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January 2019 | Vol. 29 Iss. 01


February is National

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HIGH SCHOOL FLOODED WITH POSITIVE CONNECTIONS By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com Herriman High School senior Bailee Meadows was leaving the school parking lot recently when she noticed a woman standing across the road holding a sign that read, “YOU MATTER.” “I don’t know who she was or why she did it, but it made my day,” said Meadows. “It changed my attitude that day. It definitely boosted my mood.” Last year, Meadows felt like just a number to the school staff but this year, as she has dealt with difficult issues, she feels they are advocates who care about her. “The staff at Herriman has gone the extra mile to help students this year and that has meant so much to me,” she said. “I know I wouldn’t make it through my senior year had they not reached out.” School staff members Cindy Watkins and Casey Pehrson have developed and recently implemented life-changing programs that create opportunities for students to establish stronger connections with staff members and their peers. Catalyst for change The counseling department is dedicating a whole day to jump-start student connectivity. Be the Change Day will take place Jan. 17. A group of 150 students, chosen from a cross-section of the school’s demographics and cliques, will participate in the all-day workshop. “They will be brought together to broaden perspectives, develop a more inclusive attitude and form life-changing bonds through activities and challenges,” said Cindy Watkins, counselor at HHS who developed the workshop. She anticipates when the participants internalize these concepts, they will apply them to their own social circles, causing a ripple effect throughout the school, much like a pebble tossed into a pond. “Those ripples go on and on much longer than anyone can ever see,” Watkins said. As the diverse group of students share experiences, Watkins expects they will realize their feelings are not unique. As they find com-

fort in knowing everyone else has struggles, too, they’ll be more apt to feel comfortable reaching out to and supporting each other. “After last year I’m just desperate to do something preemptive and try to help kids learn how to recognize that it’s their thoughts and their behavior that sometimes isolate them,” said Watkins. Thrive Thrive is a program developed by HHS psychologist Casey Pehrson to actively improve student well-being. Through activities and mini lessons taught throughout the year, students will learn eight impactful concepts to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. “It’s really pumping positive through the vents of the school and advertising for positivity,” said Pehrson. A new theme is promoted each month along with practical strategies for applying its concept. Pehrson said students choose how they will respond to the program. November’s theme was “See the Good.” One of the activities giving students time in class to write a thank you note for someone else. “Kids can make paper airplanes out of these notes, they can fill the garbages full of thank you notes or they can actually make someone’s day,” she said. “It was really cool to see how many of the notes actually got exchanged when they followed through with that opportunity.” Pehrson said when students apply the Thrive lessons and attempt the challenges, there is a positive effect on their overall sense of well being. In October, students took a self assessment to identify where they could make improvements in their life. They rated aspects such as their happiness and energy level on a scale of 0-10. “No matter where you are on that scale, Thrive gives you these practical ways of kicking it up a notch,” said Pehrson. Peer to peer Pehrson said one reason the students are

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embracing the program is because it is taught by a group of 216 of their peers. “We train the kids on these strategies and they teach the other kids,” said Pehrson. “Empowering the students I think is the key piece. Peer to peer is the way they’re going to listen

the best.” Senior Laura Janis is one of the peer presenters who practices the concepts and skills for herself before teaching them to others. “The things I’m teaching people have made me a much better, Continued on page 4...

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...continued from front page healthier, and happier person,” she said. “The student body really was ready to learn and to become better and Thrive did that for them.” Weird science Pehrson’s program is based in scientific research, which she shares to help students understand why the concepts work. The science resonates with students. When students understand what is happening in their bodies in response to thoughts and feelings, it validates them. They see how things such as chemicals and neurotransmitters affect their development and happiness. For the “See the Good” theme, students learned that neural pathways are formed over time by thoughts. Pehrson encouraged students to think about what kind of pathways they are paving in their brains. “You’re going to find what you’re looking for,” she taught students. “If you’re looking for negative, guess what? You’re going to find it because there’s lots of it out there. But if you’re looking for positive things, you’re going to find those things, too.” Help for parents As successful as the programs have been at the school, Watkins feels it is also important to help parents who are raising these teenagers who struggle with who they are, where they fit in, and if they matter. “A parent’s love and support are essential in helping a teen overcome at-risk behaviors and thoughts to manage their lives in a healthy manner,” said Watkins. Watkins, who has a background in counseling and social work, feels she has the information the parents need. She The school is offering a free six-week course for parents, “Building a Lifeline for Your Teens” to arm parents with skills and information on raising teenagers. It will be held each Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Jan. 8 through Feb. 12 at Herriman High School (11917 S. Mustang Trail Way). “I want parents to feel empowered,” said Watkins, who has seen a parent’s fear for their child manifest as anger and desperation. “I really think it’s something parents are hungry for. Parents just don’t know what to do; it just isolates them even more. When you’re in the eye of the storm, you don’t see things fairly; it’s

emotional because you hurt, and you’re scared for your kids.” In the weekly classes, parents will learn the developmental stages of adolescence and receive insights into what is happening in their teen’s brain. Watkins, a mother of teenagers, said it’s helpful to understand teens often don’t know why they’re saying and doing the things they do. “Most parents, if they knew that and always had that in the front of their minds, they would be able to handle situations without it becoming emotional or defensive,” she said. Watkins hopes parents see the value and appeal of sharing and hearing ideas from other parents about what’s working and what’s not with their teens.


anuary’s Thrive theme is Growth Mindset. Activities held during lunch and after school will encourage students to step out of their comfort zone, break through limitations, try something new and focus on the process instead of just the end result.”

“Each class is an individual piece that, when you work them all together, you stand your best shot at getting through the most troubled times and recognizing when your teen is struggling and knowing how to react,” she said, though parents will benefit from even attending just one class, she added. “Everyone can use help in broadening their perspective and recognizing each other as human beings that are just trying to do as best in their life as they can and reaching out and having empathy,” said Watkins. Pehrson also teaches a class for parents whose children struggle with anxiety and depression. “Blues Busters” begins mid-January at the Jordan Family Education Center in South Jordan. Technology and hormones Watkin’s parenting class will also address the issue of cellphone use.

“I believe that we just need help as parents—battling the cell phone alone has taken us into the twilight zone and a lot of parents don’t know how to manage it. They don’t know how to protect their kids,” Watkins said. Both Watkins’ and Pehrson’s program address the role of technology in students’ lives. Watkins believes overuse also harms their ability to be accepting and kind to others. “With technology, they can literally pick and choose who they want to be with, what they respond to, what they read, what they post,” she said. Positive social media campaigns are a part of the Thrive program. Each month, students are invited to post positive messages in response to a specific challenge. Janis said her Instagram feed is flooded with positive #HHSThrive posts. On Dec. 12, teenagers at Herriman went off the grid. For the school-wide social media blackout, students wore black clothing and turned off their phones for 24 hours. The following day, they dressed to show school pride and flooded social media with positive messages. The black out’s purpose was to encourage students to make authentic connections with each other, December’s Thrive theme. “We talk about how social media connects us in some ways but in a lot of ways it disconnects us,” said Pehrson. “With teenagers, I think it does more disconnecting than connecting. I think they can get pretty lonely just going through screens all the time.” But even when teens use technology in a positive way, both Watkins and Pehrson emphasize it can interrupt natural human connections. The problems come when teenagers use phones as their exclusive mean of communication, robbing them of the value they could get from their relationships, said Pehrson. One of these values is authentic connection. One of the main goals of Be the Change Day is to break down social barriers and help students be comfortable with touching others and being touched. Watkins said often kids at this age are either touching too much or not enough. But physical touch is a basic human need — and it can’t happen through a phone. Face to face interactions and physical connections — hugging, placing a hand on a person’s

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shoulder or giving a high-five — release the oxytocin hormone. “Once oxytocin is released, it makes us feel connected with each other and have a sense of belonging,” said Watkins. “I really think our kids are lacking that. They are so busy on their phone that they can be in a crowded room and still feel alone.” Pehrson said as a society, we are oxytocin-starved. “We need face to face interaction — we don’t get enough of it,” she said. Creating a Culture “I think this whole ‘be kind’ and ‘reach out’ is all part of a movement of just connecting more as human beings without technology and without all the barriers that we’ve put up with each other,” said Watkins. “It’s about remembering all we have is each other. We cannot do this and we cannot be happy alone. We require love and interaction and socialization. That’s just a human nature part of life.” New Herriman principal Todd Quarnberg has helped create a sense of safety and belonging at HHS, said Watkins. It is a change from last year when several students took their own lives. “We were unprepared as far as this could actually happen in our community,” said Watkins. “I don’t believe we had a bad culture, I just believe it’s easy for kids to retreat and pull away from family and school and get stuck in dealing with a lot of these irrational thoughts and self perception. They fall through the

cracks because people aren’t seeing them — they aren’t noticing their everyday behaviors and they are not reaching out.” Watkins said the programs implemented this year are to help students feel safe in confiding to others when they are in trouble, if they are caught in bad choices, if they are scared, feel lonely or just socially awkward. Pehrson stresses that her Thrive program is not suicide prevention in nature — it is about optimal living. “This is something we would be doing anyway but definitely there was a launching pad that was established from the year we had last year,” she said. Students still tell her that they don’t have any friends at school. “Hearing stuff like that breaks my heart because they’re in a sea of 3,300 kids — the last thing they should feel is alone,” said Pehrson. “Part of Thrive is getting people to see each other and connect with each other. We call ourselves a family but we are trying to getting them to treat each other more that way.” Meadows said she has definitely noticed a positive difference in the school this year. “I think it’s just the little things around the school that have had the most impact on me,” said Meadows. “The sticky notes on lockers with positive messages written on them, the Christmas decor, a teacher checking in on me to see if I’m OK that day, the woman with the sign, etc.” l

