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May 2017 | Vol. 3 Iss. 05

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A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: Homeless shelter site selection By Kelly Cannon & Travis Barton | editor@mycityjournals.com

T

he events and decisions that led up to the selection of the various homeless shelter sites in Salt Lake County are filled with frustration, confusion and outright hostility. The issue of what to do with the growing homeless population in the county and where to put them has been met with several different solutions, none of which everyone seems to agree upon. However, the final decisions on where to put homeless resource centers were made and many neighborhoods and communities are about to change.

Sugar House Rebuts Instead of empathy, the decision was met with outrage, most vehemently in Sugar House where one site was set for 653 E. Simpson Ave.—across the street from a residential neighborhood that would replace four local businesses. Residents poured into city council meetings, open houses and the Sugar House Community Council meeting to voice opposition to a decision made behind closed doors. City officials maintained they did so to avoid pitting neighborhoods against one another. “The way the city’s handled this, it’s building nothing but resentment from most of the community,” said Chris Sveiven, who lives 75 feet away from the proposed site. Biskupski pleaded with residents to embrace the resource model that would disperse the homeless population and “stop subjecting them to easy access by drug dealers.” She also urged compassion for “families that need to be embraced by us, that need a little bit of help.”

City Manager Wayne Pyle speaks with residents at an open house on March 21 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Pyle said the city would fight a resource center with “whatever means they have at their disposal.” (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Residents, however, felt the model was too risky. “You’re asking us to take a leap of faith,” resident Shane Stroud told Biskupski during the community council meeting. “This isn’t a leap of faith, this is a gamble and the costs of that gamble are extremely high.” Stroud added if the center didn’t work as intended, repercussions would last decades. Legislative Take Over On Feb. 24, the four shelter plan was scrapped with two proposed sites dropped—including the Simpson site—and a plan was developed to build a third site somewhere in Salt Lake County. Legislation was passed on March 9 that appropriated more than $10 million to help build the resource centers and removed local cities from having any formal say on the mater. That legislation also required Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams to recommend a site to the state’s Homeless Coordinating Committee by March 30, or risk losing the money. March 10 saw five homeless sites selected—three in West Valley City and two in South Salt Lake, with two additional South Salt Lake sites added on March 21.

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Announcement of New Homeless Resource Shelters On Dec. 13, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and the city council announced the locations of four 150-bed homeless shelters around the city that would also serve as resource centers. The locations were: 653 E. Simpson Ave. (2300 South), 275 W. High Ave. (1400 South), 131 E. 700 South, and 648 W. 100 South. The selection was announced without any public comment and are the result of a two-year selection processes. The mayor and council said the decision was made without public input because they wanted to avoid pitting neighborhoods against each other. However, they promised to hold open houses to gain feedback from the community. “A process that would pit different communities in our city against each other and tear our city apart as we try to affect change, was not something we felt comfortable doing,” Biskupski told residents at a Sugar House Community Council meeting. The idea behind the four sites was to provide services such as mental health, substance abuse treatment and job training while drawing people away from The Road Home shelter in downtown Salt Lake City, which is scheduled to be closed. City officials said the smaller shelters would have a minimal impact on the neighborhoods with no drug dealing allowed near the sites and high levels of security. However, not everybody was happy with the decisions.

What ensued was three weeks of what McAdams deemed would be a “robust but abbreviated” process to include public input with four open houses and one public comment session. West Valley City and South Salt Lake Fight Against Site Selection West Valley City officials repeatedly decried the sites selected, citing the stress it would place on fire and police departments, the unproven service model and overall rushed process. “It’s complete vapor,” said WVC City Manager Wayne Pyle of the planned service model during an open house on March 18. He said these resources being talked about are “great ideas and we’d love to see them implemented” but doesn’t feel they are fully formed with no plans, funds or specifics. “In our mind what we have is this shelter being moved from downtown to West Valley or wherever with a lot of good intention, but not anything in terms of an actual plan to prove that it’s gonna be any different than where it is right now,” Pyle said. The county has studied homelessness reforms for over two years according to McAdams. Resource centers are designed to serve specific populations such as single women or single men. continued on page 4…

CERT disaster drills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Child Abuse Prevention month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Whittier Elementary celebrates autism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 New coach for Hunter baseball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

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Page 2 | May 2017

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

Exhibition brings “from the heart” creativity to UCCC By Michelle Glover | michelle.g@mycityjournals.com The West Valley City Journal is a monthly publication distributed directly to residents via the USPS as well as locations throughout West Valley City. 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: circulation@mycityjournals.com 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.

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tah Cultural Celebration Center hosted its fifth annual From the Heart: Expressions in Fiber exhibition. The exhibit featured new works by the members of the Mary Meigs Atwater Weavers Guild, as well as other creators from various artistic settings throughout the community. When asked what drew the cultural center to host this type of exhibition, Michael Christensen, the visual and performing arts manager at the Cultural Community Center, indicated that they generally facilitate arts programs by responding to community initiatives. They were approached by the guild who proposed an exhibition idea and it fit with their gallery schedule. The opening night festivities began with an open gallery where visitors could view the craftsmanship of the pieces on exhibit. One piece that seemed to draw attention from visitors was An American Quilt, Hanson County, South Dakota, 1943 (embroidery, applique). This quilt was started in 1943 and was completed in 2017. The decorative squares were completed in 1943 by members of the artist’s husband’s extended family. The squares were found in her husband’s aunt’s basement and the artist decided to finish the quilt for future generations. A Study in Bronze (needlepoint) by Joanne Gealta was another piece typically surrounded by admirers. Her submission, a mixed needlepoint with beads, brings both mediums together to “remind us of the beauty of the colors of Southern Utah.” The opening speaker was Catherine Marchant. She is the chair of the Exhibit Committee. She indicated that the show is every two years, and open to any fiber artist in Utah. To be eligible for an award, the pieces must have been completed in the past 2 years and be an original design. Marchant said they notified other fiberrelated guilds or groups and received entries from members of the surface design, lace making, embroidery, knitting and spinning groups besides the pieces submitted by the members of the Mary Meigs Atwater Weaver’s Guild (MMAWG). In addition to the awards that MMAWG gives, the Handweavers A quilt from the fifth annual From the Heart: Guild of America, Expressions in Fiber exhibition. (Michelle Glover/ Complex Weavers, Surface City Journals)

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Two residents from Parklane Senior Living came to the art exhibit. (Michelle Glover/ City Journals)

