National Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze, left, meets with Moab Trails Alliance Executive Director Kim Schappert during the Outerbike mountain bike expo in October. Kornze came to Moab to promote a new website that showcases thousands of mountain biking trails on BLM lands. [Photo by Rudy Herndon / Moab Sun News]

As 2015 draws to a close, the Moab Sun News is taking a look back at some of the top stories of the year.

Public lands issues were often at the forefront, as were concerns about increased noise and traffic generated during Moab’s busy visitor season.

Throughout the year, news about the future of passenger airline service to Canyonlands Field Airport also dominated the headlines, as one carrier abandoned its contract, and a second carrier never followed through on its plans to serve Moab.

Other stories focused on development, and the community’s efforts to keep up with increased demands on local infrastructure.

And, as in past years, the rugged backcountry surrounding Moab was the scene of a number of accidents and fatalities.

From seven to six

In one of its first actions of the year, the Grand County Council split 5-2 to rescind the previous council’s October 2014 resolution to join the regional Seven County Infrastructure Coalition. Council member Lynn Jackson and other coalition supporters said the organization was set up to develop roads, rail lines, airport facilities and water and sewer projects across eastern Utah. They also believed it would give the region more clout at the state and national levels. But critics feared the new entity would usurp local control over potentially controversial infrastructure projects within the county’s borders. In addition, they voiced concerns that the coalition’s projects would only benefit tar sands, oil shale and conventional oil projects.

Downtown hotel takes shape

A developer announced plans for a 96-room Homewood Suites By Hilton hotel in downtown Moab. Under its plans, a three-story building is taking shape on Main Street in the space between Twisted Sistas Café and Rodeway Inn & Suites. The project also includes plans for a total of 103 parking spaces, including 49 underground spaces. Moab City Assistant Engineer Eric Johanson called the project a milestone for the city’s hub. “It’s a whole extravaganza there … it’s like a whole quantum leap as far as downtown development,” he said.

Airport drama begins

With few options in front of them, the Grand County Council’s members voted unanimously on Feb. 3 to recommend beleaguered Great Lakes Aviation as Moab’s Essential Air Service carrier. The action came after SkyWest opted out of its two-year contract to serve Canyonlands Field Airport. “Our options are limited at this time,” Grand County Council chair Elizabeth Tubbs said. “Great Lakes was the only bidder from a commercial (airline), versus a charter airline.” Grand County resident Sue deVall expressed her distaste for Great Lakes. “Great Lakes Airlines has done no favors for the people flying in and out of Moab,” deVall said. “They had a wretched record of cancellation and flight delays when they previously had the contract here. Our community would be better served if flights went to Salt Lake City, our state capitol.”

County just says no to “no action”

A majority of council members hit the reset button on their official position toward the BLM’s Master Leasing Plan process, voting 4-3 on Feb. 17 to formally retract a 2014 council letter that criticized the range of preliminary alternatives the agency released last spring. The potentially far-reaching process is designed to set the foundation for future oil, gas and potash leases inside a 900,000-acre planning area in Grand and San Juan counties. Grand County Council vice chair Chris Baird said he didn’t want the BLM to operate under the assumption that the new council would only support the previous council’s no-action alternative.

Mayor wants new treatment plant

Wastewater treatment isn’t the sexiest of issues, but it is an essential one. As more and more visitors come to Moab, the city’s decades-old wastewater treatment facility is feeling the strain from all those draining showers and flushing toilets. State regulators say the overtaxed system occasionally violates treatment standards, and they note the situation is serious enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is keeping an eye on things. Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison is eager to build a city-owned and -operated facility that would serve not only Moab residents and visitors, but people in Spanish Valley and far northern San Juan County, as well. “This train has got to leave the station,” he said March 13. “We’re under the gun … We’ve got to get it started.” As he envisions it, the City of Moab would shoulder much of the financial burden to build the facility, which could cost more than $7 million to complete.

Reducing regional haze

State regulators predicted that the April closure of the 172-megawatt Carbon coal-fired power plant near Helper could go a long way in enhancing year-round visibility at places like Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky district. They factored the anticipated reductions into an updated plan to reduce regional haze at national parks and high-quality airsheds in eastern Utah, western Colorado and northern Arizona. But environmental groups and clean air advocates said the state’s plan doesn’t go far enough to reduce emissions that contribute to degraded visibility at national parks. They argued that the Utah Air Quality Board should adopt stricter controls on emissions from Rocky Mountain Power’s much larger Hunter and Huntington coal-fired plants in Emery County, which are directly upwind of Moab.

