Utah News

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

Study: Colorado River Vital To Utah Economy

May 19, 2015

According to an Arizona State University study, the economies of six Western states, including Utah, could take a serious blow if water from the Colorado River were to become unavailable. The study shows that $1.4 trillion in regional economic activity is tied to the river, with 16 million jobs to go with it.


Hydropower projects borrow water from rivers to create electricity, but while that water is impounded in reservoirs and forced into high pressure tubes, it’s temporarily unavailable for fun uses, like whitewater kayaking. Jennifer Pemberton has this story about prioritizing recreation on the Weber River.

At the diversion dam on the Weber River just a few miles up the canyon from the town of Ogden, the water just disappears. There’s a wide swollen reservoir backed up behind the dam, but downstream, there are a lot of exposed rocks with just a trickle of water running between. Because most of the river is in a concrete pipe.


The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) will be in Salt Lake City Tuesday through Wednesday to hear testimony in its continued effort to end the deaths of children resulting from abuse and neglect.

David Sanders is the chairman for the commission and said Utah is the ninth state they’ve visited.

"Utah has a very low rate of fatalities due to abuse and neglect," Sanders said. "So we wanted to visit Utah to understand what kinds of innovations they might have tried that the rest of the country can learn from."

David Rubin is a pediatrician and White House appointee for the commission. He said a lot can be learned from Utah.

New Science Standards Have Parents Fuming

May 18, 2015
Justin Prather / UPR

After a reportedly precarious Washington County meeting in April, members of the State Office of Education tasked with gathering public insight into the new science curriculum standards, changed their game plan and began to prepare accordingly. Still, the meetings are not short of vocally irate parents, whose fears are not easily assuaged. 


A quilt draped across a bench outside, with potted plants

The first recorded use of the word “quilt” was in the year 1290. Since then, quilting has blossomed from its humble cottage industry beginnings into the billion dollar industry it is today. 

Throughout its long history, quilt-makers made their wares out of necessity to keep their families warm and cozy on bitter, cold winter nights. Today, quilt-making has expanded as an outlet for artistic expression, creativity, and even home décor. With over 21.3 million quilters nationwide, 14 percent of households in the U.S. contain at least one dedicated quilter. 

flickr.com / R. Jason Bennion

The Utah Theatre in Logan was originally built around 1924. Now, after seeing eight years of renovations, the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre Company is preparing to kick off its 23rd season in early summer.

Gary Griffin is the managing director at the company and oversaw all of the renovations. He said the new multi-purpose theater will feature a large, brand new lobby; modern restrooms; a comfortable, more intimate house; and a state-of-the-art sound system.

Every year, one of the three 750 megawatt generating units of the massive Navajo Generating Station is overhauled. In January, the power plant began a cycle of major overhauls, beginning with its Unit 3. 

This year’s overhaul will cost $47 million, last more than eight weeks, and bring home hundreds of skilled Navajos to do the work. 

Lonnie Begay of Coalmine Mesa said his job as a millwright foreman takes him all over. He has worked 13 consecutive Navajo Generating Station overhauls. He said returning each year feels as much like a homecoming as a job.

cityoftenants.com / City of Tenants

A study conducted by the Hershey Company shows that Utahns want candy. In fact, it’s now being considered the sweet-tooth capital of America.

Hershey’s found that Utahns purchase candy at the highest rate in the nation – almost double the U.S. average, at an 85 percent higher rate.

Professor Glenn Christensen from Brigham Young University said that there are several explanations for this, both demographic and cultural.


A report released Thursday by Families USA shows that more than one in four adults who had year-long coverage through non-group private insurance plans went without needed medical care last year.

According to Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, many of those insured chose to forgo needed tests, treatments, and even prescription drugs. He said that high premiums and deductibles are to blame.

New Utah Teacher Evaluation System Adopted

May 14, 2015

On Friday, the Utah State Board of Education approved a new way to evaluate teachers which relies more on observations by principals. The system, which has been developed over the past five years, attributes 70 percent of evaluations to observations while ascribing 20 percent and 10 percent to student performance and parent input, respectively.

According to Linda Alder, educator effectiveness coordinator with the USBE, the reforms have broad support among Utah’s educators.

Green Waste, Where Do All The Grass Clippings Go?

May 14, 2015

Where those tree branches, grass clippings and leaves you meant to rake up last fall go all depends on what bin you put it in.

A quaint, little church in the middle of an expansive field.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a study in 2012 which explored the rise of the so called “nones.” These are those who, when they come across a question about their religious preferences on a survey, check the box labeled “none.” The results of the study are pretty staggering, indicating that one in five American adults fall into this category.

In about a month, a Colorado barbecue will hold a white appreciation day. This week the owner announced the 10 percent discount, which was originally for white people, will be extended to everyone.

“Heavens no,” said Sally Sears, owner of Café Ibis in Logan, when asked if her business would ever host a white appreciation day. “We all need to get together, we all need to work together and we all need to celebrate diversity and each other.”

