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.

A Wednesday morning fire in St. George destroyed the Washington County Utah State University Extension building.

Rick Heflebower, county director and horticulture agent, tells UPR's Chris Holmes he and his staff were in the building this morning when they noticed lights turning off. Another staff member then spotted fire in the ceiling of one of the restrooms.

UPR's Chris Holmes reports:

There is some guarded optimism in the recent case of animal neglect out of Iron County. Authorities in Enoch City were contacted by a concerned citizen regarding a mare and her colt. Responding officers found the pair very near death from starvation and exposure.

Police Chief Jackson Ames said the colt was actually frozen to the ground in the corral when they found the animals.

"When we initially took the horse down there, the veterinarian gave the horse about a 15-20 percent chance of survival. Right now, they're a lot more optimistic," Ames said.

ADOT, Arizona Department of Transportation, construction
ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

The Arizona Department of Transportation is warning drivers of Interstate-15 between St. George and Mesquite to be aware of possible delays caused by reconstruction of I-15 bridges in the Virgin River Gorge.

On Jan. 6, 2014 ADOT will begin a $2.8 million project to upgrade three bridges that cross the Virgin River. Work is expected to be completed by summer.

An even more ambitious $27 million project is scheduled to launch later this spring, to be completed in 2015. Ultimately, ADOT will need to rehabilitate all eight of the I-15 Virgin River Bridges.

Mohave County Ariz. authorities have captured an escaped fugitive out of Salt Lake County with the help of the Colorado City Marshals Office.

Misty Lee Adams, 25, was wanted out of Salt Lake County on theft, felony escape and other charges. She cut off her court-ordered ankle bracelet and has been on the run since late November.

Mohave County deputies were looking for Adams, and the Colorado City Marshals were investigating reports of a stolen vehicle at the Cane Beds Address.

At approximately noon on Saturday, St. George police responded to a robbery at the Chase Bank on Tabernacle Street.

A man handed a teller a note demanding money. There was no display of weapon and the suspect left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect is described as:

  • a white male in his 50's,
  • 5'10"
  • about 185 pounds,
  • gray mustache and goatee,
  • wearing a black and gray baseball hat, black jacket and blue jeans.

A Kanarraville man was wounded Friday in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement, and has been airlifted to a hospital in northern Utah.
 

Grant Louis Biedermann, 41, was grazed in the head when Iron County law enforcement returned fire. He was treated at Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City and released to the Iron County Jail late Friday.

But by Saturday morning, it was discovered Beidermann was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. He was airlifted to a hospital in northern Utah where his condition is unknown.

The Utah State Board of Regents selected Snow College's President Scott Wyatt to move to Southern Utah University as president on Friday.

At Wyatt's first press conference, reporters questioned Wyatt about his number one priority, on the first day of his new assignment. Wyatt in turn offered a one-word response.

"Listen," he said. "I need to meet all the members of the community and the university and the faculty and the staff and the students. My number one priority over the next weeks and months is going to be to listen."

Wyatt was an instructor for Utah State University and Bridgerland Applied Technology College in Logan, as well as a counselor for the student legal services at USU.

Earlier this year, one city in Iron County passed a 113 percent increase in the city's portion of property taxes. Although the tax has since been rescinded, ripples from the tax controversy coursed through Nov. 5 municipal elections.

Two pro-tax increase incumbents were beaten by two anti-tax increase challengers in Enoch on Election Day. New City Councilman Steve Johnson said there are still more changes that need to be made.

wilsonforcedarcitymayor.com

On Tuesday, Cedar City elected its youngest, and also its first woman mayor. 27-year-old Maile Wilson downplays the significance of her personal characteristics, preferring instead to talk city business. Chris Holmes reports.

Garfield County Sheriff's Office

Even as thousands of Utah deer hunters have braved the outback only to come home empty-handed, a women recently driving through Garfield County bagged her buck without even knowing it. Chris Holmes explains.

A woman called the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and reported that she had hit something while traveling on U.S. Hwy.  89.  When conservation officer Micah Evans arrived on the scene he observed a large hole through the front of the travel trailer she was pulling.

One person died and two more are in critical condition after Interstate-15 south of Cedar City was closed for two hours Sunday night as emergency personnel responed to a fatal rollover.

Just after 9 p.m., a pickup truck pulling two trailers in tandem left the northbound 1-15 lanes and overturned. The first trailer was a travel trailer, and the second was made from an old truck bed and was loaded with two 4-wheeled off-road vehicles.

All three occupants were pinned and had to be extricated from the vehicle. One passenger, 50-year-old Sara Oliver was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver, 53-year-old Mark Oliver was air lifted to a Las Vegas hospital in critical condition. 12-year-old Emma Oliver was transported by ground to a local hospital.

A Utah woman has been sentenced to 30 years in a Nevada prison in the shooting of a woman during a botched carjacking in west Wendover.

