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February 2017 | Vol. 17 Iss. 02


Utah legend Joe McQueen visits West Jordan By Marina McTee |

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Joe McQueen plays with his Quartet at the Viridian Center. (Excellence in the Community)

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Page 2 | February 2017

West Jordan Journal

Hogwarts comes to West Jordan By Marina McTee | The West Jordan City Journal is a monthly publication distributed directly to residents via the USPS as well as locations throughout West Jordan. For information about distribution please email circulation@mycityjournals. com or call our offices. Rack locations are also available on our website. For subscriptions please contact: The views and opinions expressed in display advertisements do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Loyal Perch Media or the City Journals. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the owner.

The West Jordan Team CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Bryan Scott EDITOR: Tori La Rue ADVERTISING: 801-254-5974 DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING: Ryan Casper 801-671-2034 SALES ASSOCIATES: Melissa Worthen 801-897-5231 Steve Hession 801-433-8051 Josh Ragsdale 801-824-9854 CIRCULATION COORDINATOR: Brad Casper EDITORIAL & AD DESIGN: Tina Falk Ty Gorton West Jordan Journal 9500 South 500 West Suite 205 Sandy, UT 84070 Phone: 801 254 5974

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n Jan. 13, the Viridian Event Center hosted the fifth annual Harry Potter Yule Ball. This event gathers Harry Potter fans from all around the community to get a piece of the Harry Potter experience. It all began with hundreds of fans gathered outside the Viridian, waiting in the January cold with their cloaks, wands, and even a fez or two. As the doors opened, everyone flooded inside to begin the festivities. The event is open to any 12- to 19-yearold that wishes to come, but this is the first year that tickets have been required. The Yule Ball gained popularity quickly, and it soon started to become overcrowded. Even with the addition of tickets, the building was packed. “Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life; it’s amazing that there is a live event to come to now,” volunteer Lyssa Taylor said. There was a large array of activities to partake in such as “wizarding trading cards” which participants could turn in when they collected a full set to become a house “Prefect” –or a student leader, fortune telling with divination Professor Trelawney, the “study of magical creatures,” which included a range of live owls and the traditional “sorting hat” to see which Hogwarts house the teens belonged to. But it wouldn’t be a ball without dancing. There was a massive ballroom where everyone could dance together to songs such as the Cupid Shuffle and even the Electric Slide. This year’s Yule Ball also had a nightlong competition between several groups for the Hogwarts House Cup. The competition included games such as the Moaning Myrtle Book Toss and house quizzes. All of these games awarded party-goers points that went toward their house, and towards the House Cup. It was a close race, but this year it was the Ravenclaw house that was awarded the House Cup with more than 2,000 points. The Harry Potter Yule Ball would not be a possibility, though, without its organizers, the Rocky Mountain Muggles. The Rocky Mountain Muggles, or RMM, is the local

Two owls on display at the “Magical Creatures” booth at the Yule Ball. (Marina McTee/City Journals)

chapter of The Harry Potter Alliance, which is an organization that promotes youth activism around the world. The Harry Potter Alliance has contributed to many causes. It has pledged to raise 1 million books and build 25 libraries around the world through its Friends of the Apparating Library program, and has raised $123,000 for relief efforts in Haiti. It has also created programs such as the Granger Leadership Academy, which helps youth, “develop [their] hero skills, and come together to a great global peril,” according to the academy’s website. The mission statement of the RMM chapter is to “take an ‘out-of-the-box’ approach to civic engagement to educate and mobilize youth towards issues of literacy, equality, and human rights.” The Rocky Mountain Muggles also host the Potter Run every year, which is a 5k race that donates all its proceeds to various organizations such as The Autism Council of Utah, The Children’s Justice Center and HopeKids Utah.

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“I love how Harry Potter encourages literacy and courage,” Rocky Mountain Muggle member Christina Wilson. “Anyone that is any age and from any background can get lost in it.” The Harry Potter Yule Ball is an event that brings together people from everywhere with a common love of the “Harry Potter” series to achieve just that. The event is held every year in the West Jordan Library/Viridian Center with the purpose of bringing teens closer to their source of books. The Rocky Mountain Muggles also host the Potter Run every year, which is a 5K race that donates all of its proceeds to various organizations such as The Autism Council of Utah, The Children’s Justice Center, and HopeKids Utah. Rocky Mountain Muggle member Christina Wilson said, “I love how Harry Potter encourages literacy and courage. Anyone that is any age and from any background can get lost in it.” l

February 2017 | Page 3

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Page 4 | February 2017

West Jordan Journal

Utah legend Joe McQueen visits West Jordan By Marina McTee |


n Jan. 14, Ogden’s Joe McQueen performed with his jazz and blues quartet at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan as a part of the Excellence in the Community concert series. Joe McQueen began as a professional jazz musician at the age of 16. Now 97 years old, McQueen has toured much of the Western United States and performed with many jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Chet Baker and Hoagy Carmichael. McQueen is also considered a civil rights pioneer after his performances drew crowds of white fans during segregation. He was also the first African-American to play in what were once white-only establishments after segregation ended in Ogden. Joe McQueen has had such an impact on Utah, that April 18 was declared “Joe McQueen Day” for the State of Utah in 2002 by Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. More recently, a mural honoring McQueen was unveiled in Ogden on Jan. 5 to commemorate his achievements throughout his life. McQueen and his Quartet performed songs such as “Caravan,” “Blue Skies,” “Take the A-Train,” “Georgia On My Mind” and even McQueen’s own song, “The Thing.” When telling the story of “The Thing” to the audience, McQueen said, “I had always played what others has wrote, so at 95 I decided to try my hand. I had written it, but I didn’t know what to call it, so I just called it ‘The Thing.’” Even at 97 years old, McQueen puts on an amazing

Joe McQueen signs a program for a young fan after his concert at the Viridian. (Excellence in the Community)

performance. The concert drew a large crowd, and everyone was tapping their toes, humming along, or even getting up and dancing. “It’s really exciting to be able to bring artists to the community so people don’t have to travel all the way downtown to see them,” Viridian Event Coordinator Tayler Allen said. “Also, the concerts are free so people can come that wouldn’t be able to experience it otherwise.” The concerts, while hosted by the Viridian, are organized by the Excellence in the Community concert series. Excellence

in the Community is a nonprofit organization that puts on free concerts with local musicians monthly at the Viridian and weekly at the Gallivan Center. It also hosts at the Covey Center and the Holladay City Hall Park. “Excellence in the Community was founded on the basis that Utah has great musicians,” said founder and director Jeff Whiteley. “The idea grew out of my experience as a street musician in Paris. In Paris, you could stop traffic as a street musician. In Utah, it doesn’t work that way.” Excellence in the Community was founded in 2005. It has put on more than 300 shows since then, all of which have been free to the public. “We put the talent where people can find it,” Whiteley stated. Whiteley said Joe McQueen has this talent. “Joe is a legend and a great Utah story,” he said. “May we all be doing what we love at 97 years old.” Utah might not be known for its music scene, but there are many great musicians in Utah. Many them are unknown to the public, however, according to Whiteley. “I’m not sure people recognize how many great musicians there are here,” Whiteley said. “In Utah we don’t have celebrity—we have excellence.” Whiteley stated that all of it is, “An attempt to harness the accomplishments of local musicians for the good of the community.” The Viridian hosts concerts for Excellence in the Community the second Saturday of every month. The next concert will feature the 23rd Army Band performing Feb. 11. l

