.

High winds racing through Franklin County that day fanned the embers into the 40-acre fire, which spread to Bureau of Land Management land.

Voters approve courthouse bond

In May, voters approved a bond to remodel and build an addition to the Franklin County Courthouse.

A total of 1,018 votes were cast, with 699 yes votes (68.7%) and 319 no votes.

Construction on the new part will begin in the spring of 2022, said county building inspector Randie Henry. Both building materials and contractors are scheduled to begin at that time, he said.

While waiting to receive the funds from the bond, the county began using the $1 million it had set aside for the project to build a sally port on the west side of the building.

PHS, West Side graduates honored

Tempestuous spring weather calmed to provide a sunny graduation ceremony for the Preston High School Class of 2021 on May 27, on the school’s football field.

The outdoor ceremony for the 144 graduates was refreshing, with speeches by salutatorians Ethan Pearson and Hannah Stephenson, followed by valedictorians Zachery Burnett and Mosiah Steele.

On the evening of May 26, West Side High School graduated 57 seniors. It was standing room only in the Dahle Fine Arts Center, with friends and family gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of those seniors.

Trevyn Hadley opened the ceremony welcoming everyone. Valedictorians Natalia Lewis and Sadie Waite spoke to their peers about what they learned and what they will miss.

Gun drawn on bull at rodeo

That Famous Preston Night Rodeo was attended by Idaho Gov. Brad Little and attracted one of the largest crowds ever, but it was a runaway bull and a spectator’s reaction to it that drew the most attention.

A photo of a spectator pointing a handgun at a bull that tried to jump into the stands at That Famous Preston Night Rodeo generated a stampede of comments online, ranging from praise to criticism to mockery.

The photo was among a series taken by then-Citizen Editor Necia Seamons to accompany an article about the bull’s attempt to leap into the crowd. The leap was also captured on videos that got wide circulation over the weekend, including on NBC News.

The bull that stole the show circled around to the west side of the arena after throwing his rider, then without warning ran toward the crowd and tried to jump the fence. No humans, or the bull, were injured in the incident.

Much-needed rain arrives

Some impressive monsoonal storms hit Franklin County in early August. Heavy black clouds dropped their rain in various places at various rates.

Link Crawford from the National Weather Service said the heaviest rainfall appears to be along the Bear Lake and Franklin County border. “Some estimates are over 3” right along that crest,” he said.

Down in the valley and among the hills that surround Franklin County’s towns and farmlands, the weather service estimated anywhere from half an inch to an inch and a half fell during that series of storms.

Preston holds ‘Patriot Parade’

A Patriot Parade held Saturday, Sept. 11, was a somber memorial to the memory of the people who were lost on Sept. 11, 2001 in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and over Pennsylvania.

And it was an important memorial, said both organizers and attendees, because today’s youth don’t know what happened that day.

Sponsored by the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Preston Elks, the parade began at City Hall in Preston at 1 p.m. and followed by a memorial program and an Elks sponsored luncheon. The Boy Scouts of America and several local merchants set up booths in the park, as well.

State champions in volleyball, XC

In late October, the West Side Lady Pirates had a fantastic season culminating in four straight wins at the 2A state volleyball championships to defend their state title and win back-to-back state championships.

Also bringing home a state title was the Preston High girls cross-country team, which knocked off defending state champion Skyline and district rival Pocatello to take the top spot this year. The Preston girls won the state title for the first time since 2008.

Redistricting splits southeast counties

The state of Idaho’s redistricting commission tore apart the district that represented the southeastern Idaho counties of Franklin, Oneida, Caribou and Bear Lake.

Franklin County is now represented by District 28, which includes Bannock County except for the city of Pocatello, which is its own district (No. 29) — up to Fort Hall and Power County.

Oneida County has been thrown in with Minidoka and Cassia Counties for District 27. Bear Lake and Caribou counties are with another part of Bannock County for District 35.

West Side football makes history

West Side made history as the first 2A football team in Idaho to win three consecutive state football titles on Nov. 19 when they beat Firth 33-13.

A few of the things they accomplished were a fifth first-place trophy under coach Tyson Moser, and an eighth championship banner. They extended their winning streak to 32 games as the senior class finished its high school career with a 43-2 record.

Seamons honored as longtime editor retires

Jan and Necia Seamons were named Lamplighter and Queen of Lights at the Candlelight Dinner on Nov. 6 in the Robinson Building. Family and friends were present to join in honoring the esteemed couple.

Jan is a new retiree after working 38 years at Preston City. Hired on as a mechanic, then Public Works Director and later Foreman, he is a bank of information in maintaining the public facilities and infrastructure.

It was a fitting sendoff for Necia, who recently retired after 28 years as editor of the Citizen. Seamons continues to contribute regular articles to the newspaper as a correspondent.

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