New Store in American Fork Boosts Shopping Options for Residents but Also Economy

From cashier to retail associate to supervisor, half a dozen jobs are still unfilled at Burlington’s newest location.



Burlington Stores—formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory—is coming to American Fork at the Meadows, on 268 North 750 West. The store will be 32,800 square feet in size and is expected to open in March.

The New Jersey-headquartered store retailer, named after the city in which it was started, is almost half a century old. American Fork’s location will be its 8th in Utah.

“We are thrilled to open a new Burlington in the American Fork community,” Tom Kingsbury, CEO of Burlington Stores, said. “This new location brings jobs to the community and provides a great shopping experience for the entire family. Whether they’re looking for brand-name clothing, stylish home décor items, or anything for baby, customers will enjoy significant savings and discover new merchandise arrivals each week.”


Burlington Stores, which has stores in 45 states and is publicly traded on the NYSE, is the latest nationwide retailer to come to American Fork, helping boost sales tax revenues for the City’s coffers.

American Fork sales tax revenues, which have never been higher, are estimated to reach $9 million in 2019. It is now the largest revenue source for the City and is anticipated to grow by 5%.

Sculpture for U.S. Capitol to Be Created by American Fork Artist

An artist from American Fork has been commissioned to create a sculpture for the National Statuary Hall, a chamber in the U.S. Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans.



The statue will be of Martha Hughes Cannon, the nation’s first female State senator, who is from Utah.

The American Fork sculptor, Ben Hammond, has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Gloria Medal, the Beverly Hoyt Robertson Memorial Award, the Charlotte Geffken prize, the Dexter Jones Award. His sculpture “An Angel In Contemplation” won first place at the Portrait Society’s International Show last year.



The Statuary Hall, where his sculpture of Utah Senator Martha Cannon will be displayed, is one of the most visited rooms in the U.S. Capitol and continues to be used for ceremonial occasions, including activities honoring foreign dignitaries. The newly elected President is hosted by Congress in the Statuary Hall every four years for a luncheon.

Martha Cannon, born in 1857, worked as a physician and fought for women's rights. She helped put women enfranchisement into Utah's constitution when it was granted statehood in 1896. A polygamous wife, she became the first female State Senator elected in the U.S., defeating her own husband, who was also on the ballot.



Utah’s 25 female lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol on Thursday to celebrate the announcement, exactly 149 years after the first female cast a vote in the U.S.

The Idaho-born, 42-year-old sculptor, who has called American Fork home for the past 16 years, said he creates art because some of his deepest feelings can’t be articulated in words. “I hope that the viewer can sense what is most important to me when they see my work,” Mr. Hammond said. “I don’t try to hide any secret meaning in my art. Each piece is deeply personal, yet universal. I try to create images that are beautiful, uplifting, and relatable.”

“I’ll do my darndest to do a great job for this truly amazing woman and for our State,” he said.

For Valentine's Day, Gas Stations in American Fork Are Showing Some Love

For the first time in three years, gasoline prices have dipped below $2 a gallon in American Fork.


Just in time for Valentine's Day and Presidents’ Day weekend, the price of regular is at $1.95, a welcome break for residents in the middle of tax season.

The last time it averaged that low here was in April of 2016.



Gas prices at most stations in Alpine, Cedar Hills, Orem and Provo are still above $2 a gallon. The cheapest gas in Salt Lake City is $2.03 a gallon; in St. George, $2.39, according to, a website that tracks gas prices across the nation.

Lehi and Pleasant Grove are joining American Fork with sub-$2 prices for the gallon of regular. Tooele currently has one of the cheapest gas in Utah, at $1.82.

Profile: Allie Hill, a Student Dives Into her Work

When I texted Allie Hill Monday afternoon to set a time for an interview, she happened to be in the pool. I should have known. Allie trains nine times a week, and though she broke two State records in her category this weekend, helping crown the Cavemen State Champions, she is already back in the pool Monday.



While high school athletics are often saturated with football, baseball and basketball, it's difficult to overstate how physically demanding swimming is, a sport where two thirds of the body's muscles are worked. The swimmer's lower and upper body, arms and legs, trunk and head are all forced to make a balanced effort—in a horizontal position.

And then, there's the small matter of jumping in a body of water every morning before school when it is still cold and dark outside. That takes a certain level of mental toughness that not all teenagers are necessarily equipped with.

American Fork High School student Allie Hill, who has been swimming competitively since the age of 7, was barely a freshman last year when she broke the state record in 500-yard Freestyle. That record was broken by three seconds at the BYU meet this weekend—by her.

“I've been training for this for a very long time,” Allie said. “It's good to show I've trained hard for it, especially being a sophomore.”

American Fork head coach Kathy King told me Allie possesses certain traits that are common among the best, like understanding the importance of deliberate and meaningful rehearsal of what she wants to replicate in her races.

