In a world of information overload, deciding what’s worth paying attention to can be a daunting task. With so many outlets clamoring for your attention, we appreciate your commitment to reading about local news in the Transcript-Bulletin. And to remind you why that commitment is worth making, here are 10 things you wouldn’t know if not for the original reporting done by this newspaper.
1) Stockton’s mayor suspended a police officer for ticketing the mayor’s son.
If a Transcript-Bulletin reporter had not been present at a Stockton roadblock on the evening Mayor Dan Rydalch suspended Cpl. Josh Rowell, that same reporter would not have followed up with Rowell the next day to see how the exercise had gone. That phone call led to Rowell relating the story of his suspension — a story the Transcript broke on the front page of our next issue. The news was picked up by every major media outlet in the state, and garnered significant national attention as well. Rydalch was subsequently defeated in his bid for re-election and Rowell was reinstated as a police officer by the Stockton Town Council.
2) Rocky Mountain Power pushed to build transmission lines along Tooele’s southeast bench.
Yes, you could have found out about this project from a BLM Web site or one of RMP’s carefully staged outreach events. But if you wanted the real story of how RMP was bulldozing this project ahead despite the objections of local residents and leaders, the only early source for that information was this newspaper. We ran several news articles on the project and also provided an outlet for community opinions on the issue via numerous letters and op-ed pieces on the opinion page.
3) Local businessmen attempted to establish another gravel pit on the Stockton Bar.
We ran several stories on a bid by local businessmen Garry Bolinder and Matthew Arbshay to create a new gravel pit in a town already beleaguered by continuing gravel extraction operations. We also ran stories on public opposition to the new pit, and fleshed out the issue with context on the Bar’s geologic and climatologic importance. Even when it seemed like the Tooele County Commission had tabled the issue indefinitely, we kept following up to keep readers informed. End result: commissioners came out against the new gravel pit.
4) Grantsville officials wanted to raise property taxes by almost 50 percent.
If you were a regular attendee at Grantsville City Council meetings, you would have known about this issue. For the remaining 99 percent of the town, however, the newspaper served as a vital source of information on a tax hike that could have packed a wallop during the ongoing economic downturn. We reported on Mayor Byron Anderson’s presentation of the idea to the community — where it was vigorously shot down. A month later, we reported on the 14 percent of the vote the community gave Anderson in a primary, squashing his re-election bid.
5) Why a Tooele cop couple were fired for misconduct .
We didn’t break the story of the terminations, but we were the first media outlet in the state to explain exactly what Tooele City Police officers Jorge Cholico and Jamie Gutierrez had done wrong. We outlined Gutierrez’s improper relationship with a private citizen, as well as Cholico’s abetting of that relationship. Our piece came out of disciplinary records for the two officers obtained via a GRAMA request to Tooele City.
6) Private transfer fees entered the local real estate market.
One of the more important “buyer beware” stories we ran this year, the issue of private transfer fees had not been a local one until we learned it had been instituted on a parcel of land in the South Rim area. The fee, which has caught buyers unaware in other parts of the state, essentially pays a property’s developer each time that property changes hands over a century. Local real estate professionals have decried the practice and are certainly more aware of it following our story.
7) Local crime rates rose in contrast to statewide trends.
No other media outlet in the state reported on the disconnect between Tooele County’s skyrocketing crime rate — up 25 percent in 2008 following a 9.4 percent jump in 2007, according to data compiled by the Utah Department of Public Safety — and the state’s slightly declining crime rate. Following our coverage, the issue of rising crime became a defining one in the Tooele mayoral race between incumbent Patrick Dunlavy and challenger Becky Bracken.
8) Our wild places were assaulted.
We did several pieces on illegal dumping, reckless shooting and the desecration of our canyons by graffiti and rubbish this year. The story of illegal dumping in Skull Valley was picked up on by the Associated Press this week. The story of reckless shooting gave impetus to the movement to create a legal shooting range in the county. And the canyon desecration story led to several volunteer cleanup projects in area canyons.
9) Mitigation fees declined further.
For all the reporting done outside our county on EnergySolutions, we remain the only media outlet in the state that consistently tracks mitigation fees paid to Tooele County by companies in the Tooele County Hazardous Waste Corridor. Last year, mitigation fees — long accepted as the lifeblood of county finances — declined to only 10 percent of total county revenues and were less than half of what they were in 2005. That led us to question, in an editorial, whether the hazardous waste corridor was living up to the promises made when it was established some 25 years ago.
10) Dugway Proving Ground enjoyed a resurgence.
Other media reported on Dugway being awarded a massive contract to develop and test unmanned aircraft, but only the Transcript went several steps beyond to detail the installation’s rising importance in the nation’s defense system. We did on-the-ground stories on Afghan war scenario training, increasing counterterrorism training, and development of high-tech weaponry such as a new, high-speed electric railgun. Finally, earlier this month, we reported on Dugway’s bid to expand as its business grows.