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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

River Heights repairs sidewalks, splits cost with homeowners

By Patrick Oden

April 22, 2009 | RIVER HEIGHTS -- City accounts maintain an overall surplus of $57,000 despite unexpected road and sidewalk repair expenses.

In an effort to make the city's sidewalks safer for pedestrian traffic, repairs are currently in progress to areas damaged primarily by roots growing beneath them. Bills will be sent to residents whose sidewalks have been repaired despite the fact no notification was issued prior to the onset of the repairs.

The city will bear 50 percent of the cost of the repairs, said Mayor Bill Baker, the remainder will be the responsibility of the homeowners, a fact that will be disclosed in the upcoming city newsletter.

"I think it's a major task to notify every homeowner," said Councilman Doug Clausen. "It's pretty much too late, most of it's been done."

Chris Millbank, former chairman and current member of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, representing ProLog Irrigation, sought the aid of the City Council in formalizing an agreement "that has been eluded to since 2003." ProLog and its shareholders monitor and clean the canal system that carries the city's storm water runoff.

"I would like to get an agreement signed with the city at some point so we have a clear idea of what's going on," Milbank said. Baker chastised Milbank following a dialogue between Milbank and Councilman Rob Gines over billing.

"Don't come in and say we have to this or we have to do that," Baker said in a stern tone.

Milbank produced a report showing the city had billed ProLog $2,700 for services performed by ProLog. Milbank asserted any monies owed should be from the city to ProLog. Councilwoman Francine Davis diffused the situation by assuring Milbank that the city would gladly work with ProLog to resolve the issue and establish a new storm water runoff agreement.

Milbank suggested he draft a proposal for submission to the council. Baker said the city would hire JUB Engineering to assist with the proposal in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

The council's attention turned to Heber Olsen Park and a decision was made to lock the public restrooms at 7 p.m. in an effort to stave off vandalism that has been occurring. Attempts were made recently to break the toilets and vanities in the restrooms away from the wall. The toilets were also intentionally clogged with rolls of toilet paper. Councilman Kent Parker said he had also found human feces behind the park's dumpster. The council agreed that once new signs were in place warning of video surveillance, the restrooms would stay unlocked until dark.

Baker also suggested instituting a policy against allowing dogs in city parks sighting the issue of pet waste and the resources required by the city to deal with it. "The clean-up is the real problem," Baker said.

Davis said she felt such a regulation would be unfair as she thought most people "take care of picking up after their dogs."

"I would say that very few do," Gines said. "You're not going to punish the people that don't care, there is no way to punish those people."

Councilwoman Kathryn Hadfield suggested the city consider a establishing a dog park, as Logan City has recently done, before banning dogs from all city parks.

"Where the rubber hits the road on this deal is how are we going to enforce this," Gines said. "We cannot put laws on the books that we're not going to enforce."

Clausen suggested that signs be placed in the parks as a reminder to pet owners to clean up after their dogs.

"There are snipers around, consider yourself warned," suggested Gines in jest as wording for the signs. Gines, who is responsible for the city's parks and recreation, said he could have signs posted and the council agreed this would be more appropriate than forbidding dogs in the parks at this time.

The council also unanimously adopted a resolution outlining usage fees, scheduling and maintenance responsibilities for the baseball field located within Heber Olsen Park.

"With the increase in the world's population we have issues with the use of our facilities," Gines said. "My job is getting less about building parks for kids and more about dealing with cave people."

Gines said the new resolution was needed to establish the rights and responsibilities of those permitted to use the baseball field. Following the meeting Gines explained that his reference to cave people was an acronym for "Citizens Against Virtually Everything."

Following up on the prospect of a lawsuit being brought against the city, Baker informed the council that Pat Trostle, who lives on 500 South Street, would be involved in litigation with the Utah Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Commission, not River Heights, concerning the acquisition of her property for the completion of the 100 East Street extension through the city.

In other matters, Paige Seeholzer, Becca Smith, and Emily Barfus, who served as the city's royalty for 2008, were awarded scholarships of $100 each and Hope Francis, Erica Smith, and Katelyn Zilles were named to serve as the city's royalty for 2009. A three-judge panel selects three high school junior or senior girls each year to represent the city in county parades. The queen and her two attendants also perform community service to include assisting with the city's annual Apple Days celebration.


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