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February 2017 | Page 5

Tuesday at the Viridian Marina McTee |


ave you ever wanted to learn how to be a medieval knight or learn 18th century dances? Here is your chance. The Viridian Event Center in West Jordan offers classes with subjects such as these every Tuesday night. The Tuesday Night program at the Viridian is free and open to anyone in the community. Topics of the classes vary by the week and can range from vintage dancing to rock and fossil workshops. “It impacts the community because it is a non-traditional education opportunity,” Viridian Event Coordinator Tayler Allen said. “We have the freedom to present unique programs to best benefit the community.” The classes are organized by many different programs from the community including the Old Glory Vintage Dancers, the Rockhounders Outreach for Community Knowledge—known as R.O.C.K.—Couple LINKS, the Alzheimer’s Association and the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The vintage dance classes by the Old Glory Vintage Dancers are a new addition to the Viridian. The classes teach dances from the 18th and 19th century to the community. “Old Glory Vintage Dancers brings to life the elegant grandeur of the 1700s and 1800s dances and dress for those who want to experience the exhilaration and charm of history and not just hear about it,” it states on the organization’s website. The program was founded by Kimberli and Tom Grant after they moved to Utah from Georgia and couldn’t find a vintage dance group to join. “There are vintage dance groups like this all over the South and up and down the Eastern seaboard,” Kimberli told the Deseret

The R.O.C.K. class shows off their collection. (Viridian Center)

News in 2012. “But we couldn’t find anything like it in Utah. So we decided, ‘Let’s just start our own.’” Old Glory Vintage Dancers collaborate with the Jane Austen Society of North America to present the Annual Regency Romance Ball at the Little America Hotel in February. One of the more frequent classes at the Viridian is the Medieval Knight class. Organized by the Society for Creative Anachronism, these classes teach “the medieval arts of sword fighting, weaving, and other skills,” according to the center’s website. The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international organization that is, “dedicated to researching and re-creating the

arts and skills of the pre-17th century Europe.” The organization consists of 20 chapters—or “kingdoms”— and more than 30,000 members around the world. The local chapter is titled the “Kingdom of Artemisia,” and encompasses Utah, Montana, southern Idaho, western Colorado and Wyoming. Another recurring class is organized by the Rockhounders Outreach for Community Knowledge. R.O.C.K. is an educational organization that is “dedicated to the advancement of fossil, rock, and mineral collecting, and related lapidary arts,” according to its website. R.O.C.K. was founded in 2011 with the purpose of, “[Setting] up educational programs for educating youth and adults in geology and earth-related sciences,[providing] an education forum for the community through teaching the above sciences via public presentations to other charitable or civic organizations” and much more. The Rockhounders Outreach for Community Knowledge gathers the first Tuesday of every month in the Viridian Center and also hosts an annual Rock and Gem Show. There are also other limited series classes that the Viridian offers. In the past, some of the classes have been Social Security seminars, the Couple LINKS series and the Alzheimer’s Association Education series. No matter the week, there are always at least two to four classes on different subjects every Tuesday. “The classes are free and are an opportunity for those in the community that couldn’t otherwise get access to that education,” Allen said. l

Screaming Eagles debut at Maverik Center By Greg James |


ndoor football returns to the Maverik Center in West Valley. The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles begin play February 16 as members of the Indoor Football League. The team also forges in a new era of sports team management. The fans helped hire coaches, pick dancers and will call plays as part of the franchise. “We are excited and have signed 28 guys and make some cuts down to 25 guys that will lead to a great team out on the field,” said Screaming Eagles President Thom Carter. “I am more excited about how we want people to experience sports. We are trying to make history. We are allowing fans to have their voices be heard.” The fans have decided the team name, hired the coaches and with a downloadable app will be able to call the plays during the game. “This will be perfect for lots of fans. The guy who likes to bring his family to the game and buy a beer and a hot dog; the fantasy football guy that is all about the stats and lastly the video game fans who want to feel like they are playing the game,” Carter said. The Screaming Eagles have signed University of Charleston graduate Jeremy Johnson to compete for playing time at quarterback. The 6-foot-1, 197 lb. dual threat QB was a highly recruited four-star athlete from Silsbee, Texas. He originally played at West Virginia after leaving with several injuries he was finally resigned to ending his football career, but The University of Charleston found him and offered a chance. In 2015 Johnson threw for 2,170 yards, 17 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.

University of Utah offensive lineman Junior Salt has signed to be part of a line that includes another former Ute, Siaosi Aiono and Arizona Wildcat Steven Gurrola. “We do not know what our final roster will look like, but the local standouts make me excited. Everyone has bought into this team. Our opponents are well established and winning programs. We also think our 10,000 offensive coordinators will help us figure out ways to win. The power of all of these ideas will make us a better team and organization,” Carter said. Devin Mahina, a former BYU Cougar and Washington Redskin tight end, and Utah State wide receiver Alex Wheat should provide reliable targets for Johnson. Mahina is a 6-foot-6 receiver who finished his Cougar career with 46 receptions and five touchdowns. “We feel we are empowering arm-chair quarterbacks. The people who call in on Monday mornings to the sports talk shows can now show us what they got. We live in an age of immediate access and fans are demanding this of their sports teams,” Carter said. William Macarthy was hired by the fans as the team’s first head coach. The organization narrowed down nearly 220 applicants to the best six finalists. Facebook live interviews and 38,000 votes from fans in 21 different countries finally gave Macarthy 34.9 percent of the votes. He has coached on four different indoor teams. He has been a general manager, defensive coordinator, head coach and special teams coordinator. Most recently he has been working as special teams coordinator at Monroe College in New York.

