East Carbon focuses on water reservoir, high school building
Concerns about the city water reservoir and the planned destruction of the local high school building were the main focus of the East Carbon City Council meeting April 25.
Larry Wood, the city maintenance supervisor, reported to the council that a small amount of earth movement has been detected at the city reservoir in recent days.
The slight land shift is not considered to be a major concern by people who monitor the dam on a daily basis.
But Wood told the council that the dam is being watched closely and water is being stored at more than three feet below the spillway.
Ongoing longwall mining operations below the reservoir are suspected as the cause for the land shift.
Mayor Orlando LaFontaine indicated that there was recently a small earthquake in the area and the subsidence was noticed shortly thereafter.
The mayor said state dam safety officials and a hired engineering firm are keeping a close watch on the situation.
LaFontaine explained that there are four different agencies representing federal, state and local governments as well as representatives of the mining company checking the dam every day.
The mayor also said that people from the University of Utah have been on the site to check for problems. So far, the only recommendation has been to keep a lower than capacity water level and watch closely for any signs of problems at the dam.
Councilmember Dave Maggio pointed out that the longwall operation has gone past the immediate area of the reservoir and things should quiet down soon.
Maggio said one concern he has is the possible damage to the city's supply of water. The city owns the flow of the right and left forks of the canyon as well as all of the springs. The councilmember is concerned that the mining operations might permanently disrupt water flow in the canyon or from the springs.
Water flow in the canyon is below normal for the current time of year, noted Woods. But in spite of a good water year statewide, the snowpack on the East Carbon watershed is only about 50 percent of normal.
Councilmember Darlene Kuhns suggested that the city organize a water committee of local residents who are familiar with the dam.
The committee would be given the charge to review all of the reports on the dam site and keep the city council updated.
Names were suggested of people who could be asked to serve on the water committee.
LaFontaine said the dam is being watched constantly and the city must follow the recommendations of the state dam safety people.
In a related matter, Wood told the council that the water treatment plant is in the process of changing the chemicals used at the facility. He said the new chemicals will be better and cheaper.
Wood also asked for an update of the maintenance budget.
Representing a community coalition development committee, Sandra Garcia addressed the council. She said the group is promoting unity between the cities of Sunnyside and East Carbon.
Garcia asked the council for the city's support. She said one of the major focus of the committee cleaning up the communities and helping property properties owners who are unable to do complete the related tasks.
The committee representative also talked about the group's plans to do a road cleaning project between the Sunnyside Junction on U.S. Highway 6, to East Carbon City.
Garcia touched on the issue of the cities not joining ranks to help defeat the recent closing of the East Carbon High School. The closing of the school is still a topic for heated debate in East Carbon, and there followed a lengthy discussion about saving the school from demolition, and even the possibility of re-opening it as a school again.
Garcia suggested that the cities have people at every school board meeting to stand up for East Carbon's interests. She also said that residents should band together to prevent the planned demolition of the old high school.
Maggio indicated that the school district once offered to give one of the two closed buildings to the city. He said the city had asked that the gymnasium of the high school be saved for a community center, but the most recent plan calls for the complete destruction of the building.
The issue is not with the building as much as the land the school sets on, noted Caviness. The land was deeded to the district by Kaiser Steel as school only property.
"They can't give the building to the city because of the deed from Kaiser Coal," said Caviness.
Garcia questioned the proposal to use the building to train law enforcement officers in dealing with terrorist situations in schools. A mock terrorist training session is being planned at the site before the building is razed.
Referring to the school's sentimental value in the community, Garcia asked the city council and residents to do all they can to prevent the mock disaster drill from happening.
The mayor said he would speak with school district officials about the concern.
In councilmember reports, Caviness indicated that the preliminary paperwork has been submitted to get five Vista volunteers to help with city projects. She also asked for $500 to help the ABC Learning center.
The council voted to forgive the center's $300 water bill and to donate $200 in cash.
Explaining that city firemen will sponsor a booth at the upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebration, Kuhns asked the council for approval of reimbursement of the expenses. She said the department needs equipment, and asked for permission to spend the money.
Councilwoman Darma Lopez reported that she has been reviewing and updating the city's nuisance ordinances.
Lopez also asked the council to approve travel expenses for the city's justice court judge, Linda Murdock, to attend a seminar and the council approved the expenditure.
In an unrelated matter, Maggio expressed concerns about a letter the mayor recently received from ECDC regarding scholarships for East Carbon graduating seniors.
Maggio reminded the mayor and council of ECDC's prior commitment to provide scholarships for all of East Carbon's graduating seniors and suggested that city officials meet with the company to discuss the matter.
Manley reported that Carbon Recreation will start T-ball in June and pointed to the need to improve the BMX race track. There followed some discussion about the track, BMX racing and community support for the sport.
LaFontaine expressed appreciation to Carbon officials for the county's help with several issues.
The county is serving an East Carbon web page and has offered to help the city improve the shooting range.
The mayor said the county has also committed to improve the road to the city's water reservoir and made a donation to the community's Cinco de Mayo celebration.
In addition, LaFontaine indicated that ongoing discussions with the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board had resulted in a pledge to reduce the interest rate on city loans to zero percent. He also said the city is applying for grants from the United States government.
The mayor told the council that he is meeting with representatives from two different companies to try to help the city.
One company is an energy development firm and the other might be able to help the city obtain grant money to help alleviate East Carbon's ongoing economic struggles, concluded LaFontaine.