- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Brett Bramble of Atlanta, Georgia, has been walking across the United States for six months. His journey began in March of this year, in honor of his late sister, Brittany, who died of a heroin-related overdose 2014. She joined one of the 47,055 Americans that also lost their lives to drugs.
Bramble’s mission ever since has been to raise awareness and prevention of heroin use and overdose related deaths.
Bramble started walking across America on March 13, with his feet in the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware, and has since trekked through Maryland; Washington D.C.; Virginia; West Virginia; Ohio: Indiana: Illinois; Missouri; Kansas; and Colorado.
“I’m doing this in honor of Brittany,” he said. “She died in March of 2014 of a drug overdose. It was heroin that killed her.”
Bramble said the loss of his sister was a surprise to his family. “It was a big shock, it was a surprise. It wasn’t something we expected. We knew she used occasionally like pills and weed, but having had done some of those things in my past, and getting out, I thought she could do the same.”
Bramble himself had once been involved in drug use, but removed himself from the environment. “There was drama, just a lot of bad drama involved, and I changed the people I was around and got out. It took a few years to patch up the damage that had been done, but I made it.”
“I used to think addiction was an excuse to be weak,” he said. “That it was an excuse to use. I had no choice but to block drugs out of my life. I never talked to anybody that was on them, and I had a good reason to block them out.”
Bramble’s sister had contacted him, wanting to get out herself. “She had seen it work with me, and she was trying. She was having a really stressful time, and the drug use started escalating.”
Brittany had overdosed once before, but survived. Her family held an intervention, and began to prepare to help Brittany attend rehab when three weeks later she lost her life to a second occurrence.
“She was supposed to be at my house that night,” Bramble recalls. “She never made it. She went to what I call the ‘bad house.’ We’ll never know the true story, but the facts of the case are that he never called for help.”
Bramble describes that day as the worst of his life.
Bramble began to research drug-overdose related deaths after his sister’s funeral. His search revealed 129 people died every day in 2014 due to drug related deaths, according to the Center of Disease Control. “I couldn’t believe that,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that 129 families were dealing with the same thing I was.”
Bramble began to attend events and conferences not far after. “I lived in Atlanta, and there’s a lot of people and resources. I went to all the events, anything that had to do with recovery, addiction or overdose. I made sure I talked to the people running them, or the speakers, anybody. I went up to them and shook their hands and said ‘Hey, I’m Brett Bramble. Get to know me.’”
Since then, Bramble has been deeply involved in aiding organizations. “I did one event where I repelled off the side of a building and raised thousands of dollars for an organization called Shatterproof, and a few other things around Atlanta.”
“It felt good. It felt right,” Bramble said. “I knew Brittany would be proud I was telling her story to help try to stop this from happening to anybody else. We loved helping people, her even more than I.”
Bramble and his sister had grown up helping others. As children, they spent a great portion of their lives helping the homeless in Atlanta at their stepfather’s organization SafeHouse Outreach. The idea for the nationwide trek occurred to Bramble during a sleepless night.
“It was one of those ‘awake at two o’clock watching Netflix because you can’t sleep nights’ and I just had the idea; walk across America. It was just a silly idea, but it just wouldn’t leave my head.”
The idea again struck him a week later. “I knew right then and there, I had to do this now. So I told everybody. I told everyone I knew and met I was going to do this. I started my research and talked to people who had done it before and read their stories,” he said.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” Bramble said. “I’ve never been a hiker. This is all new.” Bramble spent a lot of his time planning and organizing for his departure. “I was getting more and more excited every day. In the meantime I was meeting even more people.”
Bramble’s story had caught fi re in the area, and through social media had spread, and had been on local news and other media. “I had gotten people’s attention, now I have to walk across the country.”
During his journey, Bramble has told countless people his story, and his isn’t so dissimilar to others. “Nine times out of ten, the people I’ve talked to are affected. They either know someone, or have lost someone themselves to drug overdose.” “People are very thankful that I’m doing this so openly, because a lot of them are ashamed to talk about it. I help give them a reason to be open,” he said. “I encourage them to use my story if that helps them.”
