Parowan (Utah).

Agency History #759


On February 6, 1851 the General Assembly of the provisional State of Deseret passed an ordinance incorporating Parowan City as the first settlement in the then recently organized Iron County (Laws and Ordinances of the State of Deseret, 1850-1851). The establishment of a fort on the east side of Center Creek in the "little Salt Lake Valley" the previous January (Parowan's present public square) marked an initial step in the settlers' plan to develop an ironworks in the region. In November 1849, the provisional legislature commissioned Parley P. Pratt to assess the potential for settlement and iron ore development in the present-day area of southwestern Utah. Encouraged by his report, the legislature organized an "Iron County Mission" in the spring and summer of 1850 consisting of approximately 120 volunteers. Parowan served primarily as an agricultural support base for the mission, whose blast furnace was located twenty miles south at present-day Cedar City. Despite occasional successes, the mission failed to produce a consistent and sustained supply of pig iron. By 1858, most of the area's mining operations had ceased and with the demise of the iron works agriculture, and later recreation and tourism, became the area's chief industries.


Utah statue prescribes the mayor-council form of government for all third class cities, where the legislative functions are centered in the council and municipal management is vested in the mayor (Compiled Laws of Utah, 1888, Ch. 11, s. 1722). The principal activities of the council include maintaining law and order; guarding public health; administering water use and development; creating and maintaining public improvements; licensing, taxing, and regulating businesses, trades, and professions; regulating commodities and dangerous substances; and abating nuisances. Under the direction of the council, the city may regulate commercial and residential development, and build and operate electric power plants and other public utilities. The council carries out and enforces its duties primarily through the passing of ordinances. The mayor is authorized to suppress disorder and keep the peace, remit fines and forfeitures, oversee the activities of the various municipal offices, and otherwise carry-out and enforce all municipal statues. In addition, the mayor and city council have the authority to conduct elections, appoint and administer public officials, and levy the taxes necessary to perform their various functions.

Prior to 1907, the primary activities of Parowan's mayor and city council concerned regulating local water resources and their use; negotiating title to and use of land; controlling dogs and livestock; preventing the spread of infectious diseases; building and maintaining fences, streets, bridges, and water courses; granting license for business or professional practices; carrying on elections, appointing officers, issuing ordinances, and managing city finances. While these activities remained central to the council's duties after 1907, that year marked the city's initial accommodation to new and technologically advanced public utilities, such as electricity, which increasingly commanded their attention. In that year, the city established their first publicly owned hydro-electrical generating plant on Center Creek in nearby Parowan Canyon and began constructing a rudimentary distribution system of electrical lines and poles to serve the city. In that year the council also granted several franchises to private telephone companies and coordinated the building of a city-wide telephone system. Bonding for a new waterworks system began in 1912 with construction completed in 1913. Further, by 1916 the city began the tedious process of improving roads and establishing highway routes to accommodate the growing automobile traffic which would continue indefinitely. In subsequent years much of the city's attention turned to extending and improving upon these various systems.

While economic development played an important part in the city council's activities throughout the city's history, Parowan is perhaps most notable for its strong advocacy and enthusiasm for publicly-owned municipal power systems. In 1953, the city built a second hydro-electric plant on Red Creek to enhance the generating capacity of its existing Center Creek plant and began supplying the neighboring cities of Paragonah and Brian Head with power. Parowan applied to receive electrical power from the Glen Canyon Dam hydro-electric generating plant in 1961 as part of the Central Utah Project (CUP) (though this plant would not be completed until 1966). To improve its negotiating power with other public and private power suppliers it joined the Intermountain Consumer Power Association (ICPA) in 1962. By 1976, the numerous hydro-electric plants operating on the Colorado River were unable to meet the growing need for electrical power in Utah. This energy shortage prompted Parowan to join the Intermountain Power Association (IPA) along with 23 other Utah municipalities to finance, build, and operate the Intermountain Power Project (IPP), a coal-fired electrical generating plant near Delta, Utah which supplied power to its Utah members as well as several cities in California and Nevada. In 1980, the city established a municipal Power Department by amending previous ordinances passed in 1968 and 1976. Parowan joined the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) in 1981, a public power cooperative similar to the ICPA with which it soon merged, and by 1988 began sponsoring Public Power Week to celebrate its choice to "operate a locally-controlled, not-for-profit utility" for the benefit of its residents. Parowan was also a member of the Southwest Utah Power Association (SWUPA) and joined several organizations advocating for an increase in water appropriations for southern Utah communities and businesses.


