Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. 

There is some guarded optimism in the recent case of animal neglect out of Iron County. Authorities in Enoch City were contacted by a concerned citizen regarding a mare and her colt. Responding officers found the pair very near death from starvation and exposure.

Police Chief Jackson Ames said the colt was actually frozen to the ground in the corral when they found the animals.

"When we initially took the horse down there, the veterinarian gave the horse about a 15-20 percent chance of survival. Right now, they're a lot more optimistic," Ames said.

Utah Man Is Finalist for One-Way Trip To Mars

Jan 7, 2014
Ken Sullivan

Imagine taking a one-way trip to Mars.

For one Utah man what sounds like science fiction could soon be reality. Ken Sullivan of Farmington is one of about 1,000 finalists for the Mars-One expedition - part of an ambitious project to colonize the red planet by 2025. Matt Jensen reports:

Ken Sullivan is a helicopter pilot, licensed aircraft mechanic, Dixie State University graduate, a former EMT, and someone who has experience on the farm. The 38 year old said he’s wanted to travel to space since he was a kid.


A climate change lobbying group with chapters in the United States and Canada is hoping to expand into Northern Utah. Citizens Climate Lobby engages non-partisan lobbying for a federal tax on carbon-based fuels.

“We think this market-based, revenue neutral approach stands the best chance of appealing to both liberals and conservatives in making its way through Congress and into law,” said Ben Mates, a member of the CCL group in Salt Lake City.

Parents of students attending schools in Cache County can participate in a new communication system.  The Alert Solutions Power Announcement system is a way for district administrators, teachers and staff to inform parents about events and happenings at their students' school.

Cache County School District personnel said the announcement system will alert parents of school closures, attendance records, general announcements and possible emergency situations.

Parents can also access information about grades and school forms by using a protected password.

Sign up for the Cache County School Districts Alert service.

Polar Vortex Misses Utah, Pushes Eastward

Jan 6, 2014
Cold air from the polar vortex will not reach Utah.
National Weather Service

Temperatures across much of the eastern U.S. are hitting record lows this week, but meteorologists say the arctic air won’t be reaching Utah.

Air flow at the poles creates year-round vortices, also known as an arctic cyclone. A weakening of the North American winter jet stream can lead to distortions in the shape of the polar air mass and allow for cold air to push southward, like what’s happening now.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Larry Dunn explained it’s not the vortex itself that’s reaching much of the eastern U.S.

Utah Same-Sex Marriages Halted By Supreme Court

Jan 6, 2014
Over 900 same-sex couples were married in Utah before the Supreme Court issued a stay Monday on Utah’s gay marriage ban lift.
Andrew Romriell

The slew of recent same-sex marriages in Utah have come to a halt this week after the Supreme Court placed the decision to lift the state’s gay marriage ban on hold Monday. 

The Supreme Court put Utah’s ability to grant same-sex marriage certificates on hold while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit  comes to a decision on the matter. The Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage cannot continue during the appeals process. The ruling was issued after Utah filed an emergency appeal of U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s Dec. 20 lift on Utah’s gay marriage ban.  

sunset, sun

Saturday is the day the Earth will be closest to the sun this year, but don’t expect a heat wave. NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins said the change is such a small percentage of the total distance to the sun that mere earthlings like us won’t notice any difference.

“At closest, like now, we’re about 147 million kilometers out. At the furthest, it’s about 152 million,” he said.
What does make a difference to Earth’s temperatures and seasons, Wiggins said, is the 23.4 percent tilt of our planet on its axis.

“This time of year we here in the northern hemisphere are tilted away from the sun which means the sun is lower in the sky, it hits us at a much lower angle and it’s also in the sky for much less time than it is when we’re tilted toward the sun, so all of that works together to make it cold,” Wiggins said.

Domestic Violence Deaths In Utah Fewer In 2013

Jan 3, 2014

A new report shows there were 22 domestic violence related deaths in 2013, down from 30 the year before. Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Director Peg Coleman said the number is still too high, but does show that progress has been made.

“The good news is that the number of fatalities did go down and I think it is because more systems this past year really have started to work together more closely and understand the intersections of domestic violence with other issues,” Coleman said.

