Boosting His Fellowmen, Civic Leaders of Utah County, History, Provo History, Water Rights

More Than 500 Have Served on Provo City Boards

“The first requisite of a good citizen,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “is that he be able and willing to pull his weight.”

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This article is about more than 500 Provo citizens who have gone far beyond that “first requisite.”

They are present and past members of Provo City “Citizen Boards” whose talents energies and leadership have helped make this a better community.

Their names and the board on which they serve or have served will be on permanent display at city hall, following a public ceremony Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The mayor’s office, which compiled the list from city records, says it may be incomplete in some cases. Indeed, we note the omission of several members who served on boards in the “earlier years.”

Our intent here is to cite a few specific accomplishments indicative of the overall contribution of Provo’s citizen boards. 

Today there are many such boards. A half a century ago there were very few. One of the best known today is the Freedom Festival Board. What a great job its members do in staging the Fourth of July celebration!

An older group whose record of service reaches back into the 30s is the Metropolitan Water Board. 

Organized to administer Provo City’s water rights in Deer Creek Reservoir, it has gone beyond the call of duty in looking out for Provo’s water interests.

For example, back in the early forties John O. Beesley and K. E. (Bob) Bullock of the board approached Mayor Maurice Harding and urged the city to buy the Donnan property and water rights at Upper Falls in Provo Canyon.

With city approval, they and the board spearheaded negotiations and obtained financial help from the State Road Commission and Rio Grande Railroad in the acquisition  which (1) expanded Provo’s water holdings; (2) gave the city a small canyon park, and (3) improved transportation rights-of-way.

LeRoy J. Olsen, who served on the Metropolitan Water Board 1942 to 1977, recalls the dedication of the citizens group. He mentions especially Beesley’s diligence in safeguarding water rights important to the city.

The Board of Adjustment and Planning Board were among early citizen units with have given life-time valuable service.

Harding remembers that it was with the support and urging of Fred L. Markham and other far-sighted citizens that the Planning Board was established.

George Smeath was the first planning director. The program had been instrumental in providing orderly growth patterns.

The Library Board, currently involved in the drive for a new library facility, dates back a long time. The published list of those who have served should be augmented with such names as Clayton Jenkins, J. C. Moffitt, T. Earl Pardoe, Margaret Smith and Sherman W. Wing.

What Provo “old-timer” could forget the great contribution of J. Hamilton Calder, Vasco Tanner, Clarence Harmon and other early Power Board members in helping Mayor Mark Anderson get the municipal power program in full swing?

Former Mayor Verl G. Dixon has only praise for the citizen boards. Prominent among those he mentioned is the Senior Citizen’s Council on Aging whose many-faceted program includes activities at the Eldred Center.

Russell D. Grange, another former mayor, considers the Neighborhood Committees especially vital in the citizen support. The committees involve themselves in such projects and issues as beautification, street and sidewalk improvements, safety, covering of ditches and canals, etc.

During Grange’s administration, the city commissioners stimulated citizen interests by sometimes holding their meetings at neighborhood locations.