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Some Tooele County residents want 'Girls Girls Girls' billboards gone, gone, gone

State lawmaker threatens possible legislative changes
Posted at 9:18 PM, May 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-08 23:48:15-04

GRANTSVILLE, Utah — Yvonne Averett has lived in Tooele County for 20 years. But for the last eight months, she’s been driving by signs every day that she believes don’t belong in her community.

“I have four daughters," she said. "Just the exploitation of women every five minutes, it's just not our community standard.”

Residents like Averett are asking for billboards to be taken down that have been up for years. The three signs on I-80 in Tooele all advertise the same West Wendover adult entertainment club: "Southern X-Posure."

For years, all traffic coming into the Tooele Valley got off on Exit 99, further up on I-80ut ever since the Midvalley Highway was finished just this last October, local families are staying on the interstate for another few miles to get to it and passing signs that say "Show Club," "Girls Girls Girls" and "Your Best Bet."

“I mean, this is a rural little suburb, family values," said Averett. "So it's not really our community standard."

Averett is one of many Tooele County residents who asked their local lawmaker, State Rep. Merrill Nelson, to do something about the signs.

“You might be able to sell girls and sex in a casino in Wendover and Las Vegas," said Nelson. "But not in Grantsville.”

He said billboards should advertise and sell products, like gas or food.

“If the purpose is to sell girls like another commodity, to objectify girls, then yeah, that's offensive to us," said Nelson. "And it has no place in our community.”

In a letter to Compass Billboards, Nelson asked the company that owns the signs if they would consider "Less graphic or offensive messages or more family-friendly messages consistent with the new viewership."

“Freedom of speech is important to all of us," said Nelson. "But the law does recognize the right to regulate time, place and manner in speech, and this is not the right place for that billboard advertising girls.”

If Compass won’t take down the signs, he’s prepared to take legal action.

“We can alter our legislation, modify our legislation to require that billboards with a sexual content, sexual message, be limited to certain areas where maybe there's a market for that," said Nelson. "But not in family-oriented areas, residential areas where that message is not welcomed."

FOX 13 News reached out to Compass Billboards for comment, but they had not responded at the time of this report.