Monte Bona presented prestigious 'Pioneers in Progress' Award

Monte Bona, surrounded by family members, was the recipient of the Days of ‘47 Pioneers in Progress Award in the historic and creative arts category. The ceremony was held at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.

MT. PLEASANT—Monte Bona, who has been a member of the Mt. Pleasant City Council for over 20 years, has had many opportunities to pat himself on the back over the years for his many accomplishments.

But Bona is not that way, he prefers to work “under the radar” so to speak and “keep a low profile”.

Most recently Bona received a great honor during the Days of ’47 Pioneers of Progress Awards ceremony in the historic and creative arts category for his vision of preserving historic buildings and taking the “seed” of an idea that later turned Highway 89 into becoming a national area designation. Bona currently serves as Director of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA).

As far back as 1994 the National Trust for Historic Preservation told Bona there was a story to tell about the colonization and architecture along Highway 89 which turned into the Sanpete Heritage Council and later the MPNHA which spans 400 miles within central and southern Utah.

Senator Bob Bennett sponsored the bill and with the help of Representatives Chris Cannon and Jim Matheson, the bill was passed in July 2006 and signed into law by President George W. Bush in October of that year. Others who played key roles in the designation were Wilson Martin, former director of the Utah Division of State History and Brad Shafer, a member of Bennett’s staff. The management plan was approved by the Secretary of the Interior in March 2010.

“The award was given in honor of the Mormon pioneers. There are 49 designation national heritage areas in the U.S. We are the only one named after a people. The Pioneers of Progress Awards go to individuals, not organizations. I agreed to accept the award on behalf of all of our partners in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area,” said Bona.

Since the designation, Bona has worked with great partners including the Utah Division of State History assisting in the restoration of many historical buildings along the corridor. In Mt. Pleasant alone, because of the fundraising efforts of Wasatch Academy, there have been two buildings restored, the First Presbyterian Church, which is also used as a music conservatory for Wasatch Academy, and Liberal Hall, which was the first home of Wasatch Academy and now a museum.

Along the strip, two Carnegie libraries in Mt. Pleasant and Ephraim; Casino Star Theater, Gunnison; Peterson Dance Hall, Fairview; a historic plaza at Snow College, Ephraim; and a monument of the Quilt Walk, Panguitch; are just a few restoration and developments that have taken place.

Bona has also promoted the area with television productions, the Black Hawk War, and programs, such as Discovery Road, seen on KJZZ and UEN, and most recently a new book edited by him entitled, Legends, Lore & True Tales in Mormon Country. Local writers include Jason Friedman, Steve Clark, Jack Monnett and Shirley Bahlmann. The book is available at Amazon and locally at Skyline Pharmacy, Mt. Pleasant.

Although Bona chose to not seek re-election to the Mt. Pleasant City Council this year, he plans to remain an active participant with the many projects in continuing with the MPNHA.  He is also heavily involved with the Mt. Pleasant Main Street Committee, which serves as the executive committee of the Community Development and Renewal Agency (CDRA)

In the beginning the assessed evaluation in the CDRA was $6M and is currently set at about $23M. By 2018 when the designation expires, Bona hopes the value will be in the neighborhood of $30M.

Bona has also received awards from the Utah Heritage Foundation, Utah Division of State History Outstanding Contribution and the Regional Recognition Award from Utah's Six County Association of Governments.

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