“Allie is reliable, trustworthy, dependable. Allie is one of those swimmers that you can always rely on,” Ms. King said.

In addition to Allie's victory in the 500 Freestyle Saturday, she posted an impressive performance in the 200 Freestyle: the sophomore’s time of 1:57.09 was the only swimmer in the field under the two-minute marker, setting a new Class 6A record. The American Fork girls team finished with 376 points to win the crown, with Lone Peak coming in second and Syracuse finishing third.

Still, when I asked Allie what she loved most about swimming, there was no mention of winning a competition or making a good time. There was no mention of medals or trophies or the quiet assurance that comes with being the best at something. It was all about the people.



“I love to go to travel meets with my team and I love everybody who is on my team,” Allie said. “I love my coaches from club swimming to my high school team.”

While Allie's generation is often criticized for spending too much time indoor on their screens, Allie defies the stereotype. She snow-skis, she water-skis, she likes to go camping. And she'd recommend swimming as a sport because “it gives kids something to do in the summer instead of sitting at home bored,” she said.

Still, for Allie, swimming is not just about interacting with water, but the people. Meeting people from different cities and swimming with them is an enriching experience.

Allie's coach says she’s a leader both in and out of the water without having to say much. Allie is a “tremendous example to the team,” Ms. King said. “Just so proud of her.”

Alpine School District Makes Improvements on How It Deals with Snow Storms

The Alpine School District is finding ways to improve how it communicates with parents and employees after it found itself in the crosshairs last week, when it decided to remain open during a snow event that created hundreds of car accidents in Utah.



The recent events have highlighted the challenges of managing the largest school district of a mountainous state—the 43rd largest district in the U.S. out of 17,000—when weather conditions change and decisions have to be communicated to over 70,000 students and employees by a deadline.



The District, which is headquartered in American Fork, sends a team of “spotters” at night to monitor the weather and road conditions at all district’s schools. The spotters, who come from different departments and include plow crews, school custodians and the administrative cabinet, report to the Superintendent as early as 5am. The Superintendent will confer with other Utah County school districts at 5:15. A final decision is made by 6am.

“Wednesday’s storm began during the early morning hours and then magnified or increased in Utah County after our 5:30am [Facebook] post,” Kimberly Bird of the Alpine School District said Monday. “In contrast, we were more prepared for last night's weather conditions because the storm began in parts of our district around 8pm and subsided around midnight.”

In a new move this week, the District shared videos of the road conditions near the schools. “We thought capturing video and photos from our spotter areas would hopefully improve the public's confidence in what we say we were seeing and what people actually saw,” Ms. Bird said.

When the storm hit Wednesday and continued to intensify after the decision to stay open was made, over 700 “angry-face” emojis were used by parents and employees as replies to the District's Facebook post. The post indicating the schools would stay open had been written at 5:30am, “a little earlier than normal,” Ms. Bird said.

“AlpineDistrictSnowDay,” an Instagram account posting memes lamenting the District's decision to stay open, was created Wednesday morning and attracted over 6,000 followers in just 24 hours. An article on Buzzfeed profiling the Instagram account put a nationwide spotlight on the District.



Keeping up with social media almost became impossible, the District said, and it decided to communicate with the public through traditional media, giving interviews with four TV channels and two newspapers.

The timing of yesterday's storm made the decisions easier than last week's.

“Had last week’s storm occurred during the same time frame as last night’s storm, our response and communication on social media would have looked more engaged,” Ms. Bird said.

Last week's public feedback has not gone on deaf ears, the District said. The feedback provided some of the improvements in communication, including alerting the parents the night before that the weather situation would be monitored and providing the road pictures and videos by spotters.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our communications,” Ms. Bird said. “We are grateful for civil discourse on important issues like these.”

Your Map App Is Not Buggy: Why an American Fork Street Name Was Changed Twice

Technology Drive in American Fork will be changed to its old name, highlighting the complexity of city growth management and street naming, as more businesses are moving to American Fork and a city government tries to be accommodating.



Technology Drive, a street portion of Auto Mall Drive, from the corner of 620 South to 500 East, is switching back to Auto Mall Drive after some business owners protested the change, in a rare back-and-forth among businesses while the City found itself in the middle.

Tyler Powell, the general manager of Utah Carriage House Doors, one of the largest manufacturers of wood garage doors in Utah, said his company moved to American Fork in May and purchased over $15,000 in brochures with the Auto Mall Drive address before the street name was changed to Technology Drive.


“A business like mine, I can't afford to change that address on all brochures,” he said.

Utah Carriage House Doors is one of several companies that has moved to Auto Mall Drive, a street south of the freeway mostly known for its car dealerships. As the street expanded, it became the home of many new businesses, few of whom having anything to do with cars.


