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. These articles are being prepared in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth in 1891.
The year began with six burglaries taking place in the period of only a few days in mid-January. The burglaries took place at Price Elementary, the Carbon Board of Education office, Wellington Elementary, Price Auto Parts, Shamrock Drug and Intermountain Farmers. While items and money were taken during the burglaries (around $2,000 worth), the biggest problem came from the mess the perpetrators made, particularly at the school district office. Entry in all the burglaries was made through broken windows. Police actually rounded up four suspects not long after the burglaries took place, all of them juveniles. But still the Price Police had restrictions going for the town that anyone under 18 years of age on the streets after 10 p.m. would be stopped and questioned.
On March 8, a ground breaking was held for the new Huntington Power Plant in Huntington Canyon. The 430,000 kilowatt plant was planned to come on-line within four years. Throughout the year stories were run about the construction of the plant, but of great interest to many were the stories that provided information about environmental protections the plants would have.
A brush fire in early April nearly burned into the town of Hiawatha. That fire, with another burning east of Price, taxed the city fire departments in the area. Price was unable to respond because of the pasture fire that was already very large, so units from Helper responded. Miners who left their jobs and others came to the area to help the Helper fire fighters start to hold the fire back. Later the Price department, with their fire out, responded and the fire was stopped just short of the edge of the small mining community.
In April voters turned down a leeway tax proposal that had been put forth by the Carbon School District for further funds to operate and maintain schools in the district. The "no new taxes" drive throughout the state that year affected the vote and every precinct voted against the proposal.
In May of 1971, before seniors could even graduate from Carbon High, the Carbon Education Association and the Carbon School board were able to settle negotiations for the coming school year. This was distinctly unlike the three years before in which only one, 1970, were students able to start school at the scheduled time, and that by a hair. The district agreed to give teachers who taught in the 1971-72 school year a 5 percent raise.
In a case stemming from a murder in late 1970, Billy Ray Michaelson was sent to the Utah State Hospital for treatment instead of going to prison for causing the death of Earl Smith. Smith was run over by Michaelson, as he used the car as a murder weapon. His reasons for running over Smith is that he believed that the man was part of a communist conspiracy to take over the United States. Both Texas natives the two had been in Utah hunting. When they decided to switch drivers Smith walked around the front of the car and Michaelson hit the accelerator and dragged Smith several feet before running completely over him and then drove onto New Mexico. He was arrested there after being involved in another car accident and police discovering that he was wanted in Utah for the murder.
Vietnam again appeared in the headlines as another young man from the area lost his life in the conflict in June. Private First Class Dee Bergera of Helper was killed in action near Da Nang after triggering a mechanical explosive device while returning from to a night defensive position.
Another Helper resident lost his life to a gunshot in July, but this wasn't from war. Larry Hribar, who was 19, was accidentally shot while working at a Helper service station on July 11. Friends who came to visit him while he was working were passing around a pistol that they were examining and it went off with the .22 caliber bullet striking Hribar in the head. Hribar died before professional medical help could arrive.
Another accidental firing of a rifle killed a Price boy in Novermber. Nine year old Alan Young was hit in the base of the skull when his brothers while trying to dislodge a jammed cartridge from a 30-06 set the rifle off. The bullet actually went through a sofa and through a wall before striking the boy.
In August, four California residents died when the aircraft they were flying in crashed in mountains five miles southeast of Scofield. The plane was reported missing when it was not returned to an airport in Santa Paula, Calif. where it had been leased to be used for a few days. Checks of records revealed that the last place the plane had landed was at the Carbon County Airport, where the pilot told an attendant they had flown up from the Grand Canyon and were headed to Salt Lake City. Those who died included two adults and two of their children. Two other children did not make the trip.
In September, Carbon County finally got the go ahead to purchase the old Job Corps training site, 110 acres of land and buildings that had been used during the 1960s to house underprivileged young men while they were in training programs. The county paid $42,500 to the General Services Administration for the property.
Area pilots and ground crews spent time in November searching for a "pilotless jet" that was being flown along the Wasatch Front by the military. The search was suspended for a few days but a forest ranger from Spanish Fork reported that he saw a plane that fit the description of the craft flying toward Soldier Summit from Thistle the day it was lost. The plane went on its own into unknown territory when the pilot was accidentally ejected from the plane and it flew off course over the Wasatch Mountains. The plane was valued at $3 million.
In December, and study by Utah State University showed just how much the completion of I-70 across the San Rafael Swell had damaged the tourist dollars spent in Carbon County and how much it had helped Sevier County. Spending by tourists in Carbon slumped from a high of $1,150,000 to $274, 100 in the 1970-1971 year. In Sevier County, particularly spending in Salina, jumped dramatically. Spending there went from $905,300 to $1,699,40.