Top 5 headlines of the year: Summit County heats up in 2014 |

Top 5 headlines of the year: Summit County heats up in 2014

Between the election season, the pipeline proposal, and the opening of the long-awaited Canyons Resort Golf Course, Summit County residents had much to talk about in 2014.

The Unita Express Pipeline created a stir, as Tesoro Refining and Marketing made route proposals for more than 100 miles of pipeline, including a sizable section through Summit County.

The election races were close and resulted in one defeated incumbent, as other county officials voluntarily chose to step down from long-held positions to allow new faces to grace the halls of the Summit County Courthouse come January.

The five top news stories in Summit County in 2014, as chosen by the staff of The Park Record, follow:

5. ‘Fire erupts in Rockport’

Rockport Estates’ residents experienced déjà vu last summer when a fire tore through 120 acres, prompting a Local Emergency Proclamation in a scene reminiscent of a fire in the same area in August, 2013.

The fire, which officials determined was accidental, was contained two days after it was ignited by a private citizen working near the Rockport Reservoir.

Captain Justin Martinez, with the Summit County Sheriff’s Department, said the fire appeared to be"100 percent an accident."

The Park Record previously reported that investigators found the fire started in a yurt when the owner was constructing a deck using an electric saw. The blade hit a metallic object, creating a spark, and the owner was reportedly unable to contain the fire.

Residents of Sage Lane in Rockport Estates were placed under a mandatory evacuation order, and surrounding residents were asked to evacuate voluntarily. Approximately 220 homes were evacuated during the two-day brushfire, which destroyed the structure where the fire is believed to have originated. No other homes were damaged.

The Park City, North Summit, and South Summit Fire Districts and U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded to the fire, while aircraft dropped water and retardant on the flames.

4. Summit County gets a new golf course

After more than a decade of developing and designing the Canyons Resort Golf Course, it finally opened in early October for a couple days of invitation-only play.

The 18-hole, par-70 course, which plays at 6,256 yards, will officially open to the public next spring and offers expansive views of Park City and the surrounding areas, as previously reported in The Park Record.

The course starts near the Orange Bubble Express lift and heads up the Willow Draw area, before taking players around the Waldorf Astoria and State Road 224, according to the Canyons Resort Golf Course website.

Some of the course features include a 297-foot drop from tee to green on Hole No. 10 and Hole No. 5 offers a 360-degree view from the green.

Designed by Gene Bates and the Bates Golf Design Group, the course features more than 550 feet of elevation change and had an expected total cost of $25 million.

Guicho Pons, an Officer with TCFC Finance Co., previously said in an interview with The Park Record that the course was part of an agreement dating back to 1999.

"For whatever reason it was never done," Pons said in the article.

Construction on the course was completed at the end of September.

3. Tight races, new faces

The voters of Summit County have spoken.

The 2014 election season ushered in some major changes at the county level as one incumbent was defeated and others chose not to seek re-election.

Democratic challenger Robert Hilder defeated incumbent Republican County Attorney David Brickey, who previously ran unopposed for the county attorney’s post. Brickey, who came to Summit County from Salt Lake City 15 years ago, worked in the county attorney’s office since.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Hilder told The Park Record he plans to bring a holistic approach to the county attorney’s office.

Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds chose not to run for re-election after serving as the department head for the last 12 years.

"I’ve done what I wanted to do," Edmunds said in a previous Park Record article. "It’s time to move on."

Edmunds spent the last year grooming Captain Justin Martinez, with the Summit County Sheriff’s Department, for the position.

Martinez ended up winning 67 percent of the vote, defeating Republican challenger Kris Hendricksen for the position.

In the other position where the incumbent declined to run again, Democrat Michael Howard will replace Blake Frazier as auditor. Frazier served as the county auditor for the last 28 years.

Howard, who previously worked in the Treasurer’s Office, won a narrow victory of less than 40 votes over Republican Gary Shumway.

2. ‘Oh the places he plans to go’

On Dec. 18, the day after Summit County’s budget was finalized, Bob Jasper was scheduled to board a plane to Paris.

Right now, the former county manager is scheduled to be in Vienna, with plans to spend the New Year in Prague.

And it’s all part of his plan.

"Only reason I am leaving is because I have been doing this for 40 years and I want to go travel and see the world with the love of my life," Jasper previously told The Park Record.

Jasper announced his plan to retire in June, after serving as the first-ever county manager for Summit County for the last five years.

Jasper was hired in 2009 after the county voted to convert from a three-member commission to a five-member council and was tasked with managing the county’s General Fund, which was burdened at the time with a deficit of nearly $1 million.

He spent the first few years of his tenure slashing the budget and cutting back on staff and capital projects.

Due to recent improvements in the economy, though, as his last act as county manager, Jasper was able to recommend an 8 percent increase to the 2014 budget. The County Council adopted the recommended budgetary increase of $6.5 million without raising taxes on Dec. 17.

"We made all kinds of changes about how we track our money and we dug ourselves out of the hole," Jasper said in a Park Record article.

When he announced his plans to retire, the search for a replacement immediately began.

In October, the County Council announced Tom Fisher as the county’s new manager. He will start on Jan. 20.

1. Oil coming down the pipeline

A proposal from the Uinta Express Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Tesoro Refining and Marketing, to build a pipeline to pump crude oil from the Uinta Basin to refineries in Salt Lake, has had residents throughout the county on edge for most of the year.

Tesoro proposed the Unita Express Pipeline in early February, resulting in a lawsuit and standing-room only public hearings.

As previously reported in The Park Record, the 135-mile-long, heated pipeline would transport about 60,000 barrels of waxy crude per day in an effort to reduce tanker trucks on U.S. 40 and Interstate 80.

However, residents on the East Side of the county are especially concerned about the potential impacts of the pipeline on the environment and, specifically, water quality.

In August, Tesoro officials announced plans to work collaboratively with the county, despite filing a complaint in federal district court against the county. At the same time, Tesoro unveiled a new, preferred route that would skirt the eastern hillside of the Kamas Valley, further away from water sources and residential areas.

As previously reported, Public Works Director Derrick Radke said the new route is reasonable, but the process needs to continue to ensure the county is getting the "the best and safest route or no route, whatever the case may be."