Tensions flare at public lands hearing

Rep. Rob Bishop launched his eastern Utah public lands initiative with the hope that it could help resolve long-standing disputes over the long-term management of federal lands across the region. But many of those conflicts were still on display at a March 17 Grand County Council public hearing on the council’s tentative lands initiative recommendations to the Utah Republican’s office. At a similar April 2014 hearing on the initiative, conservationists and environmentalists decried the previous council’s proposals to balance conservation with recreation and development. This time around, the council heard from a louder and larger crowd on the opposite end of the spectrum, with numerous speakers calling for a greater emphasis on multiple-use management and future development of oil, gas and potash resources.

City names new manager

The City of Moab found a new city manager. The Moab City Council voted 4-0 on Friday, March 20, to approve a three-year employment agreement with Rebecca B. Davidson. She replaced Donna Metzler, who stepped down in February after 21 years on the job to pursue her longtime dream of becoming a teacher. Davidson is coming to Moab from Kemmerer, Wyoming, where she served as city administrator since early 2012. She was among 57 candidates and eight finalists for Moab’s city manager position.

County splits on lands initiative

After more than a year of deliberation by two county councils, and numerous public meetings often characterized by heated exchanges and outbursts, the Grand County Council voted 4-3 on March 31 to send its public lands initiative recommendations off to Congress. Wayne Hoskisson, who represented the Sierra Club on the initiative, said the council’s final recommendations fell short of creating meaningful designations to protect areas critical to conservation and that received broad public support. Ride with Respect Executive Director Clif Koontz said that the new council’s draft proposal swung too far in favor of preservation. But the concessions that council members made will help garner support from the OHV community, Koontz said.

Three die in OHV accidents

Three people were killed in late March and early April during unrelated off-road accidents near Moab. Alcohol was a factor in the accidental March 21 death of 31-year-old Arvada, Colorado, resident Jason Mondragon, who was not wearing a helmet when he drove his all-terrain vehicle off a 65-foot cliff in the White Wash Sand Dunes area. Chris Hower, 30, of Ely, Nevada, died on April 4, after he was struck by a vehicle that was coming down from a jump along a designated 4×4 Dirt Riot Endurance Racing course in the Black Ridge area of San Juan County. 63-year-old Karen Johnsen of Milbank, South Dakota, died on April 6, after the all-terrain vehicle she was driving rolled on top of her as she attempted to climb the “Hot Tubs” obstacles along the Hell’s Revenge Trail. Johnsen, who was not wearing a helmet, was traveling in a private group and was not part of any Easter Jeep Safari events or professionally guided ATV tours of the popular Sand Flats Recreation Area trail.

Lions Park trees destroyed

Years of careful planning went into a joint effort to bring Lions Park back to life, but a tiny mistake brought some of the site’s oldest surviving treasures crashing down. A state contractor accidentally removed decades-old cottonwood and mulberry trees from the site on March 31 because the project plans it received were missing key details, city and state officials say. The Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management, The Archiplex Group and Advance Solutions Group accept full responsibility for the mistake and plan to make up for it, Utah Department of Administrative Services Public Information Officer Marilee Richins said. Every detail of work at the Lions Park reconstruction project is supposed to be clearly mapped out in layers of The Archiplex Group’s plans. However, both city officials said those plans were missing a tree-protection layer.

Man recovers from hantavirus

J.R. Krist says he owes his life to his wife and astute health-care professionals. The Spanish Valley man fell ill in March with the first confirmed local case of hantavirus in recent memory, and although he’s doing well now, Krist knows that the outcome in his case was rare. After he was misdiagnosed with mononucleosis, Krist returned home for a few days, but he wasn’t feeling any better. Instead of waiting around anymore, his wife Brittany drove him off to San Juan Hospital in Monticello. According to J.R. Krist, staffers there determined that he was in such poor condition that they made the decision to life-flight him to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Airline service in limbo

Passenger airline traffic between Moab’s airport and Salt Lake City is in limbo, after SkyWest Airlines pulled out before a new Essential Air Service carrier is in place. SkyWest informed Canyonlands Field Airport that it will not follow a federal order requiring the St. George company to extend its passenger service to Moab until Great Lakes Aviation is ready to take over. As a rule, Essential Air Service carriers are subject to enforcement action if they fail to comply with federal aviation statutes, regulations or department orders. But a U.S. Department of Transportation spokeswoman declined to say whether the agency would pursue action against SkyWest.

