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At the October luncheon of the Greater Richfield Chamber of Commerce, an opportunity to share platform information by the registered candidates for county commissioner turned into a major fact-checking event. Gary Mason, who is seeking a third term as a county commissioner from the northern part of the county, emphatically stated that the town of Sigurd was not planning to annex property owned by a holding company for Sevier Power Company. Sigurd Mayor Chad Houchin and town councilman Mike Roberts indicate that the town is indeed looking into possibilities for annexation of the property, and that the Sigurd town attorney has been directed to present options for consideration. Mason also told those assembled that he has "always been for the power plant," when in a previous interview with ABC4's Terry Wood and Matthew Lee, he said that he was "undecided." Mason made an exuberant announcement that the county would be the location for the power plant earlier in the decade. In ensuing months, citizen's opposition has brought more facts to light, and the residents approved a 2008 referendum requiring any coal-fired power plant construction be approved at the polls.
Monte Turner, registered and running as a democrat for one of the two contested commissioner seats, told the audience that he "didn't vote for Clinton or Obama" in prior elections. Since none of his current campaign signs or posters indicate any party affiliation, many in the county believe that Turner is being less than truthful with either the democratic party or the republican voters he's wooing. "I'm an environmentalist," he declared at Wednesday's lunch, before warning that his experience with public lands as a federal soil conservation official has allowed him to understand that environmentalists are "formidable foes."
The efforts of Sevier Power Company (formerly NEVCO) to build a coal-fired power plant in this high mountain valley has been met with opposition and grassroots organization that has polarized the community and ultimately changed the plans of the original permit application. While original plans have been remanded to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, Sevier Power Co. announced in March that they will redesign the plant to burn natural gas. Sevier Citizens for Clean Air and Water, the organized opposition to the development, has requested that any natural gas approval by the county's planning and zoning commission disallow any future plans that would use coal. The negative response by incumbent commissioner Mason has fueled speculation that the industry may still pursue the ability to burn coal at a future Sigurd plant.
The election is scheduled to conclude on November 2.