Maybe it's me. Maybe I read it wrong.

But if I didn't, the town of Murray is going to have a public vote tomorrow, in conjunction with primary Tuesday, on whether to preserve its smoke-stacks.People in other places debate whether to keep redwood forests; or how to keep condos off their pristine, sandy beaches; or if they should throw themselves in front of bulldozers to protect ornate cathedrals.

Murray is wondering about . . . smokestacks.

I'll admit, I am not completely unbiased when it comes to Murray.

I grew up in Sandy, one town away, separated only by a cafe in Midvale called June's.

In Sandy, students at the local high school - Jordan High - had a nickname, "Beetdiggers," that reflected the early, rural roots of the area when school was let out two weeks every fall so everybody could go to the fields and dig up the sugar beet crop.

The name "Beetdiggers" stuck even though there were hardly any fields of sugar beets left and, more to the point, nobody dug beets any more. They had machines for that.

Every once in a while, someone would realize we weren't still getting out of school for two weeks in the fall and want to change the nickname to something less curious such as Lions or Cougars.

But in Sandy we stuck to our past. Proud. Unashamed. Besides, we had the Doyle brothers if anybody wanted to make something of it.

But in Murray, where the common nickname from days past was "Smelterites" - on account of the smelter, with its huge smokestacks, that used to be in the center of town and gave the place a distinct odor - the high school declined to pay tribute to its roots and instead adopted the generic nickname "Spartans."

All of which, to me, makes it even more puzzling why there's so much nostalgia over the smokestacks. Unless it's guilt.

How many people do you know who have visited the valley and said, "Nice smokestacks?"

I have only one vivid memory of the Murray smokestacks. One fall day, when the Beetdiggers were playing football at the Spartans' field, a man was on a scaffold three-quarters of the way up the shorter smokestack, plastering a huge picture of Col. Harlan Sanders, the inventor of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

That was a proud moment for Murray, and not just because someone was creating the world's highest billboard but because if Murray is famous for anything, it's famous for giving Kentucky Fried Chicken its start.

In 1952, Pete Harman, the owner of Harman's restaurant at 3900 South and State, was the first person to buy Col. Sanders' original secret recipe and sell it out of his store.

There is a commemorative plaque at the Harman's KFC outlet, which still stands at 3900 South and State and still sells the Colonel's original secret recipe chicken, along with the all-new buffalo strips.

When they try to tear down that restaurant, then they've got a fight on their hands.

Near the corner of 300 South and 600 East in Salt Lake City stands a small stone monument in commemoration of the famous "only tree in the valley" that greeted the original Mormon pioneers when they arrived in 1847.

For years, the solitary tree, a cedar, acted as an oasis and "Welcome" sign along the old Emigration Road.

Now all that remain are memories.

At the bottom of the plaque that pays tribute to "the lone cedar tree that became Utah's first famous landmark" is this candid explanation: "Someone in a moment of thoughtlessness cut it down, leaving only the stump."

Whoever it was, do you think they also do smokestacks?