Design Association and Handwoven Magazine all provided them with awards for the winning artists. Marchant said this year they received a record number of entries—125. She said the show is supported by a grant from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. Sarah Jackson was the main speaker for the evening. Her artistic passion is centered around textile design. Jackson also judged the competition and discussed the process of and steps involved in looming and weaving. “Try something new, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable,” Jackson told an audience filled with artists and art lovers. “You never know where it will take you.” Zina Woods, a Provo resident, came to opening night to support her friend Charlene Lind whose exhibit was Sow’s Ear No 2. “This is a very impressive show. There is a lot of creativity and spectrum of talent. There is a lot of love in this show,” Woods said. Two Salt Lake City residents from Parklane Senior Living, Jane McIlwaine and Clarissa Buetler, said the show was exquisite and they couldn’t believe the craftsmanship. The evening ended with awards. Some of the winners of the evening were: Yvonna Thomas, Ann Eddington Adams, Deanne Bass, and Leslie Seward, who was the biggest winner of the evening. For more about upcoming events at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, contact Michael Christensen at 801-965-5108. l


May 2017 | Page 3

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ON THE COVER

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: Homeless shelter site selection …continued from front cover

Parts of the design also include sleeping areas, on-site case managers to help with specialized services such as job or behavioral needs, food services and security space for a police officer. All would be provided inside the center. The plan would be different from The Road Home shelter on Rio Grande where occupants must leave to utilize surrounding services. Shaleane Gee, director of special projects with Salt Lake County, told residents at an open house that the center would be like an “emergency room facility. A resource center in the sense that it teaches you how to leave homelessness.” West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow said if the model’s different from past ventures, why wasn’t that sold to the public. “We’re all reasonable people, and if it’s so great, why can’t you do it at Rio Grande right now? And prove to us that it works. We’ll line up asking for it, may even bid for it,” Bigelow said. McAdams told media and residents on March 21 that the model is similar to Volunteers of America’s Youth Resource Center or the YWCA, both in Salt Lake City, that provides shelter and transitional housing for homeless women and children. City officials continually stressed the burden WVC already carried with its 33,000 affordable housing units and Kelly Benson Apartment complex which provides permanent housing for chronically homeless. “It’s unethical to ask our residents to carry even more. We happily carry our burden, but we can’t do it all,” said WVC councilman Lars Nordfelt at the March 18 open house. On March 22, residents and representative from both South Salt Lake and West Valley City met with the members of the Homeless Coordinating Committee at the state capitol to argue their cities were not suited to handle the proposed homeless shelter sites. McAdams began the meeting by trying to assure residents that they are listening to the public and understand their concerns. “I know the news about this effort to find a location for the homeless resource center has been unsettling and stressful to homes and businesses in South Salt Lake and in West Valley City. I know there are concerns about drugs and crime and property values, loss of economic opportunity,” McAdams said. “I know this is not because of your lack of compassion for people who are met with the crisis that comes with not having a roof over your head or a safe place to sleep at night.” South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood addressed the committee, saying her city and its residents are compassionate and solution oriented but the homeless shelter site selection process has forced them to oppose the shelter in their community for several reasons. Wood said the site selection process has been too rushed, less than fair and less than transparent. “What’s the point of public meetings and site evaluation committee if the sites have already been chosen behind closed doors?” she asked. She also pointed out that as one of the smallest cities in the county, South Salt Lake is already overburdened with regional and county services residents are forced to support. This includes two

county jails, two juvenile detention centers, an 88-bed facility for the chronically homeless, a regional sewage treatment plant and a solid waste transfer facility. Wood reminded the committee none of these services pay property tax toward the city. Wood also opposed the resource center model because there is no guarantee it will work. “We have no confidence that the new location will solve the problem. In fact, it feels like we are simply moving the problem south,” Wood said. “The resource center model is too new and there is no funding arrangement in the legislation to offset the community impacts.” Many residents who spoke at the public hearing explained how neither South Salt Lake nor West Valley City would be a good fit for the homeless shelter sites. One South Salt Lake resident said that unlike other cities, this is not a case of “not in my backyard.” Rather, their yard is already full. Another South Salt Lake resident said the city is a great place for the county to put things they don’t want. Residents have been very accommodating but “enough was enough.” Disaster in Draper On March 28, two days before the committee was set to make a selection on the new sites, Draper Mayor Troy Walker shocked residents by announcing he was offering two potential sites for consideration within his city limits. One site would be a portion of the Utah State Prison location, which is scheduled to be moved to Salt Lake City. The other site was at 15001 Minuteman Drive. Draper was the first city to willingly offer sites for a homeless shelter. “It’s the right thing to do, it’s the Christian thing to do. It’s the thing that will set us apart and make us the people we are,” Walker said. However, the Draper residents were having none of it. Nearly 1,000 residents showed up to an open house on March 29 at Draper Park Middle School. The meeting was supposed to be an open housestyle meeting where residents could fill out cards with their comments and learn more about the sites. When residents found out there was no public comment to be made, a handful hijacked the meeting, forcing the school to open the auditorium and provide a microphone. The majority of residents who were opposed to the homeless shelter sites cited concerns over increased crime and drugs, putting strains on the police department and lowering property values. Residents took turns airing their grievances, shouting at anyone in support of the site. This included Lawrence Horman, a homeless man who asked for compassion for people like him. He was booed off stage when he called for patience. Another resident who explained she had worked with homeless teens in the past said she was mostly angry because she felt the decision was sprung upon residents but she was in favor of the sites in Draper. She was also booed and yelled at. The meeting turned hostile when Walker and McAdams took

