To investigate the energy-dense cosmic rays, they will need to update their toolkit, including the $25 million Telescope Array observatory near Delta. The expansion will require an additional $6.4 million, the University of Utah announced. Japan has stepped up to help, sending over $4.6 million to quadruple the 300-square-mile observatory near Delta. A National Science Foundation grant this fall is expected to cover the $1.8 million difference. The observatory is the only one of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere. The planned expansion would make the telescope array nearly as big and as sensitive as its rival, the Pierre Auger cosmic ray observatory in Argentina. Together, the two arrays monitor the northern and southern skies. Salt Lake Tribune
Ephraim City has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to repair a 7,000-foot tunnel that passed under Skyline Drive. The tunnel is deteriorating to the point that portions have collapsed. Approximately 65 percent of the city’s drinking water flows through the tunnel. In addition, a $1.87 million loan from the Utah Division of Water Resources and $330,000 in local matching funds will be applied to the $3 million total price tagged for repairing the tunnel and upgrading Cobble Field ditch. Work on the two repair projects could begin this autumn. Sanpete Messenger
The U.S. Census Bureau just released its 2014 population estimates by city. You can use the following visualization to download population counts for each county.
Ephraim took top honors as not only the fastest growing city in central Utah, but for adding the largest number of residents (2010-2014).
Seven of the ten fastest growing central Utah cities are located in Sanpete County (2010-2014); the remaining three fast-growing cities/towns are situated in Millard County. The same pattern holds true for numeric growth.
Richfield maintained the largest population total in central Utah during 2014, followed in order by Ephraim, Delta, Manti, Mount Pleasant and Gunnison.
Population estimates indicate that all incorporated cities/towns in Wayne and Piute counties lost residents between 2010 and 2014.
In contrast, all cities and townships in Sanpete County showed expanding populations over the past four years.
In Millard and Sevier counties, some cities added population while others lost population.
Two major projects are underway in Mayfield. The first major project involves improvement of to the roads around town, with culverts being put in and surfaces being repaired and chip sealed. Bids were awarded to Madsen Excavation, for placement of culverts for approximately $180,000, and to Hales Sand and Gravel, for asphalt repair and chip sealing for nearly $415,000. The second major project involves improvements to the Mayfield City cemetery, due to start the beginning of May. Sanpete Messenger
The Sevier rail project, proposed by Sevier, Sanpete and Juab counties, would connect a coal-transfer terminal near Salina with a Union Pacific main line in Levan. Since the rail line was lost in the 1983 Thistle mudslide, more than 600 trucks have had to travel weekly from SUFCO to the rail line in Levan.
The proposed 43-mile rail line would eliminate more than half of that 82-mile truck trip.
The project (also known as the Central Utah Rail Project) has been winding its way through the approval process since it was originally proposed 14 years ago but is now expected to be issued permits from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in June. Sanpete Messenger
Wayne County slipped back to its job-losing ways as 2014 came to an end. The county’s labor market has struggled since it lost its largest employer in 2011. Mitigating the loss somewhat, the current declines proved relatively minor. Nevertheless, downward movement in Wayne County’s unemployment rate has stalled and the rate has even ticked up in recent months. In addition, sales dropped substantially in the final quarter of the year. An improvement in construction permitting provided the most positive economic news. Overall, the county’s current economic indicators are limping along awaiting further improvement.
Wayne County lost 13 nonfarm jobs between December 2013 and December 2014 for a slight decline of 1.5 percent.
A spurt in construction industry employment basically offset losses in the county’s leisure and hospitality services.
Wayne County’s unemployment rate stood at 9.0 percent in March 2015, the highest level in Utah.
Although joblessness has edged upward in recent months, the rate remains slightly below the year-ago figure of 9.4 percent.
In the first few months of 2015, first-time claims for unemployment insurance followed a seasonal pattern.
Most new claims originated in the construction and leisure/hospitality industries.
Between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014, Wayne County’s gross taxable sales dipped by 12 percent.
A drop in wholesale trade coupled with a prior-quarter adjustment accounted for much of the decline in sales.
Retail trade, food services and accommodations all exhibited gains.
In comparison to the previous year, construction permit values rose 11 percent.
Both new residential and new nonresidential values increased nicely.
Over the previous four years, Wayne County’s population has decreased by nearly 60 individuals due to net out-migration.
While Sevier County’s employment gains may seem rather humdrum, the gradual gains have persisted for the entire year of 2014. That’s a welcome change from the very scarce job increases of 2013. Employment expansion has spurred joblessness to creep ever lower. Moreover, sales improved nicely and construction permitting is up from 2013. While the county’s economy isn’t ablaze with activity, slow-and-steady improvements may win the long-term race. However, the county’s job gains must spread to most industries before the labor market is considered entirely fit.
Year-over job growth in Sevier County measured 71 positions and almost 1 percent in December 2014.
Retail trade, mining and professional/business services created most of the new employment.
On the dark side, both construction and transportation took notable job hits.
In March 2015, the county’s jobless rate measured only 4.1 percent; a sign the economy is approaching full employment.
First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the first few months of 2015 remained low with construction and professional/business services (which includes “temp” agencies) generating the most new claims.
Gross taxable sales shot up 27 percent between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014.
Extremely large business-investment expenditures can be credited for much of the increase.
Retail trade made healthy gains over the past year.
Fourth quarter 2014 new car and truck sales increased 3 percent compared to sales a year earlier.
Overall, construction permitting values rose 15 percent in 2014.
The majority of the increase in construction permit values can be traced to a large nonresidential addition, alteration and repair project.
Both new nonresidential and new residential permit values dropped dramatically.
In 2014, Sevier County’s population contracted by approximately 70 people as the result of net out-migration.
Sanpete County ended the year with a nice, moderate job gain. After losing jobs for roughly a year, the county seems to have regained its employment footing in mid-2014. Industry gains appear fairly broad-based and sufficient to keep unemployment on a downward path. In addition, unemployment insurance claims remain low and sales strong. The only blot on this otherwise healthy economic portrait is a notable slowdown in construction permitting.
Between December 2013 and December 2014, Sanpete County created 245 net new jobs for a growth rate of more than 3 percent.
Manufacturing and government generated the largest number of new positions with significant assistance from construction, retail trade, professional/business services and leisure/hospitality services.
Three industries – mining, healthcare, transportation – did experience notable employment declines.
Joblessness in Sanpete County continued to trend downward to register at 3.9 percent in March 2015.
Currently, unemployment in Sanpete County registers at the lowest level in six years.
In the first few months of 2015, first-time claims for unemployment insurance remained in an abbreviated seasonal pattern.
Sanpete County’s gross taxable sales increased by almost 12 percent between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014.
Strong sales in the business investment category provided a boost along with retail sales gains.
New car and truck sales decreased slightly (5 percent) between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014.
Construction permitting apparently slowed dramatically in 2014.
New residential and nonresidential values dropped decidedly when compared to 2013.
With a slight 0.8-percent increase in 2014 population, only Sanpete County experienced a population gain among the counties of central Utah.
However, even in Sanpete County, roughly 300 more residents have left the county than have moved to it since 2010.