Just days after a Paradise man admitted he forged signatures on petitions supporting a Cache County water conservancy district, proponents have submitted 97 new names to a district court.
In a memorandum to 1st District Judge Gordon Low, pro-district attorney Brent Hoggan asked that the court use the new signatures as an alternative to several dozen names forged by 80-year-old Marion Olsen.Olsen pleaded guilty to five forgery charges and faces sentencing April 30.
Hoggan requested that the additional signatures, which include some of the same names purportedly forged by Olsen, be allowed without having to withdraw and resubmit any of the signatures.
He also asked that district opponents not be given the same opportunity to add additional names to their petitions.
Low is expected to rule on whether the district should be formed following a trial in July.
The anti-district group People for Wise Water Planning was surprised to learn that 14 of 33 people who signed affidavits claiming their names were forged have since signed petitions favoring a district.
Group co-founder Alice Lindahl said pro-district forces have spread misinformation and used pressure to win over the 14 who did sign.
"At least 19 of them did not give in to the pressure," she said.
Norma Crye, who lives outside Paradise, said she and her husband Robert were persuaded last week that "this is the right thing to do."
Crye said they were contacted by district supporter Franklin Gunnell, who told them their part of the county would receive no water allocations from the state unless the water conservancy district was in place.
"This would not hurt us, but our conscience would not allow us to see some of our friends and neighbors go without water," she said.
Crye said Gunnell also told them that Olsen "would probably get a lighter sentence" if they were to show support for the district.
The couple earlier had signed an anti-district petition, and Crye said she still does not feel comfortable with the way a district operates.
"The board of directors is not elected and too often everyone pays taxes for water that benefits only a few," she said.
Lindahl said the Cryes and others were victimized by the misinformation campaign.
"I hate to see this happen to nice people when it is absolutely not true that water allocations are dependent on conservancy districts," she said.