Monday, July 25, 2011

Dean Larson for Mayor - Endorsement for a Neighboring City

Nearly 14 years I met a man name Dean Larson.  We were in college together and became involved in student government.  During the years I have known him, I have seen home develop amazing skills of management, leadership and love for those around him.  He has recently announced his running for Mayor of Uintah.  I couldn't be more excited for this.  Though I do not live in Uintah, it is a neighbor to South Ogden and partner of our city.

I highly recommend you check out his blog and website if you live there or around Uintah.  He is your best choice for mayor and encourage you to vote for him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What we can learn from Brazil and their Credit Bubble

Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune had an interesting associated press article by Bradley Brooks about Brazil's credit bubble. (See Here) Constantly we talk about the need to boost the economy with more spending.  Brazil took this to heart.  According to the article, credit cards were a hard thing to come by.  Only the rich and elite were allowed to have such items.  Brazil wanted to increase spending so they made credit more easily available to anyone who wants it. With a taste for North American quality of life and goods, spending has gone through the rough.  Good for the economy yeah?  Not quite! You see the average interest rate in Brazil is 238 percent.  That is like going to payday lender here in the U.S (well almost, we are much higher).   With the average Brazilian having $3,000 in credit card debt at 238 percent Brazil is headed for trouble.  Big Trouble!  Their so called "Good Economy" is teetering on bursting if this debt is not controlled.  Here some other interesting facts:

  • 22 percent of Brazilians are already in default with their debt.  This is expected to increase to 28 percent by the end of 2011
  • Inflation is now 6.71 percent above the 6.5 percent inflation ceiling.  Not good for the poorer people of Brazil.
  • Spending is going down, now people can't afford anything.  The economy grew 7.5 percent last year but will slow to 4 percent this year.  

What does all this spell?  T-R-O-U-B-L-E

What can we learn from this?  Two things, borrowing to grow the economy is not the answer.  Making credit and loans easier for people to get is not the answer.  Granted Brazil does have insane interest rates; yet it is still the issue of people buying things they really don't have the money for. Again, debt is not the answer.

I welcome your comments, is more debt really the answer?  With the current economic questions in the United States about the debt ceiling and taking on more debt, we have to wonder are we headed the wrong direction?

Monday, July 18, 2011

South Ogden Soldier Dies in Afghanistan

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting a South Ogden man has died while serving his country in Afghanistan. (See Here)

According to the article, Raphael Arruda had joined the Army in 2008 and was serving in Afghanistan.  An explosive device went off and Raphael Arruda died from the blunt-force trauma that the blast caused.

I want to say thank you to Raphael for protecting this great country.  Though I have never met you, you lived not far from my house.  To the parents, I promise your loss is felt and you are in our prayers.

God Bless

Friday, July 15, 2011

Michael Ames and The Raymond Attack - What Really Happened.

Two days ago Michael Ames was sentenced to 6 years to life.  His sentence is the beginning of closure to one of the most horrific things that has happened on the relatively normal and quiet street of Raymond Avenue.  Ames changed the way many people live and think on this street.   On March 25th, or as the Groves refer to as 3/25, Michael Ames broke into their home while running from police after a bank robbery.
The Groves were kind enough to sit down with me for a few hours and tell me their story regarding 3/25, what they saw, felt and how they are healing now.  With the Ames now being sentenced to jail, I feel it appropriate to share this story now.

A Normal Day:

3/25 started like any normal day.  Tyler had gone to a training class for work and Laura had attended a school field trip with her oldest child.  Tyler's class finished early so they were home enjoying a lazy and relaxed day.  It snowed on 3/25, normal for a March in Utah, but not what Raymond likes to see on a Friday.  On a normal warm Friday, the families would find themselves on the porches playing and waiting for their spouses to return from work.  Not today, the cold fortuitously kept everyone inside.  

