Hoping Lady Luck will smile on an anti-gambling town, a group of Highland and Alpine residents are betting on Utah County commissioners to deal a losing hand to the backers of a proposed gravel pit at the mouth of American Fork Canyon.

A six-month battle waged by outraged residents at the prospect of a 50-acre plant will be decided tonight by Utah County commissioners.The three-man panel will vote at 5:30 p.m. in the County Administration Building, 100 E. Center St., on a petition by California-based construction company Gibbons and Reed to allow mining in lands deemed "critical environment" zones by the county government.

Educators and parents in the Alpine School District have made strong stances against the application for a mining permit in the sandy foothills, saying the plant's trucks would endanger some 5,000 students who walk, ride the bus or drive cars on U-92, the main east-west corridor.

In addition, after weeks of long, heated meetings with residents who voiced concern about air and water quality, both Highland and Alpine have passed resolutions objecting to the extraction pit that would be built on the road leading to the Timpanogos National Monument.

Gibbons and Reed is taking the request to county leaders because the land targeted for the mining operation was de-annexed from Highland nearly a decade ago.

Tom Case, the company's point man on the project, said Highland leaders approached him last year about the possibility of working together on some projects, prompting the company to approach the city about granting a permit before going to the county.

City administrator John Newman inquired about the company's plans to build a new road in Alpine, and if Granite, the parent company of Gibbons and Reed, would consider selling land in Highland that the city wanted for detention ponds, he said.

But after a deadline for a specific proposal from Gibbbons and Reed lapsed, Highland voted to deny the request and rezone the area to disallow natural-resource extraction.