Chris Holmes

News Correspondent - Southern Utah

Chris Holmes will soon graduate with a Masters of Professional Communication from Southern Utah University. While at SUU his work received numerous awards including the 2009 King Foundation Best of Festival Award in the National Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts. Chris is also the host of the daily public affairs program, Southern Utah Forum on radio station KSUB (Cedar City, Utah). He lives in Cedar City, with wife, Marie and five children.

  On Monday, lawyers representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service argued before a federal appeals court in Denver, hoping to reverse a decision made by a federal judge in Utah striking down the Service’s jurisdiction to regulate Utah Prairie Dog populations on private land within the state.



Culinary water users in the Fort Pierce area of St. George now have the go ahead to use tap water without first boiling. The boil warning went out Sunday after a routine sample was found to contain fecal coliform bacteria.

Water managers are still not certain from where the contamination came. The incident appears to be isolated.

City crews replaced the sampling station and chlorinated and flushed the distribution system.

Scott Taylor is with St. George City, and suggests users also do a flush.

Utah State University Extension

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a proposal to list the North American wild horse as a threatened or endangered species.  Friends of Animals and the Cloud Foundation filed a petition last summer seeking protection for thousands of mustangs they say are threatened with extinction on federal lands across 10 western states.

Conservationists, including wildlife ecologist Craig Downer argue the horses constitute a distinct population segment that has evolved as a native species over thousands of years separate from domesticated horses.

U.S. National Park Service

Correction: Latest releases do not identify the man and boy as father and son.

Corrected story as of 6/29/2015.

A man and a boy are safe after becoming trapped in a mineshaft near Lake Mead, Nevada--but the impediment was much different than what first responders expected to find.

At just after 10:30am Friday, authorities from Lake Mead National Recreation Area received a dispatch that a man and boy were trapped in a mineshaft.


Utah law enforcement assisted Arizona authorities in a possible kidnapping incident Wednesday.

The FBI first contacted the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office that an individual may have been taken against his will.  The FBI provided a vehicle description, as well as direction of travel.

The vehicle was spotted just south of Page, but refused to stop.  Arizona law enforcement deployed spikes four times to deflate the tires of the northbound vehicle.

The term, “medical tourism” traditionally conjures up images of people traveling to Mexico, Costa Rica or India to save big money on medical procedures. Recent trends in the U.S. medical landscape have made St. George, Utah a destination for high quality health care, at considerable savings for those willing to pay cash for a surgery.

High-deductible health plans often mean the entire cost of a medical procedure comes out-of-pocket.  That leaves patients looking for ways to shop around.

Investigators in Iron County, along with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, hope to solve a mystery.  It involves the partially decomposed body of a man found just north of Cedar City.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a location near Summit, where deputies found a man’s body that was in the advanced stages of decomposition.  Detectives were dispatched to further investigate.  

Nations Online

Folks in southeastern Nevada and southwest Utah kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with a bang—or, rather a shake.  A 5.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the area today. The quake was felt throughout the region, including in St. George.

The quake occurred Friday afternoon, at 12:47 mountain time.  The seismic center at the University of Utah placed the epicenter of the quake about 24 miles south, southwest of Caliente, Nevada, and about 60 miles west of St. George. 

The quake is said to be the largest to have an epicenter on land so far this year in the contiguous U.S.

The Hurricane City Police Department made an arrest in an auto-pedestrian fatality accident early Tuesday morning.

At just after 5 A.M., police and medical personnel responded to a call and found an adult male, deceased and lying in the street.  There were signs nearby of a vehicle having accelerated, and neighbors did report hearing a vehicle revving its engine.

  A standoff situation Sunday night in Cedar City ended without incident, but also without the arrest of the suspect.

Officers from the Cedar City Police Department responded Sunday evening to a report of an adult male on his front porch waving a handgun around. The man was reportedly also intoxicated. This incident came less than an hour after officers had already issued a warning to the man on a noise ordinance violation.

As officers approached the residence, the male subject exited without a handgun, but he refused to cooperate and fled back into the home.

Utah Department of Corrections

With a decision on the Utah State Prison relocation looming, community opposition at all five sites under consideration is ramping up. However, State Legislators appear adamant that there is no turning back at this point.

State Senator Evan Vickers, a member of the Relocation Commission, indicated that of all the possible scenarios, keeping the prison at the current location is out of the question.

Southern Utah is known for its scenic byways, but a Tucson, Arizona man was not taking in the vistas when he led authorities on a multi-county high-speed chase that skirted though portions of Zion National Park Tuesday night.

