McArthur says goodbye at final council meeting; Mall Drive contract awarded despite risks

ST. GEORGE — Thursday night marked St. George Mayor Dan McArthur’s final City Council meeting before leaving office on January 6, when Mayor-elect Jon Pike officially begins his term. The meeting began with many kind words and a few tears as the city bid farewell to Dan McArthur who has presided as mayor for 20 years. The council also awarded a contract for the construction of a long-anticipated bridge connecting Mall Drive on the north side of the Virgin River with 3000 East to the south.

“This is a day I always dreaded would come,” McArthur said, “but this has been an honor and a privilege for me to serve this community for the last 20 years.”

“I see a lot of friends in this room,” McArthur said to the standing-room-only crowd gathered in the chamber. “To the neighbors, and friends, and young people who have meant a lot to me over the years, I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you.”

Mayor Dan McArthur hugs his wife, Bunny McArthur during his final city council meeting. St. George city council chambers, Dec. 19, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Nina DeTorres Heck
Mayor Dan McArthur hugs his wife, Bunny McArthur during his final city council meeting. St. George City Council chambers, Dec. 19, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Nina DeTorres Heck

 

As he thanked his family for their support over the years, Mayor McArthur became overwhelmed with emotion. “My wife is my greatest supporter,” he said, recounting all of the hard work she put into his mayoral campaigns.

“As we leave office, I want you all to support the new leadership we have coming in, with the new council and the new mayor,” he said, “that’s what makes this community great.”

Thursday was also the last meeting for Councilors Gail Bunker and Ben Nickle. Nickle chose not to seek re-election after his first term, having been elected when he was only only 28 years old. Nickle said that he was proud of what the council had accomplished during his term in office.

Bunker has served on the City Council since she was appointed in April 2004, following the unexpected passing of Councilwoman Sharon Ipson. Bunker said that she appreciated the efforts all of the people she has served with on the council over her decade-long tenure as city councilor.

“It’s just amazing to me to see the diversity of opinions,” Bunker said, “and yet, how great we can become when our logo is just St. George, and loving the city and wanting the best for it.”

Mayor McArthur’s wife, Bunny McArthur, took to the podium and invited the crowd to stand up.

“We are here because we love you and the best way that we can show you that we love you is to sing,” Bunny McArthur said, leading the chamber in a rendition of the mayor’s favorite song, “Are You From Dixie?”

The council then moved on to it’s scheduled agenda, voting to accept a bid by Wasdworth Brothers Construction to build the long-anticipated Mall Drive Bridge. City Manager Gary Esplin warned the council that,  because of complications in obtaining a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build the bridge over the Virgin River, there is a risk of cost overruns if the permit is delayed much longer.

Building the bridge will require some aspects of construction to take place directly in the waters of the Virgin River. That portion of the work must be completed before April 15, when the spawning season for the endangered woundfin minnow begins. If additional delays in obtaining the permit make it impossible to complete in-river construction before April, the project will have to be put on hold until after August 2014, which Esplin said might cost the city an additional $100,000 in cost over-runs.

Esplin outlined several options to the council. On one hand, he said, the city could refuse to award the contract until the permit has been approved; however this would cause the city to lose the bid by Wadsworth Brothers Construction, which was $3 million below the $10 million estimated cost for the project. He thought this option to be “not wise,” Esplin said, as a rebidding could potentially raise the cost of building the bridge by millions of dollars.

Esplin recommended that the council award the contract, in hopes that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would succeed in issuing the permit in time to complete the bridge, as scheduled. He pointed out that, if the permit is not issued in time,  even with the resultant  $100,000 cost overruns, the cost of building the bridge would still be less than the second-lowest bid for the job.

This whole community is based on faith, and this is a huge endeavor and we need it,” Councilman Gil Almquist said. “I move that we approve the contract.”

The contract was awarded unanimously by the council.

“Without getting too political, it’s a sad commentary of what kind of beaurocracy we’ve created in our country that we get stuck in these positions,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said, seconding the motion.

The council also approved a $138,820 contract to Horrocks Engineering to design the new stretch of Mall Drive, that, with the new bridge, will connect Riverside Drive, south of Red Cliffs Mall, to 3000 East in the Little Valley neighborhood across the river.

The St. George City Council will not meet again until after the New Year’s holiday. That meeting will be held on January 9, when then-Mayor Jon Pike, as well as newly elected Councilmembers Michele Randall and Joe Bowcutt will officially begin their terms of office. Pike will have then stepped down from his current role as councilman and the selection process to fill that council seat will begin.

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Email: mflynn@stgnews.com

Twitter: @mflynnSTGN

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

mcarthurfarewell
St. George City Council bids farewell to longtime mayor Dan McArthur, along with councilors Gail Bunker and Ben Nickle. St. George city council chamber, Dec. 19, 2013 | Photo by Michael Flynn, St. George News

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2 Comments

  • Kevin December 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Hey Jimmie! Without getting too political, lets disregard all forms of life big and small so we can contiue to build , build, build. Just screw everything that mother earth has here to enrich our lives. Without getting too political! I sure am glad you never got my vote.

  • Patti December 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Lol @ Jimmie

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