“Every day has just been incredible,” Bramble said. “Sometimes I’ll run across people that are current addicts, and they’re also very thankful. They know how bad it is, and I just try to motivate them to find that power within. We’re all out of control at the grand scheme of things, but we can all make a difference in our own lives.”
Bramble’s walk hasn’t been without its obstacles. “I’ve had to deal with snow, rain, winds, heat; I had to send my dog, Domino, home to my family when I was in Kansas. There’s a lot of loneliness, sleeping in a tent on the side of a road, sometimes under bridges,” he said. “But all of that’s nothing. I walk twenty to thirty miles a day and I hurt. Everything hurts, but every time I come close to a breaking point, something happens to remind why I’m doing this me.”
Bramble had reached one such point in Kansas City.
“I had gotten a hotel room just to chill out, and take a break. A girl messaged me on Facebook, telling me her sister had just died, and if she could come talk to me.” Bramble recalls that meeting gave him the motivation he needed to finish.
“Since I’ve been in Utah, there have been a lot of lonely days,” he said. “You really fi gure some things out in your head, which has been valuable. Utah is by far the most beautiful state I’ve been through, but it’s been tough.” Bramble was joined in Utah by Ruth Nottage, a practictioner of the Rossiter system.
“She came out here to show me the techniques, and it’s really helped to release the pain I’ve been holding.”
Nottage came to learn of Bramble’s story through a student of hers that watched Bramble begin his journey. “My student called me and said ‘Ruth, you’ve got to meet this guy’. I read his story, I went to his website and I thought; this is amazing. I looked at a map and thought ‘how could I not intercept this guy?’” she said.
Nottage’s own work helps go towards pain prevention, namely helping people ease their suffering without the use of addictive, prescription drugs. “It’s not expensive, it’s not invasive, and it just works. All I’m saying is it’s a good place to start. I want to get to people before they get shots and surgery.”
At the time of press, Bramble had left Delta after being reunited with Domino. He plans to fi nish his journey in early November with his feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. Once there, he’ll be welcomed by his family and fly back to Georgia, where after time, he plans to write a book about his travels and experiences and begin a lecture circuit around the country.
Bramble can be found on Facebook, and welcomes friend requests. He can be followed on his page, Brett Bramble Walks, or on Instagram at “brettbramblewalks.”
- Written by Mark Watson
- Category: Featured News
Millard County leaders are attempting to enhance economic development with the creation of Community Development Areas (CDAs).
Commissioners passed a resolution to move forward with the plan at a meeting on Aug. 23.
The resolution sets up the possibility of providing tax incentives to companies who want to locate in three specific areas, according to County Commissioner Alan Roper.
“There are three areas designated. One is around the Magnum- IPP area, one around Peak Minerals and another area west of Holden,” Roper said.
The commissioner said the creation of CDAs coincides with what other counties are doing throughout the state in an attempt to enhance economic development. “It is something the county has been looking into for several years,” Roper said.
At the public hearing, government fi nancial advisor Jason Burningham provided an overview of the entire CDA plan.
He said the next step is to go to Millard School District and other taxing entities and get inter- local agreements with those entities that want to participate in the CDAs. A summary of the interlocal agreements would then be published in the newspaper. Adam Richins, NGL Energy Partners/Sawtooth NGL Caverns, asked several questions regarding the RDA formation and mechanism, according to commission meeting minutes.
Richins said that Sawtooth NGL Caverns are not in the CDA project area and asked what it would take to add them to the project area. Burningham briefl y explained the process of adding property into the project area; an amendment to the plan would have to take place and there is an amendment notice period of 30 days. He addressed concerns that Mr. Richins had regarding the tax increment funds.