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The Screaming Eagles begin their season Feb. 16 at the Maverik Center against the Nebraska Danger. Tickets range from $5 to $85. In indoor football if a ball goes into the stands the fan keeps it. The Screaming Eagles also have contributed to improving the wireless service in the arena. The fan will not need to use cellular data to participate in the games. “The game will have something for everyone,” Carter said. l


Page 6 | February 2017

West Jordan Journal

Applicants reveal high-density concept for 6 acres By Tori La Rue |


hile some people enjoy the nostalgic feeling of visiting the home where they grew up, Mark Peterson expressed his desire to move on and revitalize the property during the West Jordan city council meeting on Jan. 11. “This house has a lot of sentimental value to me, but I am not here to say preserve it, keep it because the complexion of the city has changed. Redwood Road has changed,” Peterson said about the house his father built. “Me and my sisters agree that we don’t want it to be ‘the old house on Redwood Road.’ We don’t want it to be the stand-out thing.” Don Gansen, whose property surrounds Peterson’s 1947 home on three sides also desired to sell his property. Gansen, 63, said it was getting to difficult to maintain the nearly 6-acre family farm on the property with both he and his wife suffering from health complications. The two residents found a developer willing to purchase the property, but only if the land-use map and zoning were re-configured to allow high-density housing in the 6.25-acre area at 8679 South Redwood Road. Alpine Homes applied for these changes and its representative Steve Jackson presented a pitch and conceptual plan at the Jan. 11 meeting. The city council passed the rezone and land-use map amendment in a narrow 4–3 vote but not until after nearly an hour of discussion and resident feedback. In his presentation, Jackson argued that the current label in the future land-use map, professional office, wasn’t the best service the land could offer. The property, surrounded by single-family housing, twofamily housing and vacant land, is an ideal location for small, singlefamily residential homes, he said, also pointing out the office space in the area that had not been filled yet, which he said, suggested that more office space was not needed in the area.

Oakwood Homes, the developer that originally presented a concept plan for this area to the planning commission, requested the property be developed as a planned residential community. In these types of communities, developers are given a leniency on density restrictions for upgrades and amenities found within the development. The commissioners forwarded a unanimous negative recommendation to the city council, saying Oakwood had not met the requirements for a planned residential community. “We took (Oakwood’s) concept and used those ideas from the planning commission to incorporate them into our concept to meet those standards,” Jackson said, representing Alpine Homes. Alpine Homes requested a slightly less dense community than Oakwood had, proposing about 40-homes to fill 6.25 acres. Oakwood had presented a concept with 56 units. Jackson said Alpine also planned to include more amenities, which could include more open space, a playground, a pavilion and a walking trail. Several residents from the gated Dove Meadows community that lies east of the subject property, expressed concerns about the walking trail in public comments but did not express distaste for the development overall. “We still need to be separated and secluded,” Kathy Bangerter, from Dove Meadows, said. “We don’t want a walk-through gate or trail with these guys. We don’t want a shared gate with them. We purchased homes in a gated community, and we want to stay that way. Whether they get their zoning or not, I don’t care, but I want to make sure that we stay secluded.” After the resident comments, council members discussed the potential of the property. Councilman Chris McConnehey said he wasn’t sure that amending the land-use was the best action because he said he wasn’t convinced that the land couldn’t be developed as professional

Alpine Homes’ concept plan for 6.25 acres at 8679 South Redwood Road. The West Jordan City Council approved a rezone and land-use amendment on Jan. 11 that would allow developers to build a development like this on the property. (West Jordan City)

office. If the land was developed residentially, McConnehey said he still wouldn’t see the area conducive to a plan residential development zone as the concept currently stood. “The PRD zone being requested is really meant for a larger development. It seems like the purpose of the PRD is to get more units on there,” he said, adding that he hadn’t seen enough upgrades and amenities that typically define a PRD. Councilman Dirk Buron disagreed with McConnehey. He said he’d talked with residents in the neighboring communities about the proposed changes to the parcel, and most of them were in favor of exchanging office space for residential homes. He proceeded to make a motion in favor of the proposed rezone and land-use amendment. The vote passed with McConnehey, Councilman Zach Jacob and Mayor Kim Rolfe dissenting. l

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February 2017 | Page 7

City snowplow drivers bolster safety through harsh weather By Tori La Rue |


hen heavy snow storms hit, there can be 50 to 70 West Jordan employees working on snow removal at a time, and Richard Smolik and Tim Peters were two of those assigned to 12-hour shifts on Christmas. Smolik and Peters, however, seemed content to be behind the wheel of a plow truck on the morning of this past Dec. 25. Perhaps it’s because with Smolik’s 33 years of experience and Peters 11 years, they’re both city public works veterans, used to the holiday blizzards, but Smolik gave a different answer as to why he doesn’t mind plowing snow. “Sometimes you find a place to work, and you stay there because you like the people,” he said. “Why would you leave?” Peters, Smolik and so many other West Jordan snowplow drivers are so willing to help the community out, their boss Justin Stoker, deputy public works director said, even if that means missing Christmas with their families, he added. So, during the rain, snow and sleet, these professional drivers continue clearing the roads, whether it be on Christmas or any other storm-stricken day. “I wish that residents could somehow put themselves in the shoes of our crews after a 12hour shift to help them see all these people are doing to make sure our public is safe,” West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe said, continuing to call the employees “heroes.” Rolfe took on his own challenge early in January when he, a licensed and professional commercial driver, hopped behind the wheel of a plow. With Smolik in the passenger seat, Rolfe cleared a West Jordan subdivision road, paying attention to what obstacles might lie in the path of the plow blade. “It gives you a different perspective,” he said about his driving experience. “That 12-foot blade, the trees that overhang the street, the parked cars—it’s an eye-opening perspective sitting in the cab, driving in that truck versus just seeing the truck go down the road.” Smolik, Peters and the rest of the snow-removal team have an excellent safety track record of avoiding tree branches, mailboxes, parked cars and other things that are in the way, according to Stoker. “There may be one mailbox hit in an entire winter, and even those you wonder if that mailbox was even in the ground properly,” he said. “But you consider all that goes into it—the 10-wheel Mack trucks on residential streets and everything involved in it—and realize that these guys are so awesome at taking care of personal property. The safety record is astronomical. You can’t beat it.” Even with the safety record, Peters and Stoker urge residents to trim their overhanging tree limbs and avoid parking their cars in the street. Street parking is against city ordinance in the winter months, but aside from that, it also makes the job of the snow-plowing employees much harder, Stoker said. City public information officer Kim Wells

