Taylor Halversen

Reporter

Taylor Halversen is a reporter, engineer and occasional co-host for UPR news. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Utah State University with bachelor’s degrees in Communication Studies and Liberal Arts, and worked for UPR as a reporting intern for a year before being hired as a reporter.

Ways To Connect

Caroling
Taylor Halversen

UPR’s Taylor Halversen traveled with members of Cache Valley’s American Festival Chorus as they caroled to assisted living centers and charity events around Logan City on Dec. 13. What began as a local news coverage opportunity turned into a heartwarming experience for those being served, spectators and performers, including an unsuspecting UPR reporter. Listen below for the full story. 

Oneida Narrows
www.americanwhitewater.org

The Twin Lakes Canal Company has applied to create a 109-ft. hydroelectric dam that would block the flow of water in the last free-flowing stretch of the Bear River.

Dec. 17 is the deadline for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to accept public comment before making decisions on the proposal.

Jeff Seamons, conservation chairman of the Franklin County Fish and Game Association, said the creation of a dam in the area would negatively impact quality of life.

Joseph Tainter
usu.edu

The thoughts of one Utah professor will now be paired with the likes of Hawking, Goodall and Gorbachev in a new conversation about global sustainability. 

Dr. Joseph Tainter of Utah State University was asked to contribute to Global Chorus, a 365-statement compilation by Todd MacLean that brings together thoughts of leading minds on how to solve environmental problems facing the earth and human species.

Tainter said he was chosen to contribute because MacLean wanted the perspective of a variety of writers.

Girl with math on a board
www.avonct.gov

Utah’s SAGE exam is used to measure student proficiency in core subjects. In 2014 it showed that only 38.7 percent of Utah students were proficient in math and 43.7 percent in science.

To increase proficiency in these subjects, this year Cache County School District applied for and received a grant from the STEM Action Center. The district put the grant to use by providing every student in grades two through twelve a subscription to an artificial intelligence-based math technology program called ALEKS.

The program assesses a student’s knowledge to give individualized tutoring for what they are ready to learn, in addition to classroom instruction.


Dog for adoption
Humane Society of Utah

The Humane Society of Utah is celebrating reaching their 2014 pet placement goals a month early this week.

Jamie Usry, director of developments at the Humane Society, said the group reached their goal of adopting out 9,000 dogs and cats, and are also set to meet their aim of spaying and neutering 10,000 animals later this month.

Usry said the organization opened a new dog area in May called The Wait is Over, Rover dog adoptions to save the lives of more dogs in their care.


Tour of Utah

In its 11th year of operation, the toughest staged race in the country will kick off in Cache Valley next summer, Tour of Utah officials announced Tuesday.

The first stage of the race with begin in Logan on August 3. This new location is the furthest north the tour has traveled, with the previous record being held by Ogden.


Orion launch
nasa.gov

"Five, four, three, two, one, and liftoff, at dawn! The dawn of Orion and a new era of American space exploration,” NASA commentators exclaimed Friday morning at the inaugural launch of the Orion spacecraft.

The craft finally took to the skies Friday after a postponed launch. It was scheduled to take off early Thursday, but due to reported gusty winds and a malfunctioning fuel valve, the mission was grounded until conditions cleared.

Orion circled the earth twice, reaching about 20,000 mph during its journey back to earth.


NASA's Orion
nasa.gov

Early Thursday morning, NASA will test fly a new vehicle designed to carry astronauts into space—for the first time since 1981.

Utah’s NASA ambassador Patrick Wiggins said the Orion spacecraft will orbit the earth two times then re-enter the atmosphere, plunging into the Pacific Ocean hours after its launch. Though this initial trip will only take the spacecraft 3,600 miles away from earth, the ultimate goal of the craft is to, decades into the future, land on Mars.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the first humans get to Mars. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it’s going to happen eventually,” Wiggins said. “So that’s basically what this thing is, it’s a way to get humans way out into space."

winter deer
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Every year well-meaning individuals leave food out for wild animals, particularly deer, attempting to supplement their winter diet. But the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources says the seeming kindness can do much more harm than good.

