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Record editorial: Transparency about COVID-19 case counts in schools is crucial

Transparency is the best policy, particularly during a crisis.

The Park City School District, following the example of other school systems around the state, took a major step in that direction last week when it began providing information about the number of COVID-19 cases in each school. The district also pledged to notify parents whenever there is a case in their child’s classroom.

This is data the community needs to know. For faculty members and parents who have sent their children to class in person, as the vast majority have opted to do rather than pursue remote learning, there’s peace of mind in knowing how many active cases there are in each school and that they’ll be told if and when a student has tested positive.

Judging from the first batch of numbers the district released, the situation to this point is encouraging. As of Sunday, there were only two active cases in the district — one at Treasure Mountain Junior High and another at Park City High School. Like everything where the coronavirus is concerned, the situation has the potential to change quickly, but parents will breathe easier knowing they are not sending their children out the door in the morning and into a large COVID-19 outbreak.

Not providing that assurance allows the rumor mill to churn, as it has since the school year started last month, with speculation swirling on social media and in email chains about potential cases at schools. Now, rather than trying to tease out the truth while scrolling through Facebook, where fear often trumps fact, parents can refer to the hard data from the district. They can also be assured that, should their student be exposed to an infected person at school, they will still be notified by the district or a health official.

For now, the district says the COVID-19 numbers will be updated weekly. Given how rapidly the virus can spread, though, officials should consider providing updates more frequently — two or three times a week, if not daily, even if the numbers don’t change that often.

Many parents would appreciate that added layer of transparency.

The start of school has not been without bumps. Critics of the district’s reopening have been vocal, particularly a segment of teachers who said they didn’t feel safe returning to classrooms without more significant safety measures in place (district officials, in response, have pointed to more than $1.7 million in COVID-related expenditures and the exhaustive efforts that went into crafting a reopening plan).

The publication of the active case counts does not erase those concerns. But it will go a long way toward reassuring parents, students and staff members on a day-to-day basis that the virus is not running rampant in schools.

The importance of that is difficult to overstate.

More information about the district’s COVID-19 numbers can be found at pcschools.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/COVID-Exposure-and-Response-Protocol1-Google-Docs.pdf.

Correction: A previous version of this editorial incorrectly stated that the district would notify parents whenever there is a positive case in their child’s school. Superintendent Jill Gildea clarified that parents will be notified only when there is a positive case in their child’s classroom or if there is spread of COVID-19 in a school beyond an isolated case.

Letters, Sept. 16-18: Empty mansions are replacing wildlife

Empty mansions replace wildlife

I am so disheartened. The golden goose hasn’t existed in decades. Can we please go back 30 years?

This town consists of 70% second, third, fourth home owners. Their 10,000-square-foot houses sit empty most of the year. Yet they have made a huge impact on Park City’s environment — leaving less and less room for our wildlife.

The moose, like every other form of wildlife were here long before humans. They are trying to survive basically in a city and they are paying the price. Just for being here. They were BORN here. They did not CHOOSE to move here. And yet they pay the price. They are being relocated (which usually kills them), hit by speeding cars, shot illegally, etc.

Watching moose in my yard was the last thing that reminded me of the old Park City.

My kids grew up here. Moose used to be everywhere and we loved them. And we used common sense. They were in our yard all the time. We gave them the respect they deserve.

Why are people hiking in the mountains during rutting season? I’m sorry, yes a mother in any species is protective of her young. It used to be the police would “escort” the moose back into the mountains. Now, they are just relocated — a death sentence.

So, gone is the mountain lion, the fox, the beavers, the grouse and so many others. We have made Park City into the city left behind. No wildlife, only empty mansions.

Ann Kruse

Park City

A helping hand

I would like to thank everyone who participated in Drive-in and Give a Helping Hand, the donation drive that was hosted during Park City Film’s drive-in movies at the Utah Olympic Park. We collected over 100 pounds of food, 11 gift cards and over $700 in direct donations from movie-goers. The Christian Center will use these donations to help with their mission to fight hunger and ease poverty. It was amazing to see the success of the collaborative effort for this project from Park City Ski and Snowboard, Utah Olympic Park, Christian Center of Park City, Park City Film, and the Girl Scouts of Utah.

Lauren Macuga

Jeremy Ranch

Mask up on trails

As the summer weather dwindles down and the crisp mornings and leaves begin to indicate fall has arrived, I can’t help but wonder if the next COVID hotspot isn’t hiding in the schools but instead is lurking on the hiking/biking trails, in our own backyard. Yes, schools have an insurmountable number of hurdles as they navigate our new reality but we are ignoring the patches of dirt that surround our community.

We aren’t requiring hikers/bikers to wear a mask, but we should. Very few hikers/ bikers are being careful about social distancing and wearing a mask.

To make matters worse on the trail most hiker/bikers are breathing heavier than one typically does when you engage in a non-aerobic activity, causing more potential droplets to spew out into the air. Meanwhile, hikers/bikers are walking closer than ever to each other in order to stay on the trail.

To keep everyone safe and the trails open, I plead with everyone from the young, the old, the fitness fanatics, to the out-of-shape: Please wear a mask. Please move off the trail to let others pass, don’t blow your mucus out of your nose onto the trail, especially during a pandemic.

