Nine Rails Plaza

Ogden City will build an art plaza at 445 25th St. — currently an empty lot that sits directly east the 94-year-old, historic Bigelow Hotel and immediately west of The Monarch. The lot is shown here Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

THUMBS UP

Dare we hope?

Sadly, Utah health officials on Monday reported another nine deaths from COVID-19. However, there was also some encouraging news. The weekly average case count for new infections in the state dropped to its lowest level in two months — 400 cases per day over the last week. That’s down from a high of 671 cases per week in the middle of July.

It’s also the lowest weekly average since mid-June.

Of course, those gains could all be for naught in a few weeks if the opening of public schools causes another spike in cases.

Still, as the pandemic drags on into its fifth month, a declining case count is certainly a step in the right direction.

THUMBS UP

They had us at “arts-based plaza.”

The empty lot where once stood the blighted Courtyard Inn Motel at 445 25th St. in Ogden is headed for a fabulous makeover. Ogden City is currently developing a plan to build an arts-based plaza that would provide “flexible space for all types of art and a new community gathering place,” according to Ogden’s Business Development department.

Sitting inside the city’s Nine Rails Creative District, the land is prime real estate. The plaza is expected to act as a transition space for pedestrians moving between the area around the Weber County Library and downtown.

More alternative art spaces — especially in this creative district — is always a good idea. We encourage citizens to offer their input as the project moves forward; the public is invited to call or text 801-810-9270 to share their own vision for this community plaza.

THUMBS DOWN

Ogden residents seem to be taking the 2020 census less seriously than other communities.

According to Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, nearly 40% of the city’s residents haven’t completed the census. That not good, especially considering Ogden has the highest rate of residents living in poverty — as well as the lowest median income — in Weber County.

By contrast, almost 70% of Weber County residents have completed the census, and in Davis County that number is approaching 80%.

An undercount of Ogdenites in this year’s census can adversely affect federal dollars for the next decade. That’s money to help with schools, roads, public safety and more. Those aren’t funds the city can afford to pass up.

Ogden residents need to get with the program and fill out the 2020 census.

THUMBS UP

The final combatant on this fall’s presidential/vice-presidential fight card is in place. This past week, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden picked Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his vice presidential running mate.

For the Democratic party, Harris has all sorts of “up” sides. She’s relatively young — at least compared to the other candidates in the race. She’s not afraid to weigh in on issues like race and police reform. But perhaps most intriguing is what she is not: an older, white male.

Harris becomes a historic pick as the first Black and South Asian American woman to be considered for such a high office.

And one thing’s certain: The Oct. 7 vice presidential debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City just got interesting.

THUMBS UP

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced Monday that it was restricting recreational firearm shooting — temporarily — at wildlife management areas, or WMAs, throughout central and Northern Utah. The regrettable but necessary step comes at a time when drought conditions have made this one of the state’s busiest wildfire seasons, and after a wildfire ignited by target shooters burned wildlife habitat in Cache County.

The new ban, effective immediately, prohibits shooting at 17 wildlife management areas, including the Middle Form WMA in Weber County, Coldwater and Brigham Face WMAs in Box Elder County, and East Canyon WMA in Morgan County.

State officials say there’s been an alarming increase in wildfires started by target shooting this year. Indeed, a total of 28 target shooting-caused fires have cost the state nearly $1 million.

The ban will remain in effect “until fire conditions improve.” This precautionary step is the right call.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!