4 Years of the Bluff Town Council

Photo courtesy of Bluff Town Council.

September 6th marked four years since the swearing-in of the Bluff town council, shortly after the town was incorporated in August 2018. The Canyon Echo posed three questions to the council members to reflect on their work:

1. What are you most proud of in your time on the Bluff Town Council?

2. What are your hopes for Bluff in the coming years?

3. Is there anything you wish more people knew about work on the Council? Or, are there any recent happenings that you feel are important but aren’t being talked about much?

Here are the answers from everyone who could respond:

Ann Leppanen, Mayor

Most Proud Of:

Incorporation was completed in August 2018 and we 5 took office on September 6, 2018. The pandemic struck the country in January 2020. I am most proud that the Town “survived” the pandemic by residents, businesses, and local government working together. This doesn’t mean everyone agreed every step of the way but all of Bluff worked hard to protect its citizens or that loss didn’t occur. 

Hopes for Bluff’s Future:

That the Town will continue to develop with a thoughtful approach to the future and that Bluff learns from the past and present, particularly in the areas of economic growth and housing.

What I wish more people knew or that isn’t being talked about:

I wish more was publicly said about the Town’s accomplishments in a very short 4-year period, rather than the inclination of some to point out only the shortfalls. We aren’t a body of “volunteers;” we are elected officials doing the best job that we know how to do and somehow that gets lost in the conversation. 

Jim Sayers, Council Member

Most Proud Of:

Participating in the creation of an incorporated town has been a significant life experience for me. I’m most proud of the General Plan we created. While all such plans are eventually modified, this will have a useful life in describing our path forward in many areas.

Hopes for Bluff’s Future

I hope it can continue as an uncommon locus valuing diversity, kindness, activism and humanism in rural Utah.

What I wish more people knew or that isn’t being talked about:

I hope people appreciate how much the Council members challenge each other and themselves in weekly decision making. I know we all seek guidance from our respective consciences in many matters. I think over the last year it seems we’re looking more at projects and opportunities that will increasingly serve Bluff’s future.

Brant Murray, Council Member

Most Proud Of:

Change is happening slowly here. 

We’ve had 2 planning documents created by the U of Utah, and Utah State University, which have given us a detailed description of what the locals want their town to be. 

Our General Plan is a narrative for the future of Bluff. 

Dark Sky, low taxes, safe streets, rural lifestyle, non-motorized backcountry, preservation of Bears Ears for the future generations who call it home…and for millions of Americans who come here for the wonder. 

Hopes for Bluff’s Future:

Young people can continue to find employment opportunities, and fixed income folks also thrive. Building more community connections with our friends and neighbors. 

What I wish more people knew or that isn’t being talked about:

I think our Town Council really appreciates the Bluff community of volunteers, and all the folks who serve on our town committees and boards. 

We’ve got a great group helping to build our little town. 

I think it shows. 

Linda Sosa, Records Officer

Most Proud Of:

I work on infrastructure so others can focus on pursuing the many issues and relationships the Town needs.

Hopes for Bluff’s Future:

Bluff’s volunteerism, sense of community and varied expertise make it special. People have helped improve the Town on many levels the entire 50 years I have lived here and I see that continuing. 

What I wish more people knew or that isn’t being talked about:

It is great having virtual meetings and we have a YouTube channel at Town of Bluff!

According to the Mayor, the town received a grant of $128,383 from the Community Development Block Grant Program. The funds add to $28,000 the town received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which was matched by the State of Utah. Another grant received is a pass-through grant from San Juan County Public Health that will benefit the food pantry operated by Ginny Burns in the amount of $10,000.

The Town Council is working with Utah Diné Bikéyah to create a Cooperative Cultural Center out of the old Bluff Elementary School. They are currently working on securing funding for a fire suppression system in the building.