Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West

b.1916

Jack West

Q: And, this was on your own?

On our own, this was just on our own. No, we didn’t get (anything) but the Chamber wanted it done, but I wasn’t concerned about having any Chamber help. Just that Lloyd would make them, with Bates’ permission, and Ray and I would take them out and put them down. Like I mentioned, the ones out to Looking Glass Rock so it really helped the people. And the one at Looking Glass Rock, we had the only sign on the highway there for years before the highway department finally came around and put in signs. But that was a real fun adventure, and then it let us see some of the country again ourselves. So that was good and it benefited the area.

The background of the whole situation with me was that I thought this country was so beautiful that everybody should see it. After we made our first trip here from Provo, every year we would bring a group of people down. That was my idea in Chamber work and Travel Council and all was that this was just too pretty not to have everybody see it. That’s why I got involved in all these things, and I really enjoyed them. I finally had a lot of support from the community.

I mentioned earlier that we eventually did get a closed circuit TV station which has expanded into a beautiful cable setup now. But during that time that we were waiting on TV, we did have a real good radio station (KURA) and it was active for a long time. Local people sponsored it, and one of the main announcers was Les Erbs. He had his news broadcast a couple of times a day, and he really worked at it. Les was a real scrounger for getting news. But it was a good station.

Well, as a result of my activity in the Chamber of Commerce and the Travel Council, I was involved a lot with the City and County politics. In fact, the Travel Council at that time was directly under the County Commission. They were the political entity that had control of it and was able to handle the tax money that came from the tourist tax which was used to pay off that Travel Council building. With these contacts, I became interested in politics, couldn’t help it. In ‘65 I had some pressure from friends and acquaintances to run for City Council and I decided to do it. Sam was pushing me, Dick Allen, all the people in Rotary were concerned, and they were behind me. I decided to run in the fall of ‘65 and I was elected to the City Council. I went into office the lst of January in 1966 and then with an appointment in the following election. I was on the Council for eight years, actually. During that entire time, Bunce was Mayor, and the City was in dire need of expansion for water and sewer, streets, all the infrastructure. It worked out real good. We got a super water system. We drilled a bunch of wells and utilized the spring south of town. We put in two more million-gallon tanks (we had one at 500,000), but during that time, we put in two more one million gallon tanks. That brought our water supply up to really good with all the subdivisions that were being built, or had just been built, or been built a while before such as the one here, the Walker subdivision, and then Mountainview subdivision. Of course, we were in Walker and Ray bought a home in Mountainview. We just didn’t have adequate facilities. But, in addition to the water, we expanded and built the new sewer system. When we got those all finished, we were able to handle the town as it was at that time and were prepared for an expansion up to possibly 10,000 people. So it was quite interesting.

The first term on the Council, I was over the Police Department. There was not a lot of work to do as far as the Council job, the liaison with the Police. We were expanding the Police Department at that time. It had gone from about two people to….. I don’t recall how many we took on, but we got enough to take care of the job. Then on the second term I was involved with the Roads Department and these were specific jobs over and above being involved in all the general advancement of the community. While I was on the Roads Department, the second term, we as a Council decided to buy a street sweeper. We had nothing prior to that. It was just up to people, just washing down once in a while. Marsell Graham, who was a friend, had previously been warden at the prison. He was out of that, but he was a salesman for an equipment company and he put the pressure on us to buy his particular type of street sweeper. As a result of that, I got my one and only ride in a jet. His company financed the trip and took Jack Lolley, the street supervisor, and myself to San Francisco. We stayed overnight. The reason we went there is because he had a demonstrator street sweeper there that was equipped to show us what it could do. As a result of our trip there and back, we did buy his street sweeper and that was a real addition to our needs here in Moab with all this dust blowing around and everything.

Well, one of the fun things that happened after we came to Moab, particularly with the attitude they have, was the way the kids reacted, Ann and Jim. I don’t know if I mentioned specifically but when I asked them if they wanted to come to Moab, Jim said, “When?”” and Ann said “No,” she wouldn’t leave Provo. She wasn’t coming down here, but, in any event, they did. They were in on getting into the new home and that was in the spring, first of March, so they had to change schools and finish out the school year here. Jim, as I mentioned, he was ready to do it. He made a couple of trips down with me when we were hauling furniture down, but I don’t think Ann was here until we made the trip down and moved here. Of course, they both got in school and within a couple of three weeks they had so many friends that they didn’t know what to do with them. Jim, particularly, got acquainted with some of young guys in the neighborhood. Chuck Loveridge was just up the street, and Mike Stoye, just across the street, and Mayhew across the street. It didn’t take them long to get going and the weather was good so all their spare time was spent up in the hills behind the house. It was just real exploring and this, of course, isn’t part of my life, but I remember the remains of the old city dump was just back a short distance behind the house. Jim started coming in with junk, literally, the remains of stuff that was fascinating to him but had been dumped up there. They really enjoyed that, and then, as he got older, I mentioned the fact that he got involved in a lot of trips with us out into the boondocks on the trucks. I know he enjoyed all of those, and we enjoyed having him along, me and Bill Nick. Then he got to the point where he was old enough to drive a car and run around with some of the local guys that were driving cars and they were on the go a lot then. Of course, they did a lot of things I never knew about. I am finding out a little bit about them now, but they really had a ball.

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