Elaine Gizler: [00:00:04] You are listening to San Juan Now, part of a Destination Marketing Podcast Network. This is the San Juan Now podcast, and I’m your host, Elaine Gizler. I want to introduce our guest Logan Monson, who is the mayor of Blanding. I am very excited to have him visit with us.
Logan Monson: [00:00:24] Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Elaine Gizler: [00:00:26] Logan, I do understand that this is your first time being on a podcast.
Logan Monson: [00:00:33] Yes. Never done a podcast before.
Elaine Gizler: [00:00:35] Well, this is exciting. I’m not a veteran, but it took some time to get used to this whole process. But I’m excited because we want to let the residents of San Juan County and visitors understand more about our areas and learn more about you and more about Blanding. I thought it was really important for us to be able to share all of that insight. Actually, this is my first podcast without my co-host Ben, who actually left. He’s on to bigger and better things. I will definitely miss him. We will miss him. But this is my first podcast by myself and your first podcast. We’re like, I guess, guinea pigs. Here goes nothing.
Logan Monson: [00:01:22] Here it goes.
Elaine Gizler: [00:01:23] I really want to talk to you about Blanding, and we want to find out, are you a resident of Blanding, how long have you been in Blanding and how long have you been the mayor?
Logan Monson: [00:01:33] Yeah. I have lived in Blanding most of my life. I wasn’t born in Blanding, but went to grade school and graduated high school there in 2006. I have been in this office, in this position since January. Pretty new to, I guess, being the mayor of Blanding. But I was on city council four years before. I’ve been involved, just not at this level.
Elaine Gizler: [00:01:56] Yeah, that’s wonderful. That really gives you really good insight into how you may want to approach things as you move forward. Blanding is to me, it’s the big metropolis here in San Juan County.
Logan Monson: [00:02:10] Yeah. Yeah.
Elaine Gizler: [00:02:10] You have so many things happening. It’s exciting that we’re going to hear about that. Give us a little bit about your background.
Logan Monson: [00:02:20] Yeah. Like I said, I was been in Blanding for forever almost. We really love it there. I graduated in 2006. I went on an LDS mission to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Spanish speaking. I can’t say that I speak much Spanish anymore, but came home, got married, started a family. My wife teaches school in Blanding. She teaches elementary school.
Elaine Gizler: [00:02:45] Nice.
Logan Monson: [00:02:46] Then we have four kids. I am a nurse. I do administrative nursing and then part-time home health and a few other things.
Elaine Gizler: [00:02:55] Wow. That’s exciting. I didn’t even know that. You’re a man of many talents, that’s for sure.
Logan Monson: [00:02:59] Yes. Stay busy, that’s for sure.
Elaine Gizler: [00:03:01] That’s awesome. Blanding seems to me, as I meet with individuals and just drive through the area, it seems it’s really moving forward. It looks like you have a lot of housing, a lot of things happening. Maybe you can tell us what’s actually happening in Blanding at the moment.
Logan Monson: [00:03:22] Yeah. We have a lot of projects going on at the city level. But even more than that, our community is just always keeping up with things. We have businesses that you wouldn’t necessarily expect in such a small town. New housing that comes in. It’s a slow market. It’s a slow market for housing as the state is. I mean, growth in small places doesn’t happen fast. But the different things that we have going on are exciting. I think that we’ll see some positive things coming from the growth that’s happening. I think it’s at a rate that is sustainable.
Elaine Gizler: [00:03:56] That’s great. That’s good to hear. I know you’ve got a lot of healthcare with the hospital there, doctors coming in and in the medical field. I think that that segments probably it looks to me like it’s been growing over the last several years. Then of course, the university, which I’m sure both of those sectors really positively impact Blanding.
Logan Monson: [00:04:19] Yeah. Having the mill close by the way, the White Mesa mill there is one of our big employers. The school district, healthcare, those are all the big things around Blanding right now.
Elaine Gizler: [00:04:31] I know that the White Mesa mill is, I believe that might be the only one of its kind here in the United States.
Logan Monson: [00:04:40] Yes. They’re doing some exciting things too. They have some projects going on that are fairly new, especially to the area. But it will be exciting to see where their projects take them and the growth that they can see hopefully as well.
Elaine Gizler: [00:04:52] I was excited. I visited there last fall. They had an open house. I was really pleasantly surprised about all that they’re doing, everything that they do do and some of the incredible things in the medical area that they’re working on, and hopefully over the next few years will make a huge difference around the world and maybe trying to help cure some different types of ailments that people may have. We’re looking forward to what they’re going to bring to the forefront.
Logan Monson: [00:05:29] Yeah, for sure. Some forward-thinking on their part. That’s going to be a huge asset to Blanding.
Elaine Gizler: [00:05:35] Cool. Being the county, because we represent the county, how can the county help Blanding? In what ways might we be able to help future growth? How can we lend a hand and help Blanding?
Logan Monson: [00:05:49] I think probably the biggest and most important thing to me is just being good partners. That means us being a good partner as well. If there’s things that the county needs, we want to certainly be able to be a benefit to the county as well. But I think what the county probably could do the most for helping us is just supporting us and having the same goals and same initiatives where we live in a county that’s so big, but also limited on funds and different things. I think that it would be important for us to share some of those things. If we can work together on things and not having to do two different things, I think that would be huge.
Elaine Gizler: [00:06:28] I agree with you. I think being partners and jointly supporting whatever the efforts are together. We’re on the same page and not split one doing this and one doing that. I totally agree with you. I know from the tourism office, we really try to focus as much as we can our efforts on helping Blanding. You have so many things that people can see and visit. I always say, why Blanding? Because you’ve got the Dinosaur Museum, which is amazing. Edge of the Cedars State Park, that is incredible. You’ve got the visitor’s destination for visitors to come and go to the visitor center and Bears Ears, you’re right there. I think Blanding is a place that while it might look rural, there are a lot of things to see and do when you come to visit there.
Logan Monson: [00:07:20] Yeah. There’s lots of things we could do better at in Blanding. I think that if we could make things to where people would stay a couple of nights versus the one night on the way through to Lake Powell or something like that, I think that we could do better at that. We’re working on it. There’s things that we’re trying to help with business owners and things to get people to stay a little bit longer to help the economy and different things like that.
Elaine Gizler: [00:07:43] Well, I think it’s educating and that’s what our outreach from the tourism office, we are trying to educate the visitors to say there are a lot of things that you can do if you stay in Blanding and make that a base camp. You can see all of these different areas around Blanding. I know you’ve got a hotel that had been closed that is now being renovated, which is very exciting. That is really going to add another lodging property for people to come and enjoy and stay. When you drive through Blanding and you see all the construction, you just see things happening. It’s a really good feeling that looks like you’re really moving the community forward.
Logan Monson: [00:08:23] Yeah. I think for those people that come and visit, I think that if we can paint the picture of: we want them to be there, we want people to enjoy what we enjoy. I think sometimes the media likes to paint a different picture of we’re just this rural community that doesn’t know our heads from our tails, basically. I think that if people really got to know the people of Blanding. I mean, Monticello, Bluff, just the communities of San Juan County, they’d be pleasantly surprised as to how good of people we have in the county.
Elaine Gizler: [00:08:53] Yeah, it’s true. We had a visitor, someone who we work with in the tourism office and had an opportunity to take him around. He had never been down to some of the areas other than Monument Valley. We took him out earlier this week. He was astounded at the natural beauty of all that we have here in San Juan County. You can’t see it in one day. That’s, I think, the point that we have to have people realize that you need several days to stay here and explore all the amazing outdoor areas that we have here. A lot of times in those areas, you might be the only one visiting that area. There are no crowds so you can visit it with peace, tranquility. If you have a family, even better. We’re trying to convey that as much as we can to everyone that we work with about your community. I know you’re building homes but are there housing challenges within your community for, say, the workforce? Or can you give us a little bit of an update on what you feel the challenges are for housing?