John Andrews, SITLA, indicated that SITLA is the primary landowner within one of the three areas identifi ed in the plan. He expressed SITLA’s support of Millard County’s efforts regarding economic development, according to commission minutes. Andrews briefly discussed past experiences with CDA’s in a different area and expressed SITLA’s concerns. He said that SITLA will be proactive in engaging with the County and providing input to make sure the purpose of the CDA is met. Andrews stated that SITLA would like for an advisory committee to be created for stakeholder input. He also expressed concerns with proportionality of the anticipated tax increment funds.
Kathryn Steffey and Adam Long, Smith Hartvigsen, representing Magnum Gas, stated that Magnum is also in favor of the creation of an advisory committee. Steffey recommended that three advisory committees be created; one for each of the three different map areas. Steffey indicated that Magnum would like to add privately owned land into the project area. She stated that proportionality of the tax increment funds is also a concern that Magnum has. Steffey said that Magnum hopes to create additional companies and asked for assurance of transfer capability to those within the project area. Greg Kesler pleaded with the County to do whatever it can do to create this CDA, as it will benefi t the economic development in the County. He briefly discussed his concerns with an unnamed industry that spent over $300 million in the County and was also interested in a CDA within the last few years. Jon
Finlinson, IPP, stated that IPP supports economic development. He briefl y discussed some concerns that members have had with CDA’s in northern Utah. He stated that he feels that it is important to have an oversight committee. Millard Economic Development Director Scott Barney expressed his appreciation to everyone for their hard work and patience. He thanked everyone for their concerns and comments. He stated that he would like to see the CDA move forward. He said that he agrees that an advisory committee would be benefi cial, according to commission meeting minutes. Andrews briefly discussed past experiences with CDA’s in a different area and expressed SITLA’s concerns. He said that SITLA will be proactive in engaging with the County and providing input to make sure the purpose of the CDA is met. Mr. Andrews stated that SITLA would like for an advisory committee to be created for stakeholder input. He also expressed concerns with proportionality of the anticipated tax increment funds.
Kathryn Steffey and Adam Long, Smith Hartvigsen, representing Magnum Gas, stated that Magnum is also in favor of the creation of an advisory committee. Ms. Steffey recommended that three advisory committees be created; one for each of the three different map areas.
Steffey indicated that Magnum would like to add privately owned land into the project area. She stated that proportionality of the tax increment funds is also a concern that Magnum has. Ms. Steffey said that Magnum hopes to create additional companies and asked for assurance of transfer capability to those within the project area. Burningham addressed the concerns from Ms. Steffey and stated that most could be handled in the interlocal agreement. Burningham stated that the ability to amend the project area plan will exist once the resolution and ordinance are approved.
Steffey asked for assurance from the County regarding intent to look into creating an advisory committee, adding privately owned property and transfer capability.
Burningham stated that the County is not required to make that assurance.
Greg Kesler pleaded with the County to do whatever it can do to create this CDA, as it will benefit the economic development in the County. He briefly discussed his concerns with an unnamed industry that spent over $300 million in the County and was also interested in a CDA within the last few years. Jon Finlinson, IPP, stated that IPP supports economic development. He briefly discussed some concerns that members have had with CDA’s in northern Utah. He stated that he feels that it is important to have an oversight committee.
Commissioner Roper expressed appreciation for the input provided today. Burningham and the Commission briefly discussed the five different courses of action that can be taken today. There were no other comments made.
- Category: Featured News
BAKER, NV – Great Basin National Park will be reaching out to the public and community members through the park’s website, social media, and will host a table at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Baker on September 10th to discuss possible fee increases in 2017. The park will continue for now to not charge an entrance fee. Cave tour and camping fees are the only proposed increase. Cave tour fee increases are being proposed to cover the cost associated with providing reservable cave tour tickets on Recreation.gov.
The Lehman Cave Adult 60 minute tour will increase prices from $8 to $9.
The Lehman Cave Adult 90 minute tour will increase prices from $10 to $11.
The Lehman Cave Youth (5-15) 60 minute tour will increase prices from $4 to $5.
The Lehman Cave Youth (5-15) 90 minute tour will increase prices from $5 to $6.
The First Room tour will increase prices from $4 to $5.
