1: San Juan County elects the first Native American-dominated county commission in Utah state history.
Willie Grayeyes and Kenneth Maryboy secure victories in their respective new districts, creating the first Native American majority in Utah state history. Their victories start a new era for San Juan County politics as the two will join Bruce Adams to form a two to one Democratic majority, with Adams the sole Republican.
2: Federal Judge Robert Shelby rules to redistrict San Juan County.
The second biggest story of the year is Federal Judge Robert Shelby adopted new voting districts for the school boards and county commission. The new districts comprise an 11.1 percent Native American population in District 1, a 65.6 percent population in District 2 and 79.9 percent of the population in District 3.
3: County appeals redistricting ruling.
Following the ruling by Judge Shelby, San Juan County challenged the ruling in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The county wrapped up arguments in November and expect a decision by March, 2019. The outcome of the appeals court decision will influence the future of voting districts in San Juan County and could impact the amount of legal fees paid.
4: Willie Grayeyes candidacy.
An investigation into the authenticity of Willie Grayeyes residency, conducted by San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson following a voter complaint, leads Nielson to remove Grayeyes from the ballot. Grayeyes contested the decision in federal court and US Federal District Judge David Nuffer ruled Nielson backdated the voter complaint form and placed Grayeyes on the ballot.
Grayeyes went on to defeat Republican opponent Kelly Laws on the ballot by a total of 900 votes to 805. A settlement with the county for Grayeyes’ legal fees is apparently close to being finalized in the near future, according to Nielson’s lawyer Blake Hamilton.
5: Bill Boyle steps down as the San Juan Record Editor.
After 24 years, Bill Boyle steps down as editor of the San Juan Record. Ryan Collins is the new editor. Although Boyle stepped down as editor, he and his wife Lynda are still the publishers and can be found at the paper from time to time talking to longtime friends and patrons.
6: Bluff completes first year as the newest-oldest town in San Juan County.
After voting to officially incorporate in 2017, Bluff is now San Juan County’s newest city. With a claim to some of the oldest human habitation in the county, including the first LDS settlement and a rich Native American history, Bluff went through some growing pains as an incorporated town, as many new towns do.
In 2018, Bluff elected a city council and mayor, created an interlocal agreement with the county and assumed responsibility of the Bluff Airport. Other notable occurrences include the Lyman Family Farms municipal disconnect petition and the annual winter solstice burn.
7: New elementary school coming in Bluff.
The San Juan School District completes architectural renderings of a new school slated to be built in Bluff starting sometime in 2019. The project is currently out to bid. The new elementary school will provide quality education to area children for generations to come. The project is the third new school the San Juan School District will have built in recent years.
8: Man arrested by FBI for April murder near Bluff.
Perry Maryboy is arrested in Bluff by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 12 for the murder of 31-year-old Antonio Montowine. Montowine was killed on April 13, on county road 443, with his wife and son as witnesses. Maryboy is in custody and awaits a trial in March.
9: USC Rural Reporting Project comes to San Juan County.
Six undergraduate students from the University of Southern California spent two weeks immersed in the local stories of San Juan County as “interns” at the San Juan Record. The students help create a 16-page supplement for the May 30 edition. The program was the brainchild of retired USC professor Judy Muller.
10: One of the last Navajo Code Talkers dies.
Samuel Tom Holiday, one of the last surviving World War Two Navajo Code Talkers passed away on June 11 at the Southern Utah Veterans Hospital in Ivins, UT. Holiday was born in 1924 near Oljato. As a soldier in the Marine Corps, Holiday was assigned to join the top-secret code talkers unit, graduating from Navajo Communication School in 1943.