Logan Monson: [00:10:00] Yeah. We’re not unique in the housing situation that the state is facing, that the country is probably facing. Really, there’s a shortage of homes. The homes that are for sale are being sold for prices that are a little higher, a lot higher than what they have been in the past, which makes it so it’s not necessarily affordable to everyone. Affordable housing is the issue. With the current state of the economy and things, I think that the lower class is getting left out of that. We do have that problem. We have a lack of housing. We have problems with developers. We keep our developers busy that we have locally. That’s great. I think that it’s great to support the local developers. But it doesn’t allow us to grow or to stay ahead of that.
Elaine Gizler: [00:10:48] Right. I find having been in San Juan County since last September, we have a great need for apartment or mixed-use housing in all the areas throughout San Juan County. I know my Office of Economic Development, we’re really trying to see what we can do to focus on that and work with developers and gain their interest and see if we aren’t able to attract developers that will take the risk to come down here and say, “Hey, it’s worth it.” I really feel that if we have the ability to build apartments, condos, or mixed-use housing, that we will be able to help the economy in San Juan County grow. Because you’re right, we need Section 8 housing. We need all types of housing. We’re trying to work with each community to identify what the housing needs are and hopefully be able to bring that to the powers that be to help us to maybe secure some of that housing that we need in every community.
Logan Monson: [00:11:53] Well, we’re not going to make any changes by doing the same things over and over again. We’re going to have to approach things differently. We’re going to have to do things that maybe haven’t been done. That includes at the state level. We might need to get some support from the state to do things a little bit different, to incentivize people to come to San Juan County. We don’t want everyone. I mean, we want to stay rural and small. But we have room to grow, and we can help ease the burden of the housing crisis that we’re in.
Elaine Gizler: [00:12:22] I always say we can plan our own destiny here in San Juan County, and we can be what we all determine that it can be. We can have growth, but we can have managed growth so that we’re moving in the right direction and really making it possible for our children to come back to San Juan County and not leave and have to live somewhere else. The goal is to quit exporting our kids. I keep saying that. I think for us, that’s the goal. If we can work on housing and somehow get a handle on that. It’s really nice to know that you all, Prett, Brett and everyone in your office, they really want to partner with San Juan County so we can help to push forward what we need to help make San Juan County a better place to live.
Logan Monson: [00:13:10] Right. It’s never good to do something by yourself. I think if we can approach it together, we’ll have better progress.
Elaine Gizler: [00:13:16] Right. I know that Utah State University has a considerable presence in Blanding. Can you tell us a little bit about that partnership?
Logan Monson: [00:13:25] Yeah. I mean, if you think of what we have there, it’s unique to the state. We have a campus in Blanding that provides education opportunities to a huge population of people at a good cost. It’s not costing people what it would cost to go live out of state or out of the county even so we’re keeping that money there. But the county is a good partner. They’re an excellent partner in making sure that the community stays safe, that the opportunities are provided to everyone. Christian Olson there at the campus has been an excellent partner in lots of different things as far as providing workshops and different things to city staff and just the community. They have a great student council that provides activities throughout the community. Overall, it’s just an excellent partnership.
Elaine Gizler: [00:14:16] Yeah. I found that myself from the county perspective and working with Christian and everyone there at the university. I feel very honored and very lucky that we have them here in San Juan County. They’re just such a huge resource for us and really bring a lot to everyone, especially our diverse population here. I know they work really hard at it. We’re very lucky to have them here. What types of businesses would you like to see come into Blanding?
Logan Monson: [00:14:46] I don’t have a preference as far as what types of businesses. But if I were to pick a few, I would probably pick some to address some of the issues that we’ve already talked about. A hotel that would meet the needs of different populations, food, having a restaurant or two. But anything that can provide jobs that’s going to sustain people in Blanding that we can get the local people working at local places, I’m all for.
Elaine Gizler: [00:15:13] Great. That’s good to know. Thank you very much for the local perspective. What do you think people visiting Blanding should know? If they’re planning a trip to San Juan County and want to come to Blanding?
