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June 2020 | Vol. 30 Iss. 06


LOCAL MOMS CREATE NONPROFIT TO HELP WORKING SINGLE PARENTS By Stephanie Yrungaray | s.yrungaray@mycityjournals.com


erendipity, fate, a higher power...whatever you want to call it there has been something at work in how quickly the nonprofit organization The Single Parent Project has come together. Meghann Brimhall had long recognized how valuable her support system was when she was a single mom. As she interacted with other single parents who didn’t have as much help, her desire grew to do something about it. “The vision came to me about how great it would be to pay it forward,” Brimhall said. “I wanted to be a support system to somebody else who is a single parent and who doesn’t have nearby family or friends.” Brimhall’s goal for 2019 was to start a nonprofit organization for single parents. On Dec. 26, she was upset that another year had passed and she hadn’t accomplished her goal. “I started doing research and The Single Parent Project name came to mind,” Brimhall said. “There was no group with that name on Facebook so I hurried to create a page. I saw I could use the name on Instagram and there was an available website with that name so I went for it.” In January 2020, Brimhall started working on the Facebook page and added close friends to get feedback. One of her friends misunderstood and shared the fledgling page, and The Single Parent Project took off. “We raised $1,500 fairly quickly and were able to help three parents right off the bat,” Brimhall said. “It was super South valley moms Alissa Harrod and Meghann Brimhall have started a successful nonexciting, and I started posting on social media.” profit to aid single parents called The Single Parent Project. (Photo courtesy Single Parent Continued page 4 Project

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Continued from front page Enter Alissa Harrod. A former Riverton High classmate, Harrod saw Brimhall’s posts and offered to help. She too, had always had a dream of starting an organization to help others. “I’ve worked in mental health and was the director of business development for a hospital,” Harrod said. “I wanted to have an organization that helped with mental health in general and at the same time Meghann was pushing play I was writing up a program of my own. We were able to mix our drive and passion to help those in need and it has been phenomenal.” Although Brimhall and Harrod had no experience starting or running a nonprofit organization, they have been able to learn and accomplish many goals in a short time frame. They applied for the nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in February. “We were told by multiple other nonprofits that for some people it was taking between nine months to three years to get approved,” Harrod said. “We got the approval in eight weeks.” They moved into a physical space in

Draper in April and in just 12 weeks, The Single Parent Project raised over $15,000 in monetary and in-kind donations. They were able to provide financial help for 120 families that ranged from rent money and daycare expenses to groceries and gas bills and many other expenses in between. The focus of the Single Parent Project is to help working single parents who fall in the gap between receiving government assistance and making enough money to live comfortably. “When I was a single mom I applied for Medicaid and got denied,” Brimhall recalled. “I had a house payment, and I was also paying for type 1 diabetic insulin and diabetic needs. [Government assistance] doesn’t take everything into consideration.” Besides helping with unmet physical needs, Brimhall and Harrod want The Single Parent Project to provide families with mental health resources and a supportive community. “We are going to provide outpatient service and support groups for families,” Brimhall said. “We’re working on programs to help parents with resiliency, trauma and dealing

Alissa Harrod (second from left) and Meghann Brimhall (fourth from left) with volunteers at a fundraiser at Chick-fil-A. (Photo courtesy of The Single Parent Project)


Members of The Single Parent Project team at a community needs drive at Valley High School. (Photo courtesy of The Single Parent Project)

with conflict,” Harrod said. “These group settings are important to single parents and we want to help them develop confidence. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be a better mom, a better employee, and a better person all around.” Brimhall and Harrod have a one-year goal to assist 500 families in 2020. “I would say that we are on track to hit that goal,” Harrod said. “We are hoping with grant opportunities we will hit the $150,000 mark and then some. We’ve already started working on educational courses and support groups.” “Our goals are always changing as we learn all we can do to assist these families,” Brimhall said. “We’ve always said that we want to help with short-term housing and now we also want to assist with long-term housing.” They also hope to help families reach educational goals and would love to partner with local universities and offer scholarships. The Single Parent Project is a passion project for the cofounders who also have jobs and are moms to a blended family of six kids (Brimhall) and three kids (Harrod). They hope that helping people will one day be their full-time gig.




The RivertonJournal is a monthly publication distributed directly to residents via the USPS as well as locations throughout Riverton. For information about distribution please email brad.c@thecityjournals.com or call our offices. Rack locations are also available on our website. The views and opinions expressed in display advertisements do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Loyal Perch Media or the City Journals. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the owner. © 2019 Loyal Perch Media, Inc.

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Bryan Scott | bryan.s@thecityjournals.com


Travis Barton | travis.b@thecityjournals.com


Ryan Casper | ryan.c@thecityjournals.com 801-254-5974


Keith Curtis| keith.c@thecityjournals.com Mieka Sawatzki | mieka.s@thecityjournals.com


The duo is amazed and excited about how quickly their project has grown and appreciate all of the support from friends and community members. “We’ve had a lot of support from people who were single parents or raised by single parents,” Brimhall said. “It has been very rewarding to see these people give back and have our community rally behind us. It is fun to see it grow and have everybody celebrate successes with you.” “To raise the amount of money we have in such little time helps us know that we have found that niche that is overlooked,” Harrod said. “This is happening for a reason.” They still need as much help as they can get to reach their goals and assist as many working single parents as possible. Find out more information on how you can help or receive help on their website www.thesingleparentproject.org or their social media pages on Facebook or Instagram @thesingleparentproject. “Anytime we feel like there is a roadblock something else happens and pushes us forward,” Harrod said. “We know we are in the right place doing the right things. It has been a great experience.” l

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Mistakes teach powerful lesson By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


f all the lessons Annalyn McCay learned in her years at Riverton High School, the most important was to learn from her mistakes. Anna began as a promising sophomore, but her progress veered off-course because of poor life choices. Her grades suffered, and she lost her spot on the school volleyball team. “I got in with a bad group of friends,” Anna said. “It took getting in trouble enough times to finally figure out that that’s not what I wanted to do. So, I ended up making different friends and ended up in a way better place than I would have if I decided to stay friends with them.” Anna said her chemistry teacher Andrew Powers helped influence her turnaround. As she was struggling to figure out herself and her relationships with friends, she found Powers’ subtle life lessons empowering. She said he was friendly with the students and encouraged self-respect and independent thinking. “He just seemed to really care about his students and how we felt,” she said. “That always really stood out to me.” Powers was surprised and touched to learn that he had such an effect on a student.

Many students love his class for his fun and interactive teaching style. However, he believes true success in teaching comes from getting to know students through solid relationships of respect. “I try to have little conversations with each student and let them feel that they are a valued person in my classroom and not just someone in a desk,” Powers said. Anna graduated early in January and will be attending Utah State University to major in psychology. She hopes to become a therapist. Principal Carolyn Gough is impressed with Anna’s course correction. “We have watched as Anna has turned her whole life around and completed required courses in order to graduate early,” she said. “She has really gone from a difficult place to one of success.” Anna is proud of how far she’s come in her journey of self-discovery. “Although I made bad decisions, and it would have been a lot easier for me if I just did what I thought was right, I’m glad that I made those mistakes so that I could learn from them,” she said. “I personally believe I’m a better person from it, so I think it’s worth it.” l

Anna McCay (Photo courtesy of Anna McCay)

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Calm and talented: Three-sport star Parker Applegate By Travis Barton | travis.b@thecityjournals.com


t was overtime in the second game of the season this past December. On the road at Murray, Riverton basketball was tied at 52 with time for one last shot. Riverton head coach Skyler Wilson called a play to get senior sharpshooter Parker Applegate the ball. Though the play broke down, Applegate kept running to get open and eventually found the ball in the corner. “He hit one of the most amazing shots you’ll ever see,” Wilson said. “Just a fade away three-pointer at the buzzer right in front of our bench” to win 55-52. “He was the one when we needed an important bucket, he’d get it for us,” Wilson said. And basketball might not even be Applegate’s best sport. The three-sport athlete and graduating senior recently signed a baseball scholarship to Utah State University Eastern. Applegate played golf, basketball and baseball for Riverton during his four years at the school. In an era when kids tend to specialize in one sport as they grow up, Applegate kept playing the three sports he’d played his whole life. “I just loved it; I had fun doing every single one of them,” he said. His high school coaches—Wilson, who also coaches the golf team—and his baseball coach Jay Applegate (who also happens to be his dad) would agree that playing multiple sports proved beneficial for Parker. The younger Applegate said doing both golf and baseball helped with his swings. For the elder Applegate, he can list the advantages. “They don’t get burned out, they’re always in a competitive situation, they have to stay up on their grades,” he said. “I think there’s so many positives and life lessons that athletes can take by playing multiple sports,” Jay said. “The baseball field, basketball court and golf course are one of the greatest laboratories for kids in athletics to not only learn to excel as a player but to take that into life and become a good person.”  Wilson agrees, noting how it’s not only the physical skills that can transfer between



