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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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Brigham City's Hansen upbeat about future of auto industry

By Alison Baugh

May 8, 2008 | BRIGHAM CITY -- Filling a car up at the gas station may hit people’s pocketbooks, but for Byron Hansen it is affecting his whole life. Hansen is the owner of a car dealership and has to worry about gas prices hurting his business.

"I get as frustrated as anyone when I see the gas bill," Hansen said.

He has to worry about the economy and what adaptations will come to help cope with the continued increase in oil prices. The success or failure of the business doesn't just affect Hansen and his family, Hansen said. The other 35 employees and their families also depend on the business. Yet Hansen is rarely seen without a smile on his face and is always willing to talk to about the future.

"I'm very optimistic about the future in the auto industry," Hansen said.

Hansen's love for people carries through all he does. He began working at the family car dealership in Idaho when he was about 5 years old, sweeping, taking out garbage and washing windows. In 1961, the family moved their business to Brigham City. This is the business Hansen continues to run today. He enjoys working in a small town because he gets to know more people and work with them. "You get to a take a more active role in your community," Hansen said.

He has been involved with the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club, worked with the city council, the Airport Board and served as president of the Utah Automobile Association.

Besides being a father, grandfather and owner of a car dealership, Hansen is also the second counselor in the stake presidency of his stake. Hansen has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints his entire life and served a two-and-a-half year mission in Paris, France. Hansen said besides work and snowmobiling most of his free time is spent fulfilling his church calling. "It becomes a juggling act," Hansen said. "You do what you have to do, I guess you get used to it."

As a stake presidency, the three men watch over about 3,000 members. Hansen is able to work with the youth in preparing camps and youth conferences. He will often tell stories about his life and give some suggestions, but allows the youth planning the outings to make the final decision and solve the problems.

A turning point came for Hansen while he was on his mission. He said he learned how to work and how to solve problems on his own. He made lifelong friends with his companions and continues those friendships with Mitt Romney and Tom Rosenburg, Tiger Woods’ doctor. Who gets to have friendship with a presidential candidate and Tiger's doctor? Hansen asked.

"We stumble into opportunities and we have to be wise enough to act on them,” Hansen said.

After his mission, Hansen attended the University of Utah, studying mechanical engineering.

"I had a childhood love...I was going to get into aerospace and build moon rockets," Hansen said.

While in his last year, the school approached him to interview for an intern position in Washington, D.C. They just needed one more guy in order to get the interviewer to come, Hansen said with a laugh. It was this "one more guy" they picked and Hansen went to D.C. working with the government on experiments with nuclear power. After a year of this, the government paid for Hansen to get his master's degree at any college. Hansen said he applied to many, but went to Stanford, getting his master's in mechanical engineering.

"Probably the only reason I got into there was the government influence," Hansen whispered in a side note.

Hansen succeed in school and after graduation, moved his family to Sunnyville, Calif. to work for General Electric. After some time the company wanted him to move to the east coast. It was at this time that Hansen and his wife decided they wanted to raise their family in northern Utah and moved back to Brigham City. Hansen said this has ended up being a good decision.

Aerospace still held an interest to Hansen, yet he returned to the family business. His two brothers had dealerships in Idaho and Price, Utah. In 1982, Hansen bought the Brigham City dealership from his father. He is passing the interest in automobiles onto his three sons who work for him. Most auto dealerships really become a family business that is passed on, Hansen said. He plans on his sons taking over as he "fades out." The whole auto dealership industry is like a fraternity, Hansen said.

"If I was to break down anywhere in Utah I could call a dealer and they would bring me in and probably give me keys to a car to borrow for a few days. It's a strong bond," Hansen said.

Owning his own business has had drawbacks, Hansen said. He doesn't ever remember sitting and eating dinner with his family except on Sundays. Microwaves were the greatest invention, Hansen said. He would come home and eat after his family and help with homework or other activities. As he sees his eight, -?soon to be nine?grandchildren playing and doing things, he says, 'Our kids never did that.' He said his wife responds, they did, you just weren't around to see it. Hansen said if he could go back, he would spend more time with his family, but doesn't dwell on the past that can't be changed. His wife, Linda said she tries to help him balance everything by taking care of the little things and letting him fulfill his responsibilities.

“I try to run interference…taking care of the dumb little things myself without bothering him,” Linda said.

The family business does have benefits, such as being able to work with his children every day and having a job for them when they were younger. There was also more freedom to go on vacations, which the Hansen family has taken advantage of. Hansen said he and his wife would take a trip or two alone each year and in the summer they would have a big family outing to Canada, Nauvoo or some other vacation spot. This "made up" for the not being home every night, Hansen said.

Traveling is something Hansen said he and his wife both love. The business does a lot of advertising and the stations then give them media trips. They also own a timeshare in Hawaii and have been able to travel all over -China, Thailand, Europe and Africa. Both said their favorite trip was to Africa because the culture is so different. Hansen said he loves meeting all kinds of people and has seen so many "good" people everywhere he has traveled.

"You see a lot of good people. Some who believe the same as you do, most who don't, but they are all good people," Hansen said. "You learn everyone has the same needs and wants as we do." When not traveling far, Hansen uses his own plane for traveling and pleasure rides. He said he got his license in 1975 and continues to fly today. He used to use it in the business to go pick up cars, but now uses it for pleasure, mainly with his daughter because his sons get sick and his wife doesn't like the noise.

"We fly to Yellowstone for the day or we fly out to Jackpot (Nev.) and get a hamburger," Hansen said.

The technology changes Hansen has seen in his life that allow him to fly his own plane or send an email anywhere in the world "astound" him. He has always been into Mac and Apple computers and I-pods. He estimates he has 15 computers dating clear back. Each year Hansen goes to California and attends the Mac World Conference to see what new technology is coming out. He said he remembers when he had one of the first Ipods which would hold 1,000 songs and fit in his pocket. He was amazed that he could have 1,000 songs, carried in his pocket. Now there are ones a lot smaller that can hold thousands of songs, movies and books, Hansen said.

"The (technology increase the) last 25 years boggles my mind," Hansen said.

Hansen said he enjoys being in an industry that is also seeing many technological advances. Within the next few years, half of the cars on the street will by hybrids, Hansen said. He said he is looking forward to continuing to watch the technology change and advance his business.

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