The following are my messages in the Highland Living magazine for 2019. Occasionally the editors shortened my message or revised it slightly. What I’ve included below is the message that was originally submitted. Most Highland residents now receive the publication at no charge. We were able to get the parent company to add over 500 additional households to the original delivery list which did not include a significant number of households.
January 2019 Highland Living Magazine
In the foreword of the 2008 edition of the Power of Positive Thinking, Pastor Robert Schuller shares a story from 1957 when he introduced its author, Norman Vincent Peale, a guest Speaker to his congregation.
It was time to introduce our guest. Before I knew what I was saying, I heard the following words come out of my mouth. “We have with us today the greatest positive thinker who has ever lived. His words have been heard and read by millions of people all over the world. He has changed more lives than can be counted. The greatest positive thinker who ever lived is here—with us—today!. In person! His name is … Jesus Christ! and here to tell us all about him is Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.”
Dr. Peale was surprised, I could see.
With his arms moving in sync, Dr. Peale boomed out, “If Jesus Christ were here today, would He tell you what a lost sinner you are?”
I nodded my head.
He continued, “Would He tell you how bad you are, how you’ve failed?”
Again I nodded in agreement.
Then he shocked me by shouting, “I don’t think so! Deep down in your heart you already know that: you already know just what your most grievous sins are!”
Then he peered out across this great multitude, made the most of a dramatic pause. “Jesus Christ never told anyone he was a sinner.”
After Dr. Peale’s sermon Dr. Schuller rushed home and grabbed his Bible looking to prove that this statement was incorrect. However he states:
I found that Dr. Peale had been right! What I didn’t find was a single place where Jesus had called any person a sinner!
As I reread the words of Jesus, I discovered that He focused not on people’s weaknesses but on their strengths, not on their shortcomings but on their possibilities, not on their failures but on their successes!
Wouldn’t Highland be a better place in 2019 if we followed this example better. If you haven’t read Dr. Peale’s book I would encourage you do so. You’ll find it inspiring and especially appropriate for the world in which we live today.
February 2019 Highland Living Magazine
As Valentine’s Day is this month I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes on marriage. “Courtship is the joyous, sunshine launching of the craft of hope; marriage is the long cruise across uncharted seas.” This quote applies not only to marriage but to many aspects of our life. Starting a new job, launching a business, having a child, buying a home … . We enter uncharted waters on a regularly basis; usually we are excited and have high expectations. Often life intervenes and we hit stormy weather.
I received a letter today from a family that experienced stormy weather in the form of a sewer backup last year which damaged most of their basement. They were very appreciative of city staff’s efforts to help resolve the many issues which arose and to the responsible party for “making things right”. They made a couple of statements that I would like to share:
“In life, mistakes are made and that is just it, they are ‘mistakes’ that we need to work through.
“We know that conversations and emotions behind this may not have been the best at times, but a steady and constructive approach worked best … .”
How true! Mistakes happen, they are not malicious acts, and a steady and constructive approach to resolving them works best. This family’s reaction to an unexpected, unpleasant and inconvenient—make that very unpleasant and most inconvenient—event is one of the things that makes Highland, Highland and such a wonderful place to live. We are all involved in ventures that put us in uncharted waters. We all experience storms. Being willing to take a steady constructive approach and taking the time to recognize the efforts of others is a great example of how to make it through storms and have everyone end up in a better place.
 William George Jordan, Little Problems of Married Life, (New York, Fleming H Revell, 1910), p. 1
March 2019 Highland Living Magazine
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
From Highland’s humble beginning to its current status as a highly desirable community, service, persistence and patience have been a trademark of those who helped build our community. For example, the drinking water system we all benefit from was started by five men, one of whom was the father of Mark Thompson, our previous mayor. In 1958, they set up a non-profit company, put in our first well, built storage tanks and then began laying 13 miles of pipe. Water service began in 1959 to 60 homes. There were no full-time employees until 1979. Their hard work and persistence laid the foundation of a system that still serves us well. Because the city has maintained stringent management processes, the water we drink is untreated. It comes from the aquifers beneath our city to our taps, untouched by chemicals (the water is tested every month). Perhaps an enterprising resident could bottle and brand it Highland Pure .
We very much appreciate those who have lived and served here. We also welcome those who move here to be a part of our community. Our resident’s energy, enthusiasm and willingness to persist in continuing our tradition of service to community is what helps Highland remain a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
April 2019 Highland Living Magazine
While we all enjoy living in Highland, occasionally we see opportunities to improve our community or issues arise that cause us concern. The good news is we an affect change if we are willing to make an effort.
Here are a few tips to wielding influence in local government. First, develop a good understanding of the issue. This includes looking at it from multiple perspectives. Then you can share your thoughts with council members. In my experience, one-on-one discussions with multiple council members are one of the most effective ways to share your thoughts, get questions answered, and get a sense of where the council is leaning on any given issue. Sending emails to council members in advance of a decision is also influential. The most effective emails are often the shortest and include questions designed to initiate a conversation. Public input during council and planning commission meetings is another means of sharing information with city officials. The downside to this communication tool is that it is designed to solicit input rather than foster dialogue. The upside is that all officials hear our comments at the same time and know where you stand.