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sports but the mental side as well. Parker could rely on his cross-sport experience, whether it’s shooting a free throw at the end of a game, hitting an important putt to win a tournament or stepping to the plate for a late-inning at-bat, Wilson said. “He was just so mentally tough and able to respond to high pressure situations,” Wilson said. Some of that could be attributed to his demeanor. Known for being quiet, with a strong work ethic, Parker was the type to lead by example and let his play do the talking. Wilson remembers down the stretch of the golf season, when they needed to win four of their final five matches to win region and pulling up in the golf cart to watch Parker. “We couldn’t tell whether he was playing great or playing awful every time we saw him because he was so level-headed, calm,” Wilson said. While his calm improved his sporting ability, sports also improved Parker’s life. He’s not a big talker, Parker said, being on the shy, quieter side, but “playing all these sports has made me kind of express myself since I don’t really do that.” He pointed out golf especially where they play two on two with different schools every tournament, where he’s forced into talking with those on other teams. “Golf especially has helped me with my social life I guess,” Parker said. Aside from the mental and social sides of athletics, Parker was pretty talented too. He was a two-time All-Region player in golf, where they won back-to-back region titles. In basketball, he was also a two-time All-Region player and made third-team AllState as a junior. And in possibly his best sport, he was named first-team All-State as shortstop his junior year, hitting .388. “He’s one of the rare high school athletes that I’ve seen not only play three sports but excel at each one,” Wilson said. “He was one of the best pure shooters I’ve ever coached for basketball.” Jay, who has coached Riverton baseball since the school was built, before Parker was born, said he and his wife knew early on their son had athletic talent. Both coaches highlighted his hand-eye coordination and competitive drive. “He’s been a kid that I haven’t had to push at all,” Jay said. “This is his love; he loves to do it. He’ll always be out on our basketball court at home shooting or hitting off the tee or going golfing.” Parker attributes his abilities mostly to practice and the juggling he started in middle school. He can do three pretty easy but can get up to four. In an interesting bit of symmetry, Wilson graduated from Riverton where he had Jay as one of his basketball coaches. “I feel really fortunate to coach him all these years

Parker Applegate averaged almost 14 points per game his senior season. (Photo by Dave Sanderson/dsandersonpics.com)

over two sports, to have the influence over his life is really great,” Wilson said. “It’s what makes sports and coaching so rewarding and worthwhile.” While Parker points to the golf region titles and playoff basketball wins, both he and Jay remember the 2018 baseball state championship games for the most memorable high school moment. The Silverwolves finished runner-up to Bingham that year, needing to beat the Miners twice and only getting one. Parker remembers the atmosphere around the experience, the team camaraderie, being able to

compete at that level and not realizing as a sophomore how cool it was because “it’s so hard to get there.” The first game, where Riverton won 7-0, saw Parker (who played third base as a sophomore) have two base hits, an RBI and turned a double play off his knees. “I was just in heaven,” Jay recalled. “I was so happy for him being a sophomore on that stage and coming through.” Perhaps that moment can override the most recent baseball memory, the season being cut short after three games due to the pandemic.

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Parker Applegate will take his baseball talents to Utah State University Eastern next year where he signed a baseball scholarship. “It’s a blessing I get to go there and play,” he said. (Photo by Dave Sanderson/dsandersonpics.com)

Parker Applegate was part of a back-to-back region championship teams with the golf team. (Photo courtesy Suzie Applegate)

For Parker, his dad has coached Riverton since he was born, grown up around the program going to practices, baseball trips. “I just always wanted to play high school,” he said. Parker said he and his other eight seniors were “shocked almost” when they learned the season was canceled. They were supposed to play in a tournament down in Las Vegas. “We were just mad about that,” he said. “We thought there was no way the whole season gets canceled.” It was definitely tough, Jay said. “I guess the word devastation is fair to use, but I think they handled it really well for what it’s worth,” he said. The senior class eventually adopted an “it is what it is” mantra. “We can’t do anything about it,” Parker said. Which is exactly what Jay said they aim to teach every year: Control what you can. “Only worry about things you can control, and it’ll alleviate a lot of the stress and negative things that happen in sports and in life.” l

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What’s your legacy?

Guide to Quarantine website features activities and uplifting content By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


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he Guide to Quarantine Website at shmsguidetoquarantine.com provides uplifting content, creative crafts, engaging challenges and instructive videos. The website was created by students at South Hills Middle School as an assignment for their leadership skills class. “We wanted to make a place that everyone could come to and feel like they were part of something, so they weren’t so bored and lonely during everything that’s going on,” said ninth grader Madison Dowd. Madison especially likes the Happy Spot section, a resource of positive quotes, TED Talks, yoga videos, uplifting songs and apps/websites for those looking for a positive boost. “I feel like it’s so easy to feel alone and sad with everything that’s going on and so easy to focus on negative things,” Madison said. “So, I really liked that we have a place to highlight good stuff that is still going on and a place that we can find things that are still happy.” The website provides activity and crafting ideas for kids of all ages to do individually, with friends or with their families. There is even a section for parents with homeschooling tips and resources. Daily Challenges offer an opportunity to win prizes for those who submit pictures of their completed challenges. Recent challenges have ranged from pet fashion shows, sock puppet plays and scavenger hunts to playdough creations and Lego builds. The website is the community outreach project for the student leadership class, which normally hosts a spring community carnival. “Even though we were excited to work on the carnival, it was fun to do something that nobody else has done yet,” said Sterling Lund. The 17 students in the class divided into multiple committees, taking responsibility for developing and maintaining the various

Olivia Talley submits a picture of her playdough sculpture for the daily challenge honoring COVID-19 relief workers. (Photo courtesy Olivia Talley)

areas of site content. “It’s just taken a lot of teamwork and a lot of communication to get it up and going,” said ninth grader Chelsah Thomas. “There’s so many different little details that you wouldn’t even think of initially.” Students are learning as they go about web design, advertising and problem-solving, which has required a lot of trial and error. “I’m just letting them do their thing,” said leadership teacher Luke Talley. “If they fail to do something, I let them fall flat with that. Then we talk about why it didn’t work.” He tells his students, “Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean it’s going to happen; it takes work, it takes commitment.” By tracking the website’s analytics, he can show students the correlation between the amount of effort they put into the website and the number of site visitors. “I think it’s been good for them to see that and that their hard work is paying off,” Talley said. “I’ve just been really impressed with these kids. They’re working hard, and it’s really their baby. They’ve done some good things with it.”

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One of the Daily Challenges inspired Danikka Siddoway to create a blanket fort. (Photo courtesy of Danikka Siddoway.)

Riverton City Journal

Pet Dress Up Challenge entry. (Photo courtesy of Melia Morse.)

Pet Dress Up Challenge entry. (Photo courtesy of Raegan Steffensen.)

Alaysha Newell created a Lego vehicle for one of the daily challenges. (Photo courtesy of Alaysha Newell.)

Talley said the focus on serving their community members with the website has helped his students through the isolation of the past few months. “One of the best ways to feel less isolated is to do things for other people,” Talley said. Madison said it has been a good experience to be part of the unique project. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is how little things can make such a big impact on people,” she said. “Initially, it started as a class project, but seeing so many people being willing to do something and to be involved has been a really cool experience.” Many of the students plan to continue to

update the website throughout the summer. “We just wanted to give a place for people to lift their spirits and get rid of their boredom and connect them with other people,” said Chelsah. l

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Riverton City Journal

Lifesaving medication now becomes affordable, accessible By Cassie Goff | c.goff@mycityjournals.com


pharmacy bill of $800 covering a onemonth supply of medication. That’s what sparked T1International Utah #insulin4all chapter leader Mindie Hooley to take action in her local community and state government. Hooley’s son, diagnosed with diabetes, needs insulin to survive. After being met with that $800 bill, Hooley went home to do some research. She came upon other stories like hers, as well as stories where people had died from not being able to afford their insulin. “I couldn’t believe we live in a country that has unaffordable lifesaving medications where people must ration insulin and even die from a lack of being able to afford medication,” Hooley said. “There’s been times when we had to choose between buying his insulin or buying food and paying our bills. We have lost our home and cars trying to keep him alive.” Three months after receiving the first $800 bill, Hooley’s son admitted to rationing his insulin “because he saw the financial struggles we were going though buying his insulin and other diabetic supplies, and he was trying to help with the financial cost,” Hooley said. While Hooley was researching, she found T1International; a nonprofit run by people with type 1 diabetes for people with type 1 diabetes. T1International supports local communities around the world by giving them the tools they need to stand up for their rights. Their aim is to ensure access to insulin and diabetes supplies becomes a reality for all. On Feb. 19, 2019, Hooley started the T1International Utah #insulin4all chapter. “People all over Utah have emailed me telling me how they have lost a loved one due to them not being able to afford insulin,” Hooley said. In June 2019, Utah #insulin4all media lead Stephanie Arceneaux came across Hooley asking for members to join the fight for affordable insulin. “As someone that has had T1D for 35 years and seen greater and greater amounts of money go toward purchasing insulin, I decided that I wanted to join that fight. I also felt compelled to do something after I began reading stories of my fellow T1Ds that were dying because they could not afford their insulin.” Administrative lead Jennifer Draney joined the T1International Utah chapter when there were 36 members. Draney became an advocate after her son was diagnosed at 16 years old. “Two years after my son’s diagnosis, I was diagnosed type 1 diabetes as well. The immune system didn’t care how old you are and T1D happens at any age.” In August 2019, Hooley reached out to her local representative, Rep. Norman K. Thurston expressing that there was a need for change in Utah’s diabetic community. “We were able to meet with him multi-


