Utah News

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

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.


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.

An Iron County Sheriff's Deputy conducted a traffic stop on Interstate-15 and detected the smell of marijuana. A half-smoked joint was clearly visible in the car as the officer came to the window of the California-registered vehicle.

The stories told by the two occupants also conflicted, leading to a search of the vehicle which netted methamphetimine, cocaine, pills and marijuana with a street value of about $180,000.

A 49-yea-old male and 26-year-old female, both from Southern California, were taken into custody.

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.

Town Hall Meeting Highlights Concerns Over Education Value

Dec 4, 2014
usu.edu

A town hall meeting at Utah State University on Wednesday addressed student concerns about a proposed tuition hike. The meeting, which dealt with the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business’ proposed differential tuition hike, raised questions about the changing costs and values of a business education.

A federal appeals court panel has made a judgment on the matter of disputed roads in Kane County. Whether the ruling of the panel is a victory for Kane County and Utah or for environmentalists depends on who you ask.


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.

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."

Department Of Commerce Warns Shoppers Of All Ages

Dec 3, 2014
Saddle Pals Horse Club

December is the season for giving and according to Daniel O’Bannon, director for the Division of Consumer Protection in Utah, Utahns are among the most charitable givers. But even in December there lurks a shadow that too many fall prey to - holiday scams.

“During the holidays, people are more focused on giving to a charitable cause," O'Bannon said. "So scams that might be out there a little bit more might relate to charities.”

O’Bannon said, in the past, scammers preyed upon the elderly, but today they prey on anyone in too much of a hurry to do their homework. He said there are many tale-tell signs to watch out for, but one in particular is a giveaway.

“Big red flag that we want people to understand is," O'Bannon said. "Watch out for anyone who’s asking you to pay through a wire transfer or through some sort of prepaid money card.”

O’Bannon said the Department of Commerce is a resource for people to use to check how reputable charities and online companies are, and to ensure your purchases are sound.

He said everyone is susceptible to these scams and just a few minutes of research can save a lot of heart-ache and money.


A senior Utah senator is demanding the Obama administration provide Congress with records detailing the payment of Social Security benefits to suspected Nazi war criminals.

In letters released publicly on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah cited an Associated Press investigation published in October that revealed millions of dollars in benefits have been paid to dozens of former Nazis living outside of the United States.

Facebook

 A body discovered in the Jordan River Monday has been identified as that of Kayelyn Louder. Murray City Police tweeted an update Tuesday evening, saying the cause of death has not been determined.

At the time Louder, 30, went missing, police say she was exhibiting strange behavior and made multiple 911 calls in the 24-hour period before her disappearance. Murray Police Officer Kenny Bass spoke with UPR in October.

“At this point we think it’s possible that she’s not in her normal state of mind,” Bass said.

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.

Provo Hosts World's Largest Nativity Scene

Dec 2, 2014
summitpost.org

More than 1,000 people converged at Rock Canyon Park in Provo to participate in the world’s largest Nativity scene on Monday. The event was verified by a representative from Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. The previous record-holding Nativity event was held in the United Kingdom last year, drawing around 900 participants.

Leading roles in the event were filled by musicians and other local celebrities who are well-known members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the event was open to people of a multitude of Christian faiths. Fifty families were in charge of sewing costumes for angels and shepherds.

Brown Lawns Popular In Blanding

Dec 2, 2014
City of Blanding

Blanding has a population of more than 3,500 people with a history of conserving water that they are proud of, according to Jeremy Redd, the city manager of Blanding.

“People take a lot of pride in the fact that they’re conserving," Redd said. "And letting their lawns get brown and that kind of thing.”

He said Blanding’s water usage in the 2013 water year used 18 percent less culinary water than in 2012. The town’s 2014 water usage isn’t as impressive, but it is estimated to be close.

Update at 7:45 a.m.:

It appears that the situation has concluded, although we have no confirmation from law enforcement as to the present circumstances. Standing by for statement from St. George Police.

Update at 7:30 a.m.:

Standoff continues.  Several loud noises heard, presumed to be flash grenades used by SWAT team to draw out suspect. St. George Blvd is open but several businesses nearby remain closed.

Original Story at 6:45 a.m.

utah.gov

A new 800-page study released by the Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office argues that Utah could afford the management costs that would come with acquiring the more than 30 million acres of public lands the state has been hoping to gain control of.

Governor Gary Herbert, along with other Utah lawmakers, has been pushing the Federal Government to hand over ownership of the property, which makes up more than half of the land in the state. A bill passed in 2012 cited the 1894 Enabling Act and demanded the federal Government hand over the land by 2015.

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.


blog.heartland.org

The Utah County Health Board voted on Nov. 24 to place greater regulation on electronic cigarettes, following many other counties in the state. The new regulations cover the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes with sanitation and youth protection in mind, said Lynneah Fletcher of the Utah County Health Department.

“There’s really two parts to the regulation. The first side is for the retail. Anybody that’s selling will need to be permitted through the Utah County Health Department,” she said. “It’s to prevent youth access. The other side is the manufacturing piece. So, it has everything from sanitation [to] cleanliness of the facility.”

Proposed Tuition Increase Stirs Up Student Opposition On Utah Campus

Nov 25, 2014
huntsmanschool.blogspot.com

In an email sent to students Nov. 18, administrators from the John M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University announced a proposal to increase the school’s differential tuition. The proposal would increase the business school’s tuition by $20 per credit hour for undergraduates. The move has sparked a debate on the USU campus over the rising cost of going to college.

travel.utah.gov

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing to expand the number of permits and areas in which black bears can be hunted in the state.

DWR Mammals Coordinator Leslie McFarlane said the number of black bears in Utah has more than doubled since the 1990s.

“We estimate that we’ve got about 4,100 bears, if not probably a little more than that, and most of them live in our mountainous areas of the state,” McFarlane said.

The increase in the bear population has led to more conflict with both people and livestock. The DWR says in an average year 50 bears are euthanized after coming into contact humans and animals; however, in 2014 that number increased to 81 bears.

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.


utah capitol
April Ashland / Utah Public Radio

With the Utah Legislative session now less than two months away, Utah lawmakers are being asked to consider adding a couple of weeks to the annual 45-day session.

Because lawmakers don't meet on weekends during the session, the actual number of days spend legislating is nearer to 32 or 33. Last week a legislative committee forwarded the idea of amending the Utah constitution to stipulate that lawmakers should meet for a full 45 days within a 90-day calendar period. State representative John Westwood of Cedar City feels that more time just makes for more mischief.

"I am not for extensions. We have 45 days to conduct our business. We've done that, we want to remain efficient and take care of our bills and not extend it and bring in more bills. Sorry, I'm not for that. More is not always better," Westwood said.

Ching Farm Animal Rescue.

At the Ching Farm’s Thanksgiving dinner earlier this month there wasn’t any Turkey on the menu. Instead, the goal of the 16th annual Vegan Thanksgiving dinner was to help turkeys and other animals that call the Riverton-based animal sanctuary home. The Ching animal sanctuary provides a place to live for farm animals that were destined for slaughter. It holds a fundraising Thanksgiving feast each year to keep the farm going.

Rescue Executive Director and farm founder Faith Ching said various community groups provide food for the dinner, which is attended by 300 people each year.

“We have the traditional everything," Ching said. "From the cranberry sauce to the mashed potatoes and all of that…it’s just vegan. Everything tastes the same, it’s just that we don’t have to hurt any animals to do it."

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.


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