27-year-old Angela Hill of Sanpete County, Utah pleaded guilty to burglary, kidnapping and robbery in the wounding of a 36-year-old woman. The victim fought off Hill and tried to speed away, but was shot in the head and seriously injured.

Hill will remain in the Elko County Jail so she can testify in the trial of co-defendant Logan McFarland, scheduled to start in January.

Jeff Ham's piece from the quick draw competition at the Kayenta Arts Festival, 2012.
artinkayenta.org, Artist: Jeff Ham

The Kayenta Arts Festival took place this week with diverse artists gathering to present their work. 

UPR reporter Chris Holmes spoke with Gayle Bray, spokesperson for the Kayenta Arts Foundation, as she discussed how the 14 years of the festival have created many opportunities for the independent artists of southern Utah.


A 47-year-old Washington County man has been arrested on a tip that he was distributing child pornography. Dean Aoki of Dammeron Valley was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on Saturday after authorities received a tip from a private citizen.

According to Washington County Sheriff spokesman Nate Abbott, law enforcement then obtained a search warrant and conducted an interview. The information gained was sufficient to place Aoki under arrest. He is charged with five counts of felony sexual exploitation of a minor and is being held on a $50,000 bail.

A hastily applied paint job was not enough to throw law enforcement off the trail of Jeff Green, the subject of an Arizona-issued Amber Alert.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers were looking for a green Dodge truck with Arizona tags and after a short time a white dodge truck passed which had obviously just been painted by hand.
 

License plates on the vehicle were also a match to Green's vehicle. Several officers maneuvered to contain the vehicle, but when the suspect saw officers were following, he stopped on his own.

After arguing with administrators about an issue regarding his child, a disgruntled parent stormed out of a school in Parowan muttering a threat that included possibly returning to the school with a firearm.

Director of Secondary Education in Iron County School District, Jennifer Wood said they elected to err on the side of caution, and locked down two schools.

"As a safety precaution we made a decision to lock down Parowan High School and Parowan Elementary School until that person was apprehended," Wood said.

In August a woman from Vernal was arrested for fraud for pretending her daughter had cancer. On Friday, a woman from Mesquite, Nev. was taken into custody on similar charges.

Shawnanna Star Flores, 36, is accused of falsely stating that her 7-year-old son had a rare form of liver cancer.


Flash flooding continues to occur in Southern Utah.  The latest incident, fueled by an intense thunderstorm has resulted in property damage in Garfield County.

No people or animals were harmed when an extreme thunderstorm swept through the sand wash and lime kiln area approximately five miles northeast of Panguitch Monday afternoon causing severe flooding and destruction to agricultural areas.

UPDATE:

There have been additional charges and a clarification in the case of a prostitution ring broken up in St. George last Friday.
In an initial statement from St. George police it was mistakenly reported that the juvenile involved the alleged prostitution ring had been arrested and charged.

A Cedar City man has been apprehended on sexual assault and kidnapping charges.
The victim said as she exited her vehicle she was approached by a man who took her car keys and began pulling her down the street. The victim fought back and tried to escape, but was carried away to a nearby high school.

Chris Holmes

UPR’s Southern Utah correspondent Chris Holmes has additional details on a West Jordan woman who died Monday in a rappelling accident in Kane County.

“Monday, Kane County dispatch received a call about a young female that had fallen on a rappel in Birch Hollow.  Emergency personnel arrived to confirm that the individual had died from her injuries.

19-year-old Shelby Collette Christensen of West Jordon, Utah was hiking and rappelling with three friends.  The other three had completed the descent. Christensen fell about 120 feet.

Gunfire erupted on Cedar City’s Main Street late Thursday afternoon leading to a string of incidents that started on North Main and ended in the heart of downtown at Main and Center streets.
A Cedar City police officer attempted to make a traffic stop for a motorcycle.  The driver reversed course and fled northbound on Main Street.
The pursuing officer said he then observed that the driver was in possession of a firearm.  The suspect fired the weapon several times at another motorcyclist also traveling northbound.  

One hundred years or more ago it would not have been unusual for a suspect to make his escape on horseback, but on Saturday a male suspect attempted to flee police on a stolen horse.

Saturday afternoon a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped a vehicle near New Harmony. Inside were two males and three females and the trooper said he could smell marijuana and took one of the females into custody.


Two California visitors died in separate Utah automobile accidents over the weekend in southern Utah.

Saturday afternoon, 70-year-old Chet Devito of Anaheim Hills, Calif. was killed when the motorcycle he was riding failed to negotiate a turn on U.S. 89 north of Kanab. There were no witnesses to the crash, Devito was found by another motorist.

Utah’s newest wildfire is burning just north of St. George.

The cinder fire has burned 100 acres near the small town of Veyo, about 20 miles north of St. George. The lightening caused blaze that was ignited Thursday in an area of pinion, juniper and brush.

Although no structures are currently threatened, the fire is zero-percent contained. Residents, fisherman and campers are standing by should evacuation orders be given.

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