1999: After 70 years, Notre Dame School closes its doors
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.
Early in the year, an issue that had been simmering for some time came to the top of the pot when Carbon County commissioners said they would not endorse a private prison that was being considered for construction in the county without some assurances about extended costs of such a facility. One company had maintained that it was thinking about building a private facility on the corner of Ridge Road and Highway 10 which would hold between 500 and 700 medium security adult male prisoners. The commission, however, was concerned about the costs of possible increased law enforcement, medical costs that prisoners might incur and if public defender services were needed, who would pay for those. It was projected at the time the prison would only provide about $40,000 a year in direct taxes to the county and that wouldn't be enough to cover higher costs with the facility in place. It was also projected that the facility would provide 120 new jobs with starting rates between $9 and $10 per hour. However by March the company that was proposing he prison pulled the plug on the idea, saying that there was too much negativity in the county concerning the proposal.
The College of Eastern Utah got into some hot water over using their food services department to do catering in the community. A number of private food caterers and restaurateurs voiced concern about the colleges policy of going after private weddings, receptions and banquets, while not having the competitive costs that private businesses in the community have, such as paying sales tax, restaurant tax nor any property taxes on the facilities that are used.
College officials were concerned that by decreasing its business presence in the community would impose substantial monetary impacts on the college's food service department. The college also replied to the criticisms with figures showing they had paid sales taxes and restaurant tax charges as well. The dispute had begun during a series of meetings in November of 1998 and had spilled over into 1999.
By late January it was announced that a the dispute and a policy had been adopted that would resolve the problem with the private enterprises. After the agreement was reached, however, the decrease in business for the college food services caused some financial problems and by April some of those problems were being voiced on campus.
Highway 6 issues
The safety concerns about Highway 6 were becoming ever more present in 1999, too. Early in the year, the legislature bumped off a bill that would have provided money for some real improvement. In May, an article that was written in the Sun Advocate voiced huge concerns from officials who take care of accidents and accident victims, with most of them saying that the speeds had increased in recent years and that injuries in accidents were becoming worse. At the end of the year, a U.S. 6 advisory committee was set up to evaluate the problems on the highway with State Rep. Brad King chairing the committee and many local officials and other legislative representatives on it.
Notre Dame closes
In early June the educational process in Carbon County took a great blow when the Catholic Church decided to close Notre Dame School in Price. The school, which at the time offered elementary and middle school classes, it was said, just didn't have a high enough enrollment figure to keep it open for the 1999-2000 school year. The school had been around for over 70 years at the time and people who had gone to school there or intended to send their kids there for another year were in shock by the announcement.
Pinnacle Canyon begins school in motel
While Notre Dame was closing, another school, a public charter school, Pinnacle Canyon Academy was getting ready to open. They had funding from the state, students and teachers, but they didn't have a building. An offer from the Greenwell Motel to use some of their rooms for the year was happily accepted by the school's administrators and Price City issued a temporary permit, in late August, for them to meet at the north wing of the motel for the 1999-2000 school year. The school leased 17 of the 30 rooms in the north wing of the motel for the year and school opened Sept. 7.
Three young people, two honor graduates of Carbon High, were cited for improper burning when they burned an American flag in protest over the fact that the United States "enjoy prosperity at the expense of others and our complacency to that fact is a result of the apathy bed by our prosperity." Two Price police officers along with one Utah Highway Patrol trooper responded to a call someone had placed to dispatch about the burning. The young men involved said that the flag burning was "in celebration of the freedom they enjoy as American citizens to dissent..."
While today the College of Eastern Utah is now USU Eastern, in 1999 they were very separate entities, with CEU and USU having facilities in both Grand and San Juan Counties. In late November it was revealed that Utah State University was maneuvering to move CEU out of both those counties through the Utah State Board of Regents and take over the junior college's duties on those campuses. The decision on the proposal by the Regents was to be made in December but the decision was set back for at least 30 days after the Regents decided to do an analysis of the situation with a collaboration between CEU and USU to develop a plan that would be best for the areas involved and for the institutions. The decision on the collaborative effort would wait until 2000.