the stage, with many residents screaming abuse at the public officials. Walker tried to explain his point of view but was met with only screams of derision. Residents threatened Walker with impeachment and lawsuits, claiming corruption and deals made behind closed doors. Others called Walker out for the alleged mistreatment of Councilwoman Michele Weeks, who claimed to be left out of the announcement. Weeks told the crowd she had only found out about the sites during the press conference and she was just as shocked as residents. “They have not included the Draper residents,” Weeks said. “We have a lot of questions that need to be answered before we volunteer two sites.” The nearly four-hour meeting, which mostly consisted of Walker and McAdams sitting silently on the stage while residents spoke their minds, ended with Walker rescinding his offer of the two sites. “You folks don’t want it,” Walker said, “so we can’t in good conscience say we want it here.” Final Decision On March 31, McAdams announced the decision to put the third homeless shelter in South Salt Lake at 3380 S. 1000 West. That day, Wood held a press conference to address residents about the decision. She said there are concerns about the site, including the fact it’s close to the Jordan River, a newly developed community on the west side of the river and longtime residents along 1000 West who have fought to keep the nearby agriculture zone intact. “Needless to say, we are disappointed. We are frustrated and we are angry. Our neighbors and businesses have stood together, residents have come out and we have fought this fight together. I thank you for that,” Wood said. “As a community, I think we expressed our concerns well. I think we had a compelling reason as to why we were not the site for the homeless resource center. I’m not quite sure where the communication breakdown was or why it didn’t matter.” Wood explained McAdams made commitments to South Salt Lake to help ease the blow. These commitments included significant investments in open space and transportation, improvements to the Jordan River and new amenities like a library. Most importantly, McAdams told Wood that construction would not begin until legislation was passed next session that would provide some kind of continued funding source for the resource center. “We feel that gives us some time and we’re going to take advantage of that time to address some critical issues to make sure the impact on our community is as small as it can be,” Wood said. Wood also told residents she and the council are promising not to raise taxes. “You are not subsidizing another undesirable regional use in our community,” Wood said. “That’s a commitment that we’re making right now.” Wood called the selection a “lethal blow” to the community of South Salt Lake. “We are angry and we continue to be angry,” Wood said. l

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May 2017 | Page 5

When disaster hits CERT volunteers spring into action By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

D

isaster could strike at any moment and West Valley City’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) wants to make sure volunteers are prepared to help. CERT’s seven-week training program culminated in March with its large-scale disaster simulation on the grounds of the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Twenty-seven actors played the part of bus crash victims while 36 students had to demonstrate the skills and instruction learned from the program. “They did actually really well for having a big huge area thrown at them and lots of victims,” said CERT coordinator Jill Shopay of her students. Shopay has run the seven-week courses for about nine years. Classes for the students involve training for disaster preparation, fire suppression, search and rescue, injury treatment and disaster psychology, which Shopay said includes “training them on how to deal with mental traumas they’ll go through with what they’ll see and have to handle.” Examples of those traumas were on display during the disaster simulations with “victims” suffering from lost appendages and pipes and shrapnel sticking out of their bodies. A few actors even ran screaming to rescuers before throwing up fake vomit onto them. “We go all out on this. We have amputees, we have impalements, we have everything… we fill impalements with blood and have syringes in the amputees that squirts blood all over [rescuers]. We’re really good at what we do,” said Shopay, who has been in the medical field for 25 years. Student Wesley Darton, 24, said it “definitely helped to create that realistic training environment having all the makeup and special effects.” The simulation calls for students to triage victims, prioritize injury

Rescuers work to triage an injured bus crash survivor during a disaster simulation at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. (West Valley City CERT)

severity, transport victims to an already created medical treatment area and set up incident command. “It was definitely an eye-opening experience just seeing how many different things go on with dealing with those different events,” Darton, a technical theatre major, said. “Doesn’t matter what class it is,” Shopay said. “When we get them over to the cultural center with that big whole area, it’s kind of overwhelming no matter what.” While there was a simulated car crash surprise for the class (with cars and bodies strewn about a parking lot), much of the course takes place in the classroom; training individuals for different disasters from earthquakes and floods to lost children and power outages.

“It’s basically to learn how to prepare themselves instead of relying on the city or the state or Red Cross at that time of a disaster,” Shopay said. Darton said he got involved in CERT specifically for that preparation. “If and when there’s an emergency or a disaster, then I want to be able to help others out as well. I don’t want to be sitting around waiting,” he said. Shopay said the skills learned become essential for individuals during a disaster where fire and police may not reach you for up to seven days. “It’s people that are trained like this that can help themselves and each other that are going to be saving lives before the emergency personnel can actually get there,” she said. Darton said one of the more important things he learned wasn’t medical, but the organizational approach. “Which I think is very helpful for everyone to know and understand that process,” he said. “I think having that background of command structure can help in not only a disaster but in your day-today life.” Many students, Shopay said, end up using the knowledge they’ve gained when they see people suffer heart attacks or involved in car accidents and fires. “There’s been a lot of positive feedback, responses, stories, that we’ve gotten back from people that have helped save them and they’ve been able to save other people,” Shopay said. The course, one Shopay said is recognized state-wide for its quality, has students from all over the valley. Next cycle starts on Aug. 31 and all interested in more information can go to wvcert.org. l

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GOVERNMENT

Page 6 | May 2017

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

Skate park receives state level award By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com West Valley City was presented an award from the Utah Recreation and Parks Association (URPA) for its Outstanding Facility Recognition for the West Valley City Skate Park. “I’m so excited about the skate park, I think it’s such a booming success, and I’m really happy and proud to have it recognized at our state level,” said the city’s Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Astill. Officials from the UPRA presented the award during a city council meeting on March 28. The membership association gathers each year to recognize facilities and programs for their excellence with UPRA President Derric Rykert saying they love to see what’s happening throughout Utah. “What stood out to us about this one was the persistence that it took to make it happen,” Rykert told the city council. The park’s grand opening was in October 2016, but the idea started 15 years before with West Valley resident Josh Scheuerman who continuously came to city council meetings to advocate the community need for a skate park. “Josh Scheuerman worked on that with us for years, and I don’t know of anybody’s project that went on that long that finally came about,” Astill said. Rykert said it was great learning about the “grassroots” of what it took to bring the skate park to the community. “To find a way to fund that and to make it happen, oftentimes is not an easy thing,” Rykert said. “So, to see you accomplish this as a city, it’s exciting for us as an organization to see the support your parks and recreation department has from you as a city council.” Rykert said they were proud themselves to recognize the city’s staff. “We’re proud and grateful to recognize your skate park as an outstanding facility in Utah this year. Congratulations and thank

Josh Scheuerman speaks to the crowd prior to the ribbon cutting at the opening of the skate park. For 15 years Scheuerman advocated for a skate park to city government. (Kevin Conde/West Valley City)

you for the work that you did,” he said. Astill said seeing the skate park be so popular has been wonderful. “I really love it…and then to have the skate park so wildly successful, so heavily used (makes it even better),” Astill said. He added having Wi-Fi at the park works to its advantage with parents able to do work in the car while the kids are enjoying the park. Mayor Ron Bigelow said there was only one day where he passed the skate park and there weren’t people there. “It was covered in snow,” Bigelow remarked. Another item of note: The city council voted to approve an ordinance on April 4 that would allow additional members to the Professional Standards Review Board (PSRB). The board currently has seven members

