GARLAND – By Cari Doutre – May 22, 2020
Garland City Mayor Todd Miller said on March 4, 2020, “As long as I’m mayor, we will always have Wheat and Beet Days.”
Miller wasn’t joking around.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has thrown a wrench in many city celebrations across Utah but it isn’t stopping Miller, and a few other members of the Garland City Council, from voicing their opinions on the city’s traditional Wheat and Beet Days celebration this year.
On May 20, members of the Garland City Council met for the first time in months after the COVID-19 pandemic put restrictions on Utah in mid-March. They discussed not only Wheat and Beet Days, but other city issues put on the back burner during the pandemic.
The council use this opportunity not to waste time and quickly got to the issues. Starting with the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget for Garland City. The council was given assigned departments and a tentative budget, similar to last year, to begin with.
Minor changes to the 2020-21 budget will include an increase in property tax revenue (set by Box Elder County) and a line for the city to contribute to the Bear River Valley Senior Center. That amount has not been set.
“We’re a little bit ahead of budget compared to where we usually are this time (of year),” said Miller.
Councilmember Linda Bourne remarked that she wants to make sure the city and individual departments keep spending down now until June 30.
“I’m hoping, all of the sudden this next month, we don’t go spending like crazy and then end up with some of these over budget because I would like to stay within budget,” Bourne said.
The council has until the end of June 2020 to approve budgets.
Wheat and Beet Days is scheduled for July 10-11, which is less than two months away. Miller started the discussion during the city council’s work session on May 20, letting the council know a decision needs to be made now on whether or not to cancel the celebration because of COVID-19 restrictions or plan ahead and have the event.
“I don’t know where we’re going to be. Nobody knows where we’re going to be exactly by that point, but the governor has started to open things up faster than we expected,” Miller said.
He added that it wouldn’t be a surprised to see counties such as Box Elder County with minimal cases of COVID-19, to open up faster and lower restrictions but that “we really don’t know where that’s going to be right now.”
Lynette Sorensen, head of Garland City’s Emergency Planning department, was also in attendance and made a few suggestions to the council. One suggestion Sorensen made were measures to be taken at the parade to ensure social distancing guidelines are met.
The Miss Bear River Valley scholarship competition is still scheduled for 2020.
The Garland Children’s Charity was also discussed, and it was reported during the meeting that it is still being planned.
The council needed to decide what activities were going to be planned this year as far as Wheat and Beet Days and why some members felt it’s necessary this year.
“For me it’s like saying, ‘hey, we’re not defeated here.’ We might be modifying but we’re still really happy to be Garland citizens,” Miller said.
Miller is a big advocate for Wheat and Beet Days and didn’t want to cancel it completely.
“I don’t want to go any lower than fireworks only,” said Miller. “There’s no reason to cancel fireworks.”
Bourne expressed her concerns over having fireworks and the cost associated with them as well as groups of 50 or more gathering to watch them.
Other members of the council remarked that people can still watch the fireworks from their cars or private property.
“We’re trying to do better with Wheat and Beet every year. We’re trying to make it more successful, bring more people out and I know that if I were the chairperson of Wheat and Beet, I would be coming here saying ‘cancel it, I’m not going to try and bust my butt for two months to try and make this a successful thing that you guys want when we’ve got all these restrictions in place,’” said Bourne.
“I think we need to have it on a good year when we can make it successful,” she added.
“Nobody is going to be disgruntled with us for not doing it,” said councilman Josh Marble.
Not all members of the council were ready to cancel Wheat and Beet Days for 2020.
“I can see all those points, but I can also see that if we did have Wheat and Beet Days, it’s probably going to be the most successful Wheat and Beet Days we’ve had in a long time. Everybody is going to want to get out of their house and go do something,” said councilman Chuck Bingham.
“If people are really worried, they just won’t come. If they’re cautious, they’ll wear a mask and that’s up to them. I wouldn’t require masks by any means and I probably won’t be wearing one myself,” Miller added.
The 2020 Wheat and Beet Days celebration will include the following changes:
· The Saturday morning parade is cancelled
· No cook shack at the Garland City Park
· No Saturday morning breakfast served at the city park
Garland City is still planning on the following activities:
· Fun run
· Dog agility contests
· Vendors and food trucks at the park
· Baseball games
· Garland City vs. Tremonton City softball game
In other council news, the city has cancelled all summer baseball and softball youth programs for 2020 but is planning on fall soccer and wrestling.