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1993: Fire destroys hangar, donors save East Carbon High

Don Burge shows Carbon County Commissioner Neil Breinholt how to hold and throw a prehistoric atlatl. The demonstration took place at the Utah Statewide Archaeological Association's convention that was held in Price in June of 1993.

Sun Advocate publisher

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.

A fire at the Price Airport literally destroyed the entire main hanger and offices in January. The fire was recalled as the second one at the county airport, with one in 1934, when the airport was located where the fairgrounds now are, destroying structures in much the same way.

Rebuilding began almost immediately, but by October the county had only collected $140,000 of insurance on what was described as a $160,000 blaze. County officials were at the time also looking for grants and other funding sources to rebuild the airport facilities to a higher standard than they were before the fire.

Jail construction starts

The year began with workers beginning construction on the new jail in Carbon County. After four years of wrangling over money, location and even if a new jail needed to be built, the facility began to take shape. The job of building the new jail began a little differently than most other construction projects in the county. Rather than hire a general contractor to run the project, the county decided that a committee of people from the county would oversee the construction along with a hired project manager. The jail was projected to be completed and ready for occupancy by mid 1994.

In March, news was released by the Utah Job Service that just about everyone knew: Carbon County's population had declined nearly nine percent in the 1980s. Once at a high of over 30,000 people (early 1950s) the county had then dropped to 20,228 from the level in 1980 at 22, 179. Six other counties in the state had declined at the time, but none as much as Carbon. The report also noted that despite the decline, Carbon still ranked seventh in population density in the state. Wellington was the only city in the county that gained population. On the other end of the scale Hiawatha's population went down 83 percent. Helper dropped by 27 percent.

School closures loom

In late March, soon-to-retire Carbon School District Superintendent Robert Hanson recommended that the district close three schools to save money and to consolidate services. At the time he said that the district should close East Carbon High at the end of that school year, Durrant School at the end of 1994-95 and Westridge Middle School after the 1997-98 school year was ended.

His recommendations were given during a school board meeting which was held in Mont Harmon Junior High's auditorium to accommodate the 500 people that showed up for the meeting. In April the city of East Carbon, along with the East Carbon Development Financial Partners offered the school district $80,000 per year to keep East Carbon High open. By the time the next board meeting came around that figure had grown to $155,000 from not only the original donors, but from many others.

Hanson, saying that the subsidy the school district had to come up with to keep the high school open in the last few years amounted to about that much, withdrew his recommendation to close it. Those actions staved off the closure of the school for over a decade. In 2005 the school district finally did close East Carbon High. Meanwhile the two other schools mentioned at the time did close their doors in the next few years.

In early May, the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum finally was able to unveil the display of the Huntington Mammoth with over 1,100 people visiting the museum that day for the dedication. The mammoth had been in the middle of a controversy since found in the late 1980s as to who would have the right to house its remains. But after it was announced the CEU Museum would have that right the mammoth construction within the museum began.

The Sun Advocate faced a huge change in leadership in July of 1993, as Dan Stockburger, who had been the publisher for many years and worked for the paper for 40 years, retired. He was replaced by Kevin Ashby, who came to the paper from the Salina Sun and Gunnison Valley News, which he had owned. In another change the Sun Advocate went from a tab format on Thursday editions, back to a full size paper for the first time in two years on Sept. 16.

John David Young, the truck driver accused of injuring and destroying property with his big rig in 1992, and the death of a Utah Department of Transportation employee who was trying to warn motorists of the rampaging truck driver when he ran the state truck off the road, pleaded guilty of second degree automobile homicide in late October. Young, a Missouri truck driver at the time of the crime, waived the right to a trial and entered the plea, which also included three additional third degree felony level aggravated assault charges. In December he was sentenced to four concurrent 0-5 year terms in prison.

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