Things Change:

A former member of the neighborhood, April Maw, was coming to visit and called the Groves in a panic.  “There are cops outside with guns; I am at a neighbor’s house.”  This immediately drew the Groves to the front door.  Tyler, now on the porch, counted close to 10 cops coming from 40th headed his direction up Raymond. 

“Cops were flying down the street,” he said.  At this time Michael Ames had just ditched his getaway vehicle nearby and the police were closing in on him.

At this time Tyler decided to bring his family and children back into the house.  He could see a police perimeter being formed in the neighborhood.  Other neighbors had also been out watching the events began to take refuge in their homes and watch from the windows.  April, on suggestion from the Groves, decided take shelter in their home and avoid the police confusion.

Just as April pulled into the drive way; Tyler, who was still on the porch with his wife, noticed someone to his left.  Ames was sneaking around the south side cautiously looking for the police.  Tyler immediately recognized him as the reason police were there and began pushing his wife into the home.  Laura would ask later, “How did you know he was the bad guy?”  Tyler explained, “I just knew, something inside told me.”  Tyler was right, this grungy and scruffy many was the Michael Ames, a fugitive on the run.

The Fugitive Approaches:

“As soon as I got the storm door shut and the glass up all the way, he [Michael Ames] was punching at the door,” Tyler explained, “I am sure he could see the cops and he wanted to get in.”  
The kids were crying at this point, the energy was intense.  Laura and Tyler both pushed the main steal door shut cutting off their view of Ames.

“I looked up through the top window of the door; I could see he was standing on the edge of the porch.  A thought goes through my brain.  Open the door and kick at him.  Kick him so he will fall off the porch.” Tyler continues, “I opened the door and tried to kick him.  The moment I kicked at Ames he moved from the porch and headed towards April, who was now taking the kids out of her car.”

Missing Ames by only a few inches Tyler pulls back into the house.  Later he would learn Ames was distracted by this move and it was enough time to give April time to react and leave.  Ames turned and ran back towards the Groves front door.  At this time Tyler sees Ames’s gun and has it pointed towards a cop. 


The first gun shot of the day.  “I thought for sure he [Ames] had just shot,” Tyler said.  “We learned later it was one of the cops shooting from the hip and the bullet hit the house 3 feet above Ames’s head.  It sounded like a pop, not like you hear in the movies.  I then told Laura, he’s got a gun!” 

Laura described the feeling of the shot, “When the bullet hit the house, it reverberated through the home. It sounded like three shots had gone off because of this.  I knew I needed to get to safety, I ran to the hall with my youngest and began calling to Tyler, for our oldest child.  My oldest was in her room and she quickly came to me and I held my children tightly as I waited for this to be over.”

The Bat:

Tyler realizing they were in eminent danger decided to get a gun.  He keeps a number of guns locked in the basement.  Tyler locked the front door and crossed the living room, into the kitchen.  “Once I got the kitchen I felt something tell me—go get your bat,” Tyler said.  A number of years ago Tyler took an old aluminum soft ball bat from his parent’s house.  He kept it under his bed for safety reasons, in case he couldn’t get to his guns.  Whenever Laura would hear a noise in the night, Tyler would joke, “Don’t worry dear, I have my bat under the bed.”

When Tyler returned with the bat, stepping over Laura in the hallway, Michael Ames was already in the kitchen.  He was sneaking through the house searching for shelter from the onslaught of police outside.  Ames approached the hallway, Tyler and Michael came face to face. Ames had his gun in hand pointed straight at Tyler.  Tyler reacted.

“My first swing was up, which hit his hand and the gun.  It knocked the gun to the threshold (near the back door),” Tyler said.

“I was yelling at Tyler to stop,” Laura said because she was afraid for his wellbeing.

Tyler continued, “My second swing hit the bag of money, money flew all over the room like in a movie, my third swing hit him in the head splitting his head open.” 

