Mayor seeks to make Coalville a place to play
Beckham Johnson quietly sat in the big, black chair as his dad talked about work. Occasionally he would spin the chair around, then get down and hide under the desk in the Coalville City Offices. But when he wanted some gum, he climbed up onto his father’s lap and whispered in his ear.
Mayor Trever Johnson dug into his pockets but couldn’t find any gum, so Beckham just kept playing.
It was obvious Johnson had experience in carrying on a conversation while interacting with his four year old. After all, Beckham is the youngest of Johnson’s four kids with his wife, Jenalyn.
Jenalyn was the one who originally put the idea in Johnson’s head about running for mayor.
"I had thought about it for quite awhile, but I was worried about not having enough time to make a difference in a small town and I really wanted to make a difference," Johnson said. "And my wife was joking around one day and told me to quit complaining and go run for mayor. It really kind of stuck."
When he switched from a construction consultant to the manager of operations for a cleaning company in Salt Lake City, Johnson’s schedule opened up and he decided to run. While campaigning, he said he discovered that the demographics in Coalville reflected his own situation, likely contributing to his win.
"I sort of think that is what Coalville is turning into," the 39-year-old said. "There are lot of people in my situation- married, have a few kids, a house, and a job. There were a lot of new voters who came out, I think, because they felt like they had something in common with me.
"And I was impressed with the support and I was very humbled with the margin with which I won by," he said. "I felt like at that point, there are a lot of people that put their trust in you to get out and get after it."
Johnson earned 64 percent of the votes in 2013, defeating his opponent 205 to 112 votes.
One project that Johnson has chosen to tackle during his first year as mayor is creating a recreation area in the city, equipped with a new playground, ball fields, pavilions, and a splash pad.
"I’ve noticed there aren’t a lot of opportunities for kids outside of a little skate park," he said. "We want to build a recreation outlet for the kids that could be a facility for residents to reserve and we could use 52 weeks out of the year. And hopefully it will help drive some tourism here."
Johnson has been working in conjunction with the Summit County Council on the relocation of the fair, as the county seeks new fairgrounds. The proposed recreation area could occupy the current fairgrounds in Coalville.
"It’s a great opportunity for the city to take advantage of," Johnson said. "If this is done right, we can have really nice facilities here. I understand the sentiment of the fair being in Coalville, so I do think it is important that it stay on this side of the county.
"One of my goals is to develop a working relationship with the county because I feel they do have an interest in developing the East Side economically and I think a new fair facility over here would do just that," he said.
With future economic development in mind, Coalville is currently working on expanding its aging water system to address source and delivery needs.
"We’ve got water flow and pressure issues at the extremities of our boundaries that will not allow us to develop in those areas," Johnson said. "Our engineering firm is wrapping up a master plan for improvements about what we need that will correspond with what our vision is and what are goals are in terms of expansion. We will start coming up with ways about how to prioritize and fund upgrades to our system."
Coalville Public Works Director Zane DeWeese said he’s been impressed with Johnson’s ability to understand the concepts behind the expansion of existing systems within his first year.
"I don’t think he would ever try and push something through that the residents of Coalville don’t want to happen or don’t need," DeWeese said. "I think he truly has the city of Coalville’s best interest at heart."
City Council member Cuyler Scates said Johnson is leading the city in the direction of becoming a core center.
"We want Coalville to become a place where people can go," Scates said. "We want that smart growth and I believe that is a direction the mayor is taking us. He is trying to make it appealing. It has a wonderful community feel and old downtown feel, and we want to keep that."
Johnson said he is treating his term as if it’s only going to be a one-time affair.
"I want to get things accomplished while in office the first time around," he said. "I’m not counting on another term, but I’m not saying no."
He has big plans for the city of 1,350 residents during the next three years, but said he wants Coalville to maintain the small-town vibe that brought him here from Oregon 15 years ago.
"Coalville is a tight community where everybody knows everybody," he said. "It’s one of these towns where everybody waves when you drive by. It’s not just a cliché, it’s not a stereotype, it is genuine people with big hearts."
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