1966: Sun Advocate sold, Highway 6 gets new life through Price Canyon
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 with a home invasion that left two Carbon residents badly beaten and two assailants in jail. The attack took place when the residents of a home on Birch Street were awakened early in the morning by the ringing of their door bell. When the man of the house opened the door he was pushed back into the room and beaten. The other assailant went into the bedroom and beat the man's wife and actually took a shot at her with a pistol. That bullet missed. The pair were later traced to Salt Lake and arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit murder.
In February, the Sun Advocate was sold by longtime publisher Hal G. MacKnight to a group of investors from California headed up by Robert L. Finney. Finney took over the job of publisher of the paper within the next month. MacKnight had been publisher or co-publisher (and owner) of the paper since 1934. Up until the present time no one person or entity has ever owned the paper for such a long period in its 120 year history.
In the same issue where the sale of the paper was announced, the military also said that they were extending the life of the Green River Missile Base into at least 1967. The plan was to launch another 36 test vehicles toward White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in that year. In November the military was able to launch three Athena rockets in one day (actually within six hours of each other) from the site, a first for anywhere in the world.
Also in February, the debate over whether natural gas franchises were going to be allowed in the county was coming to a head. On Feb. 24 the paper announced that petitions were being passed around Price to get a vote on the issue in a referendum in November. The idea of having natural gas piped into homes and businesses where coal, the main product of the area, would be replaced was repugnant to many in the county. The controversy had gone on for years at this point, but many people were interested in the possibility. But by mid-March the preponderance of petitions and the signatures on them led the Price City Council to have a meeting deciding whether to award a natural gas franchise to Mountain Fuel Supply (now Questar). At that time they adopted an ordinance to allow the gas company to come in and start signing people up and to start planning for the delivery system. It was the first break through for natural gas in the heart of Utah's coal country. But the ordinance still needed the vote of the populace to be allowed, so a date of July 12 was set for a referendum. However, in the April 14 issue of the Sun Advocate it was revealed by the city that the date may be changed because at the time the miners in the area had two periods of vacation which they could take from the mines and the July 12 date sat right in the middle of that time period. Opposition leaders to the gas franchise said that would keep miners from expressing their opinion on the subject. However the original date set was the date when the referendum took place and people in Price supported the ordinance by a vote of 1037 to 475. In August the county also granted Mountain Fuel the right to distribute in its jurisdiction. By October homes were being hooked up and gas was being supplied to customers in a number of areas.
That same issue of the paper also brought home the reality that boys from Carbon County were fighting a war in a far off land called Vietnam. It was the first report of an injury or death of a soldier from the area in the paper. The report said that Private First Class Charles D. Melkel of Dragerton was injured by a land mine in the war zone and was recovering from his injuries. It was the first announcement of its kind in the Sun Advocate during the Vietnam years, but not the last. In May it was announced that Kenneth Oliver of Wellington had also been wounded in the arm and hip and had been sent back to the United States to recover.
Also in April a fight broke out between local youths and some from the Job Corps Camp that was located south of Price at the time. According to the reports some young men in cars were taunting Job Corps enrollees in the area of Main Street and 100 East in Price. One of the Job Corps youths threw something at one of the cars and broke a window. A fist fight ensued, and soon many kids (estimated to be 75 to 100) had gathered around. Police arrived and broke up the fight, but then the crowd started to mix it up. Police said that many kinds of weapons appeared including everything from tire irons to chains. They were able to stop what could have turned into a riot. They arrested six people including two juveniles.
In early May the Greenwell Motel was robbed by two men from New York on May 3. The robbers used a rolled up magazine they said had a gun in it to steal money from the motel night attendants at about 11 p.m. As they made their get away the manager of the Greenwell Cafe was able to spot the car and gave police a description. They found the car parked at the Alpine Motel on the west end of town. There they took the two into custody and a third man as a material witness. No gun was found on the men, in the car or in their room.
Another robbery at Tom's Sinclair in east Price in June yielded two subjects who were arrested in Salt Lake. The attendant at the station was held at knife point while two men took $77 from the cash register and fled in a car driven by another man. The three also later robbed a station in Springville, but were apprehended early the next morning. All three were from Ohio.
In late June Liberty Fuel in Latuda closed. That also meant the town, which by that time only had a few residents left, was abandoned.
On July 28 the new Price Canyon highway was dedicated after a two year construction period. The nine mile, seven million dollar project was one of the most expensive two lane road projects ever built in Utah up until that time. While the road had been partially opened for the previous two weeks, the dedication ceremony officially finished the project. The ceremony took place just north of the Castle Gate formation and was headed up by an address by Gov. Calvin Rampton.
In August the first death of a local soldier fighting in Vietnam was announced. Marine Lance Corporal Richard P. Donathan, 22, of Helper was killed during fighting near Tam Ky.
At the end of August public school began, and with that the new Sally Mauro Elementary School in north Helper opened its doors. The school was built to replace the old Helper Central School that burned down two years before. The official dedication took place on Nov. 7.
The year ended with a cold winter setting in and a continuing fight about water rights between Sanpete and Carbon counties. On Dec. 15 attorneys for both sides argued the matter in front of the Utah Supreme Court. The arguments took place after talks about the issues involved broke down, talks that were ordered by the Supreme Court to try and resolve the issues beforehand. After the arguments before the court the governor appointed three engineers on Dec. 27 to try and settle the dispute by examining the information and arguments and by coming up with a solution.