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Town comes out for barbecue
organized by business classes

By Mike Gorrell
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/21/2007 11:39:49 PM MDT

HUNTINGTON - Still reeling quite a bit from the prolonged trauma of the Crandall Canyon mine disaster, the folks of Huntington received a little tender loving care this week from some Snow College students.

About 80 business students from Snow College in Ephraim, on the other side of the Wasatch Plateau from Huntington, threw a free barbecue for the whole town Thursday. Hundreds turned out.

Students rode up and down streets on golf carts, jumping off every now and then to go door-to-door to remind people that over in shady Huntington City Park there was 300 pounds of Moroni Feed Co.'s finest marinated turkey, along with hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, salads and drinks.

And T-shirts, 1,200 to be exact. The front says "Remembering the past, looking to the future!" On the back are the names of the nine miners killed in last month's tragedy - Manuel Sanchez, Kerry Allred, Luis Hernandez, Juan Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips, Don Erickson, Gary Jensen, Brandon Kimber and Dale Black - beneath the words "Honoring Those Lost," and in smaller letters, "Huntington, Utah."

Besides being a way for the students to pay tribute to those nine, "we just wanted to spread a little cheer in this community in our own small little way," said Russ Johnson, a teacher whose four business classes came together to put on the feast.

"The kids have been excited about it, more than about my classes," he said with a laugh. "But sometimes life's lessons aren't in the book. This is something they'll always remember."

Chelsey Brown will. A 19-year-old sophomore from Lindon, she said most students had kept track of last month's disaster on television and in the papers and wanted to contribute in some way. "To be part of helping out is a great thing," said Brown, who took a collection can around campus and raised part of the $7,500 that students came up with in cash or food donations. "Everybody I talked to was willing to pay $1 or so."

The students also engaged in some real-world business activities. They lined up sponsors (LDS Hospital, Utah Community Credit Union, Centry, Nelson Sunbeam Coal, J.J.W.D. Hardware, Robinson's Transport, American Express, Utah Credit Union, Moroni Feed Co., Barney Trucking, Hales Sand & Gravel and KOAL Radio).
They did marketing work, pitching their project to Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon, producing fliers and signs, and designing and ordering two sets of T-shirts, light blue ones for the students, white ones for the townsfolk (with patriotic red and blue lettering).

It was straight-A work in the eyes of Huntington residents, who filled the 15 or so concrete picnic tables under a side-by-side pavilion or leaned back against trunks of the park's big old trees. While they ate, students and kids from the town played nearby with a volleyball.

"It means a lot that they think of us. We're not out here on our own, suffering," said Sheila Sebring, looking around at her neighbors and noting "this [disaster] has brought Huntington together. It's been sad, but it's brought us out of our shells, our comfort zone."

"It's very special," said Kay Truman, his gray hair poking out from under a cowboy hat. "For young people to have that much feeling for a town they're not familiar with . . . in my life, I've never seen people from other places go to this extent."

Mayor Gordon was touched by the outpouring as well.
"One takes food to one's neighbor when somebody dies or is sick," she said. "I never would have thought of feeding a whole community. It's just an awesome tribute, unique."