Bracing For Drought's Affect on Utah Economy

May 12, 2015

Speaking at the Salt Lake Chamber’s “Water is Your Business” forum Friday, water strategist Will Sarni claimed that drought is Utah’s new normal. Facing water shortage problems due to an unusually warm winter, the state’s economy could be seriously impacted. In response to drought concerns, state water officials are looking to help businesses conserve water.


Rocky Mountain Power representatives met on Tuesday with the Utah Public Service Commission to discuss the costs of alternative energy generation. The power company offers a program called net metering, which allows customers to offset electricity charges when they use their own solar panels or wind generators.


  A standoff situation Sunday night in Cedar City ended without incident, but also without the arrest of the suspect.

Officers from the Cedar City Police Department responded Sunday evening to a report of an adult male on his front porch waving a handgun around. The man was reportedly also intoxicated. This incident came less than an hour after officers had already issued a warning to the man on a noise ordinance violation.

As officers approached the residence, the male subject exited without a handgun, but he refused to cooperate and fled back into the home.

Bridging The Gap Between Colleges And Corporations

May 11, 2015
Shared Justice

A 2014 study performed by InternMatch said students who have paid internship experience are more likely to get a full-time job offer than those who haven’t.

Jaime Fall is the vice president of Workforce and Talent and Sustainability for the HR Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C. He said internships are a key part of a student’s education.

“Internships are incredibly important for someone to get into the workplace and really have success," Fall said. "It’s a test-drive for both the company and for the intern to find out if that is a really good fit for them so those are critically important.”

Utah Stand Your Ground Laws Topic For Debate

May 9, 2015

Utah is one of over 20 states that have adopted a Stand Your Ground law, which gives people with a concealed carry license the right to shoot in self-defense without attempting to retreat first. This law was brought to the forefront last week with a shooting in Orem. 

On Saturday, a 27-year-old man attempted to steal a car from a woman outside a grocery store in Orem. A man with a concealed carry permit saw the confrontation and pointed his gun at the carjacker, who turned around and lunged forward. The gun was fired and the carjacker died.

Surrounded by a red rock formation, guests listen to a pianist and violinist in concert.
Moab Music Festival

With the tagline “music in concert with the landscape,” the Moab Music Festival boasts a huge variety of musical genres, from classical, to jazz, to traditional native songs. However, with concerts taking place outside amid the red rock, the setting is anything but traditional.

Utah GOP Releases Survey On SB54

May 8, 2015

In response to uproar over changes to the party’s nomination process, Utah Republican leaders have released a survey among the party’s rank-and-file. In the survey, party members are asked their opinion on proposals ranging from the ongoing federal lawsuit against SB54 to charging candidates a fee to run.

In the written survey, the state GOP claims it was not a part of legislative discussions on SB54. Holly Richardson, an award-winning blogger and contributor to Utah Politico Hub, said that Chairman James Evans was in fact invited to participate.

Four women dressed in traditional Polynesian dresses, leis, and flowers in their hair.
April Davis - SUPIC

The Southern Utah Pacific Islander Coalition will celebrate its one-year anniversary this month. As a nonprofit organization, SUPIC was created in May 2014 in order to address needs that were not being met in the Pacific Islander community in southern Utah. Susi Lafaele is one of the cofounders of the coalition.

She said that education and healthcare are two of their biggest missions, but they also focus on youth development and cultural preservation.

Justin Prather / UPR.org

From a young age we are taught that bacteria are these small organisms that lurk on every surface, waiting to invade our bodies and make us sick.

Utah Close To Ending Chronic Homelessness

May 7, 2015

After a ten-year-long effort, Utah could soon see the end of statewide chronic homelessness. According to the state Division of Workforce Services, the number of chronically homeless Utahns declined 91 percent in the last 10 years. In 2005, the number of long-term homeless was nearly 2,000 people; now, it is 178.

The state is fast approaching a condition officials call a ‘functional zero’ in terms of chronic homelessness. Lloyd Pendleton, Homeless Task Force Director with the DWS, said that this means Utah has the resources to help those most in need.

Businesses Prepare To Return To West Africa

May 7, 2015

Ann Norman is a public relations professional who has worked in Sierra Leone for years. When the Ebola breakout began last year, she decided not to travel to the country. Nine months later, she is confident that it’s safe to travel there again.

No Utah Democratic Party Primary In 2016

May 6, 2015

In a statement released Wednesday, the Utah Democratic Party announced that it will not hold a primary in 2016. Instead, the party will hold a presidential preference poll at its neighborhood caucuses. The now canceled primary would have allowed party members to vote online.

The state legislature had allocated $3 million dollars to hold state-run primaries. Lauren Littlefield, Executive Director for the Utah Democratic Party, said that covering the online primary alone would have been too expensive and that the party’s resources could be better used elsewhere.