Trail dispute drags on

What could possibly be more time-consuming and potentially more challenging than the Grand County Council’s involvement in a sweeping public lands initiative? How about ongoing efforts to resolve a six-year dispute over a short and narrow stretch of neighborhood trail that connects the Grand Vu Park subdivision with the city of Moab, via a dead-end street? County and city officials have been struggling with the controversy surrounding the San Miguel Trail ever since it opened in 2009, and the county council hoped to put the matter to rest. By a unanimous vote on Tuesday, May 19, the council asked Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald to file legal paperwork with the hope that a court will determine who owns two disputed “waste parcels” at the end of the cul-de-sac. However, by year’s end, the dispute had not been resolved.

Guv signs historic water rights treaty

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert joined National Park Service Southeast Utah Group Superintendent Kate Cannon on May 22 to sign a landmark water rights agreement that protects water resources within Arches National Park, while preserving the rights of others who hold water rights in the area. Speaking against the backdrop of the park’s famed Courthouse Towers, Herbert said the agreement represents a combined effort on the part of numerous state and federal officials that will keep water-related disputes from heading to an actual courthouse. “I know that this is a labor of love for many people to get this resolved,” he said.

Heavy traffic shuts down Arches

U.S. Highway 191 was clogged with cars over one of the busiest Memorial Day weekends on record. At one point on Saturday, May 23, there were so many cars on the highway that Utah Highway Patrol officials closed Arches National Park’s main entrance for two hours. County tourism officials linked some of the problems with overcrowding to the state tourism office’s wildly successful “Mighty Five” national parks marketing campaign, which is expected to wind down in 2016. Grand County Council vice chair Chris Baird raised questions about the increased number of visitors, noting that the issue was just about the only bipartisan concern he heard on the campaign trail in 2014. “I’m just wondering if there’s such a thing as too many tourists,” he said.

Noise complaints rise

Slow down, and be more quiet. City and county officials hope that those six words can guide utility-terrain vehicle (UTV) drivers as they travel down residential streets and through neighborhoods, following numerous complaints about related noise and traffic. Moab City Police Chief Mike Navarre said that his office plans to step up its enforcement actions against individuals who ride UTVs and ATVs that are not street-legal. At the same time, he said, it will launch an educational campaign to remind certain business owners about the laws that are currently on the books. While a majority of UTV riders are legally operating their vehicles under existing state law, Navarre said that a sizable minority of them are not. By his estimates, 30 to 40 percent of off-road vehicles that are operating on the city’s streets are not street-legal.

Two dead in rafting accidents

Two Colorado River rafters died in early June, following unrelated accidents at Funnel Falls in Westwater Canyon, about 54 miles upstream from Moab. Adam Ericksen, 27, of Bountiful, and Charles McLynch, 50, of Bay Shore, New York, were traveling in two separate rafts at about 1:30 p.m. on June 4. Ericksen was on a privately operated raft with three other people, while McLynch was one of six people who were thrown from a raft operated by Sheri Griffith Expeditions of Moab.

Hospital to run care center

After two years of presentations, discussions and negotiations, the Canyonlands Care Center’s governing board found a day-to-day manager to run the facility. The Canyonlands Health Care Special Service District (CHCSSD) Board voted on June 18 to approve a five-year agreement that clears the way for Moab Regional Hospital to take over the care center’s daily operations. The special service district board’s search had been going on for so long that CHCSSD Board member Vereald Dickerson joked that he would take serious action against anyone who rejected the agreement. “I will make a motion that we accept it, and if anybody votes against it, I’m going to kill them,” he said. However, Dickerson never had the chance to make good on that statement. The four other board members who were present quickly joined him in voting “aye.”

Dinosaur tracks damaged

A vandal took unauthorized plaster casts of several dinosaur tracks on Fisher Mesa in late June, and in doing so, that person potentially damaged one of the most notable theropod track sites in the Moab area. “This is definitely the most extensive mess I’ve ever seen anyone make of it,” Museum of Moab Executive Director John Foster said. Manti La-Sal National Forest officials asked members of the public to come forward with any leads they may have about the series of incidents, which occurred just off the main road that winds between the town of Castle Valley and Gateway, Colorado. To prevent further damage to the Fisher Mesa site, the U.S. Forest Service has installed video cameras in the area. Members of Utah Friends of Paleontology’s Gastonia Chapter also volunteered to patrol the site.

City OKs water tank site

On July 14, the Moab City Council unanimously approved a proposed water tank storage site location on the southeast corner of Spanish Valley Drive and Spanish Trail Road. The location of the 2.5-million-gallon tank raised the ire of a few neighboring residents, but city officials said that the 3.2 acre, city-owned parcel is the best of three alternative sites for developing a much-needed storage facility. “We need additional storage and this is going to provide a backup,” Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison said. But area residents Floyd Dean and Saxon Sharpe, who own a home adjacent to the proposed location, urged the council to table the discussion to allow time for further study and more public input. “I don’t believe that putting a water tank, or two at a future date, is the best use of a flat, prime lot in an established residential neighborhood,” Sharpe said.

County opposes Negro Bill name change

Federal land managers won’t have to replace the signs at the Negro Bill Canyon trailhead anytime soon. The Grand County Council voted 4-3 on Aug. 4, against a proposed recommendation that would have asked the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to rename the popular hiking spot “Grandstaff Canyon.” Council members Ken Ballantyne, Lynn Jackson, Rory Paxman and Elizabeth Tubbs opposed the motion from Mary McGann, while Chris Baird and Jaylyn Hawks joined McGann in supporting it. Ballantyne later spoke for the majority when he said he would not summarily dismiss NAACP Tri-State Conference of Idaho-Nevada-Utah President Jeanetta Williams’ views on the historical significance of the canyon’s name. “I think if they had a different opinion and they had come and asked us to change it, my vote would obviously be different,” he said.

Oil sands protesters return

Protesters engaged in what they called an “enforced shutdown” of operations at the nation’s first oil sands mine in the remote Book Cliffs area about 70 miles north of Moab. Members of the environmental activist group Peaceful Uprising erected two, 20-foot tall metal tripods in the PR Spring area on Aug. 10, and then suspended activists from them to blockade mine roadways and prevent the operation of heavy earth-moving equipment. The blockade by about 40 people shut down mine operations for six hours before officers from the Uintah and Grand County sheriff’s departments arrived and plucked the protesters from their perches using “cherry pickers,” or boom lifts.

Jail funding politicized

Grand County’s request for financial help to upgrade its aging jail fell victim in early August to the perception that the county is soundly opposed to oil, gas and mineral development in the region. The Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) rejected a proposal that would have given the county more than $3 million in grant funding, along with a loan for nearly $2 million, to renovate the facility. “Grand County has not been very favorable to the counties in the fact that this money comes from mineral lease, and every time that there is a protest and people from your county comes up and try to stop that,” Duchesne County Commissioner and CIB member Ron Winterton said. “I have a hard time really getting behind the project, that the next time something comes up, they’re there to stop the revenues coming in.” A majority of CIB members subsequently approved a motion that would offer Grand County a 30-year loan and $400,000 in grant funding to pay for the project, but Grand County Council member Lynn Jackson called the outcome “exceptionally frustrating.”

West Nile virus found in mosquitoes

For the first time in four years, Moab Mosquito Abatement District crews found West Nile virus in specimens of Culex erythrothorax mosquitoes they collected at the Matheson Wetlands Preserve. Moab Regional Hospital Emergency Room physician Dr. Angela Alexander said there hadn’t been any confirmed cases of the flu-like virus in local residents. Moab Mosquito Abatement District Manager Bob Phillips said the district has detected West Nile in only one of the 18 mosquito species that live in the valley.

