Utah News

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

New Energy Advisor Has Big Oil and Gas Background

May 4, 2012

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has a new energy advisor and at least one environmental group is already calling foul. Herbert announced today that Cody Stewart, who’s currently serving as Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell’s Chief of Staff, will help the governor increase energy development in the state. But as Whittney Evans reports, HEAL Utah says his interests are with big oil and gas.

Cody Stewart says his number one priority as energy advisor to the governor will be to increase the development of energy in the state of Utah.

Workers at Hogle Zoo are busy are putting the final touches on Rocky Shores. The three and a half acre exhibit is scheduled to open next month and will house sea lions, seals, river otters, three young grizzly bears, and of course, Rizzo the polar bear.

“We hear she’s quite the swimmer. We’re excited because this water - we have the ability to cool it, so in July and August ...Where she is now they can’t cool the water so she doesn’t swim much in the summer because it’s hot water.”

Utah's U.S. Senator Mike Lee held town meetings throughout Northern Utah this week. UPR's Kerry Bringhurst was at Wednesday night's meeting in Logan and spoke first hand with some of Lee's constituents, who are concerned about the growing federal deficit, federal control of public lands, and the future of Northern Utah's Hill Air Force Base.

Former Political Science professor at Utah State University and Nibley resident, James Waite remembers when the Richard Gebaur Military Base closed while he was living in Kansas City, Missouri:

For the second time in two days a human-caused wildfire has erupted in southern Utah—this time just west of St. George in an area called Anasazi valley.

The fire is on mostly public land west of St. George, and south of old Highway 91.

The fire started on Wednesday around 3:30 in the afternoon. Like the Toquerville fire there is not threat to structures. The Anasazi valley fire has not yet been mapped for its size.

Utah's Washington County has joined Mohave County, Arizona and other Uranium mining concerns in filing a lawsuit against the Federal Government.

The lawsuit is directed against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Department of Interior, the BLM and BLM Director Robert Abbey.

It calls for the reversal of Salazar's 20-year ban on new mining claims in one-million acres of public land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park, announced in January.

“There are so many people who were so instrumental in the early days
of AIDS in particular who really made a difference,” said Stan Penfold, Utah AIDS Foundation Director.

Three St. George high school students have been arrested and charged with kidnapping. UPR's Chris Holmes tells us that the serious charges in this case are hardly typical for juvenile arrests.

The victim, a middle school-aged girl, was jogging on Monday evening when cut off by a pick-up truck. Three masked boys emerged and forced her into the bed of the truck, closing the bed lid and locking her inside.

The Bill of Rights celebration is an annual fundraiser for the ACLU Utah.  Anna Brower is the Development Director for the ACLU of Utah. She spoke with UPR's Ashley Tolman about the organization's Bill of Rights Celebration taking place this week in Salt Lake City.

Brower explains the choice of this year's theme, "Power of the People":

Homelessness Down in Utah, But Still a Problem

May 2, 2012

This year, chronic homelessness is down 9%.

Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell says this can be directly attributed to low cost housing options that have been made available over the last few years as part of the state’s “Housing First” initiative:

“Those are not all the same kind of facilities but the real success has been the intermingling, not just of housing and lodging, but creating a spectrum of housing for transitional up to permanent and integrating that with social and human and health services.”

Thousands of the world’s next generation of leaders are spending a few days in Utah. DECA, an organization targeted toward students interested in marketing, finance and management is holding its International Career Development Conference at the Salt Palace.

It’s 2:00 on Monday and 14-year-old Sherry Ann Morgenstern is preparing for the Principles of Finance competition.

Administrators at Hurricane High School in Washington County initiated the familiar call to evacuate the school and gather outside in the predetermined places for an accounting, but this time it was not a drill.

Early Monday morning, a teacher noticed smoke coming from the the school's wood shop room. He alerted authorities and the school was evacuated. The fire occurred in the shop's dust ventilation system, and although some smoke and water damage resulted, the small shop is in a building separate from the rest of the school, so the damage and potential threat was very limited.

Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee joined a minority of senators last week in voting against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The Alliance for a Better Utah believes that a vote against reauthorizing the Act represents a callous insult not just to the women of Utah but to the entire population of Utah and the United States.

Alliance for a Better Utah Executive Director, Maryann Martindale told UPR's Kerry Bringhurst that:

Organizations in Utah who serve residents receiving Medicaid and State Child Health Insurance are calling for Utah lawmakers to hold a special session to allocate money that would be used to help those whose personal information was stolen when a state computer system was hacked.

