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 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.”

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

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.

Written by Jensie Bahr, USU Intern


Delta City Council members conducted a meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, 2016, where several things were discussed.

One of the first things Mayor Gayle Bunker addressed was the discussion of Resolution 16-399, which is the final budget for the fiscal year of 2016-2017.

With a unanimous motion to pass Resolution 16-399, the meeting proceeded onto the next item in the agenda, which was Resolution 16-400.

Resolution 16-400, which sets compensation salaries for the fiscal year of 2017, was also unanimously passed by city council members.

The next, more pressing issue the mayor addressed was the decision to maintain or remove the four-way-stop sign at Birch St. and Locust Ln. Council Member Betty Jo Western said she surveyed the area where the stop sign is in order to determine if the proposed $2500 to $3500 study would be worth it. Her final conclusion was that a study was not needed in this particular case. Because the four-way-stop sign at Birch St. and Locust Ln. is considered to be a low volume road-way, Western said such an expensive study isn’t needed.

“We haven’t studied other stop signs,” Western said. “We haven’t spent $3000 to watch other stop signs.”

Upon further discussion, city council members approved to keep the four-way-stop sign where it is.

“We’ve done some good, I think,” said Council Member John Niles.

After the approval of the four-way-stop, Mayor Bunker brought up the topic of the Fourth of July Parade, but more particularly, the issue with throwing candy from the floats in the parade.

In a lengthy discussion that lasted the majority of the hour and twenty-minute-long meeting, the mayor, council members, and city attorney Todd Anderson discussed ideas and possible resolutions to try to appease all parties involved.

The main issue people are having with the Fourth of July Parade this year is that candy can no longer be thrown from floats, but rather each float must have “walkers”, or people that walk alongside the float for the entire length of the parade to hand out candy.

People are concerned with this idea because they believe that the parade is too long for people to carry candy and walk while in the sweltering heat of July.

To address this issue, council members have come up with the idea to have the candy supply on the float, and have the walkers walk around the back of the float, behind the wheels, to get more candy.

However, in order for the walkers to resupply their candy, their float they are with must stop so the walkers can safely refill their buckets or bags or whatever they choose to carry.

If the walkers want to carry backpacks, totes, or pull wagons behind them with their resupply of candy, they are welcome to do so.

Realizing that the numerous stops will likely make the parade last at least ten to fifteen minutes longer, council members were still in agreement that having walkers refill their candy, only if the float is stopped, is still the safest and most efficient way to have the walkers hand out candy.

“We realize it may extend the parade 10-15 minutes,” Council Member Kiley Chase said. Lacey Keel, concerned mother and citizen of Millard County, spoke up in the meeting to address her own concerns with the issue.

“Ten kids running back and forth to the float is even more dangerous than having them throw candy from the float is,” Keel said.

Keel was especially concerned because she has a son on a soccer team that wants to do a float in the parade, but Keels feels that having ten eight-year-olds running around the tires of a moving vehicle is not a better option. The council listened attentively to Keel’s concerns, and came to the conclusion that there must be an age limit put on the walkers. Several ages were considered, but after some deliberation, the council decided that the age limit for walkers would be twelve-years-old.

“If they’re old enough to pass the sacrament, they’re old enough to pass out candy,” one Delta resident attending the meeting said.

Seemingly satisfied with the age limit, Keel then approached anther concern of hers – is there going to be a limit on how many walkers a float can have? After another brief discussion commenced among council members, it was decided that each float is allowed to have two walkers on each side of the float, and no more.

However, should a walker get tired and need a break, they are permitted to allow the walkers to switch halfway through, as long as the float is stopped. If a float does not have any walkers, even though the rules say that “each entry should have at least one walker”, they can still be in the parade, but they will be asked not to hand out any candy. To enforce the no-throwing-candy issue, the discussion of having officers on intersections to ensure the safety of all patrons involved was considered. One council member brought up the point that if a float doesn’t have any walkers, can they stop their float every once in a while, get off their float, and hand out candy? The answer to this was no. It has to be either walk or ride, no stopping the float, getting off of it, handing stuff out, and getting back on.

“We’ll just try it this year and see how it goes,” Bunker said. “And next year, we’ll make adjustments as needed.”

Intergenerational poverty (IGP) is where people who grew up depending on welfare, now have children and grandchildren who also rely on welfare for survival.

This problem was addressed at the April 28 meeting of the Millard County Economic Development Association.

The Intergenerational Poverty Initiative, established in 2012, has been collecting data for four years. The agencies which contributed data and analyses to this report include the Department of Health, Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Child & Family Services, DHS Division of Juvenile Justice Services, DHS Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Utah State Office of Education, Utah Juvenile Courts, Utah Data Alliance, a multi-agency collaborative partnership maintaining Utah’s statewide, longitudinal, educational database.

Their purpose was to identify those families where poverty crosses generational lines. It does not include those who receive aid on a temporary, conditional basis. These IGP families generally receive assistance from many agencies such as Department of Workforce Services (DWFS), Child Protective Services (CPS), prisons, juvenile delinquent programs and schools etc.

Of the adults involved in this study, 21percent received assistance as children, which mean there are about 234,000 children who are at risk to repeat the poverty cycle as adults.

There are many reasons why families develop a dependency on welfare from generation to generation.

The characteristics of Utah adults experiencing IGP include; they are single, Caucasian females, between the ages of 21 and 34 years. They have at least one child aged 12 or younger, and received Medicaid or food stamps for at least six years as a child. They are currently receiving food stamps or Medicaid and lack education beyond high school or a GED. They have some work experience, usually in a service sector job, with low wages.

There are known risk factors of child well-being such as households without English speakers, families with four or more children, parents lacking high school diploma or GED, children who have moved in the last 12 months, unmarried parents, a teen mother, and parents who have been unemployed in the past year.

The official report states, “Data is highlighting the many barriers and risks that children living in poverty experience. Many have experienced abuse and neglect, food insecurity, poor academic outcomes, and reside in homes unable to meet their most basic needs. All of these obstacles may lead to interactions with the juvenile justice system.”

The Utah Legislature recognized the relationship between economic hardship and criminal behavior, and added juvenile court administrators to the Poverty Welfare Reform Commission.

The study states, “The challenges of raising young children on their own frequently results in high levels of stress, anxiety and in many cases, abuse and neglect, substance abuse and poor health. These parental struggles have a direct impact on parent child-rearing strategies, child nutrition, and child exposure to economic instability, that likely result in impairments in early brain development and socio-emotional skills. These impairments explain why children in poverty are months behind their more affluent peers at school-entry. This gap tends to follow these children throughout their academic years, which leads to economic instability in adulthood, and thereby continuing the cycle of poverty and welfare dependence.”

This study raises important questions such as: Why is it so hard for this group to maintain employment in spite of their desire to be employed? Also: Why do they remain dependent on public assistance from generation to generation?

There are many factors, which affect these families in their ability to remain employed. Various crisis in life, and struggles with children, impact their ability to focus and stay at work and be successful. They lack the ability to problem-solve, move through the crises and still be able to maintain employment. Some of these decision-making functions are lacking in parents of households with poverty.

To create better success as an adult, the study suggests focusing on four areas of development: education, founding economic stability, health and early childhood development. The main suggestions are as follows:

Education: Connect children to full-day kindergarten programs, develop systems of support to meet the educational needs of children experiencing persistent poverty, engage families in promoting a culture of education, and high academic expectations.

Economic Stability: Connect families experiencing intergenerational poverty with community resources designed to assist them with employment, job training and education. Ensure working families are properly filing tax returns to ensure receipt of available tax credits.