also asked residents to wait 24 hours after a storm before calling to report that a neighborhood hasn’t been plowed yet. Main roads are the first priority in a storm, and if the snow is continually falling, it may take awhile for plows to get to the neighborhoods. Stoker also wanted to let residents know that the crews try to avoid stacking snow on people’s personal property. “There’s no vendetta against people,” Stoker said. “We’re not trying to block driveways on purpose. But the thing is, the driver doesn’t just come by and make the snow disappear; the snow has to go somewhere, and these guys do an excellent job. Sometimes there’s nowhere else for it to go.” Since West Jordan began salting and plowing residential streets, Wells said the comments on snow removal throughout the city have been “99 percent positive.” Rolfe said that’s a stark contrast to early 2014 when he received daily complaints from elderly residents whose streets had been iced over for weeks. It was at that point that Rolfe and the city council decided to upgrade the city’s fleet vehicles and start having city employees plow all city streets. Rolfe said snow removal is the most frequent topic he receives compliments about West Jordan from residents and non-residents alike. “It’s a noticeable difference between our roads and the state’s roads,” Rolfe said. “Snow removal is something that works in West Jordan.” West Jordan staff has snow removal down to a science, according to Stoker, but every storm requires a unique plan. While heavy storms may require 70 workers and cost up to $100,000 for snow removal alone, smaller storms only require six plowmen and barely dip into the budget, he said. Peters and his co-workers monitor the weather forecast and compare notes to determine what they will need to have set up for the storm. Public works employees stock the trucks full of salt and prepare them for departure long before the storm happens and get an on-call list ready, so employees can be prepared to travel to the building quickly when the storm occurs. While many residents may think public works is the only department involved in snow removal, the city’s parks and recreation department, fire department, inspection team and facilities group also remove snow, so there’s a lot of coordination and pre-determined assignments, Stoker said. “It’s really a project where everyone gets involved, and that makes a huge difference,” Stoker said. Stoker and Rolfe said they’re looking forward to next year when the snow removal service can be streamlined even more. The new public works building that’s currently under construction will allow more salt storage and more convenient loading stations for the city’s vehicles. With the new building, which will likely be completed by February 2018, Stoker said more trucks will be loaded with salt and ready to hit the streets before the on-call workers arrive on-scene. l

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Page 8 | February 2017

Hot city council topics for 2017 By Tori La Rue |


est Jordan’s elected officials and administration discussed some of the most pressing issues in the city during their annual strategic planning session on Jan. 27. Residents can expect these subjects to resurface during 2017, so here’s a brief run-down of the council’s chosen topics. Infill Development While West Jordan’s development standards for new development contribute to the growth of the city’s west side, the city’s standards aren’t complete without in-depth infill development protocol, according to Councilman Chris McConnehey. “We’ve seen, even tonight, a couple of items that are trying to take development standards set for new property and retrofit and squeeze them into these weird-shaped parcels, and it’s not working well,” McConnehey said during the Jan. 11 city council meeting. McConnehey’s suggestion to discuss infill development during the strategic planning session came on the heels of the council’s approval of a rezone for 6.25 acres of property at 8679 South Redwood Road from rural residential to high-density planned residential development. McConnehey expressed his opposition to the rezone, saying the developer was trying to use the planned residential development designation, usually used in expansive west-side properties, in an unfit place. He voted against the motion to approve the rezone, but the vote passed 4–3. Water The city council has been working to set the water fee in the city since the 2016–17 budget was passed in June, but lack of time and the complex nature of the fee has prohibited the council from coming to a conclusive decision on water fees. The city pays for its water through its own fund, called an enterprise fund. Enterprise funds are self-sustaining, so the balance of these funds must equal or exceed the cost it takes to operate and

GOVERNMENT maintain utility service. In a December meeting, city council members voted to increase commercial water rates from $1.28 to $1.50 per 1,000 gallons to help cover the rising cost of wholesale water the city purchases from the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, but several council members also mentioned in the meeting that this might only be a temporary fix. This rate change was effective Jan. 1 and only applies to commercial, industrial and multi-family housing customers, not single-family customers. Mayor Kim Rolfe suggested putting verbiage in city ordinance that would detail how much to raise water fees when the contracted cost goes up or down. “I want to fix this once and for all,” he said. “It’s a situation where we put into the code for years in the future what to do for water rates under ordinance so it doesn’t have to be visited every-other year.” West-side Rec Center West Jordan leaders have taken the first steps toward creating a west-side recreation center to accommodate growth in that part of the city. The planning and design of the center was approved and paid for in 2016. City leaders are also removing a detention pond from the intended site in the Ron Wood Park and working with the Utah Department of Transportation to construct a flyover bridge at 8600 South over the Mountain View Corridor to more easily deliver construction materials to the area. Councilman Jeff Haaga suggested the council members plan how to continue moving forward at the strategic planning session, and Rolfe added it to the list of discussion “We spent money on it,” Haaga said. “We have a visual of it, and I think it is something we can achieve, so I would like to set that as a goal.” City Aesthetics West Jordan could use some tidying up, according to council members Chad Nichols, Zach Jacob and Dirk Burton. That’s why they suggested city aesthetics be a major topic at the strategic planning session.

West Jordan Journal “My challenge to staff is to bring us a package of ordinances or budget amendments or whatever it might need to be to improve,” Jacob said. Jacob suggested streetlight improvements, streetscaping upgrades and better upkeep of city-owned property as potential routes to help the city “look good.” Burton suggested filling in potholes, extending sidewalks and planting trees to replace damaged ones. Nichols said he’s like to see grander city entrances. “I think that’s important,” he said. “I want people to think: ‘I’m here—I’m in West Jordan.’” Transportation West Jordan will experience a busy traffic season next year as the storm drain project and road resurfacing of 7000 South continues, Bangerter intersections at 7000 South and 9000 South are converted into freeway-style interchanges, and other projects are underway. Councilman Chad Nichols asked his fellow council members to make transportation a focus of 2017. “There’s more to be done with transportation,” he said. “We need to look into state and federal funding so that we can get our roads up to where they need to be instead of just waiting for these projects to come up in the hopper and come down the projects list.” Councilman Chris McConnehey suggested elected officials and city staff take a look at expanding 1300 West and other routes to speed up east-to-west traffic. “For all of us, we’ve done a campaign and know that this traffic is a bane of people’s existence in the city,” he said. Economic Development The newest member of West Jordan’s city council, Councilman Alan Anderson, suggested the council lay a vision for economic development throughout the city during the strategic planning session. “Let’s really get into the second gear and third gear,” he said. “I think that is something we can accomplish in 2017.” Anderson suggested the council and staff discuss more way to make West Jordan a “destination” instead of just a mark on the map. l


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February 2017 | Page 9

Book Whisperers is something to shout about By Jet Burnham |


vid readers at Sunset Ridge Middle School have a book club that is something to shout about. Although the group calls itself Book Whisperers, most members are vocal about their love of reading.