The diet of deer is fragile and can be harmed by slight changes said Chris Schulze, conservation officer with the DWR.

“The wrong food at the wrong time of year can be hazardous and even kill deer; it wreaks havoc on their digestive systems,” Schulze said.

Fremont High School
http://www.weber.k12.ut.us/

Updated 10:06 p.m., 12/1/14. During interrogation, the 16-year-old male arrested for possession of a firearm at Fremont High School admitted to planning to shoot a particular student, then open fire on the rest of the school. He is being charged with Class B Possession of a firearm by a minor, Class A possession of a firearm in a restricted area, and Class A possession of a weapon with intent to assault. 

Police were alerted Monday of a student possessing a loaded handgun at Fremont High School in Plain City.

A student had reportedly seen a peer with the gun and tipped off the school resource officer, who detained the subject. No shots were fired, according to police, and the student was taken into custody.

Though the student’s intentions remain unclear, Lt. Lane Findlay with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office said it is unlikely they were friendly.


Same-sex marriage
usa.gov

An order signed Monday by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball means the state will pay attorneys’ fees for the eight plaintiffs in the Evans v. Utah case, which addressed the legal status of couples wed following the initial ruling that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.  

The plaintiffs’ attorneys were seeking nearly $200,000 for their services. However, after an agreement was reached on the fee issue, the state will pay $95,000 to the attorneys.


The Band
American Fork High School

The 230-member American Fork High School marching band will join only five other high school bands and two college bands in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday.

The band’s director John Miller said this is the second time the band has had the opportunity to play at the prestigious venue.

“They can only invite bands back every seven years. So, they sent me an email and said, ‘If you’re interested, would you please apply again. We can’t guarantee you a position, but… we’ll take a look at it.’ So we did, and to our surprise they offered us another spot in the Macy’s parade this year,” Miller said. “They only take the very top, top cream of the crop for this thing, so it was quite an honor again.”


President Barack Obama
www.whitehouse.gov

Utah politicians had a lot to say after President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration Thursday, in which he announced his support of deferring deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said in a statement that he was disturbed the president would take such divisive and unilateral action. Herbert said the broken immigration system is compromising national security and must be addressed by congress.


Sprinklers
www.pinecrest-fl.gov

Every five years, the U.S. Geological Survey publishes a water usage report showing how the nation fares in water consumption. The 2010 report was published earlier this month.  

In conjunction with the release of the report, media have touted that Utah is the worst in the nation for water consumption, but Molly Maupin, a hydrologist with the USGS, said it depends on the category and how the data is being compared.    


Homeless Youth Facility
voaut.org

Volunteers of America unveiled plans last week to build a new resource center for homeless youth in Salt Lake City.

Zach Bale, chief development officer for the project, said the new 30-bed overnight shelter will serve the immediate needs of youth, but also will include services to help those being served to overcome their circumstances.

“We knew that both having a safe overnight shelter has been really important, but maybe even more important [is] expanded education and employment support for the youth,” Bale said. “We’re going to have a lot more space, classroom space, to provide those types of services.”

Pyramids
cia.gov

Egyptian farmers grow crops along the fertile banks of the Nile, providing necessary resources for the surrounding communities, but also generating significant waste from crops such as cotton, bananas and rice.

“You have two choices: you either burn it or plow it into the soil. But, if they plow it they risk disease and other things, so it’s easier to burn it,” said Utah State University professor of biological engineering Foster Agblevor.

He said when the waste products are burned, acidic gases are released into the atmosphere, eventually settling on and decomposing the limestone pyramids and other historical monuments.


Pipeline
suwa.org

Two environmental protection groups are calling out the Bureau of Land Management for alleged misconduct in building a natural gas pipeline near Moab.

