NORTH OGDEN — The flag outside North Ogden City Hall is at half-staff and will remain so at least through the funeral for Brent Taylor.
Inside, city staffers are managing the best they can. Taylor had served as North Ogden mayor, and was killed Saturday while on leave from the city posting for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan with the Utah Army National Guard.
“We’re just taking it in 15-minute blocks at a time,” Jon Call, the North Ogden city attorney, said Monday.
If grief is not enough, city leaders now have to contend with determining who leads North Ogden, even as family and others pin down funeral arrangements.
Brent Chugg was appointed to temporarily fill in as mayor last January during Taylor’s deployment, on Taylor’s recommendation, per guidelines spelled out in state law. But with Taylor’s death, new guidelines will likely apply, and the North Ogden City Council has to sort through the situation.
“More specifically, Mayor Chugg’s position was tied to Mayor Taylor,” Call said. “The question is, does Mayor Chugg still have a position?”
As Call understands it, with Taylor’s passing, it’s now up to the North Ogden City Council to appoint a mayor to fill in as leader until city elections next November. That’s when voters would select a leader to serve what would be the final two years of Taylor’s term. Taylor was elected to his second mayoral term in 2017.
The leadership question was to be the focus of a special closed-door meeting Monday, though no immediate decisions are in the offing. Chugg couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Whatever the case, many on Monday, like those at North Ogden City Hall, had enough as they wrestled with the news of Taylor’s death. A row of U.S. flags planted in the yard outside Taylor’s North Ogden home fluttered and well-wishers left flowers below a banner posted on a light pole with Taylor’s likeness, one of several along Washington Boulevard per North Ogden’s Heroes Boulevard program.
Taylor was in Afghanistan to help train Afghan military forces, and one of the members of his contingent apparently turned on him and attacked him during a foot patrol in Kabul on Saturday, killing him. Other Afghan forces immediately killed the suspected culprit and the matter is under investigation by military officials.
The tributes to Taylor started pouring in Saturday after the news spread and they continue, while friends and family said Monday that funeral arrangements were moving forward. Taylor was to have completed his deployment in Afghanistan and return to North Ogden early next year.
The tentative plan is for a funeral at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, home to the Weber State University basketball team, according to Kristy Pack, sister of Taylor’s wife, Jennie Taylor. North Ogden City Councilman Phillip Swanson said officials want a venue that’s large enough to accommodate the expected crowd.
According to a tweet from the Utah National Guard, Taylor’s remains were scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware at 3:20 a.m. local time on Tuesday, though the estimated time had already been changed once before. Swanson said Jennie Taylor had headed to Delaware to accompany the remains back to Utah.
Pack said the remains were tentatively expected to arrive in Utah this week, though times and dates at this stage remain fluid. Whatever the precise date and arrival point — Salt Lake City International Airport or Hill Air Force Base — Swanson said a group of Patriot Guard Riders would probably escort the remains to Weber County.
Taylor’s body is to be buried in Weber County, Swanson said, but the location apparently has yet to be selected.
Brent and Jennie Taylor have seven children, aged 13 years to 11 months, and family and friends have asked for help from the public to help with the expense of raising the children. As of late Monday afternoon, more than $337,000 in donations had been made to the main GoFundMe page seeking help.
Meanwhile, a letter written by one of Taylor’s Afghan military colleagues, Maj. Abdul Rahman Rahmani, an Afghani pilot, made the rounds on social media. He wrote the letter to Jennie Taylor, expressing his condolences, praising Taylor’s service and sending a message to the couple’s kids.
“Never stop telling them what a great man their father was, he was a true patriot. He died on our soil but he died for the success of freedom and democracy in both of our countries,” he wrote, in part.