The Golden Age/Access pass holder prices will remain the same.
Toddlers (0-5) will remain free.
As visitation has increased over the last three years so has use of the campgrounds and the need to maintain them. Many of the park’s campgrounds have also been improved with new picnic tables, restrooms, fire pits, grills and tent pads. To help cover the continued maintenance of these campgrounds the following fees are proposed.
Wheeler Peak Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Upper Lehman Creek Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Lower Lehman Creek Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Baker Creek Campground will increase prices from $12 to $15.
Grey Cliffs Group Camping will increase prices from $25 to $30.
Snake Creek camp sites will increase prices from $0 to $5.
“We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Great Basin National Park Superintendent Steve Mietz. “The money from camping and cave tours fees goes back into providing visitors with services at those sites.”
Cave tour fees are used to pay for almost 40% of the staff hired to conduct tours. Campground fees are used for restroom supplies, staff to clean the restrooms and maintain the parks infrastructure in the campgrounds.
Great Basin National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2015, more than 116,000 park visitors contributed $6.5 million to the local economy and supported 94 jobs related to tourism.
Rangers will be available for questions and to take comments at the Saturday Farmers Market on September 10, 2016 from 8:30 – 11:30 am.
Following the Farmer’s Market feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Millard School District will receive $303,629 in School LAND Trust Funds for the 2016-17 school year; its share of a record $49.3 million in annual earnings from the Permanent State School Fund.
Utah State Treasurer David Damschen announced annual earnings from the Permanent Fund increased by 7.7 percent, a $3.5 million increase over the previous year’s earnings.
Each school within the district will receive funds based on enrollment. These discretionary funds support academic programs chosen by individual School Community Councils, which are composed of parents, teachers and the principal from each school, and are approved by each respective local school board.
“Hiring teachers and aides to reduce class sizes, and investing in classroom technology are often priorities for many schools,” said Tim Donaldson, Director of the School Children’s Trust at the Utah State Board of Education. “However, all academic programs, from reading and math tutoring to language and college prep courses, can be funded with school trust funds.”
This November, voters will be asked to consider Constitutional Amendment B, Utah School Funds Modification, which was endorsed by the state legislature during the 2016 General Session. If passed by voters, the amendment will create a new formula for distributing annual earnings that considers enrollment growth and inflation, and includes a three-year average of fund growth to offset market volatility.
At $2.08 billion, the Permanent State School Fund is the state’s largest land grant trust fund. Interest and dividends are distributed directly to schools statewide each year through the School LAND Trust Program.
“We are dedicated to maintaining the Fund’s long-term viability for the schoolchildren of today and the future and are pleased to see its sustained and increased growth,” said David Crandall, Chair of the Utah State Board of Education.
The Permanent State School Fund has grown from $18 million in 1983 to over $2 billion in 2015 because of involvement from the education community, support from Utah’s legislature, revenues from the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and prudent investment by the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Written by Jensie Bahr, USU Summer Intern
For the last 15 years or so, tamarisk beetles have been taking up residence in Millard County in an effort to eradicate the tamarisk tree itself.
Tamarisk is considered to be a nuisance tree, or noxious a weed.
Tamarisk was originally brought into North America from Southern Europe in the early 1800s, which is one of the reasons it had been decided to be removed – because it’s not native to Utah.
Tamarisk were originally used as ornamental plants in people’s yards, and then later as windbreaks and stabilization of river banks.
Tamarisk trees grow in dense, nearly impenetrable thickets, making removal of the tree extremely difficult.
Studies have shown that a mature tamarisk can uptake nearly 200 gallons of water a day. Due to this, the Western United States is losing approximately 2-4.5 million acre feet of water per year due to the overabundance of tamarisk.
Tamarisk has additional negative effects on the environment by narrowing and channelizing streams and Jensie Bahr USU Summer Intern rivers; displacing native vegetation such as cottonwoods, willows, and adjacent dryland plant communities; providing poor habitat for livestock, wild animals, and birds: the foliage and flowers of tamarisk provide little food value for native wildlife species that depend on nutrient-rich native plant resources; increasing wildfire hazards; and limiting human and animal use of the waterways.
