Utah News

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


On the ballot this election cycle in Utah is a proposal that would affect appointments to the State Tax Commission. The amendment, if passed, would allow the legislature to select commission members without regard to the candidate’s political affiliation. The commission would become anything but nonpartisan if voters choose to support the amendment, said Peter Corroon, the state Democratic Party chairman.

“The reality will be that it will become entirely partisan and Democrats will have no voice on the Tax Commission,” he said.

The polls continue to swing in the Mia Love-Doug Owens Fourth Congressional District Race. Earlier this week a poll from BYU showed Owens, a Democrat, creeping ahead, but now a new poll shows that Republican Love is the one in the lead.

The poll from Utahpolicy.com gives Love a five percent lead over Owens, with 48 percent and 43 percent of the vote, respectively. However, the margin of error for the survey is also five percent, meaning it is likely no one will know who the next representative to congress will be until election night. The gap between the candidates is narrowing, however; the last poll from Utahpolicy.com had Love leading by nine percent.

According to the most recent poll, one-third of respondents have already cast their ballots for the election.

A Springville family that was found dead in their home last month may very well have died from poisoning, according to newly released evidence. Relatives of the Strack family said in a statement they had suspicions that poisoning was the cause of death.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a class action petition against a 2010 injunction against a street gang in Ogden. Weber County sued the gang, claiming they were a public nuisance. The court had no authority to make the injunction and convictions under it should be dropped, said John Mejia on Wednesday. Mejia is the legal director of the ACLU of Utah.


The next open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act begins Nov. 15. While the ACA has come under criticism for having high premiums, Jason Stevenson with the Utah Health Policy Project says there are many government subsidies that can cover the majority of the premium cost.

“Sixty to 70 percent of Americans have no idea that financial help is available if you go to Healthcare.gov to shop for insurance,” Stevenson said. “Once they find that out, they're amazed, and they quickly sign up. But too many people don't know that insurance is now affordable and within their reach through the Affordable Care Act."

Utah Democrats Profess High Hopes For Elections

Oct 29, 2014
Democratic Party of Utah

About half of Utah's state Senate and the entire House are up for election this year, and the Democratic Party has high hopes for increasing representation in the traditionally red state.

“I think we’re in great shape. I think Democrats are mobilized and engaged, I don’t think the Republicans really have a whole lot to vote for, and I think that that’s going to make a difference and we’re going to win in November,” said Matt Lyon, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party.

Utah Democratic Party chairman Peter Corroon said this week that his party has a chance to win seats in Carbon, Emery and Weber Counties.

Living With A Disablity: One Man's Journey

Oct 28, 2014
U.S. Department of Defense

The theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month is “Expect, Employ and Empower.”

The Disability Law Center released a report earlier this month that said Utah agencies need to fine-tune their programs that assist student’s transition from high school to jobs.

John Cardis works with disabled students in the Cache County School District and agreed that things need to improve, but said some parents are just surviving the day-to-day and haven’t allowed themselves to imagine the future.

“Once they get into secondary [school] I start talking a lot about transition in the future," Cardis said. " As I start talking about employment a lot of times the parents look at me as though I’m not really understanding their child or their situation so I get a lot of questions on what other students are doing and what a typical situation is.”

Update: West Jordan Boy With Cancer Dies

Oct 28, 2014
Ethan and his parents

The nation watched last week as the community of West Jordan banded together to turn the last days of one very sick little boy into the celebration of a lifetime.

Four-year-old Ethan Van Leuven passed away Tuesday morning after losing his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

After receiving the prognosis that he only had a few weeks to live, the city dressed up, decorated for and celebrated Halloween, Ethan’s birthday and Christmas months early.

Colder Weather Increases Radon Danger

Oct 27, 2014
Lung Cancer

The onset of colder weather brings things indoors, including unwanted radon gas. Radon is a result of naturally-occurring uranium breakdown in rocks and soil. The colorless, odorless, tasteless gas seeps up from the ground and can pool in a home.

“Because it’s colder outside and then warmer inside your home, that increases the radon levels,” said Eleanor Divver, radon project coordinator for the state of Utah.

Divver said the potentially elevated levels of the gas make colder months the best time to check for radon.

The gaseous toxin is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.


The numbers are in for Utah’s SAGE test, the new statewide exam used to measure student proficiency under the Common Core initiative, and the results show that Utah kids are not proficient.

According to the results, just 41.7 percent of students are proficient in language arts, 38.7 percent in mathematics and 43.7 percent in science. These numbers are all down from previous testing years, but officials say that is to be expected.

Utah's Cities Continue Rapid Growth

Oct 27, 2014

U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that an increasing number of cities in Utah are now classified as medium-sized. That growth, however, is not confined to the greater Salt Lake area or places normally thought of as urban. 

Three cities surpassed a population of 20,000 for the first time last year. Saratoga Springs’ estimated 2013 population of around 21,000 is an increase of nearly 1,600 people from 2012 alone. The town has come a long way since it had a population of just 1,100 recorded in the 2000 census.


Utah’s Supreme Court lifted its hold on adoptions by same-sex couples Thursday. The adoptions had been put on hold in May following the state’s decision to appeal a 10th Circuit Court ruling which struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month to not hear appeals from states seeking to keep their bans in place legalized same-sex marriage in Utah and opened the door for adoptions to begin.


In a press conference on Thursday, Utah government officials and conservation groups announced a new agreement concerning public lands in Daggett County. The deal will protect more than 110,000 new acres around the Green River. According to Tim Peterson of the Grand Canyon Trust, in drafting the agreement, wildlife advocates and local government officials worked out a deal that took into account a host of possible economic and political roadblocks.

Governor's Office

The  legalization of gay marriage in the Beehive State has opened up a lively dialogue amongst Utah's politicians about how it will affect Utah's legislators and the laws they craft. In his monthly address on Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert said he did not foresee legislators attempting to undermine the recently won right of same-sex couples to marry.

Herbert did add that he was concerned about strengthening religious freedom, referring to proposed laws protecting clergy and churches from performing marriages they oppose.

Voter ID Laws: Where Utah Stands

Oct 24, 2014

Voter identification laws have made national news recently with various courts striking down laws in Wisconsin, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. Utah State University political science Professor Roger Tew said the fight over voter ID laws is complicated and often partisan.

“The argument is that voter IDs are relatively simple. We have to provide IDs for all kinds of things, it should be no different,” Tew said.  “Those who tend to be opposed to it on the other hand, the argument is there are people living in cities and older people who don’t have a need for a driver’s license, or a need to obtain normal IDs that often other people use.”

Apple tree

An in-state collaboration is meeting the need of hungry individuals with nutritious, home-grown foods.

More than 25,000 pounds of fruit was donated to local food assistance programs this year through Salt Lake City's Fruit Share program. The initiative allows people to register their fruit trees, then directs volunteers to help harvest fruit that would otherwise go to waste, matching need with abundance.

The collected produce is split between homeowners, harvest volunteers, and efforts to help the needy.

vandalism artwork shows up in scenic places.
Casey Nocket / Modern Hiker

The National Park Service is investigating a string of vandalism incidents across the West, and they’re using social media to find the perpetrator.

The vandalism was first reported on the blog Modern Hiker. The blog claims the vandalism, which features paintings of people, was perpetrated by the New York based artist Casey Nocket. Nocket allegedly recorded the paintings on her Instagram account, which has now been deleted.

National Park Service Spokesperson Alexandria Picavet would not confirm that the artist listed in the blog post was responsible, however she did say that social media did help bring the problem to light.

Auction Set For Former Olympian's Memorabilia

Oct 23, 2014

Memorabilia and other personal items belonging to former Olympic wrestler Rulon Gardner will go to auction in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The list of items includes autographed jerseys from other sporting heroes like Karl Malone and John Elway. Also up for auction are some of the medals Gardner won while competing in Greco-Roman wrestling. However, according to David Olson of Erkelens and Olsen auctioneers, Gardner’s 2000 Olympic gold medal will not be up for sale.

T. Ruen

A partial solar eclipse is headed our way Thursday afternoon. NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins said the moon will move in front of the sun starting at 3 p.m. and continue until just after 5 p.m.

“Now it won’t cover it up completely, at maximum it will be a little less than half covered, but still that’s a nice taste for the total eclipse of the sun that we’ve got coming up in 2017 up in Idaho,” Wiggins said.

The number of eclipses varies from year to year; this year the state will see three.


The SwitchPoint Community Resource Center will host its grand opening this Friday in St. George. The center was established two months ago to meet the needs of Washington County’s chronically poor and homeless. Getting people back on their feet often requires addressing many needs, from job training to transportation. Those needs can be met quicker by combining resources into one facility, said Carol Hollowell, the center’s executive director.

Moab's Pumpkin Chuckin Throws A Curve

Oct 22, 2014
Youth Garden Project

Moab’s Youth Garden Project, a nonprofit organization that serves the city’s children, is kicking off their Ninth Annual Pumpkin Chuckin Festival on the Oct. 25.

Kristin Thomas, the program manager for the project, said there are various categories for competitors to enter. One contestant from Lindon has people especially excited.

“The slingshot from Lindon, UT is going to be 10,000 pounds," Thomas said. "It’s a big machine. Supposedly they can shoot it up to 500 feet, potentially farther."

The team Thomas is referring to calls themselves the Smashing Heads but in actuality they are the employees of Universal Industrial Sales, Inc.

Clean Air Battle Begins In DC Courtroom

Oct 22, 2014
Uintah basin topical map

Utah found itself in the middle of a struggle between states, environmental advocates, energy companies and a federal regulatory agency on Tuesday  

Oral arguments were heard in the District of Columbia’s Circuit Court of Appeals, where environmentalists and clean-air advocates challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone classification of Utah’s Uintah Basin.

The environmentalist advocates contend it is no coincidence that Uintah Basin is also home to oil and gas development and some of the worst air quality in the state, and the EPA’s designation is incorrect.

Roy Shooting Thought To Be Suicide By Cop

Oct 21, 2014

Around 4 a.m. Tuesday, Roy City officers were dispatched to a home after a man threatening suicide called a help hotline, which contacted police.

Police engaged in a seven-hour standoff with the 35-year-old, according to Detective Matthew Gwynn with Roy City Police.

“After several hours of negotiation, the negotiation with our subject failed. There were shots fired and the subject is now deceased,” Gwynn said.

Meteors Illuminate Monday Night's Dark Skies

Oct 20, 2014

If you’re on the hunt for entertainment or a romantic evening Monday night look no further than our own Utah night sky. The Orionid meteor shower is due to arrive late into the night through the early morning hours of Tuesday.

Meteors are space debris that upon entering our earth’s atmosphere begin to incinerate as they plummet, and often leave brilliant trails. In the case of the Orionid shower, the meteors are remnant debris of Halley’s Comet, which last visited our solar system in 1986.

On Patrol: Small Force Watches Over Deer Hunt

Oct 20, 2014

Saturday saw the opening of rifle deer hunting season in Utah. The hunt has been a tradition for many families who take to the woods during the nine-day season with the goal of bringing home a prize buck.

Chris Schulze is a part of a force of conservation officers who have the responsibility to make sure hunting laws are obeyed. He is one of about two dozen who monitor the hunt for the entire state, in every county and corner of Utah. Often times, individual officers will patrol an area of many miles every day. Schulze, a second generation wildlife officer, is no exception.