The chase began in Kane County. Federal, state and local agencies assisted in the apprehension, including rangers from Zion National Park and a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter.

cattle in field

Utah’s junior Congressman Chris Stewart and senior Senator Orrin Hatch have introduced legislation that could transform the way some cattle grazing allotments are managed, giving more autonomy to states.

The pilot program would allow states to enter into 20-year cooperative agreements with the Secretary of the Interior, granting them the ability to manage up to two federal grazing allotments or more.

Grazing levels on federally owned public lands in the West have been in decline over the last 50 years, and are now at the lowest levels ever seen.

Law enforcement in Colorado have their counterparts in Utah to thank for bringing in two female fugitives from the Centennial State, but not before a short high-speed chase and crash in Iron County.

Kevin Worlton was recently fired as chief of police of Escalante City, and has been charged by the Utah State Attorney General’s Office with two felony and one misdemeanor counts of falsifying police reports.

Worlton was also served with a subpoena to appear as a prosecution witness in 10 pending felony drug cases in which he was the arresting officer. Worlton has filed an objection to the subpoena citing his rights and privileges against self-incrimination. The Situation leaves the prosecution of the cases virtually impossible.

Law enforcement has confirmed that three people have been found dead inside a home that was destroyed by a fire late Monday night in Enoch.

The call came in just after 10 p.m. By the time fire crews reached the scene, the home was fully engulfed in flames. Authorities describe the victims as one male and two females. Identities have not been released.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. Investigators did tell media that it was thought the fire began in the garage.

Many more questions remain as investigators sift through the ashes.

An Enoch man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 30 days in jail for a shocking case of animal cruelty and neglect last winter.

In January of 2014, authorities of Enoch City were contacted by a concerned citizen. Responding officers discovered a mare and her colt very near death from starvation and exposure. The colt had actually collapsed and was frozen to the ground in the corral. Elsa, the colt, was cared for the Dust Devil Ranch Horse Sanctuary west of Cedar City, but did not survive.

IRS Scam Hits Utah

Mar 25, 2015

Officials from yet another county are issuing warnings about an ongoing scam involving callers posing as IRS agents. The latest comes from Mohave County, Ariz. This follows similar warnings by other jurisdictions, including Iron and Washington Counties in Utah.

In the scam a person contacts the victim by phone posing as an IRS agent and threatens with severe penalties if payment and/or bank account information is not provided.

David Harris is with Hughes and Associates, a tax and accounting firm in Cedar City.

According to a news release from the park, an employee at Zion Lodge tested positive for tuberculosis on March 13. The person is being treated, and a number of people who were in contact with that person are also being tested as a precaution.

David Eaker is a spokesperson for the National Park Service at Zion.

Efforts by public land managers to reduce wildfire risk continue in Southern Utah. Considerable accumulations of excess woody materials have been gathered together in slash piles in a fire-prone area just south of Beaver.  It’s now the best time of year to extinguish what would otherwise be fuel for summertime, potentially catastrophic wildfires.

A rural town in Southern Utah has, at least temporarily, lost the area's only police officer.  Escalante Mayor Jerry Taylor confirmed Thursday that Police Chief Kevin Worlton has been placed on administrative leave with pay as of Jan. 12.

The Utah Attorney General's Office is conducting an unspecified investigation involving Worlton.  Taylor said he doesn't know why Worlton is under investigation. Garfield County sheriff's deputies are policing the town during the investigation.

Utah's push to wrest control of 31 million acres of federally controlled land would lead to less public access, less public involvement in land-use decisions and more drilling and strip mining, according to a report by a group of legal scholars.

The report, by the Univeristy of Utah Law School's Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, also concludes the move could lead to less chance of imperiled plants and wildlife winning protection under the endangered species act.

Erin Hensel is a teacher at Cedar High School and was pulling out of the school when she witnessed the incident, she said as medical personnel employed hydraulic equipment to extract the driver from the vehicle.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is taking to the road as it does every spring. It's part of USF's educational outreach to take a production to schools and rural town halls. This year's production is Macbeth, and the tour began in Cedar City.

It's become a tradition. Each year, the Shakespeare on the Road tour begins at the state youth correctional facility in Cedar City. The young men can identify and appreciate the subject matter, despite the Shakespearean style.

The California woman known as the "Bombshell Bandit" has pleaded guilty to bank robbery charges in California, Arizona and Utah.

Sandeep Kaur, 24, of Riverside, California earned her nickname by threatening to set off bombs during a string of bank robberies. Court documents show Kaur pleaded guilty Monday to four charges connected to robberies in Valencia and San Diego, California; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and St. George, Utah.