THUMBS UP: Mail-in ballots went out this past week for Utah’s June 30 primary, and Utah’s election officials say that despite the fear-mongering in other parts of the country, vote-by-mail is “very, very secure.” Utah has had plenty of experience with balloting by mail, a process first employed in the state back in 2013. And in an era of hyper-partisanship, party leaders on both sides of the aisle agree on this one thing: Utah’s election process is safe. Weber County Republican Party chairperson Lacy Richards called mail-in ballots “tried and true,” while Democratic Party counterpart Zach Thomas pointed out that more than 90% of local ballots are cast by mail and the people of Weber County “trust it.” Which is a far cry from social media posts by the likes of President Donald Trump, who called vote-by-mail “substantially fraudulent.”
THUMBS DOWN: A big ol’ thumbs down to the coronavirus, which continues to make life difficult for the people of Utah. On Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert ordered a “pause” on the lifting of additional virus-related restrictions after the state’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketed following the Memorial Day weekend. Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist, suspects the spike was caused by more people gathering over the holiday weekend and disregarding health recommendations. And if the situation continues to worsen, state officials worry they may have to shut it down again. The solution? Wear a mask and be diligent about social distancing, and Utah just may dodge the pandemic boomerang. Also concerning: Unemployment assistance requests rose 9% last week.
THUMBS DOWN: In a heartbreaking — if regrettably necessary — decision, the annual Ogden Pioneer Days celebration was called off due to COVID-19. It’s the latest and largest annual event in Ogden to fall prey to social distancing restrictions ordered by the government. “We just didn’t think it would be responsible to do it this year,” said Pioneer Days chairperson Alan Hall. The city says all events associated with the celebration — beginning with a Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 11 and culminating in the Pioneer Days Parade on July 24 — have been canceled. Even the Whoopie Girls are saddened.
THUMBS UP: Kudos to the Weber County Veterans Advisory Committee, which is in the process of raising funds to build a new monument at the George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home. Featuring five 11-foot-tall granite spires — one for war veterans from each branch of the military — the monument would be dedicated to those who fought in “all wars” for the United States. “We really feel like this would be a good way to honor all (war) veterans,” Ogden vet Terry Schow told the Standard-Examiner. “Frankly, some of the work put in by our service members of certain wars doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.”
THUMBS UP: In a promising development, it looks like the Weber County Commission is finally pursuing improvements to the recreation area in and around Causey Reservoir. Last Tuesday, the commissioners approved a $60,000 study to determine what sorts of improvements are needed to a spot that’s rapidly growing in popularity for activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming and — in the winter — ice fishing. For far too long, there just hasn’t been enough space to accommodate all the vehicles of recreation enthusiasts drawn to Causey. The first phase of improvements calls for additional parking spaces, an emergency boat ramp and restroom upgrades. A second phase will look at improving 3 miles of roadway around the picturesque reservoir located 11 miles east of Huntsville. The upgrades are long overdue.