Utah News

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

The California woman known as the "Bombshell Bandit" has pleaded guilty to bank robbery charges in California, Arizona and Utah.

Sandeep Kaur, 24, of Riverside, California earned her nickname by threatening to set off bombs during a string of bank robberies. Court documents show Kaur pleaded guilty Monday to four charges connected to robberies in Valencia and San Diego, California; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and St. George, Utah.

Aerial view of Golden Toaster.
Dennis Hinkamp

Citizens old and young are mourning the loss of the famed “Golden Toaster,” an iconic Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in Logan. The toaster-shaped, golden-roofed building, which sat on the corner of 400 North and 1200 East, has been a local landmark since 1961.

State environmental officials are proposing a seasonal wood burning ban in seven northern Utah counties:  Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Tooele, and Weber. The ban could have an effect on winter air quality in our communities, so we want to know how you think the ban would affect you and if you support it.

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Oil Sands Protesters Sentenced To Community Service

Jan 9, 2015
Hands holding tar sands.

Twenty-five protesters arrested last summer for disrupting operations at an oil sands operation in eastern Utah have been sentenced.

A Uintah County judge accepted no-contest pleas from the 25 dissenters, two of whom attended the hearing in Vernal on Thursday. The other protesters entered their pleas through sworn documents filed with the court.

Morrill To Step Down As USU Head Coach

Jan 9, 2015

After 17 seasons and nearly 400 wins at the helm of the Utah State University’s men’s basketball program, Stew Morrill will retire as head coach of the Aggies. Morrill made the official announcement during an emotional press conference on Friday. The coach, beloved by many USU alumni and fans, will stay on until the end of the season.

With speculation about the timing of the announcement, Morrill made it clear that the decision was his alone. His tenure as head coach as USU, which spanned nearly two decades, has been a great experience, he said.

Bull elk in snow.

Wildlife-watching is a popular summer activity in Utah, and the state’s variance in landscape and climate give Utahns who want to catch a glimpse of a moose or hawk many opportunities. But what about during winter? Though the state is less accessible during colder months, there are some Utahns who say the winter provides advantages for animal-watchers.

Public Officials Protest Final Prison Relocation Sites

Jan 8, 2015
Logos of Tooele, Eagle Mountain and Salt Lake Cities
utah.gov, slcgov.com,

Last month, the state’s Prison Relocation Commission announced its final three choices for the proposed site change of the Utah State Prison.  Eagle Mountain, Tooele and Salt Lake elected officials and residents are now voicing opposition to the selection of their areas for consideration. 

Tooele Mayor Patrick Dunlavy said relocating to the area will stifle Tooele and Grantsville’s economic futures, taking away valuable land from planned future developments. He also said the city was not amply consulted before Tooele’s placement on the relocation list went public. 


This year’s flu has been hitting the nation especially hard, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the virus’ hold on Utah as widespread. In Utah County alone there have been nine flu-related deaths.

To help counteract the illness, hospitals across the state have been turning to a Utah-developed technology that has drastically cut the time it takes doctors to learn whether at patient is sick with the flu, or not.

Utahns Bring Measles Home From Disneyland Vacation

Jan 7, 2015
Electron microscope image of measles virion

Two Utah County residents have tested positive for measles after returning from vacationing in California.

The two infected Utahns are linked to a larger outbreak that occurred at Disneyland between Dec. 15 and 20. 

Rebecca Ward, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said measles is a major public health risk.


As the Republican-controlled Congress begins work in Washington D.C., a new poll shows the issues Utahns want legislators to focus on this session.

The poll, commissioned by UtahPolicy.com, found that federal debt is the top issue for people in Utah. UtahPolicy.com Managing Editor Bryan Schott said the result was anticipated.

UDOT Streamlines Maintenance With New App

Jan 7, 2015
UDOT maintenance workers

The Utah Department of Transportation publicly launched their new Click ‘n Fix app this week, giving the public an opportunity to report maintenance issues on state-controlled roadways from their smart devices. 

According to UDOT Communications Systems Administrator Becky Parker, the new app allows residents to report problems such as potholes to be repaired or problematic traffic lights.

 “We have over 6,000 miles of road and we only have 630 employees taking care of all those miles," Parker said. "So, we’re asking the public to help be our eyes and ears and help us report when there are maintenance needs and service requests; the app allows them to submit that information to us."

Logan Mayor Pushes For More Green Energy

Jan 7, 2015

On Tuesday, the Logan City Council met for the first time this year to hear Mayor Craig Petersen deliver his State of the City address. This year’s speech was the first under Petersen, who highlighted various city projects completed during 2014 and shared his aspirations for the coming year. Green energy production featured prominently in those aspirations.

Petersen announced that a deal was struck to use the excess heat from natural gas pipelines to generate electricity. Obtaining electricity this way will put that excess heat to good use, he said.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

People in Utah and across the U.S. are being encouraged to make a New Year's resolution to get health insurance, now available as part of the Affordable Care Act. Jason Stevenson with Take Care Utah, a group that helps guide people through the enrollment process, said those who want health coverage for this year need to sign up before the Open Enrollment period ends on Feb. 15. He said that most Utahns are eligible for a premium subsidy.

"Eighty-nine percent of the Utahns who signed up for the ACA insurance during this first month of Open Enrollment," Stevenson said. "Qualified for a premium subsidy. And that could include actually, help making their deductibles more affordable, too."

Box Elder Sheriff Dies Day After Swear-In

Jan 7, 2015
Sheriff Joseph "Lynn" Yeates

Box Elder County Sheriff Joseph “Lynn” Yeates passed away Tuesday morning, only a day after he was sworn into office for what would be his third term.