Health: Ensure the nutritional needs of children living in intergenerational poverty are met both in the home and school to support healthy development and academic success, ensure parents and children have access to and receive mental health care and increase awareness among intergenerational poverty families of the importance of good oral health, especially those with children five years old and younger.

Early Childhood Development: Support new parents, ensure young children are on the path to healthy development, prioritize placement of young children in high quality, safe and developmentally appropriate settings, and prepare young children to enter kindergarten.

The study points out, “Until adults experiencing intergenerational poverty simultaneously improve their individual situations with respect to education and economic stability, any improvement for these families is likely temporary.”

Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy, Brett W. Nielson was killed, and his wife Angela Nielson, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on I-15 near Kanarraville, April 22.

Brett, 50 and Angela, 49 of Delta, were traveling on I-15 northbound, on a 1995 Harley Davidson motorcycle, near mile marker 48.

They had just changed lanes after passing another vehicle, when the motorcycle began to wobble, and went off the roadway to the right. The motorcycle then rolled several times, ejecting both occupants.

Brett sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Angela was flown by Life Flight to Dixie Regional Medical Center, in serious condition.

A public information officer for the Utah Highway Patrol said the crash occurred around 4:19 p.m. on Friday, and both passengers were wearing helmets. UHP suspects that high winds, not excessive speed, may have been a contributing factor in the accident.

Brett’s remains were escorted to his parent’s home in Delta on Monday afternoon, by an entourage of friends, family and co-workers. In a touching tribute to a fellow officer-in-arms, a full police escort stood at attention as his remains were presented to his parents. Bystanders stood in silence to honor Brett’s commendable service to the community.

Angela is being treated at Dixie Regional Medical Center. Updates will be available on the Millard County Chronicle Progress website and Facebook page.

“Odysseo,” by the internationally-acclaimed entertainment company Cavalia, had its opening night in Utah on Wednesday in front of a captivated audience of 2,000. Under the gleaming White Big Top adjacent to the Shops at South Town in Sandy, spectators of all ages were amazed by the unique blend of equestrian and performing arts, and mesmerized by state-of-the-art special effects.

The world’s largest touring production featuring 65 magnificent horses and 48 talented riders, acrobats, dancers and musicians, made its Utah debut this year. The series of spectacular shows began Wednesday and will run until May 16.

The $30 million extravaganza expands the definition of performance into an epic experience that has been astonishing audiences and wowing critics across North America. Odysseo is the first theatrical production of its kind to be presented under a big top in the state of Utah.

Odysseo is a show unlike any other on the planet, an immersive theatrical experience in which horses are the stars. These magnificent animals play in complicity and with freedom, in a respectful relationship with the riders, acrobats, and aerialists, charming and fascinating everyone who has the chance to witness this moving artistic and emotive partnership. The liberty number, when purebred Arabian horses are directed only by the soft murmurs of their trainer, and the fabulous caravan act that comprises people and horses too numerous to count, will leave every spectator captivated and touched by the splendor created in front of their eyes.

Deploying their extraordinary talents, the acrobats present an amazing mix of force and sensitivity, interacting with the spellbound audience, while the live musicians and vocalist perform in the most enthralling way to immerse spectators of all ages in a beautiful sensorial experience they will remember forever. Whether it is the dexterity of the African acrobats, the enchanting sound of the Kora, or the majestic life-size merry-go-around, the cast and set of Odysseo are inspired and inspiring, delivering crowd-pleasing wonders and stunts.

The mindboggling theatrical effects are as spectacular as they are numerous: a state-of-the-art video screen three times the size of the world’s largest cinema screens, a three-story mountain for dazzling perspectives, and a real lake made of 40,000 gallons of recycled water which magically appears for a splashing finale. The layers of mesmerizing decor make the audience part of the action while the gigantic stage takes everyone’s breath away.

