1974: Judge tosses CHS dress code, fire destroys Price school
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. The article is being written from front page stories that appeared during each year in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth in 1891.
The year opened with the news that the town of Castle Gate was going to be leveled by its new owners McCulloch Oil Corporation. The company had set a Jan. 31, 1974 date for people to sign that they would move out or have houses moved to the then new Castle Gate Subdivision in Spring Canyon. Early signers got a $200 signing bonus. Previous owner North American Coal Company had said they would give residents of the area the land their houses stood on, but a later agreement with McCulloch basically rescinded that agreement and the land was passed to the new owner. Towns people thought about legal action but lawyers told them that the most they could hope for was a delay in the destruction of the town. Castle Gate, which was incorporated in 1914, would be gone before the end of the year. On June 18 residents voted to disincorporate the town.
A lawsuit filed by parents against the Carbon School District concerning the districts dress code went before Judge Edward Sheya in late January. Tensions over the dress code, which among other things prevented young men from having long hair and girls from wearing pants to school (they could only wear dresses), and which resulted in some student walkouts two years previous, were high and the courtroom at the county courthouse was packed while the case was presented in mid-January. In early March Sheya threw out the dress code, in fact only leaving one sentence that concerned that cleanliness of men's hair in place. The next day almost three quarters of the girls at Carbon High School wore pants to school.
A fire in early February took out a large grocery warehouse in Price. Utah Wholesale Grocery, which was located at 100 South and 100 West sustained $1 million in damage to the building and lost contents during the blaze. The fire was discovered when the manager and three employees came to work at 8 a.m. on Feb.9. They opened the doors to back a truck in and smoke billowed out of the building. That manager went downstairs in an elevator to check where the smoke was coming from but was driven back by the smoke and tried to return to the first level. However, just before the elevator reached that level it stopped and he had to kick the doors open to get out. The Price Fire Department soon arrived, but within a few minutes flames "hundreds of feet high" broke through the roof of the building. Units from the Helper Fire Department arrived to assist in fighting the blaze and worked to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings. Initially it was determined the fire started in the furnace room of the building. The warehouse had been used to supply nearly 50 grocery stores in the two county area. Most people didn't realize how important that warehouse was until after it burned and store shelves became empty of some items when they sold out because delivery could not be "immediate." Bad news came in March when it was announced that the rest of the building would be bulldozed and that from then on, deliveries would come out of the Salt Lake operation.
That same week a tanker truck driven by a Price man was shot at as it crossed over Indian Canyon. Max Shepard said that he was blinded by a spot light from a late model car that drove past him and then he heard the windshield of the truck break. Once at the Port of Entry, it was found that the truck had been peppered by shotgun pellets. A recent truckers strike was discounted as a reason for the attack by law enforcement.
Gasoline shortages were also again prevalent in 1974. Local businesses dependent on tourism were very worried about what might happen if the cost was much higher and the supply even tighter than the year before. The Arab oil embargo was affecting most of the nation by the early winter and the summer looked bleak.
It was also announced in the spring that the Carbon High band had been invited to participate in the parade at the Calgary (Canada) Stampede that year. Fund raising efforts to help the band to go began immediately, with a large thermometer showing the money that had raised on the front page of the Sun Advocate every week beginning in May. The effort to send the band was similar to the one 10 years earlier when the band was sent to the Rose Parade in California. The band had a rigorous practice schedule to get ready for the parade and left in early July to march in the parade.
Another fire in May left the Alpine Motel badly damaged. The motel, which was located west of Price started on fire on May 9, and damaged the boiler room and half dozen units of the lodging property. The estimated damage was $15,000.
Then in mid-May another fire, one which devastated the community, and one in which arson was determined to be the cause, burned Price Elementary School to the ground. The school, which was only six years old, suffered $1.2 million in damage. It stood where the Carbon District Office and Lighthouse stands today. The fire was discovered by a deputy who was making rounds of Mont Harmon and the school that burned. At 9:50 p.m. He turned in the alarm via his car after seeing flames in the school library. Two other people also noticed the blaze and turned in the alarm at almost the same time. After the Price Fire Department arrived they found that it was almost impossible to pump water from a hydrant (the only one nearby) that was south of the school and down the hill. A wind blowing from the southeast also fanned the flames. While units from Helper and Wellington also arrived to fight the fire, water was still a problem. The units tried to pump water from the nearby canal but the steep banks made getter water from there difficult too. In the aftermath, the district released the students from the school four days early for their summer break and started to figure out where they would house them the next year, while construction was going on for a new building. That option turned out to be the old Price Central School that had been closed for a number of years. By that time the building belonged to Price City and the district had to set up an agreement to rent the building from the municipality. A bond election was held in September to finance the construction of a new building to replace the burnt down one and it passed easily 1,186-544. No one was ever arrested or charged in connection with the fire.