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Science & Technology
2:28 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Volunteer 'Ambassador' Receiving NASA Honor

Patrick Wiggins, NASA's Solar System Ambassador in Utah
courtesy photo

  Patrick Wiggins, who represents NASA as a volunteer Solar System Ambassador in Utah, is receiving one of the space agency’s highest honors.

NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors work to educate the public about astronomy and space exploration.  They commit to eight events a year – but the agency says Wiggins averages about 88 a year, more than a thousand since he started working in the program 12 years ago.

Wiggins says it’s something he just likes to do.

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Education
1:44 am
Fri July 18, 2014

School Board Considers Going Back to No Child Left Behind

For the past two years, the federal government has allowed Utah to waive key parts of the No Child Left Behind law. Now that waiver is up for renewal and the state board of education is questioning if it should instead go back to the largely unpopular law.  

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Business & Labor
7:23 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

SLC Department of Airports Breaks Ground on $1.8 Billion Terminal Redevelopment Program

Current rendering of proposed Terminal Redevelopment Program with complete build out scheduled for 2022.
Credit File: Salt Lake City Department of Airports

The Salt Lake City Department of Airports will break ground Friday on the 1.8 billion dollar Terminal Redevelopment Program. Construction will continue in phases from now through 2019 with complete build out by 2022. Mike Williams is the program director of the massive project. He says there will be many big changes along the way but the effort is going to be well worth it.

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Business & Labor
6:01 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Park City's Autumn Aloft Returns After 20-Year Pause

Autumn Aloft lasted ten years in Park City in the 1990's and at one time attracted dozens of pilots and nearly 20,000 spectators.
Credit File: Autumn Aloft, Mark Prothro

Park City’s Autumn Aloft Hot Air Balloon Festival is returning after suddenly ending 20 years ago. It will coincide with the final weekend of the Parksilly Sunday Market September 19 through the 21st. Meisha Lawson is the spokeswoman for the festival. She says city leaders, residents and businesses are showing overwhelming support for the return of the event.

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Health Care
5:15 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

U Study Shows Medicaid Expansion Population is Bigger than Previously Estimated

University of Utah Economics Professor Norman Waitzman presents his findings to the Utah Health Reform Task Force.
Andrea Smardon KUER

Utah lawmakers were stunned to hear Thursday that the number of people who fall in the so-called health coverage gap is significantly higher than they thought. Researchers from the University of Utah presented results from a new report on the Medicaid eligibility expansion population to a state health committee.

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Public Safety
4:11 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Unified Fire Authority Using State Grant to Mitigate Fire Risk on Traverse Mountain

UFA fire fighter thin out oak brush on Traverse Mountain
Brian Grimmett

Draper City and the Unified Fire Authority are working hand in hand to help mitigate fire danger on Traverse Mountain.

The area where firefighters are thinning out the underbrush is located on a steep hill leading right up into homes in the SunCrest neighborhood. Unified Fire Authority Captain Riley Pilgrim says they’re hoping to help reduce the fire risk of one of the most dangerous spots in the state.

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Education
3:17 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Governor Launches Review of Academic Standards

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert is calling for a comprehensive legal review of the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. He’s hoping a legal analysis performed by Utah’s Attorney General will quash any misconceptions and ease ongoing concerns that the state has lost control of academic standards and curriculum.

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Public Safety
1:33 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Gun Deaths Exceed Highway Deaths in Utah

Nationwide, highway fatalities have declined in the past decade while gun deaths have stayed about the same.
Violence Policy Center

Utah is one of 14 states where the number of gun-related deaths is now higher than the number of highway fatalities. 

Highway fatalities in Utah – and across the country – have dropped dramatically in the past decade, thanks in part to safer cars and better drunk driving enforcement. For Utah, a report from the Violence Policy Center says there were 277 motor vehicle deaths in 2011, compared to 308 deaths from guns.  That includes accidents, homicides and suicides.

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Health Care
4:10 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Health Advocates Stage Limbo Contest at Lockhart’s Office

Christine Stenquist takes part in a "Lockhart Limbo" contest to highlight the struggles of those living under the poverty line without healthcare in Utah.
Andrea Smardon KUER

Wearing fake grass skirts and plastic leis, health advocates took turns going under a limbo pole in front of House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s office Wednesday. The idea was to highlight the plight of Utahns who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, and the pole was steadily lowered to represent each month this year that they have not been able to pay for healthcare. The mood was light, but Christine Stenquist quickly became emotional when she began talking about why she is taking part in this demonstration.