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Herriman city council, residents call on mayor to resign By Justin Adams | j.adams@mycityjournals.com During the Dec. 12 city council meeting, both the Herriman City Council and a handful of Herriman residents publicly called for Mayor David Watts to resign, following allegations that he violated the city’s purchasing policies on two trips to Washington, D.C. “We feel your actions have not only lost our trust but that of city staff and residents. As such, we ask for your immediate resignation as mayor,” said a prepared statement by the other four members of the city council, as read during the meeting by Councilmember Nicole Martin. The call for resignation was met by applause from many Herriman residents in attendance who had previously made the same recommendation. John Patterson, a Herriman resident and former city manager in other cities, said that Watts’ actions were the worst he’s seen from the approximately 200 elected officials he has previously worked with. “He has yet to step up and do the right thing and say ‘I’m sorry,’” he said. “I listened to the previous meeting, hoping that he would apologize… But no. He remains recalcitrant in his defense of these indefensible actions. Shame on you mayor. At this point I think the best thing for you to do is resign.” Trips to Washington, D.C. The issue began this summer when the city’s finance department alerted the city council about deficiencies in the mayor’s documentation of spending he made with a city-issued credit card during two trips to Washington, D.C. of that year. The first was part of a regular trip that select city officials and employees make to lobby the state’s congressional delegation on behalf of the city. Upon returning, the Herriman group, which included Martin and City Manager Brett Wood, learned that their flight was overbooked and they wouldn’t be able to fly that night. Undeterred, Watts lobbied the airline to get on an earlier flight. “He negotiated a deal to get a direct flight home. That’s what he told me. He got me on the trip and himself,” said Wood. When Wood learned that the mayor had gotten the two on an earlier flight home than the rest of the team, he said he was “very frustrated” and demanded that the airline take him back off the flight. “I’m not going to leave the rest of them behind. This isn’t war. This is just what you do in leadership,” he said. Ultimately, Watts was the only one to take an earlier flight. That included a layover in Denver, where he stayed at a hotel with a room cost of $346, nearly double the city’s policy of a $180 maximum on hotel rooms for travel. After the layover, Watts only ended up arriving in Salt Lake City half an hour earlier than the rest of Herriman officials. The mayor’s stated reason for needing to return early was so that he could attend a special training session that the Unified Fire Authority

Page 6 | January 2019

Mayor David Watts sits alone atop the city council dais. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

offers to elected officials each year. When he arrived at the training, he spoke with fellow City Councilmember Sherrie Ohrn about why he was there, yet Martin was not, who was also supposed to attend. She said the mayor described a scene in which he was able to use his title as mayor to leverage the airline into getting him a seat on the flight. “It’s another example of the attitude that is frustrating this council,” she said. The mayor’s second trip to Washington, D.C. was to attend a national convention as a representative of the South Salt Lake Valley Mosquito Abatement District. As Watts was not acting in his role of Herriman mayor, he should not have used the city credit card at all, according to Finance Director Alan Rae. However, the mayor used the card to get an Uber ride to and from the airport (despite the Mosquito Abatement District had already bought him a MetroCard to use for that purpose). Watts also once again used the card to purchase an earlier flight home in order to attend the city council’s vote to withdraw from the Unified Police Department. However, other city council members made clear the mayor had previously planned to participate in that meeting electronically. In fact, even as the mayor was en route to Salt Lake City, he was still communicating to the city that he would only be participating electronically.


“To me, that was an outright lie,” Martin

When the mayor attended the next Mosquito Abatement District board meeting, he reported on his trip to the national convention, saying that it was a “party,” according to the board’s June 11 minutes. Watts also said at that time that his biggest concern would be that he would hate for anyone to accuse anyone on the board that they’re going for a free vacation, saying, “That is almost what it felt like to me. I just enjoyed a couple of free days in Washington, D.C. and got my face in front of some congressional delegates and I didn’t do any good.” “It’s one thing to think that, but it’s another to say it as your report during a meeting,” said Councilmember Jared Henderson. Lack of Communication After the mayor was informed his purchases were outside city policy, he promised during a July 11 work meeting that he would pay back the city for whatever amount was deemed outside of the city’s purchasing policy. “It’s public money,” he said at the time. We should be held to a higher standard.” The council met again in November to revisit the subject after repayment was not made. The mayor alleged he never received a firm amount from either the council or the city finance department for what he owed.

Also complicating matters, the issue was turned over to the District Attorney’s office to investigate the possibility of any criminal actions on the mayor’s part. During this time, the mayor allegedly stopped communicating with the council or staff about the issue, which included his absence from the Nov. 14 meeting where it was discussed. He also held on to receipts for the purchases in question until after the investigation was complete. When the mayor did not attend the November meeting, the city council resolved to issue an official letter of reprimand for the mayor at the next city council meeting on Dec. 12. Leading up to that meeting, the mayor asked the other council members by email if at least part of the meeting could be done in closed session. Utah state law allows cities to meet in closed session to discuss the character, personal competence, or physical or mental health of an individual. However, the mayor apparently was not thinking of himself in this regard. Instead, the reason for the closed session was to discuss the competence of city staff, he told the city council by email. “The professional conduct I’m referring to is that of our executive and finance staff. I think the actions of our staff have led to a gross misunderstanding of the issue and have caused harm to the city,” he said. The council responded with a collectively

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drafted and signed letter rejecting the mayor’s request for a closed meeting. It read in part, “You have lost the trust of the public and this council. Trust and respect are earned. They are not inherently given with the title. You have consistently demonstrated poor judgment, acted in a self-serving manner, and seemed desperate to avoid proper process and transparency in doing what is right.” December 12 Meeting The Dec. 12 work meeting began with Mayor Watts distributing ten packets to the council and various city staff. The packets contained previously missing documentation of the credit card uses from the two trips to Washington, D.C. Regarding the packets, the mayor said later during the city council meeting, “Upon advice of my attorney last week I provided a packet of receipts and documentation to the city regarding the questioned purchases made on the Herriman City-issued credit card. It is my hope that this will clear up any remaining concerns the council has.” It did not. “I think it’s insulting that you think this makes this go away,” Henderson told him. “This doesn’t absolve you of any of the violations of policy. None. Not a single one.” Councilmember Ohrn told the mayor that by not providing the packets to the council prior to the meeting so they could review them showed a “complete lack of respect to your fellow members on the council.” Councilmember Clint Smith took issue that the mayor used city supplies to put together the ten packets. “Why should the city incur any additional cost related to this issue?” he asked. When the issue extended into the city council general meeting, the mayor kicked things off by reading a prepared statement. “I am grateful to finally be able to talk with you about the accusations made against me,” he read. He then pointed to the legal investigation as to why he hadn’t previously commented or provided the full documentation. “While there is no office to which I can turn for the return of my reputation, I believe that time and my continued service to you will reflect my integrity,” he said in closing. Following the mayor’s address, Finance Director Rae provided a summary of the alleged spending violations. “We have an elected official who blatantly violated our policies. We have no recourse for that so I came to the city council and said what do we do with this? That’s how this all started,” he said. Next residents were given the chance to voice their opinion. Of the about 10 residents who spoke, almost all explicitly called for the mayor to resign. “I was hoping there would be an apology,” said resident Curt Noble. “I was hoping that there would be a repayment. But it sounds like from your letter that there won’t be.” Haley Hill said what bothered her most was the amount of time spent by city officials and employees on this issue when they could have been working on other ways to help the city. “It’s sickening,” she said.

