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Swine flu leads in ’09

Patrick ParkinsonOf the Record staff

A luxury development in the Snyderville Basin fell into bankruptcy in 2009. Courthouse officials named the first-ever Summit County manager as the government was restructured and the county fought tooth-and-nail to stop state lawmakers from passing legislation that could allow developers to shoehorn a hotel and major commercial development into the area surrounding Quinn’s Junction.

But an outbreak of the swine flu in Summit County tops the list of five very significant local news stories The Park Record compiled for 2009.

5. Snowmobile strikes snowboarder

The year in headlines begins at The Canyons, where in January a snowmobile operated by an employee struck a man snowboarding at the resort.

The accident put the snowboarder in the hospital in intensive care. The crash, which injured Snyderville Basin resident John Everett, occurred near the bottom of the Golden Eagle chairlift.

Resort officials claimed the sled was nearly stopped when Everett collided with the machine. According to Canyons Managing Director Mike Goar, the employee was operating the snowmobile consistent with standard practices at the resort.

4. Promontory: Bankrupt

Builders at Promontory spent much of 2009 pulling the luxury development in the Snyderville Basin out of bankruptcy after a group of creditors forced the Arizona-based Pivotal Group into Chapter 11. Credit Suisse led the charge when the involuntary bankruptcy petitions were filed against the developer. In an unusual outcome to the bankruptcy, Pivotal Chief Executive Officer Francis Najafi bought the project back at a highly reduced price when Promontory was auctioned in April. Najafi’s $70 million bid for the project was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after his company had defaulted on about $275 million in loans. Though Najafi acquired Promontory at the bankruptcy auction at a highly reduced price, Pivotal officials insisted he did not orchestrate the proceedings to avoid repaying the loans. Najafi purchased Promontory for a fraction of what he owed. Promontory is a gated community east of U.S. 40 consists of two golf courses, several clubhouses, equestrian facilities and more than 1,000 potential building lots.

3. Officials did not stop hotel bill

Legislation passed in 2009 that might pave the way for one of Utah’s largest hotels and a major commercial development at Quinn’s Junction. Builders may now bypass strict local zoning codes to build a recreation facility for the U.S. Air Force on land near the intersection of U.S. 40 and State Road 248.

Local officials said they wanted then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to veto the legislation because strict zoning and protection of open space help make Park City unique.

The new law allows the Air Force to cooperate with private landowners to build recreation facilities to offer discounts to vacationing members of the military and their families.

For years military officials have discussed building a hotel in the Park City area. The military has complained that local officials haven’t cooperated in granting development approvals for the project.

The controversial legislation revised the state’s so-called Military Installation Development Authority Act in 2009 so U.S. Department of Defense officials could build recreation facilities on private land without engaging local governments in the planning process.

2. Government names first CEO

In December, Summit County ended a months-long job search by naming Bob Jasper as its first manager. Jasper is scheduled to take the reins in the County Courthouse Jan. 4.

Jasper was serving as interim county manager for Teton County, Wyo.

In 2006, voters decided to create the county manager position when they voted to change the form of government in Summit County from a three-member commission to the five-person council/manager model.

Jasper will fill the county’s top administrative position. His yearly salary is roughly $130,000 plus benefits. He will manage a budget of nearly $50 million and supervise the county’s day-to-day operations.

But his management skills could be put to a test when he begins overseeing about 320 full- and part-time employees. The proposal to change the form of government was not popular among many residents on the East Side of Summit County because they didn’t feel the county needed a manager.

Jasper will report to the Summit County Council and will oversee six departments including community development, health, public works, information technology, personnel and the library.

1. Flu outbreak

Tension gripped the Park City area last spring as several people in the community were confirmed to have contracted the H1N1 virus.

Some wore face masks as others were spotted hording hand sanitizers at area grocery stores. Sick people, some wearing face masks, waited anxiously for the results of lab tests to determine whether they had the swine flu.

Because many of the cases involved school-aged children, schools in the Park City area closed down as officials braced for the outbreak of the illness.

Meanwhile, when the H1N1 virus began spreading rapidly last fall, Summit County residents rushed to vaccinate their children against the disease.

Though swine flu caused the deaths of several Utahns in 2009, nobody in Summit County reportedly died from the H1N1 virus last year.


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