Wasatch County Deals With Affordable Housing, Remodels During 2019

Wasatch County, like Summit County, is concerned about providing affordable housing for its workforce.

Setting up a new program to enable home ownership for employees is one of the tasks that the Wasatch County Council took on in 2019.

KPCW talked with Assistant Wasatch County Manager Dustin Graybau.

Graybau has been Assistant County Manager for about eight months. Before that, he worked for Provo City for six years, including a stint as budget officer.

He told KPCW that Wasatch County is fortunate because growth allows them to fund some major projects.

One of those, the Employer Assistance Housing Program, aims to find housing locally for  Heber Valley’s essential workers, such as teachers, First Responders and government workers.

“What we’re looking at is called a Shared Appreciation Mortgage.  What that means is that the county would become a co-owner in a home, and would have a silent second position on it.  So we would put money into a home and own a percentage of that home.  Say it’s 10 percent.  What that means is the employee only has to pay for 90 percent of the house.  The county owns 10 percent.  And in the event that the house gets sold or refinanced, the county owns 10 percent of the equity as well.  So it’s a win-win is what we view it as.  We’re able to help employees purchase homes at lower prices than they might not be otherwise able to do, and the county has a return on that investment as well, through that appreciated mortgage value.”

Graybau said that to start with, the program is focusing on sheriff department employees.   And they’re helping out that department in other ways too

“We’ve done a number of adjustments in the sheriff’s office to increase the competitive compensation that we’re doing.  One is just a straight-up wage adjustment to more closely match what local public-safety professionals are getting.  We also have a few other programs that we’re adding, including shift differential, holiday pay, educational merit increases, Spanish fluency and a tuition reimbursement program.”

Elsewhere, the county has done significant remodels for the Council’s meeting room, the library and the sheriff’s offices.

“Our Council Chamber I think now is a very modern set-up where we’re able to do audio and visual recording displayed to the public and to the Council Members any audio-visual connections that we need to.   The Sheriff’s office is quite a nice upgrade of office spaces to be able to meet their needs and prepare for the future.    And the Library, we added a wing that added some public meeting space.  It’s a beautiful addition that matches perfectly to the previously-existing library.”

Assistant Wasatch County Manager Dustin Graybau.

Read the original story at KPCW.org

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/.