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Community members, Dixie State alumni unite for ‘Keep the Name!’ event promoting local heritage – St George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Members of the Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition are inviting all community members and as well as Dixie alumni near and far to attend a special event — “Keep the Name!” — on Wednesday.

The event will be held at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George and begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

DSUHC is excited to gather people together to enjoy an evening featuring the music of Utah’s Dixie’s own Grammy award-winning Dan Truman, co-founder and original member of Diamond Rio and the Nashville Tribute Band. Truman is an alumnus of Dixie College and proud of the history and heritage in Utah’s Dixie.

Diamond Rio received the Academy of Country Music’s award for Top Vocal Group in 1991 and 1992. In 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1997, they also received the Country Music Association’s award for Vocal Group of the Year (an award for which they received 15 total nominations, more than any other country music group). In addition, Diamond Rio has received 13 Grammy Award nominations. In 2010, they received three nominations for the GMA Dove Awards and won Country Album of the Year. In 2011, they received their first Grammy Award in the Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album category for “The Reason.”

Jim Sevy, a local musician, will be joining his friend Truman on stage Wednesday evening. Truman has also agreed to do a free meet-and-greet with the public, and those interested are encouraged to arrive by 6:15 p.m. for the opportunity to take a photo with him.

Featured speakers for the event will include Maureen Booth, Abraham Palmer Thiombiano and Lyman Hafen.

Maureen Booth was born in Salt Lake City and moved to St. George with her family when she was young. She graduated from Dixie High School and Dixie Junior College, where she met and married her husband, Dr. Craig Booth. She loved being a stay-at-home mom and still found time to be involved in her community. She was appointed to serve on the Dixie College Board of Trustees and eventually served as chairman of the board, where she earned the nickname “The Iron Lady” for her determination and grit.

As chairman, she played an important role in establishing Dixie State as a four-year college. After her children were grown, she went back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in art and English from Southern Utah University. Her passion for art led her paintings to be showcased in events all over Southern Utah, and she even opened her own art studio.

She served alongside her husband as he presided as president of the Arizona Phoenix Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and her husband have five children and 14 grandchildren together.  The entire community was devastated when Craig Booth passed away suddenly on June 5. Craig Booth loved Dixie State with all of his heart and showed his love by showing up for every possible event the school had to offer throughout his lifetime.

Abraham Palmer Thiombiano, originally from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa, came to Southern Utah to further his education and enjoy the warm sunshine.  He is a current resident of Utah’s Dixie who attended Dixie State and earned a business and finance degree. He is married to his wife, Chelsey, and they are the parents of two girls. He moved to St. George from Chicago and has spent the last 16 years working in banking and commercial and residential real estate. He is the recipient of the Re/Max Hall of Fame award.

Thiombiano chose to stay in Southern Utah because Dixie has everything that he loves: his family, beautiful scenery, good friends and the best pomegranates you can find anywhere. He said of the area, “I’m here because Dixie is incredible, comfortable and ideal.  The weather is 300 days of sunshine, the area is beautiful, including great golf, the gorgeous parks, Pine Valley and Zion National Park. It’s my home!”

Lyman Hafen comes from the fifth generation of a Mormon family that settled along the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers in the early 1860s. Growing up on the edge of St. George, he witnessed firsthand the transformation of his boyhood village into a bustling city. In high school he carried on the family tradition as a cowboy, participating in rodeos as a bull and bronc rider as well as a roper. He won the Utah State High School Rodeo All-Around Championship in 1973.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, Hafen began his writing career in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Like many others of his generation, Hafen could not shake the red sand of Southern Utah from his shoes. He returned with his young family to St. George in 1983, where he became founding editor of St. George Magazine and began teaching writing classes at Dixie College. He is currently the executive director of the Zion Natural History Association. Hafen is recognized and revered by the people of Southern Utah as one of the great historians of our time.

At Wednesday’s event, those in attendance who are Dixie College and Dixie State alumni are invited to vote on a resolution to declare that they support keeping the Dixie name at Dixie State University. This action is in response to remarks made by university President Biff Williams to members of the Utah Senate Education Committee during the last legislative session, where a member of that committee asked, “How do the alumni feel about the name change?” Williams replied: “They are Switzerland, they have decided to remain neutral on the name change issue and decided not to take a vote either way because they represent a lot of people.”

“At this event, the alumni will have the opportunity to take a vote,” Ilene Hacker with DSUHC said. “They can vote on the resolution to keep the name as it stands now if they choose to do so. This can be recorded for members of the legislature to see for themselves where DSU alumni stand on the name change issue.”

“We hope everyone will join us on October 20 to enjoy a gathering of all who love Dixie,” Hacker said. “It will be a fantastic event! We are excited that past members of Roene Difiore’s Dixie College Program Bureau will be there to sing our favorite Dixie songs. Our community and Dixie State have always been one in the same! It will be such a great night to join together as we have in past years to celebrate Utah’s Dixie! It will be like the assemblies we remember, and best of all, it’s free!”

For those unable to attend, the event will be live-streamed on Facebook live on the DSUHC, Protect Utah’s Dixie page. It will also be streamed live on YouTube. Those not on Facebook can see the event live or at a later date on DSUHC.ORG.

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