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and the ordinance would require a minimum of five. The ordinance also amended language of the municipal code to make the PSRB more efficient in their work. PSRB is a citizen committee tasked with reviewing all use of force and complaints against officers of the West Valley City Police Department. The board offers recommendations and feedback on all cases striving to determine whether officer actions were made within policy or not. City Manager Wayne Pyle said he proposed the ordinance change after interviewing two different people who he felt both warranted a spot on the board. When passing the ordinance, councilman Steve Vincent said he’s “encouraged there exists a group of citizens that are willing to review our police efforts. It’s transparent and it’s open and they do an outstanding job.” The PSRB typically holds public comment sessions on the second Thursday of each month. l

West Valley held the grand opening of their skate park at Centennial Park on Oct. 8. The skate park received outstanding facility recognition from the Utah Recreation and Parks Association. (Kevin Conde/West Valley City)

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City recognizes affordable housing month, public recognizes city’s efforts against shelter By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

May 2017 | Page 7

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Citizens from West Valley turned out to various public meetings to voice opposition to the proposed homeless sites in the city. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

R

ecognizing April as Affordable Housing Month, West Valley City officials expressed its appreciation for citizens letting their voice be heard during the site selection process for a new county resource center. After three weeks of open houses, public comment and heated opposition to potential sites for a proposed resource center, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams chose 3380 S. 1000 West, located in South Salt Lake, for the center. “I have been very appreciative of those citizens who have taken the time to attend these open houses and hearings to express their concerns and make others aware that we feel just as strongly about issues as others do,” said Mayor Ron Bigelow. Resident Jacob Fitisemanu conveyed his appreciation to elected officials during the April 4 city council meeting for the “tone they set in being such a great resource.” “Almost immediately, West Valley City came in (with) a website that we felt was really comprehensive in explaining to us as residents the amount of work and resources that West Valley City is already doing to help with homeless issues,” Fitisemanu said. Fitisemanu, who has experience working with the Fourth Street Clinic downtown, said he has “a very special place” in his heart for the homeless, but also had an “intimate knowledge of the issues that might accompany that kind of a facility.” During its March 28 meeting, Councilman Don Christensen read a proclamation that declared April 2017 as Affordable Housing Month in which the city identified the work it’s doing for the issue. The proclamation stated how West Valley City has “over 33,000 in affordable housing units,” “provides over 800 housing units to individuals with special needs, disabilities, and other structural impediments to housing security” and “is one of two cities in the state of Utah to establish its own housing authority to support the development and maintenance of affordable housing.” Before passing a resolution on March 28 that the city would not accept a homeless shelter, Councilman Steve Buhler said he felt it unfortunate that the city’s efforts had been overlooked. “They should be known not only by our residents…but by others in the county and the state,” he said.

Mayor Ron Bigelow speaks with residents and media during one of the site selection open houses. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

City Manager Wayne Pyle agreed with Buhler. He said he had deep feelings on the subject on personal, professional and West Valley resident levels. “Far too glibly, quickly and easily through this whole process; our commitment and our achievements in this area have been overlooked,” Pyle said. “We’re proud of what we’ve done here in the city.” Representative Elizabeth Weight told elected officials on April 4 that she could not think of a place “where she would be prouder to live than among the citizens and leadership of West Valley City.” Weight, who was recently elected to her representative position, said she met many who are already affected by this issue and commended them for their demeanor. “I heard them express their concerns with dignity and generosity and their gratitude for the opportunity,” Weight said. Fitisemanu did request the city to improve in sharing its information in different languages. He, along with his family and neighbors, took the city information and translated it into Spanish for others. Many of whom, he said, came to meetings because of their translations. “As a bilingual person and immigrant myself, I love being able to see things in our native language as well as English that helps our learning both ways,” Fitisemanu said. During the April 11 city council meeting, Eugene Sorensen, who lives within two miles of the announced shelter site, relayed his concerns to the city council about its proximity to West Valley City locations like his home, city hall and the Maverik Center. Bigelow said city boundaries are mostly meaningless to residents and the homeless population. He added that the city will continue committing time and resources to ensure the community is represented. City employees have cleaned along the west side of the Jordan River to help keep it safe and visible. Buhler and councilman Steve Vincent both said the battle did not end with the site being in South Salt Lake. Vincent said it was important for the community to stay engaged and point out problems with the location, it could help the County possibly rethink the location. l

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Page 8 | May 2017

GOVERNMENT Animal Services unveils newly concocted control vehicle

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

J

ust as children love to open a new toy, West Valley City got to open its newest present. West Valley City Animal Services unveiled its brand-new animal control vehicle during a West Valley study meeting on April 4. “This changes our ability and makes it easier for us to protect the citizens,” said Nate Beckstead, field supervisor. The new vehicle replaces the older version that Beckstead said needed to be replaced. “It had worn its time,” he said. The vehicle had over 100,000 miles. “We need to make sure that they’re up and running all the time cause we do have respond to emergencies,” Beckstead said. When it was time to replace it, Eric Madsen, city fleet manager, had the idea to build something better. The new truck can now hold 13 animals at a time compared to the limit of five from the previous vehicle. Beckstead said it doubles his officers capacity to do their job no matter the situation, whether its picking up animals quicker or transporting animals to and from the veterinarian. “It just gives us the ability to be out working, out in the field, out with the people where we’re needed more than at the shelter unloading animals,” he said. Other features include a camera beneath the Ford sign on the back, new air flow system to better reach each kennel, recycled strobe lights and officer-friendly tool boxes that allow for quicker access. “So, instead of reaching up and trying to get at things, especially with some of my shorter officers, it’s all right at arms-

City officials gather round the new animal control vehicle as Nate Beckstead, field supervisor, points out the new features like an improved air flow system and increased number of kennels. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

length,” Beckstead said. “In a situation where we need that equipment, we need it fast cause we’ve got aggressive animals or we’ve got horses loose or we’ve got something that is an emergency.”

The vehicle will service both West Valley City and Taylorsville with Taylorsville owning part of the no-kill shelter. l

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GOVERNMENT City, FSC planting awareness for child abuse prevention

May 2017 | Page 9

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

N

ationally, April is designated as Child Abuse Awareness month, but Family Support Center (FSC) Executive Director Jeff Bird doesn’t want to talk national numbers. “That makes it feel like it’s an ‘over there’ type problem. Unfortunately, child abuse is a serious problem here,” Bird told the city council on April 4. There were 831 confirmed child victims in West Valley City in 2016 and 3,708 in Salt Lake County. “Each of those cases impacted an entire family,” Bird said. West Valley City recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention month during its April 4 city council meeting. Prior to the meeting, elected officials planted blue pinwheels in front of city hall to represent the victims of child abuse. Throughout April, a table was located next to the main doors of city hall with information about child abuse and handouts on preventing it. Having the city support helps get the conversation going, Bird said. “The city recognizing there is a problem helps everyone else recognize there is a problem…this is really protecting the most vulnerable among us, our kids,” he said. Councilman Steve Buhler read the city’s proclamation that said, “the children of West Valley City are the future of our state’s success and investing in their general welfare, safety and livelihood are of utmost priority” and that “all citizens of West Valley City should become more aware of child abuse and its prevention within their respective communities.” A big asset in prevention is the Family Support Center (FSC), said Bird and FSC Development Director Barbara Stallone.

