Mayors of Utah Valley: A busy and solemn September in Vineyard
September is almost over, and what an incredible month it’s been. In Vineyard, we had the opportunity to celebrate 9/11-Patriot Day, a national day of remembrance. Thousands throughout the area came to Vineyard Grove Park to remember the events of 9/11, pay tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and honor our first responders. We are truly grateful for those in our community who defend our freedoms, protect us and keep us healthy.
Speakers at our Patriotic Program included Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner, Vineyard Lt. Holden Rockwell, Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith, and Vineyard’s Fire Chief Marc Sanderson and Assistant Fire Chief Shaun Hirst. Our fire crews hung a giant flag in between two of their ladder trucks. Attendees enjoyed a concert featuring patriotic music and a drone show. All speakers shared the sentiment of the importance for people to come together in support of each other as neighbors, Americans and local communities working together.
Earlier this month, Utah City, Vineyard’s 700-acre downtown development, announced it is welcoming Bella’s Market, a custom-concept grocery store that will offer local products and essentials within a store designed for gathering and featuring large windows, natural light, greenery, touchless checkout and in-city delivery services. Bella’s is an independent grocery brand that is an operating partner with Lee’s Marketplace with Associated Foods. This partnership offers affordable pricing while providing quality products and experience. Construction is anticipated to start in the coming months, with the project launching in 2024
Vineyard’s own local artist Aljay Fuimaono will be starting shortly on the largest outdoor mural in Utah, on our city’s new water tank. The painting is expected to take about a month and will be an artistic representation of our city’s heritage as we welcome visitors entering the community from the FrontRunner and our newly constructed 1600 North freeway connection.
The Vineyard connector is approaching completion. Union Pacific Railroad is nearing next steps in the track removal that lines Geneva Road. This will open several access points for incoming commercial entities and provide a greater and safer connectivity for visitors and residents.
School has been back in session, and Vineyard has increased safety in school zones by having a deputy present at school drop-off and pick-up, painting crosswalks green and white to enhance visibility and increasing our number of crossing guards. These factors combined have led to a safe start to the school year. In addition, our new school resource officer has already been in the schools several times this year, working with our K-9 program and at safety assemblies.
The City Council has been working through studies to build a new fire station to meet current and future demand, and get ahead of anticipated ERUs that would require a station. Chief Sanderson commended the council on doing these studies to make sure that Vineyard plans for current and long-term growth. The study includes two permanent brick-and-mortar locations and a temporary station option. This study includes a roadway access connectivity report. This is anticipated to be completed in nine weeks. Vineyard will also soon be implementing a revamped neighborhood watch program in conjunction with our Vineyard Division of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, providing an excellent opportunity for Vineyard residents to come together and get involved.
September is also National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Unfortunately, most of us have been personally effected by someone who has died by suicide or knows of someone who has. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. The national suicide hotline is 988 and is available 24/7 for anyone who is experiencing a crisis. It’s a text and call line where people can receive help.
Locally, Utah has the SAFEUT app. It is a resource for teens, parents, teachers, school administrators, youth leaders — anyone who is working with kids and teens. It’s a free app available in the app store and really intuitive to use; it can also be anonymous. Last year, over 600 people died by suicide in Utah.
Like several other cities in Utah County, our city has put in place a science- and data-based drug and suicide prevention program called Vineyard Cares, a prevention coalition that follows the Communities that Care prevention model. We offer education and events centered on the risk and protective factors that influence substance use. We also support mental health and suicide prevention. We are primarily funded through grants, and other than the coalition coordinator, all positions and membership is 100% volunteer. Vineyard Cares was the recipient of part of the tobacco tax grant this year.
Research shows that for each dollar invested in research-based prevention programs, up to $10 is saved in treatment for alcohol or other substance misuse-related costs.
Vineyard Cares is working on a host of programs and campaigns to support their mission this year, including:
- Red Ribbon Week — partnering with the PTAs at each of our elementary schools to bring prevention science to the fun activities of Red Ribbon Week.
- Parents Empowered — a state-funded campaign to encourage parents to talk to their kids about underage drinking. It’s never too early to start forming deep connections.
- EveryDay Strong — a program through United Way that teaches how to help children who are battling anxiety and depression.
- Guiding Good Choices, a parenting workshop that will be coming in January.
- Family Fun Block Party — next year at Vineyard Days.
Vineyard’s strength is its people and we are grateful for all who make these programs possible to strengthen our community and provide the infrastructure and resources to help Vineyard continue to grow and thrive.