Landon Newell with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said Fidelity Exploration & Production divided the project into smaller venture proposals to break up the health and environmental analysis of the pipeline.


Darrien Hunt
facebook.com

Information updated 11/12/14. 

On Monday, officials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced they have requested an independent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into Darrien Hunt’s death.

NAACP officials said during a press conference that race played a factor in the shooting of the 22-year-old African American male by two Caucasian police officers. They claim improper use of fatal force could be a violation of Hunt’s civil rights.

Elementary School Students
trustlands.utah.gov

About 9,600 additional students enrolled in Utah public schools this year, an increase of 1.5 percent.

This may seem like a sizable number, but Mark Peterson with the Utah State Office of Education said it is not out of the ordinary.

“This is actually slowing down a little bit,” Peterson said. “It’s been up and down over the years, but it’s been as high recently as about 2.5 percent back in 2008 and above 3 percent in 2006.”

There was a 1.7 percent increase in 2013, according to Peterson.

Senator Orrin Hatch
www.hatch.senate.gov

With the results of Tuesday’s election and the Republicans reclaiming control of the Senate, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is set to become Senate president pro tempore beginning in January.

This means he will be third in line for the presidential seat, among other responsibilities and perks that come with the position.

The honor, set apart in the constitution, is typically bestowed upon the senior Senate member of the majority party.

Mail-in ballot.
cottonwoodheights.utah.gov

Cache County has switched to by-mail ballots this election season. While Cache County is a newcomer to the mail-in voting scene, Duchesne County has used the method since 2012. UPR’s Taylor Halversen spoke with Cache County Clerk Jill Zollinger and Duchesne County Chief Deputy Clerk JoAnn Evans about how the switch has changed voting in the different communities. 


Darien Hunt
facebook.com

In a press conference Monday, officials from the Utah County Attorney’s Office said they determined the shooting of 22-year-old Darrien Hunt by Saratoga Springs police officers was justified.

“All four witnesses indicate that as Mr. Hunt was speaking with the officers, [he] abruptly and without any apparent provocation withdrew the sword from its sheath and immediately swung or stabbed it toward at least one the officers,” Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said.

Ghost
blogs.valpo.edu

Your heart starts racing, palms sweating, your muscles tense and goosebumps arise, there are butterflies in your stomach—you’re experiencing one of the basic human emotions: fear.

Fear is the work of the amygdala, a small part of the brain that can trigger a fight or flight response in less than a second. Some fears are learned and even cultural, while others have no borders, for example a fear of snakes, spiders or heights.

With so many things to be scared of in the world, researchers have long focused on how to stop fear. According to Columbia University professor Carolyn Rodriguez, by facing our fears we can trick our brains into overcoming what scares us. The more you face the fear, the more you trick your brain into releasing opioid chemicals that actually produce a feeling of comfort.

UPR reporters Elaine Taylor and Taylor Halversen set out to see if they could  overcome their fears by facing them directly.


Democratic Party of Utah

About half of Utah's state Senate and the entire House are up for election this year, and the Democratic Party has high hopes for increasing representation in the traditionally red state.

“I think we’re in great shape. I think Democrats are mobilized and engaged, I don’t think the Republicans really have a whole lot to vote for, and I think that that’s going to make a difference and we’re going to win in November,” said Matt Lyon, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party.

Utah Democratic Party chairman Peter Corroon said this week that his party has a chance to win seats in Carbon, Emery and Weber Counties.

Ethan and his parents
facebook.com

The nation watched last week as the community of West Jordan banded together to turn the last days of one very sick little boy into the celebration of a lifetime.

Four-year-old Ethan Van Leuven passed away Tuesday morning after losing his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

After receiving the prognosis that he only had a few weeks to live, the city dressed up, decorated for and celebrated Halloween, Ethan’s birthday and Christmas months early.

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