Iron County Commission considers helping build ice rink, contributing to high school scholarships

Community youth playing hockey at The Glacier in Cedar City, Feb 22, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — As part of their meeting on Monday, the Iron County Commission considered the possibility of building an ice skating rink at Woods Ranch and discussed contributing to scholarship funds for high school students who would like to attend Southwest Technical College.

Community members during public skate at The Glacier rink in Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 28, 2019 | Photo courtesy of The Glacier Facebook page, St George News / Cedar City News

Kerry Fain, president of Southern Utah Youth and Enthusiasts Together for Ice, approached the commission to present the idea of constructing a natural freeze ice rink at the Woods Ranch recreation area on state Route 14 approximately 10 miles outside of Cedar City. YETI was the organization that managed the ice rink at the aquatic center previous to Staheli Management. The facility saw its last day of operation at the end of February.

Fain said as a nonprofit organization, YETI strives to provide something worthwhile for the youth of the community. 

“We would like to propose a cooperative relationship with Iron County to build a natural freeze ice rink for all to use that can be converted in the offseason to be used for other activities,” Fain said. 

Fain explained many of the details of the proposal. The winter season would be from approximately October to April, and the size of the ice rink would be about 19 feet by 90 feet excluding space for people to be able to access the rink. The rink would be constructed to the west of the baseball field. 

Fain said the ice rink would be donated to the county, but YETI would be responsible for setting up the ice rink, maintenance, snow removal, weekly cleaning, lighting and prepping the area for the summer season. She said the organization has already received pledges from community members to begin construction of the rink and already has a Zamboni and snow removal equipment but would need bathrooms, storage for equipment and water. 

“We just really want to push forward and make something happen for our youth in our community,” Fain said. “It’s a shame that they are losing out on something.”

Although the commission did not formally vote, commissioners agreed to move forward with gathering additional information and working out the details of the proposal. 

Commissioner Paul Cozzens said he is excited about the idea. 

“I’ve been involved with the ice rink from the beginning since it moved to Cedar City,” Cozzens said. “I’ve been very proud of the public-private partnership and the success it’s had, and I’m excited about this personally and happy that you suggested it.”

Commissioner Mike Bleak said the rink would be a good boost to winter tourism as well. 

“Anything that we can get, not only for our local people to have some activities during that time, but to bring people to stay in our hotels and eat at our hotels — that’s awesome,” Bleak said. 

“It’s what gets them out of the situation they’re currently in”

Southwest Tech students in the Advanced EMT program in Brian Head, Utah volunteered to teach compression only CPR in March | Photo courtesy of Southwest Technical College Facebook page, St George News / Cedar City News

Southwest Technical College President Brennan Wood asked the commission to consider the school as the county’s 2021 fiscal year budget is being put together, particularly to support members of the community living within intergenerational poverty. 

Wood said 12% of the Iron County population is living in intergenerational poverty, and 34% of those are at risk of staying in poverty. He added that 88% of adults experiencing intergenerational poverty in Iron County do not have an education beyond high school. 

“So really, it’s the key to getting people out of IGP, and it’s more than just the key — it’s the steering wheel, it’s the four heels, it’s the whole car, it’s what gets them out of the situation they’re currently in,” Wood said. 

Wood said Southwest Tech does not charge tuition for high school students, but some students face a barrier when it comes to a small fee to attend classes. 

“We don’t charge high school students tuition even in adult certificate programs,” Wood said. “We run into students that can’t even afford $20 to come to a program. We have a flat rate; $20 will get you into as many classes as you can take that year.”

Wood said book and exam fees can also be a barrier to students, sometimes exceeding $100 for one book. 

“Our goal is to reduce these obstacles as much as we can,” Wood said. “We would very much like you to consider us in that budget, in particular, helping students that can’t pay for this additional education to make it to class.”

Wood said the college hopes for an annual contribution that would be used specifically for covering books and exam fees for high school students.

“We would take that money and put it right into scholarships for high school students,” Wood said. 

Wood said Southwest Tech hopes to be able to make a difference for those experiencing intergenerational poverty. 

“There are a lot of kids falling through the cracks right now, and we just want to be a major player in helping them get the keys to the car and be able to move forward with their career and education,” Wood said. 

Cozzens reflected on the benefit of trade schools and the need for tradesmen in the community. 

“Not every kid is suited to go to college, so the trades are really, really good,” Cozzens said. 

Miss Iron County announces 2020 service platform

The commission also heard from Miss Iron County Fallon Montgomery and Miss Outstanding Teen Ashtyn Giles, who announced their service platforms for the upcoming year. 

Montgomery said her platform is “Be Aware,” and she will focus on getting residents more involved in the community. 

Iron County Commissioners, Fallon Montgomery and Ashtyn Giles at the Iron County Commission meeting in Parowan, Utah, Aug. 24, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Miss Iron County Facebook page, St George News / Cedar City News

“It is about community awareness and involvement, mostly around community service and giving awareness to those organizations who provide services for those in need,” Montgomery said. 

Montgomery said she plans to work with Canyon Creek Services and organize service opportunities for the community. 

“I plan to do at least two service projects a month throughout Iron County and work with different organizations to do that,” Montgomery said.

Giles said her platform is “Love Your Body” and she wants to help educate youth on the importance of exercise and mental health. 

“There’s a club called the ‘Move It Club’ at South Elementary, and they work on the importance of exercising for 60 minutes every single day,” Giles said. “I would love to move that to different elementary schools so these kids have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to exercise, not only for our bodies but for our mental health.”

Giles said she also plans to work with the Rotary Club for further service opportunities. 

Bleak said Montgomery and Giles represent Iron County well. 

“Our paths will cross throughout the year, and it’s really cool to see outstanding folks like you representing our county,” Bleak said. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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