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.

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.

Jennifer Pemberton

The number of deaths at Grand Canyon National Park are down sharply in 2012. As the summer season wraps up, 8 people have died this year, compared with 21 last year - the highest figure in a decade.

The 10-year average is 13 deaths per year. Although the park sees some suicides each year, most deaths are accidental including falls, drownings, and heatstroke.

Dr. Tom Myers worked full time at the Grand Canyon clinic for 22 years. He says 90% of the deaths result from people "who overestimate their own ability and underestimate the canyon."

The Science Center at Southern Utah University, which opened last fall, was recently identified by LEED (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program) as one of superior design, construction, and performance with respect to green and environmentally-conscious objectives.

A unique feature of the center is its green roof where a greenhouse hosts many different kinds of plants. These capture rain water, reducing wasteful water runoff and help to keep the building cool.

Southern Utah residents woke to an odd sighting in the eastern sky, but the source was actually over New Mexico and was visible throughout the American southwest.

To many southern Utah residents the odd, meteor-like flash, which left a corkscrew-shaped contrail, appeared to have contacted the ground very nearby, but according to Army Public Affairs it was actually a Pac-3 missile test at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

There have been 14 such tests at the New Mexico site since the early 1990s.

The weather forecast in Southern Utah calls for clearing skies. That's good news for folks in a community west of St. George.

About 30 homes and over a dozen businesses are cleaning up water, mud, and debris after the breach of a dike for retention pond in Santa Clara on Tuesday.

The pond was already filled to its brim with recent rainfall, softening the earthen structure. On Tuesday another downpour proved too much for the dike, sending a wall of water down Canyon View Drive.

Cedar High School in Cedar City was on lock down for the better part of Wednesday after school officials found a suspicious item near the school’s entrance.

A sustained thunder storm on Friday dumped 2 inches of rain in about 20 minutes on central Iron County, overwhelming city streets and resulting in flooded basements in some 80 homes in the town of Enoch.

Arizona's Prop 204, "The Quality Education and Jobs" Initiative, calls for the renewal of a $0.01 sales tax set to expire in 2013. The tax would provide a dedicated permanent revenue stream for education that the legislature cannot cut.

The blaze known as the Reserve Fire burning on the Red Cliffs Wilderness Reserve north of St. George began on Monday and quickly grew to over 3,000 acres. That fire is now 50% contained.

Although there are no longer any structures threatened by the blaze, 2 popular hiking trails remain closed as interagency fire crews to battle both on the ground and from overhead.

The Little Pine fire burning near Enterprise has been fully contained after blackening over 2,000 acres and closing access to Enterprise Reservoir and its popular campgrounds.

The Utah rural summit concludes today in Cedar City. UPR's Chris Holmes was there from opening to close and reports on highlights from the summit.

The keynote speaker on Thursday was Jack Shultz, author of the book The Seven and a Half Keys to Big Success in Small Towns. Key #1 according to Schultz is to have a "can do" attitude. In welcoming summit attendees, Southern Utah University President Dr. Michael T. Benson offered a local example: The Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Today is the opening day of the 25th annual Utah Rural Summit, a 2-day seminar attended by leaders from Utah's non-Wasatch Front counties and cities. UPR's Chris Holmes sits down with Wes Curtis, Executive Director of Southern Utah University's Office of Regional Services, to talk about the summit his office is hosting and why Cedar City is a great place to hold this discussion.

Emery County, Utah

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department reports that mosquitoes taken in a random survey in Washington County have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

This is the first positive West Nile result in Utah this year. Southern Utah's last human case of West Nile Virus was in Kane County in 2010.

During the early hours Monday morning members of the Iron County Sheriff's Office along with the DEA, Forest Service, and the Iron/Garfield County Narcotics Task Force, located and removed a number of marijuana plants located in a garden near Pinto, Utah, about 30 miles west of Cedar City.

A $15,000 reward has been offered in a recent case of animal cruelty in the FLDS-dominated bordertown of Colorado City, Arizona.

The now infamous cat mutilation case actually took place on May 31, but only recently received local and national news attention when footage was posted on Youtube.

The FBI out of Denver confirms that Brian Joseph Heglin is a murder suspect out of Colorado Springs. Tuesday morning he was on the run and desperate. Around 3 a.m. the suspect jumped the fence at the St. George airport and attempted to commandeer an empty SkyWest airlines regional jet.

Brian Joseph Hedglin, 40,  was on the run and suspected in the murder of his former girlfriend. Hedglin was a pilot for SkyWest airlines, on administrative leave after his arrest last week for stalking and harassing 39-year-old Christina Cornejo.  Cornejo was found stabbed to death in her Colorado Springs apartment on Friday.

People nationwide are still reacting with amazement at the remarkable story of survival that broke in a remote area of Southern Utah late Friday afternoon.

28-year-old William LaFever, from Colorado springs, contacted his father for money on June 6th or 7th –calling from boulder, Utah.

John LaFever wired money for his son to the closest location, Page, Arizona.

The younger LaFever, who is autistic intended to follow the Escalante river to Lake Powell, then solicit a boat ride to page, with no apparent appreciation for the peril that such a trek posed.

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