1975: New school arises from ashes of old
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 began with Brig Young retiring from the Carbon County clerk/auditor's office, a position he had held and been re-elected to for 42 years. During that time he had become the senior statesman of the county in many ways. He was the longest serving county official ever, appointed by the county commission to fill an unexpired term in 1933 (the first year Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President) and retired when Gerald Ford was President. A veteran of World War I and of the mining business, he watched as the county grew and he helped to design the present county courthouse in the early 1950s. At the time of his retirement he also held the record for the longest serving county official in any county in the state.
January also brought definite news about the fire that had destroyed Price Elementary School the year before. The Utah State Fire Marshal's office findings were released and it stated that the fire was arson. The office found specific evidence on the school grounds that the fire had been intentionally set. Key parts of the investigation was a gallon container that contained ditto fluid (a highly flammable liquid that was used in those days to make copies of various kinds of handouts) that was laying in the middle of a hallway and a broken window in a northeast glass door that was reported by most of the officers who were first on the scene before the windows all blew out from the heat and pressure. While and investigation went on, no one was ever arrested for the arson.
February brought a report from the county that some developers were thinking about building a 30 store enclosed shopping mall just east of the Price City limits which would contain a fairly large Sears at one end and a grocery store at the other.
In early March a raid by state liquor agents on five Carbon County lounges and bars yielded illegal liquor being sold in the establishments. The Sun Advocate reported on March 6 that "Twenty-one bottles were confiscated by agents at the Point After (a bar that was located in Helper at the time). In all, 60 bottles and 11 mini-bottles were confiscated. Undercover agents had made unlawful purchases of liquor in the bars for the two days before the raid. There was also discovery made that some of the raided establishments were selling alcohol to minors as well.
In April the murder of a Price man whose body was dumped in Crandall Canyon (one of the offshoot canyons of Price Canyon north of Helper, not the one in Emery County) resulted in the arrest of three men. Michael Thomas Hogan was found there after he was reportedly shot in front of his home in west Price. Three men were arrested within a couple of hours of the shooting. Gypsy Allen Cordianna (Waterbury, Conn.), Irvin Paul Dunsdon (Bingham) and Craig Marvel (Laguna Beach, Calif.) all were arraigned on April 16. Preliminary hearings for the three men were held in May, just after aggravated kidnapping was added to the charges against the three. All three pleaded not guilty at their hearings, with two of the three adding "by reason of insanity." The two were set up with pyschiatrists to examine them and the three also asked for a change of venue which was denied in July. The trial began in August with the prosecution seeking the death penalty for the three suspects. On August 8 a jury found them guilty of all charges and Judge Edward Sheya pronounced sentence on them by saying it was hard for him to find an mitigating circumstances but was able to only determine that the murder had been a "brutal and ruthless" act. The sentence was that they would be shot to death at the Utah State Prison on Oct. 2. Later in the fall before their move to the state prison the three asked for a new trial and delays took place with no decision by the end of the year on the matter.
Two of the men later tried to cut out the bars of their cell with a hacksaw blade that had been smuggled into the Carbon County Jail. But while another prisoner held on suspicion of burglary did escape, the two convicted murderers did not.
In mid-May a double cave-in at the Peabody Mine in Huntington Canyon killed three men, including two from Carbon County. The dead included Russell Larsen, 25 of Price, Alfred Willis, 28, of Carbonville and Roge Luke, 19, of Orangeville. The company reported that the roof had been inspected just before the men's shift and that everything had been okay. The cause of the cave-in was undetermined at the time.
The fluoridation of Price's water supply also became a big issue in 1975. Price had pretty much decided to put fluoride in the water but sentiment against the move began to rise quickly. An organization called the Price-Helper Anti-Fluoridation Committee began a campaign to keep the government from, as the chairman of the committee stated "forcing me to take something against my will by placing it in the water (from the July 24 issue)." He also said the fluoridation of the water was "one big prescription." Put to a vote during the Nov. 4 election that year, the fluoridation of the water went down to defeat 1087 to 923.
That election, which not only had the fluoridation of water on the ballot, but 17 city council seats county wide was called into question when it was discovered that the election was in non-compliance with federal voting rights laws. In question was the fact that the ballots were only in English and under the law should also have been available in Spanish as well.
This was also the year of the legendary cattle mutilations in the eastern Utah area. The mutilations took place in the Range Creek area and were discovered by Jim Wilcox and his mother Jeannette. Two cows were laying nose to nose were found and bore the marks of mutilation that had been found at numerous sites in Colorado and other places around the west. These were the first of a number of mutilations found in Utah in coming months. The theory at the time was that the mutilations were the work of a religious cult who were using animal parts for in some kind of religious rights. The mutilations continued in the area for a few weeks and then moved north out of the region.
The end of October brought a huge fire that leveled the Price Lumber Company. After the blaze Price Fire Chief LaMar Jewkes said that "arson was a near certainty" in the fire because the buildings had been abandoned for some time and all the power was cut off from the area.
And a victim of an arson fire the year before came back to life in December when students moved into the new Price Elementary School that was constructed on the same site as the burned down building. Students moved belongings and materials into the school just before the dedication in mid-December, vacating the old Price Central School that had been occupied by them for the last year and a half.
Cutline for photo: Everyone got into the act at Price Central School and Price Elementary when students and workers moved materials and equipment in late November 1975 from the old building to the newly rebuilt structure that was put up after an arson fire destroyed the previous Price Elementary the year before.