Sarah Lemon, a seventh-grader, said the club meets her need to share “that feeling you have when you read a really good book and you want to tell someone.” Bekah Christensen and Kaitlyn Jacobson love to talk about books, but their friends aren’t as excited about reading as they are. “We just find a common interest and enjoy the book and enjoy each other’s company,” said English teacher Patricia Hendricks. The club was formed in 2010 by Hendricks and Spencer Campbell, who taught English at the time. Campbell, who was inspired by “The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child,” by Donalyn Miller, started thinking about his students. “There are so many good books, and if they only read one or two a year, they are missing out,” Campbell said. “[Campbell] noticed kids who love to read but didn’t fit into other groups at the school,” Hendricks said. “He got like-minded kids together to make new friends.” It has been especially helpful for new seventh-graders as they adjust to a bigger school, according to the teachers in charge. Seventh-graders still make up the majority of the group. Starting with just four students, the group now has 23 members. “Some kids are super shy and never say a word, but you know they are thinking about it and getting things out of it,” said Hendricks. She sees how the books influence the students’ lives. While the club was reading “Wonder,” by R. J. Palacio, one student had an experience influenced by events in the book.

Club members choose and vote on a list of books to be read throughout the year. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

“He saw a $20 bill on the ground and applied something that happened in the book to decide if he should pick it up or not,” said Hendricks. “So he’s internalizing what he’s read.” Books are broken up into sections to spread out the reading over several weeks. English teacher Lindsay Blowers teams up with Hendricks to facilitate the weekly group discussions. “It makes you think about the book more, once you discuss it and understand it,” said Allison Porter, a seventh-grader. Discussion sheets prepared by the teachers get the conversation going. Questions like, “What character do you relate to most?” or “Would you have reacted that way?” prompt discussion. “It’s interesting—we give them a little guidance, and their creativity comes out,” said Blowers. She loves to read and said the

group is full of great kids who share her interest. “They find a home and stick with it throughout middle school,” said Hendricks. Ninth-grader Kaden White has been in the club for three years. “I like hearing everyone’s opinion and their insights on questions I’ve had,” he said. Kaden prefers fantasy and sciencefiction, which are the most popular genres among club members, but he’s been surprised by titles outside his comfort zone. “The book ‘Tiger Lily’— I didn’t think I’d like—was pretty good,” Kaden said. Kaitlyn Jacobson said the club has helped her try new titles, too. “There are books that are good that I’d never have read if not for Book Whisperers,” she said. These enthusiastic readers have no trouble keeping up with the reading. “I read on a daily basis,” said seventh-grader Shaleyn Muncey. Abby Bedont admits she has 10 books in her locker. “I read a ridiculous amount,” she said. Books are purchased for the group using grant money from the school’s PTSA, Jordan Education Foundation and other state money. When the group is done with the book, the copies are placed in the English teachers’ library. “We hope these kids talk up the book and other students will borrow it,” said Hendricks. Then an interest in reading will spread to other students. That’s a good goal because Blowers believes reading helps kids be better people. “Kids who read are more sensitive to other people’s plights,” she said. l


Page 10 | February 2017

West Jordan Journal

Celebrating six successful years at the Family Learning Center By Jet Burnham |


any schools have a Family Learning Center, but Columbia Elementary is celebrating its sixth successful year because of Josefina Swensen. Parents, administration, teachers and students agree Swensen, the center’s coordinator, is the reason their program is extraordinary. “Our program has been highly successful because of Josefina,” said Principal Kathe Riding. “She is the difference.” Swensen and colleagues Jovana Posselli and Cecilia Samaniego teach classes in English, computers (basic and advanced) and GED preparation. Swensen said theirs is the only FLC to have had GED graduates in the last three years. That is why Salt Lake Community College refers students to Columbia’s center. Swensen is also responsible for translating between the parents and the school. She is an advocate and a resource for Hispanic families, which make up 52 percent of the school’s population. “Information we give them helps them adjust and they start doing really well,” said Swensen. She said there are things families new to the country don’t understand—when to use the ER vs. InstaCare, how to network for jobs, what the cultural norms are for bringing treats to school for their child’s birthday. Many immigrants don’t know where to go for help if they don’t understand a letter in the mail or if they have problems with their children’s behavior. Families at Columbia know they can go to Swensen for help. “They know there’s always someone here if they have a problem,” said Swensen, who never cancels class and who gives out her private number. “It can’t be a 9-to-5 job, or it doesn’t work,” said Swensen, who has been known to call students from her hospital bed. “[The Center] is a refuge where they can find friends; it just can’t be a place for class.” she said. “A lot of what I do is not part of my job description but there’s a need, and it’s fun.” The “fun” includes celebrating holidays together, sharing lunch, hosting baby showers and providing simple gifts for Mother’s Day and Christmas. Swensen said Riding is a phenomenal support.

There’s More to

Students at the FLC celebrate holidays together. (Josefina Swensen/Family Learning Center)

“She always finds a way to help with any ideas and plans we have,” said Swensen. “She trusts us—and for me, that was a big thing—so I try to do my best.” Swensen told Riding she wanted the annual graduation ceremony for students to be special. Riding purchased the caps and gowns Swensen had requested. Swensen mentioned some women needed sewing machines to learn basic mending skills, so Riding tracked down 15 surplus machines. When Swensen sees a need for education, she provides a class. Offerings include zumba, yoga, sewing and crocheting. Swensen has also established contacts with business owners who come in for demonstrations on barbering and cooking. The Utah Health Department hosts clinics for car seat safety checks and health education. They know hosting at Columbia’s FLC means it will be well-organized and well-attended. “I definitely feel very fortunate and grateful to have a center as complete as the Family Learning Center at Columbia Elementary,” said Ana Martinez, graduate of the computer class who is currently taking English classes at the center. “It has been a very great tool for improvement.”

Also unique to Columbia’s program is an opportunity for students to “pay back” for the free classes. Columbia’s climate/culture specialist, Angela Drope, reported that between September and December, 217 volunteer hours were performed by FLC students. They cut, stapled and assembled packets and crafts for Columbia’s teachers. Riding believes when they have a way to give back, the parents feel more part of the school. “The program is to help the kids. If you help a mom, you help the whole family,” said Riding, who said the tasks also give the volunteers job skills experience. Swensen has seen huge improvements in the self-confidence of her students, who are mostly women and commonly suffer from shyness and low self-esteem. “They feel it’s their school,” Swensen said. “They can walk the halls and talk with the teachers and feel involved.” Samaniego, the computer instructor, said the parents who take her class are proud to be able to complete online registration for their children independently, just like all the other parents. Riding has noticed those who participate in the FLC have confidence to express their opinions on what happens at their children’s school. And their kids are learning from their examples. “They see their parents in class and doing homework and expecting it from the kids,” Riding said. As a result, their children’s writing and performance has improved. The FLC has albums filled with letters of thanks from the many students who’ve benefited from Swensen’s influence over the years. One letter stated: “The FLC means something very important in my life. It has provided me with knowledge and encouragement to continue improving,” wrote Luz Elena Chavez , who completed the Basic Computers course and is currently attending English and GED classes.  “The Center has expanded my world.” l

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THE FIRST PRO TEAM WHERE FANS CALL THE PLAYS IS STARTING HERE IN UTAH. The Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League begin play on February 16th with an innovative approach to sports. Fans can call plays from their phones in the arena. And at the Maverik Center, that means up to 10,856 fans that can call the plays. We are bringing the best of online gaming to the game itself. To find out how you can be a coach or for season tickets visit For City Journals Exclusive Home Opener Ticket Offer vs. Nebraska Danger on February 16th, contact Charles, LIMITED TICKET AVAILABILITY, BOOK YOUR SEATS TODAY!


