This remains one of the most challenging news stories I have ever written. My editor told me I received the assignment because the writer who had previously covered the issue had become too involved. I had never covered a water rights issue, so much of the jargon was foreign. On top of that, I was a Carbon County reporter – I knew the players there. Sanpete County was all new territory, so it was a challenge just to find a source. To make matters worse, the previous reporter had written some slanted coverage, so many Sanpete officials were hesitant to speak to me. In the end, I found officials who would speak to me and I’m still impressed on how well I grasped the concept of water rights so quickly and how well I explained the issue.
I hadn’t been a professional news reporter for even six months when I walked into the office to be greeted by the editor and publisher. “Get in your car and head to Hiawatha,” the publisher told me. “Something is on fire down there – sounds like a structure.” Hiawatha is a small community, originally a mining town, that lies about 15 miles away from the closest city. A group of polygamists bought the town several years earlier. This was the only time I was allowed to set foot inside the gated compound.
[F]irefighters from Price, Helper, Wellington and Huntington responded to a fire at the old cultural hall in Hiawatha last Thursday evening. Two fire trucks from each municipality, three ambulances and two water trucks from the county responded to the call.
After 45 years, East Carbon High School shuttered its doors. The decision by the school board came just a few weeks before graduation. My assignment was to catch the last days for students and faculty as they finished the school year. We’d already covered the decision from the board in an issue several weeks earlier. In this issue, another writer focused on the impacts to the small community of fewer than 2,000 residents who would be lose their high school and community center.
[E]ast Carbon High School’s bells rang to dismiss class for the last time on Thursday. Graduation began at 1 p.m., and seniors at the ceremony spoke for more than just their class. This year’s Viking graduates will be the last at the 45-year-old high school.
“We’re not just here to celebrate our graduation, but the last day of East Carbon High,” said a tearful Samanth Madrid, senior class president.
Valedictorian Amanda Hepworth struggled as she approached the podium. The normally cliché remarks about change and moving on were more poignant as she applied them not only to the 17 in the class of 2005, but to the rest of the 120 students who attended East Carbon High this year. Continue reading Last ECH class bids farewell→