1991: Wal-Mart opens, drought becomes worse
The year began with a big event, one that many people had been waiting for and others were dreading; the opening of the new Wal-Mart in east Price. The store that opened (now the Sutherlands) was a 77,000 square foot store, the biggest in the county. From the opening when the ribbon was cut, the store was crowded all day.
The year also began with a war that was being fought in the middle east. While international events generally have little effect in the local area, the invasion of Kuwait to drive out Iraqi troops (Operation Desert Shield/Storm) came home to roost as 700 Utah National Guardsmen from the 1457th Engineering Battalion were activated, with a good number of those coming from the Carbon County area.
While the plan was for them to be deployed to Germany to back up troops that were going to the middle east, people were reminded that things could change at any time. When the troops were activated, 80 of the Guards men came from the local area. But their stay as activated troops did not last a year as first thought. The Guardsmen returned in early June and were greeted at the Salt Lake City airport by a fairly large group of locals.
Scofield levels low
By mid-winter the water outlook for the area was worse than it had been in 1990 when the drought took a big toll on agriculture as well as on landscaping in people's yards. As of mid-February in 1991, Scofield Reservoir had 5,000 acre feet less water than it had the year before at the same time. All the expected runoffs for the year were projected to be about 50 percent of normal based on snow pack that was in place in February. Helper actually began water rationing (no outside watering) in mid-March that year. Snow storms in March helped some bring snow average totals up around the 60-70 percent mark, but still officials were concerned about what might happen when the weather got warm.
Murder in Helper
A murder in Helper put residents on the watch in mid-May when a transient was found dead in the rail yard in town. Two men were seen fleeing the scene and police were looking for them. The two suspects were not from the area and police were searching far and wide for them at the time. The two men were caught later that week but later in May they were released for lack of evidence.
Lab tests showed that the evidence at the scene did not link them in any way to the murder. But even at that point authorities had no idea who the victim was because his body had been stripped of all identification after the murder. It wasn't until mid June that the man was identified as Randall Lee Jones, originally from Hastings, Neb. He had had an extensive record of criminal behavior and had not been in touch with his family for 14 years at the time of his death.
Paper launches 'Desert Sun' for weekends
Another change in the newspaper took place in the spring of 1990 as the paper went to more a tabloid format for its Thursday edition and called it the Desert Sun instead of the Sun Advocate. Then on June 27 the flag on the Thursday paper changed back to the Sun Advocate, but with a different logo and font. The paper was still being printed in a semi tab format, however.
Museum opens 'Hall of Man' wing
A new wing opened at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in June. The wing, which had been added on to the existing museum, was the Hall of Man wing.
In September, a huge thunderstorm dumped lots of water on the county. Sunnyside reported 3.45 inches of rain, East Carbon 2.50, Hiawatha 1.75 and Price 2.60. The most reported came from Nine Mile Canyon where 4.65 inches of rain fell, and that runoff destroyed the road in canyon in a number of places, took out part of the road to the Horse Canyon Mine and also damaged the private road to Savage Trucking operation in Wellington.
The county reported that nearly every gravel road in the county received some damage from the water that came out of the sky. Price's streets were awash with water, with some of the curbs flow at 12 inches deep.
ECDC prepares to open
As the East Carbon Development Corporation began to gear up for construction of its landfill near East Carbon, an "11th hour" attempt by some residents to stop it failed. Objections had been on-going but during an information meeting on Sept. 18 most people stuck by the agenda the company had proposed, but throughout the meeting a number of people made comments, "shouting threats and (making) negative comments." The meeting that was held in the East Carbon High School gymnasium attracted several hundred people. At one point one of the hecklers grabbed the microphone and started talking about pollution. Despite the animosity and talk no violence took place and the company moved on to construct the facility.
This was also the year when the Division of Wildlife Resources treated Scofield Reservoir with rotenone to kill all the fish. Fears across the areas that used Scofield water for drinking and agriculture were high as the project took place, despite assurances from officials that the material would not get into the water and cause problems for human beings. The DWR, the Price River Water Improvement District and Price city all took a number of measures to be sure water that got to the people using it would be safe. Stations were set up along the river to neutralize any materials that came downstream. The treatment took place from late September to early October.
Debate over jail site
The county also got pressure in the fall from Price residents and the city council who were protesting the planned site for the new jail they were proposing to build. The debate between sites, with some wanting it built on the county courthouse block and others looking at sites in other places continued. One proposal had it being built just south of the court complex across 100 South. Residents didn't like that. So the county began looking for new places to put the facility.