Dale Carnegie in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, offers this sage advice relative to exerting influence. “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”
There will always to be opportunities for Highland to improve and citizen involvement will always play a vital role in Highland remaining a wonderful place to live. Click here for more tips on influencing local government in a post I wrote while a council member.
May 2019 Highland Living Magazine
“Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, ..., he then becomes the rightful master of himself.” James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, 1902.
Spring is here in spite of winter’s last minute rallies. Watching flowers bloom and trees blossom fascinates me. It seems as if one minute the trees are bare and the next “popcorn is popping on the apricot tree.” As your mayor I have the great opportunity to watch people blossom as well. Residents occasionally come to council meetings frustrated and angry at some issue. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing the anger and frustration turn into a desire to become involved and help make things better once they realize that there are ways they can exert influence and make a positive difference. It is one of the many things in my view that makes Highland a wonderful place to live.
June 2019 Highland Living Magazine
One of the wonderful things about Highland is the amount of service that our residents give. Each week the Arts Council, the Highland Foundation, various service and issues based organizations, and local businesses join in and help in a variety of ways. It is stunning to see the scope of our community’s involvement. For example, I have specific insight into how much service the surrounding communities provide at the Utah State Developmental Center (USDC).
Each year about 1,600 youth and 900 adults give over 32,000 hours of service at the USDC – Highland residents provide a quarter of the total service. On Sundays, youth and leaders come early in the morning to get trained and then help bring residents to and from the campus so they can go to church. On Wednesdays, they give up an evening and go dancing with the residents. Additionally, adults from the area run a sewing center to repair and tailor clothing for the residents, and twice a year the community gathers to do yard work and general cleanup projects at the USDC.
The Developmental Center is only one of many examples of how we serve the community at large. Hundreds of others volunteer at Courage Reins, Tabitha’s Way, United Way … . To those who help others, whether as part of a group or simply through small acts of kindness, we say thank you. Highland City residents are inspiring!
July 2019 Highland Living Magazine
The political season is upon us. As our community begins the process of selecting three new council members I would like to share one of my favorite political quotes. Alexander Hamilton included the following thoughtsin the 3rd of The Federalist Papers No. 1:
“So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, ... would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy … Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.”
I look forward to a fair, issue-based, and positive campaign season as residents decide who will best serve Highland City over the next four years. I would encourage residents to take the time to engage with candidates. Running for office is hard work. It takes time and money. When you find candidates that you believe will serve our community well please share some of your time and money with them to help lighten their load and ensure that we are well represented going forward.
August 2019 Highland Living Magazine
“Let us conceive of gratitude in its largest, most beautiful sense, that if we receive any kindness we are debtor, not merely to one man, but to the whole world. As we are each day indebted to thousands for the comforts, joys, consolations, and blessings of life, let us realize that it is only by kindness to all that we can begin to repay the debt to one ...” —William George Jordan
As I walk through my neighborhood and look at the snow capped mountains that surround us, I am filled with gratitude for the many blessings we experience in our wonderful community. Here are a few of them:
We had an exceptional year for precipitation, but no flooding. As of July 8th, we were experiencing six times the flow out of the canyon as we were last year. I am grateful for our staff and the US Forest personnel who worked hard to clear logs from the river and debris basin to limit the potential for flooding and for the hand of Providence in providing weather that facilitated a gradual runoff.
All those who spent countless hours helping on the Highland Fling and the associated service projects for Days for Girls and Elevita.
The candidates who are taking time out of their lives to run for office.
The members of our community who have on their own initiative worked to create bike trails and a frisbee golf course as well as help beautify and clean up our parks and trails.
People like the Smeltzers who were featured in last month’s magazine who have shared their many talents with others during the course of their life and made the world a better place.
I hope all of you find something to enjoy during Fling week as we celebrate the “Wonderful World” we live in.
September 2019 Highland Living Magazine
“Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later into act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance. Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.” —James Allen, As A Man Thinketh, 1902
At this time of year we are still enjoying the fruits of our gardens. Like our lives, their products are largely reflective of our efforts in tending them. In James Allen’s short book, As A Man Thinketh, he reminds us of the importance of our thoughts and actions. Unlike a garden, we can plant the seeds of future success at anytime. I see men and women in Highland each day who are living billboards of one of my favorite Allen quotes: “A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts.”
As we enjoy the beauty of fall and the fruits of our labors. Let us remember to continually sow good thoughts in our minds and good deeds in our community, so that we will enjoy their fruits throughout the year.
Click here for more information about James Allen and a free copy of his book.
October 2019 Highland Living Magazine
In 1990 Jerry and Monique Sternin, while working for Save the Children, were asked to open an office in Vietnam and fight malnutrition. They were told by the Vietnamese government they had six months to make a difference. In 1990 about 65% of all Vietnamese children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition.
The conventional wisdom was that the causes were poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and ignorance of the rural villagers. From the Sternin’s point of view this information was “True But Useless”, as there was little they could do in six months to remedy those issues, especially with almost no budget.
Fast forward six months and they had improved the health of over 60% of the children in 14 villages. Over time their solution reached 2.2 million Vietnamese people in 265 villages. This was accomplished without resolving the key issues mentioned above and with very limited financial resources.
You ask how? The Sternin’s visited a limited number of villages and assessed the health of the children in each one. They then analyzed the information collected, found the “bright spots” (healthy children among the very poor), studied what the mothers of those children did differently, then shined a light on those practices. Then mothers in the villages helped each other change their feeding practices.
In Highland we have our own bright spots. Take the North Beacon Hills neighborhood. Several years ago they wanted to improve their park by adding a disc golf course. They laid out a course, collected donations, and with minimal help from the city built it. Tournaments now fund the maintenance of the course which is widely used by the community. Residents working together to improve the community is one of the things that make Highland a wonderful place to live.
Click here to learn more about the Sternin’s story.
November 2019 Highland Living Magazine
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”—W.T. Purkiser
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington wrote the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation. It includes the following:
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation …”
One of the events President Washington may have been thinking about was the “Miracle of 1746.” That year the colonies learned that a fleet of French ships were on their way to “expel the British from Nova Scotia, consign Boston to flames, ravage New England, and lay waste to the British West Indies.” The colonists were very concerned as they had no real means of defense. Governor Shirley of Massachusetts proclaimed a Fast Day to pray for deliverance from the peril.
On the appointed day people flocked to their churches. In Boston the Reverend Thomas Price offered a prayer in the Old South Meeting House. While people had walked to church in sunshine, as the prayer began the sky darkened. The reverend prayed “Deliver us from the enemy! Send thy tempest, Lord, upon the waters to the eastward! Raise Thy right hand. Scatter the ships of our tormentors and drive them hence. Sink their proud frigates beneath the power of Thy winds.” The wind shrieked around the hall and the great bell struck twice. He continued, “We hear Thy voice, 0 Lord!' We hear it! Thy breath is upon the waters to the eastward, even upon the deep. Thy bell tolls for the death of our enemies! ”
So what happened? The short story is a storm wrought severe damage on the French fleet, the soldiers and sailors were afflicted by disease, and both the admiral and his second in command committed suicide. The fleet limped away and the colonies were spared.
As we take time this Thanksgiving to remember our blessings let us remember that it is “not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, [that] is the true measure of our thanksgiving”—W.T. Purkiser.
Click here for more details on the “Miracle of 1746.”
 Bryon, T. K. Thanksgiving. Retrieved from https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/thanksgiving/.
 Landry, Peter., The Lion and The Lily, Trafford Publishing, 2007
 Bowen, Catherine Drinker. John Adams and the American Revolution, Little Brown & Co, 1950 pp 10-12
December 2019 Highland Living Magazine
“Each day there should be fresh resolution, new strength, and renewed enthusiasm. ‘Just for Today’ might be the daily motto of thousands of societies throughout the country, composed of members bound together to make the world better through constant simple acts of kindness, constant deeds of sweetness and love. And Happiness would come to them, in its highest and best form, not because they would seek to absorb it, but,―because they seek to radiate it.” —William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, 1900
My wife and I recently attended the funeral of a friend, we’ll call her Karen. The family had invited the owner of the assisted living center where she had lived for five years to speak. In a touching speech she recounted an event that happened shortly after Karen arrived at her facility. At the time, Karen was in her late 50’s and had been in a bus accident where she had suffered severe head trauma that impaired her cognitive functions.
Karen had graduated at the top of her high school class with several scholarship offers. However, shortly after high school she contracted a rare brain cancer and she had to put life on hold. She eventually recovered from the cancer, attended college, and married the “man of her dreams.” Her husband tragically passed away nine years later. Afterwards, Karen lived with her parents. Throughout her life, Karen was positive, kind hearted and caring, in spite of or maybe because of the difficulties she faced.
When Karen was admitted to the care center her mother had asked that the center provide her with opportunities to make choices. Consequently, when a caregiver (the owner’s son) brought in a snack one day, he brought in two different protein bars and asked Karen which one she wanted. In response, Karen said, “Well, which one do you want?” He then replied, “This is for you, not me,” to which she repeated her initial question.” He again said, “No, this is for you, not me.” Karen then simply gave him one and took the other for herself.
Closing her remarks at the funeral, the owner of the assisted living center said how grateful she was to the family for letting Karen stay at her facility and for teaching her son to think of others first.
I am grateful for the many acts of selflessness that I witness in our community. Thank you! The Christmas season is upon us. My wife, Suzanne, and I wish all of you much joy this month as you spend time with family and friends. We hope that you, like us, will make a renewed effort to make the needs of others a priority.