Judi Hilman is with the Utah Health Policy Project. She says the state is not doing enough to help the more than 800,000 victims:

Vince Rampton officially filed paperwork to run for office alongside Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke. Rampton, who is the son of former Utah Governor Calvin Rampton, says as Lieutenant Governor he would focus on transparency in campaign financing, more precise requirements for lobbyists and more facilitative rules governing initiatives and referendums

He also says allowing electronic signatures to be gathered for petitions is also very important to the process: 

Hoping to muster up a stronger voice to direct towards Washington, Governor Gary Herbert met with the Governors of Wyoming and Idaho on Friday in the first ever “Rocky Mountain Roundtable.”

“This is really a beginning, the desire to communicate better as governors with each other and learn from each other, our success and our failures, and see if we can become better governors. And unite our voices where we have common concern.”

Last week 59-year-old Victoria Grover from Maine parked her rented car on Hell's Backbone Road in remote Southern Utah and set out for a day hike to Sand Creek and back. But when sunset came she was nowhere near her car.

On Wednesday she broke her leg while moving through the rugged terrain and spent the next 4 days and nights stranded in the wilderness.

Photo courtesy U.S. Army

Army officials recognized the work of employees at the Deseret Chemical Depot weapons storage facility in Tooele Thursday for their part in destroying the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the United States.

Inventory Management Specialist Kent Shields is letting go of the petty frustrations that come with the day-to-day workweek grind and forging ahead: “It’s such a changing event in our lives. I’m old and I’m going to be able to retire but it’s just like a big door shutting and a chapter of a great book ending.”

"Beacon on the Hill" - Weber State Campus Goes Dark

Apr 26, 2012

Weber State University's Ogden campus, that "beacon on the hill," went dim today. Bad wiring is at fault, but help is on the way.

The Social Science, Student Services, and Visual Arts buildings will be operating on emergency power Thursday and Friday as extensive repair work with specialized equipment is underway.

Employees who work in those buildings should contact their supervisors, according to John Kowalewski, campus spokesman. He said that the campus will provide alternatives for students needing to pay bills or register for summer term with student services.

They call him the renewable energy guru. Andy Swapp is the technology teacher at Milford High School. He was recently recognized for his dedication to renewable energy by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch with a congressional tribute. Senator Hatch closed the tribute with the words, "Mr. President, I was really impressed with what I experienced in meeting Andy. I wanted to highlight the important, innovative work of a successful educator engaged in leading our nation into the future."

The Utah Department of Transportation employee who was wrongfully fired after being accused of leaking confidential information about a contract bid wants to be compensated for her time out of work and she wants her old position back. She is calling on Utah Governor Gary Herbert to help her reach an agreement with UDOT, but it’s doubtful he’ll be on board.

Former UDOT Civil Rights manager Denise Graham says what UDOT gave her after a judge determined her termination was unjust was a new position and essentially a gag order.

A controversial plan to connect Utah’s ski resorts is gaining support from local business leaders. A new coalition touts the economic and environmental benefits of joining resorts along the Wasatch Front and Back by a gondola, but the gathering spurred dozens to protest the meeting. 

Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie announced the formation of the Lift Utah Coalition, which supports connecting Wasatch Mountain ski resorts:

Man Crushed to Death at Work in Box Elder County

Apr 24, 2012

Family members went to look for Mitchell Shaw of Riverdale when he failed to return from work. He was found dead at 2:00 Tuesday morning, crushed by a front-loader while working at Promontory Point.

Chief Deputy Kevin Potter of the Box Elder County sheriffs' office says Shaw was working by himself and operating  an older style front-end loader with hydraulic arms: "Apparently he had leaned out over to the side and those arms came down on him. whether the hydraulics failed or he accidentally bumped levers, he was crushed against the side of the cab and he was killed instantly."

The Arizona state transportation board has awarded an $11.5 million contract to repave a section of interstate highway that most Arizonans will never travel.

I-15 passes through just 29 miles of the extreme northwest corner of Arizona, cut off from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. But the rugged terrain and the frequent criss-crossing of the Virgin River made it the nation’s most expensive stretch of highway per mile to build.

33-year-old Matt Lewis of Ivins died Saturday after the non-motorized paraglider he was piloting crashed about 5 miles south of the Utah-Arizona line. Authorities from the Arizona Highway Patrol and Mohave County Search and Rescue responded to the remote crash scene using an AHP helicopter. The scene was not accessible by roads.

In May the Extension program at Utah State University will hold a workshop to help assist owners and operators of family farms and ranches with transitioning their business to their successors. This is a unique opportunity for small agribusiness owners to visualize the future of the family farm with or without them.

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