You can see the dent left in the fridge from the bat
When you look around the Groves house you can see softball bat dents in the ceiling, walls and even the fridge.  Ames now bleeding from his head leaned forward and grabbed Tyler by the shoulders in an attempt to stop Tyler from attacking.  The pushing match led into the living room and caused Tyler to stumble on the kids toys.

“At first I was yelling at Ames to leave, but then I started yelling to Laura to get out as we pushed towards the living room. Once in the living room I considered punching him in the face but then tripped on the kids toys. As I fell, the bat landed perfectly on the sofa table then we fell to ground.”

Getting Help:

“When they fell, I ran out of the house.  I knew I needed to get help,” Laura explained, “as I ran out of the house I only could see two cops.  I had to jump over the gun to get out of the door and so I began screaming I needed help and there is a guy in my house and a gun by the back door.  Later I learned there were lots of cops around but I could only see two.” 

Some of the cops later told the Groves the vision of seeing her running out of the house with her children and screaming for help has haunted them.  The fear of seeing her and not knowing what has happened inside still sticks with them today.   As Laura left she was directed to the neighbor’s house. As she sat down the final vision of her husband wrestling on the ground began to sink in, Laura began to breakdown. 

“I looked down at the kids and they were crying, I was crying hysterically then something snapped.  I need to pull myself together.  These kids are watching me.  I needed to say a prayer, which is really hard to do in a situation like this.  I prayed: Heavenly Father, please just bless us.  Instantly everything began to be better.  I stopped crying and we got the kids playing with some toys and things began to calm down.”

Tyler continued wrestling in the house with Ames, he realized this was going nowhere.  He pulled himself and Ames up.  Ames then said, “I want my piece [gun] and want to get out of here.”  Tyler then noticed the perfectly placed bat; he grabbed it and let him go. 

“I grabbed the bat and started swinging.  My first swing hit him in the ribs.  He started running for the door and I swung again hitting him in the hip.  Then I chased Ames out the door.” Ames picked up his gun as he ran through the door.  He took two steps, onto the patio and driveway and came face to face with a cop.  Tyler sees the cop scream at Ames and then fire his gun. Most of this has been blocked from Tyler’s memory but he remembers the cops yelling at him to get back into the house.

“I dropped the bat, the dinging sound of it bouncing on the cement still sticks with me today.  I quickly go into shock and began having an asthma attack.  So I laid down in the kitchen and wait for the police to come in.”


The aftermath was intense.  Cops stormed the home; the Groves couldn’t see each other until the scene had been processed.  But the police department did an amazing job of calming the family down and in the end reuniting them together.  Ames' gun turned out to be a fake but the fear of danger had been real.

Tyler came out of the house to see Laura for the first time, the entire neighborhood erupted into applause for our new hero.  As they hugged we heard Tyler say, “I had time to react.”  Laura lovingly said, “Do we get to keep any of the money?”

It is clear that a divine power was looking over the Groves this day.  On more than one occasion an impression or spirit guided them to safety.  Whether it was for Laura to run when she did or say the prayer she did, even Tyler grabbing his bat, truly the Groves were meant to survive this ordeal.  In the end they are pleased with the outcome.  Michael Ames is now going to jail.  The Groves have grown closer as a family and in the end their faith is stronger than ever.

Afterwards many special things have happened to the Groves.  From people cleaning their house, the fire department washing their driveway of blood, to the finding the perfect size of siding to replace the bullet hole in their house. Most of all, they are safe.

Things like this don’t happen on our quiet street.  But when they do it is good to know we are being watched out for.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Urban Forestry Commission Fails To Function

For the third month in a row we have canceled the Urban Forestry Commission. Why even have this commission?  The reasons, people are out of town and lack of agenda items.

People, it is the same time EACH MONTH!  We would have more agenda items if we could meet and set new goals.  We can meet and set new goals because the dang tree inventory hasn't been done for 5 years!

People of South Ogden, this is a major fail!