1982: Population booms, fire destroys American Legion Post, gas drops to $1.17
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 new year brought tragedy almost immediately to Methodists in the Carbon County area when an auto-semi-truck accident in the Salt Lake Valley took the life of Rev. Harold H. Teague, the pastor of the Price United Methodist church, as he returned from a meeting on the morning of Jan. 12. Teague, who had been the spiritual leader of the church for less than two years, was killed when a semi crossed over the median going northbound hitting the reverend's car head-on near 13200 South on I-15. He was transported to Cottonwood Hospital where he died that afternoon.
The end of January brought a world record to the area as miners at the Kaiser Steel mine in Sunnyside set the mark for the most tons produced out of a long wall miner with 20,384 tons coming out of the mine on Jan. 25. That was the second time the mine had broken a world record, having produced 20,298 tons in an eight hour shift in 1975. At the time the average for a long wall mining operations was about 6,000 tons in 24 hours.
A fire at the American Legion Post in Price destroyed the club and caused damage to a restaurant downstairs and to an adjoining storage building used by Bill's Home Furnishings. The fire was believed to have started when a short occurred as ice came off the back of the building and pulled some wires down, causing a fire. The estimated damages were set at over $100,000 for the club and between $5,000 and $10,000 to the contents of the storage area.
It was the good old days of 1982 when gas in March dropped to $1.17 a gallon. The Sun Advocate reported that the prices over February and March were the lowest in some time and interviewed a number of people in the county who were very happy about it.
It was in 1982 that plans to build the now familiar Price City "domes" came to light. The paper reported that the designer said that the dome structure would provide for unique and very usable space inside the structures.
Once again the Sun Advocate made a big change in how its paper was produced and presented to customers in 1982. At the time the twice a week paper was being produced on Wednesday and Friday and with the June 11 issue the paper began printing the Friday edition as a new publication called the "Weekender." It was presented in a tabloid form and had less hard news and more features about the area and people.
In early July the Carbon County Sheriff's office began investigating open gambling during the annual Coal Country Horse Races. At the race held in late June two long lines formed during the races; one for concessions and the other selling racing tickets. It was reported that the tickets were $2 and that many of the bettors were under 10 years of age. In mid-July four citations were issued for class B misdemeanors at the show.
The times in 1982 were different in terms of population shifts in the area too.
Rather that the no-growth or slow growth that has been experienced by the area in the last two decades, that era showed rapid growth. One of the signs of that period was that in the fall Carbon School District announced that enrollment was up over seven percent from the year before. The district added 352 more students for a total of 5,342 attending classes daily.
That year there was also a battle going on that today would seem unlikely. The old Carbon County Hospital still stood in north Price and some people were proposing that the hospital reopen to give Castleview competition. A public hearing was held in October to see if such a move would be prudent. It appeared at the time that the hospital reopening might be backed by St. Marks Hospital, who had already reportedly paid a $2,000 retainer fee to have the old building appraised.
Meanwhile, Castleview sent an application to the state asking that they be able to add 20 to 50 more beds to the facility. The Utah Health Systems Agency then put the public hearing on hold, because part of the reason for looking at reopening the old hospital was that it appeared Castleview was not able to handle the load it had been taking on in the area.
The state wanted to reschedule the meeting for December so they could review both applications (the local entity being titled the Hospital Reactivation Corporation). However the local group decided to go ahead with the meeting anyway. The meeting was held on Oct. 21 and more than 200 people showed up and most voiced the opinion they wanted to see the old hospital put back into service. People were alarmed by the increasing costs of doing business at Castleview and many saw the competition of another hospital a good thing that may help with that and the kinds of services available in the local area.
The disappearance of a former Catholic priest turned car salesman perplexed local authorities in December. Michael Donovan, a native of Northern Ireland, was reported missing around Dec. 10. Around Thanksgiving time he had taken a demonstrator car from Kraync Motors and left behind a large bounced check made out to a Helper woman. Police at the time suspected foul play because he had a tendency to pick up hitch hikers.
However, a week after the story was reported in the Sun Advocate, he showed up in town and was accompanied to the police station by Rev. Robert Servatius of Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church. He told police that he went away to Salt Lake during the Thanksgiving holiday and ended up at a retreat in north Salt Lake.
Time passed more quickly than he realized and soon he found out that the authorities were looking for him for car theft. When he came back to Price he met with Karl Kraync, who decided not to press charges. Price Police Chief William Cossaboom told the Sun Advocate that when he realized a week had passed since he left that he "was too embarrassed about being gone so long to return." Cossaboom also said that Donovan "did not realize how bad things were and that there were so many people concerned about his well being." The bad check charges were also dropped.
Notable deaths during 1982 included long time Carbon High coach Carl "Stubby" Petersen and Sally Mauro, who taught and was a principal in Carbon School District for 44 years. The elementary school in Helper is named after her.