1989: Sheriff saga continues, museum keeps mammoth
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 March of 1989, a common problem which is even faced at times during certain weather today took place. Indian Canyon was closed because of boulders that came down the hillsides and covered the road. The main slide happened on March 19, when car sized boulders landed on the highway. The blockage occurred during a spring snow storm. Road crews had just finished plowing the road for the night when they got word from a motorist that the boulders had come down. One boulder was so large that the heavy equipment available could not move it so it had to be dynamited the next morning.
The saga of Carbon County Sheriff Barry Bryner continued as a preliminary hearing was held on April 7 concerning his actions in February which led to his being chased by his own and other law enforcement agencies and a crash into a field in south Price of his police cruiser. He had appeared for his initial arraignment on Feb. 23 and his bail was set at $10,000.
The case was extended for two weeks, but in that time little happened and County Attorney Gene Strate filed a motion requesting an immediate ruling in the criminal action. He asked that Bryner be bound over on a class B misdemeanor for DUI and a third degree felony charge on evasion. By the beginning of May the court decided that Bryner would stand trial on the charges. Bryner was also facing civil court proceedings at the same time having to do with high crimes and misdemeanors. He was also decertified by POST a week later and the county commission set a public meeting on May 31 to begin the process of filling his position by appointment.
During that meeting the commission activated the Central Democratic Committee (the sheriff's position is an elected one and Bryner ran as a Democrat) to submit three names to the commission for possible appointment to the sheriff's position. Meanwhile Bryner filed an appeal with the Utah Court of Appeals for a review of his decertification. Late in June Bryner offered to resign from the sheriff's position under a number of conditions, largely having to do with his decertification and compensation. Not long after the commission agreed to the terms of his resignation. The explanation was concerns for the costs and time it would take to win a protracted legal battle with him.
Meanwhile the Democratic Central Committee had nominated three people for Bryner's abandoned post. They were Jim Robertson, Dennis Christensen and Don Blackburn. In July the commission appointed Robertson, who they hoped would help to heal a fractured county sheriff's office. But even that appointment gained some controversy as a Salt Lake television stations reported that one of the commissioners had told them that if the other two candidates that had been nominated had been present at the meeting, the outcome would have been different. Apparently during the day of the meeting the commission had gone back and forth on who to appoint, but in the end the final vote favored Robertson.
Bryner's trial on the criminal charges was finally set for Nov. 8 but then was moved back to Feb. 5, 1990.
Helper lost another business in April as Veltri Drug closed its doors after 39 years of business. The store had been a fixture in the town during its heyday as well as into the 1980's where it hosted one of the last soda fountains. The owner, Al Veltri, stated that at one time the store was in the middle of a bustling Helper. "Helper was like Broadway. Can you imagine what it was like when Spring Canyon was going? The boys used to come to town on weekends. The lights were pulsating and inviting. They would find a little gambling, a card game or something. A girl maybe. Why my building upstairs was a whorehouse once, but mostly I think they came to town for a bath and some clean sheets."
In May it was announced that after a lot of consideration and debate the Manti LaSal National Forest awarded the remains of the mammoth found in Huntington Canyon in 1988 to the College of Eastern Utah. At the same time the Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake was awarded the right to do the molding and casting of the bones so that other interested parties could have displays of the mammoth as well. The Forest Service said that they would pay for and maintain ownership of the molds. At the time a cost of between $15,000 and $18,000 was estimated for each replica.
In June one of the worst auto accidents that ever occurred in the area happened three miles east of Cat Canyon when two vehicles collided and killed five people. The driver in one car and four people in the other were all killed instantly. One driver was from Columbia, one little girl was from Price and the rest were from Green River. Highway 6 was closed for about three hours because of the accident.
The plan to build a huge landfill near East Carbon was also revealed in June of 1989. The plan, as submitted, was projected to provide $750,000 in revenues for East Carbon each year. The East Carbon Development Corporation was planning the project and said that a good transportation system (the railroad), available land and limited rainfall in the area all made the project a good one for the area.
In August flash floods caused by heavy downpours caused thousands of dollars in damage in Price when rain water filled basements, destroyed landscaping and deposited heavy amounts of mud on city streets and in peoples yards. At one point on August 17 rain was coming down one inch per hour in the area. At one point Mead's Wash had over five feet of water flowing down it but it did no damage to the bridges that crossed it.
In late September Carbon teachers walked out for one day following a statewide movement to protest poor funding for schools. The school district canceled classes for the day. That year the legislature had voted to return a state budget surplus of $35 million to taxpayers rather than give more funding to the schools, which the teachers felt was badly needed. In October some Carbon students walked out of class to show support for the teachers and the dilemma the school districts were in concerning funding.