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Petition asks Evanston schools not to allow armed teachers

EVANSTON — A lengthy agenda resulted in a four-hour meeting for the Uinta County School District No. 1 board of trustees for the regular meeting last week not including time spent in executive session.

Agenda items included presentations from Region V BOCES and the student services and technology departments, a proposal from Dominion Energy requesting an easement at North Elementary for gas line reinforcement, a renewal of district employee health insurance, school reports and multiple other items. Trustee Kim Bateman was not present for the meeting.

A noteworthy development during the May 8 meeting that was not on the agenda was the presentation of a community petition during the public comments portion of the meeting, when Evanston resident Gina Morrow presented a petition to the board asking the district to halt implementation of the recently adopted Policy CKA, which allows staff members to apply for approval to carry firearms on school property.

Morrow said the petition had been signed by 146 concerned members of the community, including students, parents, grandparents, teachers, former teachers, school district staff members and citizens.

She said signatures were still being collected and the signatures on the petition to that point had been collected in six days.

“This petition is based on the belief that the board should make evidence-based decisions,” she said. “Two years ago, the board took an oath to be more transparent to the members of this community. This petition gives you, the board, this great opportunity.”

The petition specifically asks the district to disclose information and evidence the board relied on in deciding to adopt the policy, disclose information regarding any less extreme measures that were considered, disclose information about how the advisory committee on the policy was organized, disclose how much the policy will cost the district, disclose any contributions and funds the district has received from outside sources and have a third reading of the policy that is widely publicized in the community.

The petition further requests that the district create a procedure through which parents can request their children not be forced to be in contact with armed staff, create a procedure to prevent the use of confidentiality as a barrier to transparency, create procedures for principals to request that staff in their schools not be armed and create gun free schools within the district so that parents may choose where to send their children.

“During the second reading there was clear confusion within the board and district employees regarding the number of readings that would be held to discuss this policy,” Morrow said. “It is obvious this policy has not been clearly thought out and should not be rushed into implementation.”

She went on to say she knew everyone had the common goal of keeping children safe.

“However,” she said, “rushing this policy to fruition without regard for common sense and evidence is a grave mistake. This should not be taken lightly and rushed into policy just because we have to ‘do something.’”

The petition closed with a request for a written response from the district within 30 days.

Neither the trustees nor district administration made any comments regarding the petition Morrow presented throughout the duration of the public meeting.

Trustees voted in March to allow firearms on school district property, making UCSD No. 1 the first to do so in Wyoming. Park County School District No. 6 followed suit in April.

Utah probing E. Coli contamination report at national park

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah authorities are investigating reports of drinking water contaminated by E. coli linked to prairie dogs at an iconic Utah park, but said Tuesday that tests so far show the water is clean.

Bryce Canyon National Park saw 2.5 million visitors last year, and county leaders are alarmed about contamination reports linked to feces from prairie dogs near the well that supplies water to visitor facilities and cabins.

Park officials said contaminated samples came from untreated water. Treated water is safe, they said. State drinking water officials said they’re planning to review the system this week, but so far have seen no evidence of a problem in monthly drinking water tests.

“Bryce Canyon is in full compliance with everything they’ve done,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality Division of Drinking Water director Marie Owens.

But local leaders aren’t convinced.

“This has been going on for a long time, and we’re not going to put up with that anymore,” said Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins.

The county commission passed a resolution Monday calling it an “immediate, direct and significant” public-health threat.

A park employee has shared results of more than a dozen tests over the last several years have shown the presence of E. coli, most recently last year, Perkins said.

It’s a bigger issue in high-water years when more debris enters the water supply, Perkins said. He said the park should get a new well or move the prairie dog colony.

The park constructed a fence last year and is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move the colony next month, National Park Service spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo said.

The water is safe after being treated by a micro filter and chlorination, she said.

Utah prairie dogs are a threatened species, and federal endangered species protections for them have been a source of frustration for property owners who say the rules go too far and allow them to take over.

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