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Ron Mortensen agreed. “What’s the hard cost for this? It’s not a thousand bucks. It’s much more than that,” he said. Following the citizen comments, each city council member took time to share their thoughts on the situation. Smith said this issue was just the latest in a pattern of misbehavior by the mayor. “Unfortunately for us as a council, this isn’t the first time we’ve had to deal with behavior issues and poor judgment by the mayor,” Smith said. “It is only the most recent and the most public. After dealing with some of these previous issues as a council, we all agreed that the next issue would be dealt with publicly and handled in an open meeting because we felt that the public had a right to know.” While Smith didn’t get into many specifics, he referenced times in which the mayor “has withheld information from this body that he has gleaned” from various meetings. Other council members pointed to Watts’ attitude and handling of the situation as the most serious transgression of all. “He had two opportunities to at least try to say the right thing. Instead, total denial,” Henderson said. “It’s the attitude. There has not been an apology,” Ohrn said. Finally, Martin presented the council’s letter of reprimand. “Despite all attempts to correct behavior, we view you as damaging to our city and by extension our residents. You continue to illustrate a refusal to accept responsibility for your actions,” she read, before going on to call for the mayor’s resignation. In the event that the mayor refused to resign, the letter stated that the city would “formally remove [him] from all assigned board and committee positions,” and lower his salary “commensurate with his lessened responsibility.” It also stated that the city would “notify all stakeholders and interested parties” that Watts does not speak for Herriman City or the city council. The mayor then made somewhat of an apology saying, “I’m sorry that we’re in this situation. Clearly I’ve already been tried and convicted. That’s fine.” Watts then went on to say that he would not be resigning, but would accept the council’s other punishments. “Unfortunately I believe that there has been so much misinformation that has been provided that there’s nothing I can do now,” he said. “Instead of fighting it and trying to go through all these inaccuracies, I’ll simply accept what the council has read.” After a ten-minute recess, the city council meeting continued almost as if nothing had happened. The mayor and city council went through several more items on the agenda before adjourning a little before midnight. Watts reportedly repaid just over $1,200 after the meeting at 11:58 p.m. This story will be updated with further information as the South Valley Journal attempts to reach various city officials for follow up. l

January 2019 | Page 7

Riverton in review: Looking back on 2018 By Mariden Williams | mariden.w@mycityjournals.com


ots of changes came to Riverton City in 2018, which is perhaps to be expected, given that it was the first year in office for Mayor Trent Staggs and City Council members Tawnee McCay and Tish Buroker. They weren’t the only new city officials appointed this year. In April, Riverton found a new city manager in Konrad Hildebrandt, who brought with him 18 years of experience as a city manager or assistant city manager, and 30 total years in the public sector. He most recently worked as an assistant city manager in Odessa, Texas, and has previously worked as a city manager in both Cedar Hills and Washington Terrace, Utah. “My family and I feel extremely honored to be here in Riverton,” said Hildebrandt in an official Riverton press release. “I look forward to working jointly with elected officials, staff and residents to make Riverton an even greater and more vibrant city where people can live, work and play.” The city had been without a formal manager since June 2017, following the retirement of previous city manager Lance Blackwood and numerous delays in the selection of a new manager. In that time, City Attorney Ryan Carter acted as the interim city manager, to the general approval of the city council. On June 15, the first phase of Riverton’s much anticipated Mountain View Village shopping center officially opened for business. Built by CenterCal Properties, the development is comprised of 85 acres in one of the fastest growing areas in Utah. When completed, tentatively planned for spring of 2019, it will include retail, restaurants, an office complex, a gym, a hotel and a full luxury theater. “This is the first phase of what will be a much larger project. The second phase will be starting construction next spring, and at the end of the day we hope that we’ll have created a gathering place that the community can be really proud of,” said Fred Bruning, CEO of CenterCal Properties. Throngs of people attended to take advantage of the numerous opening-day sales, and to see the unveiling of the massive bronze eagle sculpture set at the heart of the development — although the wind playfully pulled the sheet away long before officials could, allowing attendees several sneak peeks of the statue while various speeches were made. Later, the central plaza of the development was dedicated to John Ward, a friend of Bruning’s and the chief financial officer at Harmons Grocery until his sudden and unexpected passing in early 2017. “This project is really the culmination of quite a bit of work. It’s a storied timeline that goes back a good ten years or more,” said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. “The fields that were here previously, over the years they sustained many of us through bountiful harvest. And I believe they will continue to provide sustenance, albeit on a different level.” In his first year as mayor, Staggs has dra-

Page 8 | January 2019

“Majestic,” sculpted by Brian Keith, sits at the heart of the Mountain View Village’s John Ward Plaza. (CenterCal Properties)

matically increased the city’s official social media presence, most notably through the release of a new and improved city app, the usage of Facebook’s livestreaming capabilities and the production of numerous informational videos. It started with the Mayor’s Minute, a weekly one-to-two minute video where Staggs gives residents a quick briefing on current city events. In August, he also introduced LIVE with the Mayor—a longer 30-minute interview between Staggs and a local leader, livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube to all the city’s followers. Prior to each interview, residents are invited to submit any questions they may have for the interviewee, who will then bring up some of those questions during the interview. “We’ve been doing Mayor’s Minutes for the last few months, and we felt like it would be a great idea to invite some business and community leaders into the mayor’s office, and just have a conversation about some of the things they’re doing and how they might impact all of our residents,” Staggs said. The very first guest to be LIVE with the mayor was Congresswoman Mia Love, who represents Riverton City and all the other residents of Utah’s 4th congressional district. One of the issues discussed by Love and Staggs was the lack of civility in today’s political climate, and the importance of meaningful, respectful discussions. “We’re supposed to be able to debate, and talk about different ideas,” Love said. “And maybe, just maybe, if we’re able to have a conversation where two adults get into a room and

they talk about what they’re for, maybe we’ll witness American democracy at its best.” Two adults in a room having a civil conversation is exactly what LIVE with the Mayor aspires to be. But Riverton’s 2018 administration haven’t been satisfied with just increasing the city’s official internet presence — they also sought to help parents and kids be more mindful of their own social media usage. On Sept. 17, hundreds of parents packed into the auditorium of Riverton High School for a workshop about the effects of excessive screen time on teens. Entitled “Live In Real Life,” the workshop featured keynote speakers Collin Kartchner, a TED speaker and social activist, and Katey McPherson, TED speaker and children’s advocate. The workshop also featured booths run by many local mental health support and teen advocacy groups. “We live in a world where you put your front stage forward, and…you create worth based on your followers and your likes and what other people think of you. Our children don’t know what their self worth is yet. They’re still forming that,” McPherson said. “If they feel like they’re not getting the connection and emotional support they need from you, the parent, they will seek it on social media.” She continued. “They say things they don’t mean. They use words they would never use in front of you. They absolutely lie about your family and what’s going on, because they’re just transmitting their pain.” According to McPherson, communicat-

ing well with your kids is the best way to keep them from acting out on social media, and there are two things that will improve your communication with your children: “You getting really vulnerable about what’s going on, and you validating what’s going on with them. Vulnerability plus validation equals connection. That’s what our kids need. Connection.” But perhaps Riverton’s biggest talking point of the year was city officials’ ongoing struggle with the Unified Police Department. This reached a climax on Oct. 23 when Riverton officials formally decided to leave UPD in favor of creating their own in-house Riverton Police Department. The Riverton City Council first declared the city’s intent to leave UPD in an emergency meeting on July 19, the day after city officials received information about an important decision that would be made at a UPD Board of Directors meeting the very next day. This decision would make changes to an agreement between the UPD and its member communities. City officials said nobody was told about it until the very last minute — when it was almost too late to do anything. “It made me really nervous to know that the UPD Board would be considering such substantial changes to our agreement during a time when we are actively trying to resolve some very important concerns,” said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. The proposed changes would have seen the assets and resources Riverton has invested in the UPD over the years distributed in an unfair way across the UPD service area. Taxpayers would

S outh Valley City Journal

not receive the bang for their buck that they reasonably should. City council members think that creating their own police department will be more cost-effective. “The decision to form our own police department has been a difficult one for us,” said Councilman Sheldon Stewart. “Ultimately, the decision was made based on what direction could provide the best level of service in our city at the best cost. The move to create our own police department allows more Riverton taxpayer dollars to be invested in law enforcement service right here in our own community.” According to the city’s financial analysis, the new department could hire up to 38 officers and five civilian employees without paying more than what is currently paid to UPD for 2830 officers in the city. The total projected 2019 budget for the Riverton Police Department is $5,167,656; $500,000 of that will be one-time startup costs, and it also includes 10 more permanent officers than Riverton is currently allotted by UPD. Others, however, are not so sure that this is how it will play out. Back in August, officials held a town hall meeting on the matter, and the vast majority of speakers — many of them Riverton residents, police officers, or both — warned against leaving UPD. One resident described the proposed Riverton Police Department’s budget as “a pipe dream.” “I’ve seen Draper do this. I’ve seen it three times, and every time, it was over budget. I saw Taylorsville do it, and it’s over budget. I saw Cottonwood Heights do it, and it’s over budget. And you show us your numbers… it’s gonna go over budget,” said Ray Lopez, a retired UPD officer. Some argued any cities that leave UPD end up coming back in the end for precisely that reason. “I was part of the Taylorsville Police Department, and we had a lot of struggles,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera. “Although we had a lot of great people trying to make it work. The budget was just too much, and we came back to UPD.” Regardless, Riverton officials remained optimistic, and confirmed Don Hutson as the new chief of police on Dec. 11. Officials had hoped to have a chief of police in place by Jan. 1, 2019, and they got their man. “We are thrilled to welcome Don Hutson as the new chief of police in Riverton,” Staggs said in a press release. “He brings with him the experience, skill set, and network needed to set up a thriving police department. I have no doubt he will serve the citizens of our city exceptionally well in this role.” Hutson will oversee the formation of the new department, including the hiring of officers, the acquisition of equipment, the creation of a budget, and the development of policy. “The opportunity of starting a police department from the ground up is something that I couldn’t pass up,” Hutson said. “I look forward to creating a department that proactively serves