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Air Quality
2:07 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Skeptical Reception for Bill to Allow Stricter State Air Quality Rules

The Utah legislature's interim Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee meets at the Utah State Capitol
Dan Bammes

  A member of the Utah legislature is trying again to change the law that keeps the state of Utah from imposing stricter environmental rules than the federal government. 

Republican Representative Becky Edwards of North Salt Lake had a similar bill in the last general session.  It passed the House, but it was defeated in the state Senate, in part because of opposition from industry.

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Education
11:32 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

School Board Hires Search Firm to Find New State Superintendent

The committee tasked with finding a new state school superintendent has hired a private search firm to seek out potential candidates. Salt Lake City-based SEARCH Group Partners will work alongside the committee to help recruit applicants and sift through resumes.

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Business & Labor
5:40 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Investigative Committee Chair on Attorneys General Arrests: System Working

Credit File: Utah State Legislature

The chair of the Legislature’s Special Investigative Committee says he is working on a bill to increase potential use of grand juries in investigations in the wake of the John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff arrests Tuesday. Republican Representative Jim Dunnigan of Taylorsville led the bi-partisan investigation after the US Department of Justice dropped the case. He says a number of potentially helpful parties simply did not respond to subpoenas from the committee.

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Health Care
4:37 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Audit Validates Salt Lake County’s New Behavioral Health Model

An independent audit of Salt Lake County’s Behavioral Health Services system was released Tuesday. Officials say it validates the county’s move to a managed-care model.  County Mayor Ben McAdams called for the audit last year following news that provider Valley Behavioral Health (VBH) would discontinue service to hundreds of patients due to budget cuts.

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Utah Politics
9:50 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Former Utah Attorneys General Swallow and Shurtleff Arrested

Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow (L) and Mark Shurtleff (R)
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

Utah officials have arrested former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow on multiple state felony charges.

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Local Government
6:32 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Audit Finds Error Cost State $100 Million in Property Taxe Revenues

Utah has missed out on approximately $100 million in property tax revenue over the past eight years because of an error in how property taxes are calculated. Now as the state moves to fix the problem, taxpayers will likely be asked to pay more.

The office of the state auditor released a study on Monday that details how local governments across the state have been miscalculating new commercial and residential growth, thus driving down the certified tax rate. David Stringfellow is Chief Economist for the state auditor’s office.

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Energy & Environment
5:52 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Rail Line Would Deliver Uinta Basin Energy to Markets

A proposed rail line would cover rugged territory in central eastern Utah to transport energy products from the Uinta Basin to Price.
Credit a4gpa / Flickr Creative Commons

Plans are moving forward to build a 100-mile rail line from Duchesne, through the wild Uinta Basin, and into Price. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports on the ambitious and expensive proposal to move Utah energy products into the market.

The Uinta Basin rail project is a big idea. And its price tag is big, too – as much as $4 billion. But state transportation officials estimate an even bigger financial cost if Uinta Basin oil can’t get to Wasatch Front refineries and buyers outside the state.

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Military
4:57 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Utah Vet Partially Blinded in Afghanistan Sues Alleged Assailant

Layne Morris at his office in West Valley City
Andrea Smardon KUER

A Utah veteran says he’s helping to protect the Western world by suing a former Guantanamo prisoner. Retired special forces sergeant Layne Morris of South Jordan believes Canadian national Omar Khadr is a potential threat to national security. But a senior US military official says Morris is wrong and out of line with his lawsuit.

In 2002, Layne Morris was partially blinded by shrapnel from a grenade thrown from an al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.

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Utah Politics
3:39 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Governor Herbert Elected as Vice Chair of National Governors Association

File: Gov. Gary Herbert outlines his Healthy Utah Plan at the State Capitol
Brian Grimmett

Members of the National Governors Association have selected Governor Gary Herbert to be the group's vice chair for the next year.  The new role could help Herbert push his agenda even further.

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Energy & Environment
1:00 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Interim Committee Will Look at Stricter State Air Quality Regulations

Pollution trapped in a winter air inversion covers the Salt Lake Valley
Dan Bammes

  Utah’s current law prohibits state regulators from imposing any air quality regulations stricter than federal requirements. A bill that would change that will be up for discussion in a legislative committee this week.

On Wednesday, the legislature’s  Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee will gather for an interim meeting. Lawmakers will look at a proposal that would allow the state of Utah to impose stricter air quality standards than the federal government.

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Breaking
6:28 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

10th Circuit Denies Stay of Same Sex Marriage Recognition Case

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will not stay a ruling from U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball that ordered the state of Utah to recognize the marriages of more than 1300 gay couples.  Last month, Judge Kimball ruled that Utah must provide benefits to those couples who were married during a seventeen day period when gay marriage was legal in the state.  Utah’s Attorney General’s appealed the case to the 10th circuit asking that it stay the district court ruling.