If we all want to stay healthy and enjoy a winter full of skiing and snowboarding, then I beg and plead for each one of you to wear a mask and move off the trail as others pass. If you are not a competent enough biker/hiker to pull up a mask while riding or hiking while around others, please stay off the trails. There will be a time in the future for you to perfect your sport.

Tiffany Marshall

Park City

Who represents our nation?

We’re almost exactly 50 days out from the election; do you know who you’re voting for?

I was a registered Republican for 10-plus years. I was president of my college Republicans club. I interned with former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. I campaigned and voted for Romney for president in 2012. But, over the last four years, both my political beliefs and the Republican Party changed in significant ways. I moved left. The Republican Party moved (further) right. I campaigned and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. This year, I officially changed my party registration to “unaffiliated,” and am voting for Joe Biden. Why? Because at this point, I’ve stopped looking at whether there is an R or D in parentheses after the candidates’ names and focused more on who they are as people. There are three things I look for in a presidential candidate:

1) Is this person empathetic and compassionate? A president’s ability to not only listen, but to truly understand and care about voters’ lives and issues helps him or her successfully determine what action to take when faced with a decision that will affect Americans’ daily lives.

2) Will this person surround him/herself with thoughtful advisors? The selection of logical, pragmatic, caring advisors is vital in that the actions senior advisors recommend will significantly influence the policies that the Executive Branch enacts.

3) Most importantly, will this person act in the best interest of the U.S. and its citizens? This should be the easiest bar to pass, and yet, given recent events, it’s important to reiterate just how essential this attribute is. If there is ever any uncertainty with this one, we need to vote that president out of office. They don’t deserve to be there and we don’t deserve to have someone like that in the highest leadership position of our country.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris both meet all of the criteria listed above. To the roughly 10% of undecided voters out there, I ask that you forget party politics and ask yourself: “Who best represents the best aspects of our nation?”

Rachel Jacobs

Jeremy Ranch

Leadership change needed

My son is a white police officer in an industrial Chicago suburb that abuts the heavily traveled O’Hare International Airport corridor. He has lived and worked in his ethnic, working-class hometown for more than 30 years.

A highly decorated officer, my “street cop” son has been consistently recognized for his abilities to go far above requirements, literally pulling residents out of burning buildings alongside firefighters, partnering with the FBI on drug arrests, participating in hostage negotiations, and chasing three murder suspects on foot, cornering and holding them alone until unit backup arrived. Add all this to routine traffic stops, domestic disputes and drunken party-goers. This is his precarious life day after day, getting the job done and allowing the citizens in his community to sleep safely at night. His only mission has been to get the bad guys according to the laws on the books.

How many of us could eat, sleep and breathe this kind of job each and every day for 30 years? How many of us would want to? My son is not a racist and raised his sons in a large ethnic area. They all socialized, played sports and went to school together.

After the recent riots in Chicago and suburbs, he must now endure “in your face” taunts and challenges from the very people he has protected, being dared to go ahead and shoot them on the spot accompanied by the most demeaning language and slurs. He endures daily an unearned payback for a broken system and the unfortunate racism in our country.

My son had hoped to retire in five years, but has decided to leave law enforcement this year for good. Add his loss to a local community to the losses of too many ethnic lives in communities around this country.

There is only one answer to all these tragic losses. We need a total change in leadership in the United States of America.

Jeane Kruse Baron


Support write-in candidate

I am writing to support Thomas Cooke as a write-in candidate in the upcoming election for the Park City Board of Education representing District 2.

I know Thomas from our time together on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. Time and again he has demonstrated his commitment to our community through this work by carefully researching the issues that have come before us, listening to feedback from community members and spending countless hours to ensure that decisions are made that will positively impact Snyderville Basin residents and the community at large. As a planning commissioner and a parent of a daughter who attended Trailside Elementary, Ecker Hill Middle School and Treasure Mountain Junior High, he is also attuned to the challenges faced by teachers and parents in the School District.

Thomas is a thoughtful leader, longtime community member and engaged parent, and I think he would be a valuable asset to the school board. As Thomas is running as a write-in candidate, if you live within the District 2 boundaries, you will need to write in Thomas Cooke in the space provided on your ballot. I think it will be well worth your time and effort to do so.

Canice Harte


A special mountain town

My son graduated with the PCHS Class of 2020, thanks to the support and guidance of PCSD’s teachers, counselors, and staff. He’s now taking a gap year and I’ve moved to lower altitude.

When we moved to Park City in 2013, my son was introduced to Summit County’s recreational opportunities through the National Ability Center. Diagnosed on the autism spectrum as a young child, he was eligible for NAC’s adaptive programs and day camp. By the time he entered high school, he could ski black diamonds, fearlessly waterski and paddleboard, and expertly navigate a high ropes course. I won’t tell you how many times I watched in tears as he headed out with an NAC support crew or instructor on a new adventure. Almost all of which were made possible by NAC’s generous scholarship program.

After mastering the use of a mountain bike, NAC’s rec director tapped my son to be part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s ELEVATE program. This adaptive component of NICA allowed him to race with the Park City High School Mountain Bike Team for four years. The support of the PCHS MTB Team coaches, volunteers and fellow riders — and the whole NICA community — changed his life. Again, tears of gratitude for the big hearts and generous, kind individuals who made him feel welcome and included.