Trenton Wilde, former USU Extension County Director & Extension Assistant Professor for Millard County, said there is always a risk of unexpected consequences when bringing in a non-native tree or insect, such as hurting crops, so extensive research had to be done to decide the best route to take in order to remove the tamarisk in the area. The tamarisk beetle was first introduced to Millard County in Hinckley and Clear Lake, which are the original introduction sites of the beetle in the state of Utah. Those sites have now become a source for people to come and collect the beetles and spread them themselves. Wilde said that the beginning of August is a good time to start collecting the beetles to be taken and spread throughout the state.
The tamarisk beetle is a biological treatment for getting rid of the tamarisk trees. It’s a safer option than using chemicals to remove the problem.
“It’s a cutting edge type of treatment in pest issues,” Wilde said.
The beetles have gradually made their way from Hinckley to Delta, and will continue to move if they have a clear path to do so, and if there are still trees to be removed.
So far, it appears that the tamarisk beetles have been sticking strictly to their ‘tamarisk only’ diet, and the hope is that they will continue eating what they’ve been brought in to eat, and nothing more.
According to Wilde, the beetles have been a huge success in killing the tamarisk, especially here in Millard County.
“It’s one of the most successful operations for introducing the beetle to get rid of the tamarisk in Utah,” Wilde said. “The beetles have covered 20 miles so far, eating only the tamarisk, and will continue to do so as long as there is tamarisk to be killed.”
A new cycle of beetle is produced every year, provided there are enough trees to feed on.
The whole process for the beetles to become established and successfully kill a tamarisk tree takes about five years. After the beetles have done their job, they move on. There might be some regrowth at the roots of the tamarisk, but the beetles mostly get the job done on the first try.
The dead tamarisk trees do not get removed – they stay where they are, as dead wood. The beetles are a natural control agent from areas in the world where tamarisk originated, appearing green/brown in color.
For more information on the tamarisk and the tamarisk beetle, visit http://www.discovermoab. com/tamarisk.htm.
- Written by Sam
- Category: Featured News
Written by Sam Jacobson and Jensie Bahr
America’s soldiers are quite a force to be dealt with. They embody the traits of liberty, freedom, compassion, and strength. But, sometimes even the brave need some help.
That’s where Darin Fishburn comes in. Fishburn, a friendly, warm man that seems to radiate hope, has dealt with the Armed Forces for most of his life. He also acts as CEO of Helping Hands for Freedom, a nonprofit organization that aids the families of fallen soldiers and warriors injured in the line of combat.
Part of his organization includes the Route for the Brave; a walk across the country to raise awareness for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and PTSD related suicides in the armed forces.
“We walk for our fallen soldiers and gold star families,” Fishburn said. Gold star families are families of soldiers either killed in battle or pass away on American soil from battle related injuries, both physical and mental.
“The gold star is never given to a soldier; it is given to your next of kin. There are two gold stars,” Fishburn explained. “There’s the purple on gold, which means a soldier was killed overseas, and a gold-on-gold star, which means they died stateside.”
Fishburn and his crew started the Route for the Brave, a 3,091-mile trek coast to coast, on April 28 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Their goal is to finish in San Francisco, California by late August. By day, the group walks twenty-six miles; by night they rest in an RV motor home, decorated by countless messages of thanks, support, and well wishes.
The group walks six days a week, taking Sundays off to rest. At the time of press, the group has walked 100 days.
Fishburn got the idea for the walk from a support group for families of fallen soldiers.
“Let’s walk across America to let people know what a gold star family means, and save the twenty-two,” he said.
The 22 in question refer to the amount of soldiers lost every day in America due to PTSD related suicides. Since the beginning of their trek, over 1,800 soldiers have passed away.
