Elaine Taylor

5:30 News Co-host / Reporter

After graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Utah, Elaine developed a love of radio while working long hours in remote parts of Utah as an archaeological field technician. She eventually started interning for the radio show Science Questions and fell completely in love with the medium. Elaine is currently taking classes at Utah State University in preparation for medical school applications. She is a host of UPR’s 5:30 Newscast and a science writer for the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station. Elaine hopes to bring her experiences living abroad in Turkey and Austria into her work.

Jentrie's Journey

Bountiful resident Jentrie Williams was a healthy, active 25-year-old mother of three, until she learned that she had cancer in November. Since her diagnosis with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, she has written about her treatment and life with cancer in her blog “Jentrie’s Journey.”

“You couldn’t believe how busy I was, answering phone calls and all of this just trying to keep family and friends in the loop. Everyone was so worried and concerned and wanting to know what was going on, and it was exhausting,” Williams said.

Costs Of Oil: Cheaper Gas, Worse Air Quality?

Feb 21, 2015
Utah State University Old Main Webcam

As gasoline prices dipped below the two dollar mark and stayed there, it got us wondering: Do people drive more when gas is cheap? And in turn, could these lower prices be contributing to our air quality woes?

Along with powdery snow and red rocks, in recent years Utah has also become known for thick valley inversions in the winter months. Cars are a big contributor to those inversions and in Cache Valley less than one tenth of vehicles in the area emit 25 to 50 percent of all the chemicals contributed by cars that lead to unhealthy inversions. 

Lower prices at the pump
Elaine Taylor

Dirt roads zigzig through the Uintah Basin, connecting thousands of oil and gas wells. The area is rich in natural resources, and many of the towns that have sprouted up in this rangeland are built around the drilling and extraction of these resources.

The future of these wells—and the people who make a living from them—is uncertain, as oil prices remain at some of the lowest levels seen in years.

“In the month of December, oil prices have decreased between 35 to 40 percent,” said Benjamin Blau, a professor of economics at Utah State University.

Blau said these low prices stem from a slower global demand for oil while production is increasing.

“Currently, Utah is ranked 11th in the nation in oil production, and so whenever oil prices decrease, you can expect to see slower production,” Blau said.

desert bluffs
publiclands.utah.gov

On Thursday we brought you the story of Jim Dabakis’ public lands bill SB 105. The bill aims to set a deadline for Utah’s public lands debate. If passed, it would require the Attorney General’s Office to file a lawsuit for the federal lands it claims rightfully belong to Utah by June of 2016. Dabakis’ goal: have the Supreme Court end the debate over the lands once and for all.

Assistant Attorney General Tony Rampton said Dabakis has it all wrong.

mesa in desert
utah.gov

A bill aimed at settling the public lands debate in Utah once and for all cleared committee on Tuesday and is headed to a vote in the Utah Legislature.

SB 105 would give Attorney General Sean Reyes until June 30, 2016 to file a lawsuit for federally owned lands in the state. Utah has long claimed ownership of more than 30 million acres of public lands it says the federal government does not have a legal right to.

c-span.org

Rep. Mia Love addressed the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday. The first-term, 4th District congresswoman spoke to House members about H.R. 596, a bill which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare as it is commonly called.

“I’d like to ask a few questions of my colleagues as it relates to healthcare: Has Congress made healthcare more accessible and affordable? Has the quality of care improved? No. Do hardworking families and our children deserve better? Absolutely. Now is the time to repeal and replace this disaster of a law,” Love said.

www.vebidoo.de

The Utah Democratic Party will have a new executive director starting Monday. Lauren Littlefield will replace Matt Lyon, who is stepping down after four years in the position.

Littlefield said she has her eyes set on getting more Democrats elected in 2016.

“Voter participation in the state is dismal and pathetic at best, and that’s something that I hope to increase, especially on the Democratic side,” Littlefield said. “Something that we want to do is get more people registered to vote by mail. It’s such a great program that most counties in the state are offering now, and it’s something that people should be taking advantage of.”

