1987: A new middle school and power plant are born
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.
In a change when the year of 1987 was only a year old, the Sun Advocate moved its publication dates from Wednesdays and Fridays to Tuesday-Thursday. The paper had switched from being a once a week paper (on Thursdays) in 1975 when it merged with the Helper Journal, setting the dates at that time on a Wednesday-Saturday publication schedule. That changed only a short time later to the Wednesday-Friday schedule. Since the change in 1987 the paper has remained a twice a week publication on Tuesday and Thursdays of each week.
January also brought a change in education in the west county area. It was decided that with the establishment of a middle school in Price, elementary students living in Carbonville in grades kindergarten through the fourth grade would go to Creekview Elementary and fifth and sixth grade students would go to Sally Mauro School in Helper. Parents had presented a petition for all the kids to go attend Sally Mauro.
The former Price Elementary School (which is now the district office) was at the time projected to become the new middle school building. That was ratified later that winter when the board formally turned the school into a middle school with sixth and seventh grades beginning attendance that fall. The school's name was to be known as Westridge Middle School.
In late January, Kaiser Power Corporation announced that it would build a 45-megawatt co-generation power plant in Sunnyside. The plant had a planned construction date starting in the fall of 1987 and would be on-line by the beginning of 1990. It was projected at the time that the plant would employ 27 people once it was in operation.
Also in February the Mont Harmon Junior High cheerleaders won the grand championship trophy for the junior high division at the state University of Utah meet. This meant the team would be able to go onto national competition late in February in Orlando, Fla.
In mid-March it was announced that Utah Power and Light had worked out a settlement with the families of the 27 people killed in the Wilberg Mine disaster in late 1984. The total settlement that was announced, without the company admitting any responsibility for the fire that took place, was $22 million. It was spread differently amongst the different families with some getting lump sums while others were to have it paid out over a period of time. Reportedly the lawyers in the settlement got about one third of the money, leaving about $15 million for the recipients of the funds.
Later that month UP&L faced 34 alleged violations after MSHA had finished its investigation into the disaster and issued its preliminary report. One of those violations came as the cause of the fire in which the Sun Advocate reported as a compressor "that was improperly maintained, examined and installed." The final report on the fire was not due for several months, but escapeway problems, alternate travel routes, evacuation and self-rescuer training were also cited as some of the causes of deaths of those in the mine at the time.
In a rare showing outside the State Capitol, the Utah Supreme Court convened at the College of Eastern Utah on May 11, hearing two local cases that had come before them. The change in venue was in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Constitution of the United States. The two cases, one with some Carbon citizens vs. the Utah Department of Transportation over land concerning the lowering of land values and the other concerning one company suing another over a construction project, had been cases heard in locally in Seventh District Court and were under appeal to the court. It was reported that only one other time had the court held their hearings outside their Salt Lake City chambers.
While it began much earlier, the saga of troubles reported in the newspaper concerning Carbon County Sheriff Barry Bryner began in mid-July. In a story on July 14 it was reported that the claims Bryner had made about there not being any kind of "kegger" at graduation time in Carbon County because his force was patrolling and made the teenagers move on to three different sites so the party was never held, was labeled "hogwash" by a dispatcher. She said the next morning that the evidence of a kegger was found near Airport Road. Bryner had claimed that he had patrols (including himself) out all night, but one deputy was sick and two others rode together. Bryner himself reportedly called into dispatch at 11:22 p.m. on graduation night and was not heard from again. This information was added to reports he had been questioned by the county commission about hiring practices in the department and that he had interfered with an officer in pursuit of a speeder.
Late July also brought a glimmer of hope for new jobs in a weak economy in Carbon County. At the time the state was looking to locate a second state prison (a medium-maximum security prison) somewhere in the state. For months Carbon officials had worked to get the prison built in the area and in a letter to the Carbon County Commission the state said that Carbon County's Four Mile Hill area was one of three places that were under final consideration for the facility. The other two sites included one in Monticello and the other at Gunnison in Sanpete County. However in mid-August the state announced that the new prison was a lost cause for Carbon County, Instead it was constructed and operates today in Gunnison.