Price Council to face myriad issues in 2014
With the start of a new year there comes many things. And no two years are ever the same.
That's why it can be exciting, and at times very stressful, to be a city council member with Price City. Everything from city budgets to planning large events, including International Days, helping maintain a strong and stable local government takes lots of work among not only city officials and employees, but the residents of the city as well.
So with a new year now over a week old, how are things shaping up in the new year for Price City?
"Hopefully 2014 will be a prosperous year for the city and its residents," said council member Rick Davis. "There is always a need to stay upbeat and as a city council we'll look to see what we can do to help improve certain areas and continue to play a role in helping out our community."
Davis and other Price City council members agreed that while times may be rough for businesses and residents in the area, the city has remained stable with a positive outlook for the next year and beyond. Currently there is about $50 million worth of construction going on in the city with the new county courthouse building on 100 North, new apartments being built in town and a new hotel being built in West Price among others.
However there are a number of challenges that are along the path in the upcoming year. A few council members and Mayor Joe Piccolo cited the possible large impact on the community and the economy with the upcoming closure of the Carbon Power Plant in 2015 and the drop in energy extraction in Carbon County among other areas that will be closely watched.
"The power plant has a very big impact on our community and I'm going to fight as hard as I can to keep that open," said Piccolo.
While concerns about the closing of the Carbon Power Plant are at the forefront, Piccolo said he is hoping that city council can do as much as possible to help with another problem that lurks in the background: the high suicide rate in the county.
"The health and well-being of the citizens is a key area that we need to all work together on and find solutions to figure out what we can do to help out our community," Piccolo said.
Some issues and topics discussed by council members were complex, but some were also very simple and to the point. For council member Kathy Hanna-Smith, keeping Price City looking well-kept, with a strong vibrant downtown area and enhancing events that help bring the city together are keys for 2014.
"We need to work to make a vibrant downtown and hopefully fill vacant storefronts," said Hanna-Smith in an email. "We need to continue to work closely with local and statewide economic partners to strengthen our local economy."
Davis said he believes that the discussion of what to do with the current county courthouse building on Main Street will continue to be a hot topic in 2014. With the new county building on 100 North currently under construction, a lot of discussion has taken place about how to continue to drive traffic downtown.
"The decision for what will be done with the building will be vital for the downtown area," Davis said. "It will affect a lot of things and hopefully it will be something that fits in with our downtown area and attracts and drives people to go there."
Of the many suggestions thrown around by people, council member Wayne Clausing suggested that the building could become an oncology and radiology clinic. His belief is that not only could it help the local population, but it could also bring people from all over southeastern Utah to Price instead of watching them have to go up to Provo or Salt Lake City to receive care.
Water issues will continue to play a big role in 2014 as Scofield Reservoir continues to hover at low levels. While the hope is that the winter season will bring plenty of snow to help raise the water levels, there is concern that water levels could drop to extremely low marks during the summer months.
"We'll have to keep a close eye on the water levels," said Clausing. "If we continue to get very little snow in the area, it will be a big factor for us to deal with during the summer."
Hanna-Smith also said she would be looking to help enhance the Culture Connection events that run throughout the summer months and work on a new project called "Playing Unplugged" which is a project that looks to get young members of the community "unplugged" from their electronics and do other things including getting out into the community and enjoy local events, attractions, activities and more.
With an importance on outdoor activities, council member Layne Miller said he is hopeful that some policy changes with local groups and parents for the use of baseball fields will be completed this year. Miller said he has seen the impact that youth sports can have on the area with the consistent use during the summer months and the possibility of attracting more baseball tournaments to the area which helps out the local economy.
How things play out in 2014 is yet to be determined, but many on the council agreed that Price City is in good shape and will continue to work towards making that continue.