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Elected officials and leaders of the Family Support Center planted pinwheels in front of City Hall as West Valley City proclaimed April Child Abuse Prevention month to spread awareness on the problem. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

They reported that in 2016, 1,501 different children visited FSC crisis nurseries, where short-term childcare is provided for free to families in crisis situations or children at-risk of abuse or neglect. They also reported 10,076 visits, 1,176 overnight stays and 10,884 meals were served in 2016.

“This level of service provided 56,006 hours of care to our most vulnerable population: children at-risk for abuse,” Bird said, adding that post-service surveys said 97 percent of parents indicated that crises “had been successfully defused.” Stallone said there exists many worthy causes, but this one is about children. “Children are our future, they’re our every dream that we have, they’re our focus, they are gonna determine what our city looks like,” she said. Bird took the executive director position two months ago after serving four years at the American Diabetes Association in the same position. He said they’ve also received support from the county and Taylorsville. “To see all this municipal government support us is really rewarding, helps us know we’re doing something right,” Bird said. Bird and Stallone said FSC is always accepting donations and volunteers. Last year saw almost 12,000 hours of community volunteers. Stallone said those hours are what allows them to “keep costs to the absolute minimum.” With FSC currently providing clothes, food and formula for kids right now, she said their greatest need is specialty formulas adding they are “critically low” on soy-based formulas and hypo-allergenic formulas. The crisis nursery in West Valley City is located across from Granger High School at 3663 S. 3600 West and FSC’s headquarters is at 1760 W. 4805 South in Taylorsville. l


EDUCATION

Page 10 | May 2017

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

Whittier celebrates autism with shaving cream, Dr. Seuss, understanding

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elanie Blackburn heard cheers when she entered the classroom. It was from her students with autism dressed in celebratory Dr. Seuss shirts. “I mean who gets to hear that at your job?” asked Blackburn, a paraeducator at Whittier Elementary School. A paraeducator is a classroom assistant that provides specialized or concentrated assistance to students. April served not only as Autism Awareness Month, but it also served as a time for celebration at Whittier Elementary School. Whittier, with its unique wraparound services for kids with moderate to severe mental and/or physical disabilities, commemorated World Autism Day on April 7. “What we like to do is take a day like this and say these kids have unique things about them that make them special,” said Principal Lynette Golze. “We’re a better school because of having these kids.” Celebrations began in the morning with an assembly where students from the wraparound services wing taught the rest of the school a signing song. “We love our kids to be able to see the uniqueness of these students,” Golze said. They continued with Dr. Seuss-themed sensory activities before culminating in a shaving cream sensory activity—students throw shaving cream filled balloons at each other. “That is the highlight of the year, this is bigger than Christmas for us,” Blackburn said, who helps oversee a class with lower functioning students. With awareness of autism spreading every

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Michelle Nielson works with a student during a sensory activity as Whittier Elementary celebrated World Autism Day. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

Students scoop rice as part of a sensory activity at Whittier Elementary where the school has an entire wing with close to 100 students with autism or other moderate to severe disabilities. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

year, it’s something Blackburn is happy to see. “It really did used to just be us who would get so excited and passionate about it,” Blackburn, who has a child with cerebral palsy, said. “But it seems like society as a whole is getting more excited about it and realizing it doesn’t have to be this big scary thing or this huge disability.” It’s something to be celebrated, accepted and understood. “That’s the biggest thing,” said Camille Gregory, special education teacher. “Is understanding and acceptance of when things look slightly different or someone behaves slightly different it doesn’t make them less of a person.” Blackburn said the students will be successful when people stop being afraid and start celebrating them. Whether those students are launching balls of shaving cream in your direction or trying to give teachers paper hats they made. “I’ve worked with a lot of these kids since they were in first grade and I can tell you firsthand that their progress is worth celebrating, it really is,” she said. Educators noted the development in the way students are deflating their aggression, using verbal cues or using the bathroom by themselves. “It’s a good day to celebrate how far we’ve come,” Gregory said. And celebrate they did. Students threw bean bags at plastic cups, scooped American flag-colored rice and played with Silly Putty

found inside green eggs. Gregory estimated they use about 300 balloons and 20 pounds of shaving cream for the shaving cream balloon fight. Classes for the nearly 100 children take place in a separate wing from the rest of Whittier Elementary. It’s a section of the school designed to meet the needs of these students. Golze said they have private duty nurses, applied behavioral analysis rooms, functional life skills rooms, a sensory room, motor skills room, a weight room and an occupational therapy staff. “It is very unique,” said Golze, who is in her fifth year at the school. Gregory, in her third year at Whittier, said the wing is like a “small little family in its own way” and it allows her to have “the best of both worlds” with all the help. In the lower functioning class, there are nine students with a staff of eight to ensure there’s almost constant engagement, Blackburn said. Students also interact with the general education students during adaptive PE or when they are academically ready to integrate. “It’s a real benefit to have both,” Golze said. Working with these unique kids may have its challenges, but Blackburn said for the teachers and educators at Whittier, special needs is their life. “These guys, they just work so hard and their reward is all emotional,” she said. l


M yWestV alley Journal.Com

EDUCATION

May 2017 | Page 11

Self-motivation, study and experience benefit Hunter debate team By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com

I

n a sport where some schools have 120 members, Hunter High School’s speech and debate team had 13 students go to region with six qualifying for state and two qualifying for nationals. And that’s a year of transition for firstyear coach Jennifer Liddell. “It was successful, I mean that was really awesome. Based upon what we took to region, we did really well,” Liddell said. “I don’t have hardware to show off but over the course of the year we did pretty well… We take small numbers but we did well with people placing every time.” The team saw students place at 10 different tournaments throughout the year. Of the six who qualified for state, Liddell said they had at least one from each grade level. “In perspective of are we moving in the right direction? Totally. A freshman to go is awesome,” she said. That freshman was Kaia Baron who, along with sophomore Diana Tran, qualified for nationals in duo interpretation. “The two of them have just been stellar all year long,” Liddell said. While both prefer the LincolnDouglas category, an individual event, their experience with duo interpretation, where they memorized Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham,” came about with a desire to better utilize their weekend. “We wanted to try something new. It’s better than to just sit at home for us and be at a tournament where we get to meet new people and get to have that experience,” Tran said. Taking a free weekend to go to a debate tournament perfectly encapsulates Tran and Kaia, Liddell said.

