Friday, July 31, 2009

Call for Volunteers

Looking for a good way to use your talents in service of your community? You might consider volunteering for the Visual Arts Board.

The American Fork Visual Arts Board states, "It is our mission to inspire, enliven, and enhance our community through exposure to the visual arts." Organized in 1948 by a small group of local artists dedicated to this cause, the Visual Arts Board became an umbrella group of the American Fork Arts Council in 1991. Through the dedication of past and present board members, the Visual Arts Board continues the tradition of sponsoring both the Steel Days Art Show and the Edna Birk Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship of $500 given annually to an outstanding student of the visual arts. Grant money from the Utah Arts Council and funding from American Fork City also enable the Board to sponsor classes for children, teens, and adults in various art media.

The Visual Arts Board is now -- and always -- seeking volunteers. Volunteers can serve in a variety of ways, filling one-time or on-going slots such as show director or co-director, reception coordinator, host or hostess, publicity director, data entry specialist, or board member.

To learn more, please call the Arts Council at 801-763-3081.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Beautiful Reservoir

Speaking at the grand opening of the new reservoir last Friday, lead engineer Eric Franson explained about his penchant for finding beauty. He runs cross-country races, he said, and every so often he has to stop and say, "Wow. That is beautiful." His fellow runners usually scratch their heads, seeing no beauty. So he points out a dam or a reservoir and says, "That makes me happy."

Completion of this reservoir was an event of symbolic significance, marking the construction of an entire utility including 100 miles of pipeline, 13 million gallons of storage in two reservoirs, and three filter stations -- construction which, when it is completed in the spring of 2010, will have taken place in just two years.

Thanks are due to the many who worked to make this possible, including the City staff, the American Fork Irrigation Company, the shareholders, two engineering firms, the contractors, and the American Fork voters.
So many of these voters have now become the rate payers who are feeling the pain of sacrifice necessary to bring this about. "We knew there would be an increase," they say. "We just didn't know it would be this big." Or, to put that in the words of a merchant I spoke with, immoral. A three hundred percent increase is just plain immoral, he said. But then he conceded that not supplying water would be equally immoral.
The reservoir is standing evidence of what Mr. Franson said was "the City's thought for its long-term future, for residents to come, and for our children and grandchildren who will benefit."

"That's a decision that needs to be applauded," he said, "and it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

Three Bumper Stickers

Driving in Salt Lake yesterday, I saw three bumper stickers that merit thought.

If the people will lead, the leaders will follow. Profound thought. In the 2005 mayoral/city council elections, for example, the people made such a voluble outcry for action that the elected officials had no choice but to deliver on pressurized irrigation.

Jesus was a liberal. If so, then Jehovah was a conservative.

Never underestimate the power of a redhead. Amen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Please Take the Main Street Survey

At Saturday's Steel Days parade, did you focus on the floats, the free candy, or the failing infrastructure?

Personally, I find it increasingly difficult to ignore the crumbling sidewalks, the treacherous pedestrian crossings, the waist-high weeds, and the mangy trees in our downtown. That's to say nothing of the high traffic volumes on 89, or the near impossibility of finding parking near one's favorite downtown merchants.

These things are bad enough for those of us who live here and worry about falling property values and vacant properties. But an ailing Main Street hurts everybody in American Fork. It invites crime. It projects a run-down, unkempt image onto our city as a whole, deterring strong businesses from locating in town. And it carries a high opportunity cost, considering what is possible at this location.

Positioned at the center of a region boasting so many of the state's highest incomes, an effectively revitalized Main Street could attract a pretty penny or two to the City's sales tax coffers.

Fortunately, there are remedies to be had. Enter the Main Street Vision Study, sponsored by Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG). This is a thorough and official effort to "analyze and recommend economic opportunities, possible design themes, future land use types, densities and transportation opportunities that American Fork City could use to encourage future development while retaining the streets’ unique historic character."

MAG is the metropolitan planning organization for Utah County, and its studies are taken seriously by all the major decision makers, including UDOT and the State of Utah. MAG itself is taking this study very seriously, as it has engaged some of the state's top designers, architects, and economic analysts to complete the job.

The study will be kicked off with a survey of Main Street residents and business owners. Today I am inviting YOU to take this survey also. I am especially interested in feedback from my several hundred neighbors who live in the blocks adjacent to the Main Street corridor, but I am also interested in feedback from American Fork's farther-flung residents who have given the issue serious thought.

Please follow this link to read the mayor's letter and print the survey today. You'll need to deliver it yourself to Debby Lauret at the City administration building by about August 1, or mail it to this address:

Debby J. Lauret
PO Box 162, 51 East Main
American Fork, UT 84003
I'm sorry that this is inconvenient -- but if, like me, you are anxious for change and want a voice, then I know you'll appreciate this opportunity for input.

If you ask me, this study has come not one minute too soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Steel Days Are Here!

It's a week-long par-tay in American Fork.

For the official calendar, go dig your utility bill out of the recycling, or check here at

For more details on a prolific profusion of events including parade, carnival, baby contest, art show, car show and cruise, craft, quilt and doll shows, golf and horseshoe tournaments, steak fry, 5K, or to find out which movie will be showing after Friday's picnic in the park, check out today's Daily Herald article, "American Fork Steel Days Full of Events."

