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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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County council urges awareness of services during county government week

By Gideon Oakes

April 30, 2009 | LOGAN -- By proclamation of the Cache County Council, May 3-9 will be designated National County Government Week.

The proclamation touts the responsibilities taken on by county governments and the services they provide. It urges citizens to visit their county’s government offices and “become more aware of the importance of the services rendered.”

“Counties have a long history of providing critical services,” reads the proclamation. “County governments are the citizen’s local government voice, providing solutions that bring communities together.”

In her annual report, County Assessor Kathleen Howell gave the council an overview of the duties her office provides. In addition to the appraisal and valuation of homes and land, Howell said her 18 employees also appraise, bill and collect taxes on business property and also run the county’s motor vehicle office.

Howell said her office must land within a margin of 90-110 percent of acceptable value when making assessments or the state will take the matter over. Of the 42,000 parcels the office taxes, and therefore must revalue each year, only 468 ended in appeals last year. Of those, only 59 went on to state appeals.

She added that decisions are starting to come back from the appeal process, and all have been found in favor of the office so far.

“That doesn’t mean we won, because they can go on to a formal hearing now, but clearly it sends a message that our values are fair,” Howell said.

An open public hearing regarding the 2009 budget failed to attract any input.

In other business, the council voted to:

- make several small adjustments to the 2009 budget.

- approve a resolution formed at its last meeting instructing the county recorder’s office to open from noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays.

- approve the 2009 weed control policy.

- approve a resolution increasing access to the Hyrum library for county residents living in unincorporated areas.

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