“They’re academically gifted to start, but I think a lot of it came from their drive to want to,” she said of the underclassmen. Liddell playfully described Tran as a “stalker” because she would know what opponents were competing in each tournament and what their ability was. “That helps her know what she needs to do,” Liddell said. For Kaia, whose aspirations include attending Stanford, she got involved in debate since Liddell was one of her favorite teachers and she knew college applications would look better for it. “I didn’t expect to like it this much,” she said of debate. “I like how confident it makes me. Before I could barely have a conversation at all with someone, but after doing debate I’m not afraid to express my opinions about certain things.” Kaia’s appreciation for speech and debate is shared by her classmates. Tran got involved to improve her public speaking. For senior Sam Nielsen, she initially joined to pave the way for a career in law. She’s since changed her career plans to become an animal shelter marketing manager, but she still “fell in love with debate.” She competes in the foreign extemporaneous speech where speakers have 30 minutes to research, write and memorize a seven-minute speech. It requires knowledge and comprehension on current events and Liddell considers it one of the hardest events. “A lot of people don’t actually know what happens outside of the US, and I really enjoy being able to say things that people don’t normally think of,” Nielsen said.

The Hunter High School debate team wrapped up its year with a banquet in April. (Hunter debate team)

Nielsen started debate in junior high. She’s been to a debate competition at Stanford, previously competed at nationals in Texas and attended the Granite Technical Institute for animal science. Liddell described her as the “mom of the group. She makes sure everyone is where they need to be.” Nielsen smiled when she heard that description. She guessed the name came from her having been in debate for a long time and her efforts with fundraisers and scheduling. “She always tried to help us out wherever she could,” Kaia said. “She was just really supportive of us in everything.” Liddell said Nielsen once got pizza delivered for the team at a tournament and she’s also earned her graduation cords and diplomas of merit at the school. Nielsen plans to attend SLCC before moving onto Weber State. “What she’s gotten out of debate and how it’s helping her go to college, she’s come a very long way,” Liddell said. While Nielsen will graduate from a team of 19 members this year, Liddell said they had to add three people just before region. But next year, she added, they have 75 signed up. “I want them to have to fight for a spot for the region team cause we’re that cool,” Liddell said of her hopes for the future. Kaia will be glad to have a bigger team. “I’m honestly very excited to have that many people. Gives us a really good chance at like state and region to go further,” she said. It’s a future that needs more people, but also more fundraising to send students to nationals. “(I want to) be able to travel more. I’m not going to nationals, but hopefully in the future we’ll be able to fundraise more money,” Tran said. Senior team president Percy Alvarado said debate, a sanctioned high school sport, can be difficult for students to continue doing. He said other extracurricular activities such as sports or theatre where a “whole audience is dedicated to watching what you’re doing,” and applauding or cheering is a strong motivation versus debate where there is rarely an audience. “Debate is a very self-motivated sport and it says a lot about a person, not to boast about myself, if they can stay committed to it and stick through it,” he said. l

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Page 12 | May 2017

SPORTS

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

29 years of remote-control mayhem By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

Nearly 150 racers from all over the country converged in West Valley City for its 29th annual April Fools Classic. (Greg James/City Journals)

I

ntermountain R/C Raceway is a destination spot for many remote-control car racing enthusiasts. It hosted racers from all over the country recently for its biggest race of the year. “We purchased the business from the previous owners in Magna about three years ago. We moved to our current location (1000 West Beardsley Place) two years ago. It had been in Magna for 30 years. We now have 16,000 square feet for the track and hobby store. We are only closed on Monday. Our club night racing is Wednesday and Saturday nights,” raceway coowner Matt Murphy said. The 29th annual April Fools Classic was held at the raceway March 31-April 2. The event attracted 147 drivers from as far away as Connecticut. The drivers had over 365 entries in the three-day event. In the event, they estimated they completed over 34,000 laps. “I am from Orange County, California. This race has a lot of local racers and it draws in a big consumer crowd. I work for MIP (Moores Ideal Products, remote-control parts and accessories). They send me out here to represent our product and race our cars. This race is like the one big race a year we focus on,” said Matt Olsen, a stock buggy champion. “This place is top notch. It has all the amenities, power, good lighting and bathrooms; some tracks don’t have that stuff. The dirt at this track is absolutely awesome.” The races include several classes including buggies and trucks in both two-wheel and fourwheel drive categories. During club nights, they host beginner and master classes. “To have this track in our backyard is amazing,” West Jordan resident John Miranda said. “The dirt is the best dirt and it came from the old building in Magna. I raced six years ago

at the old track and started up again recently.” Beginner racers can find used equipment or buy ready-to-race kits. The best drivers have completely adjustable cars and can invest over a thousand dollars into their hobby. “Our winter time is always busier, we might have 60-80 racers every club night. Last year, we set a record for entries, this year we trumped that. The sponsors pay prize money. I do not think a lot of people know the track is here. It is a killer father and son activity,” Murphy said. The track is changed every seven weeks. The process takes a couple of days and several volunteers. It is very competitive. The difference between the A main and C main racers is usually less than 4 seconds. “My life when I was younger was all about the party. Now it is all about R/C cars. I think this is fun and it is better for kids than sitting in front of the TV and playing video games. You learn about the cars and adjustments,” Murphy said. Winners and race results are posted at www. liverc.com. Several local racers finished well in the three-day event. l

The indoor remote-control race track at Intermountain R/C Raceway is one of a kind with special dirt and intricate patterns. (Greg James/City Journals)


M yWestV alley Journal.Com

May 2017 | Page 13


SPORTS

Page 14 | May 2017

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

New coach and commitment for Hunter baseball By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

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Brakken Knorr loads up to hit the next pitch. The junior is part of the new regime for Hunter baseball. (Greg James/ City Journals)