Utah #insulin4all chapter rally for affordable insulin. (Photo courtesy of Mindie Hooley)

ple times and share our stories, our headaches and our concerns. Thurston listened, brainstormed ideas with us and worked incredibly hard. We met with Dr. (Joseph) Miner from the Utah Department of Health. That meeting was impactful because he was onboard for changing the current system,” Draney said. Soon, Thurston began drafting a bill to sponsor in the state legislature. He requested the Utah T1International chapter to be involved in drafting that bill. “As chapter leader, (Hooley) did all of the conversing with Rep. Thurston as to how a bill could be written and what should be included to help address the issues that had been discussed in that meeting,” Arceneaux said. “Rep. Thurston first sent me the draft before the bill even had a bill number,” Hooley said. “The bill was revised two times and each time I was able to see the bill changes before anyone else saw them. I was able to add my input and stress parts of the bill that I supported and also stressed to him that the uninsured needed to be covered as well.” That bill was introduced to the state legislature as H.B. (House Bill) 207 – Insulin Access Amendments. Throughout the session, members of the T1International Utah chapter were in attendance anytime there was discussion of the bill. “I went to the capitol several times with (Hooley) and other advocates in the chapter to lobby on behalf of H.B. 207,” Arceneaux said. “We met with several important members of the Utah House and then some of the Utah senators. Once, when I was leaving to go home, I even ran into U.S. Senator Mike

Lee and lobbied him.” “The next few weeks were full of us begging for support on our bill, writing everyone—I believe I wrote all 76 representatives plus the Governor. I know (Hooley) was working 12 hours a day on it,” Draney said. During the last week of the legislative session, “we learned that one of the senators was going to propose an amendment. A portion of the bill directed that pharmacists could prescribe insulin up to 90 days in an emergency situation. This amendment shortened that time frame to 30 days. We considered this an unfriendly amendment. That was a nerve-wracking day because we desperately wanted the bill to pass as it had been written in the final version by Rep. Thurston, yet we did not want to push any senators into opposing the bill altogether by demanding that they leave H.B. 207 as is. In the end, around 6 p.m., Rep. Thurston let us know that our lobbying had forced a compromise,” Arceneaux said. On March 10, the bill passed. “It still brings me to tears when I think back on the moment when the Utah senators voted unanimously to pass H.B. 207. It was an amazing  feeling to know that, even if in just a small way, I was a part of helping those, like me and my husband, and now our son, in the future, that must have exogenous insulin in order to live,” Arceneaux said. “In the end it passed and now it’s effective seven months sooner than expected— June 1,” Draney said. H.B. 207 aims to create mechanisms to “increase Utahn’s access to affordable insulin.” The bill “creates an incentive for health

benefit plans to reduce the required copayments for insulin; directs the Insurance Department to conduct a study on insulin pricing; directs the Public Employees’ Benefit and Insurance Program to purchase insulin at discounted prices and to create a program that allows Utahns to purchase the discounted insulin; increases the number of days for which an insulin prescription can be refilled; and authorizes a pharmacist to refill an expired insulin prescription. “H.B. 207 would not exist if it were not for Mindie Hooley and her starting the local T1International chapter, Utah #insulin4all. It is because of her and that chapter that I became involved in the bill at all,” Arceneaux said. “I believe this bill will save many lives and it sets the bar for other states to follow. Our fight is far from over but this step was an amazing one,” Draney said. “Many wonderful and kind people have reached out to me in the last three months from all over the world. These complete strangers asked us to make a GoFundMe account because they feel that no American should have to go without lifesaving medication or supplies. Because of these nice people, we were able to buy a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) for my son that will save his life. My heart is overwhelmed with the amount of love that has been shown to my son,” Hooley said. “The diabetic community  deserves the best and no one should lose a loved one because they can’t afford a lifesaving medication that has been around for 100 years,” she said. l

June 2020 | Page 11

Bluffdale Old West Days goes virtual By Stephanie Yrungaray | s.yrungaray@mycityjournals.com


uly would have marked the 10th year of Bluffdale’s Old West Days, but concerns about the coronavirus have resulted in its cancellation and re-creation as a virtual event. “[Mayor Derk Timothy] felt like it was

Bluffdale residents can follow Bluffdale Old West Days on Facebook and Instagram for the chance to participate in virtual contests and events. (Screenshot by Stephanie Yrungaray)

the responsible thing for our city to do in light of COVID-19,” said Connie Pavlakis, Old West Days chairperson and Bluffdale city events coordinator. “He didn’t want to have the possibility of putting residents at risk and made that decision early on in order to save the time, effort and funds the Old West Committee typically puts in from this time forward.” The event, a staple of Bluffdale summers typically has numerous fun family activities, including a PRCA rodeo, “Fun in the Foam,” 5K/10K races, a car show, a parade, midway games and many other events. It takes more than 800 volunteers to make Old West Days successful. Pavlakis said when they called to tell business sponsors about the event cancellation, many didn’t want refunds, which gave the committee the idea to create virtual Old West Days events that will last throughout the summer. “This is all sponsor-driven,” said Pavlakis. “We aren’t using taxpayer dollars.” The Old West Days Committee came up with alternative activities that will be posted on its Facebook and Instagram accounts all summer long. Some of the online Old West Days activities include The Amazing Race, scavenger hunts, old car show parade, lighted car parade, “not your typical” bingo, rock hunts, yard decor contest, city wide dance-off, Mario Cart

tournaments, Kahoot games, garden growing contest, livestock costume contest, virtual 5K, fishing derbies, driveway chalk art contests and a virtual parade of home renovations. “We are trying to have fun in ways we can right now,” said Pavlakis. “We have a whole bunch of great things planned to sup-

port our community, and we have valuable prizes that will make it worthwhile for them.” Make sure to follow the Old West Days Facebook Page @BluffdaleOldWestDays and Instagram account @bluffdaleoldwestdays to stay in the loop for all of the fun virtual events and contests. l

Bluffdale residents can follow Bluffdale Old West Days on Facebook and Instagram for the chance to participate in virtual contests and events. (Screenshot by Stephanie Yrungaray)

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Riverton City Journal

JUNE 2020

RIVERTON REVIEW Official Newsletter of the Riverton, Utah City Government MAYOR’S MESSAGE

2020-2021 Mayor’s Budget Presented to City Council By Mayor Trent Staggs After extensive consultation with city administration, I submitted the Mayor’s Budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the consideration of the City Council. I believe this budget is fiscally conservative, with no fee increases to our residents, and accounts for my administrative priorities while simultaneously emphasizing the completion of the balance of the governing body’s strategic priorities. The council will now work to finalize the city budget by June 16. In recent months our city has not been immune to the global economic impacts of the COVID-19 health pandemic. However, thanks to smart planning during previous years we have been able to mitigate many of those impacts, keep fees low for our residents, and still maintain healthy fund balances for any other unforeseen circumstances. Here are a few highlights from the Mayor’s Budget: • Total budgeted expenditures are $51.7 million, excluding transfers. Almost the entire increase from last year’s budget of $44.8 million is a result of one-time capital projects for water and storm water


that are driven by state and federal directives. • General fund budgeted expenditures are $10.2 million, essentially flat from last year’s budgeted general fund expenditures. Looking back five years, General Fund expenditures have only increased 7.3% from the budgeted $9.5 million in the 20152016 fiscal year. A remarkable figure that is even far below the average inflation rate, and a testament to the careful stewardship exhibited by our elected officials and employees for public funds. • There are no new fee increases included in this budget, a trend I’m proud to continue for the last several years. • Although sales tax projections for the 2019-2020 budget year are expected to climb to $7.9 million, or 41% increase over the last five years, we are projecting a 5% decline this upcoming fiscal year due to the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our city is in a much better position given the makeup of our retail sales tax base than many other cities which are projecting even steeper declines. • In order to support the business community I have created the Riverton Economic Recovery Initiative. The initiative’s ultimate

| JUNE 2020

goal is to get the local economy back on its positive trajectory by helping local businesses address challenges stemming from COVID-19 closures mandated by Salt Lake County. • Our city’s total full-time employee count is 166, which equates to 3.62 FTE’s per 1000 in population. Our resourcefulness and dedication of our employees allows us do more with less in comparison to surrounding cities. • This budget includes $1.9 million in road maintenance funding and $2.1 million in new road construction funding from grants received from the state and county. The largest projected expense will be $1 million which is our contribution to UDOT for the 12600 South, Bangerter interchange project. • There is approximately $1.3 million committed this year towards capital projects. To include roughly $500 thousand in playground and park upgrades, and $465 thousand to our civic and community center to replace

our HVAC systems, power generation plans and the potential upgrade of the auditorium in conjunction with the Riverton Arts Council. The priorities outlined in our strategic plan have guided the development of this budget. More than ever before I believe our city is well situated to weather the storms of any unforeseen challenges, and well positioned to continue delivering the essential services our residents rely upon. I’m grateful for the dedicated work of our city council. Their vision and dedication to the city have greatly aided in our city’s progress over these last few years. The commitment and significant contributions of our city employees should also be recognized. I’m grateful for their unrelenting support and dedication to serving our great residents. I look forward to and encourage you to provide your feedback on this budget.