Ability Diagnostics, for example, a medical lab that receives tissue samples from hundreds of physicians in the U.S., said that it contracts with shipping companies for prompt delivery. Replacing the thousands of prepaid shipping kits already in doctors' possession would be costly—not to mention the consequences of a delayed sample because of address confusion.

Dealing with insurance reimbursement when an address has changed can be problematic, too, according to Brooks Anderson, Ability Diagnostics’ president, who believes the new street name can cost his company upward of $800,000.

Based on businesses’ feedback, American Fork has agreed to reverse the change. After just a few months of existence, Technology Drive will again be Auto Mall Drive. Still, the City says the back-and-forth could have been avoided, and a lack of communication is to blame.

“Sometimes we are not getting all the information that we thought we were getting,” City Councilman Kevin Barnes said. “Somebody is trying to steer us one way...  and they present their point of view. I think it's a learning lesson for us that there are things we can do to improve.”

The change to Technology Drive was prompted last fall, when HK Composites, a business with clients in several countries, asked American Fork to change the name of a portion of Auto Mall Drive, leaving the street where dealerships are located untouched.



“We sell our products all over the world,” HK Composites President David Keith said. “And [we] thought it would add clout and prestige to our brand to have Technology Drive in our address. Our main competitor is on Technology Drive in Iowa.”

American Fork City agreed to the change after strict requirements were met, including receiving documentation that the business owners along that portion of Auto Mall Drive agreed also. The City published in the paper for two weeks a notice to accept any public comments regarding naming the street Technology Drive. But none came.

For City Councilman Rob Shelton, it wasn’t the first time that residents had come to him feeling blindsided by a change though the City had tried to broadcast the information ahead of time.

“Sometimes it's just hard because we are all putting our noses to the grindstone, trying to make ends meet, raise a family and be part of the community that we love," Mr. Shelton said. "So I always grapple with how do we come about notifying people and what is the best way.”

The president of Ability Diagnostics, at the end, said he came away impressed by American Fork City for listening to feedback and being willing to revisit the matter.

“That speaks volume about [the] minds in the council,” Mr. Anderson said.

Montana Volunteers on Skis and Snowmobiles Rescue American Fork Man and Son

While American Fork received its share of snow Wednesday, an American Fork resident and his son saw the end of an ordeal that could have had a much less positive ending.



The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office in Montana said a call came Tuesday at 6:30pm from a concerned wife in American Fork reporting that her husband and 12-year-old son were overdue from a hiking trip in the Spanish Peaks area, the mountain range in southwestern Montana between Bozeman and Ennis.



The boy, who had gotten separated from his dad during the hike and then became disoriented, was found at 10pm by volunteers of a Search and Rescue team. No fewer than 20 snowmobilers and skiers had decided to help in temperatures below zero when called upon by the Sheriff’s Office.

The boy was hypothermic and confused and was taken to an ambulance.

At 12:15 Wednesday morning, rescuers on skis located the father near the Pioneer Falls Trail. He was conscious but hypothermic. After they carried him using a rescue toboggan, he was transferred to a snowmobile rescue sled and finally to an ambulance. Both the father and son were flown to the University of Utah Burn Center where they received treatments for frost bite injuries. Their identities were not released.

“Our community values its Sheriff’s Office and SAR volunteers and incidents like this remind us why,” read a post Wednesday on Facebook by Gallatin County Search and Rescue. “This is a busy time of year, with January seeing 16 SAR incidents, but the members of the Sheriff’s Office family are here and ready to keep this community a safe and healthy place to live.”

Renovated American Fork Family History Center to Hold Open House Friday & Saturday

The Family History Center located in the Alpine Tabernacle is holding an open house this weekend and everyone is invited.



The Family History Center, which has been under renovation for 18 months, is inviting the community to visit the Center's new features, including five giant discovery monitors, as well as a story recording room.

Though Family History Centers are run by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are open to the public.

“We are a community center for anyone of any faith to come and do genealogy and family history,” LaDawn J. Carter, Director of the Family History Center, said. “Anyone is invited.”



The open house will be held Feb. 8 from 4pm to 8pm and Feb. 9 from 10am to 2pm in the basement of the Alpine Tabernacle.

The renovations, which were conducted in conjunction with the renovations of the historic Alpine Tabernacle, began in July 2017 and were financed by FamilySearch, the genealogy organization operated by the LDS Church.

The Family History Center had a “soft” opening on Jan. 7, when it started training its 90 consultants volunteering at the Center. At any given shift, there are six to eight consultants ready to help patrons.


“I was privileged to start [genealogy] way back in the '80s, when PAF and TempleReady were just getting off the ground,” Barbara Morley, a Family History Center consultant at the Alpine Tabernacle, said. “I've seen it coming from scrap to now, and it's been awesome.”

The upgrades are both cosmetic and practical. While the walls of the Center are decorated with historical photos, the 24 desktop computers are now equipped with dual screens, making research a better experience. The story room, which looks like a recording studio, allows patrons to video-tape their personal history for future generations. The new scanners can be used for films, photographs and slides.


