Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. Our news partners include: The Herald Journal.

Chaffetz Calls For Removal of IRS Chief

Jul 30, 2015

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz is calling upon President Barack Obama to fire John Koskinen from his post as chief of the Internal Revenue Service. Chaffetz accused Koskinen of obstructing justice by failing to tell the truth about emails related to the alleged targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan threatened to hold Koskinen in contempt of court, claiming the IRS failed to turn over the emails at the center of the controversy. Speaking to the media Thursday, Chaffetz said that the judge’s threat didn’t come as a surprise.

Christopher Campbell

On Tuesday, “The Book of Mormon” opened in Salt Lake City without members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints picketing in front of Capitol Theater.

However, not all Mormons are happy that it has come to the same city where the Church headquarters is located. Lisa Nelson from American Fork said she made her decision to not see it after hearing “South Park” creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, wrote it. Though she has never seen the TV show, Nelson says she has heard it is raunchy.

Wildfire Spreads Near St. George

Jul 28, 2015

A wildfire just 55 miles south of St. George spread from 640 acres on Monday to 820 on Tuesday.

A lightning storm started the High Meadow fire on the Bureau of Land Management Arizona Strip near Mt. Trumbull and Potato Valley on July 14.

“Crews have been managing it since that time,” said Rachel Carnahan, Arizona Strip District public affairs officer for the BLM. “And heavy winds on Saturday did cause the fire to become quite active again.”

Carnahan said the fire is difficult to maintain in the area it is in.

Study: Medicaid Benefits Children As They Grow Up

Jul 28, 2015

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that established Medicare and Medicaid. This week's report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that adults who benefited from Medicaid as children have lower rates of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and lower blood pressure.

According to Lincoln Nehring, president and CEO of Voices for Utah Children, healthy kids go on to have successful lives.

Wildfire Near Jordanelle Reservoir Is Contained

Jul 27, 2015

About 100 residents at Fox Bay Condominiums left their homes on Monday after a fire broke out by the Jordanelle Reservoir, which has now been contained.

Mike Eriksson, an area manager for the Utah Division of Forestry, said the evacuation has been lifted, and residents should be back home by now.

“It turned out to be only one acre after they GPS’d it,” Eriksson said. “So it was pretty tiny.”

Eriksson said a possible reason the fire did not spread is the summer has been wetter than average, and moisture in the plants made them difficult to burn.

Researchers Work Together On Red Butte Creek

Jul 27, 2015

Last week, researchers from multiple Utah colleges and universities worked together to gather data from the Red Butte Creek in Salt Lake City.

According to Paul Brooks, professor of hydrology and biochemistry at the University of Utah, this effort is the first of its kind, with diverse types of observations, including hydrology sampling, water chemistry sampling and biological sampling. Some researchers studied drought stress and interviewed local residents on water use.

Herbert To Lead National Governors' Association

Jul 27, 2015

On Saturday, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert was named chairman of the National Governor’s Association. Almost immediately, the governor laid out an initiative entitled “States: Finding Solutions, Improving Lives.” The initiative calls for more state-federal partnerships while highlighting state solutions to political issues.

State Rep. Jon Cox said that Herbert’s new appointment will allow Utah to learn from what other states are accomplishing. He said that the NGA is an invaluable platform to share ideas.

August Race To Support Autism Program

Jul 23, 2015

A charity organization, Race 4 a Cause, will hold the second annual First Dam Pancake Run on Aug. 15  in Logan to raise funds for a preschool program at Utah State University called Autism Support Services: Education, Research and Training, or ASSERT.

The Rising Opportunity Of Utah Biofuel

Jul 23, 2015

The biofuel industry may be closer to rivaling conventional fuel companies for financial success. Ray Dellinger, CEO of Argo Fuels, said that his new NanoCatylist Processor will help turn biodiesel into a viable alternative to petroleum. He said that biofuel producers working together can not only turn a profit but, through low-cost production, release the industry from reliance on government subsidies.

Logan Man Arrested In Fraternity Rape Case

Jul 22, 2015

Police say a Logan man has been arrested on suspicion of raping three women at a Utah State University fraternity house. 27-year-old Jason Relopez was booked into Cache County Jail on Tuesday due to allegations by a woman who reported to Logan police that she had been sexually assaulted at a Sigma Chi fraternity house. 

Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen said that investigators have found enough evidence to charge Relopez with multiple counts of rape.


On Aug. 1, Utah will kick off its third annual Pacific Island Heritage Month with activities at the Sorenson Unity Center in Salt Lake City.

In 2013, Gov. Gary Herbert declared this month because of the large population of Pacific Islanders who live in Utah.

“Utah has the largest Pacific Island community per percent in all states,” said Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, co-founder of Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources, which founded the Utah Pacific Island Heritage Month.

Aimee Cobabe

Residents in Utah have joined programs aimed at lowering the cost of solar installations.