During high school, like many teens, he experienced mental health challenges. The prescribed therapy required six months of intensive outpatient treatment for four hours, five days a week. With the clinic almost 50 miles from Park City, I had to reduce my work hours to accommodate my son’s schedule. Thankfully, the Christian Center of Park City helped me — now a divorced mom with reduced income — keep food on the table and an affordable roof over our heads.

Much-needed emotional support was also available during that time. In addition to CCPC’s dedicated social worker and counselor, Connect Summit County was a godsend. The organization’s group meetings and events were invaluable as we learned to deal with our new normal. And Connect Summit County’s partnership with NAMI Utah and CCPC to launch a teen mental health class made my son’s transition back to regular life much less stressful.

No matter where our lives take us in the future, I will always remember Park City as the special mountain town that helped raise my son.

#StigmaFree #KindnessCounts

Valery Pine Behr

Salt Lake City

Guest opinion: Wasatch County Council candidate says regional collaboration is key

I am running for Wasatch County Council this November because with so many high-density developments approved, I want to ensure local government is taking every measure to grow smartly and responsibly, with forethought and prudence. What happens in Wasatch County affects Summit County and what happens in Summit County affects Wasatch County as we have seen with the recent Hideout bid for Richardson Flat. Regional collaboration has never been more important. “Problems don’t see borders,” I once heard someone say.

An estimated 20,000 units are coming in around the Jordanelle Reservoir, which will impact traffic, pollution, education, housing affordability, economic growth and open space. With so many people already living and working in either Summit or Wasatch and commuting daily to the other, those numbers will continue to rise, if not soar, once new developments are completed. I understand thinking and acting regionally is notoriously difficult, but my goal, if elected to Wasatch County Council, is to unify leaders in both counties to work collaboratively around economic growth, infrastructure and the issues that matter most to citizens. Collaboration, seeking to understand the other and inclusion are key.

I am a business development professional who has spent the last 18 years of my life in public service, working in the nonprofit sector, on boards and community coalitions, and advocating for the health and welfare of community members. I went back to school and received my master’s in public administration from the University of Utah. All of this experience has given me a skillset that makes me uniquely qualified for Wasatch County Council: 1. Listening to people 2. Being responsive and driving policy 3. Acting and collaborating.

If you are a Wasatch County resident, please consider voting for me. If you are a Summit or Wasatch County resident, please reach out to your local officials and be vocal about the importance of a regional alliance initiative. It is essential for representatives to have buy-in from community members. If you are a government official in either county, please know regional collaboration will become critical as growth skyrockets. The stakes are high and improving both the efficiency and effectiveness of local economic development are possible when counties work together. I was pleased to see Summit and Wasatch counties, Heber, Midway and Park City, as well as Utah County, working collaboratively on regional transportation. I am hopeful this is the start of something wonderful. My name is Aimee Armer and I am a candidate for Wasatch County Council and an advocate for regional collaboration. For more information please visit www.armerforwcc.vote.

Record editorial: Doubts about mail-in voting? Utah shows the system works.

Due to the dangers and impracticality of voting in person during the worst pandemic in a century, millions of Americans this fall will be casting ballots by mail for the first time.

In Summit County and the rest of Utah, we’ll be voting by mail, too. For us, though, it’s old hat — our elections have been largely conducted that way since 2016, and the system has been incredibly successful. Officials credit it with increasing voter turnout, unsurprising given the convenience it offers. And that’s to say nothing of the benefit of being able to make better-informed decisions by digging into candidates and issues with the aid of an internet browser and other informational materials at hand while filling out a ballot.

Those benefits are why it’s been jarring for many Utahns to see the national furor erupting over the security of mail-in voting, with President Trump leading a charge to undermine faith in the system and, ultimately, to preemptively question the legitimacy of November’s election.

Utah officials, to their credit, have pushed back on the debunked notion that mail-in voting is somehow less safe than casting a ballot in person.

Following a tweet from the president falsely stating that widespread use of mail-in ballots would make the presidential election fraudulent, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah’s top election official, countered the claim in a tweet of his own. “Utah is a model of showing vote-by-mail can be successful and secure,” he said, adding that Utah is willing to help other states implement their own mail-in voting systems.

Likewise, Gov. Gary Herbert and at least two Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation also split with the president on the issue, disagreeing with his suggestion that the election should be delayed.

Given the frightening implications for American democracy of a sitting president sowing distrust in our election system, it’s imperative for the state’s leadership to speak up and reassure citizens that their votes will be counted and that mail-in voting will not affect the election’s legitimacy. As one of a handful of states to pioneer vote-by-mail — and a heavily Republican state, notably — Utah has a powerful voice on this issue.

Will there be widespread concern this fall about Utah’s election results? That’s doubtful, given our familiarity with vote-by-mail.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said in other places where casting a ballot through the mail is a relatively new concept. There will likely even be some Utahns skeptical of the national returns in the presidential race, given how Trump has stoked such fears.

Hopefully, the example of Utah — and continued reassurances from its leaders as the election nears — can help quell those concerns. There are plenty of things Utahns can gripe about when it comes to their representation at the state and congressional levels. But access to the ballot is not one of them.