Logan Monson: [00:15:26] I think that a lot of times and I mentioned this before that we’re painted a certain way that it’s just this for the people that live in the middle of nowhere and we know nothing and we do nothing and we teach our kids at home and they don’t go to school. It’s just a weird thing. But I think if you come down here and see what we really have. We have the college, we have a healthcare system that’s huge. We have two of them. We have stores. We have shopping. We have some things that lack as far as that goes. But overall, we have so much to offer.
Elaine Gizler: [00:15:59] I think you’re the hidden gem of San Juan County.
Logan Monson: [00:16:03] I wouldn’t take it that far. I would say that the people are. The people are just a genuine people that really care about where they live, but they’re nice. They want people to come and see what we have and know that we take care of things just as good as anybody else. We want them to see it as well.
Elaine Gizler: [00:16:22] Yeah. I would have to agree with you. I know you have a lot of events that go on in Blanding. I know you all focus on that to bring a lot of people from out of town to attend those events. What are some of the events that might be coming up for the fall season?
Logan Monson: [00:16:39] Well, our biggest one is the 4th of July. We just got done with the 4th of July. Some things didn’t go as planned as far as that event goes with the fireworks and things. But we still had a lot of people come to Blanding and it was a very successful event. Pratt and his team do excellent at that. As far as future events, we have a fall festival that we do. We partner with the Youth Coalition to put that together.
Elaine Gizler: [00:17:04] That’s exciting.
Logan Monson: [00:17:06] One thing that in regards to that is we started a youth council and are getting that going for the city of Blanding. We’ll have a youth council with a youth mayor that can help with things and put on these events. But the fall festival is coming up. It’s been really successful. I think this is our third or fourth year going. We have Easter activities, we have lots of different things that are just always happening. It’s a fun place to be.
Elaine Gizler: [00:17:33] Yeah. I understand you have an amazing swimming pool there. It is absolutely beautiful. I haven’t had a chance to visit, but I’ve seen pictures and it looks amazing. People that are coming and visit you have some great commercial RV parks there, too, along with your lodging properties. There’s quite a bit to do there in Blanding, as we’ve indicated before.
Logan Monson: [00:17:56] Yes, for sure.
Elaine Gizler: [00:17:57] You’ve got museums in Blanding, can you tell us a little bit about the two that you’ve got there, the Dinosaur Museum and Edge of the Cedars?
Logan Monson: [00:18:05] Yeah, they’re awesome places to visit. My kids love the dinosaur museum. They get a little family pass that’s cheap. I think that they sell a family pass for $30 or something like that. My kids go whenever they want. The Dinosaur Museum, the Edge of the Cedars museum. They’ve done lots of renovations. They’ve kept things up to date. It’s a fun place to learn about the culture and the history of our area because it’s unique. We live in a unique place.
Elaine Gizler: [00:18:32] Yes, we do. Yes, we do. In fact, there’s a marker that’s in front of Edge of the Cedars, the Natural History Museum of Utah, we did 29 markers in all the different counties, and there is one in Blanding. We’re actually going to be delivering next week coins that the Edge of the Cedars will be giving away. It’s a replica, little replica of the actual market that’s there. Anybody that visits there will be able to go in and get a replica coin from their visit. Actually, if they travel around the state, all counties are going to be, they have a coin, whatever their marker is, it’s a representation. The coin is a representation of that marker so they can collect them as they go through the 29 counties. I just had a call this morning with Chris Hanson, and we’re going to be delivering those. His staff will be able to give those out to visitors.
Logan Monson: [00:19:25] Yeah. That’s awesome. Chris is a good partner as well.
Elaine Gizler: [00:19:28] He is. The Dinosaur Museum, I went there earlier this year and was just amazed at Sylvia. All that she has in there, it’s more than just dinosaurs, and if people haven’t been there yet, I would encourage everyone to go there. It is movie memorabilia, just everything. She and her husband were renowned in the industry with paleontology. They’re in books, they’ve collaborated on a lot of critical and important projects. But the museum is a wealth of information for adults and for children.