Riverton City Responds to COVID-19 Impacts

MAYOR Trent Staggs tstaggs@rivertonutah.gov 801-208-3129

CITY COUNCIL Sheldon Stewart - District 1 sstewart@rivertonutah.gov 801-953-5672 Troy McDougal - District 2 tmcdougal@rivertonutah.gov 801-931-9933 Tawnee McCay - District 3 tmccay@rivertonutah.gov 801-634-7692 Tish Buroker - District 4 tburoker@rivertonutah.gov 801-673-6103 Claude Wells - District 5 cwells@rivertonutah.gov 801-875-0116

CITY MANAGER David R. Brickey dbrickey@rivertonutah.gov 801-208-3125


City Hall............................... Cemetery............................ Animal Control.................... Building............................... Code Enforcement.............. Fire Dispatch (UFA)............. Justice Court....................... Parks & Recreation............. Planning & Zoning.............. Police.................................. Public Works....................... Recorder.............................. Utility Billing........................ Water...................................

801-254-0704 801-208-3128 801-208-3108 801-208-3127 801-208-3174 801-743-7200 801-208-3131 801-208-3101 801-208-3138 385-281-2455 801-208-3162 801-208-3128 801-208-3133 801-208-3164

FIND US ONLINE! @rivertonutahgov www.rivertonutah.gov PAGE 2

By Councilman Troy McDougal For many of us, COVID-19 has felt like a real suckerpunch. Reflecting on our situation, and having grown up in the 80’s, I would like to draw on the iconic movie series, “Rocky.” Our hero, Rocky always seems to get into a tough situation. We see him taking hit after hit, then he would dig deep inside and slowly block the punches and start landing some of his own, leading to eventual victory. These last couple of months I have felt we are a little bit like Rocky, taking nothing but punch after punch. But, we are also digging deep. I would like to focus on some of the good things that are happening in our city and how we are fighting back. Punch: Covid 19 forced the shortterm closure of the landfill leaving residents with garbage and debris from spring projects. Counterpunch: Riverton City responded by creating a dumpster program, allowing residents to dispose of garbage at city sites which was hauled away for them. This worked

because the people in public works agreed to work long Saturday hours hauling dumpsters and managing drop off locations. Punch: Many of our businesses have had to close to meet social distancing guidelines. Counterpunch: Riverton City responded by creating a 5-point plan with initiatives such as loosening sign restrictions, eliminating license fees, and creating a drive thru business blitz. This could not have happened without the long hours of personnel in our communications and parks departments. Punch: Many cities have closed their daily office operations. Counterpunch: Riverton City offices have remained open which allowed us to continue providing services such as progress on developments, billing services, maintaining parks and preparing for re-opening, street work, etc. We were able to keep these services functioning because our staff was willing to adjust shifts and implement rigorous sanitation measures. Punch: COVID-19 created confusion from the news and high emotions.

Counterpunch: Riverton City was able to send out clear and timely communication via our website, text, emails, etc. The city IT and Communication departments have done amazing work keeping residents informed of events, assistance and direction to meet shifting needs. We are punching back, and the common thread through this has been the incredible staff at Riverton City. During this disaster, our city staff have truly demonstrated that they care about this community and its residents. None of this would have been possible from people who were just there to do a job. In a reference to Rocky, our Riverton City staff has been in our corner and the success we have had so far is to be credited to them.

RIVERTON HISTORICAL ITEMS WANTED Riverton City seeks donations of items of historical significance related to Riverton’s history prior to 1960. Items will be displayed in new cabinets dedicated to the city’s history at the Sandra N. Lloyd Community Center. • Donations can be dropped off at the Riverton City Recorder’s Office, 12830 S Redwood Road • Questions? Contact Joy Johnson at 801-208-3128 or recorder@rivertonutah.gov


| JUNE 2020


Speeding Causes Safety Concerns By Riverton Police Chief Don Hutson Many of you may be curious about the number one complaint we in the Riverton Police Department receive from citizens. It is quite simply, speeding. Speeding in our neighborhoods, speeding in our school

zones, speeding on our main thoroughfares, speeding everywhere. It is important to point out the purpose of speed limits on our streets and highways. No, speed limits are not created to affirm government intrusion in our lives or to give law enforcement officers a reason to harass citizens. The sole purpose is to keep all of us safe as we travel on our streets. They are not created in a haphazard manner and the speed limit assigned to any particular stretch of road is based on a number of factors, however, the overriding component in determining the limit is “the speed a vehicle can travel on a stretch of road to maintain the safety of all persons on the roadway.” In other words, it is all about public safety.

Please be aware the laser gun does not differentiate between “good law-abiding citizens” and “citizens who deserve a ticket.” It simply identifies a vehicle which is driving faster than the posted speed limit.

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rivertonutah.gov/eatlocal RIVERTON REVIEW

JUNE 2020

| JUNE 2020

With this in mind, the Riverton Police Department will be ramping up our enforcement efforts on the streets of Riverton as we all recover from the pandemic. Please be aware the laser gun does not differentiate between “good

The number one complaint the Riverton Police Department receives from citizens is speeding.

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law-abiding citizens” and “citizens who deserve a ticket.” It simply identifies a vehicle which is driving faster than the posted speed limit. If you are the subject of a traffic stop by an officer, please be aware we are simply attempting to gain compliance to the speed limit, and it is not personal. Unfortunately, speeding and other traffic offenses may result in a citation and a fine. My hope is during this increased enforcement operation we will find everyone obeying the speed limit and we will not be conducting any traffic stops. If this is not the case, I hope both officers and citizens can have a pleasant encounter based on respect and understanding and go about their business. Thank you for your understanding and your help as we keep our streets safe.

Catch cups simply and effectively help you conserve water by accurately measuring sprinkler application rates for each watering station. Place the catch cups in your lawn and run your sprinklers for 10-20 minutes per zone, record the amount of water that falls into each cup then you can determine the amount of time each zone really needs.

PICK UP YOUR FREE SPRINKLER CATCH CUPS Riverton City Hall 12830 S Redwood Road Parks & Recreation Window Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. For more information about our Keep Riverton Beautiful initiative, visit: rivertonutah.gov/beautiful


NEWS AND INFORMATION Stay Connected and Informed

Riverton Town Days Postponed


The Riverton City Council made the difficult decision to postpone Riverton Town Days due to COVID-19. Look for information about an exciting fall event we are planning for this September.

Get the latest city updates, e-newsletters, event information and other news delivered right to your inbox.






Get emergency alerts and notifications on important city updates on your cell phone 3-4 times per month.



Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, and more than 1,600 locations nationwide, including Riverton City Cemetery.


Honor a veteran by sponsoring a wreath to be placed at Riverton City Cemetery on December 19, 2020. Learn more by visiting rivertonutah.gov/wreaths.

Riverton City Hall is Open for Business If you need to visit City Hall, please adhere to the state’s low risk or yellow level guidelines.

Access city departments directly by using the phone numbers listed below.

Main Reception 801-254-0704 Attorney’s Office Animal Control Building Code Enforcement Finance/Accounting Human Resources

801-208-3140 801-208-3108 801-208-3127 801-208-3174 801-208-3107 801-208-3135

Justice Court Parks & Recreation Planning Purchasing Recorder/Cemetery Utility Billing

801-208-3131 801-208-3145 801-208-3138 801-208-3175 801-208-3128 801-208-3133

Connect with Riverton City to get quick updates, essential information, event details and more on the platforms you use.



conduct business online at rivertonutah.gov

Report a problem, see the city calendar, get directions to parks and city facilities, and find city information right from your mobile device.


UPCOMING RIVERTON CITY EVENTS With the changing environment due to COVID-19, we recommend you regularly visit rivertonutah.gov to find the most recent event and meeting information. PAGE 4


| JUNE 2020

More traffic on local trails as residents seek escape By Joshua Wood | j.wood@mycityjournals.com

CENSUS 2020 BEGINS ONLINE MARCH 12, 2020 The U.S. Census helps fund our schools, health care, roads, and other important parts of our community. It’s quick, easy to fill out and confidential.