In Utah, we do voting right. This fall, the rest of the nation should look to our example.

Tom Clyde: The burning of the hat

The Labor Day weekend was a great mini-vacation. I didn’t go anywhere, just hung out on the ranch, but various branches of the extended family were here. We tackled a couple of big projects, hiked, biked, walked the dogs and just enjoyed each other and the place we call home. Somehow all the world’s problems went away.

The biggest project was cleaning out a barn. I had made the mistake of telling a tenant that he could store some of his stuff in one end of the barn. The house is so small it seemed reasonable compared to having snow tires in the living room. By the time they moved, the barn was packed full of crap, which they left. Two truckloads of paint to the hazmat place, and one dumpster later, we were almost able to reach the back wall. We got another dumpster. The only problematic item left was a huge deep freezer.

The freezer had been there for something like 50 years. It technically was my aunt’s, but she has been gone for many years now. It wasn’t running, but she thought it would be a great mouse-proof storage container. She had hoards of food squirreled around all over the place. I thought with five or six of us, we could just push it out the door and into the dumpster. No such luck. In addition to being kind of rusted to the floor, the thing weighs a ton. There is more steel in that freezer than there is in my Subaru. It wasn’t moving.

Of course the weight made us wonder what was in it. We are all dedicated “Yellowstone” fans, and while my uncle was no John Dutton, you didn’t want to get on his wrong side. The freezer could be full of the remains of former employees who showed up late for milking back in the dairy days, or the bodies of neighbors with fence line issues. Nobody was willing to open it and find out what was lurking inside. To get it out of the barn, I finally wrapped a chain around it and dragged it out with a tractor.

When we pushed it into the dumpster, it rolled over and spilled. It was as empty as Al Capone’s vault. The only thing inside was a couple of bags of moldy sugar. But it smelled bad enough to lend credence to the dead body theory.

The high point of the holiday was the annual Burning of the Hat. I have only recently realized that not all families ritually burn a hat on Labor Day. That’s their loss. Every Labor Day, we sit around a bonfire and reminisce about the summer and all the work that got done on the ranch (and how little there is to show for it), and what a joy it is to be here with the deer flies and mosquitoes. My father started it by spontaneously tossing a sweat-stained, paint spattered, crushed-up cowboy hat on the fire and announcing that another season was gone to hell. So 60 years later, we still burn a hat on Labor Day.

It’s a big deal, and there are protocols involved that would make the Catholic Church envious. It’s on par with Christmas. This year was different. I’m responsible for the selection of the hat, mostly because I do all the work on the ranch and usually have one or two particularly disgusting baseball caps that are in need of burning. But this year, there wasn’t really a hat I was willing to part with. Maybe I’ve been buying better quality hats, and they are all beloved vacation souvenirs. They wash up better than cheap hats used to. So there wasn’t an obvious candidate for the burnt offering.

Then it hit me. I had a straw cowboy hat that I never wear because it didn’t have any ventilation in it, and the sweat would run into my eyes. Might as well get rid of that one, even though it was essentially new. From there, it was a quick step to deciding to have everybody write one of the crappy things that has happened in 2020 on the hat, and burn them along with the hat. So there you have it. It was passed around at dinner and everybody added something: Plague, drought, Trump, the cattle market, home schooling, working from home, a nephew’s cancer, riots, Trump again, police shootings, ski season, fires, smoke, loud motorcycle traffic all times of day and night, and on and on. A whole year’s worth of grievances (and this year had a lot to offer) duly noted on the cowboy hat.

And then, after the ice cream, it went on the fire and we all cheered as the flames consumed it all. For the first time since the world turned sideways last March, I slept like a baby. It was a wonderfully therapeutic holiday.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

Letters, Sept. 12-15: Park City continues to consume itself

Lamenting the changes

While complaining is a temporary relief to the soul, it is not a solution. I have been living here for 22 some-odd years and watching Park City destroy itself, consume itself. It is not pretty. Building is rampant and escalating, traffic is such that leaving home to go to a restaurant sometimes involves at least 20 minutes if you need to make a left turn into a state road or off it, and brings forth the question “Why bother?” Many years ago I wrote to this paper “build a home on 20 acres, not 20 homes per acre.” This town is choking as its arteries are plagued by too many users and soon it will be a long parking lot. I am not equipped enough to know how to stop this trend but I am certain there is no going back. Every occupied new condo brings a trash container, a recycle bin, a car or two and other toys.

There should be a moratorium on building due to lack of water, and let’s make this a bit clearer: Charging more for water does not produce water, just more revenues. You cannot drink revenues, try as you may. Despite COVID we are witnessing: tie ups, road signs ignored, speed signs unseen, road rage on the rise — and winter is not even here yet. Texting while driving seems to be up, as is lack of attention to the road and fellow users. Taking such a mountain jewel that we have, the gorgeous mountain setting, the beautiful four seasons, abundance of wildlife, wild flowers and more, and corralling it with fumes of impatience and pollutants. It is enough to sicken the heart. So there you have the lament, my lament.