Page 16 | February 2017

West Jordan Journal

Hawthorn Academy students rescue classmates from bullying By Jet Burnham |




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The students who are working to earn a Buddy Bench for their school: Amanda Bullock, Grace Beazer, Ciceley Brentel, Jadiah Costello, Ivy Pullan and Jayda Alverson (Keesha Brentel)


egan Cox has been bullied in the past and wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else, so she started an Anti-Bullying Committee, or ABC, at Hawthorn Academy in West Jordan. “Some people think that they’re not a bully, but if you watch their actions, they are,” Regan said. Having been a victim, she knows it when she sees it. Her mother, Melanie Cox, said the school has a strict policy against it, but bullying still happens. She is proud of her daughter. “She is tender-hearted and doesn’t like to see people hurt or uncomfortable,” Cox said. Regan’s committee is comprised of like-minded seventhand eighth-grade girls. Their goal is to make sure everybody feels safe and has a friend. “We have a big part in school to be all connected in a good way,” said Regan. Regan’s ABC is not all talk either. The spunky seventhgrader actually stopped a playground fight. While other kids watched a boy get tackled, Regan and her friend Melanie intervened. “Something kind of clicked off in my head— ‘I need to go,’” said Regan, when she saw the commotion. She was a small seventh-grader, standing up to eighth grade boys, but she believes, “No matter how small you are or how big you are, you can stop it.” Administration, students and teachers were impressed. Regan said when the school’s Peer Leadership Team heard about what happened they said, “That seventh-grade girl is a hero!’” Regan and Melanie were rewarded for their heroic actions by being allowed to wear everyday clothes to school. The two seventh-graders stood out that day in a school that requires uniforms. “We knew people were looking at us and saying we were heroes and thinking ‘we should have done that,’” said Regan.

Salli Robinson is the school counselor and adviser for the committee. She believes the charter school has a different dynamic than neighborhood schools. Most students arrive at Hawthorn not knowing any other kids there. “A lot of bullying comes from not understanding people around us,” said Robinson. “Once you know someone, they don’t seem that different.” The ABC believes they can prevent bullying by encouraging students to widen their circle of friends. Committee member Sabrina Taylor said lunch was a particularly hard time when adjusting to her new school. “I was sitting with people but was still by myself,” said Sabrina. The committee came up with Nobody Eats Alone Days to create awareness of including others. On these days, they encourage kids to sit with someone new at lunch. In February, the committee will also host lunch activities and games to help kids get to know new people. The goal is clear: “To make sure everyone has a friend,” said Regan The committee meets weekly in Robinson’s office. “It is very self-directed,” said Robinson. “They want to make sure everyone feels safe.” Meetings are spent discussing how the committee can broaden its scope. The committee performs skits for school assemblies, educating students about what bullying is and what to do when they see it happening. They’ve also made posters to remind students to stand up and speak out when they see bullying. They hope their education will help students monitor each other’s behavior and help them be able to spot bullying and stop it quickly. continued on next page…

W estJordanJournal.Com Being a part of ABC has directly benefited the committee members. Robinson says these girls, who tend to be shy, are now more proactive. “I feel like I have friends now, and it’s easier for me to consider what other people are thinking,” said Keslee Lake, a seventh-grader on the committee. When Regan first started middle school, she was a little scared. After her act of heroism, she realized it wasn’t that hard. “I was more confident in what I was doing and more confident in what I was saying,” said Regan. Robinson is very impressed with Regan. “The normal developmental stage at this age is to worry what others think,” said Robinson. “But she’s very much her own person.” One thing she knows for sure about Regan: “She’s going to do what is right.” “I want to make sure we are all equal and safe,” said Regan. “I’m working hard because I love this school.” But Regan and her ABC are not the only heroes at Hawthorn Academy. “We have amazing kids here that are looking out for other people,” said Robinson. Another student also decided to take action to improve the school. Ciceley’s mother, Keesha Brentel, explained Ciceley’s idea to help her younger sister soon blossomed into a way to help all students who struggle to make friends at a new school. Livia Brentel told her family she wished there were swings on the playground. Swinging was an

EDUCATION activity she loved to do and could be done alone. Ciceley decided to fundraise to get swings installed on the playground. Several of her friends got on board, and they looked into what needed to be done. That’s when they discovered the concept of a Buddy Bench. Ivy Pullen, a sixth-grader on the committee, said the bench helps kids find someone to play with. “So, nobody will be alone at recess,” added Ciceley. Robinson, who also advises this group of exceptional students, explained the concept of the bench. “A buddy bench is a place where a student who is feeling lonely and left out can sit,” she said. “Maybe they haven’t been able to find a friend or someone to play with.” The Buddy Bench is helpful for kids who may not have the social skills to reach out to others, or for those who have had an argument and don’t know how to resolve it. Or, it might be for a new student who doesn’t know how to make friends. The Buddy Bench idea also teaches empathy. “It helps students be more aware and inclusive,” said Robinson. “So if they’re playing a game that could use one more person, they glance at the bench and notice someone needs to be included, they can invite them into their game.” Robinson hosts this group in her office during lunch times, just as she does with ABC. She says both groups are student-driven and selfmotivated.

“Fifth-graders are used to immediate results, especially in this day and age,” said Robinson. But now more than a year into the process, the Buddy Bench team is still fundraising to round up enough money to purchase benches. The group of now sixth-graders started a school store this year. Tuesdays after school, they sell pens, erasers, stamps, stickers, bookmarks, headphones, journals and candy to the student body. Robinson said they are a dedicated group of kids, staying after school and taking responsibility for running the book store.

