Heber City Creates Main Street Banner Ordinance

The Heber City Council recently updated the city’s policy regarding banners posted on Main Street’s light posts. This was partially in response to an emotionally-charged, split opinion among local residents concerning Pride banners, which have been allowed on the City’s light posts for the past two years.

Heber City Council Member Ryan Stack, an attorney who has worked as a public prosecutor since 2007 and has served on a Utah Supreme Court Advisory Committee, explained why the change was necessary. “Last year’s conversation regarding the Pride banners included several mentions about possible [negative] reply banners.” Because, from a legal standpoint, the old banner policy created a “limited public forum,” the City would not be able to regulate content, and any banners, no matter what they said, would have to be allowed to hang on the City’s light posts.

The City Council was concerned about possible response banners being used to “infuriate and offend” people on both sides of the issues. Legally, Heber City “would have to allow any . . . banners, even those submitted by well-known hate groups . . . clearly designed to inflame and disrupt,” explained Stack. If the City reserved the right to choose which private speech was allowed, it would be discriminating against other free speech. A legal “slippery slope” would be created, meaning that the City would be obligated to allow all private banners.

The City Council opted, instead, to reserve the city-owned light poles as a space for the City to promote its government-run events, rather than open them up to all possible private messages. Stack said that his vote for the new ordinance was only meant to protect Heber City from potential liability. From a legal perspective, the only way to guard against perceived favoritism is to allow all public speech or allow none, according to Stack. “This is a sensitive issue,” he continued, “and I understand the need to redraft our banner ordinance has been misunderstood by some as an attack on the Pride banners. This is not the case.”

Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter added, “It’s important to recognize this policy applies only to banners hung by the City on poles in our downtown. This does not affect private citizens’ or businesses’ ability to hang a Pride flag if they desire.” She continued, “I recognize for many in the LGBTQ community and allies, this policy is a painful loss after enjoying celebrating the Pride banners for the last two years. I encourage everyone who recognizes the value of those banners to come together and figure out how we can be more supportive of our vulnerable LGBTQ community members.”

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.