- The exterior of Super Grocery in Ogden is pictured Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Satnam Singh, the store owner, was shot and killed on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, prompting a strong outpouring from customers who recalled his friendly demeanor. Many placed candles, balloons and other items to memorialize him.
- Cars pass by the extended shoreline of Pineview Reservoir on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Ogden City says the reservoir is below 16% of capacity due to the ongoing drought.
- Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey speaks at a press conference at the school district building in Farmington on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
- The map on the left shows the U.S. House districts in Utah per the redistricting plan approved by the Utah House on Nov. 9, 2021, and the Utah Senate the day after. Gov. Spencer Cox still must sign off on the plan. The map on the right shows the four districts as they are currently configured.
- Ogden NAACP President Betty Sawyer engages members of the community participating in moderated conversation with panelists about the Marshall White Community Center on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner
The exterior of Super Grocery in Ogden is pictured Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Satnam Singh, the store owner, was shot and killed on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, prompting a strong outpouring from customers who recalled his friendly demeanor. Many placed candles, balloons and other items to memorialize him.
As John Lennon famously sang, “Another year over, a new one just begun.”
With the final turn of the calendar, we recall the moments that made 2021 the most memorable in Northern Utah, for better or worse. These are the top stories of the year, as selected by the Standard-Examiner:
Two teenagers provided the bookend moments in a tragic saga that gripped Ogden in 2021.
Antonio Gianny Garcia, 15, entered Super Grocery late the night of Feb. 28, pointed a gun and said, “This is a stickup.” The teen robber fired four shots, killing Satnam Singh, 65, an immigrant from India who had carved a role and reputation in the neighborhood as a kindly, giving husband, father, small businessman and friend to the community.
At Garcia’s sentencing on Nov. 23, Singh’s 16-year-old daughter tearfully testified, “This pain is never going to go away. … I just want my daddy back.”
Deborah Wilber, Standard-Examiner
Cars pass by the extended shoreline of Pineview Reservoir on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Ogden City says the reservoir is below 16% of capacity due to the ongoing drought.
Judge Jennifer Valencia sentenced Garcia to five years to life in prison. At year’s end, Ogden City officials have been debating whether to name a portion of a street or a neighborhood park in honor of Singh.
Unrelenting Western drought did not spare Utah. The lack of rain and snow continued in 2021, drying up some reservoirs in southern Utah and resulting in unprecedented restrictions on lawn watering use along the Wasatch Front.
With most of the state in extreme drought, water systems in Northern Utah shut off secondary water at least a month early, providing a small cushion heading into another uncertain winter. Reservoir storage water is also a backup drinking water supply. Cutting off secondary use early was done to ensure an adequate drinking water supply going into 2022.
The drought also sank the Great Salt Lake’s level to a historic low, creating a set of environmental problems that may include less snow from “lake effect” storms in the winter and more dust storms in the parched warm months.
State elected leaders and officials continue to consider spending billions on new reservoir and pipeline projects, although project critics say Utah should instead be doing far more to conserve water.
DAVIS SCHOOL DISTRICT RACISM
Harrison Epstein, Standard-Examiner
Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey speaks at a press conference at the school district building in Farmington on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
In a year when racial justice debates roared across the country, the U.S. Justice Department concluded a two-year investigation into racism in Davis County schools by slamming the district for “serious and widespread racial harassment and discrimination” against Black and Asian American students.
In an October settlement agreement with the district, the federal agency ordered a sweeping program to correct the problems. The department’s Civil Rights Division cited persistent failures to respond to reports of race-based harassment by district staff and other students.
Less than two months later, The suicide of a 10-year-old Foxboro Elementary student was blamed by her mother on bullying. Izzy Tichenor was Black and autistic, and her mother said the girl and her siblings suffered racist bullying.
Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey promised full cooperation in the Justice Department settlement and said the district takes all bullying reports seriously. “We don’t and have never pretended or suggested that we don’t have racism in our schools, just like we have it in society, but it is our job to do all we can and try and eradicate it from all our schools,” Newey said in a November news conference.
Utah’s Republican-controlled state government kept its firm grip on the congressional and legislative redistricting process as the Legislature discarded maps prepared by a commission that arose out of a voter referendum calling for an independent panel to craft the lines.
Images supplied, Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Officeegislative Redistricting Committee and
The map on the left shows the U.S. House districts in Utah per the redistricting plan approved by the Utah House on Nov. 9, 2021, and the Utah Senate the day after. Gov. Spencer Cox still must sign off on the plan. The map on the right shows the four districts as they are currently configured.
