BOX ELDER COUNTY - By Ellen Cook and Cari Doutre, December 31, 2021
2021 was a year of loss, livestock, change and charges. From a building blaze to threats and arrests, the Bear River Valley saw many ups and downs over the past 12 months. Here are BRVNEWS.com's top news stories of 2021:
1. Daryl Building burns to the ground (July 13)
It was a devastating loss to Tremonton’s downtown when the historic Daryl Building, constructed in 1930, caught fire on July 13, and was destroyed. It housed several businesses on the ground floor and apartments on the upper level. The cause of the blaze is undetermined.
2. Threats at school causes closures, brings arrests (December 10-14)
A possible threat found in the bathroom at Bear River High School prompted the Box Elder School District, in partnership with local law enforcement, to close schools in the north end of the county on Monday, December 13, as a precaution. School resumed on December 14, after Tremonton Garland Police arrested two juveniles over threats made on social media. The case is still under investigation.
3. Residents try to stop residential development (October-December)
As the entire state of Utah continues to see rapid growth in population, Tremonton City has not been immune to the trend. The Rivers Edge Development, located in east Tremonton and set to bring in over 600 residential units and commercial spaces, caused a ruckus among residents. Efforts to stop the development from citizens were made on December 3, the Tremonton City Council unanimously approved the development.
4. Registered sex offender volunteers at Bear River High (March 9)
Box Elder School District are rethinking their volunteer policy after they received complaints about former Tremonton Police officer, Jeremy Rose, who is actively listed on Utah’s Sex Offender Registry, volunteering at Bear River High School. Rose spent time as a volunteer with the school’s production team during several stage productions for the school's theater department. Derek Sorensen, the school's theater director at Bear River High at the time, resigned from his position soon after.
5. Box Elder County Fair back on track (August 20-28)
With the 2020 Box Elder County Fair operated at half-speed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fair-goers were excited when the 2021 fair, “Fair Forward,” was a go. Even the county commissioners knew it and stated, “After such a challenging year, we all need some fun…we need that more than ever.” And fun it was! The public showed up in droves. Even the auction brought in $1,224,029.68, along with more than $500K in boosts. It was a year of magic!
6. Bourne bests Miller in Garland mayoral election (November 4)
In an election that saw many changes, none were more heated that the bid for mayor in Garland City. In a close one, Linda Bourne, a current city councilwoman, ousted incumbent mayor Todd Miller by 44 votes to become the city’s first woman mayor. The vote count was 287-243.
7. Two killed in I-15 crash (May 25)
A crash at mile-marker 365 on I-15 claimed the life of two Tremonton residents after the driver, Kennedy Jones, swerved to miss tire tread in the road. Jones was pronounced dead at the scene and front seat passenger, Hope Southwick, passed away at the hospital. A second passenger was also injured in the crash.
8. Tremonton Property Tax Increase (June-August)
Due to a shortfall in revenue at the city level as well as an increase in emergency services, Tremonton City Council approved an 11.81 percent increase in property taxes. The shortfall, leaders said, was a result of funding additional fire and EMT staff as that department showed a 67 percent increase in calls.
9. Chief Fertig retires, Nessen takes charge (August - October)
In August, Tremonton Garland Police Chief Kurt Fertig left that position to become a professor in Salt Lake City. He had spent more than 21 years wearing a law enforcement badge, three of them as the local chief. It was announced in October that long-time officer Nick Nessen would take over the helm. He had served in the Tremonton area since 2006.
10. Mask burning at Bear River Middle School (May 28)
Students at Bear River Middle School used the end of the school year to celebrate in a very unconventional way. In fire pits set up by teachers and staff, students who wished to, were allowed to burn the masks that had symbolized a rough, difficult year, highlighted by a mask-mandate from the state. That mandate ended on May 13. The voluntary mask-burning aligned with the retirement of Principal Eldon Petersen, who had spent 11 years as Bear River Middle School.