“We’ve been told 12 times by soldiers that we’ve saved their lives. To be told once, it was worth it all. It was way more than we anticipated when we started this journey to be told that twelve times,” he said. “I was on the fallen team for years, and a call came out that ‘Fishburn was down.’ My name was Fishburn, and knew something was wrong and thought it was a typo. I called and gave them my clearance code; it wasn’t a typo. My nephew had just been executed,” Fisburn recalls. “You find out what you’re made of pretty quick when you have to notify your own brother his son has been killed.”
Every person on the journey is raising his or her own funds to pay the way across the journey, and has their own reason for getting involved.
Fishburn says the people he is with truly live up to the phrase of “walk the walk.” He also heavily thanked the people of Delta, stating the entire walk simply wouldn’t have gotten as far without the support of communities along the way.
“It’s people right here that make the world go round,” he said. “We didn’t have a place to stay, and they [Antelope RV] called us and said to come stay with them. Ashton’s let us eat at half price. It’s been great.”
The end goal of the walk is to build a home for families of fallen soldiers. Aptly named the “House of Healing,” the home will include seven suites, and horse and dog therapy for wounded veterans struggling with PTSD.
Fishburn reminds everyone that freedom certainly isn’t free. “My phone rings every single day with a story. We have families waiting for years for their benefits. Freedom comes at a high price. This is a way to do something about that.”
The group never starts a day without dedicating it to a fallen soldier. “This walk is about listening to heroes. Every town has one, but most people don’t know who they are. We try to be the voice of the silent, whether they know who they are but don’t or simply can’t talk about what they’ve been through.”
Fishburn spoke about the one thing that unites humanity; we’re not all that different.
“I’ve seen it all. Black, white, straight; whatever you are, the thing is that we’re not that far off. We’ve all seen things, and you can never unsee those. But we can help each other. And that’s the purpose of this.”
Fishburn said once the group reaches the end of their journey, they will donate a minivan to a family of a fallen soldier, completely free of charge.
“Everything will be taken care of; insurance, the title, everything,” he said. The skin on the RV will also be turned into wallpaper inside of the House of Healing in an effort to help the families mend with the messages written in their honor.
The entire journey is being recorded as well, Fishburn said. He hopes to have it broadcasted on a mainstream channel once it is edited.
Merchandise is available on the organization’s website, www. routeforthebrave.org. One hundred percent of all proceeds will go towards the construction of the House of Healing
- Written by Dana Jordan
- Category: Featured News
Millard County is a favorite destination for returning family and folks looking for a small town 4th of July celebration. The weekend was filled with plenty of activities to suit every personality and age group.
The Fillmore 4th of July festivities began on Saturday the 2nd with a 5k color run, and a pioneer dance at the old Statehouse. Early in the morning of the 4th, there was a Tri For Freedom triathlon, followed by a colorful parade of floats and entries representing local businesses and the surrounding towns.
There were about 49 entries, including fire engines and police from Holden and Fillmore. Winners are: Mayors choice, Duane’s Market, 1st place for business, Service Drug, and 1st place for religious, Fillmore 3rd ward.
After the parade, there were food and games in the park, and the ever-popular pie-eating contest. Live bands, singers and other entertainment thrilled attendees. After dark, the crowds enjoyed a fireworks show put on by Fillmore City.
“It was a fun day and even Mother Nature cooperated, it was cooler than normal and we had a good cloud cover,” said Opal Cluff, Committee Chairman. “The amount of vendors we had, and the public turnout was perfect, making it a really fun celebration.”
Delta’s 4th of July celebration began Sunday evening with the Liberty program at the County Fair Building. The Liberty Choir sang many patriotic songs, and there was a special musical tribute for each branch of the armed forces. Carlyle Peterson played a moving version of “Taps” on his bugle, in honor of fallen service men.
After a breakfast in the park, the Delta 4th of July parade began with a fly-over by the “Just Winging It” flying club. The pilots were Jake Christensen, Steve Lester, Jason Lester, Mel Dutson, Scott Johnson, and Richard Glick.