February 2017 | Page 17 “They are very self-motivated,” she said. “I couldn’t do it if they weren’t.” The group had a penny-drive fundraiser in January and recently set up a GoFundMe page: The girls hope to earn enough money for a Buddy Bench for both the South Jordan and West Jordan campuses. Robinson is proud of both these groups of students. “These kids are just motivated to do good,” she said. “It’s important for people to know there are good kids doing good things.” l

Back to Front: Vanessa Jacobsen, Keslee Lake, Regan Cox, Megan Sternod, Kylie Garrett, Sabrina Taylor and Kristen Walker. (Salli Robinson/Hawthorn Academy)

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Page 18 | February 2017

Salt Lake County Council



West Jordan Journal

SL County discusses complex issues during state legislative session Aimee Winder Newton, County Council District 3

here will be a number of issues important to Salt Lake County residents that will arise during the upcoming legislative session, some of which the Salt Lake County Council will be actively involved with. As residents of Salt Lake County we enjoy some of the best elements of living, working, and raising a family in Utah—but we also see some of the greatest challenges facing our state. Homelessness is one of the most important and challenging issues we face in Salt Lake County. Anyone who has taken a drive through downtown Salt Lake City—particularly near the homeless shelter operated by The Road Home—has seen firsthand the number of people without a home and in need of food and shelter. In a country, state, and community as blessed as ours, we have a moral duty to help connect all Utahns to resources they can use to climb out of the hole of poverty, homelessness, and whatever limitations hold them back from full self-sufficiency. This session, there will be an effort to secure an additional batch of funding for the collective impact effort on homelessness, as

well as much needed resources to create more affordable housing in the area. Where appropriate, the County will join in discussions along with leaders from Salt Lake City and the criminal justice community to support good initiatives to tackle this complicated problem.

“It is deeply important to me that I represent the interests of my constituents on the Salt Lake County Council, and that commitment extends to ensuring county residents have a voice on Capitol Hill during each legislative session.” Criminal justice reform is an issue I have personally been very passionate about since I was elected to the County Council. Last fall, city and county officials teamed up for “Operation

Diversion,” which was a massive effort to clean up the Rio Grande area of Salt Lake City, while connecting non-violent offenders with alternatives to incarceration that will more effectively help them forsake drug abuse. To continue the operation, it will need financial support moving forward. This will help alleviate the problems of crime and drug abuse that plague the Rio Grande area, and relate to homelessness as well. These are just a few of the high profile issues affecting Salt Lake County residents that will come up this session. There are always unforeseen bills that generate attention, and we’ll keep a careful eye on anything that affects our residents. It is deeply important to me that I represent the interests of my constituents on the Salt Lake County Council, and that commitment extends to ensuring county residents have a voice on Capitol Hill during each legislative session. I’m excited to see progress on important issues like homelessness, criminal justice, and many more. l

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Page 20 | February 2017


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West Jordan Jaguar junior John Earl is 19-5 this season. (Greg James/City Journals)

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he last four years of wrestling at West Jordan High School have been tumultuous. The team has had three coaches, but the enthusiasm the team leaders have this season has helped them see improvement. “We are a young team,” said head wrestling coach Zan Elder. “We have several wrestlers that have never wrestled before. The team has five seniors, and for two of them, it is their first time. These are all good guys, and that can be part of the problem. We need to be more aggressive—not mean— and just go out there and get it. Wrestling is a sport with a steep learning curve, but the desire to win is still there every match. When we lose it is disappointing. We need to learn the holds and positions so we can take that next step.” The Jaguars’ only team victory came this season in a 66-12 victory over Cottonwood. Wrestling is an individual sport but also has a team element to it. During a dual event a team scores points based on how each individual match goes. More points are awarded to a team for pins than when a competitor simply has more points when a match’s full time has expired. “We are getting better at every tournament we go to,” Elder said. “We have seen that compared to last season.” The team captains, John Earl and Zach Obray, have become leaders. “John and Zach are the team’s hardest workers,” Elder said. “John is a fabulous wrestler. His losses have come to solid state-placing wrestlers. This is Zach’s second year wrestling. They both believe if they do not give full effort they are not being honest with

their team. Zach has made progress in not only his wrestling technique but in his mindset and belief in himself.” Obray demonstrated his improvement in his Jan. 5 match against Mitchell Reese of Copper Hills. Obray trailed 3-2 and headed into the third and final period of the match. Reese positioned him on the bottom to begin the period. Obray escaped for one point and then took Reese to the mat to capture the 5-3 victory. “I thought to myself, ‘Do I want to win, or do I want to lose?’” Obray said. “I chose to win, and I went for it.” Elder said many wrestlers lack experience but have plenty of desire. Against Copper Hills, senior Tanner Labonty defeated Tyler Oakeson by a pin, and Sophomore Bryan Rogers also won by a pin over Jaeden Fowers. Rogers and his twin brother, Jeff, wrestle in the 106- and 113-pound weight classes, respectively. “Tanner is a senior and has lots of heart,” Elder said. “Brayden Bingham encourages everyone around him, and the Rogers twins just need to get more experience. They are all great kids, and I am glad I get to be part of their lives.” Elder is in his second year as head coach. He took over for former Jaguar state champion Gabe Vigil. The Jaguars’ only wrestling state title came in 1997 under head coach Larry Jaramillo. They have had six individual state champions in school history, including Vigil, Matt and Ted Casto, Steve Babcock, Shawn Jensen and John Kendrick. “I think our team is young and we have a lot of heart,” Earl said. “Every match is important to us.” l


W estJordanJournal.Com

February 2017 | Page 21

West Jordan boys basketball finds success By Greg James |


The West Jordan boys basketball team huddles around head coach Scott Briggs and receives final instructions. (Greg James/City Journals)

“We have shown tremendous character in playing as a team. We feel good and have taken good steps forward. We have some potential.”


Laughter AND



he season began with some low points, but the West Jordan High School boys basketball team has found success. It is hoping its early region wins will lead to a return to the state tournament. “I am really proud of this team,” said head coach Scott Briggs. “There are a lot of high school teams that get down by double digits, and they pack their bags and call it a night. We have shown tremendous character in playing as a team. We feel good and have taken good steps forward. We have some potential.” The Jaguars had fallen behind by double digits in the fourth quarter against Layton on Dec. 9. Seniors Collin Larson and Connor Manglinong held their collective breath and jointly scored 14 points, including a last-second three-pointer by Manglinong to send the game into overtime. They ended up losing their third game of their first four and seemed to be headed in the wrong direction. Layton was a state semifinal team last season and had ousted the Jaguars from the state tournament last spring, 54-38. Briggs said despite the loss, the game was a step forward for the team. The loss followed five wins in the next six games. The holiday break ended, and the Jaguars had elevated their overall record to 7-5. The non-region results prepared the team to enter its Region 3 competition. “Our region is a daunting task,” Briggs said.

