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.

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.

About 2,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers in Southern Utah were without power early Sunday morning in three separate power interruption incidents. Eighty-seven customers lost power in Cedar City around 3 a.m. Sunday, followed by another 240 moments later. Both incidents were caused when power poles caught fire.

Later Sunday morning, power went out in areas of rural Washington County from a fuse failure at a substation. By mid-morning, all but a handful of the Cedar City customers had power restored, says RMP's Margaret Oler.

Vandalism in National Parks
Casey Nocket Modern Hiker

A 21-year-old New York woman, Casey Nocket, has been identified as the primary suspect in recent vandalism cases affecting eight national parks and monuments in the western United States.

National Park Service investigators have confirmed that images were painted on rocks and boulders in Yosemite, Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks in California, Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado National Monument in Colorado, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and Zion and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. There may be cases elsewhere.

Cedar City investigators have made two additional arrests in a week-old murder case.

Several eye witnesses positively identified Angelo Seth Carrasco as the man that shot and killed 45-year-old Shawn Multine on the night of October 21.

After further investigation, police have also arrested 18-year-old Clarissa Bulletts and 29-year-old Eric Rodriguez for their alleged roles in the murder.

A U.S. District Court judge in Arizona has ruled that the Department of Interior did not act unlawfully when it instituted a 20-year ban on new mining claims in a one-million acre area adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park.

Then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar instituted the 20-year ban in the uranium rich area in January of 2012. Mining groups and economic interests in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah filed suit contending that the action was baseless and violates the mandate of multiple use of public lands.

A pair of Italian tourists are recovering in a Garfield County Hospital after a hellish experience brought on by the raging flood waters of the Paria River.

Sussana Dursi, 47, and 62-year-old Roberto Bellocci from Italy were returning to their campsite at Kodachrome Basin State Park Late Saturday night. After crossing a bridge spanning the Paria River the ground beneath the road suddenly gave way causing the car to plunge into the river. The road base under the asphalt had eroded away due to heavy flooding.

The car was tossed and pummeled by the torrent approximately 150 yards downstream where it finally came to a stop upside down in the middle of the river. The couple was able to escape through a broken back window and climbed on top of the overturned car.

There was pageantry and fanfare on the campus of Southern Utah University last week, as the school inaugurated its 16th president.

Friday Sept. 12 marked the opening of a new era at SUU, when president Scott L. Wyatt was inducted as the university's 16th president.


Nevada Transportation officials have opened another option for travelers between Mesquite and Las Vegas, but it isn't open to all.

Southbound passenger cars may travel Interstate-15 as far as the Logandale / Overon Exit #93. From there, motorists are detoured via the Valley of Fire Exit #75.

Northbound passenger cars likewise can take the detour, but commercial vehicles are still being routed via Utah's State Route 56 at Cedar City and U.S. Highway 93.

The investigation continues by the Arizona Department of Public Safety into the death of a motorcyclist who was tased twice after fleeing a traffic stop on Interstate 15, near Littlefield Friday evening.

Michael John O'Connell, 44, had a felony warrant for seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child issued out of San Jose, Calif.

Sarge, the pitbull found injured on Highway 91 near Ivins is recovering and in the care of a foster family. The prognosis for a full recovery is promising. The prospects for finding the individuals responsible for shooting the dog with an arrow and leaving him for dead is less hopeful without the public's help.

Sarge is named after Washington County Sgt. Kurt Bowen, who rendered first aid to the dog after finding him wandering and injured on Friday.

Members of a Las Vegas family are drying out and counting their blessings after escaping a flash flood that overtook their Veyo area campsite over the weekend.

A family member awoke in the middle of the night to the thunderous sound of water overflowing the banks of the Santa Clara River.

Deputy Darrell Cashin is with the Washington County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team, and said all 13 family members managed to scramble to higher ground, but were trapped along a narrow ledge as they watched their belongings wash downstream.

Southern Utah University and the Utah Shakespeare Festival have announced that Big D Construction has been selected as the general contractor to head construction of the new Beverley Taylor Sorensen Center for the Arts.

Festival Co-Artistic Director David Ivers expressed enthusiasm at this latest milestone in the project.

plane crash gorge
Chris Holmes

The bodies have been recovered and identified, but the questions remain in the crash of a single-engine aircraft in the Virgin River Gorge Sunday night. The victims were teenage brothers from Clinton, Utah.

Daulton Whatcott, 19, just received his pilot's license. He was excited about pursuing a career in commercial aviation according to a Facebook post by a family member.

Daulton was accompanied by his 16-year-old brother Jaxon. The two were en-route to a basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

Two people have perished in a dramatic fiery crash of a single-engine plane while dozens of motorists traveling Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge looked on in horror.

At just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday, a single-engine plane crashed into the jagged cliffs of the Virgin River Gorge killing both occupants. There were dozens of eye witnesses to the crash, as the site is fully visible to drivers of I-15.

Cedar City fire fighters have again responded to the Stone Castle Recycling facility, where fire erupted overnight amid piles of recyclable debris.

Early Tuesday morning, Cedar City dispatch received a call about smoke billowing from the Stone Castle Recycling Center at 1342 West Industrial Road in Cedar City. Fire fighters arrived to find piles and piles of plastic and other recyclable materials smoldering on the floor of the large concrete and metal building.

Cedar City Fire Chief Paul Irons said it was a difficult, time-consuming process to completely extinguish the fire.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie is criticizing Cliven Bundy for allowing armed militia members to defend his property and intimidate federal agents into standing down in their efforts to remove the rancher’s cattle from BLM administered lands earlier this year.

Ironically, the authority of the Clark County sheriff was among the causes Bundy wished to defend when he used the media to rally supporters in April.


Firefighters battling a blaze.
fcc.gov

Interagency fire fighters have combined efforts to fight three large fires near the Utah-Nevada border, called the MGC Complex Fire.

The Greek Peak Wildfire is 0 percent contained and rages on the Utah side of the border about 30 miles northwest of St. George.

Although it may seem that rainfall should be welcomed amid such dangerous conditions, attendant lightening is the number one cause of wildfires, and precipitation at this point doesn't always help that much. So says Professor Fred Lohrengel of Southern Utah University

Traditionally, the July 4th holiday is the deadliest on Utah roads. The weekend lived up to its billing this year, leaving at least eight people dead.

The night of July 4th, on Interstate 80, about 30 miles east of Wendover an alleged drunken driver steered his Dodge pickup eastbound in the westbound lanes of traffic and collided head on with a chevy suburban. This killed three members of a family, and seriously injured another.

Sunday afternoon, two vehicles collided on State Route 191 north of Monticello, killing five and putting two others in critical condition.

www.mesquitenv.gov

The Arizona Department of Transportation will lift some of the traffic restrictions on Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge prior to the Independence Day holiday weekend, but is advising motorists to expect heavy traffic through the weekend.

Considerable progress has been made to date on ADOT’s multiple bridge projects along Arizona’s I-15 corridor. The highway is currently narrowed to one lane in each direction through the gorge until the project is completed in 2016.

ADOT spokesman Dustin Krugal:

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