Rolly: UDOT gives snowmobilers the point of no return
Good news for recreationists who like to snowmobile along Wolf Creek Pass in the mountains of Wasatch County: The Utah Department of Transportation has no plans to strand you on the top of a mountain any more this winter season.
Sam Clark will be happy to hear that.
He and about a dozen friends took their snowmobiles and hauled large sleds along the snowpacked road that had been groomed by the State Parks Department, as is the custom, and spent Thursday night sleeping in a yurt, which is owned and rented out by Granite School District.
When the group prepared to snowmobile down the road on Friday, it had been plowed and salted and they had only pavement to traverse with their bladed machines.
Clark said he ended up taking a snowmobile down the road, then using cars to retrieve the other snowmobiles and sleds carrying sleeping bags and supplies still stranded in the Mill Hollow area.
He encountered another group who had gone all 10 miles up the pass and spent the night. They ended up hiking the whole 10 miles to the bottom because the snowmobile path had been plowed away.
UDOT officials said the snowpack was relatively low and some residents decided to ignore the road-closed signs and drive their vehicles on the groomed snow-covered roads. For safety reasons, UDOT decided to plow the roads, but did so without warning those who were headed up the mountain on their snowmobiles.
"I would have been OK with it if we just would have been warned before we went up," said Clark.
UDOT spokesman John Gleason was conciliatory.
"We're always looking for ways to improve," he said. "Communication should have been better."
Gleason said UDOT is taking this as a lesson learned and will be better prepared to warn people in the future who could be affected by its actions.
He said that with storms predicted for the next few days, more snow is expected. UDOT will not plow the pass again this season so it can be used again as a snowmobile trail.
So, snowmobilers, you can make your yurt reservations with confidence that you will have a path to get home.
Swallow saga's ripples • Fallout from former Attorney General John Swallow's campaign keeps spreading in dark and mysterious ways.
It even touched an innocent political polling and research company called Y2 Analytics whose principals include respected Brigham Young University pollsters Kelly Patterson and Quin Monson, who had nothing to do with Swallow's campaign.
The latest dust-up came when emails from Swallow's campaign staff were publicly released recently as part of the investigation into the ex-A.G.
The campaign staffers were sharing snarky remarks about some of the Republican delegates and one exchange zeroed in on a transgender delegate who identifies as a woman.
In the exchange, campaign staffer Renae Cowley said she was "still waiting for a picture of the tranny!" She added "not an up the skirt shot."
Cowley, who does work for lobbyists Doug Foxley and Frank Pignanelli, was loaned by them to Y2 Analytics to help with administrative tasks for one of Y2's clients.
That client happened to be Equality Utah, one of the state's leading LGBT advocacy organizations.
Immediately, when the email exchange was made public, Y2 Analytics officials reached out to Equality Utah to apologize for any offense and assure the organization Cowley would not be doing any other work for them.
Equality Utah Executive Director Brandie Balken said she does not remember Cowley and holds no ill will toward Y2 Analytics
Y2's Scott Riding said Equality Utah has been "incredibly gracious." He emphasized that Cowley did work as a loaner and is not employed by the company.
Balken, meanwhile, pointed out how the email exchange shows the challenges people in the LGBT community face and that "it is horrible" that someone who wants to be involved in the community (as a delegate) would be subject to such "disdain."
She said it shows why legislation to protect the LGBT community against housing and employment discrimination is important because the attitude displayed in the email "is a reality."