Domestic violence is often paired with factors such as substance abuse, mental health issues, and suicide. Coleman said one of the coalition’s objectives is to bring together domestic violence fighting non-profits with service providers in these areas.

ADOT, Arizona Department of Transportation, construction

The Arizona Department of Transportation is warning drivers of Interstate-15 between St. George and Mesquite to be aware of possible delays caused by reconstruction of I-15 bridges in the Virgin River Gorge.

On Jan. 6, 2014 ADOT will begin a $2.8 million project to upgrade three bridges that cross the Virgin River. Work is expected to be completed by summer.

An even more ambitious $27 million project is scheduled to launch later this spring, to be completed in 2015. Ultimately, ADOT will need to rehabilitate all eight of the I-15 Virgin River Bridges.

So Long, Coca-Cola

Jan 3, 2014
Matt Jensen

Students returning to Utah State University in Logan this spring semester will notice a change at the vending machines.

Coca-Cola is out and Pepsi is in.

USU’s decade-long contract with the beverage giant has come to an end and Pepsi will be taking its place.

Dwight Davis, associate vice president of business and finance at USU, says all products and services on campus go through a competitive bid process.

Mohave County Ariz. authorities have captured an escaped fugitive out of Salt Lake County with the help of the Colorado City Marshals Office.

Misty Lee Adams, 25, was wanted out of Salt Lake County on theft, felony escape and other charges. She cut off her court-ordered ankle bracelet and has been on the run since late November.

Mohave County deputies were looking for Adams, and the Colorado City Marshals were investigating reports of a stolen vehicle at the Cane Beds Address.

A group of clean air advocates has resolved to organize a rally that would be the Utah’s largest. The group hopes to use public pressure to persuade state Lawmakers to address their concerns about what they say is a lack of Utah policy needed to address air quality concerns.

When Tom Bennett of Georgia travels he takes along his guitar and makes music. Bennett is a folk musician who has settled along Utah’s Wasatch Front.

“I love the west,” said Bennett. “I have traveled most places and decided to settle here because I found it to be the most beautiful state.”

It used to be that Bennett traveled through Salt Lake on a bicycle but now he is forced to use public transportation to get to and from work because he said he can’t physically handle the state’s poor air quality.

“Last winter I suffered an 80 percent loss of hearing because my sinuses were so infected from breathing bad air,” he said.

On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranked northern Utah and parts of central California as having the country's worst air.

Utah Department of Public Safety

One of the biggest stories of the new year is Colorado's shift in marijuana policy. Residents in the Centennial State can now legally purchase marijuana, and the federal government has said it will not interfere.

Utah shares a long border with Colorado but authorities here say the new laws won't change enforcement practices. Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Rob Nixon says there's no discussion about adding extra troopers near the border. He says it'll be business as usual.

The H1N1 influenza strain is behind the majority of flu related hospitalizations in the state this season.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Salt Lake County Health Department has confirmed the first influenza deaths of the season. Two Salt Lake County residents between the ages of 35 and 64 died in the second half of December. 

According to officials at the Utah Department of Health, the number of flu related hospitalizations statewide this season is closely tracking last year’s higher than average numbers. Salt Lake County saw 21 deaths last year compared to 6 the year before, said Nicholas Rupp of the Salt Lake Health Department.

The Utah chapter of the National Young Women’s Christian Association is encouraging women to consider running for public office.  

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, women make up half of the population of the state of Utah.  Currently there are only 17 out of the 104 Utah lawmakers serving in the state house and senate who are women. That gives Utah the ranking of 46th in the nation.

“There are efforts going on around the country to encourage women to run for political office,” said Anne Burkholder of YWCA-Utah. “We need to take special effort to engage them.  They have a right to be at the table where decision are made that effect their lives and the lives of their families and their communities.”

27 bald eagles have died across the state in the past month.
Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Utah wildlife officials say the mystery deaths of more than 25 bald eagles across the state have been solved. Laboratory results have confirmed that West Nile Virus was the cause of illness, ruling out lead, toxic chemicals and bacterial infections.