“Solar has grown very quickly especially in the last three to five years,” said Kate Bowman, Solar Project Coordinator for Utah Clean Energy, a public interest organization. “Looking back to 2009, on average Utah’s cumulative solar capacity—so the total amount of solar in the state—has increased by 82 percent each year. So that’s almost doubling each year since 2009.”

Owens Enters 2016 Congressional Rematch

Jul 21, 2015

On Tuesday, former Democratic Party candidate Doug Owens announced that he has officially entered the 2016 race for Congress in Utah’s fourth district. Owens plans to challenge incumbent Mia Love for the House seat, as he did in 2014. His candidacy has some optimistic that the Democratic Party can regain a House seat in Utah.

Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon said that increased voter turnout will ultimately help Owens’ candidacy.

Jennifer Pemberton

UPR  has been asking listeners how drought has impacted their lives. Low water levels at some lakes and reservoirs mean Utahns might have to adjust their summer recreation plans. Jennifer Pemberton has this report on the effect of drought on Utah’s state parks.

Christopher Campbell

In May, an autoethnographic study about a former Brigham Young University graduate student’s experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder was released for the public to read.

When Warren Price returned home from Iraq for the Utah Army National Guard, he suffered from PTSD, a mental condition in which people suffer high amounts of stress after having experienced a traumatic event.

A lot of veterans are afflicted with the disorder, and Price said when they come home to society, the problems exacerbate.

Camp Williams

Governors of six states have declared that soldiers can now carry firearms at National Guard facilities. Gov. Gary Herbert released a statement Saturday urging the Utah National Guard to explore additional security options for state military installations. These actions come in response to last Thursday’s shooting at a naval facility in Tennessee which left four Marines and one sailor dead.

U.S. Department of Commerce

A partnership involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NASA could benefit farmers in Utah and elsewhere as the nation adjusts to the impact of climate change. Krysta Harden is the deputy secretary for the USDA and said the agreement will expand cooperation on space-borne remote sensing efforts to gather data to develop soil moisture maps that can help farmers in the drought-ravaged Southwest.

Visitors To Utah Parks Increasing

Jul 17, 2015

Tourism to Utah’s national parks has grown substantially in recent years. Over 20 million people per year visit the state’s wilderness areas. The increase in tourism is due partially to a well-funded marketing campaign by the state government. However, many people are hearing about the Beehive State’s natural treasures through other means.

Dennis Godfrey of the Bureau of Land Management’s Arizona office said that the increase in visitors to Paria Canyon –which sits on both sides of the Utah-Arizona border –is mostly attributed to word-of-mouth advertising.

Report Shows Utah Caregivers Make Huge Contribution

Jul 17, 2015
News Service

A new report by AARP measures the huge economic contribution made by Utahns who act as caregivers for a family member, partner or friend.

AARP’s "Valuing the Invaluable" report, which was released on Thursday, shows that in 2013, 336,000 unpaid caregivers in the state provided care valued at more than $4 billion.

Susan Reinhard with the organization said on the national level, the numbers are huge.

Alton Coal Mine Expansion Sparks Controversy

Jul 16, 2015

Alton Coal Development is trying to expand its coal-mining tract by about 3,500 acres, where it will run for an additional 25 years.

In 2011, the Bureau of Land Management released a draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, to outline how the project would affect the environment, including air quality and noise pollution.

Nathaniel Shoaff, staff attorney for the Sierra Club, said after the statement was released, 170,000 people spoke out against the expansion. He attributed the large outcry to the mine’s proximity to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Frustration Growing Over Delay Of Healthy Utah

Jul 16, 2015

Wednesday, various organizations held a press conference in Salt Lake City to urge elected officials to finalize a plan to pass Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah. Some supporters of Healthy Utah are growing frustrated with the apparent lack of progress in negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders, collectively known as the “Gang of Six.”

Crystal Young-Otterstrom, chair of the Utah Democratic Party’s Latter-day Saint caucus, said that needless delays in the process have become absurd.

Students Could Soon See Less Standardized Testing

Jul 15, 2015

A bill moving through Congress could dramatically reduce standardized testing for kindergarten-through-12th-grade students in Utah and around the nation.

The Every Child Achieves Act would stop much of the testing linked to the No Child Left Behind law, said Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association. In her view, the testing - which takes several weeks of the school year - has done more harm than good, for students and teachers.

Nuclear Iran Deal Opposed By Utah Congressmen

Jul 14, 2015

It was announced Tuesday that several nations, including the United States, have reached an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program. Supporters of the deal hailed it as a diplomatic achievement. Iran agreed to accept some curbing of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Uranium enrichment is, according to the plan, to be kept under the amount needed for a nuclear bomb.

USU Extension

A professor at Utah State University is using his degrees in family and human development and health and wellness to combine his expertise in an effort to find ways to reduce the drop-out rate among children who participate in sports.  

New York Senate

John Gleason is the public information officer for Utah’s Department of Transportation and said Utah’s roads are not going to be able to keep up with the projected growth over the next 35 years.