Bring Your Family And Experience A New Reality

New Police Chief Don Hutson shakes hands with Mayor Trent Staggs. Hutson was named the city’s chief of police in December, its first ever. (Riverton City Communications)

the Riverton community, places high value on our officers, and provides the best law enforcement service for our citizens.” Hutson, who was selected out of a pool of nearly 60 candidates, currently as the City of Holladay precinct chief in the Unified Police Department (UPD), a role he has held since 2015. Prior to serving as precinct chief, Hutson served in a variety of roles with UPD and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office including as professional standards division commander, investigations division commander, media services unit administrator, and public information officer. Additionally, Hutson has been a drug enforcement task force officer, narcotics unit detective, gang unit detective, S.W.A.T. Team member, and patrol deputy. “As we begin the process of forming our own police department, I’m confident Chief Hutson will help us achieve our goal of becoming the best police department in the state, bar none,” Hildebrandt said. “We don’t take this effort lightly. Under the leadership of Chief Hutson, the Riverton Police Department has a very bright future.” It is anticipated that other officer and civilian hires will take place between January and June 2019 to ensure the department is fully staffed to take over operations from UPD at some point in July 2019. “We appreciate the service of the UPD officers who have served our community so well for many years,” said Councilwoman Tawnee McCay. “We hope to see many of those who serve here currently, whether as officers or as crossing guards, apply for positions in the new Riverton Police Department when that time comes.” l

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January 2019 | Page 9

2018 a formative year for Herriman City By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com


hile Herriman marks major milestones each year as it grows, 2018 also marked its importance within the Salt Lake Valley. From valuable land to law enforcement, eyes continually turned southwest to this corner of the valley. In no particular order, here are a few of the biggest stories from the year. From UPD to HPD “It was kind of a we-did-it moment. (They) told us we couldn’t, and we did.” Those were the words of Troy Carr as he described the first moments of Herriman’s new police department to the city council during a meeting in October. Carr is the first police chief of the Herriman Police Department. It was both a long time coming and sneaked up, as the city’s new police force had its 35 police officers and five civilian officers sworn into office on Sept. 27. For months, Herriman officials contemplated its status within UPD. Deciding whether to stay or leave came to a head in May as the city council voted unanimously to withdraw from UPD to form its own department. By June, it had hired its leadership team — police chief (Carr), deputy chief, operations commander and investigations commander — and set Sept. 29 as departure date, a goal they achieved. The separation was described as a “divorce” by Councilwoman Nicole Martin in June. The break up began frosty but ended amicably. Residents and UPD leaders told the city council it was a mistake to separate from UPD. Residents worried the city’s budget would double. With a police officer shortage, they warned the process wouldn’t work. But by July, Carr reported having more than 100 people apply to be an officer. City projections also showed it would save money. It would also increase its officer presence and give them more control. In the department’s first 24 hours, there were domestic violence calls, a juvenile warrant arrest and a triple fatal vehicle accident, according to Carr. All were covered due to HPD’s number of officers on duty and didn’t require outside resources, Carr said. During the Oct. 10 city council meeting, Mayor David Watts said the efforts by all involved to make this happen were “incredible.” At the swearing-in ceremony, Councilman Jared Henderson described it as a “Herculean task.” “We are beyond proud of what has been achieved,” Watts said. Months after its decision to leave UPD, Riverton has followed suit, establishing plans to separate from the regional policing agency and form its own police department as well. January lockdown But before the police switched hands, UPD and other agencies helped when neighborhoods went on lockdown on Jan. 20. Justin Gary Llewelyn got into a shootout with a Unified Police officer, shot a homeowner in the chest

Page 10 | January 2019

The grand opening of the Zions Bank Real Academy on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy Herriman City)

and then stole the man’s vehicle. He was later caught and apprehended. While the moment proved terrifying for many in the area, residents Nicki Pinarelli Bullard and Angela Mazza took the opportunity to thank law enforcement on Jan. 30 with a community luncheon. “It was just to say thank you for all officers did,” Bullard said at the time. “They protected us so much the week that Llewelyn was on the run. They do so much for us and don’t get thanked enough. It was such an amazing feeling knowing he was out there as I dropped my kids off at school. Police presence was incredible and made me feel OK about me not being with them. We would love to make this a yearly thing.” Olympia Hills Land was constantly under a microscope during 2018 in Herriman, none more so than the proposed Olympia Hills development during the summer. The proposed high-density housing development — initially approved by the Salt Lake County Council before being vetoed by County Mayor Ben McAdams — would have seen 931 acres of unincorporated county land from 6300

West to 8500 West and 12400 South to13100 South (land that is part of Salt Lake County but not part of any city) rezoned to allow living space for some 33,000 people. The initial approval started a movement. Thousands signed petitions aiming to stop the development. The mayors of Herriman, Riverton, West Jordan and Copperton released a joint statement urging the council to deny the rezone. Hundreds of Salt Lake Valley residents attended a town hall meeting, held on June 14 at Herriman High School, to air their grievances and urge McAdams to veto the rezone. Among the many concerns discussed were insufficient roadways (particularly east–west freeways), increased taxes, stretching police and fire services thin, and the lack of schools to support such growth. “We’re acting like the southwest of Salt Lake Valley is responsible for sustaining the growth of the entire state,” said Herriman resident Leigh Gibson during the town hall. “The land in the southwest Salt Lake Valley is not the only open land left in the valley, and we need to stop acting like it is.” Though the proposal was vetoed, it did not die. Discussions continue about possibly

annexing the land into Herriman. City officials commissioned a study to assess numerous land development factors — including economic and environmental sustainability, topography, utilities, transportation, parks and schools — to determine the site’s “carrying capacity,” or development density. On Dec. 13, the Olympia Hills developer provided information about its revised plan and gathered public input. Follow the South Valley Journal in 2019 for more information. Herriman Community Center Herriman’s current city hall only opened in 2017. The city council held previous meetings at the Herriman Community Center, located at 13011 South Pioneer Street. The center was declared surplus in May after a unanimous city council vote and city staff was directed to find the “best economic return to the city,” which could include being sold. At the time, the decision was met with frustration by members of the community, who urged the council to keep the building as a community space. While council members appreciated the sentiment and history of the building, they couldn’t justify the price tag to keep the building.

S outh Valley City Journal

Herriman Youth Council Brooklin Vasica, Herriman Youth PIO


he Herriman City Youth Council has been a key role in the success of Herriman City’s annual events. With 26 members on the youth council, ranging from 9th to 12th grade, we want to be more connected to the public, the youth, and the City. We strive to do this by continuing to look for service opportunities. Recently, we have added more positions in the Youth Council that are tasked with working with other community groups. We are now connecting with the Arts Council, Healthy Herriman, Trails Committee, and others, so we can mutually benefit from one another. We are also looking at other programs to implement, includ-

ing beautifying our city. The Youth Council is currently planning an event, “Light the Ice Food Drive.” We want to encourage our community to come out to the Ice Ribbon at J. Lynn Crane Park on Monday, January 28. The admission and rental fees will be waived when you bring at least five nonperishable food items. We want to help replenish the Utah Food Bank after the rush of the holiday season. We hope this will be a fun event for the whole community to enjoy with their family and friends. l

Herriman officers are sworn in on Sept. 27. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

“It would be, in my opinion, fiscally irresponsible of us to just hang onto (the building),” Henderson said at the time. The building was most recently being used by Salt Lake Community College for classes. RSL Academy Not all land use decisions brought concern. February saw the grand opening of the Zions Bank Real Academy (14787 South Academy Parkway off Mountain View Corridor). The 42-acre behemoth is a $78 million campus. It features an indoor training facility recognized as the largest free-standing steel structure in North America, a STEM-based charter school, boarding facilities for some students and players, and a 5,000-seat stadium where the Real Monarchs played this season. SLCC women’s and men’s soccer teams played their home games there this year as well as the Utah Warriors rugby team. “It’s a beacon of excellence for what the human spirit can achieve,” said Gordon Haight of the complex at the grand opening on Feb. 28. Haight is Herriman’s assistant city manager and economic development director. Its benefits to Herriman are innumerable, said Haight in March. He highlighted the facility as a destination for people from around the world; as a site the city can have as a place for an active lifestyle; to spur economic growth with hotels, restaurants and office park nearby; and to serve as an emergency shelter in the case of an earthquake or other natural disasters. People travel to cities to witness infrastructural marvels—how exciting it is to have that in Herriman, Haight said. Mayor’s finances Watts’ use of a city credit card during two trips to Washington, D.C., recently came under scrutiny. City Finance Director Alan Rae laid out the details in question, which included using a city credit card for non-city business, exceeding the recommended limit for travel expenses and failing to provide receipts for expenses. During the two trips, Watts’ city credit card ran 21 transactions. Only two receipts were pro-

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vided by the mayor, according to Martin. This issue was initially raised during a council meeting on July 11. At that time, the mayor reportedly told council members he had only just been informed of the problems half an hour earlier. However, Rae said that he had informed the mayor of the issue weeks earlier, on June 26. During the July meeting, Watts promised to fully pay the city back for what he had spent. “It’s public money. We should be held to a higher standard,” he said at the time. However, over four months later, the mayor had made no effort to repay the city, said Rae. The city council decided city credit cards would no longer be given to elected officials. When traveling, officials will now pay for expenses with their personal cards, then submit receipts for approved purchases to the city for reimbursement. (Most of the Herriman city councilors said they already follow this method voluntarily.) Other bits of info • The Rosecrest Disc Golf Course was shut down on Labor Day weekend. The 18-hole course, set up along what was initially intended as trails for people to use, branches through various neighborhoods. Resulting damage to adjacent resident properties, such as broken fences from golfers climbing or forcibly adjusting them to retrieve their discs, caused the city council — with recommendations from city staff — to permanently close the location. • Staff was directed, in a unanimous council vote, to purchase just over 55 acres of property located along 12120 South 5100 West. The plan was to rezone the property to develop more commercial property. It was originally intended for higher-density residential development. “This is our opportunity to preserve commercial acreage along Mountain View Corridor,” Henderson said during a special council meeting on Nov. 9. This was “an active attempt to follow the desires of our community,” Watts said. l

Lights on Ice Food Drive Presented by the Herriman Youth Council

Monday, January 28, 2019 5:30 to 9:00 P.M.