West Nile is typically seen during the summer when mosquito populations, which carry the virus, are high.

Assistant State Veterinarian Warren Hess said the eagles may have been sickened by eating the carcasses of eared grebes, a small water bird that lives on the Great Salt Lake. 

How Accurate Is Your Countdown?

Dec 31, 2013
Matt Jensen

As we celebrate the start of a new year Tuesday night, many of us will be counting down to midnight. So with that many eyes on the clock, we decided to ask some questions about time. Utah Public Radio recently spoke with the organization that’s keeping time down to the smallest fraction.

With so many of us checking our clocks around midnight tonight, it might be a good time to ask: What time is it, exactly?

Lawmaker Proposes Amendment In Wake Of Same-Sex Ruling

Dec 30, 2013
Jacob Anderegg

State Rep. Jacob Anderegg is proposing a new state amendment that would ask Utahns to once again vote on the issue of marriage. The amendment, which Anderegg said is still in the works, would protect religious clergy from being required to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs or doctrine.

Anderegg (R-Lehi) said the proposal is a response to the Federal Government, not to the recent decision by Judge Robert J. Shelby.

Unhealthy Air Returns

Dec 27, 2013
Web cam courtesy of the University of Utah / TimeScience

It was a nice break while it lasted but unhealthy air is back in the skies above Salt Lake and Cache valleys.

Red air conditions were met in Salt Lake County on Friday, and in Cache Valley pollution levels were unhealthy for sensitive groups for parts of the day.

Mandatory restrictions were in effect in several areas Friday and Saturday, meaning the use of wood, coal and pellet-fired stoves and appliances is prohibited. 

fcc, low power radio, FM radio, radio,

November was the deadline to apply to the Federal Communications Commission for a new round of low-power FM radio licenses. In Utah, there are 15 proposals for new stations.

The deadline has just passed for a historic window to apply for low-power FM frequencies. As soon as next year, Salt Lake City and several small towns in Utah could have new non-profit radio stations up and running. Limited to 100-watt transmitters, these will be what are sometimes called “hyper-local” stations.

Logan City has added additional recycling pickups during the holiday season to take care of the community's waste-removal needs.
Matt Jensen

The Christmas season brings with it gifts and decorations, but also extra boxes, wrapping paper and many other items that can be recycled. In order to accommodate the extra recyclable material, the Logan City Environmental Department announced this week it will add another collection day to the regular recycle pickup schedule.

"We collect recycling every other week," said Emily Malik, Conservation Coordinator for Logan City. "But during the holiday, the special holiday waste collection schedule, we collect everyone's recycling every week."

Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Dec 20, 2013

County clerk’s offices around Utah are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples just hours after a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriages.

The Washington County Clerk’s Office said they had issued two licenses to same sex couples Friday. The Herald Journal also reported that the Cache County Clerk's Office is prepared to issue licenses.

Five eagles from across northern Utah have died from a mystery illness.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports that another bald eagle has died from the mysterious illness that has caused the deaths of multiple birds across the state in the past two weeks.

By Monday four birds held in rehab facilities had died and one was in stable condition after showing symptoms including paralysis and tremors. However, after experiencing worsening symptoms the surviving bird was euthanized.

15 super-volcanoes similar in size to the one located beneath Yellowstone National Park today erupted 30 million years ago in Utah.

After nearly 30 years of geological research, a team from BYU said they have found evidence of some of the largest volcanic eruptions in the history of the planet.

Around 30 million years ago, when large mammals roamed North America, Utah was the site of 15 super eruptions. Head researcher Eric Christiansen said one of the largest eruptions happened near Wah Wah Springs in central Utah.

“Compared to what erupted out of Mount St. Helens in 1980, it’s about 5,000 times bigger,” Christiansen said.

Treecycling, recycling, christmas trees,

The Logan city Environmental Department offers "treecycling," where drop sites for live Christmas tree disposal from December 16, 2013 to January 10, 2014.

After January 10, trees can be taken directly to the Logan City Landfill.

The drop sites accept all live trees, but no lights, tinsel, ornaments or stands. With questions call 435-716-9755.

Drop sites listed below: