Sunday, April 17, 2022

2021 Mayor’s Messages: Highland City Newsletter

Highland Insider 2021

Below are my city newsletter messages from 2021 as well as my final newsletter message from Jan 2022. I always gave considerable thought into the content of these and appreciated the feedback I received from residents.

January 2021 Newsletter

The Infinite gives to no man happiness; but only the raw material from which it can be made. He provides iron ore but never plowshares, clay but not bricks, wheat but not loaves. The material from which one man forms only an abode of misery, another transforms into a temple of joy."—William George Jordan, The Crown of Individuality, 1909.

The new year is upon us. Hurray, we made it! I hope you are excited about the opportunities that await us in 2021. The ingredients for happiness will be there.

Looking ahead we have a number of things to look forward to in Highland. Here is a list of some of them:

  • The connector road between Alpine Hwy and N. County Blvd (Canal Blvd) will be completed in the spring.
  • The road to Costco (6800 W south of 9600 N) will be widened and improved.
  • Beacon Hill Blvd, Timberline Dr, and Wildflower Lane, among a number of streets, will get a maintenance treatment.
  • Staff will finalize a multi-year plan to repair our trail system and we will complete year one of the plan. Note, last year we performed maintenance work on over 60% of our current trails.
  • Once spring hits and our parks begin to be used you’ll discover the bathrooms in our parks were upgraded and that Beacon Hills park now has a restroom.

One last note, if you haven’t watched the video Jon Hart helped the council make last year as COVID-19 hit, it is a few minutes well spent. This hopeful message is as applicable today as it was then (https://bit.ly/2020ayearofhope). My best wishes to everyone as we embark on our journey into 2021.

February 2021 Newsletter

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities."—James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, 1902.

If last year was the year of road work for Highland, this year could very well be the year of construction. There are a number of projects queued up for administrative review or are already approved. Note, administrative decisions are those the planning commission and city council review to ensure compliance with city code. Developers often welcome suggestions for improvements during the process. Here is a list of the some of the projects that are in the pipeline:

  • Highland Market Place (north of Taco Time and west of Blue Lemon). The proposed site plan includes 8,500 sq ft of retail, 43,000 ft grocery, 2 restaurants, and a 65,000 sq. ft. office/fitness building.
  • Lone Peak Village (north of Burt Bros). A two story 14,882 sq. ft. office building.
  • Ten Seven Hundred (formerly AppleCreek, north of UCCU and south of Ace Hardware)  42 residential units plus 23,000 sq. ft. of office/retail
  • Ridgeview (land south of Lone Peak HS and north of the Murdock Canal). Phase 1, which is on the south side of the property, will be started in conjunction with the completion of the east-west connector road. When completed, it will include 265 homes and townhomes.
  • The Hollows (10250 N 6531 W) Waiting for final approval for this 69 lot subdivision.

There are also several other smaller subdivisions that are under construction or will start this year. It will be a busy year for the planning and building departments. Public works and engineering will also have plenty to do. Road and trail maintenance will continue this year (we’re in the fourth year of our seven-year plan). We are working on two critical culinary water projects and there will be important sewer projects this year as well. I am amazed that our limited staff can juggle so many balls at once and am so grateful for their teamwork and perseverance.

What started as a dream over 40 years ago is now a home for thousands of families and businesses that serve us. Let’s keep dreaming that our future may be bright.

March 2021 Newsletter

Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different”—Indra Nooyi (Chairman and CEO, Pepsico), “The best advice I ever got,” Fortune, April 2008

Each winter, staff gets questions about snow plowing. Here are some of the recent ones:

  1. “It was 12 am and the intersection by the Harts gas station was ice & no plow trucks out. Why Highland City?”
  2. “Why does the plow clear only the middle of the road?”
  3. “The plow never clears the end of my road.”

Most of us have made comments or asked questions about an issue when we weren’t happy. Imagine if we had taken the approach that Indra Nooya suggests; “assume positive intent.” In my case it would have saved me from damaging relationships or helped build new ones. I would also have learned a bit more.

Here are responses to the questions and comments listed above:

  1. Alpine Hwy and Timpanogos Hwy are state roads that UDOT plows - in a severe storm we do our best to clear high priority city roads.
  2. One pass through a residential area is sometimes all we have time to do in a storm. Note, we have over 84 miles of roads to clear. While the city owns six snow plows only four or five are operational at any point in time (four of our plows are over 20 years old).
  3. Highland has quite a few “dead-end” roads that are waiting for future development to be connected. Plowing to the end of all of them would take considerable time. During a storm we try to maximize the amount of road that is cleared. Unfortunately, clearing dead-end roads is, most often, not possible during a storm.

As mayor I’ve learned that most people have good intentions and there is a lot I don’t know. “Assuming positive intent” is a key to learning from others and building good relationships.

April 2021 Newsletter

The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”—author unknown

As of the middle of March, our area is considered to be in an extreme drought condition (see droughtmonitor.unl.edu). In order to make the best of things, we need to be frugal this year when it comes to watering our lawns. If you haven’t purchased a smart controller for your sprinkler system now would be a good time. There are still rebates available at utahwatersavers.com.

I’ve started to review the comments from this year’s annual city survey and would like to address a couple of the issues raised:

  • Roads: We are starting the 4th year of our seven-year road plan. One of the most complained about roads, the road to Costco, is scheduled for an overhaul this year (6800 W,  from 9600 N south to 1120 N in American Fork).
  • Trails: Last year we treated over 50% of our 17 miles of city trails. This year we will start on the 5-year trail rehabilitation plan which the council recently approved.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns (mayor@highlandcity.org). If you haven’t yet completed the city survey please do so. Your input can make a difference. Thanks for all you do to make Highland and the world a better place.

May 2021 Newsletter

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2021 City Survey. We started the annual survey in 2016. The results were reviewed in the April 20th council meeting. You can watch the presentation on our city’s YouTube channel (http://bit.ly/Highland-YT). It starts at minute 21. Here are some highlights:

  • 1,270 residents completed the survey, the most ever.
  • The quality of life rating was the highest recorded 3.6 out of 4.
  • Roads received a rating of 2.4 out of 4. Also, the highest recorded. In 2016 48% of residents rated road maintenance poor (1). This year  21% gave roads a poor rating.
  • 64.4% of residents plan on living in Highland for 20 or more years (79.9% for 10 or more)
  • There are 27 service ratings that we compare year over year. Of those, seven had a slight drop (e.g. The Fling, Other Events …), 8 increased (Roads, Quality of  Life…) and 12 remained the same.

Relative to roads, we have some updates. At 1 PM on May 15th the Canal Blvd extension between Alpine Hwy and N. County Blvd will open! As of today, we still hope that we can complete the widening and repair of 6800 W from 9600 N south to American Fork. There are a couple of property acquisitions that still need to be resolved (these do take time and we want to be fair to all concerned) which could push this into next year. A rebuild of Country Club drive from Alpine Hwy to the church was scheduled for this summer, but because of a needed sewer line upgrade, will be postponed to next year.

Please remember to be frugal in your use of pressurized irrigation water this year. Thanks for all you do to make Highland a wonderful place to live.

June 2021 Newsletter

If the individual should set out for a single day to give Happiness, to make life happier, brighter and sweeter, not for himself, but for others, he would find a wondrous revelation of what Happiness really is.”—William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness, 1900

This June is an auspicious month. It marks the beginning of summer, the start of the local election campaign season, and it is also the home of half-Christmas, which for me is the day I can begin to play carols again (much to the chagrin of our city administrator :).

In the spirit of Christmas I would like to challenge everyone to follow the council of Mr. Jordan and make Friday, June 25th (half Christmas) a day where we set out “to make life happier, brighter, and sweeter … for others.”  All who participate can drop by the city office the following week and pick up a copy of Jordan’s book the Majesty of Calmness at the counter. This will be my gift to you for making someone else’s day brighter.

Here’s tidbit from the 2021 city survey. The following three topics received the most comments. Note, over the next 3 months I will use my column to cover each one.

  • Taxes and Fees
  • Parks and Trails
  • Roads

I want to thank the Highland residents who participated in the Canal Blvd (east-west connector) opening celebration. Over 700 residents enjoyed a classic/exotic car show, food trucks, and were able to walk, run, skate, and ride on the new road before it was opened to traffic. Our city Facebook page has a number of pictures from the event. Thanks are also due to our city engineer and the staff who helped make this road a reality and to Corrine and Miranda, our event staff, who organized the celebration.

Please remember to be frugal in your use of pressurized irrigation water this year. Thanks for all you do to make Highland a wonderful place to live.

July 2021 Newsletter

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” —Declaration of Independence by the thirteen united States of America, July 4, 1776

This month we commemorate both the birth of our nation on Independence Day and the entry of the pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on Pioneer Day. Much sacrifice and personal suffering, including the loss of life, separation of families, and forfeiture of wealth, led to the creation of a great nation and wonderful state.

  • Our country has been a bed of innovation that has helped change the world.
  • Our Constitution led the way to establish free governments throughout the world.
  • Our state now leads the nation in many categories related to economic opportunity.

The beautiful city we live in and our fortunate circumstances were made possible by the hardships endured by those involved in the founding of our nation and state. This month let us take the time to learn more about them and share what we learn with those around us. Let us show our gratitude for the many sacrifices made, that we cannot repay, by turning our attention to others in our community, state, nation, and the world. Hint: during Highland Fling week, August 2-7, there will be organized service projects that we all can participate in.

Let me close this message with this thought from Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence: “Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families. The Amor Patriae [love of one's country] is both a moral and a religious duty. It comprehends not only the love of our neighbors  but of millions of our fellow creatures, not only of the present but of future generations. This virtue we find constitutes a part of the first characters of history.”

August 2021 Newsletter

Captain Rob Newsom, U.S. Navy SEAL, described the difference between those who successfully completed SEAL training and those who didn’t, in these terms. “I can say with certainty, those who quit took the first steps toward the bell [candidates can quit anytime by ringing a bell that hangs on the side of their training area] the moment they stopped thinking about the mission and their teammates and started thinking primarily about themselves. So long as they stay focused on the mission and those around them, they can get through anything.”

Monday, August 2nd through the 7th, is Highland Fling Week, a week where we celebrate our community. There are a myriad of activities where you can get to know your Highland ‘teammates’ and develop bonds that will help us overcome the challenges of life. Please take advantage of all that is available during the week.

One of the uniting characteristics of our community is that in times of need we are there for each other. Our mission, so to speak, is to help each other weather the storms and tempests of life and become better people through our service to each other. For me, that is what makes Highland, Highland.

Speaking of helping each other out, if you are watering your lawn more than 3 times a week please change your controller settings. If you don’t know how, ask a neighbor, or call me and I will come over and help.

September 2021 Newsletter

In October you will be receiving a ballot where you have the opportunity to vote for two city council members from the four candidates listed. They are asking for the privilege to spend five to twenty or more hours a week for four years making decisions that affect us now and years into the future.

Council members will make decisions on budgetary expenses totaling about $90M over the course of their four-year term (+$22M per year), zoning, park amenities, trails, road maintenance, and a variety of legal items.

Let me offer a few thoughts on personal characteristics that you can look for as you consider which candidates to support:

  • They need to be someone whose judgement you can trust. Are they able to set aside self-interest when they vote? A council member will vote over 500 times during a four-year term. You can view all council votes since Jan 2018 here - http://bit.ly/HC-CC-Voting-History
  • They will be making decisions on issues in areas where they are not experts. Look for someone who likes to learn, is willing to listen to multiple points of view, and is able to revise their opinion as they learn more about an issue.
  • Council members often don’t agree with each other, but need to work together. Can a candidate disagree without being disagreeable? Are they able to effectively debate issues? Can they compromise when that is called for?
  • Residents will have strong opinions on issues and occasionally are unkind to those who don’t agree.  Showing civility in the face of incivility tends to de-escalate issues and helps take emotion out of decisions. Look for those who are gracious when others are not.
  • Doing the right thing in the wrong way can generate a lot of negativity and is often worse than doing nothing. The “wrong way” usually means making big decisions in a way that is perceived to be non-transparent.
  • Candidates that are patient and persistent will be able to move the ball forward on big issues.

Is there a perfect candidate? No. Are there candidates who are perfectly capable of doing an excellent job? Absolutely! Please take the time to get to know those who are running and support those you believe will be effective public servants over the next four years.

Note, on September 17th we will celebrate the 234th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. I hope you take a few minutes to review the Constitution and consider what steps you can take to help preserve it. Daniel Webster in 1832 had this to say about its importance:

Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation, they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. ... But who shall reconstruct the fabric of a demolished government? Who shall rear again the well proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skillful architecture which unites national sovereignty with state rights, individual security, and public prosperity?

October 2021 Newsletter

Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.”—President Calvin Coolidge, July 5,1926

I agree with this quote from President Coolidge. I would simply add that this applies to the character of a community as well the nation. Thanks to those that have contributed in positive ways to Highland’s character, not only by observing our laws, but by going the extra mile and serving our community. For example:

  • Jenn Lambert, who started the Run Club which has had a positive impact on hundreds of youth in our community;
  • Brandon Balkman who led the resident developed Frisbee Golf Course in Beacon Hills Park;
  • The many Highland residents who served in a local Humanitarian group that made 1,000’s of dolls, diapers, quilts, etc. over the years, such as my neighbors Suzanne Holgreen and RaNae Ott;
  • Scott Hart, who creates the informative and humorous 2-Minute Tuesday video summaries of our council meetings (see  http://bit.ly/uthighlander);
  • And the countless others who quietly go the extra mile to be good neighbors.

Please take the time to become informed on the election this year. You will be determining the outcome of two propositions and selecting two council members to serve us over the next four years. Our city website has information on the propositions and candidates – plus, you can view recordings of debates, meet the candidate events, and candidate interviews on the YouTube channels “Highland City, UT” and “Utah’s Highlander.” If mailed, ballots need to be postmarked by November 1. However, they can be dropped off at city hall until 8 PM, November 2nd.

Going back to gratitude for the way your contributions make our community better – I’m happy to let you know that we are collectively doing much better at conserving our pressurized irrigation water. Earlier in the year we had reduced usage by 5% and we are now at 15%. Thanks, and have a great October!

November 2021 Newsletter

Today we give thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers—for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”—President John F. Kennedy, Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, Nov 1963.

What a wonderful tribute to our heritage and obligation to live up to it. Did you know that a study by doctors Marshall Duke and Robin Fivush, which they began during the summer 2001, showed that the more children know about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believe their families functions.

The doctors developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions about their family such as:

  • Do you know where your grandparents grew up?
  • Do you know where your parents met?
  • Do you know of an illness that occurred in your family?

The scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness. Two months after they finished, September 11, 2001 happened. None of the study families were directly impacted by 9/11, but they were subject to national trauma. Again, the children who knew more about their families were more resilient or better able to moderate stress.

President Kennedy was spot on, in pointing out that we should be grateful for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers and that the best way to honor them is to live by them.

This Thanksgiving let’s take time to share family stories that illustrate decency, steadfastness, strength, courage, and humility with our children and grandchildren. They will be better able to thrive in a world where fear and uncertainty abound. Our families will be stronger and our community improved as a result. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks for all you do to make our community a wonderful place!

December 2021 Newsletter

Gratitude is an oft forgotten key to happiness. My wife wrote the following short story about one of her ancestors, John Gailey, who moved to Kaysville, UT in 1854 with his wife and young children. Whenever I read it my heart brims with love and my eyes are filled with tears.

‘Homemade Shoes’ by Suzanne Mann

Come here, my darlings. Let me secure your feet!
School is very far away, and the weather is frightfully cold today
.”

While sitting in his favorite chair, the dear father lovingly lifted his children, one at a time, onto his lap for the daily ritual of feet wrapping.

First, he nestled their little toes into long strips of woolen fabric. Then, around and around the material went, until there was a nice, soft cushion to walk on. Next, to provide some protection from the frozen snow, a sizable piece of thick, stiff leather from a buffalo hide covered the wool. Finally, the whole package was tied up like a present with strong corded rope. A big hug with, “Thank you, Papa!” ceremoniously concluded each set.

The children then playfully stomped around the house wearing their clumsy and boxy homemade ‘shoes’ until it was time to leave for school.

Across the room, still seated in front of the fireplace, this good father watched and wished he could afford real shoes for his young ones. He smiled anyway.

With breakfast and chores finished, the happy children started out into the chilly air, after being covered with woolen hats and coats and mittens, of course. Now, they would be warm- from head to toe!

No matter the weather, the Gailey family children walked four miles to school each day. Years later, John sold a cow, so he could buy his children their first pair of shoes. His eldest daughter was 14 years old at the time.

In Highland we are, generally speaking, so blessed. I want to wish every resident a very merry Christmas and hope yours is filled with enough light, love and appreciation that you can share it with those who may need a little extra this year.

January 2022 Newsletter

There is a lot to look forward to in the coming year, including:

  • The widening of 6800 W south of 9600 N (road to Costco)
  • Starting the development of Mountain Ridge Park
  • Several new restaurants including Costa Vida and Arby’s near N. County Blvd and Canal Blvd, plus a couple of others west of Blue Lemon, and one near Meiers.

Will our city face challenges this year? Absolutely. Will some of the issues come out of left field? Almost certainly. Will our elected officials and staff be able to deal with them? Yes, with our help and support they can accomplish almost anything. However, some issues take time to resolve.

Our new mayor, Kurt Ostler, and the city council are people we can get behind. They will serve us well. We can best help them by providing information and sharing our perspectives. Sending an email to council@highlandcity.org will reach the mayor, council, and city administrator. However, it is often best to simply have conversation. The city website has phone numbers for staff and elected officials. You can give them a call or arrange to meet with them.

Will mistakes be made during the year? Possibly, but consider this thought:
“Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom, the assessments we pay on our stock of experience, the raw material of error to be transformed into higher living. Without them there would be no individual growth, no progress, no conquest.”—William George Jordan, 1909

Now, let me share with you a few lessons I learned as mayor:

  • Assume good intent. It leads to productive discussions, reduces tension, and more often than not, is the correct assumption.
  • Be slow to judge – City issues are usually more complex than we assume.
  • Contention rarely, if ever, leads to positive outcomes. Additionally, there are almost always negative side effects, such as damaged relationships, that can take years to resolve.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your mayor! I am a better person as a result. I have been blessed by your support, encouraging words and uplifting notes. My best wishes to all in the coming years, as we work to build stronger families and improve our community.

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