Runners have been able to connect online until they can race together in person again. (Photo courtesy of Mitt Stewart)


alt Lake County’s trails have afforded residents a nearby escape from COVID-19 restrictions. While crowded routes have added waste and social distancing concerns, they have also helped grow community appreciation of local trails. Mitt Stewart and members of the Wasatch Trail Run Series still hold out hope for some form of in-person running events later in the summer. Meanwhile, they have taken their popular series online. Stewart has worked on developing an online feature that will enable people to find challenges and trail routes to run, log their times, and compete with others. “The whole reason for doing this is to offer people some connection while we’re not connected,” Stewart said. “We’ll be running virtual races.” To do that, people can look up the race route and take it on individually. They can then submit verification of their effort using their favorite fitness app. Stewart hopes to help people connect as a running and biking community while they maintain a safe distance. Keeping that distance has been a challenge with increased trail usage. “Any increase in trail or usage is anecdotal, but it is clear that our public spaces have been a place of refuge during this time,” said Clayton J. Scrivner of Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation. “Last month we launched our ‘Be Park Smart, Stay Apart’ campaign that is designed to educate users of


our public spaces on responsible use according to current health guidelines.” Stewart has noticed the increased traffic on the trails as well. While more people on the trails can create problems, it also gives people throughout the community a healthy outdoor activity. “A big reason to go out is to have solitude, so that’s been a bit of a buzzkill,” Stewart said. “On the flipside, it’s healthy and good for people.” Stewart likes the idea of people connecting by sharing their appreciation of local trails and their achievements on them. He also thinks measures could be taken to help vulnerable members of the community enjoy the trails. More signage at trailheads instructing people on trail etiquette and social dis-

tancing could help, he said. Stewart would also like to see special hours set aside for the elderly to enjoy trails without the crowds. Those crowds have plenty to enjoy, though. “Salt Lake County maintains over 100 miles of trails and pathways,” Scrivner said. “Jordan Parkway, Dimple Dell, Rose and Yellow Fork Canyons, Parley’s, and Utah and Salt Lake Canal trails are the most extensive.” While increased trail use has produced things like more garbage and animal waste bags left behind, it has also helped the community through unprecedented times. “People need to get out and exercise,” Stewart said. “It’s a great way to keep people motivated.” l

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June 2020 | Page 17

Kody Pierce: The pole vaulting guru By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


igh school track and field fans had to be disappointed when Utah High School Activities Association officials canceled spring sports in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only could they not cheer on their children competing or their favorite high schools, but they missed the opportunity to watch perhaps a historic event with Bingham High’s Hannah Stetler set to capture her fourth state title in pole vault and possibly better her state record. As a freshman, she captured the 5A state title with a vault of 11 feet 11.75 inches. Last year, Stetler cleared 12 feet to be at the top of the podium and four of the top 10 best recorded jumps in the state record books. Stetler’s counterpart on the Bingham boys team is sophomore Dallin Thornton, who was seeded No. 1 before the track and field season was set to begin this spring. With a team of about a dozen solid vaulters, Bingham High was expecting a strong season, but so were many individuals scattered throughout the state. According to many in the pole vault and track community, this is because of the dedication and passion of coach Kody Pierce, who not only coaches Bingham pole vaulters but also trains other athletes at his Riverton

facility, KoJo Sports Training Complex. “Kody is a great guy and has almost single handedly brought pole vault back,” said Scott Stucki, Hillcrest High’s head track and field coach. “His club has strengthened the schools that did vault and opened [up the sport] to others.” Stucki knows that first-hand as when Hillcrest’s poles were outdated and too short, Pierce lent the team some to use. That was in 2017, when Hillcrest’s Gracie Otto was the top of the sport. “I was dazzled by this guy the first time I met him,” Otto’s mom, Marie, recalled. “This guy shared his passion of the sport with everyone. He was willing to work with all athletes, all divisions, and do it in the best interest of helping the athletes improve. Bingham is and has been a strong team, a hot bed of pole vaulters, but he’s coached athletes in his gym from all over.” In fact, last year he coached Riverton High’s Robbie Walker to vault 16 feet 3 inches to capture the 6A title and break a record that stood for about 25 years. Marie Otto recalled Pierce giving her daughter a new set of skills to work on and a Bingham pole vault coach Kody Pierce reaches out to coach all athletes, including Hillcrest High’s Gracie renewed attitude to strive for her best. “He coaches his athletes to be well Otto, who teamed up with Pierce to represent Utah at the Great Southwest Classic Invitational in Albuquerque in May 2017. (Photo courtesy of Marie Otto) trained, well-disciplined and she got better

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Riverton City Journal

Bingham pole vault coach Kody Pierce, right, coached Utah’s team at the Great Southwest Classic Invitational in Albuquerque in May 2017. (Photo courtesy of Marie Otto)

every single meet,” she said, remembering how her daughter not only won the state 4A title in 2017 with a state record vault of 10 feet 3 inches, but bettered it at the Great Southwest Track & Field Classic invitational meet in Albuquerque weeks later. “Kody was always there at meets, talking to the kids, offering insight and working with coaches, training a whole new generation of pole vaulters.” Gracie remembers that as well. “Even though he wasn’t the Hillcrest coach, he stepped in and gave me the best advice on how to conquer new heights,” she said now three years after that senior season. “He would let me borrow any equipment he had so that I was able to reach my goals and perform well. At state, he even came to the 4A vault competition to help coach when his team was supposed to vault later in the day in the 5A competition. Kody is one of the most dedicated coaches I’ve worked with. He has a calm demeanor during practice and competition. He wants all of his athletes to be successful and perform to their full potential.” Pierce began coaching in 2006 when his brother, Trevor Anderson, began pole vaulting at Bingham. Pierce coached him to vault 14 feet 9 inches and was seeded first his senior year before another Bingham pole vaulter he was coaching beat his brother at state in 2010, so the pair went 1-2 for the Miners. After volunteering a few seasons, he was hired on as the pole vault coach. “I pole vaulted in high school (Spanish Fork High) and was OK, not great,” he said about his fifth-place 13 feet 6 inches state finish. “I figured it out back then without a coach, without internet or YouTube videos because I had a passion for it and was a good enough all-around athlete who liked an adrenaline rush to fly through the air.” Pierce said that as a coach, he traveled the country, talking to coaches, attending camps and learning how to develop a pole vault program.


“A lot of other schools don’t have a coach, so I share my passion and knowledge about it and offer training to athletes yearround,” he said. “I may be Bingham’s coach, but I think of myself as a pole vault coach first. I don’t do it for the money. I enjoy being around kids, I love the sport, and the pole vault community is awesome.” He began the Utah Pole Vault Academy, recently building an indoor pole vault facility in Riverton that attracts athletes not only statewide but from neighboring states as well. He holds training sessions, private lessons, camps and clinics, training youngsters to even former pole vaulters who want to keep at the sport. Under his watch, Pierce has watched his athletes set records, especially on the girls side, as the sport was not sanctioned until five years ago. Previously, if girls wanted to compete, they had to be in the boys competition and meet state qualifications to vault at state. “Once pole vault became sanctioned, the numbers of girl athletes went up and the quality of the sport improved,” he said. “I’ve coached multiple state-record holders as they get better and better every year.” While other programs, such as at Davis, are known for pole vault, Pierce’s is the only pole vault club in the area. “It’s not competitive school versus school for me,” he said. “Yeah, you want to win, but even more, you really want your athletes to get a PR (personal record), and there are so many victories without being in first place. As individuals, we cheer each other on; it doesn’t matter the school. We ‘re one big family, helping each other out. It’s not about us coaches. It’s about the kids and helping them jump higher.” l

June 2020 | Page 19

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By Joshua Wood | j.wood@mycityjournals.com


esidents of Salt Lake County have gone without a lot of things over the past couple months. Some resources and services previously taken for granted have suddenly been dearly missed. One of those resources is the Salt Lake County Library system. Since midMarch, all 18 full-service physical branches have been closed. However, many of the library system’s services have been available online, and its staff members have worked to expand virtual offerings while the community stays at home. “Everything is online right now,” said Sara Neal, marketing and communications manager for Salt Lake County Library. “Limited staff is going into branches to do some prep work for opening the libraries.” In the meantime, and for the past several weeks, librarians have worked to make themselves more available online to the community. They started a daily online story time for kids on the library’s Facebook page each morning at 10:30. The library’s focus on children home from school has driven an expansion of online book offerings for kids of all ages. The County Library has developed programs like its Stay at Home Challenge encouraging people to do things like write a letter to a grandparent they can’t see in person. Kids were also challenged to read a short book in a half hour. “We wanted to help people fill some time and try to take their minds off things,” Neal said. Online offerings have expanded to in-

clude access to more books, magazines and movies. People can even get their library card by applying online. “Librarians are not at a desk right now, but they are still getting resources available to the community,” Neal said. The virtual Ask a Librarian service offers the kind of help that librarians typically offer when physical branches are open. People can ask their librarians online for help with research, writing a resume, or how to apply for unemployment. That type of online assistance will not go away when physical branches start to reopen. “We are working on how to serve members of the community who might be high risk,” Neal said. The County Library has worked with government officials to plan how to reopen safely. “We are working closely with the county and state,” said Cottonwood Heights Communications Manager Timothy Beery. “We have to take into account our needs and the needs of our neighbors.” As communities work toward reopening, the County Library has worked on how to keep patrons safe when libraries reopen. Everything from a safe curbside pickup program to properly cleaning materials as they come in has to be considered. “How do you monitor a 6-foot distance in a library?” Neal asked. “We are looking at what other urban libraries are doing to find what’s safest for the community.” l

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Salt Lake County Librarian Nancy Moos, and her husband, Philip Moos, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Utah, demonstrate how to extract DNA from strawberries during a STEM Friday video for the library. (Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Library)

Riverton City Journal

Mental health treatment increases during pandemic, says hospital director By Kirk Bradford | k.bradford@mycityjournals.com



Take steps toward a more secure future for yourself and your loved ones.




