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.

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.

Iron County and Utah BLM officials have created an agreement to round up wild horses on private land in the southern Utah county.

The BLM claimed that a lack of funding is the reason that exploding wild horse populations in Southern Utah have not been pared back to appropriate management levels.

When the agency started spending millions to round up the cattle of Nevada rancher Cliven Budy, Iron County cried hypocrisy.

The two have come to agreement on the round up of horses in certain areas. BLM specialist Chad Hunter expresses confidence in the Utah's cattlemen.

Governor Gary Herbert has appointed Cedar City attorney Keith C. Barnes to fill a judgeship in Utah's fifth district court. Barnes fills the vacancy created by Judge Michael Westfall who is moving to St. George to fill another seat, formerly occupied by Judge James Shumate.

Evan Vickers is the state Senator for Beaver, Washington and Iron counties in Utah, and is therefore the representative from the same area as Barnes.

A small earthquake shook a remote area near the Utah-Nevada border west of Cedar City.

Seismologists at the University of Utah measured the quake at 4.1 on the Richter scale. A quake of this size is considerable, but it occurred in such a remote area that there are few people who actually felt it. There are no reports of property damage.

The quake was centered about 22 miles west of Veyo, Utah and about four miles into the state of Nevada near Beaver Dam State Park.

There have been 14 aftershocks, the largest measuring 2.5 in intensity.

Arizona Dept of Transportation

The Arizona Department of Transportation has issued an update on the repairs to U.S. Hwy. 89 that was closed in February of last year after a massive landslide south of Page. Chris Holmes reports.

In a press release, ADOT maintains that the reconstruction of US-89 is on “the fast track,” but “fast" seems a relative term.  

The design and planning phase is about 60 percent complete. Environmental and archeological clearances, without which ADOT cannot receive federal funding, still lie ahead.

abandoned puppies, Cedar City
CEDAR CITY ANIMAL CONTROL

A day after St. George police arrested a man who abandoned 13 dogs, Cedar City Animal Control is investigating a case of nine puppies left in two cardboard boxes on a residential Cedar City street.

Animal control has solicited the help of local Facebook users to gather information that might lead to the arrest of the person responsible for leaving nine puppies in two cardboard boxes on a residential street.

It's believed the puppies are the same as those offered on a Facebook post in the last few weeks. Cedar City Animal Control is asking for the public's help in locating the individual who posted the offer.

Mike Lee, Senator, Utah
MIKE LEE

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court will rule that President Obama's controversial recess appointments from January 2012 were unconstitutional.

The constitution allows, with some limitations, for the president to make appointments if the senate is not in session. Sen. Lee insists that the recess appointments were unconstitutional because the Senate was not in recess at the time of the appointments two years ago.

"According to the Senate's own rules, according to the Senate's own journal of its proceedings, the Senate had just reconvened. It was not in recess. Therefore, the president did not have authority to name three people to the National Labor Relations Board, and a fourth person to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," Lee said.

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