The five giant screens on the wall are called discovery screens. One of their purposes is to learn about the news events of the patron's birth year, or during the life of the patron’s ancestors. While the world map shows the paths taken by ancestors, another discovery feature indicates if the patrons has had any famous relatives.

Ms. Carter, the Center’s director, said that in the future, the Family History Center plans to hold family history classes for the community.


The renovations were headed by Ms. Carter, as well as FamilySearch's project manager Arthur Nettleship and the Alpine Tabernacle facility manager, Brandon Mortensen.

On average 300 to 600 patrons a month have used the facility, as figures vary through the year. Ms. Carter, an American Fork resident, said that volunteering at the Family History Center has been a rewarding experience.

“As people on computers are researching for ancestors, all of the sudden someone will shout, ‘I found him! I've been looking for years! I found him!’” Ms. Carter said.

“And we often see tears of joy as people have looked and searched for a long time for ancestors and then found a record specifically about that ancestor,” she continued. “It is just joy and we all get happy. We’ve all been there.”

After AFPD Responds to Domestic Violence Call, Victim Advocate Takes Action

An American Fork man was arrested Saturday after he allegedly assaulted two women who were in the apartment with him, kicking one in the stomach and head and punching the other one in the face, according to a probable cause statement filed by American Fork police. The 31-year-old man was booked into jail.



When the police officers' day ended, however, Dawna Whiting's began.

“I am on call all the time,” Ms. Whiting said.

Ms. Whiting, who is in charge of the Victim's Assistance Program at the American Fork Police Department, gives crisis support to all victims of violent crime.

“Actually, it's all crime,” Ms. Whiting corrected herself, as she introduced the program during her semi-annual report to the City Tuesday. “Whether or not it's violent.” It now includes support to victims of fraud and identity theft.

Ms. Whiting and two volunteers monitor police reports and call victims to find out the best way to assist them.

One of the victims Saturday suffered a broken nose, a broken tooth and fractures in her face and back, according to the police report. The victim can apply for financial help for therapy and abuse-related medical bills. Ms. Whiting will also be a liaison between the victim, investigators and prosecutors, and she will assist if a Protective Order is necessary.

Sometimes she has incurred the wrath of perpetrators because she is helping their victims. “Laying low as I can be is best,” she said. The Citizen made the editorial decision to not publish a portrait of Ms. Whiting.


American Fork City attorney Tim Merrill said Ms. Whiting is the “best victim advocate in the State.” As she marks this year 10 years in the Victim’s Assistance Program, she is constantly contacted by other city entities as a consultant, according to Sgt. Josh Christensen of A.F. Police Department.

Ms. Whiting provides referrals, educates victims about abuse and helps them develop safety plans. Still, a few will never leave their offenders.

“I've had a few heartbreaking cases of domestic violence where the mother and children want to leave and simply can't for various reasons,” Ms. Whiting said.

Ms. Whiting's office has helped 412 victims in the past six months, including survivors of homicide, victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, assault, burglary and identity theft. That's on average two victims a day if she worked every single day.

Each victim usually requires multiple contacts, as Ms. Whiting also monitors the perpetrator’s court appearances and keeps the victims informed. Her goal is to make sure the victims are safe, the batterer is held accountable and overall recidivism drops in the city.

American Fork City Councilman Rob Shelton praised her publicly last week and said she did a “phenomenal job.”

“I've never anticipated running for office and having someone come to me and say, ‘Where do I turn because of this?’” Mr. Shelton told Ms. Whiting.

“And you're a great resource to turn those victims over to and give them an outlet they couldn’t have otherwise,” he said.

Ms. Whiting can be reached at 801-763-3020 Ext. 250.

Soldier From American Fork Returns Home and Surprises Little Sister

A soldier who returned from deployment surprised her younger sister at the American Fork Junior High.



McKayla Schiro, whose parents are lifelong residents of American Fork, returned Thursday from a nine-month deployment overseas.


As a Specialist for the Army National Guard in the 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Ms. Schiro had been stationed in the Middle East, spending most of her time in the United Arab Emirates.

The 21-year-old American Fork-native was also in Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait, providing Human Resources support to soldiers and keeping them combat-ready.

She came home Thursday and surprised her sister, who was attending dance class at the junior high. Members of the Police and Fire/Rescue Departments, as well as Mayor Brad Frost, met the soldier and her family at the school.

“It has become a tradition in our city to show dignity, gratitude and respect for those who serve our country,” Mayor Frost said. “It was a touching moment to witness the reuniting as classmates cheered.”



Two fire trucks and multiple police cars escorted the family home.

When Spc. Schiro entered the dance class in Army fatigues, her sister was facing away. It only took a few seconds for her to recognize who it was, and she rushed to greet the soldier.

