About 100 Utah-history buffs traveled to the Heber City area Wednesday to celebrate Utah's annual Statehood Day and to help Heber City officials launch that city's centennial observance.
Jessie L. Embry, oral history program director for the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University, delivered the keynote address at the Statehood Day program held at Wasatch High School.Embry focused on the role community newspapers played in shaping and helping to develop rural western towns toward the end of the 1800s and during the early 1900s. She said Heber City was no different and that the weekly "Wasatch Wave," which coincidently is also beginning its centennial year of production, played a key role in Heber City's development and in the growth of Wasatch County in general.
Embry said local weekly papers are a mirror of a community's soul, reflecting the area culture, social values and desires. Often these newspapers became the conscience of the area and also acted as cheerleaders to rally public support for progress and improvement. She said the "Wasatch Wave" filled this role by calling for creation of the city's culinary water system, supporting a fund-raising effort to get a railroad spur into the area, urging beautification efforts and supporting a multitude of developments and improvements by citizens.
This facet of the community newspaper continues today, Embry said, as the "Wasatch Wave" supports positive things in the community. It also supports the concept called for in one of its early editorials - to make Heber City one of the "best little cities in America."
During the program, Lt. Gov. W. Val Oveson reflected on the need to protect Utah's historic heritage and for Utahns to become more aware of their past. He said knowing and understanding the past is a key to preparing effectively for the future. He called on Utahns to work together to prepare young people to continue in this role. He said that while it is important for the youth to prepare adequately to meet the technological demands of development, they also need a good understanding of history, culture and the arts to become well-rounded citizens.
At the Statehood Day banquet, Heber City officials talked about the city's history and future and launched the city's centennial observance. All five council members and the mayor spoke during the program on topics such as culture, society and religion; homes and families; land and agriculture; business and industry; city government and service.
Those traveling to Wasatch County for the daylong observance were kept busy with an excursion to Deer Creek Reservoir on the Heber Creeper train, a presentation on the history of the area, a tour of the Wasatch Tabernacle, which is also City Hall, and a visit to the historic Abram Hatch home and Zion's Bank. The group also traveled to Midway for a tour of several historic homes prior to the banquet and Statehood Day program.