Psychiatrictimes.com displays a breakdown of the different effects on mental during a pandemic. (Kirk Bradford/City Journals)

Photo from the Adult Mental Health Initiative displays how those who are dealing with a mental health crisis feel at times. (Kirk Bradford/City Journals)

The field of mental health has transformed over the past decade,” said James Reichelt, director of St. Mark’s Hospital Behavioral Health unit. Reichelt has worked at the prison, jails and the Fourth Street Clinic before arriving at St. Mark’s. The City Journals interviewed Reichelt to gain a better understanding of mental health and how it has changed in response to COVID-19. “You may have noticed its effects on the homeless population,” Reichelt said. “They function much like a family unit in the sense they look out for each other and sometimes sleep near each other for safety. The homeless shelter recently had a large spread. It’s affecting their lives in how they adapt to social distancing or even lacking access to health care. They no longer can live the way they were, in the same way you and I can’t.”  He discussed the different stigmas attached to someone who struggles with substance dependency resulting in homelessness and how important it is to break those stigmas. “I try to train my staff to come from a place of love and compassion,” he said. “You don’t know what that person has been through that leads up to being in one of our care units.” Years ago, this wasn’t always the approach. It was more of a tough love approach. “Just last week, we had a patient on our floor; they checked him in at 3 a.m. and needed some blood work and other things, but


(he) was detoxing and finally getting some rest,” Reichelt said. “The old thinking was to get him up and required moving to a separate area to have it done. I told my staff to let him get some rest, and first thing in the morning let’s take care of it. Another time, we had a patient who had lived with his brother. The entire family was engaging in behaviors dependent on substance abuse. The brother had gotten verbally aggressive with our staff, and the thought was to have security remove him, but we didn’t; we realized that he worried for his brother. We assured him his brother was OK and let him spend a few minutes with him. It’s slight changes like that, that allow us to build trust for someone to open up and get the help they need.” St. Mark’s Hospital has three main divisions: Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, Intensive Outpatient Program and Perinatal Outpatient Program. Reichelt said inpatient and outpatient units are the starting point to helping a person get stabilized. It’s most common to be detoxing from drugs and/or alcohol that many start using to self-medicate an underlining condition. “Once we get them stable, physically, mentally and medically, we find the most appropriate program,” he said. “This depends on their needs, their symptoms and their insurance if they have it—even those who do not have insurance. We help them get stabilized and with enough medication upon re-

lease to get into treatment.” The St. Mark’s mental health unit has the capacity for 17 people. Before COVID-19 struck, they were seeing on average nine people per day. Afterward, Reichelt said, “We are seeing on average 13 people per day; we can’t share a room if we go over now because of the requirements to stay safe from spreading the virus. I’ve seen substance abuse issues rise and the need for both inpatient and outpatient treatment rise.” Reichelt expressed St. Mark’s desire to help. “We understand how difficult that phone call is to make, for someone to reach out and ask for help,” he said. “If someone is thinking about doing it, please keep in mind the goal of staff on all aspects of mental health including the first call is to start from a place of understanding because it takes courage and strength for someone to call us and we know it. Throughout the state now, we are also seeing more and more telehealth. We can do assessments over the phone and point someone in the right direction closest to them. The curious thing about this pandemic is we are seeing more and more people who want to change; they want to feel better. They want to get through this pandemic and to deal with all the stressors and anxiety, which can be difficult, but if they can get the tools to do it, they can get through it with some sense of joy and happiness. Sometimes, that takes getting a little help.” If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, Reichelt said to call and do an assessment and see what the options are available. Call St. Mark’s at 801-268-7433. You can also find more information online from the National Alliance on Mental Illness at namiut.org. Hope4utah.com also contains resources to learn more online. l


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June 2020 | Page 21

Without an announcement about fall sports, cross country athletes being coached virtually By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


ith about 5,000 student-athletes and many supporters submitting a #LetUsPlay petition to hold spring sports, the Utah High School Activities Association on May 5 upheld their earlier decision in midApril not to hold a spring season in response to Utah’s social distancing mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of press deadline, UHSAA has not made an announcement about fall high school activities and sports. Brighton High Principal Tom Sherwood, who serves on the UHSAA executive committee, said there is no timeline for a fall announcement. “We are hopeful, but we are in the ‘wait and see’ mode still,” he said on May 6. Once the spring sport decision was confirmed, and without direction about fall, many coaches who coach track in the spring can turn their focus to the upcoming fall cross country season — only virtually. “We can’t coach or even meet in-person right now, but we can communicate with our athletes,” said Jordan High cross country coach Greg Shaw. Shaw not only has a blog linked to the school website for his runners, but he emails them weekly and has the athletes report in their mileage so he can give them feedback. Some of the runners use the Strava app, where he and teammates can immediately see

the runs and paces athletes are doing and support each other with comments and kudos. He also has reached out to area middle schools, asking for them to send out fliers to incoming freshmen about the team. On top of that, the second-year head coach is introducing a “Coach Challenge,” which includes a 40-day challenge including core, cardio, healthy eating and workouts. “My hope right now is to have a great start for the season, starting in June,” he said about his young team. “It’s hard not being together and without track, speed will be impacted, and we may need to do more this summer to be ready for the fall.” Riverton High cross country coach Chase Englestead said that if restrictions are lifted so training can be done in small groups, he likely will hold four practices per day for his 60- to 80-member team, meeting or running with all the individuals. In the meantime, he plans to post weekly workouts, track his runners with Strava, and hold Zoom meetings. “It’s important to communicate about what run they did, what time or pace it was, how they feel, so we can support these students in their goals and mindsets,” he said. “It’s hard to build the good relationships and culture of the team when we’re not practicing together. It’s invaluable for every single person. We want them to work hard, go through

the process, be praised for that and carry over to not just be better runners, but better people.” Englestead said that building the team also is more difficult without being amongst students as the best recruiters are the student-athletes themselves, where they become a social group, interact, support one another and find their passion. “I’m hoping when they come back, they’ll want to work hard, be more focused and motivated since they’ve missed this competitive environment,” he said. Corner Canyon coach Devin Moody is hoping that he can hold a cross country camp in July, but if not, the training will be more individual and self-motivated like he plans for in June. His workouts will include running, strength workouts with body-weight exercises and conditioning. He plans to communicate with his team via Instagram Live as well as monitor and give them feedback through Strava. “It’s a good way for the team to hear from teammates, feel their energy, rally behind each other’s training to support one another,” he said. “I’m hoping to find my team returning from this unique resilience challenge and having reflected on why they do the sport to find more enjoyment in it.” While Corner Canyon lost five seniors on the boys team that was nationally ranked,

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he said the team has depth so it’s “not a rebuilding year, but a refocusing year” and the team “should be really good.” He also said that the girls should be stronger this year, even with two seniors graduating. However, many coaches are uncertain what the fall season will look like and if it will happen, as health officials have stated one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing. Some are hopeful for a full season, while others say, even if it’s reduced to a matter of weeks, it’s doable. UHSAA also was considering adding in a divisional race, which would fall between region and state, but that, too, has yet to be determined. Herriman coach Jonathan Haag said that if there is to be a shorter season, he’d rethink the schedule and likely make August a training month instead of the traditional start of the season. “That would give time to make sure all our athletes are in shape and we can provide even more individualized workouts,” he said. “We can make it work, but those kids who are training on their own, will benefit more.” Haag is keeping in touch with his team through GroupMe and he and an assistant coach are talking to every team member about how they are doing “running or not.” “We want to know where they’re at, what their family support is like, how their motiva-

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Riverton City Journal

tion is, where they want to be next season,” he said. “There’s a good chance we can’t run together, but we can help them reach those goals if we’re able to communicate.” Haag is asking athletes to run a time trial in place of getting times from track meets. Then, he can use that as a baseline and build speed, strength training, endurance workouts from those. He even hopes to have intersquad meets this summer to help runners get their best times and build confidence, if allowed by the UHSAA. “The biggest thing that hurts from not having a track season, apart from the seniors, is the confidence it gives our athletes. I feel pretty confident though if our kids stay working hard and are motivated, they’ll be in good shape and we’ll contend to be a top team.” Hillcrest High coach Scott Stucki also is having his athletes run time trials and speed workouts, just to see how fast they are, and for seniors, to see if they could run their personal bests. He also is supporting student-athletes to run road races, if they’ll be held this summer. Stucki doesn’t see being able to coach them personally until maybe after the traditional moratorium week of July 4. He regularly posts workouts and tracks their distances; some runners he communicates with regularly and knows their mileage, some have focused on year-end testing and have taken a break from running. Stucki expects his boys team to be good, better than last year if they dedicate themselves.