Littlefield, a Utah native, got her start in Utah politics in 2004 as a field organizer. She has since worked on city council, Senate and House campaigns, and spent three years with Equality Utah.

Utahns from various backgrounds responded to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ declaration of support for legal measures that would protect LGBT individuals from discrimination—so long as religious liberty was protected.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the new comments from the LDS Church brought up important issues that lawmakers will have to think long and hard about.

“I think the legislature needs to grapple with this and see if it’s in fact possible to have an anti-discrimination piece of legislation that people will be supportive of,” Herbert said. “I personally believe that if we have anti-discrimination legislation that would be on a statewide basis, it needs to be coupled with religious freedom legislation so that they work in concert with each other, so that there’s no diminution of the rights of either side.”

utcourts.gov

The Utah Department of Workforce Services released their monthly economic update on Thursday. Utah’s unemployment rate stayed steady in the month of December at 3.5 percent, that’s 2 percent below the national level. Job growth was above average for December at 3.9 percent.

DWS Senior Economist Mark Knold said Utah’s unemployment levels have been holding steady for about a year now, as the state continues to recover from the recession. But he cautions that the low unemployment rate could come at a cost.

UPR's Sundance Film Festival Preview

Jan 22, 2015
sundance.org

The first films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival will premiere on Thursday night. UPR caught up with contributing reporter Steven Smith right after the festival’s opening press conference, which featured comments from founder Robert Redford and John Cooper. 

Smith outlined the films to watch this year and a few of the stars who will be present at the annual event, and talked about a surprise performance that is scheduled to follow the first film of the 2015 festival. 

The Sundance Film Festival began in 1978 and draws tens of thousands of people to Park City each year. This year's festival runs through Feb. 1. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health officials in Utah County confirmed a third measles case in Utah over the weekend. They say the case, which was detected in a person under the age of 18 who was not vaccinated, was contracted from a person who had visited Disneyland in December. Forty-eight cases of measles have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak. According to the California Department of Public Health, 41 of the cases occurred in California residents, while the other seven were in people visiting from other states and Mexico.

Utahraptor remains
Dr. James I. Kirkland

Inside a nine-ton sandstone block pulled from a mesa outside of Moab could be the key to knowing how the carnivorous Utahraptor lived. But before paleontologists can figure that out, State Paleontologist James Kirkland says they are going to have to find a place where they can start chipping away at the block.

The partially-feathered, polar bear-sized dinosaur lived during the Cretaceous, around 125 million years ago. Kirkland discovered the first specimen of Utahraptor in 1990. Then, in 2001, Kirkland said a geology student hiking around the Cedar Mountain Formation made the critical discovery that lead to the excavation of the nine-ton block.


ct.gov

This year’s flu has been hitting the nation especially hard, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the virus’ hold on Utah as widespread. In Utah County alone there have been nine flu-related deaths.

To help counteract the illness, hospitals across the state have been turning to a Utah-developed technology that has drastically cut the time it takes doctors to learn whether at patient is sick with the flu, or not.

graph
utahpolicy.com

As the Republican-controlled Congress begins work in Washington D.C., a new poll shows the issues Utahns want legislators to focus on this session.

The poll, commissioned by UtahPolicy.com, found that federal debt is the top issue for people in Utah. UtahPolicy.com Managing Editor Bryan Schott said the result was anticipated.

cows in a field
USDA.gov

Utah ranchers are increasingly seeing their livelihoods disappear as the problem of cattle rustling grows in the West.

Steve Harmsen is the owner of the Indian Trail Ranch. For the past three years he has run his cattle in the Vernal area without incident—that is until this fall, when he was moving his heard and discovered that some of his cattle were missing.

Sean Reyes Sworn In After Year As Interim AG

Jan 5, 2015
attorneygeneral.utah.gov

After a year as Utah's interim attorney general, Sean Reyes (R) was sworn in as the state’s top law enforcement officer Monday morning at the Capitol.

Reyes, Utah’s 21st attorney general, was chosen to replace former Attorney General John Swallow, who resigned in November 2013 and is now facing charges including bribery and tampering with evidence. Swallow’s predecessor Mark Shurtleff is also facing charges.