“She ran up in my arms and was crying. It was priceless,” Spc. Schiro said. “I can easily say I'd do another nine months overseas for a hug like the one I got.”

American Fork-Based Bank Reports Strong Profits a Year After Mergers

The company that owns Bank of American Fork reported this week its latest financial results, which include results for the full year, giving us a glimpse into the health of the largest business by asset in American Fork.



American Fork-based People's Intermountain Bank said Monday that it capped 2018 with a profit of $40.6 million for the year, more than double the profit it made in 2017. But in 2017, profits were lower than usual because of the costs related to the acquisition of other banks, according to financial statements.

The latest financial figures from People's Intermountain Bank, a company created when Bank of American Fork merged with Logan-based Lewinston State Bank in 2013, highlight how strong the community bank headquartered on Main Street, American Fork, for over 100 years has become.

“We are the same bank that has been here since 1913,” Megan Reis, a Public Relations Specialist for People’s Intermountain Bank, said. “A lot of the time we get asked if we have been bought, but we are the same bank, and same people but with better capabilities and better technology to bring our customers a better experience.”

People's Intermountain Bank's growth story—the company nearly doubled in assets the past five years while remaining profitable—is the story of a community bank that has acquired other community banks but kept their names. A little over a year ago, it successfully completed the acquisition of the seven Utah Banner Bank branches and Town & Country Bank located in St. George. (Utah Banner Bank branches, however, were folded into Bank of American Fork.)


As Bank of American Fork marks its 106th birthday next week, it has much to celebrate: the holding company created five years ago by the bank’s CEO, Richard T. Beard, has turned into the second largest Utah-based bank and the largest community-bank holding company in the state of Utah based on asset size, deposits and loans—all the while, remaining profitable.

Yes, there is a company on Main Street, American Fork, that reported this week a staggering $2.2 billion in assets.

A.F. Fitness Center at 'Apex' Capacity, and Not Because of New Year's Resolutions

According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. The American Fork Fitness Center said it had experienced a drop of almost 3,000 membership admittances from January to February 2018.



“We definitely try to encourage people to keep going and make their goals stick,” Derric Rykert, American Fork City Fitness and Recreation Director, said Wednesday.

Still, the Fitness Center continues to be extremely popular the rest of the year and, Mr. Rykert suggested, that could soon become an issue. “We think we are close to capacity on what the facility can serve,” he said.

Mr. Rykert, who has been the director for almost 15 years, said he has seen the admittance figures continue to go up each year, and he feels the Fitness Center has reached the “apex of admittance.”

In July 1991, when the idea for a recreation center was first proposed to American Fork residents, the measure failed with only 17% of local voters participating. Today, it's hard to imagine 83% of residents not having an opinion.

Almost three weeks ago, over 2,000 people visited the Fitness Center during its yearly fair and took advantage of the one-day free access to the facility and swimming, as dozens of vendors gave away samples and free exams. Yearly pass purchases are discounted that day, and Mr. Rykert said he has sold more passes this year than in 2018.



The Fitness Center, which is open 17 hours a day, has recorded over 300,000 membership admittances in 2018. Ten years ago, that figure stood at 245,000.

By any measure, it has been a success story.

“I've had conversations with other leaders in other cities that don't have that type of facilities, and they're very envious,” American Fork City Councilman Rob Shelton said.

The City agreed in December to hire a consulting firm to evaluate the facility, services and programs offered at the Fitness Center. The firm would also look at future growth, fitness trends and provide the City some options for the future. The results will be out by March.

“We could expand, we could remodel, we could add a satellite location south of the freeway,” Mr. Rykert said.

The population of American Fork was at 19,120 in 1993, when the Fitness Center first opened its doors. It’s over 29,000 today.

“We know this facility has outlived its projected lifecycle and will need to provide something different and bigger going forward,” Mr. Rykert said. “So we are excited to see what options we have and take them to the people to get their input.”

City Coordinates Emergency After Water & Gas Lines Break

If you follow American Fork City on social media, you likely woke up to the news Tuesday that some neighbors had their water and gas turned off. The first post from the City was sent at 4:53 a.m. An update at 6:36 a.m. advised the residents that “water should be back on within the hour, and the gas is back on for most of the area.”



The City had been coordinating and managing a near-crisis for hours, after both a water and a gas pipe broke in the middle of the night. To make matters worse, the break took place in a neighborhood close to the American Fork Junior High, where hundreds of students would be bussed in a few hours.

After first responders were dispatched to 80 East between 1120 North and 1340 North, robocalls and texts were sent out. Department managers notified City officials, including the mayor, the City administrator and even the school principal.

“I started receiving texts shortly after the call out,” Mayor Brad Frost said. “We used all the tools available with technology to inform our residents.”

After Police, Fire & Rescue and Public Works were dispatched, a plan was formulated. The principal of the junior high was considering alternative routes for parents and busses. By 4 a.m., the principal was weighing whether to close the school that morning.

The waterline broke at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. The water pressure from the break—which was the “size of a baseball,” according to Public Works—affected the gas line adjacent to it. The water pressure broke the two-inch-diameter gas line, prompting the evacuation of nearby homes. As many as fourteen employees from the gas company arrived on location.

Ironically, the incident came two weeks after the City conducted a routine simulation of a natural disaster, where City officials, as well as Public Works, Fire & Rescue, Police and the LDS Central Stake participated in a “flood event.” The training triggered the use of the Emergency Operations Center.

A few lessons were learned that day. One of them was the importance of communication.

“We learned a few things we did right, a few things we should do better,” Mayor Frost told the Council last week. “As a mayor I felt a great deal of comfort knowing that we have structures in place, and we’re going to perfect those structures, especially those of communications throughout the city.”

The events Tuesday morning were not on the same scale. Still, one of the decisions made was the evacuation of twelve homes in the middle of the night. The mayor felt the City did a great job using technology to coordinate a plan of action that kept everyone safe.

“It was thanks to the coordinated efforts of several agencies in our city,” the mayor said about the event. “This took place in the early morning hours that most in our city will never know.”

After the crisis was over, American Fork City Administrator David Bunker told some on the City groupchat that his kids were disappointed: School wouldn’t be cancelled after all.

The response via text came from the mayor and ended with a smiley face: “Very glad that Jr. High students can’t vote!”

New Burial Directory with over 10K Entries Available to Public

A physical directory that allows anyone to find the names and locations of all those who are interred at the American Fork Cemetery is now accessible 24 hours a day, protected from the elements and even lit at night.



“It’s great for people who want to do either family history or look someone up or go visit someone they know,” said American Fork City Administrator David Bunker.

The American Fork cemetery's rich history continues to grow at about 170 to 180 burials a year, according to Janet Wright, cemetery administrative assistant.

All the plots in the main part of the cemetery—between 600 North and 700 North—are sold out though not all are occupied. It was only five years ago that the cemetery received the green light to expand southward to the ball field, ending a 10-year moratorium on plot sales.

The cemetery now counts approximately 10,700 burial plots and some of the plots are 150 years old.

When the project to compile all names, burial dates and locations started, it took cemetery employees almost two years to gather the data, according to Mark Coddington, the cemetery sexton.

“We had to go through the cemetery and write everything down, take pictures and enter it in the computer,” Mr. Coddington said. Once the compilation was completed, the cemetery's computer database was linked to, a free gravesite search engine based in Utah.

For the first time, all burial names are physically catalogued in a binder and on display near the Veterans Memorial. Gravesite locations are also included in the directory, and maps are available on two nearby walls.

This is Mr. Coddington's first year as sexton, replacing Ray Garrett who retired last year after 36 years. The job of sexton has always been hard work with limited funds, and Mr. Coddington has big shoes to fill.

But Mr. Coddington has worked for the City for over two decades and for the cemetery for 12 years, serving as an assistant to Mr. Garrett. He was born and raised in American Fork, and his ancestors were pioneers who helped settle the town. He is a direct descendant of the city's 14th mayor, Thomas Coddington.

And for the City administrator, the cemetery is in very good hands.

“Our cemetery employees do such a great job,” Mr. Bunker told the City Council last month. “They take such a great pride in providing a good service to our community and it shows all year around.”

Soon on Main Street, the Breakfast That Took Texas by Storm

Ask any transplant from Texas what they miss from home and they'll likely list a few items: football, barbecue, Texas pride, and kolaches.



“Texas pride is a real thing,” said Devin Hruska. Devin is the youngest sister of the family but plays a huge part in the newest business coming to Main Street, Hruska's Kolaches. Though Kolache is a Czech dish, the inside of the bakery-restaurant is decorated in farmhouse, Texas style, where the Hruskas are from.

Kolaches are a type of pastry that holds a portion of fruit, surrounded by puffy dough. It’s pronounced “ko-lah-chees.” While traditional kolaches are fruit-filled, a Texan twist evolved when they were made with sausage, cheese and jalapeños.

Devin was on national TV Friday making kolaches with famous restaurateur Guy Fieri, as the business’ second location was spotlighted by the Food Network. The location in American Fork, slated to open in early February at 11 W. Main Street, will be the restaurant's third.


But the story of the family business is anchored with the older brother, Ross, who was attending BYU in 2012, when he was craving kolaches and couldn’t find any place that made them.

 “It's a staple in Texas, even donut shops have kolaches,” Ross said.

By his senior year in college, he had opened his first kolache shop, in Provo, and the first ever in Utah County.

Ross wanted his kolaches to be made all in-house and in small batches throughout the morning, so they're always fresh. He wanted his customers to be able to grab and go, or sit down at one of the tables and eat. His siblings came to help. His parents, too.