Hillcrest girls team should improve over last year, too, with six juniors returning. Stucki already has named two seniors as captains in anticipation of a season, although he isn’t sure what the UHSAA will decide. “I don’t know about the season. I haven’t even put together a schedule as meets aren’t sanctioned yet,” he said. Copper Hills coach Garth Rushforth also is hoping for “some kind of program” this fall as he’s been providing his squad workouts, including drills, such as lunges and body squats, that can be done at home without a weight room, and tracks his runners’ mileage on a Google document. He said it’s important for student-athletes to get their training in all summer to prevent injuries. “There’s a greater risk of injuries if we have a shorter season. For some kids, who are self-motivated and are dedicated to their training, they’ll have a good season, others who aren’t, not so good. We’d like to be as ready as we can be if the season happens,” he said, adding he hopes that a decision will be reached before June. Rushforth expects his girls team to be solid this season. The boys graduated some “very good seniors, but I have a junior and sophomores who show promise.” He is in charge of his region’s meet so he already scheduling a park for the race. “It’s hard since the parks aren’t sure if they’ll be open and we’re not sure if the season will happen,” Rushforth said. “We’ll cry a lot if there’s not (a season).” l

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Utah graduates showered with love in special Adopt a Utah Senior project By Stephanie Yrungaray | s.yrungaray@mycityjournals.com


igh school seniors across the Salt Lake valley are sharing a common experience they never anticipated…graduation during a pandemic. Although every school district is handling the end of the year differently, there is no doubt that the class of 2020 is not getting the graduation they dreamed of or deserve. One Utah mom is trying to soften the blow of unmet expectations through a project called Adopt a Utah Senior and teens across the valley and state are being recognized by strangers in a very special way. Monica Kennedy from Erda, Utah saw what her senior daughter Paige was experiencing and wanted to make a difference for all high school seniors. “I was really sad for my own senior,” Kennedy said. “I reached out to family and friends for ideas to get some excitement into this season because I can’t make up for the stuff she’s missed out on.” Modeling a Facebook group after a similar one in Alaska, Kennedy started the Adopt a Utah Senior project which has paired over 2,500 seniors with “adoptive” individuals and families. Parents or legal guardians share pictures and information about their high school graduates, and angel adopters offer to recognize the senior with cards and/or gifts. Once they are paired, the adopter is encouraged to send or deliver something to the grad

within two weeks. Kimmy DelAndrae posted about her daughter Haley who is graduating from Bingham High School. After reading posts from other parents she decided she wanted to adopt another senior. “I wish I could adopt every one of these kids,” DelAndrae said. “They are missing so much. I want to let them know that one, they are not alone and two, everyone is rooting for them. The whole thing just made my heart so happy.” Haley helped her mom pick out another senior and together they put together a gift basket for him. “It was a really fun experience to get one and to give one,” said Haley DelAndrae. Luke Vickery, a senior at Alta High School, was adopted by Shalysa Meier from West Valley City. Meier also adopted two other seniors. “Anytime I see a good thing it is a no-brainer to be a part of it,” Meier said. “Not only do I feel it impacted seniors on the receiving end, it brightened my spirits on my end. It gave me something to look forward to and a project I could do to spread kindness beyond my social circle.” “As seniors, it’s a bummer we don’t get to experience the traditions that most people do,” Vickery said. “Everyone is trying to

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Shalysa Meier gave a personalized gift basket to Alta senior Luke Vickery as part of the Adopt A Utah Senior project. (Photo courtesy of Kourtney Vickery)

make a difference and [the Adopt a Senior Project] is a really cool way that people are doing something for our class to brighten our days. It’s really cool.” Luke’s mom Kourtney, said she can’t believe how generous people have been. “I love reading the kids’ stories and seeing the things they are involved in,” Kourtney Vickery said. “[The project] is giving people a chance to forget about what’s going on, all of the negative stuff in the world, and focus on other people. It is a bright spot I think.” Kennedy said she was overwhelmed at how quickly the Facebook group grew. Along with a team of eight other volunteers, she is spending many hours a day trying to make sure each senior is accounted for and matched to an individual or family. “There is a lot of work involved,” Kennedy said. “We watch for posts that come in, make sure they have correct information including their high school and make sure they are posted by a parent or legal guardian. We tag them so it is easier for people to find who hasn’t been adopted and answer a lot of questions.” Kennedy said the stories and pictures that come from the adoptions have been

heartwarming. “I love it when they find a common interest,” Kennedy said. “We will get emails with people who want to find someone who plays a certain sport or went to the high school they went to. We have people adopting from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. It isn’t about getting stuff, it’s about cheering up the class of 2020.” Just like all good things, Adopt a Utah Senior must end. Kennedy said they will take their last senior on May 23 and allow 24 more hours for adoptions to be finalized. The following week they plan to allow gratitude posts. Kennedy isn’t worried about any of the graduates not being adopted because of all of the generosity she has seen so far. “Anytime we’ve gone on and said we need angels to take a referred senior we’ve had so much support,” Kennedy said. She is sad to see the project come to an end. “There has been so much love and random kindness,” Kennedy said. “It’s been so awesome to see smiles on these kids’ faces that have had so much taken away.” l

Riverton City Journal

Schools scramble to refund students for classes, sports participation, tours By Julie Slama | j.slama@mycityjournals.com


s in-person schools were dismissed abruptly under Gov. Gary Herbert’s “soft closure” order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many school activities were canceled, from spring sports to academic tours. High school classes, which require fees such as woodworking and ceramics, now have classrooms of projects left in progress, uncertain when, if and how students will return to complete them. In the midst of all this, school districts and school administrators are in the process of refunding students’ fees. At Hillcrest High in Midvale, junior Abby Morrell had been looking forward to going to Washington, D.C. with the vocal ensemble, wind ensemble, and chamber orchestra for a festival. Her mother, Barbara Morrell, was asked last minute to be one of the 90-student group’s chaperones and just paid her tour fees two days before she got an email on March 12, saying that the trip scheduled for March 2630 was canceled and it was being looked into rescheduling or refunding. Twelve days later, Barbara emailed the school, inquiring about the $1,250 refund for both herself and her daughter. The next day, Principal Greg Leavitt emailed saying the school’s decision was to reschedule the trip next spring and so all the funds would roll over for that tour. No new tour dates were provided. The 21 seniors, chaperones of senior students, or those who weren’t planning to commit to the classes were to be refunded unless the fee was paid for out of fundraising. The latter would be donated to the music department. “The rest of us weren’t given the option of getting a full refund,” Barbara said. “I’d love to get the money back to pay something or be able to use it. Some people may want or need to free up those funds now.” Hillcrest vocal ensemble and chamber orchestra director RaNae Dalgleish said that the decision was made by administration after talking to parties involved, including WorldStrides that was hosting the festival where the groups would perform, be evaluated and participate in clinics given by notable musicians and professors. The tour also included vocal ensemble performing the national anthem at a flag-raising ceremony at Fort McHenry, giving a tribute at the Martin Luther King Memorial and singing at a local cathedral. The groups also would go sightseeing in the area. “It was unprecedented and ultimately, WorldStrides canceled the entire festival, which involved hundreds of tours or more,” Dalgleish said. “We had made the final tour payment days before. Our choices were to use the money on next spring’s tour at the same or a different location, but equivalent-priced tour, or get a refund and lose half the airfare,


because the airline wasn’t given a full refund.” Dalgleish said that right now, the school will absorb the cost of the seniors, and hope to be reimbursed as new members in the groups pay to go on tour next year. She also said that while the tour is meant to celebrate and learn about music from other parts of the country, the absence of performing together also has had a powerful, bonding effect. “The kids are all in and they’ve learned not to take this for granted. They even got together, six feet apart, to sing in the lawn of one of the students as they were missing singing and performing together. I think when we come back, we’ll be stronger and ready to start again,” Dalgleish said. At Corner Canyon High in Draper, about 80 choir students were to participate in a festival in New York City. As of press deadline, negotiations were still being made with hotels to ensure students receive a full refund. The airlines reimbursed flights in vouchers and the two Broadway shows the group was to attend were reimbursed in full. The group also planned on seeing Little Italy, Chinatown, 9/11 Memorial and the Brooklyn Bridge. “Right now, we have $1,100 of the $1,250 or so back and we’re still negotiating the onenight deposit on the hotel,” Principal Darrell Jensen said. “We had a choice to roll over the funds, but we don’t know if we’ll travel next year or even what next year would be like, so we decided to make it a clean break.” Students who paid for the trip through fundraisers will have their funds be earmarked to the music department, he said. Jensen said that school officials are looking at all students’ accounts, including class fees, activity or participation fees, and fines, to determine the amount that may be refunded by early June. Canyons District Chief Financial Officer and Business Administrator Leon Wilcox said that he wasn’t aware of any of the five or six trips approved for the remaining of the school year that were not in the process of reimbursement. He also said that Canyons School District does not take out travel insurance, but individuals or schools can do so. In an April 28 memo, Canyons School District outlined refunds to students, including that trips and tours should be worked with parents and teachers to determine the best method. The memo continued to state $15 of activity fees to high school seniors should be returned while other students would have their fees reduced the next school year by the same amount. Participation fees for all sports would be refunded, but spirit packs that students already received would not. Dances and banquets that weren’t held should have mon-

