This morning's version of Utah Policy Daily included this spotlight on the secret life of John L. Valentine, (President of the Utah State Senate):
Pres. Valentine: Rescue Guy
By Hayden Hill
Rappelling down high-angle, sheer cliff ravines may not be the extracurricular activity you might expect from one of Utah’s most powerful politicians, but that’s exactly what Senate Pres. John Valentine does for fun.
As a leader of Utah County Search and Rescue, Valentine has been volunteering this summer to help the University of Utah record archaeological siteslocated on cliff faces on the Range Creek Ranch in eastern Utah. With ropes and carabineers in hand, he rappels down cliffs and sets up lowering systems so that archaeologists can get an otherwise impossible glimpse at the over 1000-year-old contents of storage granaries hanging on the sheer canyon walls.
Referring to it as his “avocation” (he isn’t paid for his rescue work, but saving people’s lives isn’t usually considered a “hobby,” either), Valentine has been volunteering for Search and Rescue for the last 25 years. His wife Karen also became involved in Search and Rescue because of their German Shepherd Chickory and the obvious canine application in rescue work. Now, as one of Search and Rescue’s four lieutenants, Valentine not only directs a variety of aspects within Search and Rescue but continues to play a hands-on role in the missions. In June, Valentine worked with the Utah County Sheriff’s Swift Water Rescue Team along the Bear River, searching for 11-year-old Brennan Hawkins.
First introduced to the Range Creek project by Deseret Morning News reporter Jerry Spangler, Valentine’s interest was piqued when he learned the digs would require the high-level mountaineering skills his team possessed. Without using any fixed bolts or damage to the cliff rock, the team helps archaeologists reach the sites and collect information on the size and contents of the granaries, while collecting samples of maize, soil and wood for radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology studies (tree-ring dating and climate reconstruction).
Valentine recalls the excitement of the archaeologists when he presented a way to get down the cliffs. “They said that they hoped some day to be able to get to the sites. I told them that some day is here, and offered them our expertise. They were able to access six sites that up to that point they only dreamed of.” In addition to providing the archaeologists with a means of access, Valentine was also able to help on the legislative side by supporting funding to protect what he calls one of the “great jewels” of Utah.
And just in case juggling his full-time job as an attorney, being president of the Utah State Senate, and scaling up and down vertical rock isn’t enough, the more-than-meets-the-eye Valentine is also a CPA and a registered EMT. Oh, and the next time you see him you might want to ask him about his lead guitar days in a rock band, too.