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South Jordan Journal

SoJo City Council kicks off new meeting space with "Sound of Music" performance

Jul 22, 2019 12:19PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

The SoJo Arts Council presented “The Sound of Music” by leveraging “Round it up!” funds that residents contribute from utility bills. SoJo City Manager Gary Whatcott encourages all to consider this practice. (Rachael Van Cleave/South Jordan City)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

People waiting for the South Jordan City Council meeting to begin are rarely wearing dirndls and lederhosen.

Then again, meeting participants are also not likely to be, quite literally, singing and dancing with joy, waving farewell as they exit the council chambers in pairs.

South Jordan residents, guests and elected officials, and city staff alike were the lucky spectators at the July 16 city council meeting.

Not only did they get to take in the new site for the city council meetings (in the basement of the SoJo City Hall at 1600 Towne Center Drive), but, perhaps upstaging that novelty was the opportunity to enjoy members of the cast of the city’s presentation of “The Sound of Music” sharing a taste of the production with them. (The musical was slated to run July 11-20. At press time, potential additional performances were being considered to extend the successful schedule.)

Not a figurative (like some) but a literal song-and-dance act to the council

After the literal song-and-dance to the council, the cast exited chambers to the music of “So Long, Farewell.” SoJo Mayor Dawn Ramsey said, “We appreciate, so much, all of the effort that has gone into that,” then indicating that she also appreciated “the beautiful way they represent South Jordan.” 

Denise Larsen, from SoJo’s Glenmoor neighborhood, was the only individual that night to address the council during the public comments time. 

“Thank you for your support of the arts,” Larsen told the council. Larsen, whose son performed in the cast of the musical, indicated it as “a privilege to be involved in this,” especially given that the quality “rivalled” the quality of performances in neighboring cities.

Got arts? Want more? “Round it up!”—encourages city manager

SoJo City Manager Gary Whatcott took the opportunity to remind those in attendance of the city’s “Round it up” program, for residents to elect to have their utility bills “rounded up” to the next dollar—or even ask to donate more every month in conjunction with utility payments. 

He said such funds go directly to the SoJo Arts Council. Council members determine how to spend the funds—whether it be contributing to productions, artistically wrapping electrical junctions, etc. The Arts Council leveraged the rounded funds for the first time in numerous years to help fund the July musical production.

To contribute by rounding up or adding an even greater donation, residents can call 801-446-HELP (4357) or email [email protected]

A basement—but anything but a bargain basement—becomes city council’s new chambers

The South Jordan City Council’s first meeting in its new council chambers was memorable, in terms of the council’s not only enjoying the custom-tailored performance (the group performed to the council, with its back to the audience seated in chambers) but tried out its new facility, in the basement of the city building.

This basement is anything but “bargain basement” in terms of its look and feel and overall experience for council members and meeting attendees alike.

On the wall behind the council is a lighted sign proclaiming the city’s name and signature tree logo. Virtually every time Ramsey spoke during the meeting, the logo glimmered behind her. Same was the case for members of the council seated proximate to her.

Another change is that, as opposed to the need for old-school stationary microphones in front of council members and staff, the new setup automatically “mic’s” speakers—a feature Ramsey said will take some “getting used to.”

There have been circumstances when—usually during public-comment phases of meetings or during hearings on more controversial projects take place—the chamber is standing room only. On more than one occasion in 2019 alone, to accommodate residents and other guests as well as maintain fire-code standards, city officials seated guests in the lobby, with sound piped in to the lobby from the council chambers.

The new facility has significantly greater capacity. In lieu of fixed “theater-chair seating,” moveable folding chairs are provided for not just residents and other guests but for staff.