Jack Karmel

Jeremy Ranch

Americans deserve better

As has been corroborated by multiple news outlets, the president of the United States and commander-in-chief called those who served and died for this country “losers” and “suckers.”

As an Army veteran and West Point graduate, I am appalled and disgusted by Mr. Trump’s latest remarks about our military and I am not surprised. We have heard these remarks before. There is no basement for his comments, just an abyss.

This is the Trump brand — disparage and denigrate. He has denigrated our allies, insulted and attacked Sen. John McCain’s service and sacrifice as a Naval officer and prisoner of war, laughed at and dismissed Gold Star families like the Khans, and discredited Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a veteran and double amputee. All of this from a man who did not serve when he had his own opportunity.

There are no more feeble excuses to ignore his remarks. They are not one-off comments. They are part of a pattern of belittlement, disparagement and denigration.

Mr. Trump repeatedly and regularly shows this country who he really is and is not. The proof is in plain sight. There is nothing in his character that demonstrates he is fit to lead — morally, ethically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

Mr. Trump’s disrespect for the women and men who have served, areserving and will serve is a threat to our national security. It is an honor to serve in the military and it is a choice many of us make. We do it because we love our country.

Please register to vote and exercise that right to vote early with mail-in voting. Cast your vote to relieve this man from the presidency and his role as commander-in-chief. Our military, veterans and war dead deserve better. As American citizens, so do we.

Donna Matturro McAleer

Park City

Keep it up

I recently put a Biden sign in my front yard. It disappeared. I put up two. Today I lost another. I would like the person who is stealing them to know that for every sign that is stolen, I am donating to the Lincoln Project. Keep it up, dude, and Biden will surely win.

Beano Solomon

Park Meadows

Armer has initiative

I am writing this letter as my unreserved support for the candidacy of Aimee Armer for Wasatch County Council. She possesses the qualities of a good leader and is dedicated to preserving the beauty of Heber Valley through smart growth, open space and economic balance.

Aimee grew up on the West Coast and moved to Utah to raise her children; she graduated from the University of Southern California and received her master’s from the University of Utah. She is raising her two beautiful children in Midway.

I have known Aimee for several years, since we both work for People’s Health Clinic and have been directly involved in not only human rights and women’s issues but also in many other nonprofits in Summit and Wasatch counties. As a woman, Aimee believes in the importance of family values, and she has been very much involved in helping others in the community. I believe as a councilperson, she would represent the valley with great honor and ensure people’s interests would be properly protected.

Aimee Armer has the initiative and dedication to make a significant difference to the progress of the county. I confidently believe she would perform well as your representative.

Beth Armstrong

Park City

Re-up the RAP tax

As executive director of the Alf Engen Ski Museum and recipient of RAP Tax grants, I would like to encourage Summit County residents to vote to reauthorize the RAP (Recreation, Arts and Parks) Sales Tax on Nov. 3.

Twenty years ago, Summit County residents voted to levy a local, non-food, sales-and-use tax of one penny per every $10 spent in Summit County. Over half of this tax (approx. 53% in 2019) is paid by visitors, and all of it is used directly for the benefit of Summit County residents.

The Alf Engen Ski Museum, located at Utah Olympic Park, has been able to provide two free museums to Summit County residents and visitors, in part due to the support from this grant. We were also able to utilize funds to support interactive exhibits such as the Hometown Heroes Exhibit, which features local athletes who grew up here in Summit County, trained throughout our community and participated in the Olympic Winter Games. Currently this exhibit highlights Ted Ligety, Sarah Hendrickson, Brita Sigourney and Keith Gabel. The museum and its exhibits draw local and out-of-state visitors to our museum who then support other Summit County businesses.

Thank you for joining me in voting “yes” on Proposition 21! This is not a new tax, but rather a renewal of an important source of funding for county-wide recreation, arts and culture programs.

Connie Nelson

Alf Engen Ski Museum

Live the mountain life

Like Adam Strachan expressed in his Sept. 5 letter to the editor, I would like to extend a welcome to the many newcomers to Park City. I do have one additional tip: Please don’t honk! We are all doing the best we can driving around in what all of a sudden feels like a congested town. You’ll notice that some green lights turn yellow quickly, but take a breath — it’s OK if you don’t make it. Parkites generally run seven minutes late anyway.

Enjoy the mountain life. It’s the best.

Sara Hutchinson


Teri Orr: ‘Like a holy rolling stone…’

Whatever sanity I might have left right now — after six months of COVID confinement — I owe to a pod of women who have been a literal lifeline — day and night. Back in March — as lockdown began — one woman decided to create a text group of women she knew and thought would be a good group to share information and support. We all knew each other certainly — maybe two were good friends and so were another two and three of us — but all five were kinda crazy-cut puzzle shapes no one would have easily linked together.

I am the oldest — which I find is how many of my sentences begin now. The youngest hovers around 40. Two women have never married and don’t have children. Three of us have children and the youngest is the only one married and with young children. We are happy travelers all, and this confinement had been painful on our clipped wings.

We all lean left — not exclusively — but there is a base level of understanding of fairness and kindness and what real leadership has looked like. Did I mention wicked funny? Oh god — are they funny! Irreverent. And also, exquisitely thoughtful and kind.

