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.

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.

ktla.com

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.

tbirdnation.org

  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.

nps.gov

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
nrcs.usda.gov

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.

usbr.gov

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.

texas.gov

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.

coachfore.org

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.

horserescueutah.org

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
money
utcourts.gov

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.

usda.gov

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.

MRGC
NCAA

The first NCAA women's gymnastics rankings are out and the list includes two members of the newly-formed Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference. All three of the other members also received votes.

Boise State comes in at number 19, and the University of Denver at 20. BYU, Southern Utah and Utah State also received votes but finished just outside the top 25 list.

SUU's Coach Scott Bauman said the rankings show significant power within the group.

car, nissan
Cedar City Police Department

An unidentified man was captured by surveillance cameras at the Cedar City Walmart stealing what others have given.

The cameras show the man parking his late model, white Nissan Cube in front of the store entrance, opening the vehicle's back hatch door, and then entering the Walmart and making off with a large donation barrell placed near the exit and mean to collect funds for Primary Children's Hospital.

It is estimated the barrel contained about $100. The barrel itself is also valued at about $100. Law enforcement are seeking the assistance of the public in identifying the man.

At just after 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, a St. George Police Officer pulled over a pickup truck for speeding on Interstate-15. A check of the vehicle's license plate showed it to be stolen out of Colorado, the truck itself stolen out of Wyoming. When the officer ordered the driver out of the vehicle, the suspects fled.

A sort time later the vehicle was found, abandoned and with a flat tire. Law enforcement from Utah and Arizona began looking for two men and two women. Cpt. Mike Jiles of St. George Police Department said it was a multi-agency effort.

An Iron County Sheriff's Deputy conducted a traffic stop on Interstate-15 and detected the smell of marijuana. A half-smoked joint was clearly visible in the car as the officer came to the window of the California-registered vehicle.

The stories told by the two occupants also conflicted, leading to a search of the vehicle which netted methamphetimine, cocaine, pills and marijuana with a street value of about $180,000.

A 49-yea-old male and 26-year-old female, both from Southern California, were taken into custody.

A federal appeals court panel has made a judgment on the matter of disputed roads in Kane County. Whether the ruling of the panel is a victory for Kane County and Utah or for environmentalists depends on who you ask.


Update at 7:45 a.m.:

It appears that the situation has concluded, although we have no confirmation from law enforcement as to the present circumstances. Standing by for statement from St. George Police.

Update at 7:30 a.m.:

Standoff continues.  Several loud noises heard, presumed to be flash grenades used by SWAT team to draw out suspect. St. George Blvd is open but several businesses nearby remain closed.

Original Story at 6:45 a.m.

utah capitol
April Ashland / Utah Public Radio

With the Utah Legislative session now less than two months away, Utah lawmakers are being asked to consider adding a couple of weeks to the annual 45-day session.

Because lawmakers don't meet on weekends during the session, the actual number of days spend legislating is nearer to 32 or 33. Last week a legislative committee forwarded the idea of amending the Utah constitution to stipulate that lawmakers should meet for a full 45 days within a 90-day calendar period. State representative John Westwood of Cedar City feels that more time just makes for more mischief.

"I am not for extensions. We have 45 days to conduct our business. We've done that, we want to remain efficient and take care of our bills and not extend it and bring in more bills. Sorry, I'm not for that. More is not always better," Westwood said.

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