Ice Ribbon at J. Lynn Crane Park South of Herriman City Hall (5355 West Herriman Main Street)

Ice skate for free by bringing at least 5 cans of nonperishable food, which will be given to the Utah Food Bank. Enjoy a fun night of skating with your family and friends!

Sponsored by Herriman City and local Herriman businesses!

January 2019 | Page 11

Addresses: Bell’s 48th Street Deli 1207 Murray Taylorsville Rd Taylorsville Lone Star Taqueria 2265 Fort Union Blvd Cottonwood Heights Cous Cous Mediterranean Grill 5470 South 900 East #1 Salt Lake City Guras Spice House 5530 13400 S Herriman Fav Bistro 1984 E Murray Holladay Rd Holladay Shaka Shack 14587 750 W Bluffdale Spudtoddos 7251 Plaza Center Dr #120 West Jordan

Lunch Madness


his summer, we took the best parks around the valley and pitted them against each other in head-to-head contests with winners determined by social media voting, until we had a victor. Now, we’re turning our attention to local restaurants, diners, grills and cafes. This is Lunch Madness. We started by selecting one restaurant to represent each city in the Salt Lake Valley, using

a variety of criteria. First and foremost, it had to be a locally owned and operated restaurant. As a chain of local newspapers, we’re all about supporting small and local business. Second, we wanted to have a diverse tournament so we selected a broad range of types of restaurants. From classic burger joints and taquerias to Thai-fusion and potato-centric eateries, there’s something for everyone in this competition.

Voting will begin the week of January 22. As with regular voting, we encourage all participants to be informed voters. So go try a few of these restaurants, especially if there’s one in your area that you’ve never been to before. Find a favorite, then help vote them on through the tournament. Voting will take place on the City Journals Facebook page. l

Bracket Seeding: Bell’s 48th Street Deli

Lone Star Taqueria


(Cottonwood Heights) Joe Morley’s BBQ

Abs Drive In


(West Valley)

The Break Sports Grill

The Break Sports Grill 11274 Kestrel Rise Rd South Jordan

(South Jordan)

Pig & A Jelly Jar 401 East 900 South A Salt Lake City

(Salt Lake City)

Spudtoddos (West Jordan)

Pat’s BBQ

Pig and a Jelly Jar

(South Salt Lake)

Pat’s BBQ 155 W Commonwealth Ave, South Salt Lake Sugarhouse BBQ Company 880 E 2100 S Salt Lake City Tin Roof Grill 9284 700 E Sandy Salsa Leedos 13298 S Market Center Dr Riverton

Shaka Shack

Fav Bistro



Cous Cous Guras Spice House

Garage Grill 1122 East Draper Parkway Draper Joe Morley’s BBQ 100 W Center St Midvale


Page 12 | January 2019


(Sugar House)


Ab’s Drive-In 4591 5600 W West Valley City

Tin Roof Grill

Sugarhouse BBQ Co.

Mediterranean Grill (Murray) Garage Grill

Salsa Leedos

First Round Voting: January 22-23


Second Round Voting: January 24-25

Third Round Voting: January 28-29

Finals: January 30-31 S outh Valley City Journal



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January 2019 | Page 13

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Changing schools for sports: Is it good or bad? By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com


s Carolyn Fotu and her husband, Tevita, debated on where they thought their two sons should attend high school and play football, they never anticipated the windfall of emotion that the decision would involve. “Hard is an understatement,” Carolyn Fotu said. “We uprooted them from what they knew and put them in a whole new environment. The backlash that came with it made it even harder, but looking back at it now, it was all worth it.” The Fotus broke no rules when deciding through open enrollment where their children should attend school. In fact, initially they transported them to their chosen school and eventually they moved into the school boundaries. They enrolled into Bingham as part of the open enrollment program outlined by the Utah State School Board. According to state code 402, a school is open for enrollment of nonresident students if enrollment level is at or below enrollment threshold. The Fotus applied for their children to attend Bingham and were granted permission by the Jordan School District. “It surprised us that friends were offended when we went through it,” Carolyn Fotu said. “Tevita had attended Bingham’s summer workouts and gotten to know the coaches. He liked the way they ran their program. That is what sold us on Bingham.” The investment the Fotus made in research for the future of their children paid off. Their oldest, Malachi, was recruited and earned a football scholarship to Southern Virginia University. Sione is currently a junior and has received several college offers, including the University of Utah, potentially saving the family thousands in college expenses. “Playing sports in high school helped teach them things they can use in everyday life situations,” Carolyn Fotu said. Scholarship offers can come to athletes no matter where they play their games. “We found the good players no matter what,” former Southern Utah University assistant men’s basketball coach Drew Allen said. “Honestly, where the student plays in high school means nothing. We found the kids in the offseason camps and tournaments anyway. We could not come watch the high school games because we were playing at the same time. If the kid was good enough, we found them no matter what.” Noah Togiai starred at Hunter High School as a basketball and football player. He was heavily recruited in both sports and ended up at Oregon State playing basketball for one season before later becoming a football-only athlete. He has been rated by ESPN as one of the top 25 tight ends in the country and may enter the NFL draft this spring. Hailee Skolmoski, a graduate of Riverton High School, signed and played soccer at the University of Utah. She scored 26 goals in her four-year career for the Utes. She is part of the Real Salt Lake women’s developmental pro-

S outh V alleyJournal .com

Riverton High School’s football team has endured three coaching changes recently and still managed to qualify for this year’s state tournament. (Photo courtesy of dsandersonpics.com)

gram. Atunaisa Mahe, from West Jordan High, is a freshman at BYU and has earned his way as a defensive lineman for the Cougars. These are some of the many examples of players who made it despite not playing at the powerhouse school, but players and parents still try to manipulate the system in their best interests. “It happened to me once,” Cyprus head boys basketball head coach Tre Smith said. “A student came to me and asked if he transferred into our school if I would give him a spot on the team. I told him he would need to try out just like everyone else. I never heard from him again. Honestly, tryouts is the toughest part of my job. I try to keep the best players. One year, I kept a senior that I cut as a junior. He got better.” The Utah High School Activities Association indicates undue influence and recruiting rules to be an important part of their jurisdiction. The violation of the association bylaws can be followed with penalties such as reprimands, probation, suspension, fines and vacating wins. In 2015, allegation were made against Summit Academy High School that one of its assistant football coaches was recruiting players. The UHSAA suspended the program from the 2016 state football playoffs and fined the school $3,000. The assistant football coach, Jeff Callahan, lost his position at the school. Callahan was accused of contacting then-current Copper Hills players and encouraging them to transfer to Summit. Then-Copper

Hills Principal Todd Quarnberg presented copies of text messages as proof to the allegations to the UHSAA. Initial eligibility is established by a student attending a high school or trying out for a high school team (whichever comes first). After eligibility is established, a student must submit a transfer request with the UHSAA if they want to change schools. A request by the City Journals for a number of transfer requests reviewed by the association was denied. Former Summit Academy and current Wyoming long snapper Jesse Hooper transferred from Copper Hills. “Some of my old friend were not very happy at the moment,” Hooper said. “They understood what was best for me and my family. My old school and my new school were both very professional and welcoming. Wyoming has been everything I could have dreamed about. I started all 12 games. I finished the season healthy. I am truly blessed.” The UHSAA governs high school athletics and fine arts activities in the state. It includes 154 member schools and more than 100,000 participating students. The association sanctions 10 girls sports and 10 boys sports, along with music, theater/drama and speech, and debate. The UHSAA recently finalized its region realignments for 2019. The association has the responsibility to assign its member schools into classifications and regions. According to its bylaws, it takes into account any factors that promote fair competition. Every two years, it ar-

ranges the schools into competitive regions. “For a lot of kids to be involved in something outside of the classroom it is a good thing,” Hunter High School Principal Craig Stauffer said. “Some of these kids, because they get involved, they know that they have to keep a certain GPA so they can play. It is like a huge insurance policy. To think they could be out on the streets doing something else makes it all worth it. Winning is not the most important thing, although it is nice to be competitive.” Rob Cuff, the UHSAA executive director, told the City Journals in a recent story, “Winning teams and competitive balance is not the goal of the association. Our mission is about participation.” l

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Athlos Academy puts the fun in fundraiser By Jet Burnham | j.burnham@mycityjournals.com


ith a 9,400-square-foot gymnasium, Athlos Academy doesn’t do anything small, especially its fundraisers. Using the huge space, 6thto 8th-grade students hosted a Haunted Hallways spook alley in October as a fundraiser for their

middle school. In November, the gym was transformed into the big top for the PTO’s fundraiser, which had a “Greatest Showman” theme. l