In the first days of COVID — when folks weren’t leaving their homes and no one was ordering takeout because no one was making it — we grabbed things for each other when one of us left weekly for the store. Toilet paper and hand wipes and almost always — chocolate. We watched the horrible unstoppable watchable “Tiger King” series but also the stunningly beautiful and haunting “Unorthodox.” And so much more. We shared titles of books we were reading and articles in magazines and newspapers. We checked in on each other — nearly daily. Two of the women had grandmothers in their 90s they were helping care for. We did a few Zoom cocktail hours but that wasn’t really our wheelhouse. We are all more action-oriented.

As that long, wet, gray, miserable spring finally made its way into summer, COVID allowed for more movement. Restaurants opened for takeout first. We found ourselves comparing notes on where good places were to walk without running into unmasked people. We all now have to admit we have a literal wardrobe of masks we have ordered online and gifted one another. We all have gone through family things during this time. We all have gone through work-related changes. We all have found ways to contribute within the community. Here’s the one thing we hadn’t done — we hadn’t all been in the same space at the same time together.

So when two birthdays were converging over Labor Day weekend I offered up my big backyard for a socially distanced, joint birthday party — for the pod — plus the husband and young children of the only one of us who has those currently. It was a total of eight people spaced out. There was pizza I picked up and cupcakes one of the other women had made. The two small boys under 7 — brought their bikes and rode them all over the dead-ish grass in my yard. And around the quiet cul-de-sac. The night was perfectly still and we could socially distance and chat and hear ourselves. There were masks and hand sanitizer and all the requisite trappings of a COVID gathering. But there was also so much laughter. And we stayed outside long, long after the sun was down — just relishing in the sight and unmuffled sound of one another.

I admit while they were there I was most smitten with the boys. It has been far too long since little boys had found my yard of such great interest. And right at dusk — as if on cue — a fawn appeared at the bird feeder to dine with us. The boys were wide-eyed! They whispered for me to be quiet and “come see.” A couple of little birds had landed to grab a to-go dinner of their own at the same feeder. The boys had ice cream bars and cupcakes and found “moon rocks” and feathers. That little family left first from the gathering but the sound of their joy stayed behind.

The rest of us lasted until long after the sun was gone and the moon was up and a chill had set in the air. It just felt — for a few hours — so normal.

We are all on edge. With kids back in school, whether online or in classrooms, we have watched families in our community make difficult decisions based on what was best for their own family. The blame and judgment stuff is best left to higher powers. We are literally doing the best we can each day. And we all feel like everyone else somehow has this all figured out.

They don’t.

What COVID has done is to recalibrate for each of us what matters and who matters. There is a stark clarity to these days that doesn’t allow for pettiness. The is an otherworldliness to the world that is hard to interpret through epic wildfires and hurricanes and Mother Earth throwing plates in the kitchen against granite walls. We get it. We have to be the change — right now — the planet cannot wait any longer.

Back in the early 2000s there was a television series called — “Joan of Arcadia” — starring Amber Tamblyn. The theme song was sung by Joan Osbourne. It was quirky and — haunting.

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?
And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?
Just tryin’ to make his way home
Like back up to heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome
Like a holy rolling stone…

These days I see heroes in the supermarket and the post office. I realize we are all afraid. Even as the matriarch of my little family I have life no more figured out than those sweet little boys who found such joy in witnessing the deer at dusk. Except maybe it is just that simple. So I will try so much harder to be aware of the holy rolling stones in my path each day, including Sundays in the Park…

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.

Record editorial: Restoration of mining-era relic should make Parkites proud

In Park City, we love to celebrate our history.

It was terrific news, then, when Deer Valley Resort earlier this year acquired the land where the Daly West Mine head frame, one of the most prominent relics dating to Park City’s mining era, has lain on its side since collapsing in 2015, with the intent of restoring the derrick-like structure. Recently, a City Hall panel approved plans for the restoration of the 85-foot-tall head frame, meaning it will be upright again sometime in the near future, with the work expected to begin next year.

When that happens, it will be reason to rejoice. Our mining heritage is something all Parkites should treasure.

Yet there are a finite amount of mining-era structures standing in Park City, and there’s cause for concern that the number may dwindle further in the coming decades as deterioration — like the fall of the head frame in 2015 or partial building collapses in each of the last two winters at the Silver King Mine complex near the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort — befalls the structures.

Preserving the relics we can is critical.

But the restoration of the Daly West head frame will not happen on its own. It was not guaranteed. No, it’s a direct result of the passion of dedicated Parkites who understand the importance of holding on to our history.

It looked for a while like even that was not going to be enough to save the head frame before Deer Valley stepped in and spent $35,000 to buy the land. Also contributing to the effort is the Empire Pass homeowners association, which is partnering with Deer Valley for the restoration work and is footing some of the bill.

Parkites should be proud to live in a place that prioritizes its history and where people are willing to stand up and preserve it. The same cannot be said of every community.

When the work is done, we will be able to venture up to the Daly West Mine, stop for a while and appreciate a 45-ton testament to the work of the miners who built Park City. Thanks to those who have pushed to save the head frame, that will be true for generations to come.

Guest opinion: A Trump loss may allow Republican Party to repair itself

The dictionary defines the word “seduction” as attracting someone to a belief or to a course of action that is inadvisable or foolhardy! President Trump has successfully attracted many to follow his beliefs in his tenure as president.