I

ts field sits in plain view to all who pass by the school yet Hunter’s baseball team operates in relative obscurity. However, change is on the horizon. “It has been a rough start to our season. It is confusing to me. I really feel like this year’s team has the best chemistry it has ever had,” first year Hunter head coach Quinn Downard said. Downard takes over after Aaron Perkins left after last season. They compiled a 3-15 region record last season and finished in last place in Region 2. He is the third head coach in four years at the school. “It is hard for these kids to have so much change, but I plan on staying as long as they will have me,” Downard said. Pitching depth is improving for the Wolverines. Downard said the mix of veterans and several freshmen will help the team improve in years to come. He has also enlisted the help of Dalton Parks and Austin Bean as assistant coaches. They both are graduates who played college baseball. “They have experience at the next level and a good connection with these younger kids,” Downard said. The 2017 season has not started well for the Wolverines. They only have two preseason wins, Tooele 12-2 and Union 5-1. Scoring runs have been at a minimum. They are averaging just over three runs per game and allowing over 12. The team batting average is .231. “Our season has been a little rough, but I think if we can fix some of our mistakes we will be fine. I think our outfield is better than it has been. They track the ball really well,” senior first baseman Hayden Brock said. Brock has pitched in three games to start the season. He had not allowed an earned run. He

leads the team with nine hits and four doubles. Baseball has always lived in the shadows of the football team at Hunter. Brock said more kids play football, but that is not what is important. “We have 14 freshmen on our roster. I think things are getting better. They are starting to get the recognition in the hallway at school. Kids are noticing our baseball players more often. We really try to teach about life experiences and what is really important. What they need to do to be successful,” Downard said. Junior pitcher Quade Dunyon leads the Wolverines with 16 strikeouts. He is 1-2 in his four games and has pitched 16 innings. Senior Tya Hansen is also hitting .316. “I love the game. I like coming to the field for practice or games. It is like a sanctuary where I can go and forget about everything else,” Brock said. The Utah High School Activities Association 5A state baseball tournament is scheduled to begin May 16. The Wolverines last state tournament appearance was 2015. They lost to Bingham and Northridge. l

Sophomore Gavin Carlson has pitched in two games for the Wolverines, part of a mix of veterans and underclassmen the Wolverines have on this year’s team. (Greg James/City Journals)


SPORTS

M yWestV alley Journal.Com

Exciting finish to Grizzlies season By Greg James | gregj@mycityjournals.com

M

averik Center in West Valley is the home of the Utah Grizzlies. Hockey has always been an obscure part of the community. West Valley was the center of the hockey universe for two weeks in February of 2002. It hosted the best players in the world for the Olympic tournament. Stars like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull skated the ice. Today the glitz and glamor is mostly gone, but mid-level minor league players in the ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) call it home. The Grizzly just completed their 21st season in Salt Lake City. Highs and lows were common this time around, but despite its rough patches, the Grizzlies still managed to close out the regular season with an opportunity to advance to the playoffs. The Grizzlies finished the 2016-17 regular season on a tear. They won six straight contests in pursuit of their 10th straight playoff appearance. In mid-January, they found themselves 14 points out of playoff contention; an almost insurmountable task.

The Utah Grizzlies mascot Grizzbee is one of the most recognizable parts of the team. He takes the time to interact with many including youth hockey player Eddie Rappleye. (Ed Rappleye/Grizzly fan)

The rival Colorado Eagles paid a visit to the Grizzlies the week of March 20 and came away with a three- game sweep. Its playoff possibilities seemed bleak. They left the friendly confines for a five-game, 10-day road trip. They swept the road trip and controlled their own destiny in their final home stand. One victory and they would advance into the ECHL playoffs. The Grizzlies captured a 5-3 victory over Missouri April 8 to secure a playoff spot. The playoffs were scheduled to begin April 12 (after press deadline). At the team awards banquet April 6, Michael Pelech was named team MVP. He scored 20 goals this season and had 33 assists. Goaltender Ryan Faragher averaged 3.09 goals allowed per game and rookie Kevin Boyle, a top prospect of the Anaheim Ducks, posted a 2.0 goals against average in his final 15 games with the team. NHL teams use minor league rosters to develop its talent. National Hockey League opening night rosters boasted 11 former Grizzlies. They also have the most home wins in the ECHL in the past three seasons. The Grizzlies have a strong connection with the community in its amateur leagues and youth participation. They have a partnership with the Junior Grizzlies and the Salt Lake County recreational program. Grizzbee, the team’s mascot, is scheduled to make more than 150 appearances in the community throughout the year at schools, libraries and community events. The Grizzlies moved to Salt Lake City in 1995 as a member of the International Hockey League and later the American Hockey League. The team played its home games in the then named Delta Center until moving to West Valley City in 1997. In 1996, the Grizzlies won the IHL’s Turner Cup, in the fourth and final game of the championship series 17,381 fans attended the game and established a minor-league hockey attendance record. In 2005, the team was sold and moved to Cleveland. A new ownership group purchased the Grizzly identity and an East Coast Hockey League team, The Virginia Lancers, moved them to Utah. They became a part of the ECHL. The Grizzlies averaged nearly 5,300 fans per game. That is fourth highest in the league. l

May 2017 | Page 15

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LOCAL LIFE

Page 16 | May 2017

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WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

INDUSTRY

Desert Star Playhouse MURRAY, UT, March, 2017 — Desert Star Playhouse, the theatre that’s built a reputation for producing laugh out loud, family-friendly musical comedies, continues its 2017 season with a comedic take on the birth of a superhero in “Captain American Fork: The Worst Avenger!” The show opens Thursday, March 23rd.

the day as he fights for truth, justice, and the American Fork Way? Find out in our hilarious new show!

Captain American Fork isn’t the hero we want, but he is the hero we need! As the new superhero in town, his greatest aspiration is to join the Guardians of Utah Valley. But the fun and games are over (or just beginning?) when a new villain arrives on the scene! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and The Cougar is out for revenge when The Homemaker scores her engagement to Zion Man. With an attack on the Cultural Hall of Justice, The Captain and his new sidekick—Bingham, The Copper Minor— are put to the test! Are they in over their heads or can the Captain rise to the occasion and save

The evening also includes another of Desert Star’s signature musical olios following the show. The Spring Break Olio will feature some new and classic rock with a dash of beach fun and, as always, a hilarious Desert Star twist!

Directed by Scott Holman and written by Ed Farnsworth, Captain American Fork runs from March 23 to June 3, 2017.

Desert Star audiences can enjoy gourmet pizza, fresh wraps, burgers, scrumptious desserts, and other finger foods as well as a full selection of soft drinks and smoothies while they watch the show. Food is available from an á la carte menu and is served right at your table.

