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The City Journals

Center Stage at the Midvale Performing Arts Center renamed to honor JoAnn Seghini

Sep 09, 2021 10:23AM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

Former Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini hugs former City Manager Kane Loader as he is recognized for service to the city. Loader spoke at the induction ceremony. (File photo courtesy Kane Loader)

By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]

JoAnn Seghini made such a positive impact on Midvale during her lifetime that she was honored for it — twice.

Every year, the Midvale Arts Council celebrates impactful Midvale residents and names them to the Hall of Honors. Seghini is the awardee for both 2020 and 2021.

The auditorium in the Midvale Performing Arts Center has also been named in her honor.

The induction ceremony took place on Aug. 4, which would have been Seghini’s 84th birthday.  Current Midvale mayor, Robert Hale, led the audience in a rousing version of the “Happy Birthday Song” to mark the occasion. 

Seghini died on June 19, 2020 as a result of causes incident to old age. 

The Midvale Arts Council board of directors voted for Seghini to be included in the Hall of Honors earlier that year. Wade Walker, president of the board of directors, had the chance to tell Seghini about their decision before she died and Walker reports that Seghini was pleased to be included with prior inductees. Her own father, Benedict Grant Bagley, was inducted in 1987. 

Bagley and his wife, Marie Pehrson Bagley, moved to Midvale in 1938, when Seghini was just one year old. She enjoyed growing up in Midvale and even got her first job serving milkshakes and malts at Vincent Drug on Main Street. 

Seghini later earned a degree in education from the University of Utah and taught at local elementary schools for more than 10 years. She continued her own education, receiving a master’s degree and Ph.D. while raising two sons as a single mother. 

She retired from education and served three terms on the Midvale City Council before being elected mayor in 1998. 

Seghini was the first female to hold either of those positions.

She served as mayor for nearly 20 years while also volunteering for numerous boards and local organization. She had a special love for music and the arts, frequently attending the opera.

The unanimous resolution to name the auditorium after Seghini makes it clear what an impact the mayor had on the city. The resolution states that “JoAnn B. Seghini encouraged everyone to be a good neighbor, support the arts, support the schools, and work together for the betterment of the community.” Also, “JoAnn B. Seghini was a staunch supporter of the arts and providing quality entertainment at little or no charge to Midvale residents, particularly those in disadvantaged situations.”

Stephanie Johnson, Midvale Arts Volunteer Council president, conducted the event and officially inducted Mayor Seghini into the Hall of Honors.

During the ceremony, Steve Seghini spoke about his mother’s love of Midvale and about how important being a teacher was to her. Mayor Hale’s comments mentioned how instrumental Seghini was in annexing the Fort Union area and bring Utopia fiberoptic internet to the city. 

Former Midvale city manager Kane Loader also spoke and shared memories of working with Mayor Seghini. 

“She was universally respected among her peers,” Loader said. “Very often other political figures would try to get her on their side because they knew if they had Mayor Seghini on their side, their cause was more likely to pass.” 

One of those causes was converting the vacant former city hall building at 695 W. Center St. into a performing arts center. Over the nearly 20 years since, the building has been the venue for countless performances including plays, musical productions and improv comedy shows as well as the annual Hall of Honors ceremony.

To conclude the evening, Johnson and Hale declared that the space would now officially be known as the “JoAnn B. Seghini Memorial Auditorium.”