Trump’s seemingly total rejection of the existence of the COVID-19 has led many of his followers into a falsehood of reality. At this point, over 187,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus. In addition, his enablers in Congress have followed his statements and beliefs almost in a cult-like fashion. Instead of exercising their oath to uphold the “rule of law” as described in the Constitution, they blindly and obediently have supported his “rule by man,” authoritarian style of leadership. In essence, they have accepted Trumpism in exchange for Republican ideology.

In Trump’s almost four years as president, many political analysts have concluded that his uncontrollable lying rhetoric about facts, along with is need to keep this nation in a constant state of chaos, is becoming increasingly disturbing to many American citizens. That strategy worked for his presidential campaign in 2016 but is not as exciting to the informed public in 2020. I could go on listing various inconsistencies in his rhetoric verses his behavior, but I choose to express a more optimistic, hopeful tone by sharing with you my conversation with a lifelong friend who happens to be a lifelong Republican party supporter.

Was I ever shocked when he stated that he is voting for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 November presidential election? I immediately asked him why. He replied simply that the present Republicans in Congress do not reflect the values of the Republican Party as under Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. He further stated that the present House and Senate Republicans have abdicated their oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law in exchange for admiration from President Trump. In essence, they have sold their souls to become cult followers of Trump!

Again, I asked why. He sincerely believes that the Republican Party needs time to heal and be reborn in solid conservative ideology. A thorough cleansing of the old guard for the enthusiasm of new Republican faces. So, let Joe Biden solve Trump’s America!

Let Joe Biden solve the coronavirus pandemic problem. Let Joe Biden solve the racial injustice that exists in this country. Let Joe Biden solve the nation’s economic and unemployment problems because of the virus pandemic. Let Joe Biden repair the leadership damage caused with other countries because of dropping out of the Paris Agreement. Let Joe Biden restore the leadership reputation lost with our allies because of Trump’s association with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Let Joe Biden bring unity to a politically divided country. Just to mention a few of the problems created in our last four years under the leadership of Donald J. Trump!

My friend goes on to say that, while the Democrats are trying to solve those problems, it will give the Republican Party an opportunity to repair and restore the reputation of the Grand Old Party. In 2024 the GOP will have a new look and a legitimate opportunity to retake the White House. I sincerely hope he is right!

Letters, Sept. 9-11: Help save the East Canyon Creek

Save East Canyon Creek

East Canyon Creek runs along I-80 through Kimball Junction. This was once a blue-ribbon fishery and home to the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

Over the past 30 years I have watched as this waterbody has declined. It dried up in 2003 and we are close to that once again.

The water levels are at a critical state for fish to survive at this point. I would like to thank Glenwild golf course officials and Mountain Regional for stepping up when calls for help have been sent out. They have stepped up over the years and so much more needs to be done to save this body of water.

Water rights in Utah will allow a stream to be drained. If water passes through your property, it does not give you the right to pull from it. It requires a water right.

Over the years rights have been transferred to families that may not be aware of those changes and continue to use the water that has been used over the years which they may not have rights to anymore. Or the property has been sold and the new owners are unaware of the water rights the property may or may not have. It is difficult to tell how much water people are using. We meter our homes. We should be metering all water if possible. This is a critical asset to our survival and to those creatures who depend on it for life.

If you suspect an illegal diversion, please contact Dennis Marchant.

Mary Perry

Friends of East Canyon Creek

Trump does not respect soldiers

Trump denies having referred to the almost 2,000 Marines killed in the World War I battle of “Belleau Wood” as “suckers” for getting killed. Even the enemy, Germany, respected those Marines, naming them “Teufelshunde” (Devil Dogs). Their sacrifice turned the tide in favor of the Allies.

Trump’s history of similar conduct supports his smears of the dead solders to be fact. His denial is worth about as much as his more than 20,000 lies, all fact checked.

Trump’s disdain for military members wounded or killed in action has been public knowledge. In 2015, Trump publicly attacked Sen. John McCain, saying “He’s not a war hero, I like people who weren’t captured.” On Twitter, Trump called McCain a “loser.”

Upon McCain’s death, Trump reportedly told his senior staff “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral.” Reportedly, Trump fumed when he saw flags on half-mast after McCain’s death.

Trump showed utter heartlessness towards Captain Khan, a Muslim American soldier, and his parents. The captain died protecting his fellow American soldiers.

Finally, Trump marked George H.W. Bush, a “loser” for being shot down during World War II.

I can only wonder what it will take for his followers to open their eyes!

Maria Roberts

Jeremy Ranch

Which is it?

In a letter to the editor published in the Sept. 2 edition of The Park Record, Chuck Haggerty indicated that he obtained copies of proceedings of the City Council between June 25 and July 9 and found no evidence that the council voted to approve the Black Lives Matter and other “social justice” messages splattered across Main Street on the Fourth of July. In the lengthy article published in The Park Record on Aug. 22 written by Jay Hamburger, he reported that “City Hall quickly said it provided a grant valued at approximately $15,000 to the Arts Council Park City and Summit County for the murals …” Which is it? Did the City Council vote on this grant and the murals or was it just the political whims of the mayor’s office?