Logan Monson: [00:20:07] Yeah. I would add to those two museums. We have the visitor center in Blanding and it has some things there that are very educational, but we also try and send people out. We have an exceptional staff at the visitor center –
Elaine Gizler: [00:20:18] Yes, you do.
Logan Monson: [00:20:18] that are really good at just teaching and educating people on the best places to visit.
Elaine Gizler: [00:20:23] I want to give a shout-out to Lynne Shumway who is at the visitor center. I’ve known Lynn for several years and she’s amazing. Everyone that works there really incredible people that work at the visitor center. That is actually a place that should be a stop for everyone coming in into town. I wholeheartedly agree with you. So tell us what is your favorite place to visit in San Juan County?
Logan Monson: [00:20:50] We have a few of our spots that we love to go. The mountains. We love the mountains. My kids, I have four young kids from ages 2 to almost 11 now. We just like to get out. They ride their horses. We ride the side-by-side. I’m not a huge camper. I like my bed. But we do like to get out. Elk Ridge is beautiful. Some of our favorite trail rides are Arches. Arch county there has a fun trail. As far as hiking, we love house on fire. That’s a fun little house for the kids.
Elaine Gizler: [00:21:26] That’s great.
Logan Monson: [00:21:28] Yeah. Lots of fun things. But honestly, we spend a lot of time just putting around on all the trails and hiking.
Elaine Gizler: [00:21:36] Well, there are so many trails and so much to see. It’s really incredible. We’ve got some incredible outfitters that are available if you’re not so sure or maybe you don’t have the right vehicle because we always want to make sure people take the right vehicle on the trail. We’ve got some incredible outfitters that can take you out on half-day, full-day trips and really show you sites that, historical ruins and sites that you would not necessarily find or see on your own. Going with a guide is what I would recommend. I’ve been able to experience that. You learn so much. We’ve got Native American guides that can tell you about the different plants. I call it a journey of a lifetime if you come down here because of the different types of history and culture that really lie in our area.
Logan Monson: [00:22:29] Yeah. If you’re visiting, for sure use someone that knows the area. There’s lots of beautiful places, but there’s also lots of trails that can turn into something scary really quick. If you’re not from here and don’t have the resources to call a friend or tell someone exactly where you’re at, you’re for sure going to want to use those outfitters. We have a new one in Blanding that’s opening a business there. They have a building that they’re building. I think we have lots of resources for that.
Elaine Gizler: [00:22:56] Yeah, you do. That’s what I would recommend because they know where to go, where to take you safely, can guide you and educate you. I highly recommend that if you’re planning a trip. We do have all of that information on utahscanyoncountry.com. We have a lot of information that talks about each of our areas and gives some insights. Whether you’re looking for lodging or if you’re looking for an outfitter, we can provide all of that and guide the potential visitor.
I really want to thank you for coming and driving up from Blanding, albeit not that far, but your busy day and getting a chance to know you and know more about you. Again, if the audience has any questions or you’d like to leave us a voice message, please go to our website. You can go to yoursanjuancountynow.com and you can leave us a voice message. We would love to hear from you. If you do have a question based on our conversation today, please forward that along. You can also send me an email at egizler. That’s G-I-Z-L-A-R @sanjuancounty.org. I can certainly catch back up with Mayor Monson and get the information back to you. We appreciate you being here. We appreciate you listening to this podcast and we’ll have more updates in the future. I’m sure Mayor, as things materialize, you’ll be back to give us an update on Blanding.
Logan Monson: [00:24:29] I would love to do that. Thanks for having me.
Elaine Gizler: [00:24:31] Thank you for being here. I appreciate it. Our team at the Economic Development and Visitor Services Office are very grateful to all of you for joining us. So please follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Utah’s Canyon Country or San Juan County Economic Development Visitor Services to stay up to date on what’s happening in San Juan County. We look forward to talking to you and hearing from you. If you have questions, listen in. If you have any recommendations or suggestions, please forward those along.
Thanks for listening to San Juan Now, part of the Destination Marketing Podcast Network, hosted by Elaine Gizler and produced by Relic.
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