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Front Page » December 20, 2011 » Opinion » Staff column
Published 1,017 days ago

Staff column


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

In the Dec. 14 issue of the Sanpete Messenger an article appeared about how Sanpete County could benefit from the fact it will have two Congressmen representing it, based on the fact it was divided basically in half (split between the Second and Fourth Congressional Districts) starting after the 2012 election. It also went on to say that Sanpete County's present Representative, Jason Chaffetz, who will now represent Carbon county in congress (if elected, that is) "has vowed to continue his support for" the Gooseberry Project

The proposed project would divert water from its natural drainage, which flows through Carbon County, into a reservoir and into the valleys of Sanpete County.

Now that representative Jim Matheson has decided to run for the Fourth Congressional seat (which would ironically represent the northern half of Sanpete County) Carbon may lose its congressional support to keep the project from happening. While Matheson has opposed the dam, he will be under big political pressure to change his mind as he represents the area that is the most adamant about building it. Matheson has always been his own man, so maybe he won't change his mind, but he will have a real fight against Republican opponents in getting elected to that seat and he may need every card he can play to get voted in.

On the other hand, Chaffetz, who has been noted to be a maverick in his short time in Congress, will be just as likely to keep his views. He will probably not be locked in any close battle with an opponent for the Third District seat because, as a Republican, the areas he will be representing with any real population, already have a track record of being highly GOP. So how Carbon County votes in any election will probably be of little interest to his campaign.

Based on the Messenger's article, Sanpete officials are giddy about the fact that Carbon will now be represented by a congressman that actually supports the project.

"We're really going to miss Chaffetz," the paper quoted Sanpete County Commissioner Spencer Cox as saying. "He and his staff have been great to work with. But it's a huge benefit to have him on board (for Gooseberry Narrows Dam) and we still have access to his office."

Sanpete County Commissioner Claudia Jerrett also was quoted as saying "We could very well end up with three strong proponents at the national level, or two who would continue to champion the cause."

Jerrett has been one of the strongest supporters of the project over the years. It seems when it is almost a dead issue, somehow she gets it resurrected almost single handedly.

What Chaffetz really does certainly is up to him. The Gooseberry Narrows project controversy has been raging for a very long time and started long before most of us were born. It has almost become a Hatfield and McCoy feud over the years; a long term fight that now has progressed through more than three generations. Each time it seems settled, despite agreements and court cases, it comes back to haunt both counties.

Now it may well haunt Chaffetz. What tune he sings in Carbon County, will be interesting to see. The song he sings may not make him very welcome in these parts.

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December 20, 2011
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