Hospital names new CEO

It’s official: The Moab Valley Healthcare Board selected Jen Sadoff to be the next Chief Executive Officer of Moab Regional Hospital. A 15-year resident of Moab, Sadoff held the position of director of marketing, community relations and development at the hospital since January 2012. She had been serving as the hospital’s interim CEO, since former CEO Robb Austin retired after a two-year stint.

Sinkhole forms under home

In a scene far more likely to take place in Florida than the arid desert of southeastern Utah, a sinkhole appeared in September beneath a home in the Mountain View subdivision, displacing a local family and causing the home to be condemned. Lifelong Moab resident Phillip Mosher was enjoying a Sunday afternoon on the flagstone patio of his Doc Allen Drive home when the leg of his chair suddenly disappeared into the ground. “I picked up the chair to look down into the hole and it just kept going,” Mosher said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in Utah.” The hole that first appeared as a small opening along the back wall of his house was soon determined to be between 12 and 16 feet wide, and from 4 to 12 feet deep, extending back underneath the home, according to Grand County Building Inspector Bill Hulse.

No more waiting for Great Lakes

After a five-month gap in commercial airline service, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced in late September that it was seeking proposals from carriers that would resume flights to and from Canyonlands Field Airport. The airport has been without passenger airline service ever since SkyWest Airlines’ last outbound flight departed for Salt Lake City on April 30. Under the terms of a two-year Essential Air Service contract, Great Lakes was set to begin service between Moab and Denver International Airport on May 1. When its service didn’t begin on schedule, Great Lakes officials revised the airline’s potential start-dates several times, but those dates came and went without any passenger flights. Grand County Airport Board member Bob Greenberg said he was very disappointed with the predictable way that events unfolded. “This is kind of our own worst fear about Great Lakes that has been realized in spades,” he said.

CIB reverses course on jail funding

Grand County’s jail renovation project is back on track. Utah’s Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) voted unanimously on Oct. 1 to approve the county’s revised application for funding to upgrade the aging facility. The board’s vote gives the county a grant for $2.327 million, along with a $2.328 million loan at a 2.5 percent interest rate over a 20-year period. The county, in turn, will contribute $400,000 in matching funds for the project. CIB member Jae Potter of Carbon County previously accused Grand County officials of “severely handicapping” a community that has good potential to grow due to its perceived opposition to oil and gas development. But Winterton said in October that he now believes county officials understand CIB’s concerns.

School test scores improve

Moab’s public schools showed overall improvement this year in core subjects under a new standardized testing system that began during the previous school year. Grand County Middle School received a “B” grade, and the elementary school earned a “C” – both the same as last year’s grades – although both schools earned higher percentage scores that reflect growth in each of the subjects. Grand County High School saw the most significant improvement, with a letter grade of “C” – up from a failing “F” grade the year before.

Bike owner tackles alleged thief

Moab Cyclery manager Jacques Hadler surprised three would-be thieves who allegedly tried to steal bikes at his home in late September. While two men escaped, Hadler chased the third man for half a block on foot before knocking him from his bike and tackling him. Hadler held the man down until police arrived. Police arrested 23-year-old Cody Dean Arthur of Moab, and booked him on third-degree felony charges of theft by receiving stolen property, among other charges.

Longtime city employees dismissed

The City of Moab “restructured” its departments in September and eliminated the positions of two longtime city employees. Grand County Council member Mary McGann said she doesn’t know the specifics behind the departures of David Olsen and Ken Davey, but there’s no question about their dedication to the community, she said. “There are behaviors that warrant abrupt dismissal, but neither of these men committed such behavior that would warrant such an abrupt action,” she said. Moab City Manager Rebecca Davidson said that as she and the city council looked at the city’s organization and its needs, they determined the two positions were no longer necessary. Davidson said the reorganization will help the city keep up with issues that city council members and others have brought to her attention, such as the growing number of special events within the city limits, and Moab’s affordable housing crisis.

Local Obamacare options dwindle

Utah’s only health insurance cooperative will go out of business by year’s end, leaving consumers in Grand County with just one option to choose from on the federal marketplace. The Utah Insurance Department announced in late October that it will place the financially struggling Arches Health Plan into receivership, which allows the state’s insurance commissioner to supervise the coop’s existing policies. Arches was the only marketplace insurer that offered county residents coverage to medical services in Grand Junction, Colorado. SelectHealth, a branch of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, is the only remaining insurer on the marketplace in Moab, and has no current plans to offer Grand Junction coverage.

