1961: Dinosaur Quarry begins, drought forces water restrictions
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 of 1961 began with the news that the new Carbon Museum (to be the Prehistoric Museum) was planning to work the quarry at the present Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur site to find fossils for the new displays. At the time the development of the quarry had not been developed as a public display and observation area, although it seemed from the reports that all were welcomed. It was projected that a number of institutions would be working at the site that coming summer, with William Stokes of the University of Utah leading the way. At the time he estimated that each institution would probably get skeletal remains with 60-70 percent of the fossil bones intact.
For the next five months private collections of artifacts, fossils and gems from around the area were either being donated to the upcoming museum or loaned to it. Finally on June 3 the museum opened on the second floor of the Price City Hall. For months the committee members who helped to found it had worked on back drops, displays and other items for the collection. The week before the Sun Advocate published a special three page section telling the story of the museum and it also featured numerous photos of the collections and those responsible. By the end of August over 10,000 people had visited the new museum that summer.
While the move to change the name of Carbon College to the College of Eastern Utah began in 1960, the real nuts and bolts of trying to do so took place in 1961. Much of the college community was split between changing the name and not changing the name. Those that didn't want the name change largely cited the loss of local identity. Local State Senator Frank Memmott was one of the people who thought the name change was not a good idea and since the change would have to be made by the legislature, that was a hurdle for those that wanted the change to overcome. In the Jan. 19 issue of the Sun Advocate the paper lent its weight to changing the name saying that "the college (does) and should serve the entire Eastern Utah area." The two representatives to the house also supported the idea. Despite Memmott's opposition on Feb. 14 the bill to change the name of the school passed through the house. But Memmott exercised his power in the Senate and killed the bill on March 1 with a 17-5 vote. The paper stated on March 9 that the Senate voted in accordance with what they normally do when there is a vote on a very local issue; they followed the lead of the local representative. Later Memmott defended his vote in the paper saying he had only one vote in the body and that he urged others to vote their convictions on the name change.
The first part of March also brought the announcement that the LDS Tabernacle (which stood where part of the Peace Garden is now located) had been sold and would be torn down for the construction of commercial development. The funds from the sale were split with 50 percent going to the general LDS church, 25 percent going to the Carbon Stake and another 25 percent going to the Carbon North Stake.
Mid-March brought on a disaster in Wellington when a gas explosion destroyed a cafe and a gas station and badly burned four people. The blast came from a truck that was putting gasoline into the station's pumps. The blast took out the wall into the cafe which was next door, but no one in the cafe was injured. The estimated loss at the time was $50,000 and no cause was reported in the paper.
A double shooting in Sunnyside resulted in the death of one man and the wounding of another on May 28. A charge of assault with a deadly weapon and and a first degree murder charge were leveled at Howard Smith Bennett on June 16 after one of the victims died. A preliminary hearing took place on Aug 1 at which time he was bound over for trail on the murder charge. However, the defendant decided to enter a plea of guilty to a charge of second degree murder in September and he was sentenced to 10 years to life. The charge of assault with at deadly weapon was held in abeyance by the court.
The year was also a drought year and water restrictions took effect early in the summer. Even and odd numbered houses watered every other day in Price and in other communities some watering was cut to two hours every other day. But as in most summers the thundershowers came with one, on the afternoon of July 5 that caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and even some school property. Yet the downpour only put a small patch on the drought and water restrictions continued.
Late in the year a program at Carbon College opened that would have long reaching effects on the area. In December it was announced that at the beginning of winter quarter, 1962, a new cosmetology program would open in the School of Vocational Education. Over the years since thousands of people have passed through the program since that time.
Finally, once again the Gooseberry controversy bubbled up Gov. George W. Clyde recommending at the end of the year that the dam should be built. No money had been appropriated by Congress for the project and it was estimated to cost $6.7 million in 1961 dollars. Carbon County interests continued to oppose any construction.