ey returned, while classes, would be up to the discretion of the teacher on materials used to determine any refunds. And if driver’s ed was completed online, money would not be refunded, but rather a time to schedule driving instruction would be determined when restrictions have been lifted. At Brighton High, Principal Tom Sherwood said his performing arts groups planned to participate in the WorldStrides festival in Anaheim. Fortunately, the 150 students’ fees had been collected in the office, but not paid yet to the festival so he won’t have to be dealing with airlines, hotels and transportation to refund students’ money. Sherwood said that refund process as well as the collection of student checkedout items, such as textbooks, calculators, uniforms, musical instruments and Chromebooks, will take place in late May. Even Canyons School District’s community education classes were in the process of prorating refunds for students in various afterschool programs and community education courses for approximately 1,080 people, said Jose Rincon, head administrative assistant. Cottonwood High’s 130 members in choir, band, orchestra and jazz band were expecting full $750 refunds from their canceled San Francisco tour, that included a WorldStrides festival as well as “Hamilton” tickets and Alcatraz tour tickets that they had just purchased weeks prior to the tour cancellation. “San Francisco was an early hot spot for the coronavirus, so we were watching what was happening,” said band director Amber Tuckness. “If I canceled our trip, we wouldn’t receive refunds, but when Gov. Herbert made it official, then we could get the refunds.” However, students who fundraised, including seniors, will not be receiving refunds and instead, the money will be given to the music department, she said. Murray High Principal Scott Wihongi, who had just returned with the drill team in early March from New York City, said that the only trip that hadn’t happened at his school involved 15 students who were scheduled to go to San Francisco with the AP art history class in late April. “We’re getting a full refund from the hotel and tours, but we’re working with the airline and travel agency to see if we can get refunds for the flight instead of vouchers,” he said. “This was an opportunity for the students to see different art styles at museums, as a way to enhance what they’re learning.” He also was working with his staff in the process of refunding student-athletes’ fees, including the canceled tennis and baseball teams’ trip to St. George, and students’ partial class fees if materials weren’t used. School officials also were collecting textbooks, library books, some athletic uniforms, and seniors’ Chromebooks.

“I think the programs and students will be fine heading into next year,” he said. “Right now, we prioritized and streamlined our teaching to get in the standards. The students got through three-fourths of the meat of everything and it’s how much time students focus on learning that will determine how much we’ll need to reteach and reinforce that material when we return.” l

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Resources, Networking, Education and Advocacy. SUSTAINING PARTNERS: • American West Credit Union • Riverton Hospital • Herriman City • Bluffdale City • Hello Story • Expand Business Solutions • The City Journals

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CHAMBER NEWS This is difficult and unique time to be doing business. We have helped many local businesses to get necessary information to keep their business going. We look forward to a time when we can meet in person but until then we will continue meeting virtually. Please continue supporting your local businesses.

TEACHERS HONORED We are excited to honor teachers from our local schools. Each school in Bluffdale, Herriman and Riverton can honor a teacher. The following teachers are honored: Amber Allen

Bastian Elementary

Julie Randazzo

Mountain Point Elementary

Ashlee Urry

Blackridge Elementary

Kasey Chambers

Mountain Ridge High School

Bailey Ritchie

Bluffdale Elementary

Katie Probert

North Star Academy

Bradley Moss

Butterfield Canyon Elementary

Larisa Nageli

Oquirrh Hills Middle School

Dacia Peterson

Copper Mountain Middle School

Lisa Clark

Ridge View Elementary

Dawn Taylor

Foothills Elementary

Megan Murdock

Riverton Elementary

Devionare Howland

Ft. Herriman Middle School

Nichole Valerio

Riverton High School

Doris Rynearson

Herriman Elementary

P.J. Smalley

Rose Creek Elementary

Edson Rabelo

Herriman High School

Sharman Holloway

Silver Crest Elementary

Genevieve Randall

JATC South

Silvina Lee

South Hills Middle School

Jade Weinheimer

Kauri Sue Hamilton

Zachary Baggett

Southland Elementary

Jen Curdie

Midas Creek Elementary

Joy Anderson

Mountain Creek Middle School

We are accepting applications for our scholarship program. The awardees will be announced next month. This is a great thing to be able to offer graduating seniors this year.

UPCOMING EVENTS swvchamber.org Page 26 | June 2020

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his year, the Utah High School Activities Association changed the way it runs state tournaments. First, it began allowing all teams to participate in the state tournament. Second, it began seeding the tournament based on a formula, the Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI, rather than on how a team finished in its region. Why did UHSAA make these changes? Contrary to some Facebook commenters, it wasn’t for the purpose of giving every team a “participation trophy” in the form of a state tournament invite. The actual reason was to create a more competitive state tournament, as counterintuitive as that may seem. The question is, were they successful?

Unbalanced Regions

Prior to these changes, a team had to finish in the top four of their six-school region to make the state tournament. This meant that in certain deeper regions, a talented team with the potential to go far in the tournament wouldn’t even get a chance. On the flip side, the runner-up or even the winner of a weaker region might be bounced in the first round. Seeding the tournament based on region rankings sometimes led to anticlimactic tournaments in which the best two teams happened to meet in the quarter or semifinals, rather than the finals. The idea is that separating tournament qualification and seeding from region finish should ensure that the best teams make it into the tournament and are also seeded by how good they are, rather than geography. A perfect example of this would be this year’s Lone Peak boys basketball team. The Knights finished fifth in the very competitive Region 4 standings (only two games separated the second place team from the fifth place team). In previous years, they would have been left out of the playoffs. However, the RPI formula (which considers a team’s record, its strength of schedule and its opponents strength of schedule) rated them the 12th best team in the 6A classification. They turned out to be even better than that, as they made it all the way to the semifinals where they lost by two to the No. 1 seed Davis. The difference between being left out of the tournament completely and being a basket away from the championship game was a change in tournament rules. Similarly in 5A, Provo High’s boys basketball team finished second-to-last in its eight-team region. However, they made it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament where they also lost by just one basket to Farmington (who themselves lost by one basket to the eventual champions). While Provo and Lone Peak show how the new format can work well, they were the exceptions this year. The vast majority of

teams who finished in the bottom of their region didn’t do much at their respective state tournaments. In 5A football, the eight teams who finished in the bottom two of their regions went a combined 0-7 and were outscored by a combined total of 78 to 305 in the first round of the playoffs. The eighth team, Cottonwood High, declined their invitation to the playoffs after an 0-10 season in which they were outscored by a combined total of 579-13. Similarly in 5A girls soccer, the bottom two teams from each region all failed to advance past the first round and were outscored by a total of 2 to 38. These examples might lead some to question why weaker teams are being subjected to humiliating blowout losses for their final game of the season. One side effect of this change is that it makes region realignment a little easier. Under the previous rules, you wouldn’t want the six best schools to be in a region together, even if that’s what made the most sense geographically, because it would mean two of those six teams would be punished each year just for being in a better region. Now, UHSAA can form regions that make more sense geographically without having to worry as much about competitive repercussions.


UHSAA Assistant Director Jon Oglesby told the Standard-Examiner before this year that “the goal of the RPI is to create a more competitive state tournament, which some coaches believe will be accomplished.” As previously noted, many of the lower-seeded teams experienced some pretty lopsided losses in the first rounds of state tournaments this year, but that’s bound to happen in any tournament that seeds the best teams against the worst teams in the first round. But does the different seeding strategy result in more competitive games later on in the tournament? To try to answer that question, the City Journals looked at the scores of all the games in the boys and girls state basketball tournaments for both the 5A and 6A classifications comparing the average margin of victory (both by round and throughout the tournament as a whole) to last year’s tournament to see if there was a noticeable difference. On the boys side, there was almost no change at all. In 5A, the average margin of victory throughout the 2019 tournament was 10.7 points. In 2020, the exact same. At the 6A level, the average margin of victory actually increased from 12.5 to 12.7 points. However, there may be some evidence that the seeding resulted in better matchups toward the end of the tournaments. In 6A, the average margin of victory during the semi-

Riverton City Journal

final round dropped from 9.5 to 4 points, while in 5A, it dropped from 8 to 2 points. (Granted, this is a small sample size of just two games per classification. We will have to wait for future years to say whether or not the new system consistently produces more competitive games in the late stages of the state tournament.) On the girls side, there was a little more evidence of increased competitive balance throughout the competition. In 6A, the average margin of victory throughout the tournament dropped from 20.5 to 18.5 points, while 5A dropped from 15.1 to 12.2 points.


The new playoff format has introduced a few quirks that may or may not have been anticipated by UHSAA. Lone Peak sanctions – This fall the Lone Peak football team had five of its wins vacated due to a sanction. Under previous rules, that would have meant they would likely miss the state tournament. But because every team goes to the tournament now, Lone Peak still got to go and got seeded as the 20th best team, even though they were in fact much better than that. That was bad news for their first round opponent, No. 13th-seeded Riverton. Through no fault of their own, Riverton had to play a much better team in the first round than they should have and subsequently lost 37-8. Region races – Many coaches have bemoaned the fact that winning one’s region

The average margin of victory in the state basketball tournament from the first round through semifinals. (Graphic by Justin Adams/City Journals)

doesn’t matter as much anymore. It’s not a guarantee that a region winner will be seeded higher by the RPI system than the region’s runner-up, which is critical when considering that first-round byes are awarded to the three to five highest-rated teams.

Region rematches – The previous state tournament purposefully placed teams from the same region on opposite sides of the bracket. Now, with seeding being untied from region alignment, you get instances like the Timpanogos football team losing its reg-

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