The initial ordinance incorporating Parowan City, as enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Deseret in 1851, established a city council consisting of "a mayor, four aldermen, and nine counsellors [sic]" to be elected every two years. The Assembly granted the council general governing powers corresponding essentially to those enumerated in the above section. The mayor and aldermen retained all the powers and performed all the same duties of justices of the peace, both in civil and criminal cases (Laws and Ordinances of the State of Deseret, 1850-1851). The mayor held exclusive jurisdiction in all cases, with appeals herd by a municipal court consisting of the mayor as chief justice, and the aldermen as associate justices. In 1868, the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah repealed the city's original charter and reincorporated it under a new act. The new act reorganized the City Council to consist of "a Mayor and five Councilors" with biennial elections, and called for the election of two Justices of the Peace who held "jurisdiction in all cases [both civil and criminal] arising under the ordinances of the city." Further, this act declared the mayor "Chief Executive Officer" of the city who was to preside "in the City Council" with veto power except in cases of a four-fifths majority vote. (Territorial Legislature. Acts, Resolutions and Memorials, 1851-1870). Throughout its history, the council appointed numerous committees to assist with special projects and acted as a board of equalization to levy and pass corrections on special improvement taxes.

In 1888, Utah's Territorial Legislature began dividing municipalities by population into first, second, and third classes (Compiled Laws of Utah, 1888). As a third class city, Parowan was bound by the statutory requirements of its class. Essentially these embodied the same requirements established in its 1868 charter. Except for a revision of elections in 1949, (which adopted four year terms for the mayor and councilors by 1951) Parowan essentially retained the administrative structure outlined in the 1868 charter until 1980 when it adopted the city manager form of municipal administration. Under this form, the mayor presides over the council and the council retains its legislative and policy-formulating powers but employs a manager to oversee the direct administration of city departments and the city budget. The manager is an employee of the council rather than an elected official and can be removed at any time by a majority vote in the council.


The city's initial two charters authorized the city council to appoint a number of municipal officers including a Recorder to record council minutes, manage all municipal records and contracts, and administer elections; a Treasurer as custodian of the city's pecuniary assets, bonds, and securities; an Assessor to ascertain and collect property taxes; a Marshal to enforce all ordinances and municipal court judgments; a Supervisor of Streets to oversee all public walk and drive ways; and "all other offices as may be necessary." Over time, the number and type of offices varied considerably according to the city's changing needs. By 1892, the council had appointed (in addition to those mentioned above) a Watermaster to administer the city's water system, an Attorney as legal council, a Clerk as accountant and bookeeper, and a Sexton, Pound Keeper, and Health Officer-Physician. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the council created a Board of Health and hired a city electrician. By the 1950s, the council established distinct Public Works, Safety, Health, and Parks departments and created a Civil Defense Commission. A Power Department was established in 1968 with amendments in 1976 and 1980. A Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment were added in the 1990s.

Wm. H. Holyoak 1887-1889
Wm. C. Mitchell 1889-1891
Wm. H. Holyoak 1891-1896
Wm. H. Lyman 1896-1900
Alvin Benson 1900-1902
Thomas Durham 1902-1904
L. Marsden 1904-1906
Wm. H. Holyoak 1906-1908
Wilford Day 1908-1910
James Ollerton 1910-1912
John L. Lowander 1912-1914
Herman D. Baylis 1914-1918
John L. Lowander 1918-1920
J. Clayton Mitchell 1920-1922
F. C. Van Buren 1922-1924
J. Clayton Mitchell 1924-1926
Thoms D. Adams 1926-1928
John W. Bently 1928-1930
Albert E. Adams 1930-1932
Ivan Decker 1932-1934
L. Nelson Marsden 1934-1936
A. C. Hatch 1936-1940
Arthur Joseph 1940-1944
W. Scott Mitchell 1944-1946
E. Ray Lyman 1946-1954
W. Scott Mitchell 1954-1958
Howard Joseph 1958-1962
Osmer K. Nielsen 1962-1966
Ralph S. Orton 1966-1970
Kendell O. Gurr 1970-1978
James C. Robinson 1978-1982
John C. Pendelton 1982-1986
Dennis E. Stowell 1986-1994
James H. Rasmussen 1994-1996
Dennis E. Stowell 1996-1997
Steve Decker 1997-1998
Glen L. Halterman 1998-

COMPILED BY: Michael A. Church , September 2002


Fuller, Craig. "Central Utah Project" in Utah History Encyclopedia, 82-85.Shirts, Morris A. "The Iron Mission" in Utah History Encyclopedia, 275-276.Seegmiller, Janet Burton. A History of Iron County: Community Above Self. Salt Lake City, UT.: Utah State Historical Society, 1998: 48-55.State of Deseret. General Assembly. Laws and Ordinances of the State of Deseret, 1850- 1851.Woodbury, Angus M. A History of Southern Utah and its National Parks. Utah State Historical Society, 1950.Utah Foundation. State and Local Government in Utah, 1962.Utah. Territorial Legislature. Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials, passed by the First Annual, and Special Sessions, of the Legislative Assembly, of the Territory of Utah, 1852.Utah. Territorial Legislature. Acts, Resolutions and Memorials, passed at the several Annual Sessions, of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah, from 1851 to 1870 inclusive. Utah. Territorial Legislature. Compiled Laws of Utah, 1888. Utah. Territorial Legislature. Compiled Laws of Utah, 1898.

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.