The county clerk and attorney are currently reviewing the vacancy with the County Republican Central Committee. The County Commissioner’s Office said Chief Deputy Kevin Potter is maintaining the position as interim sheriff, and will do so for the next month. Box Elder County Commissioner Jeff Scott said the reason for the delay is the state statute concerning the office of sheriff.

cows in a field

Utah ranchers are increasingly seeing their livelihoods disappear as the problem of cattle rustling grows in the West.

Steve Harmsen is the owner of the Indian Trail Ranch. For the past three years he has run his cattle in the Vernal area without incident—that is until this fall, when he was moving his heard and discovered that some of his cattle were missing.

Christopher Gezon / Zion National Park

In 2013, more than nine million visitors to National Parks in Utah contributed $596 million to the state's economy and supported nearly nine thousand jobs related to tourism. The National Park Service is now recommending recreation fee increases at three of Southern Utah's most popular parks to help cover the cost of maintaining what they say is an important economic resource here.

Park Superintendents from Bryce Canyon, Zion National Parks and Cedar Breaks National Monument say a review of park service fee rates in Utah are part of a national assessment of park entrance fees that have not been updated since 2006.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Potent Bird Flu Spotted In West, Utah May Be Next

Jan 5, 2015

Utah officials are warning hunters and owners of backyard poultry flocks to be wary of a highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus that could appear in the state.

Though currently no affected birds have been reported, Utah is on the migratory path of affected animals, which have been found in Oregon, California and Washington.

Dr. Warren Hess, a veterinarian for the state, said the virus is carried by water fowl, but the effects are felt by domesticated birds.

Sean Reyes Sworn In After Year As Interim AG

Jan 5, 2015

After a year as Utah's interim attorney general, Sean Reyes (R) was sworn in as the state’s top law enforcement officer Monday morning at the Capitol.

Reyes, Utah’s 21st attorney general, was chosen to replace former Attorney General John Swallow, who resigned in November 2013 and is now facing charges including bribery and tampering with evidence. Swallow’s predecessor Mark Shurtleff is also facing charges.

Mia Love Defends Steve Scalise In Statements

Jan 5, 2015

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) remains in hot water over allegations he spoke to a white supremacist group 12 years ago. Scalise has admitted to speaking at a conference run by the European-Americans for Unity and Rights Organization, a group established by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. However, some continue to come to his defense, including Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is currently Louisiana’s sole Democratic Party representative and is black. 

Now Rep. Mia Love (R) of Utah’s fourth Congressional district has weighed in on the controversy. Speaking on ABC’s program This Week on Sunday, Love said that Scalise should not be defined by this event. 

U.S. Department of Education

The start of 2015 opened up an opportunity for college-bound students in Utah and across the U.S. who need help paying for tuition. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or "FAFSA," determines how much financial aid schools can award based on a family’s financial situation. The application can be filed now, and Dr. Laurie Wolfe with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators said being prepared can make the process less stressful.

"It's a good time to sit down with the family," Wolfe said. "And start talking about,'What do we need to be looking at?’ I highly encourage people to get hold of a copy of that application now, look through it, pull together the documents that you need."

The list of documents includes income-tax returns and investment statements. The application deadline is June 30, but to avoid missing any deadlines for special scholarship programs, Wolfe recommends completion before Feb. 15.

This Years Hottest Gifts Have Drawbacks

Dec 31, 2014
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Utah families are preparing to ring in the New Year, but some kids may miss the festivities because they can't take their eyes off a screen. Mobile phones and tablets were among the hottest gifts this year, but experts are cautioning parents about the drawbacks of technology. Dr. Ann Lagges, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Indiana University, says there are many positives to electronics, from educational uses to helping kids stay connected with friends – but moderation is key.

"Whenever anything takes up all of somebody’s time," Lagges said. "It becomes their sole focus; it means that other parts of their life are paying the price. So, things like real-world social activities, school work, sleep, physical exercise – things like that."

Earthquakes Felt Near Nephi Over The Weekend

Dec 29, 2014
earthquake seismology
University of Utah Seismograph Stations

Small earthquakes were reported in Juab County over the weekend. The U.S. Geological Survey says two small earthquakes larger than 3.0 magnitude hit central Utah late Sunday night about eight miles southwest of Nephi.

The first earthquake of 3.7 magnitude occurred at 11:08 p.m. Just before midnight, an aftershock registered at 3.2. The shakes were felt in Nephi but it wasn't clear Monday if any damage or injuries were reported.

Breaking Traditions Can Aleviate Stress

Dec 22, 2014
Library of Congress

For people in Utah who have experienced losses, are less fortunate, or in a family overcome by stress, the holidays can be a challenging time, but experts say small changes can help people find the joy in the season. Psychotherapist Mary Michail sees the toll the holiday hustle and bustle can take on her clients..

"People tend to put a lot of pressure that they have to be happy," Michail said. "Or have to say yes to every party invite they get; or they have to do their Christmas cards, or they have to put lights outside. I always tell people that the best thing you can give people is love and compassion, and your time."

Lower Gas Prices Impacts Environment

Dec 19, 2014
California Environmental Protection Agency

Low gas prices may be helping the economy by giving Americans some extra money in their pockets, but not without some negative side effect. More driving means worse air quality in Utah, and across the nation, according to Dr. Brian Moench, president of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He said more driving means more cars producing greenhouse gases, the primary contributors to climate change.

“We would hope that lower gas prices don’t acclimate people to using their cars more than they might have otherwise," Moench said. "We hope that they would still be understanding that public transportation really is a critical part of a future that is less dependent on fossil fuels.”

Some parts of Utah are already known for their unhealthy winter air quality. Moench said low gas prices can also impact the economy long-term because the demand for electric vehicles and other forms of cleaner energy goes down. That means if gas prices go back up, as they have in the past, environmentally friendly resources can remain underdeveloped and less affordable.