THUMBS UP: There’s good news for the Ogden skyline. Its most prominent feature is about to get a makeover.
The city’s tallest structure, the First Security Bank building on the southeast corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard, is the focus of a planned overhaul by new owners. The 12-story building has been purchased by Cache Valley Bank, which plans a complete renovation, according to the new owners. Early rumors have the bank itself occupying the bottom couple of floors, while it develops the rest for commercial — and possible residential — use.
This calls for cautious optimism. Built in 1927, the building has been described as Utah’s largest example of the Prairie Style architecture. It has now sat vacant since about 2006 and has reportedly had three owners in the past decade. But the Logan-based Cache Valley Bank has a good track record of refurbishing historic old buildings, and there’s no reason to believe it can’t work the same magic it has in other places.
Said the bank’s CFO: “We’re excited to see what we can turn it into.”
And so are we.
THUMBS UP(-ISH): We’ve managed to muster a modicum of enthusiasm for this year’s severely scaled-back version of the upcoming Weber County Fair. Or, as organizers are cheekily calling it, “the Weber County Unfair.”
“Unfair,” as in, “It’s just not fair that COVID-19 is trying to rob the community of yet one more traditional gathering.”
The event will run Aug. 5-8 in what we can only assume are the Weber County Unfairgrounds at the Golden Spike Event Center in Ogden. Gone are to be the carnival rides, the food vendors, the exhibition areas and the commercial booths. The traditional demolition derby is also a non-starter.
So then, what’s left? The rodeo, the Junior Livestock Show, the Indian relay races and a truck-bed concert. We suppose that’s something.
To their credit, organizers are doing their level best to take these pandemic lemons and make lemonade: A clever promotional image shows the light blue silhouette of a diminutive cowboy, leading a steer with the words “Weber County Unfair, Aug. 5-8.” The youngster is shown lifting one of his cowboy boots, apparently having stepped in a pile of something brown.
When you think about it, that image is kind of a metaphor for 2020.
THUMBS DOWN: As if things are bad enough these days? Now we have to worry about people ruining the state’s pristine places.
Mark Hadley, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Northern Region outreach manager, said his department has seen a significant uptick in litter and vandalism on state wildlife land, and other agencies have reported similar observations.
“It is worse this year,” Hadley told the Standard-Examiner. “There’s more trash being left behind and we’re seeing a fair amount of illegal dumping, too — people bringing in and dumping things that should be taken to a landfill.”
The working theory is that the pandemic has shooed “definitely more people on the landscape.”
Managers of our wild places ask us to help mitigate the problem by: 1) Packing out what you pack in; 2) Taking an extra trash bag on trips and collecting trash you find along the way; and 3) Reporting those you see littering, illegally dumping or vandalizing by recording their license plate numbers.
Don’t waste this beautiful state.
THUMBS UP: Whitney Houston believed it. And you can bet the Northern Utah Black Lives Matter organization believes it as well.
What do they believe? That the children are our future.
To that end, the local BLM chapter held an “Our Voices Matter” youth rally on Wednesday evening at Riverdale Park in Riverdale. The event featured youth activists speaking and performing at a peaceful gathering designed to address solutions “to help stop racism and support human equality.”
On Thursday, a second “Our Voices Matter” youth rally — utilizing a collaboration session and community training — was held at SeaQuest in Layton.
It was all done with masks and social distancing, and the focus was on peacefully rallying for change.
These youth rallies were inspired. More communication is never a bad thing, and engaging young people in discussions about race relations, diversity and equality can only make the world a better place.
THUMBS UP: Given the usual voting numbers in this country, it’s an ambitious goal. But it’s also a noble one.
Weber State University President Brad Mortensen has joined with other leaders at institutions of higher education across the country for the “ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.” Its goal: 100% voter registration and participation in all elections for college students.
“Promoting civic engagement and positive involvement in our democracy lies at the heart of the university,” Mortensen is quoted in a WSU news release. “We should be both educators and practitioners of political engagement.”
The president faces an uphill battle. Typically, less than half of college students make their voices heard by casting ballots.
Still, the university is trying to make a dent in that number with its Political Engagement Coalition website, at www.weber.edu/pec. The site provides students a portal for information, as well as help in the political process — everything from how to register to becoming educated about the issues and choices in the election.
The “ALL IN” goal of 100% registration/participation for student voters may not happen this November, but it’s a worthy pursuit.