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 sting operation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the St. George Police Department has resulted in the arrests of three suspects allegedly trying to sell counterfeit merchandise.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and St. George police met the three individuals in the parking lot of a Walmart in Washington City.  Agent-in-charge Mark Cutchen was quick to point out that the apparent operation has no connection to Walmart—that was just the meeting location chosen by agents and the suspects.

A former director of a Cedar City youth soccer club has been arrested on charges of stealing from the organization.

The investigation began in September after the Cedar City Police Department was contacted by members of the club’s board of directors who had discovered accounting discrepancies.

The investigation culminated this week in the arrest of the club’s director, Rhonda Case.

The search 21-year-old Kaitlin Anne Kenney, of Englewood, Colorado began over the weekend. Kenney  was last seen at her group's overnight camp site located near Tapeats Creek, a remote area of the Grand Canyon.  

Park authorities were notified of her disappearance and responded to the remote location after receiving a call from a member of the group carrying a satellite telephone.

A security guard at a Kingman, Ariz. business discovered an unconscious man laying underneath a pick up truck in the business’s parking lot.  

Mohave county sheriff’s deputies and medical personnel were called to the scene, and pronounced 54-year-old James Henry, of Kingman, deceased.

The U.S. Department of Labor has reached an agreement with a southern Utah pecan grower following media reports of possible child labor violations.


Southern Utah Pecan Ranch, LLC is incorporated in Nevada and maintains a pecan grove near Hurricane, Utah.  The Department of Labor began investigating a contractor hired by the growers, paragon contractor corporation of Hildale, Utah after several media reports alleged the use of underage laborers.

The St. George City Council and Washington County Commission has voted unanimously to recommend that the name “Dixie” continue to be included in any new name for Dixie State College.
The request is non-binding on school administration, but the vote does reflect widespread support for the traditional name as the college moves toward university status.

A federal judge in Phoenix, Ariz. has thrown out part of a federal law suit against the twin polygamous towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. The U.S. District Court judge has ruled that Colorado City and Hildale did not operate a community park nor a zoo included in the lawsuit, which made claims that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denied access to the park and zoo to non-FLDS members irrelevant. The U.S. Justice Department opted not to fight the judge's decision.

A settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Brian Cardall who died in 2009 after a Hurricane City police officer shocked him with a taser.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, the parties entered into a “mutual general settlement agreement and release of all claims” in the suit over the death of Cardall, a Utah native who was at the time a graduate student at Northern Arizona University. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office in Arizona has issued a plea to the public for information regarding the theft of dozens of steel storm drain covers.

The thefts occurred in the Shadow Mountain subdivision just across the state line from Mesquite, Nevada and south of Beaver Dam, Arizona -- some 30 miles southwest of St. George.

75 large steel grates have disappeared. The grates sit in a larger frame set in concrete curbs and cover the intakes of the area's storm drains.

I-15 in Southern Utah is finally back to normal after closures in both directions most of Wednesday morning.

At around 3:00 a.m. a tanker truck filled with fuel overturned on Interstate 15 near mile marker 40, about 20 miles south of Cedar City.

Both lanes of southbound traffic were halted as responders dealt with the volatile situation. Southbound motorists were directed through Enterprise and on to St. George to rejoin the interstate.

A massive land slide in October 2011 closed SR-14 east of Cedar City for almost a year. Now, more slide activity is reported on the important connector between I-15 and US-89.

Utah Department of Transportation's Kevin Kitchen reports that late Monday evening a rockfall occurred at milepost 7.5 -- the same section that had to be completely reconstructed after the landslide in October 2011.

Crews were able to clear most of the debris, opening the road to traffic in both directions, but 2 rocks were so large they could not be moved even with heavy equipment.

A Utah prison inmate facing death in the 1988 torture slaying of a southern Utah state college theater student is appealing to the federal courts to spare him from execution.

Michael Anthony Archuleta's attorneys cite 16 grounds for appeal in a document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

Archuleta won a reprieve just days before facing a firing squad in April.

It's only a matter of time before the state legislature grants university status to Dixie State College of Utah -- perhaps as soon as the next legislative session in January.

College administrators, along with a St. George public relations firm are putting out feelers as to how the new institution should be branded, including whether or not to keep "Dixie" in the school's name.

The Saudi Arabian government has stopped recommending Southern Utah University's English as a Second Language program to Saudi Students it sends abroad to study.

The Saudi Arabia cultural mission likes its students to study English in ESL programs comprised of no more than 35% Saudi students. Its thought is that doing so maximizes the educational and cultural experience.

The search is over for a missing single-engine plane that disappeared after refueling in Fillmore, Utah, more than one week ago.

37-year-old pilot Matt Ahrens, his girlfriend 34-year-old Trista Meyer, and Trista's 9-year-old daughter Shyann Lenz, were returning to Gillette, Wyoming, from Bakersfield, California, after the Thanksgiving holiday when they stopped to refuel in Fillmore.

When the aircraft failed to arrive at its destination, family members alerted authorities and the search, by both air and ground, ensued.

St. George police responded last week on a report of counterfeit money. The victim sold a motorcycle to the suspect and was paid with counterfeit $100 bills.

The suspect is described as a white male, 5' 7" tall, slender build, dark hair, and between the ages of 25 - 35 years old. He was driving an 80s model full-size blue van with a spare tire mounted on the back door. The name "Rambo" is written in red lettering across the front hood.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced its largest gift in the theater company's history. The $5 million gift from the Engelstad Family Foundation of Las Vegas will go toward the proposed construction of a new theater.

Festival executive director R. Scott Phillips says the gift puts the project closer to groundbreaking by the end of 2013. Funding for the proposed $25.5 million facility now sits at about $24 million.

Sponsoring representative Patrick Painter of Nephi warns that the day will come with Utah will wish it did otherwise. Notwithstanding, fellow lawmakers shot down Painter's proposal to help fund a Lake Powell to St. George water pipeline by earmarking a portion of state sales taxes.

Under Painter's proposal, the state would set aside a portion of state sales tax to help pay for the $1 billion project. Water users would then repay the state for the loan.

Today on Access Utah is a rebroadcast of Wednesday night's House 2nd Congressional District debate on the Southern Utah University campus, in conjunction with the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service. UPR Southern Utah Correspondent Chris Holmes moderates with Eric Kirby, Director of the Leavitt Center.   

 The candidates include: 

During the Great Recession Utah's institutions of higher learning generally saw significant increases as out-of-work individuals flocked to college campuses, and as students, unable to secure employment, decided to remain in school.

Southern Utah University was the exception, where enrollment dropped during the economic downturn, presumably as parents elected to save housing expenses by sending their students to commuter schools closer to home.

Iron County Sheriffs Office

Using fingerprints and photos taken by motion activated wildlife cameras, authorities identified Troy James Knapp, a 45-year-old burglary fugitive from California, as the man responsible for a string of mountain cabin burglaries in southern Utah.

Kane County filed charges against Knapp earlier this year. Now Iron County has issued charges of its own, including four felony counts of burglary.

NPS

Rangers in Grand Canyon National Park are searching for 76-year-old Yoshikazu Yamada, a Japanese national who was last seen waiting to get on a commercial tour bus near Bright Angel Lodge nearly a week ago.

Yamada had been traveling with a companion and failed to board the bus Saturday afternoon. His companion reported him missing.

Mr. Yamada is 5'6" tall, weights 150 lbs, and has grey hair, brown eyes and wears glasses. He was last seen wearing a grey short sleeve button down short, light brown photography vest, black tennis shoes, and a brown sun hat.

It was a tumultuous and even deadly fire season throughout the state and it appears that Utah can add one more wildfire to the tally.

According to officials from the Color Country Interagency Fire management team, the Roundabout Fire has burned over 2,400 acres between Cedar City and Minersville.

The fire continues to grow in an area characterized by pinion, juniper, and grasses. As of Tuesday evening the fire was only 20% contained.

Nearly a year after a massive landslide closed SR-14 east of Cedar City, construction on the Restore 14 Project is complete. State Route 14 will continue to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

UDOT announced that that Wednesday, September 26, would mark the final day of construction, although workers are still clearing equipment from the area and mopping up the operation.

On October 8 of last year a major landslide wiped out a 1,000-foot plus section of the critical connector between Interstate 15 and US Highway 89.

A former Parowan police chief intends to sue the city claiming he was forced into retirement in 2011.

Preston Griffiths served as Parowan's chief of police for over 20 years. His sudden retirement came when Griffiths was charged with obstruction of justice and official misconduct after he shot and killed a Parowan resident's dog.

Griffiths initially denied shooting the dog, but later admitted to it.

In the notice of the claim, Griffiths says he shot the dog only after the dog attacked him. He does not give a reason for initially lying about the incident.

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