GOP lawmakers said, for instance, their maps splitting up the state’s four congressional districts evenly distributed communities of rural and urban interests in each district. But those who defended the maps submitted by the independent commission charged that the Legislature’s maps — signed into law by GOP Gov. Spencer Cox — merely make it harder for any Democrat to win one of the seats.
Under the old maps, the 4th Congressional District, now held by Republican Burgess Owens, was competitive.
Congressional and legislative district boundaries are adjusted once a decade to reflect population changes reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Political parties in control of state governments often are accused of gerrymandering districts to favor their candidates and their hold on power.
FATE OF MARSHALL WHITE CENTER
Advocates of fixing or replacing the inner-city Marshall White Center increased their efforts in 2021, but no solutions have been decided upon by the end of the year.
The community center, named after an Ogden police officer killed in the line of duty, has fallen into disrepair over the years. The pool has been closed since 2017, cracks making it unusable.
Deborah Wilber, Standard-Examiner
Ogden NAACP President Betty Sawyer engages members of the community participating in moderated conversation with panelists about the Marshall White Community Center on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
At a forum in the Marshall White gym in early December, residents and officials debated potential options to restore or rebuild the center, the community’s only public recreation center. But just before Christmas, city officials put off action until January. City administrators said they were investigating whether $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds could be used on Marshall White.
Five people were shot by police in Weber and Davis counties during 2021, compared to nine the previous year, according to Standard-Examiner records. Four of the five shootings were fatal.
The first incident was the pursuit and shooting of sexual assault suspect Dino Morales by Ogden police on Feb. 5. Body camera video showed Morales refused to drop a gun and the officer fired.
On June 29 in South Ogden, a domestic violence suspect fired at police during a standoff. They returned fire and he was killed. In another case triggered by domestic violence, Joseph Manhard fled from police in Clearfield and took hostages in Farmington. A Salt Lake City SWAT officer shot Manhard; the Davis County attorney cleared the officer and praised him for taking action to save lives.
The final two incidents remain under investigation. On Nov. 1, Casey Pacheco, 32, was shot by an Ogden officer after threatening the woman and then the officer with a knife. Pacheco later pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer. On Dec. 16, 2021, Clinton police fatally shot a man they said had stabbed two people.
MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner
Ogden Police Chief Eric Young speaks to the media Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, after a police shooting.
Also in 2021, a former Woods Cross police officer, Joshua John Lindsey, was charged with two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault for shooting at two burglary suspects on Feb. 7. Lindsey reported he fired after the men drove toward him, but Lindsey was fired after an investigation showed they were backing up when he shot at them.
MASSIVE ROAD PROJECTS
Two of the Utah Transportation Department’s largest construction projects in years offered hope in 2021 that worsening driving congestion will be alleviated in Davis County.
UDOT in March kicked off construction of the long-planned West Davis Corridor, a $750 million northward extension of the Legacy Parkway, from Glovers Lane in Farmington to State Route 193 in West Point. The corridor, a new alternative to Interstate 15, will include four interchanges. In Weber County, planners are taking steps to eventually extend the West Davis highway through western Weber County.
On U.S. 89, UDOT crews opened three new interchanges in a more than $500 million project to widen the highway to six lanes, after a study said the road had reached failing conditions, resulting in more congestion, fuel waste and crashes. Crews are now building a fourth new interchange at Antelope Drive. The project is expected to be done in 2023. Further north, UDOT plans to rebuild the U.S. 89-Interstate 84 interchange, another growing traffic bottleneck.
OTHER SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
After the disruptive first year of COVID-19 in 2020, community events resumed in Northern Utah, including the popular Ogden Farmers’ Market, Weber State University and high school sports events, and Twilight concerts in downtown Ogden.
Photo supplied, Utah Department of Transportation
The Utah Department of Transportation on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, opened a new U.S. 89 interchange and Gordon Avenue in Layton.
The ski resort industry had an eventful 2021, including expansion plans at Snowbasin and Nordic Valley, controversy over the Wasatch Peaks Ranch resort construction underway in Morgan County, and a loan default legal fight at Summit Powder Mountain that has helped to slow development there.
After years of controversy over jails deaths in Weber and Davis counties, the Davis County Jail this year has been building a new medical wing, and similar plans are being talked about in Weber. Despite reform efforts, deaths in jail still occur occasionally — three in Davis and one each in Weber and Box Elder counties this year.
Civil libertarians scored an open records victory in 2nd District Court in 2021 when a judge ruled that jail inspection and standards data, some of it controlled by a private contractor, are not protected from public disclosure by copyright law.