Also in the Herald, look for a fitting and well-deserved tribute to this year's Grand Marshalls Dan and Karen Adams. Read about last Saturday's Tour de Donut (this is public health?) and about the old root beer bottles that inspired last night's tour of the DUP Museum in Robinson Park. (I went, and was inspired.)

Additional events include the American Fork Symphony (tonight!) and, in place of the traditional Big Show, Reality Nite featuring American Fork Idol. Contestants are listed in the Herald article, but the best talent of the night may well be the Master of Ceremonies, Sam Beeson.

Last of all come the fireworks, so the Saturday show will end with its traditional bang.

A few don'ts: Don't forget to buy discount carnival tickets from participating downtown merchants before noon tomorrow (Wednesday). Don't neglect to support the peerless American Fork Marching Band at breakfast Saturday morning in the Albertsons parking lot. And don't forget to thank the amazing Steel Days volunteers who put all this fun in American Fork!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sewer Rate Increase

With water bills tripling this year, residents are justifiably concerned to note an increase in sewer rates also taking effect this month. Here's a tiny bit of background.

As the TSSD (Timpanogos Special Service District, one of the best euphemisms ever) raised its rates this month, it became necessary for the City in turn to pass the increase on to the users. The TSSD increase was about 26 percent.

As a city council, we analyzed several variations on the rate structure looking for one that would spread the increase equitably without penalizing residences more than businesses or vice versa. We looked at what our sister cities charge. We examined low base rates and high base rates, low and high per gallon charges, and so on. What our analysis showed, based on usage patterns we have on record, was that raising the base to $24.50 and lowering the per gallon overage threshold to 3000 would result in roughly a 25 percent increase for both residents and businesses.

This was an important value to us because businesses such as car washes and laundromats within the city are already struggling epically with the water rate increases. Raising their sewer rates disproportionately could have put several out of business, with a negative effect on the local economy.

Where the City previously charged $22.50 for the first 6,000 gallons with an overage charge for any usage beyond 6,000 gallons, it now charges $24.50 for the first 3,000 gallons and $1.10 per thousand gallons over that threshold. So for 6,000 gallons the charge is $24.50 plus (3 x 1.1) which equals $27.80 -- about a 22 percent increase. City records show that most residences use water within this range, so residents are not likely to see increases much higher than this.

Like you, I still prefer the zero percent increase. But 25 percent, under the circumstances, is pretty manageable for residents, and will not put anybody out of business.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the TSSD plans to increase rates yet again, by the same amount, next year.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Now Seeking Four More Years

I did it. I filed for re-election this morning.

This is not a decision to take lightly. Campaigning ranks on my list of fun somewhere below visiting the dentist and going through labor. But it is obviously the most important and necessary step for anybody interested in public office. I view the campaign itself as an act of service. It has more power to engage the public than any other discussion, and enables people and government jointly to sift through current issues and determine priorities.

I'm seeking a second term not because I think one good term deserves another, but because there's more I want to do. On this subject, read more at my campaign Web page. It is up and running today, though it is not complete. Tune back in over the coming month as I hope to nail in the planks of my platform soon.

A few housekeeping items are in order. I am no longer using my City email signature to promote my blog, as I am now a candidate and will avoid even the appearance of using City resources to further the campaign. Any campaign-related emails should be addressed to my personal account,

To those who follow this blog: My plan is to continue my present habit of providing detail on current council pursuits. I cannot cover every issue (never could) but will continue to post on whatever topics seem most relevant and most accessible in the occasional hours that pop up between council projects.

I signed a pledge this morning when I filed for office, a "pledge of fair campaign practices." It deals more with unethical practices than negative campaigning, but it appeals to me because I am by nature a positive campaigner. It makes no sense to catalog a colleague's demerits and leave voters without any sense of my own strengths. You can expect me to focus on my own record and views, leaving others to tell their own stories.

All other candidates will sign the pledge. You can read it below, then help keep us honest.

Pledge of Fair Campaign Practices

There are basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play which every candidate for public office in the State of Utah has a moral obligation to observe and uphold, in order that, after vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaigns, our citizens may exercise their right to a free election, and that the will of the people may be fully and clearly expressed on the issues.


I SHALL conduct my campaign openly and publicly, discussing the issues as I see them, presenting my record and policies with sincerity and frankness, and criticizing, without fear or favor, the record and policies of my opponents that I believe merit criticism.

I SHALL NOT use, nor shall I permit the use of, scurrilous attacks on any candidate or the candidate's immediate family. I shall not participate in, nor shall I permit the use of, any other criticism of any candidate or the candidate's immediate family that I do not believe to be truthful, provable, and relevant to my campaign.

I SHALL NOT use, nor shall I permit the use of, any practice that tends to corrupt or undermine our American system of free elections, or that hinders or prevents the free expression of the will of the voters, including practices intended to hinder or prevent any eligible person from registering to vote or voting.

I SHALL NOT coerce election help or campaign contributions for myself or for any other candidate from my employees or volunteers.

I SHALL immediately and publicly repudiate support deriving from any individual or group which resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of an opponent, to methods in violation of the letter or spirit of this pledge. I shall accept responsibility to take firm action against any subordinate who violates any provision of this pledge or the laws governing elections.

I SHALL defend and uphold the right of every qualified American voter to full and equal participation in the electoral process.

I, the undersigned, candidate for election to public office in the State of Utah, hereby voluntarily endorse, subscribe to, and solemnly pledge myself to conduct my campaign in accordance with the above principles and practices.


Heidi Rodeback
July 1, 2009