Odysseo’s technological and scenographical effects create places no one has ever seen before; places where one can feel the deep connection between horse and man. Beginning in a misty, enchanted forest where horses graze and frolic under a sky of rolling clouds and a setting sun, Odysseo takes the audience on a fantastical journey to some of nature’s greatest wonders, from the Mongolian steppes to Monument Valley, from the African savannah to Nordic glaciers, from the Sahara to Easter Island, and even to a lunar landscape, illuminated by shooting stars and brilliant nebulas.

Odysseo is a waking dream for a world where beauty, serenity, and hope are too often challenged in these difficult, troubled times. A sumptuous production that creates a unique and magical world where human and horse live in harmony for the pleasure and delight of all.

With 65 horses and 48 artists, Odysseo is a true revolution in live entertainment with an impressive list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring production, the biggest touring tent on Earth, the biggest stage, the most breathtaking visual effects, and the greatest number of horses at liberty. This remarkable celebration of horse and man, imagined by Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of Cirque du Soleil, marries the spectacular with the poetic. Since its Montreal world premiere in 2011, the Odysseo cast has already mesmerized more than 1.8 million spectators in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Millard High School students requested sponsorship and received funding for both Boys State and Girls State at the April 5 Fillmore City Council meeting.

After hearing from Camille Christensen, Karston Keel and other MHS students, the council approved $350 to go toward Girls State and $375 for Boys State. Both activities are summer leadership and citizenship programs sponsored by the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, and are for high school juniors.

Jason Despain, of Paul Terry Trucking in Fillmore, discussed the possibility of having the city support the company in approaching Millard County to inquire about paving Sewer Pond Road, which is a county road. They would need to approach the county to get it on the agenda and receive approval.

Despain said they want to open a large public truck wash, and would like to have the road going into their facility paved to decrease damage to trucks. He said they would like to stay in Fillmore to be close to Great Lakes Cheese, since their trucks go and come back from there all the time.

The council approved to have councilmember Michael Holt write a letter of support to Millard County regarding paving for the road.

The council also passed Resolution 16-02, which would amend the Fillmore City Fee Policy to increase water rates, and Resolution 16-03, the Sanitary Sewer Management Plan. Also approved was a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for Fiscal Year 2017.

As a correction, on March 15 the council passed the ordinance prohibiting smoking and vaping in Fillmore’s public outdoor venues 3-2, not 5-0 as was originally reported. Eric Jenson and Jeffrey Mitchell were the two council members opposed.

Members of the local Desert Echo Choir showed their impressive vocal power at the group’s annual spring concert, titled with the theme “There is Sweet Music Here.”

Many men and women, singing soprano, alto, tenor or bass, performed as part of the choir last Saturday at Delta High School. Included in their set and fitting the theme were songs such as “There is Sweet Music Here,” “Festival Sanctus,” “Now Let Me Fly,” “A Lullaby,” “Choose Something Like a Star,” “In the Morning Joy,” “That I Ever Saw,” “Old Dan Tucker,” “Don’t Forget Me,” The Road Home,” and “The Eternal Gates.”

Corinne Anderson, Linda Larsen and Julia Sharp all served as conductors for the show. Dick Shelley was the director and a conductor, Paula Johnson was the narrator and Rose and Anna Travis were pianists for the choir.

Shelley said the singers of Desert Echo, a 40-voice mixed choir, have been performing together for the last five years. Included each year are spring and Christmas concerts full of songs to entertain and inspire audiences.

“I choose songs I think the choir would enjoy singing, people would enjoy listening to, and ones that we can sing,” Shelley said. “This was a difficult concert and we don’t pull back on hard songs. Members can also make requests. We also don’t have a lot of turnover here and keep it at 40 members, but I think we’ve added two or three new members over the years. This is for people who enjoy singing and who sing well.”

Shelley said the choir is already working on this year’s Christmas show.

“In order to get music here and make sure you have a good concert list, you have plan right now,” he said. “I’m retired, though, so I have the time to put into it.”

At about noon on April 7, Millard County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch received a call from OnStar advising of a stolen vehicle,