1953: UPandL begins Castle Gate Plant, Carbon College faces doom
Editor's Note: This is one of a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate and the county it covers as a newspaper. These articles are being prepared in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth in 1891.
The year began of 1953 began with some good economic news.
But in the middle of the year, some bad news replaced it and by the end of the year people wondered if a 16 year old education tradition would be standing much longer.
The good news was that in January Utah Power and Light said they intended to build a $10 million power plant in the county. Not only was it noted that the plant would provide jobs directly, but that many industrial and mining jobs would be produced indirectly from the construction of the plant. Company officials noted that the plant would burn Carbon County coal. In May it was determined the power plant would be located in Castle Gate and work on the site began immediately.
In other economic news the county was also delving into building a new city'county hospital. In January the idea was on the county commissions agenda, in which Marcel Jeanselme, a member of the joint city'county hospital board, outlined the inadequacies of the structure that was being used for the hospital at that time. In February, meetings began between officials and the public on what do to replace the existing facilities.
In March Carbon mine rescue crews spent a good deal of time searching for two men who went into a mine in Emery County and did not come out. They were reportedly looking for a cutting machine that had been left in the Ricci mine when it was abandoned. The search went on for six days, with crews having to stop and start because of various hazards. Finally on the sixth day the men's bodies were found and recovered. They reportedly had been killed by carbon monoxide not long after they had entered the mine.
In early June a fire at the Coal Creek Coal Company and Knight Ideal Coal Company caused at least $100,000 in damage. The fire was obviously arson as 50 gallon gas drums were used to ignite vehicles, one of the coal tipples, and a number of buildings.
Also in June the really bad economic news came. Governor J. Bracken Lee, once the mayor and champion of Price railed against higher education as he proclaimed "Frills that the taxpayers can do without" in a report from the Sun Advocate on June 25. He was speaking of the three junior colleges and two vocational schools in the state.
In the speech he said he might call a special session of the legislature to "remove the schools referred to from state support." His plan was to return Dixie Junior College in St. George and Snow College in Ephraim back to the LDS church, which founded and once operated them. He also wanted to turn over the Salt Lake Vocational School (Salt Lake) and the Central Utah Vocational School (Provo) to the local school boards for use by them. Finally, Lee proposed giving Carbon College to the Carbon School District to be continued as use as Carbon High School.
He said that by doing that the state would save $1,285,000 every two years on operation of the schools. His reasoning was that the costs were too high for the number of students graduated and that the state "should spend a larger percentage of its school money for elementary schools because pupils at that age are more receptive and more subject to impressions than they are later."
A flash flood in July brought some destruction into the Miller Creek area. The flood came out of Lone Tree Wash after a summer downpour and damaged several houses. A culvert in the area was not large enough to carry the water and the highway nearby was also damaged by the water.
In September a strike by many Price City workers over bargaining rights affected public service for a few days. The strike ended about a week and a half later when the council refused to recognize a collective bargaining agreement and employees returned to work.
In October a fire at the Redd Motor Company caused $100,000. The dealership lost 35 vehicles in the fire and it also destroyed tools, a great deal of the interior of the store and a large inventory of parts. The fire was discovered when two tourists at the Price Cafe across the street noticed the blaze and informed the police. The fire even threatened the Savoy Hotel, which had to be evacuated for a time. The cause was thought to be wiring problems in the building or even in a vehicle.
In November It was announced that the National Guard would be placing a unit in the Price area. The unit advanced would be an engineering unit, Adjutant General Max Rich told the Price City Council that month. Having the unit would entail having 120 guardsmen in the area, but the unit could begin, according to Rich, with as little as 12. Once the unit was established a building for it would be planned and built. By mid'December, the unit was activated.
On December 18, in a special session of the Utah State Legislature, called by Governor Lee, the bodies agreed to dispose of the institutions of higher learning that the governor had proposed mid'way through 1953.
"As chief executioner, Governor J. Bracken Lee has done a memorable job in destroying our pride in a college; impairing the educational opportunities of the young people of this area; eliminating the only state institution in southeastern Utah; centralizing educational advantages into the vast state capitol city, and saving the taxpayers an infinitesimal amount, if any, in the process," stated the Sun Advocate in a rare front page editorial. "We have become the victim of inexorable events in the unpredictable field of political maneuvering."