Kirk Smith

ST. GEORGE — Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith says he met personally with Hildale Mayor David Zitting to reassure him that "we don't anticipate anything happening here" that is connected to or reflects the events occurring in Texas.

"It is pretty much business as usual. We aren't aware of anything in Hildale that needs our attention," said Smith.

He added: "I'm being kept up to date with events in Texas, and they (Texas authorities) haven't asked us for any special assistance from here."

Residents of neighboring Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., which are polygamist enclaves, are "wound up pretty tight" and are "nervous" over the actions taken by law enforcement and child welfare officials at the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, Smith said.

The YFZ Ranch, raided last week by officials in Texas, is owned by the Fundamentalist LDS Church, which was headed by Warren Jeffs, 52.

Jeffs was convicted last year of rape in Utah as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

He was sentenced in November to serve two terms of 15 years to life in prison. He is currently being held in Kingman, Ariz., for trial in a similar case.

"But I've told them, we can't live like we're in 1953 anymore. Sometime, somebody has to begin trusting someone," the sheriff said, referring to the 1953 Arizona-led raid on the two polygamous towns, then known as Short Creek, that broke hundreds of families apart.

At the same time, Mayor Zitting said, people can't help but be anxious and worried about the situation in Texas and wonder if the same thing could happen in Utah.

"Sure it's affecting us. We've got friends and family involved," the mayor said during an interview with the Deseret Morning News. "But most of the people here are carrying on with their lives in their own way. We're not directly involved with what is happening in Texas."

Zitting said while he has been assured by state and local authorities that such a wholesale raid on residents in Hildale would not happen, there is no guarantee.

"I guess we have become accustomed to this sort of thing, in a way," Zitting said of the Texas raid. "We just have to carry on."