Vegan Christmas
http://recipes.millionhearts.hhs.gov/

The holidays can be stressful for anyone planning on cooking a Christmas feast, but especially for those who are trying to cook for their vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free friends and family.

Chef Ian Brandt is the owner of some of Utah’s most beloved vegetarian-friendly restaurants including Sages Café, Vertical Diner and Cali’s Natural Foods in Salt Lake City.

While Brandt said he himself takes a break from cooking and parties during the holidays, he said he’s seen the stress that comes with trying to get a meal to turn out just right. His advice: develop a cookbook of your own.


Utah State Office of Education

The Utah State Office of Education has released its second report card for Utah schools. The 2014 grades range from A’s to Fs, with most schools getting a B.  

Ninety-three elementary schools and just six high schools received an A grade. Included on that list were Davis High, Viewmont High, Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science, Success Academy, the Utah Academy of Science and InTech Collegiate High School.

Principal Jason Stanger at Logan’s InTech said the school’s focus on providing college-level classes to students helps set them apart.

USDA.gov

Holiday time means presents, parties and lots of recyclable waste. This holiday season the City of Logan, however, won’t be offering extra recycling pickups as it has in the past. Typically, blue recycle bins in the city are emptied every other week and once a week during holiday time, but as Logan City’s Emily Malik put it, there just isn’t enough demand to warrant the extra collections.

“I do think they had felt for several years that it wasn’t well utilized and just created more confusion than it was necessary for people,” Malik said.

Gates at SLC International Airport
http://airwaysnews.com/

Busy travelers who have not had their flu shot yet now have a new place to get the vaccine: the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Intermountain Healthcare opened the clinic, located between terminal two’s concourses C and D, in November said Operations Officer Ross Fulton.

“It does provide a very easy access and low cost solution for those travelers that seem to have fast-paced lifestyles and don’t have time to go to their primary care physician to get their flu shot,” Fulton said.


Utah Geological Survey

Utah has long been touted at being the happiest state in America, while paradoxically ranking amongst the highest in the nation for suicides and anti-depressant use. Long-standing theories on why this trend effects Utah and other nearby states have ranged from cultural influences to rural living and higher rates of gun ownership.

However, University of Utah Professor of Psychiatry Perry Renshaw’s research is showing that something much more basic may behind these somewhat incompatible rankings: altitude.

Tim Garrett

In the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special, the Doctor, a time traveling alien with a special place in his heart for humanity and the downtrodden, must convince a Scrooge-like character to save a crashing spaceship by turning off a thick cloud belt he controls.

The clouds are teaming with aquatic life including large, scary sharks. And as it turns out, they can be frozen by a voice at the right frequency.

While flying sharks are not real, it turns out frozen clouds are.

Police say a Logan woman who raised thousands of dollars after claiming to have a rare form of brain cancer falsified her claims. Leslie Jensen raised $17,000 at a fundraiser in early November.

“Basically, we don’t know where that money went, we don’t know if it still exists, if it’s been spent. This is an ongoing investigation at this point,” said Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen.

Utah Department of Health

Thursday, after months of anticipation, Gov. Gary Herbert unveiled the details of the Healthy Utah plan, his alternative to expanding Medicaid in the state. The plan, which would have to be approved by the state legislature, would help 95,000 Utahns who make $15,521 a year or less; 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Herbert worked with officials from the federal government to come up with the privatized plan, one of five plans state lawmakers will consider adopting. Health Department Chief Executive David Patton said that unlike any other states, Herbert won concessions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those include co-pays for low-income residents seeking medical services and increasing the co-pay for non-emergency visits to the ER from $8 to $50.

Dinosaur National Monument

Three months after a dinosaur fossil was found vandalized in Dinosaur National Monument, the mineralized bone has been excavated and taken to Brigham Young University for repair. On Tuesday, BYU paleontologist Brooks Britt traveled to the monument outside of Vernal to remove the damaged humerus from the rocks along the Fossil Discovery Trail.

Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at the monument, said the damaged juvenile sauropod bone was among the most prominent fossils on the trail.

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