(Jet Burnham/City Journals)

(Jet Burnham/City Journals)

(Jet Burnham/City Journals)

Page 22 | January 2019

(Jet Burnham/City Journals)

(Jet Burnham/City Journals)

S outh Valley City Journal

Students should set resolutions for leading balanced lives By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com


his year’s top New Year’s resolutions may be to eat healthy, exercise regularly, get more sleep, find a job and join a club to start a new hobby. These resolutions are similar to what school officials say students should look at for setting their goals toward leading balanced lives. “Research shows that to lead a happy and well-balanced life, little things do matter,” said McKinley Withers, Jordan School District’s health and wellness specialist. “Diet, sleep, exercise — with those three, there can be a significant improvement in students’ lives.” While that may sound obvious, sometimes students can’t see it, said Canyons School District’s Corner Canyon High School counselor Misty Jolley. “With tests, papers, assignments, and for seniors, college applications and scholarships, all due at the same time, it’s easier said than done,” she said. “Even increasing just a little sleep and exercise, and eating more healthy than soda and junk food, will help.” Torilyn Gillett, Canyons School District’s school counseling program specialist, said students can reduce stress in their lives by taking a break. “By setting goals and exercising daily habits of living a healthy life, students are building protective factors against anxiety,” she said, adding that eight or nine hours of sleep is recommended. “Just as your phone needs to be plugged in to recharge, your brain is the same way. It needs to recuperate.” Some ways that is possible is through meditation, relaxation, deep breathing or taking a few minutes each day for a mindfulness app will help take away panic and anxiety feelings, she said. “Even a walk without technology gives good exercise for both the body and the brain,” Gillett said. At a recent Granite School District parent liaison meeting sponsored by the Utah Parent Center, mindfulness handouts were distributed, with examples of how to breathe deeply, stretch and relax. Judy Petersen, Granite School District’s college and career readiness director, said the district works with students to help them lead a well-balanced life. “We are always focusing on prevention and making every effort to help students develop good coping skills and strategies in the areas of self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, self-management and relationships,” she said. “In K-6 (kindergarten through sixth-grade), social workers do this with growth mindset curriculum and in grades seven through 12, a social emotional skill of the month is delivered through advisory classes, health classes and in other settings.”

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At Corner Canyon High, student Luke Warnock started the focus group Stress Less when he realized a friend was struggling with anxiety and depression. Stress Less meets twice each month and is open to anyone who wants to attend and learn about coping skills through activities and speakers. In January, he plans to kick off new ideas, whether it be addressing learning to cope through exercise, meditation, music or other ways. “The goal is to positively impact kids — the more the better,” he said. “Stress is universal and if we learn how to cope, it lessens the burden, and that can be monumental.” This may be one method students are able to connect with others, something Withers recommends. “When there is face-to-face interaction, students are able to connect more. There’s a social piece to being well balanced. If they can connect, share a hobby or find some way to interact, even with their family, it will provide more support and comfort,” he said. Gillett agrees that personal positive relationships are a key. “During family dinner time, spend time talking. Put away the device. Be in the present moment, where you are,” she said. “Balance is the key in everything.” She also suggested giving service to others. “It’s a way to build a connection to someone or give to a cause and see a bigger picture,” she said, adding that many schools participate in service learning or community service projects. Corner Canyon’s Jolley agrees. “Volunteering helps to develop character and for college applications, it’s huge. It also gives us a feeling of gratitude and we realize we have things that others don’t. Even a small act is rewarding,” she said. Jolley recommends for all high school students, especially seniors, in January — midway through the year — is a good time to refocus. “Seniors have senioritis and aren’t always focused. They should look at what they want to achieve the end of this school year and where they see their future. It’s a time where they will be opening a new chapter in their lives and they need to prioritize what they’re doing now and what’s next,” she said. Corner Canyon student body president Warnock agrees. “I’m not a super stressed person, but with all the activities I do and attend, I realize I need some me time and need to prioritize. I’m a high school student just like everyone else here,” the high school senior said. Jolley suggests students decide what is important and then set time to accomplish those priorities. “Students should look at what’s going to

Doing activities with friends, such as playing basketball, develops strong relationships and skills in teamwork, which contribute to balanced lives for students. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Healthy eating is one factor in living a balanced life. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

affect them long term and focus on what is important to them — whether it is good grades to get accepted into college or getting the training they need for a career. Organizing will help just to reduce their stress,” she said. Some students may need to learn to set boundaries, including saying no to things that aren’t as important. They may need to ask for help. “Having other people help you shows great strength and it can be fun to share the load, not do everything yourself,” Jolley said. However, other students may need to become more involved in activities that are meaningful to them or even get a part-time job, she added. Jolley said that through various high school

and community involvement, students are learning essential life-long skills. “By being involved, we develop leadership skills, work together and are more productive,” she said. Even so, Jolley said there is a balance of those activities and just “hanging out with friends.” “With balanced living, it encompasses school, work, activities, volunteering, family and playing — whether it’s being with friends, reading, hiking, biking or doing what you enjoy,” she said. “It’s great to set and work toward goals, and we need to, but we also need to live in the moment and be able to appreciate it.” l

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A quick and dirty look at probate As an attorney, I have a healthy appreciation for legal jargon. And within the realm of estate planning, there’s really no better example of legal jargon than the term probate. We throw down that word like it’s going out of style bedazzling it in the process with a handful of adjectives like long, complicated, expensive, hard, messy, etc. But I’m not sure we actually tell you what probate is, so I thought I’d take a minute and do just that. Probate is a fairly simple concept. It’s the process of changing assets from the name of a deceased person into the name of a living person and paying off any debts the deceased person may have had. For example, if you own your house and you kick off into the great beyond, we now have to somehow get your name off the title and put the name of whoever buys your house on the title. And we do that through the probate process. So why does the court have to get involved? Well, anytime we’re taking assets out of someone’s name and putting them into someone else’s, we best be sure that the person is actually dead and that we verify whether any instructions were left in the form of a will. Then the court has to make sure the will is legit and give legal authority to the people you said should take care of all your stuff. So why do we say probate is complicated, expensive, hard, messy, etc.? Well, most families with a deceased loved one must do some organizing and digging to get all the financials in order: assets have to be gathered, organized, liquidated, settled, and then distributed. An attorney is usually part of this process which is where the expen-

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sive part comes in. And sometimes family members fight over stuff because grief affects everyone differently and this stuff is all folks have left of someone they loved very much, which can make both hard and messy. Why do people always talk about a trust? Trusts come in many shapes and sizes, but the two kinds of trusts that folks seem most interested in are the probate-avoidance trust and the Medicaid trust. Probate-avoidance trusts, when used correctly, make it so that you don’t have to go through probate after you die. Medicaid trusts address the worry that the state is going to take everything you have after you die, and just to clarify a misconception on this, the state isn’t interested in keeping any of your stuff or taking your money unless you used Medicaid (not Medicare) at the end of your life, and then they’ll put what’s called a Medicaid lien on the assets in your estate to repay what they spent on your behalf, but Medicaid trusts when used correctly allow you to avoid this pay back provision. So, there is a quick and dirty overview of what probate is, what it isn’t, and why you may want to do some estate planning in 2019. Happy New Year! Rebekah Wightman is an Estate Planning, Probate, and Guardianship attorney at Sandberg, Stettler, and Bloxham, PLLC in South Jordan. Though an Oregon native, Rebekah has made her home in Utah for the last 12 years and currently resides in Herriman with her husband, two sons, and brand new baby girl. Rebekah can be reached at 801-984-2040, Rebekah@ssb.law, or by visiting http:// ssb.law. l

S outh Valley City Journal

Winter driving safety: Snow falls and you slow down


he long line at the local auto body shop isn’t just for oil changes, it’s for winter tires too. With temperatures dropping and leaves soon to follow, it’s time for a refresher course on safe winter driving. 1) Know the conditions Technology affords us the privilege of knowing road conditions before ever leaving the house. Utah Department of Transportation has more than 2,200 traffic cameras or sensors which gives visuals and data on all major UDOT roads. Drivers can then adjust their routes or schedules according to the heaviness of traffic making for less congestion and less risk for accidents. The UDOT app means you can see all those cameras from your phone. Twitter feeds also provide alerts about traffic situations throughout the state, including roads up the canyon. Unified Police have a canyon alerts Twitter page for to update traffic in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons as well as tire requirements and road closures. 2) Prepare the car Make sure the car is prepared for the road conditions, first with good tires. Snow tires give greater tread for better traction. If only two new tires are placed on the car, make sure to put them in the rear. With the falling snow, it’s necessary to have quality wiper blades that ensures clear views rather than leaving water streaks across windshield impairing your ability to drive. The wiper

fluid reservoir also needs to be replenished before the first snows hit. Snow and ice should be completely removed from the windows, headlights and taillights prior to driving to ensure visibility. If your car is parked outside overnight, place towels over the windows. This keeps the windows from icing over. A system should be in place to check everything in your car such as the battery power and your cooling system. Antifreeze helps the vehicle withstand the freezing temperatures. The vehicle should also be stocked with safety items in the case of an emergency. The Utah Department of Public Safety suggests on its website to have jumper cables, a tow rope and small shovel in case the car gets stuck, reflectors or flares to make sure your car is visible to others driving, flashlight and batteries, extra winter clothes, first-aid kit, battery or solar powered radio, sleeping bag, fresh water and non-perishable food, paper towels and hand warmers. 3) Control the vehicle Keeping the car under control requires some safe driving tips. The most obvious: drive slowly. Despite our impatience or urgency to get to the desired location, slow driving is the safest driving. Staying under the speed limit, which is meant for ideal conditions, becomes even more important when traveling over snow, ice, standing water or slush. In driver’s education courses, prospective