The floats and parade entries were funny and inspiring. Winners are 1st Service Drug, 2nd Swizzle, 3rd Delta Flyers (gym). Best Display of Theme: B&B Honey and Most Original: Millard County Chronicle Progress.
Following the awesome parade, there were many hours of entertainment, food, fundraisers, fun, family, friends, games, vendors, speeches and music in the park.
Delta City hosted a silver dive for the children, instead of the annual fish dive. $3,000 of change was divided among 5 age groups, with a free-for-all dive at the end.
According to Delta City employee, Lora Fitch, parents really liked the silver dive, because they didn’t have to deal with a bunch of dead fish, which incidentally, costs the city more than the coin dive, and most of the fish end up in the dumpster every year. City officials anticipated the coins would mostly be spent at the park, for food and other vendor’s booths: a win-win situation.
Party goers came from across the state to attend 4th of July celebrations, which culminated in the increasingly popular demolition derby, hosted by the Hinckley Lions Club, at the Millard County Fairgrounds. When it was dark, visitors were treated to a spectacular fireworks display put on by Delta City. Visitors came from as far as England and India.
“For the most part we’ve gotten positive feedback from the public about the whole celebration,” said Fitch. “The parade went very well in spite of some concerns about the new rules, and there was plenty of candy for all.”
- Written by Hannah Jones
- Category: Featured News
Many people think of taking life easy once they hit retirement age. 60-year-old Valerie Ashker, however, decided to take a six-month trek across the United States on horseback.
Ashker’s passion is expanding the horizon of the thoroughbred breed beyond racetrack. A national anthemist who has performed at major events such as the NBA and NFL, Ashker retrains former racing thoroughbreds for eventing competitions as well as breeding high-quality thoroughbreds. Her daughter, Laine Ashker, is a top performer in the horse eventing world. Now, Valerie is taking a national journey to prove the value of the thoroughbred breed.
“They put us on the map, so this is my turn to put them on the map,” Ashker said. Thoroughbreds, once revered for their ability to excel in racing, are now steadily dropping off the racing map. Those who do compete are used only for a few years until they are injured or no longer competitive. The horses are often sent to the slaughterhouse, a move that wastes “incredibly useful” animals, Ashker said.
Ashker decided to journey across the United States on one thoroughbred to prove the endurance and usefulness of the breed to the general public.
“I just want to make people aware that these horses have careers way beyond the racetrack,” Ashker said. “People don’t realize that within their own city’s racetrack barn is a $1000 horse that could be worth $100,000 to $200,000 in a working, professional barn. There should be less in the slaughter yard, less in the kill pens, less pasture ornaments.”
A small, wiry woman with short, fly-away iron-gray hair, Ashker does not appear favorably equipped to make such a grueling journey. However, she is not traveling alone. Willie Gass, a family friend, drives a trailer behind Ashker while Peter Friedman, her “gentleman friend”, rides alongside Ashker. Friedman rides Solar Express, a 17-year-old former racer. Ashker selected Primitivo, a 7-year-old with a 0-4 racing career.
“He’s always had the attitude of looking to the next mountain. A horse like that, no matter what history it’s had – it’s about heart with him,” Ashker said. “These are clearly two different examples of off-track thoroughbreds to educate people that it’s not just one type. They all have one thing that most other breeds do not – heart. You can’t x-ray the size of a heart.”
Heart is mainly what has kept the trio on the road. Shortly after starting the trek, Ashker fell from Primitivo and broke several ribs. As she was riding into Delta two weeks ago, she again fell and broke her collarbone. The second fall forced the team to remain in Delta while she recuperated.
While the community has been “wonderful,” Ashker said she was anxious to get back on the road.
“There’s no broken shoulder or spot on my x-rays that’s going to hold me back from an opportunity as golden as this,” Ashker said.
The little group began riding again last Wednesday on their way to Holden.
The team tries to put 20 to 30 miles in a day, depending on terrain and the horses.
“It’s been funny. We’ve been more exhausted than them. They get a little tired at the 28-mile marker,” Ashker said. “The horses tell us if we take two days of 30s and one day off. They tell us how long to go.”