CALENDAR:

“Captain American Fork: The Worst Avenger” March 23 – June 3, 2017 Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7pm Friday at 6pm and 8:30pm Saturday at 2:30pm, 6pm, and 8:30pm Some Saturday lunch matinées at 11:30am Tickets: Adults: $24.95 Children: $14.95 (Children 11 and under) 4861 S. State Street, Murray, UT 84107

Rancherito’s Ribbon Cutting 3705 West 5400 South in Taylorsville

Leadership Institute at the Utah State Capitol

Thank You to our Community Investment Members

Call 801.266.2600 for reservations. For additional information, visit our website at www.DesertStarPlayhouse.com


M yWestV alley Journal.Com

SPORTS

May 2017 | Page 17

Prep athlete from Nigeria will call Southern Utah University home By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

S

omtochukwu Achebo has a personal story that may be even more unusual than his name. “In my tribal language, ‘Somto’ means ‘join me,’” Achebo said. “And ‘Chukwu’ means ‘Heavenly Father.’ So, my name means ‘join me and together let’s praise God.’” Born and raised in the West African country of Nigeria, Achebo, or “Sommy” as he’s known, came to the United States three years ago to attend the prestigious Mount SUU will have Mount Vernon Academy private school on Vine Street, Vernon Academy in Murray. senior Somtochukwu “His parents were educators in Nigeria “Sommy” Achebo and wanted the best learning opportunities for on campus this fall. their son,” academy Principal Mike Lambson (Southern Utah said. “Besides being an outstanding athlete, University) he’s also a 4.0 student… on track to be our valedictorian… and was our student body president last year.” Lambson said he probably would have been elected again, but chose not to run, so someone else would have the opportunity. “I really love it here,” Sommy said. “My first night in America was lonely, because I was all alone in a New York hotel. But the next day I arrived here in Utah, and have felt welcome ever since.” In the tight-knit Mount Vernon community, Achebo lives with Kelly Hill, the school’s kindergarten teacher and her family. Hill is Principal Lambson’s sister. “My parents started this school in 1975, mostly to have more control over the education of their own kids,” Lambson added. “I’m

one of six boys and two girls and we’ve all worked here at one time or another…six of us, full time.” The small school has about 100 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. Nearly half (45) are ninth through 12th grade. Acerbo has succeeded as a student athlete since the moment he arrived. “He’s played three basketball seasons, two soccer seasons, two football seasons and is on our track team this spring,” Lambson said. In basketball, the Deseret News named Sommy to their Class 1A All-State honorable mention team. On the soccer field, Achebo once scored nine goals in a single game and he’s a favorite to challenge for the 1A state track title in the 100- and 200-meter sprints this month. “I love all kinds of sports,” Achebo said. “But I’m newest to football.” The first American football game Sommy ever watched was the Super Bowl in February 2015. Less than two years later—after playing two seasons for Granger High School—he signed a letter of intent to play his newfound sport at Southern Utah University. “After seeing what a great athlete he is, I told Sommy he should try football,” Lambson said. “Because we don’t have a football team here (at Mount Vernon Academy) he was allowed to play for Granger.” “I rode the bus to practice every day,” Sommy said. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Sommy was one of the top defensive backs in the state last fall. “I was named the Granger High School ‘Special Teams Player of the Year,’ two years in a row,” he said. “And last year they also gave me the ‘Most Improved Player’ award.” Back home in Nigeria—7,300 miles east of Murray—Sommy’s father passed away, just a couple of weeks before he discovered football.

SPOTLIGHT

It was a big day at Mount Vernon Academy when Somtochukwu “Sommy” Achebo committed to play football at SUU. (Mike Lambson)

“I didn’t go home for the funeral,” Achebo said. “But I spoke with my dad by phone the night before he died. He made me promise to work hard to support my family, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I only work part time right now, but I already send what I can home to them.” With an outstanding 40-yard dash time of 4.41 seconds, a vertical jump of 38 inches and bench press max of 275, Sommy is expected to quickly become a major contributor to the SUU Thunderbird team. “He’s just a great kid,” Lambson added. “It’s funny how his parents learned about us (Mount Vernon Academy) simply by seeing an advertisement posted on line. Yet that’s led to a great opportunity for Sommy, and a chance for us to have one of the most outstanding students we’ve ever had.” “My home in Nigeria had no running water,” Sommy said. “So I’ve come a long way already. But I want to go further…maybe even to the NFL.” l

Oakwood Homes

Business Spotlights are a service offered to our advertisers to help them inform our readers about their businesses. For information on scheduling a Spotlight, please call us at 801-254-5974 or email us at ryan.casper@mycityjournals.com

Block Party to celebrate new townhomes in West Valley City

S

pacious and stylish townhomes recently started selling in West Valley City by homebuilder Oakwood Homes, a company known for its quality finishes and features. The townhome community—Villages at Westridge—is located at 5413 S. 5600 West near USANA Amphitheater and the Utah Olympic Oval. On Saturday, May 13, a grand opening Block Party is being held for the community from noon to 2 p.m. Visitors can tour two beautifully designed model homes and talk to sales agents about the homes. Free BBQ lunches and ice cream will be served, and people can also take advantage of a photo booth and giveaways. “We want the public to come visit Villages at Westridge and picture for themselves what it would be like to live in one of our homes,” said Kelli Cunningham, vice president of sales for Oakwood Homes of Utah. “We believe they’ll be impressed.” The townhomes are a newly designed collection of floorplans, ranging from 1,772 square feet to 1,929 total square feet. Each of the 111 townhomes is spacious and includes an unfinished basement, a feature not often seen in townhomes. Additionally, each unit comes with an attached two-car garage. Prices start in the low $200s. “This is an exciting collection of new townhomes for Oakwood to offer in Utah,” said Cunningham. “These townhomes live more like single-family homes but with a more affordable price. We know our homeowners will appreciate the details with the new design.” Amenities that come standard in each townhome include eat-in islands, walk-in spa-style showers and walk-in closets in the master suite, and open concept living spaces. With more than 13.5 acres for the development, grounds will include manicured green spaces and a community tot lot. Eventually, a West Valley City park will be built within the community covering 1.3 acres.

For more information about Villages at Westridge, please call the Oakwood Homes sales agent at 801-718-7121.


Page 18 | May 2017

WEST VALLEY JOURNAL

WEST VALLEY

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M yWestV alley Journal.Com

May 2017 | Page 19


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Profile for The City Journals

West Valley Journal May 2017  

West Valley Journal May 2017  

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