Compiled by the Clipper staff
An eventful year drew to a close on Sunday night, with lots of memorable moments in local, state, national and international news events. Here’s our look at the top 10 news stories involving Davis County in 2017:
Bountiful City Hall/Stoker School
One of the most contentious political issues this past year was Bountiful City’s announced plan to build a new city hall on the site of Stoker School as part of a downtown plaza development. City council initially approved the plan, despite a loud public uproar from opponents and a petition drive to try to force the issue to go on a ballot. State law would not have allowed that decision to be voted on, but councilmembers decided to rescind their previous vote and chose not to pursue building the new government center. The current city hall will be remodeled. That didn’t stop the backhoes from leveling Stoker School, however. The site was cleared and the city still plans to develop a plaza on the site in the future.
Local man killed in London terrorist attacks
West Bountiful resident Kurt Cochran was among those killed in late March during a terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge. He was struck by a vehicle and killed, while his wife Melissa Payne Cochran was seriously injured. Cochran, co-owner of Onion Street Studios in West Bountiful, was a longtime supporter of and volunteer for Summerfest. He ran their small stage, which was renamed in his honor during the 2017 festival. A memorial concert was also held for Cochran this past June at Bountiful City Park.
Early on, it appeared that there might be some big changes coming to local government following this year’s municipal elections. But when the dust settled, incumbents won most of their existing seats as mayors or city councilmembers. In Bountiful, Mayor Randy Lewis won reelection over challenger Dean Collinwood, but Fruit Heights voters elected John Pohlman over incumbent Don Carroll Jr. for mayor. And in Kaysville, Katie Witt bested Lorene Kamalu in the race for mayor, replacing Steve Hiatt, who did not seek reelection. Centerville also chose a new mayor, as Clark Wilkinson beat Randy Randall for the office. Incumbent mayors Bob Stevenson in Layton and Ken Romney in West Bountiful were reelected. Incumbent mayors in Clearfield, Farmington, North Salt Lake and Woods Cross ran unopposed.
Big decisions were made on major roadways throughout Davis County in 2017. After seven years of study, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Davis Corridor. The route of a new 19-mile highway from Farmington to West Point, connecting with I-15 and Legacy Parkway at Glovers Lane on the south end, and S.R. 37 (1800 North) at approximately 4000 West on the north end was selected. UDOT also released the preferred alternative for the US-89 corridor from Farmington to I-84 in Uintah that calls for widening US-89 from four lanes to a six-lane freeway from Shepard Lane to I-84 with limited access.
New high school
The construction of a new high school in Davis County created both excitement and controversy over boundaries and the mascot. After winnowing down the list of possible names for the school from 10 to three and getting public input, Farmington High emerged as the top pick. Rich Swanson was named the new principal and the mascot is the Phoenix. The school will also open with a senior class. It is slated for completion in fall 2018.
Changes at Hill Air Force Base
Leadership over several branches has transitioned during the year, but the biggest change came as the last of the F-16s left the base to make room for the squadrons of F-35s that will take their place. The last F-16s were flown to other bases in September, though some may return for depot modifications and maintenance. The Vipers had called Hill home for 38 years. Another major transition took place in October, when 300 airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings were deployed, along with 12 F-35A Lightning IIs, to Kadena Air Base in Japan for a six-month rotation. Brig. Gen. Stacey Hawkins took over command of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex from Brig. Gen. Steven Bleymaier in August and Col. Lee Kloos became commander of the 388th Fighter Wing, replacing Col. Brad Lyons in June.
Several cities raised property taxes but perhaps the most controversial was for the South Davis Metro Fire Service Area. Despite pushback from some residents at a public hearing in August, the Board of Directors voted unanimously for the increase of about $60 a year or $5 a month on an average value home. Metro Fire Chief Jeff Bassett made the request to cover much needed improvements such as additional staff, a new ladder truck, upgrades on two fire stations, building a new fire station in Centerville and replacing outdated equipment.
It was a big year for schools this year. Hill Air Force Base and Northrop Grumman Foundation gave $1.7 million to fund STEM education and for the first time in the history of the district, new teachers’ yearly compensation topped $40,000 and teachers across the board received a 3 percent cost-of-living increase. The district was chosen for the AP Honor Roll for the seventh year and the Davis High School band marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.
High-profile cases dotted 2017. Former Davis High School teacher Brianne Altice, who pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in 2015 for having sexual relationships with three male students, was denied parole. Also, the Utah Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Davis School District filed by one of Altice’s victims. Heneli Kaufusi was sentenced to two terms of 1 to 15 years in prison in the beating death of another man in Bountiful. Derek “DJ” Harrison, sentenced in Davis County for kidnapping a woman and her daughters in Centerville was extradited to Wyoming to face murder charges and received a third life sentence. The teen involved in the Mueller Park Junior High shooting was placed in the custody of Juvenile Justice Services in a secure treatment facility for an undetermined length of time and a prominent Bountiful doctor, Nathan Ward was arrested on child pornography and child abuse charges.
Business growth across county
The west side of North Salt Lake finally got the grocery store they’ve been longing for when Lee’s Marketplace opened along Redwood Road in January. Though the new Smith’s on 2600 South opened last year, the shopping center has filled out with several stores and restaurants, including Zupas. Wells Fargo is among the businesses that opened in the Woods Crossing development, as well as a Great Clips. Station Park got a handful of new stores, including the seasonal See’s Candies and Bungalow Blue. Further north, the WinCo opened on Fort Lane in Layton as an anchor for the store’s Fort Lane Shopping Center.
The Davis Clipper family also mourned the passing of Shirley Stahle, wife of Publisher R. Gail Stahle, on July 13. She was 79.