This article is taken from the appendix to The Savior in Kirtland. He is also the author of Joseph Smith’s Kirtland.

The Lord enabled a huge obstacle to be removed so that the Church’s Historic Kirtland Village could be built. In the early 1990s the First Presidency decided that before the village could be restored, two century-old roads needed to be rerouted. These roads daily carried about twenty thousand vehicles directly through the center of the proposed village. The main intersection of these roads at the corner of the Whitney Store had four stop signs, which irritated drivers and created traffic backups. This intersection was also extremely unsafe for pedestrians.

As a longtime priesthood leader and resident of the area, I received an assignment from the Church to work with the City of Kirtland to reroute the roads. Mayor Mario Marcopoli was in favor of the road relocation, but council approval was also necessary. Mayor Marcopoli explained that he could not ensure a favorable council vote. He seemed sure that two or three council members would vote with him, but approval required a majority vote of four of the seven council members. The mayor encouraged me to pray, saying, “You know the Man upstairs. Please talk with Him about this so that the other councilmen will vote with us.” In the absence of further ideas, the mayor said, “Well, we’ll just have to wait on the Lord.”

About the end of May 1993, Mayor Marcopoli telephoned and said, “Thank you for arranging this with the Man upstairs.” Then he suggested that I purchase a copy of the May 31, 1993, issue of Sports Illustrated and call him back. To my surprise, I found a photograph in the issue of star football quarterbacks Steve Young and Joe Montana. They were walking side by side on a football practice field. Each wore a pullover shirt. Joe Montana’s read, “San Francisco Forty-Niners.” Steve Young’s shirt read, “Kirtland, Ohio, City of Faith and Beauty” and had an illustration of the Kirtland Temple in the middle of it. (The Whitney store dedication committee had given Steve the shirt nine years before when he attended the dedication of the store.)

That day Steve just happened to wear that shirt under his football uniform, which he removed just before the photographer snapped the picture.

When I called Mayor Marcopoli back, he explained that one of the councilwomen, a teacher at a local school, discovered the photo when one of her students brought the magazine to school. She took it to the mayor and requested that he ask the Church to provide funds to purchase the photo so that it could be placed in the newly built Kirtland City Hall. The Church not only bought an enlargement of the photo but also had it framed and hung in the entryway to the council chambers. That day Steve Young became Kirtland’s favorite son!

Later in the fall the 49ers traveled to Cleveland to play the Cleveland Browns. A reception was arranged for Kirtland City Council members and their families. Steve spent an hour with them. They were allowed to take individual as well as family photographs. He signed anything that was available, including clothing, napkins, and the enlarged photograph of him and Joe Montana. He then invited all to attend the Monday night football game. This experience created considerable good will with Kirtland leaders.

A few months later I appeared before the council to formally request the rerouting of roads around the Whitney store. I will never forget how council members stood when I walked into the council chambers. I actually looked behind me to see who was there, not realizing that they had stood out of respect for the Church. The council voted unanimously to allow the change of roads to proceed. I considered this an answer to prayer and a divinely designed approach to ask for the council’s support. This enabled the continued growth and development of the Church’s Historic Kirtland Village.

A footnote to this story confirms that the mayor also attributed the road relocation to divine intervention. Six years later, final city approval was scheduled for a vote. But animosity, not related to the Church, had developed between Mayor Marcopoli and the council. In retribution several council members announced they would vote against final road approval, which the mayor still favored. “Well,” he said the day of the vote, “we may be in for some trouble tonight.” Sensing my concern, the mayor then said something I should have said to him.

“Karl,” he said, “don’t you understand that God wants this road built? If God wants it built, how can the city council stand in the way?” He added, “One day I will have to stand before God and account for my life. I may not have a lot going for me, but I want to be able to say, ‘At least I built your road in Kirtland.’” Then he concluded, “I think it will come out okay.” In an action Mayor Marcopoli attributed to the Lord, the council voted six to one to finish the project.[1]

Certainly the Lord did not forget His promise: “I, the Lord, will build up Kirtland.”[2]

[1] .Anderson, journal, May 31, 2001.

[2]. Doctrine & Covenants 124:83.