In that same Aug. 22 article, or the inset that accompanied it, Jay Hamburger stated twice that out of 120 “correspondences” directed at City Hall, the number of messages that were in clear opposition to the murals (or the squandering of $15,000 of taxpayer money to paint them) “outstripped those that were sent in support.” Our mayor claimed that “more than 70% of the messages sent by people inside Park City or in the Snyderville Basin … were in support of the murals.” Which is it? The last time I checked Snyderville Basin was part of Summit County and not in Park City. Surely the mayor didn’t arbitrarily include responses from Snyderville Basin residents to mislead anyone. But I wonder how many of all those non-supportive messages that he claimed were sent from “outside the community” were sent by residents of neighborhoods like Pinebrook, Jeremy Ranch, Newpark, Bear Hollow, etc. Those communities, while not in the city itself, consider themselves to be a part of Park City. Or did you choose Snyderville Basin, which is not in Park City, in your misleading statistic, Mr. Mayor, because it happened to provide false support to your political agenda? Repay the taxpayers’ $15,000 out of your pocket, Mr. Mayor, and then have a council vote on spending it on something worthwhile, such as providing rent subsidies to those who are suffering the most from the pandemic.

Jim Helfand

Park City

We must live with COVID-19

Let’s review the facts. COVID-19 is an affliction that is mild and self-limiting in ~95% of people who contract the disease. The vast preponderance of the 26 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered in about two weeks, many without any symptoms. The most vulnerable patients often require hospitalization and the infrastructure is now in place to treat severe patients due to efforts to “flatten the curve.”

Vaccines are on the horizon that will mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Indeed, there are 176 companies in the hunt for a vaccine, 33 vaccine candidates are in human clinicals and five are already in late-stage (Phase III) studies. And while vaccines will conjure up another debate, a high percentage of people will opt to be vaccinated, pushing us toward herd immunity.

In the interim, we cannot keep denying people access to address other health care concerns such as cancer, heart disease and mental illness that take a much larger toll on our community. We have to recognize the economic and quality of life impact of overly restrictive measures. We have to make educated and informed choices and not pander to fears, driven by myths. Mandating masks is the proper safety protocol to protect teachers, staff and students since we know respiratory droplets are the primary mechanism of transmission.

I run a global medical device company. We make exceptions for employees that are “high risk” or that live with relatives that may also be in that category. The vast majority of my team is functioning at a high level, coming into our offices and routinely flying to visit clinics. Park City should adopt a policy that accommodates “high risk” teachers and staff members in a similar fashion since we cannot diminish the personal anguish that is felt by some. But at the end of the day COVID-19 is here to stay and we have to learn to live with it.

Dan Lemaitre

Snyderville Basin

Path to perseverance

I dare you not to smile when you ride or walk the short new path that connects Jeremy Ranch Elementary School under the interstate to Pinebrook and beyond. I dare you not to feel like a kid once you have used it, especially on a bike. It’s a safe path for children of all ages. It has tunnels, curves, water. No crossing of any streets. No traffic. Lighted tunnels. For all this we must thank Jennifer Terry, who advocated for this years ago when her children were at the school. They are long gone now from JRES. But Jennifer’s tenacity helped push this wonderful project through many obstacles. Jennifer’s vision now serves children other than her own. Good things take time to happen. They require energy. Jennifer’s perseverance, with the help of others, made this happen. Thank you, Jennifer.

Jeffrey Louden

Jeremy Ranch

Gratitude for masks

We wanted to express our sincere thanks to Linda Haessler. I received a call from a friend that Linda has been making masks and wanted to donate them to teachers. Thirty amazing masks were left on my doorstep and I have given these to each staff member of the Park City School District Preschool Program.

They are so well-made, comfortable and darling. With all of the craziness going on with the pandemic and politics in our country right now, it is such a breath of fresh air to know there are amazing and caring people out there like Linda!

We sure appreciate you and we love the masks (and so do our darling preschool students who comment on the fun patterns that include dogs, bikes, flowers, etc.)

Stay safe, everyone — and thanks again, Linda!

Kathy Anderson on behalf of Park City School District preschool staff

Outpouring of support

When our Park City Rotary Club made the decision to cancel our Miners Day activities, we felt a sadness — not just to lose this day of community pride, but the inability to raise funds for our nonprofit grants. So we had this crazy idea to conduct Running of the Balls in the early morning hours and broadcast it on Park City TV. Thanks to our great friends across Park City, it worked. And we were able to raise over $30,000 that will go directly to local causes this fall.

We owe a special thanks to Park City Municipal for working with us to film on Main Street and to the Park City High School cheerleaders for some socially spaced cheers. Our local media including Park City Television/Deerfield Media, KPCW and The Park Record went above and beyond to spread the word.

We had tremendous support from sponsors and donors. Our friends at Park City Twilight also got into the act, conducting a Virtual Bark City 5k.

Most of all, we want to thank the tremendous outpouring of support from the generous buyers of our 300 balls, helping us to sell out days in advance. We will think of you this fall when we award grants to nonprofits who help make Park City such a great place to live.

Happy Miners Day.

Corrie Forsling

Park City Rotary Club president