drivers learn about the rule for distance between your car and the one in front of you. Driving 60 mph? Stay six car lengths back. 70 mph? Seven car lengths back. This distance should be increased even more during wet conditions to allow the car time and space to stop without rear ending the vehicle in front. All movements should be gradual rather than sudden. This means avoiding sharp turns, accelerating slowly and braking softly. Though you may have four-wheel drive or even all-wheel drive, this does not give license to drive recklessly in winter conditions. This means staying off cruise control as well. The need for seat belts increases tenfold during the winter. With car seats, place coats or blankets around the children after strapping them in. Coats can limit the effectiveness of a car seat. Stay alert. Deer become more active after storms. Black ice causes many crashes and that ice typically looks like wet spots. If skidding does take place, steer in the direction the back of the car is going and ease off the gas. Remember to keep the gas tank at least halfway full, it will keep the gas tank from freezing and if you get stuck in a traffic jam, you may need as much gas as possible. 4) Time For those of you who struggle with punctuality, this becomes paramount. Giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination means you won’t rush, decreasing the chances of a crash. l

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January 2019 | Page 27

South Valley 2018: Captured in photos


f a photo says a thousand words, then the following pages could write a book capturing some of South Valley’s most memorable

moments in 2018. From a support dog being donated to a kid in need to Bluffdale’s 40th anniversary, 2018 was one to remember. l

Students dig in at groundbreaking May 25 for much-needed schools in Bluffdale. (Jet Burnham\City Journals)

Bluffdale officials cut the ribbon for its second fire station on Aug. 24. That same day featured another ribbon cutting at Westgate Park. (Photo courtesy Bluffdale City)

Kids of all ages were greeted at the finish line by Santa during Riverton’s Holiday Heroes 5K and 1-mile Fun Run. (Photo/Jenny Jones)

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The riders are congratulated for their accomplishments with awards and many smiles. (Rachel Warner/CycleAbility)

The course for Herriman’s Enduro Challenge in August featured various obstacles the riders had to traverse. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

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Young riders laugh and smile during the balance bike races for kids ages 2–4 as part of Herriman’s annual Enduro Challenge at W&M Butterfield Park. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Herriman resident Sam Gordon was the first female to be honored at the NFL awards banquet. (Utah Girls Tackle Football)

As an au pair, Gaelle Labrun grew to love Ven and Dax as her brothers. Labrun, from France, was hosted by the Meaders family in Riverton, who were chosen as a top 10 finalist host family in the nation. (Photo courtesy Adrianne Meaders)

Parents help with every part of the production from music and choreography, costumes and scenery, to video-taping the show at Southland Elementary. (Jennifer Preece/Southland Elementary)

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Riverton senior Maddi Bruke returns a baseline serve in the region championships. (dsandersonpics.com)

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Kids eagerly await the Riverton Town Days Parade coming in the distance along 2700 West as part of Riverton’s Town Days. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

All 2,126 students at Riverton High School received rose on Valentine’s Day, due to the work of parent Tamara Bailie. (Kimberly Ruiz/RHS Yearbook)

Herriman High students were enthusiastically welcomed into school every morning for the last few weeks of the school year. This was done in response to the tragic deaths of Herriman students last year. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

Left to right: Mom aka Jamie, 12-year-old brother Adam with five-year-old brother Liam on his shoulders, Miss Bluffdale Abbi, 15-year-old sister Bella, ten-year-old sister Jessica, and Dad Matthew (Holly Vasic/City Journals)

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Kemry Smith, her family and Tammy Hansen at the Riverton event. Hansen donated a support dog to the student from Kauri Sue Hamilton School. (Photo Courtesy Jordan School District)

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Kids dance to the music of the Riverton Jazz Band during the parade. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Board members from Jordan Education Foundation surprise Copper Mountain Middle School teacher Cristina Roberts with an Outstanding Educator Award. (Jordan Education Foundation)

Josh Holt has a laugh during his news conference after returning home from a Venezuelan prison. (Riverton City Communications)

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Stephanie Miner and her mother, Ruth Killpack, work together on a heavy bag as part of Rock-Steady Parkinson’s training in Riverton. (Greg James/City Journals)

“Picking the Right Club” won first overall prize of the city’s “Best of Riverton Photo Contest.” (Denise Johnson)

January 2019 | Page 31

Start the New Year off right by setting your affairs in order.

Wasatch Improv Festival ready to make 2019 bigger and funnier By Bob Bedore | bob@mycityjournals.com

eNjoY $100 off

aNY truSt plaN or $50 off aNY will plaN the moNth of jaNuarY.

It’s hard to explain the Purdy Twins, but two things are for sure: they are funny, and there is nothing like them. (Blake Heywood)


Rebekah Wightman, J.D. Rebekah Wightman, J.D. of Corbett & Gwilliam, PLLC located in South Jordan, Utah is an experienced Estate Planning and Probate attorney. She takes pride in serving her clients and providing them a pleasant present and a peaceful future. Rebekah’s fun personality and commitment to her clients, make an often dreary experience “a-heck-of-a-lot-of-fun”!


• Wills • Trusts • Medical Directives • Powers of Attorney • Estate Settlement • Caretaker Authority Forms • Probate • Guardianship proceedings

801-984-2040 rebekah@ssb.law 10808 S. River Front Pkwy, Ste. 344 South Jordan, UT 84095

Page 32 | January 2019

ow do you put on one of the biggest improv comedy festivals in the country? Well, you improvise. “Last year we really didn’t know fully what we were doing,” admitted Wasatch Improv Festival Board Member Jason Wild. “All we knew was we wanted it to be something that we’d all be proud of and that everyone who came out would have some laughs and be glad they came. Somehow, we did that, and a lot more.” In its first year, the Wasatch Improv Festival (WIF) did a little, “let’s announce a festival and see if anyone comes.” Soon they were not only having to turn away acts that were submitting from around the country, but also guests who were trying to get into the Midvale Performing Arts Center. “We were putting in as many chairs as we could, but finally we just had to tell people we couldn’t fit any more,” said Wild. “This was one of the best festivals we’ve been to,” said Rolland Lopez of the Los Angeles improv duo Rollin ‘n’ Riches. “I can’t believe that this was a first-year festival. This was better than a lot of festivals in their seventh year.” And now the people behind the Wasatch Improv Festival, taking place once again at the Midvale Performing Arts Center January 17-19, have their work cut out for them as they try to improve on last year and make it even bigger and better. A lot of their success was in the mix they represented last year, and that will be in play again this time out. The mix is not just in Utah and non-Utah teams, though that is very important (this year will feature teams from 11 different states), but also in the style of improv. This year will see a complete mash-up of different types of comedy. This means that you’ll be seeing something different every 20 minutes – and all of it funny. The Wasatch Improv Festival is all about exposing people to something a little different. “Last year’s festival was one of the greatest times of my life,” said board member Blake Heywood. “I met so many new friends and learned so much about different styles. I really can’t wait to see how this year goes.”

Learning is also a big part of the festival. There is always something you can learn by watching others perform, but there are also classes that you can take. The WIF offers classes from national teachers Andel Sudik, Celeste Pechous and Nick Candon. There is even a “Free Lunch” class that can be attended that includes a lesson and lunch – all for free. “I’m really excited about the teachers we have this year,” said board member Tom Shannon. “These are teachers we really wanted to go out and get, and I’m so happy that they’ve said yes. It’s going to be a big part of our festival.” Once again, the festival will feature 10 different acts each night. The shows will start at 7 p.m. on January 17-19 (Thursday-Saturday) at the Midvale Performing Arts Center, 695 W. Center St. Each night will be broken up into two acts with a 30-minute intermission in between. Tickets will be $10 per night. There is a special pass available to the first 50 buyers for all three nights for $22. It should be noted that the comedy is mostly PG-13, but there will likely be some language that can come out, especially in the second half of the shows. This will be especially true on the final set on Friday night. This year the WIF has some of their favorite acts from last year returning, including Rollin ‘n’ Riches and The Purdy Twins, and some new acts including Murder, Murder (improvising a 20-minute murder mystery), The Next Generation Gap (father and son team), and Bird & Friend from New York. Utah teams like Quick Wits, Murder Fairy & Arson Leprechaun, and Park City Improv, will be joined by some other teams making their first WIF appearance. These include Improv Broadway and Rev Mayhem: The Improvised Rock Band. When not improvising, the performers will be enjoying the wonders of Utah as well as competing in the second annual WIF Top Golf Shoot Out, doing some “Laugh Yoga,” going on a ghost hunt in the Midvale Performing Arts Center, and wrapping up with a late-night karaoke party featuring “Life of the Party” and Rob Ferre. For more information about the festival and tickets, please visit their website at wasatchimprov.com. l