Despite the exhaustion from riding from 4:30 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon and then preparing camp, Friedman said he has enjoyed each day on the journey.
“It’s been pretty grueling, but it’s worth it. It’s been absolutely beautiful. You really see things that you just drive by and don’t every see,” Friedman said. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of our trip. The heat’s going to be rough, but it’s only one thing. I’m sure it will be worth every bit.”
Friedman took six months away from his job as a machinist to act as the farrier and chef. He admitted he was nervous about the trip, particularly since both of his knees are in poor condition.
“I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to go, but it’s been pretty good,” Friedman said. “I have more of an appreciation for the county and for the guys who came out here in the old days. Crossing deserts on horseback gives you a bit of an idea of what they had to deal with.”
The group will finish their journey in Virginia as one of the few who have traveled across the continental United States on the same horses they started with.
“That means that horse hits the pavement for the entirety of the 3500 miles,” Ashker said. “That’s what makes it special. A lot of people have done horses, but they’ve done multiple. These horses have made it 700 miles with the same riders and they will finish with the same riders unless we have a veterinary issue.”
Once the journey is complete, Ashker said the group will be both relieved and disappointed.
“This ride is for the thoroughbreds, but I also think we’re going to get the meal ticket with it,” Ashker said. “We’re going to find out a lot about ourselves and how we’re going to handle ourselves after this is completed. I think it’s going to be really tough. It’s hard being together all of the time, but when this closes, we’re going to miss it.”
- Category: Featured News
Professional football players and Millard High graduates Aaron, Jesse, and Jason Boone will return to Fillmore for the 6th annual Boone Brothers Football Camp. The football camp will be held in Fillmore at the MHS game field on July 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Boys and girls entering 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade are invited to register at www.boonebrothersfootball.com. The cost for early registration is only $29.00!
Campers will receive a Boone Brothers Football Camp T-shirt and a “Play like a Pro” Boone Brothers Camp wristband. Each camper will also get a personal picture taken with the Boone Brothers that will be autographed by each brother, framed, and given out at the end of camp. Prizes and awards including signed gear, balls, jerseys, game gloves, etc., will be given to top performers in a number of different challenges and competitions as well as random drawings for additional prizes.
Kids will have a chance to learn firsthand proper football fundamentals and skills from the Pros, Boone Brothers Aaron, Jesse and Jason. Listen to motivational talks and the importance of goal setting and per- severance in overcoming life’s obstacles, in a caring and supportive atmosphere.
“Our mission is to provide an enjoyable, educational and affordable youth football camp with personal, professional instruction for all skill levels. To instruct, demonstrate and help develop proper fundamentals and skills taught at the college and professional level to young football players, also to increase understanding of the overall game and appreciation for the sport. The instruction the players receive is designed to accelerate their natural athletic ability and enable them to perform at their maxi- mum potential.”
In order to attend camp, each camper’s parent/guardian must complete the registration and medical history forms at www.boonebrothersfootball.com There you will also find specific camp details, full bios, and an extensive photo gallery. Paper forms are available by request for those without Internet access. However, a processing fee will apply. Please call Sherry at (435) 406-9884
- Written by Dana Jordan
- Category: Featured News
A 17 year-old female passenger was killed in a rollover accident on southbound I-15 near Holden, June 9. The driver of the Chevy Suburban was a 15 year-old female, with a learners permit.
The family of eight was travelling south from their home in Fruit Heights, Utah headed to California. The young driver was attempting to change lanes from the outside to the inside lane. As she began to get over, she noticed another vehicle approaching in the inside lane.
The driver swerved back to the right, causing the vehicle to go off the road to the right. She then over-corrected to the left and lost control as the vehicle went across both lanes of traffic, rolled and ended up in the median.
As the vehicle was rolling, a 17 year-old female was fatally injured when her head impacted the roadway. A 19 year-old male passenger was flown to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
All passengers except the mother of the family were properly restrained. The driver has not been issued a citation because she was in compliance with the restrictions of her permit.