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.

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:

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt with what some media outlets are calling an historic blow to executive powers, when it invalidated four 2012 appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, in a decision Thursday.

At issue was whether the Senate was in session, or in recess, at the time of the appointments. 

Senator Mike Lee:

http://scijinks.jpl.nasa.gov/

It represents one of the most concentrated repositories of ancient petroglyphs and astronomic observational features anywhere—an American Stonehenge.  The summer solstice will be observed at the Parowan Gap on Saturday.

The Arizona attorney general is asking a federal judge to disband the town marshal’s office in the FLDS towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona. 

In a federal court filing this week, Arizona prosecutors say a former town marshal has provided information that proves the office is influenced by sect leaders and systematically discriminates against nonmembers. 

Former Marshal Helaman Barlow went to authorities after he was put on leave from his position. He has received immunity from prosecutors.

Fire blazing in Farmington
http://www.farmington.utah.gov/

Wednesday, the BLM and other federal agencies, along with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands are set to institute fire restrictions across southwest Utah in light of drought and worsening hot, dry conditions.

The restrictions differ slightly depending upon the jurisdiction involved, but for the most part forbid open fires, welding, smoking outdoors in most cases, the discharge of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices and the use of exploding ammunition or targets.

The weekend proved dangerous, and in one case deadly, for motorcycling in Southern Utah.

David Wuergler, 50, of Orem was riding on SR 12 near Escalante. Officials say it appears he was traveling too fast to negotiate a curve, crossed the center line and slammed head-on into an RV headed in the opposite direction. He was killed on impact.

On Saturday, 62-year-old Daniel Shoop and his wife, 61-year-old Alice Shoop, of Sioux City, Ariz. were traveling with a group of other riders within Cedar Breaks National Monument when they hit a patch of gravel.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for portions of Washington County. Expected winds and low humidity could contribute to wildfire danger.

The alert is in effect Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for wind and low relative humidity. The area affected includes the southern half of Washington County including the areas around St. George. Nick Howell of the Bureau of Land Management suggests defensible space is a good place to start preparing for fire season.

Snow Canyon High School in St. George conducted its graduation exercises Wednesday night.  It did so without two of its graduating students.

The high school already had plans at its Wednesday graduation ceremonies to memorialize KJ Harrison, a student who died of an accidental drowning while on a scout trip last summer.

The school did not intend to recognize the absence of another graduating student, Brooks Johnson, who was killed in a rollover accident on Saturday.

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