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Local Politics
4:12 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Rural Commissioner Returns to Office -- Thanks to 3 Votes

Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

  

Republicans dominate politics in eastern Utah’s conservative Uintah County. So, a vote recount and long wait for a winner in the county commission primary was unusual and tense. Mike McKee will keep his seat for a fourth term because there is no Democratic challenger. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports.

Incumbent County Commissioner Mike McKee sat in on the final tally of nearly 4,300 votes.

“This was a nail-biter: I won by three votes,” he said Wednesday.

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Utah Politics
3:49 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Utah Democratic Party Has a Lot More Cash On Hand Than Their Republican Counterparts

James Evans speaks at the Utah Republican Party Convention
Brian Grimmett

The latest state financial disclosure reports show that the Utah Democratic Party has a lot more money than the Utah GOP. That difference could mean something for the upcoming election.

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Public Safety
3:22 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Huge Mulch Pile Fire Extinguished in South Salt Lake

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood addresses reporters with the city's economic development director, Mike Florence
Dan Bammes

  A huge pile of wood chips on the Diamond Tree Experts site in South Salt Lake caught fire yesterday.  It was the second fire there in a month, and city officials say they’re taking steps to prevent another fire from occurring in the future.

Smoke from the burning mulch pile at about 3600 South was thick enough to shut down I-15 temporarily.  Firefighters worked through the night to put out the flames.  They think it was started by spontaneous combustion in the decomposing mulch, though the exact cause is under investigation.

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Public Lands
5:52 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

BLM Investigation Goes to Justice Department

ATV drivers get ready to enter the area of Recapture Canyon in San Juan County that is closed to motorized travel under a federal order. The land agency says it has forwarded its investigation report to prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

A new report says antigovernment groups are gaining steam after last spring’s standoff between federal authorities and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Some say Utah people and events are part of the trend. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports.

The federal Bureau of Land Management says it has sent its investigation report on last spring’s Recapture Canyon protest ride to the U.S. Justice Department.

A Utah-based good-government group applauds the move, saying the BLM should hold the protestors accountable for breaking the law.

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Health Care
4:55 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

U Research Aims to Help African Refugees Deliver Healthier Babies

Keri Gibson, co-researcher and attending physician at University of Utah Redwood Health Center Obstetrics and Gynecology
Andrea Smardon KUER

Some minority babies in Utah are more likely to experience health problems or die than their white counterparts. That’s especially true for refugees. A new research project out of the University of Utah aims to help African refugee mothers deliver healthier babies. 

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LGBT
3:46 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Utah Attorney General Will Appeal 10th Circuit Ruling Directly to the Supreme Court

Officials with the Utah Attorney General’s office announced today that lawyers for the state will appeal the latest ruling against Amendment 3 directly to the U-S Supreme Court.

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Education
2:39 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

West Jordan Decides Against Studying School District Split

West Jordan City Hall.
Michelle Edgar via flickr

The West Jordan City Council decided last night it will not look into separating from the Jordan School District. But some members of the council, including the mayor say without investigating all the options, West Jordan residents could end up paying higher taxes.

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State Government
2:15 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Should Utah Abandon Daylight Saving Time?

The sun sets over Utah in June of 2014
Brian Grimmett

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development, or GOED, is collecting data about how Utahns feel about Daylight Saving Time.

More than 30 people gathered at the Clark Planetarium in downtown Salt Lake City to voice their opinion about Daylight Saving Time.  A majority of those attending said they’d prefer to move to standard time year round like Arizona. Many who made comments expressed similar ideas to those of Provo resident Ed Bernsen.

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Business & Labor
1:12 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Downtown Alliance Pleased with Retail, Residential Growth

Downtown Salt Lake City
Wikimedia Commons

  Salt Lake City’s Downtown Alliance released its annual report on economic benchmarks today.  It shows retail sales, commercial office space and residential construction are all growing – and people seem to like it.

A statewide survey included in the report shows 70 percent of residents statewide have a positive perception of downtown Salt Lake, and 50 percent say the parking situation has improved.

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Business & Labor
4:38 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Smith's Food and Drug to Anchor Holladay Major Mall Redevelopment

Rendering of Redevelopment of former Cottonwood Mall
Credit File: Howard Hughes Corporation

Smith’s Food and Drug will be the anchor grocery store for the development at the former Cottonwood Mall in Holladay. Activity at the 57-acre multi-use project stopped at the start of the recession. Marsha Gilford is vice president of public affairs for Smith’s. She says the new 78-thousand square foot store will be built just north of Macy’s and have two levels of below-store parking.

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