Utah News

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


Utah is one of the top ten states in the nation with a high concentration of aerospace industries. The College of Engineering at Utah State University is hoping to train more students to work in the field through a Ph.D. program that begins this fall.

For Stephen Merkley, a current student who is hoping to be accepted, the Ph.D. program will bring him practical involvement doing what he loves.

Evan Hall

Representatives from Utah State University and SORAM Bio-medicine Research Institute of South Korea met Wednesday at a ceremony to finalize a formal partnership to study medical uses of ginseng. Dr. Foster Agblevor, a biological engineering professor at USU, said that the project will combine the best of Eastern and Western medical knowledge to utilize the plant to treat cancer.

A Path Through The Poetic Life Of May Swenson

May 20, 2015
May Swenson, a woman with a short haircut and plaid shirt, looks directly at the camera.

With brochures in hand, both Paul Crumbley, professor of English at Utah State University, and I walk up the steps to the second floor of the Ray B. West building.

These brochures illustrate the newly created May Swenson Poetry Path. There are nine separate locations on the path, landmarks from the renowned poet’s life. We are headed to location number four, the Swenson room in the Ray B. West Building. Here we find all kinds of memorabilia; Swenson’s honorary doctorate degree from Utah State University, photos and books.

“Here is one of the medals she was given by Utah State. Here are some of the items she had on her desk,” Crumbley said.


The Hurricane City Police Department made an arrest in an auto-pedestrian fatality accident early Tuesday morning.

At just after 5 A.M., police and medical personnel responded to a call and found an adult male, deceased and lying in the street.  There were signs nearby of a vehicle having accelerated, and neighbors did report hearing a vehicle revving its engine.

Dinosaur Quarry To Open To The Public

May 20, 2015

Red rocks loom overhead east of Capitol Reef National Park at the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry, where paleontologists are currently excavating the bones of some of the largest animals to ever roam the earth—dinosaurs from 150 million years ago.

Each year, educational staff from the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois come to the quarry to turn it into a large outdoor classroom. Sue Fivecoach works at the Hanksville, Utah quarry and said it provides the opportunity to learn more about Utah's ancient history.

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.