“It's our heritage. It's our background being Texan,” Ross said. “And it made sense in Provo because as breakfast options, you either got donuts, bagels or fast food. That's all that was there.”


The sit-down bakery in Provo quickly became profitable, and Ross and his siblings wanted to see if they could make it in Salt Lake City, outside of the BYU student bubble. The location was featured on the Food Network, Friday, after recommendations from customers had flooded in.

Ross, Devin, and a third sibling, Cory, are using a kolache recipe inspired from their great-grandmother whose parents were both from Czechoslovakia before they settled in Texas. Ross' great-grandmother was a baker and her husband a butcher. (Hruska—the “h” is silent—means “pear” in Czech, now the logo of their business.)

“The history of Texas Kolache is fascinating because the Vietnamese had a big influence on it when they immigrated in, and of course the Polish and Germans,” Ross said. “But in the Czech Republic, it really is a peasant dish. It's a very simple thing.”


Amid the bevy of chain restaurants often seen opening in American Fork, a family running a new business is always worth interviewing. Eateries on Main Street have done well. Tangie’s Café has recently marked 15 years in business.

“I think we have the best kolaches I've ever tasted. That's why I can eat one every day,” Devin said laughing. Then she made a comment she asked this reporter not to print.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force, and they often eschew traditional job paths. Ross, who is now 29, graduated from BYU with a degree in Finance and Spanish—a minor in Economics and Maths—and he still received straight As while opening his first kolache shop. He said he didn't want to work for “some big companies, working in a cubicle.”

Still, being an entrepreneur goes beyond putting your heart and soul into a business, Ross realized. His employees essentially trust him with their lives.

“We have employees who have bought houses, bought cars. There were four kids born since we opened, three of them under our insurance,” Ross finally said. “It's pretty awesome what we are able to create for people.”

Can You Design the Next American Fork City Logo?

As world cities are in a competition with other places to reach attention of investors, visitors and events, city branding is a strategic way for local governments to win this competition.


The logo on American Fork letterhead, statements and vehicles has long been a picture of Historic City Hall with a river turning into a string of musical measures. The logo has been the same for over 10 years, and the City is willing to explore a refresh.

"Because a rebrand doesn’t need to happen immediately, we are considering less conventional methods for rebranding," Camden Bird, an administration analyst for American Fork City, said.


One of the less conventional methods is to ask college students for input. The Vineyard City logo, for example, was designed by a design club at Utah Valley University, and American Fork City has approached the same club for ideas.

It's not unusual for a city to update its logo. In 1968, Mayor F. Haws Durfey commissioned a redesign, which created the famous American Fork wagon wheel — with the center of the wheel carrying the motto, “Hub of North Utah County.” The logo was designed by a local artist, Carma Steineckert, and was an instant hit. In 1983, it was a 14-year-old AF Jr. High student, Claude Messersmith, who won a citywide contest for a new logo. But the logo didn’t stay.


Unless cities hire a branding firm, redesigns seldom incur additional expenses. Cities often wait until stocks run out or new vehicles are purchased to update their logos.

The American Fork Citizen wants to help and is awarding a $100 check to an American Fork resident who can design the next logo for the city. Send your submissions to

After Fire Strikes Vacant Home, a Firefighter's Acumen Saves a Life

As soon as Lieutenant Shelbi Clark of the American Fork Fire Department opened the front door of a residence on 200 West and Pacific Drive Saturday morning, the smoke was already down to the floor. The visibility was non-existent.



A neighbor had spotted the billowing smoke coming from the house, a recently purchased two-residence structure under renovation. After banging multiple times on the door and realizing no one was living there, the neighbor called 911.

Lt. Clark and firefighter Michael Beltran were the first responders on scene, and after the standard 360-degree assessment to quickly size up the structure, they pulled two hose lines from Engine 51.

In a twist of fate, American Fork Fire Chief Aaron Brems and Captain Leif Nelson were in a meeting when the 911 call came in. They decided to provide backup and jumped into the second engine.

It is unusual for the Fire chief to find himself at the end of a hose. It is equally unusual for the chief and the captain to be driving in the same engine. It hadn't happened since the two were promoted in 2017.

“It’s funny, we hadn't been on a unit together,” said Captain Leif Nelson. “But we both happened to be at the station after the end of a shift.”

When dealing with an empty house the firefighters’ focus is to tackle the fire and save the structure. If the house was under normal occupancy, the team would have split in two, fighting the fire while saving lives.

“We go in, and it's completely gutted,” Lt. Clark said. “We went through the structure to the back and found the seat of the fire.”

After the fire was put out and smoke was clearing, Lt. Clark searched the building. “I noticed a pile of blankets and I saw the bottom of shoes from the blanket,” she said.

But the house under renovation was expected to be empty.

