City's new name is a mix of its future and its history
By a 6-4 vote, the East Carbon-Sunnyside City council passed a motion Tuesday evening which changed the town's name to East Carbon City with the subdivisions of Sunnyside, Columbia and Dragerton.
From the beginning of the regularly scheduled session, town residents approached the mayor and council stating their feelings about the community's title. The majority of citizens voiced their dislike for the name of East Carbon-Sunnyside and their want have the area as a whole retain the East Carbon City title.
Former East Carbon City Council member Terry Harrison brought the issue forward as he took offense at the fact that although residents were asked to give their input concerning the city's official name, they were not allowed to recommend East Carbon, Sunnyside, Columbia or Dragerton.
The council had decided during a work session to try and find a new name for the city in order to not cause a sense of loss to one city or the other. But as they never passed any type of resolution that would forbid the names, the meeting's discussion was blown out of proportion.
Ghost of the Vikings
There were several citizens who agreed that a new name would make for a new start. However, the history of certain portions of the community's past became evident as the area's long time residents began to speak out. Once again, the loss of East Carbon High School played a part in unifying the eastern county over divisive issue.
"My family has been here since 1943," said resident Chuck Abeyta, who is known for coaching wrestling in the community for decades. "I've done a lot here for the city and its kids and my family has done a lot to make this community better. This is East Carbon, it says East Carbon up on that mountain. We lost that high school, that beautiful high school should have never been torn down, and this feels like the same thing all over again."
Abeyta also commented that there were issues much more important than the town's name. He said the city's drug epidemic and the theft it causes has hurt the community and challenged the council to work toward better beautification in the area.
"I'm proud to be from East Carbon but I can tell you people, you have a lot of work to do," he said.
Abeyta's comments were met with applause and several citizens discussed the loss of the high school and the importance of keeping the name East Carbon because of it.
After more than a dozen residents addressed the issue, Council member Barbara Robinett moved to retain the East Carbon City name with each area of the town retaining its prior title in the form of a subdivision. Her motion was seconded by Karla Young.
While the motion was made and seconded, it would be more than an hour before the council would vote on the name change. Because the issue was not on the meeting's agenda until the mayor's comments, Parson's did not call for the vote until all city business had been conducted and each council member had given their report.
Robinett was asked several times to wait and let additional discussion take place before moving forward with her motion but decided that the residents had spoken and deserved to have the council vote.
"I felt that the people that elected us had reached a consensus and that decision reflected keeping the name East Carbon with different subdivisions," she said. "That way the history and the names of each prior city would remain intact."
With Council member Froy Garcia absent, the vote came down 6-4. The six council members who were elected from East Carbon approved the change, while the four council members elected in Sunnyside voted against it.
The new title makes the entire area of the new town East Carbon City. The former town of Sunnyside which begins at Bruin Point Elementary will become the Sunnyside subdivision and Columbia will stay the same.
The area formerly known as East Carbon will once again be called Dragerton.
While the motion passed, East Carbon City Attorney Jeremy Humes clarified that the city council will have to make the change official by passing a resolution or ordinance at the next session.