S outh Valley City Journal

After two years in a Venezuelan prison, Josh and Thamy Holt finally return home By Jennifer Gardiner | j.gardiner@mycityjournals.com

130 Years OF TRUST Taking Care of YOUR FAMILY’S NEEDS


Josh Holt is embraced by countless family and friends after returning home from a Venezuelan prison. (Riverton City Communications)


t was the news the friends and family of Riverton residents Josh and Thamy Holt had started to worry that they would never hear: “Josh and Thamy Holt, released from prison and headed back to the U.S.” The news seemed to come out of nowhere, but the entire world celebrated as the couple made their way back home to Utah. Josh Holt traveled to Venezuela in 2016 to marry Thamara Candelo, and bring her and her two daughters back home to the United States. Instead of wedded bliss, military intelligence accused them of being spies and charged them of terrorism, espionage and illegal possession of weapons after authorities claimed to have found two automatic rifles and a hand-grenade in their apartment. The couple had been waiting on Calena’s U.S. Visa when they were arrested. The last couple of years have been anything short of a massive emotional rollercoaster for Josh’s family. His mother, Laurie Moon Holt, and her husband have been advocating for his release ever since. On three separate occasions, the Holts had been put through the torment of thinking they were getting closer to seeing their son released only to have it pulled out from under them by some sort of political red tape. In February of 2018, after a year of working with Venezuela’s child welfare agency, Thamy Holt’s 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, whose father died in 2017, travelled to the U.S. to live with Josh Holt’s parents. Not knowing when or if her son would be released, Laurie Moon Holt and her husband travelled to

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Miami to meet the young girl and bring her back to Utah. Thamy Holt’s other daughter continued to reside in Venezuela until her mother’s release when she traveled with Josh and Thamy back to Utah. On May 26, 2018, Sen. Orrin Hatch issued the following statement as the Holt’s were already on their way to Washington, D.C.: “I’m pleased to announce that after two years of hard work, we’ve secured the release of Josh and Thamy Holt, who are now on their way home to the United States from Venezuela. Over the last two years, I’ve worked with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela and [Venezuelan] President [Nicolas] Maduro himself, and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton.” Hatch went on to express his thanks to Chairman Bob Corker for his pivotal efforts, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their help in this effort. “I want to particularly thank Caleb McCarry, whose expertise and effort in Venezuela on my behalf has been instrumental in bringing Josh home,” Hatch said. Hatch has worked for the last two years to secure Josh’s release, including most recently negotiations with Maduro himself. Their release came just one day after a meeting between U.S. officials and Maduro in Caracas, whom the Trump administration has claimed runs a dictatorship. This meeting came on the heels of months

of meetings between an aide to Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and allies of Maduro. Trump tweeted and said Holt had been a hostage and expected to host Holt and his family when they arrived at the White House when they arrived in Washington, D.C.. The Holt family said in a statement that Holt’s release was a miracle. “We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish,” said the Holt family in statement. “We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle. We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish. We ask that you allow us to meet with our son and his wife before giving any interviews and statements. We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle.” After the Holts arrived in Washington, D.C., they spent the night at an area hospital undergoing a mirage of tests before they were allowed to fly home to Utah. On May 28, they were met with cheers, hugs and banners from friends and family and members of their community as they came down the escalators at the Salt Lake International Airport. It was a welcome home fit for a man and his wife, who only strived to get married and live happily ever after but faced adversity from the very start. The Holts have received support from not only friends and family but from strangers all over the world. Welcome home Josh and Thamy Holt! l

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Setting smart resolutions

elcome to 2019! As we all begin to realize the consequences of those holiday snacks and dinners, pesky New Year’s resolutions nip at the frontal lobes of our brains. As we set goals to help us achieve those resolutions, it’s important to remember that we need to set goals that can be completed. Setting a resolution like “lose weight” ends up in a spiral of money lost into programs, diets, gym passes, specialty foods and more. George T. Doran publicized his theory on how to set attainable goals in November 1981. His theory was aimed toward individuals working in the business world, since his original paper was published in “The Management Review.” However, it was such a great idea that today his theory is widely used and almost universally recognized. Doran recommends setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. That’ll be easy to remember right? Let’s walk through each of those letters, and illustrate them through one of the most common resolutions last year: losing weight. A resolution of “I want to lose weight this year” is not considered to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal. S stands for specific. Doran suggests targeting “a specific area for improvement,” even identifying who is



involved and what the action is. For our example, we could identify a loss of pounds, a healthier BMI, or reducing inches around your waistline. M stands for measurable. Doran proposes quantifying “an indicator of progress.” Luckily, for our example, this specific part of our S.M.A.R.T. goal overlaps a bit into measurable. We can measure how many inches around our waist or arms we have lost or see if our body fat percentage has gone down. A stands for achievable. Doran states that “the objective must be attainable with the amount of time and resources available.” In other words, we may think about this point as living within our means. If we know we will be able to set aside only three hours for exercise per week, and two hours for food preparation per week, our goal should not be to be as skinny as Keira Knightley or as bulky as Hulk Hogan. R stands for realistic. Doran advises creating “an objective that is reasonable to ensure achievement.” Health science research has found that an average human being can lose one to two pounds per week, healthily. So, our goal should only be to lose between four and eight pounds per month. T stands for timely. Doran recommends “specifying when results can be achieved.” Make sure to set time stamps

for goals. In our example, if we want to lose weight within the next year, we should set smaller goals within that time frame. For example, maybe we can lose 20 pounds within the first three months and an additional 10 pounds within six months. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can be the difference between achieving New Year’s resolutions and failing to even grasp at them. If we are constantly setting unspecific, non-attainable goals, we may be setting ourselves up for failure. Such failure inevitably leads to a depreciation of mental health and personal

well-being. This may be the ultimate objective for the recommendation of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals: making sure we set ourselves up for success, while in the process, protecting the state of our mental health, and ensuring a personal well-being. And hey, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals allows us to save some money as well. Un-S.M.A.R.T. goals usually leave us in a frazzled scramble where we spend too much money on things we think will help us achieve our goals last minute. Avoiding that crunch time helps our brains, as well as our wallets. l


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Life and Laughter—High Intensity Interval Torture


Laughter AND





f you heard a loud groan echoing through the stratosphere, it wasn’t our planet finally imploding, it was the sound of millions of people rolling off their couches to start an exercise program for the new year. Maybe they want to lose 10 pounds, run a 5K - or maybe even a marathon if they think they’re some kind of freakin’ super hero. Some people hit the ground running. (I hit the ground every time I run. That’s why I stopped running.) Others might take a gradual approach, adding an extra five minutes each day until, like me, they’re exercising for five minutes each day. But some folks lunge directly into extreme exercise—trying to punish themselves into health, beating muscles into submission and then talking about it NONSTOP. There’s no one worse to talk to than someone who just discovered CrossFit. And people who do Parkour?? Intolerable. They jump from buildings, swing from trees, climb walls and don’t touch the ground for 24 hours. When I was a kid, this was called, “Don’t step in the lava” and we’d jump from couch to end table to piano bench to bookshelf to the safety of the kitchen floor. Now, it’s

basically an Olympic sport. There’s always a new health fad that promises to SHRED fat, BURN calories, BUILD muscles and DESTROY abs. (And they mean destroy in a good way.) Spokespeople are usually tree trunks with heads and are as hyped as a toddler mainlining Mountain Dew. If you trace exercise craziness back to its roots, you’ll find Jack LaLanne, the great-grandfather of fitness, and the first person to make everyone feel super crappy about their bodies. Jack LaLanne didn’t wear a shirt for 40 years. Before that, humans were basically doughy people who didn’t give a rip about biceps. Then, Jane Fonda high-kicked her way into the fitness industry, wearing high-cut leotards, leg warmers and terry-cloth armbands to fashionably wipe the sweat from her brow. She had a gajillion housewives burning calories with her VHS tapes, starting the workout-athome phenomenon. She’s 125 and will still kick your butt Now we’re obsessed with high-intensity fitness. (“We” meaning someone who isn’t me.) We throw down $50 to sweat through an excruciating hot yoga class, cycle like we’re being chased by stationary zombies and do hundreds of burpees to remixed hip-hop tunes.





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Guys at the gym bench-press Volkswagen Beetles and dead-lift redwood trees. Overtraining has become a merit badge for fitness success. People at the fitness center will warm up for 30 minutes, take a cardio class for an hour, a weight-lifting class for an hour and Zumba their way into intensive care. Here’s the thing. Overtraining is dangerous. It can leave you moody and fatigued, it saps your immune system, contributes to insomnia and makes you a cranky $%#*. There’s even been an increase in rhabdomyolysis, which is not rhino abs (like I thought). It’s muscle tissue breaking down from overuse. It can

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make your pee dark-red! Ew. I get it. Everyone wants a beach body, even though that term doesn’t really narrow it down. Walruses live on beaches. Whales have often been found on beaches. And even though I’m a Cancer, I’d rather not have the body of a crab. So before you roll off your couch this year, maybe set a fitness goal that doesn’t involve throwing tractor tires or leaping out a second-floor window. Mostly because your body will be healthier, but also because I don’t want to hear you talk about it. l

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January 2019 | Page 35

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Profile for The City Journals

South Valley Journal January 2019  

South Valley Journal January 2019

South Valley Journal January 2019  

South Valley Journal January 2019