“I saw the shoes and I had a gut feeling,” Lt. Clark said. “I didn't know what I was going to find because we don't see that every single day.”

Capt. Nelson says he credits Lt. Clark for saving a life.

“We all kind of went to the fire to put it out,” Capt. Nelson said. “She is actually the one who spotted [the woman]. There’s a good chance we would have all been focused on the fire.”

Though it was apparent that no one was living there, a woman was asleep under a blanket. She didn’t own the place and seemed unconscious. The firefighters had difficulty waking her up, fearing the worst.

“Her color wasn't good. She didn't look very healthy at all,” Capt. Nelson said. But she eventually opened her eyes, looking dizzy and disoriented. Lt. Clark helped her get up.

“It’s a good thing we found her, when we did,” Capt. Nelson finally said. “If she had stayed asleep, there’s a good chance she would have succumbed to the CO2.”

Profile: Jeana Harmon, Cavette Extraordinaire

In the spirit of the Sundance Film Festival, which begins Thursday, if there were an award for “Most American Fork,” Jeana Harmon would win the category — or, at least, make the nomination list.



Ms. Harmon is a third generation Caveman. While attending high school, she took part of the American Fork drill team as a Cavette. She also became a cheer and song leader and a student body officer. And if that wasn’t enough, in 1992, she represented the town as Miss American Fork.

It was just two years ago that the enduring drill team program in American Fork, called the Cavettes, was almost nixed. The high school administrators, like at many schools in Utah Valley, faced the same problem: too few had signed up to justify the program. A full drill team needs 20 to 24 students, but the Cavettes were only half that.

In an extraordinary move, an online petition was started by American Fork residents. Two thousand three hundred signatures later, the administrators decided to keep the program — and bring Jeana Harmon on board.

By then, Ms. Harmon had studied Dance Education at BYU and become both a Cougarette and a cheerleader for BYU. She had also taught dance camps for Universal Dance Association and choreographed the Miss Utah production number. (She’s now the director of her own vocal and dance company, Showcase USA, in American Fork.)

Bringing Ms. Harmon back as a coach proved to be the right call. She has energized the drill team, and more students have since signed up.


“Okay! I’m the proudest coach ever!” she said on Facebook Saturday. “The AF Cavettes are going to state again. These Gals did it! Let’s Go AF Cavettes.”

After making it through Region last week, the Cavettes are going to Salt Lake City for the State competition Saturday.

And while Ms. Harmon wants to credit the Cavettes for their hard work, the Citizen acknowledges their coach in her second season. Ms. Harmon turned around a program that almost vanished for a lack of interest.

New Homes Break $1-Million List Price

The contours of an upscale area in American Fork are forming, as two new-construction homes for sale have broken for the first time the $1-million mark.


A list price of $1 million for a single-family home in American Fork — a town where most houses are less than $500,000 — is extremely rare, but it has happened before.

In 2017, a house with an indoor gym, basketball court and a sports pool on a 1.17-acre lot sold for $1,200,000. But the 1980-era home with unique features was essentially a real-estate “unicorn,” touting $600,000 worth of upgrades.

What is a first in American Fork, however, is that two new constructions have a starting price above $1 million, in what may become the new upscale subdivision of American Fork. None of the two homes are on a lot larger than 0.21 acres.

The Autumn Crest Subdivision, which is located near North County Blvd and 1060 N, is betting the future prime location of American Fork is next to the American Heritage private school and the LDS temple.

And, in the latest sign that real-estate value is marching up, one of the two houses has already revised its asking price on Monday: an increase from $1,149,780 to $1,249,780.

As for the other new construction — the cheaper one — $1,035,800 will get you a 4-bedrooms, 4-baths, 3-car garage home with an unfinished basement. The house is 5,352 square feet.

If interested, the 20% down payment on the asking price would set you back $207,160. After making that down payment, all is left to pay is roughly $5,000 every month for the next 30 years, based on current interest rates.

American Fork Hospital Makes Pricing Public for the First Time

One of the things American Fork is famous for is its hospital. The current hospital building is four decades old, but American Fork has had a hospital since 1937. Some prominent figures were born in American Fork, including Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and LDS Apostle Elder D. Todd Christofferson.


The American Fork hospital published for the first time this month a complete price list online, detailing all of the services it offers. A one-night stay at the ICU will set you back $5,333.62, for example. A colonoscopy diagnostic is $1896.67. Suture tape? $170.10.

Hospitals across the country are required since January to publish price lists online. These figures must be updated every year. Critics say hospitals are not doing enough; some items are so codified and abbreviated that it’s hard to know what they are. At the American Fork Hospital, for example, a “MECH THROMB OF DIALY CIRC W STENT” will cost you $23,915.81.

Other say it is a good, first step towards transparency. Of note: American Fork Hospital is managed by Intermountain Healthcare, which is a not-for-profit healthcare system.