Hurricane Council discusses fire district, walking trail, arts support

HURRICANE – The Hurricane Valley Fire District, a walking trail and support for an arts organization were key agenda items during the Hurricane City Council’s meeting Thursday.

Hurricane Valley Fire District

The City Council approved an addendum to the interlocal agreement between the Hurricane Valley Fire District and Hurricane City, which allows the fire district to manage payroll and employees. The addendum is not an approval to join the fire district, as has been discussed the last few months. Councilwoman Pam Humphries said the City Council needs to set up a meeting with Washington County commissioners to work out an agreement on joining the district.

During the meeting’s public forum, Hurricane resident Don Triptow voiced his disapproval of the city joining the fire district. No information about the action to leave the district four years ago has been disseminated, Triptow said. According to information Triptow presented, rejoining the district would increase annual taxes by approximately $100 for homeowners and $300 for businesses. Taxpayers should be able to vote as to whether to join the district or not, Triptow said.

In response to Triptow’s concerns, Mayor John Bramall asked Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann to send Triptow a PowerPoint prepared for and presented at the last City Council meeting that outlines the overall savings that would result from joining the district in the long run, along with costs projected if the city were not to join the district again. Kuhlmann said he would send Triptow the presentation.

600 North walking trail

Councilman Darin Larson discussed his concern over the impact the construction of Liahona Academy, located just north of Hurricane Middle School, will have on the asphalt trail on the south side of 600 North between 200 West and 870 West, saying the city needs to acquire a 5-foot strip of right-of-way to preserve the trail, which was originally supposed to be on the north side of the street.

Construction has begun on the Liahona Academy north of Hurricane Middle School, Hurricane, Utah, December 5, 2014 | Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News
Construction has begun on the Liahona Academy north of Hurricane Middle School, Hurricane, Utah, December 5, 2014 | Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

“When we put it in, we knew it was sacrificial,” Public Works Director Mike Vercimack said of the pathway on 600 North’s south side.

The city put the pathway on the south side knowing the elementary school would be nearby, Police Chief Lynn Excell said.

As development occurs, the complexion of the path will change but there will always be a path there, Vercimack said.

City Manager Clark Fawcett voiced strong support for constructing a paved path on the north side of the street between 200 West and Grandpa’s Pond, but Councilman Darin Thomas voiced concerns over how to fund it.

Bramall said the city would find a way to budget for such a path in the near future.

Arts organization dilemma

Pam Lockwood of Southern Utah Center for the Arts, an organization that presents live theater productions and after-school youth programs and recently relocated to Hurricane, asked the council for some mercy in paying the rent for the two rooms in the community center it utilizes, emphasizing she is not asking to have the rooms rent-free but for the city to work with her. Thomas, who admitted he supports the arts, said if the organization cannot pay its rent, it should not be allowed to use the rooms.

Hurricane Recreation Director Bryce King countered, saying the city needs to give Lockwood a chance and allow her organization to put on a few more shows, which are the organization’s main source of revenue, and then re-evaluate the rental agreement. King admits the setup is complicated, as he does not want theatergoers to think Lockwood’s organization and the city-sponsored Hurricane Valley Theater Company, which most recently performed “Shrek the Musical,” are one and the same.

The council followed King’s recommendation, allowing Lockwood to continue using the rooms with the understanding that a re-evaluation of the rental agreement will take place after the Center for the Arts’ next show, “A Christmas Carol,” which will play at the Hurricane City Fine Arts Building December 10-22 every day but Sunday.

Other business

  • The council approved supporting a 16-team youth baseball tournament, scheduled to take place in March or April, through waiving field rental fees.
  • The council heard concerns from a group of Sand Hollow Resort residents over the planting of trees along Dunes Drive, which they feel will obstruct their views. The trees are honey locusts, which Mayor Bramall said will only grow as much as caretakers water and prune them. Sand Hollow Resort Manager Bill Wilkey echoed Bramall’s words and said he is happy to work with residents and give them a voice in choosing trees.
  • Frank Yoder made a presentation to the council about a resource and re-entry program that, through government funding, provides former prisoners a chance for job opportunities and, he said, decreases the chance of re-incarceration. Yoder’s said his hope is that Southern Utah, including St. George and Hurricane, will be a pilot for the project.

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