Progressives win city races

The City of Moab’s official election results show that progressives Rani Derasary, Kalen Jones and Tawny Knuteson-Boyd were the top three vote-getters in the Nov. 3 election for three at-large seats on the council. Derasary led the way, with 737 votes, followed by 707 votes for Jones, and 690 votes for Knuteson-Boyd. Don Cook trailed 16 votes behind Knuteson-Boyd, with 674 votes, while Kelly Mike Green and Cricket White-Green each won 673 votes. In a separate county election, a commanding majority of voters approved a local option sales tax to fund transportation-related projects, with 1,370 votes for the measure, and 1,111 against it – a margin of 55.22 percent to 44.78 percent.

Fidelity oil, gas assets sold

MDU Resources is getting out of the exploration and production business. The Bismarck, North Dakota, company announced in early November that it entered into five agreements to sell subsidiary Fidelity Exploration & Production Company’s oil and gas assets. Details of the transactions are scarce, and it’s unclear how they will affect operations at Fidelity’s oil and gas wells in the Big Flat area off state Route 313. “This is in the hands of the new buyer,” former company public relations manager Tim Rasmussen said. MDU expects that the five sales will generate about $450 million in proceeds and tax-related benefits, which it will primarily use to pay off debt. According to the company’s third-quarter earnings report, its exploration and production business reported a loss of $790.4 million in the first nine months of 2015, compared to $75.3 million in earnings for the same period one year ago.

County supports BLM plan

If federal land managers want to know where Grand County stands on their proposed Master Leasing Plan for the greater Moab area, they only have to look back to the county council’s recent discussions about eastern Utah’s public lands initiative. By a 4-3 vote on Nov. 17, council members approved a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that asks the agency to consider the public lands initiative recommendations they forwarded on to Congress earlier this year. “We believe the designations and management objectives developed in that process best reflect the needs of our diverse community and will safeguard the various economic, social and environmental assets for the future of Grand County,” the letter says.

Alleged arsonist charged

If Diane Child could say just one thing to the man suspected of setting fire to her business, it would be this: “What were you thinking?” The owner of Skyline Storage was reeling from the impacts of an alleged arson in late November that damaged 10 units and an office at her 73-unit facility. No one was injured during the incident, but Child said the week-old incident upended her life, as well as the lives of her tenants. The Grand County Sheriff’s Office arrested Edward “Dawson” Moddrelle on suspicion of second-degree felony arson. The 52-year-old Moab man, who was released from the Grand County Jail after he posted $10,000 bail, made his first appearance in Seventh District Court in December.

Missing man found dead

On Dec. 10, search and rescue teams found the body of a California man who went missing northwest of Moab in late November, according to a statement from his family. Michael Cavallari was last seen at a convenience store near Monticello in the early morning hours of Nov. 27. His vehicle was later found with its engine still running just off Floy Wash Road about five miles south of Exit 175 on Interstate 70. His body, which was found in a steep and rocky area, was transported to the Office of the Utah Medical Examiner for positive identification and to determine the cause of death. Cavallari was the brother of reality TV star Kristin Cavallari.

Remembering two legends

Two renowned outdoor athletes with ties to Moab and southeastern Utah died in unrelated accidents in 2015. Rock climber, extreme sports athlete and former Moab resident Dean Potter, 43, and BASE jumping partner Graham Hunt, 29, died during a BASE jump from Taft Point in Yosemite Valley, California, on May 16. Moab resident Larry Harpe – a friend of Potter’s – said that doing the jump two at a time made it all the more risky, but that Potter and Hunt were two of the best in the sport.“These guys were pushing the limits and doing things no one has ever done before,” he said. On Aug. 24, hang-gliding legend Craig Pirazzi of Paradox and Telluride, Colorado, died in an accident near Canyonlands National Park’s Needles District when strong winds swept through the Indian Creek area just as he was attempting to take off. According to four separate accounts of the incident, Pirazzi and others were working with a commercial filming crew in the area. Although he may have been known for his “off-the-wall stuff,” Pirazzi was a carpenter by trade who built his own house; he was also an accomplished “prop master” and special effects wiz who was active in the film industry, including the recent production of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”