“Everyone is playing better than I expected. We will just concentrate on getting better every night.” Junior Darrian Nebeker leads the team in scoring with a 12.6 points per-game average. At 6-feet-4, he is tallest player on the team and is forced to defend much taller players. “We are not a big team, but our front-line players play bigger than they are,” Briggs said. “We have some small guards that are playing as scrappy as they can. We will not grow three inches before the next game, so we will work with what we have.” The Jaguars’ hot outside shooting will need to continue for them to stay successful. Another of the team’s strengths is its free-throw shooting. The team averages 75 percent from the charity stripe. By comparison, the Jazz average just over 76. “Collin is a two-year starter and plays like ice,” Briggs said. “The tighter the game, the better he plays. He is out there to win. Connor is the same; we need them both to hit shots for us to win.” Region 3 boasts last season’s state championship finalists, Bingham and Copper Hills. The Jaguars hope to qualify for the state tournament for the second year in a row. The 5A state tournament is scheduled to begin Feb.27 at the University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Weber State University. l

Head Over Heels


’m a terrible romantic. I mean that literally. I’m terrible at being romantic. When God handed out sentimentality, I was hiding in a bathroom stall eating a box of chocolate donuts. If I’d married an unfeeling psychopath that wouldn’t be a problem, but my husband could be the spokesperson for the Hallmark channel. He’ll plan Valentine’s Day like he’s competing for a spot on “The Nicholas Sparks RomanceA-Thon Reality Evening.” There’s roses and poetry and candlelight and chocolates and puppies and rainbows and glitter. And then there’s me, sitting dumbfounded saying something like, “Did Valentine’s Day come early this year?” Don’t get me wrong. I’m lucky to have a husband who remembers not only my birthday, but the time of my birth, what the #1 song was and the Oscar-winning movie from the year I was born. But by comparison, it makes me look pretty pathetic. I often return kind thoughts with chilling sarcasm—but he still hugs me and makes me feel like I’m not quite the monster I think I am. (But he should probably stop calling me FrankenPeri.) So because of all the sweetness he shows me, and because I’m still learning this whole romance thing, this is my Valentine’s letter to my hubbie: Thank you for having my back and being willing to fly into battle to defend me from the smallest slights.

Thank you for telling me I’m beautiful even without make-up (you always look beautiful without make-up) and when my hair looks like I barely survived a rabid ferret attack. Thank you for not noticing when I have a zit the size of Mt. Rushmore hanging off my chin. Well, I’m sure you notice, but thank you for not calling me the Zit Witch. The same goes for when I have a scorch mark on my forehead from the flat iron, a gash on my shin from my razor and cuticles that look like I get manicures with a cheese grater. Thank you for telling me when the bloody parts are over during Quentin Tarantino’s films. Thank you for not taking me to any more Quentin Tarantino movies. Thank you for not noticeably rolling your eyes when I serve a meal consisting of quinoa, sweet potatoes and kale. Thank you for ordering pizza when the meal tastes like $%&*. Thank you for understanding that I hate watching romantic comedies (see paragraph #1) and appreciating when I sometimes suffer through a sob-fest of a manipulative romance. In return, thank you for occasionally watching animated films, even though you hate it as much as I despise romance. Thank you for putting up with my irritations, like having an unstable bi-polar thermostat that ranges from Arctic cold to erupting volcano. Thank you for not freaking out when I blow our budget on

Amazon (“Where did that come from?”). Thank you for binge watching TV shows, not dragging me to parties, reading next to me in bed, laughing at my jokes, going to my yoga class and snuggling every morning before we head out to face the world. And here’s the funny thing. Despite my resistance and outer shell of cynicism, I often feel like the Grinch when his heart grows three sizes. I’ll find myself crying at movies without embarrassment (but I’ll still get offended when you offer me a tissue). You’ve taught me to appreciate sunsets, beautiful clouds and a gentle hug at the end of the day. Maybe one day I’ll change from being a terrible romantic to being terribly romantic. Probably not. But it could happen.

Page 22 | February 2017

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98 West Center Street 1086 W. South Jordan Pkwy, 801-373-7200 Suite 111 • 801-302-0777


February 2017 | Page 23

W estJordanJournal.Com

A New Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day





remember as a child carefully picking the card from the box of Valentines that had the perfect pun on it for that particular friend. Maybe it was a picture of an Elephant, “I won’t forget you are my Valentine” or the bear that proclaims “I can’t bear to be without you.” We would carefully tear along the dotted lines, so as not to rip them, then stuff each envelope with pink and yellow hearts, that when combined, made a secret message? Then we would run around the neighborhood leaving our creations on the doorsteps of our friends and those we had a childhood crush on. I remember that no matter how much we licked the envelope it wouldn’t stay stuck shut. Later as teens, when the hormones were raging, Valentines became a day of Teddy Bears and giant candy kisses, first dates and holding hands in the movie. Then finally I found that special someone and Valentines became the day where we would present cards to each other and try to think of creative ways to express our love without spending too much. After over 3 decades of marriage though, I’m finding that few of the sentiments on cards apply and I have often considered designing my own line of valentine cards that are sold according the number of years one has been together. “Valentine, our body’s may be sagging, but my love for you never will.” Or: “I can’t wait to celebrate our love tonight at



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Monte’s Steakhouse and use the buy 1, get 1 free coupon we have.” As the years have gone by, it’s become the day to day little things that mean more to me than this designated day of love, like when my hubby brings me a cup of early morning coffee before I get out of bed or folding a load of laundry on a night when I’m working late. Valentines has really just become another day for us, so we decided to do something different and make Valentines a day of generosity. Instead of making it a selfish day of loving each other, something we already do every day, we’re turning it into a day of loving one another. We’ve discovered that by spending time together giving back is wonderful way to spread some Valentine cheer and bring us closer together at the same time. Here’s a



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Making February 14th a day to open your heart and share generosity is a great way for those of us with or without a Valentine. What better way is there to spend Valentine’s Day? _________________________________________ Joani Taylor is the founder of A website devoted to helping Utah families save time and money on restaurants, things to do and everyday needs.

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few ideas we’ve had for this year: • Make arrangements to drop off Valentine goodies to an elderly care facility. While at it you could stay a while and play a game of cards or just listen while they reminisce about the person they are missing. • Contact a children’s grief facility, like the Sharing Place, and donate craft boxes or needed supplies. • Plan a date night volunteering at the Utah Food Bank or serving up a meal at your local shelter. • Instead of dinner at a restaurant, have dinner at a charity event. Many non-profits hold charity gala’s and auctions. To find them, check http:// or contact the charity foundation of your choice. • Give blood together. It’s something we all intend to do, make a date of it and then have a meal together afterwards.

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Profile for The City Journals

West Jordan February 2017  

Vol. 17 Iss. 02

West Jordan February 2017  

Vol. 17 Iss. 02