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Public Safety
11:29 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

State Crime Lab Ready to Process More Rape Kits

The Salt Lake City council is prepared to pass an ordinance requiring the Police Department send every sexual assault evidence kit in its custody to a lab for testing. 

Here, in this quiet space, no larger than typical college classroom, DNA-soaked cotton swabs hang from clothes pins and photos of crime-scene evidence dress the walls. Jay Henry is Director of the Utah State Crime Lab. He says this is where DNA evidence collected in the aftermath of a sexual assault, also known as Code R kits are tested.

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Education
5:10 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Teachers At UEA Convention Call for More Say in Education Policy

This year’s Utah Education Association convention gave teachers an opportunity to learn new skills, improve their practice and compare notes with other educators. It also gave teachers a venue to speak up about their lack of voice in education policy.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh is president of the Utah Education Assocation. She says public education is too often micromanaged by policy makers, adding there has been too much emphasis on assessments as a means of labeling schools, teachers and students.

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Public Safety
4:17 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

University Gun Policies in Spotlight After Sarkeesian Cancellation

Rice-Eccles Stadium
Ken Lund / Creative Commons

Confusion about what a person can and can’t do with a gun on Utah’s college campuses is once again in the spotlight after pop culture critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a speaking engagement at Utah State University earlier this week after receiving death threats. 

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Education
3:15 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

National Girl Scout Convention in SLC Asks Girls to Discover, Connect, Take Action

Pictured L-R: Girl Scout Alexandra Soran, Girl Scouts of Utah CEO Debbie Nielsen, and Girl Scout Amelia Slama-Catron as they welcome convention-goers to the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Credit Bob Nelson

The 53rd National Convention of the Girl Scouts opened this week in Salt Lake City. The event runs through Sunday at the Salt Palace Convention Center with up to 5,000 girls and leaders participating.

It’s estimated there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts in the program in the U.S. and 10 million worldwide. Debbie Nielson is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Utah and a national board nominee. She says she is encouraged to see so many girls participating in the program.

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Mid-Term Elections 2014
6:20 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Brian Wonnacott Faces Struggles In His Effort to Unseat Incumbent Jason Chaffetz

Whittney Evans

Republican incumbent Jason Chaffetz is seeking a fourth term. His Democratic challenger is new to politics and not eager to embrace the attention that comes with running for public office.  

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Air Quality
6:13 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Utah's Trying to Fast-Track Clean Car, Clean Fuel

Supporters say federal Tier 3 standards will go a long way toward cleaning up Wasatch Front air pollution. They say the clean car and clean fuel rules will be like getting the pollution from 4 of every 5 cars off the road.
Utah Department of Transportation

State air-quality officials are still trying to bring next-generation clean cars and clean fuel to Utah. They told lawmakers Wednesday they are making headway.

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Energy & Environment
2:14 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Contractor Works to Avoid Sage Grouse Listing

Greater sage grouse males strutting on a nesting site in Morgan County, Utah

  The Utah Legislature appropriated two million dollars to try to avoid an endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse.  The consulting firm hired to do that presented its report to the legislature today on its work so far.

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Mid-Term Elections 2014
9:52 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Love and Owens Face Off in Fourth District Debate

Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens shake hands at the end of the 4th District debate Tuesday night
Credit Salt Lake Tribune Photo Pool

Republican Mia Love and Democrat Doug Owens faced off in a live debate Tuesday night broadcast on radio and television throughout the state.  Both candidates are vying to replace retiring congressman Jim Matheson and represent the state’s fourth congressional district.  

Mia Love and Doug Owens quickly showcased their differences on several issues.  Education and how it should be funded was central in the discussion.  Owens said that federal support for school programs and student loans still plays a role in making education affordable.

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Arts & Entertainment
6:25 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Free ZAP Day at Living Planet Aquarium Spotlights Ballot Issue

Penguin at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper
Credit File: Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

The Zoo, Arts and Parks or ZAP Program is up for renewal on the General Election Ballot in Salt Lake County. A penny from every $10 spent in the county goes to nearly 200 public arts, education and recreation venues located all over the county. The fate of similar tax plans will also be decided by voters in Davis and Cache Counties.

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Business & Labor
4:46 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

State Auditor Says GOED Lacks Oversight and Accountability

Governor's Office of Economic Development Executive Director Vale Hale, middle, responds to an audit of their business incentive program.
Brian Grimmett
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Religion
1:43 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Utah Catholics Following Synod Discussions on Homosexuality, Divorce

Fr. Carl Schlichte, pastor of the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center
Dan Bammes

  Draft documents being considered by a meeting of Catholic bishops in Rome are showing a new openness in the church toward homosexuals and divorced people. Catholic priests and church members in Utah are watching the meeting closely.

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Education
4:36 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Ogden School's Chief Selected as State Superintendent

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith has accepted a position as Utah’s next Superintendent of public instruction. A divided school board picked Smith out of four candidates on Friday. 

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Religion
1:58 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Mormon Activists See New Opportunity Following Gay Marriage Decision

Mormons for Equality marched in Salt Lake City's 2014 Pride Parade
Dan Bammes

  Mormon activists who’ve been pushing for more inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints see a new opportunity now that the U-S Supreme Court has decided not to hear Utah’s appeal of its same-sex marriage case. 

Erika Munson is one of the founders of Mormons Building Bridges, which has marched in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade and helped to moderate many private discussions among Mormons.

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Air Quality
7:30 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Utah Hasn't Seen Much Ozone Pollution this Year

Downtown Salt Lake City normally has days and even weeks worth of smoggy summer days. But favorable weather this summer kept the skies scrubbed pretty clean of ozone pollution.
Credit Paul Sableman / Flickr Creative Commons

    

Ozone pollution in Utah barely reached unhealthy levels this year. The summer smog season ended Oct. 1, and the Utah Division of Air Quality reports none of its 15 sampling sites statewide exceeded the federal cap.

Kevin Seely sometimes gets lunch with his coworkers at downtown Salt Lake City taco cart that’s just a few blocks from where state air regulators monitor ozone pollution. He’s not surprised to learn regulators recorded so few smoggy days this summer, because that’s what Seely saw with his at-home pollution indicator: his four-year-old.

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Education
6:08 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

U Celebrates Groundbreaking for $45 Million Lassonde Studios

Pierre Lassonde, MBA alum of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, was on hand for the groundbreaking on the Lassonde Studios just east of the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building.
Credit Bob Nelson

The University of Utah celebrated the groundbreaking for the Lassonde Studios on the campus’s east side Friday.

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Public Safety
5:12 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

SLCPD Begins Partnership With Feds to Improve Rape Investigations

Whittney Evans

The Salt Lake City Police Department has formally signed on to partner with a national research organization and the U.S. Department of Justice to establish nationwide standards for handling sexual assault cases. 

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State Government
2:02 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Utah Courts to Offer Self-Help Classes in Spanish

Flickr: Brian Turner

The Utah State Court’s Self-Help Center will soon begin offering a series of free classes in Spanish.

Utah State Courts spokesperson Nancy Volmer says the legal system can be incredibly intimidating, especially for someone who doesn’t speak English.

“So we’re hoping that if we reach out to the public, help educate them on how to file the court papers before they get into the court for their hearing, that that will make the whole process run smoother,” she says.

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Energy & Environment
5:47 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Utah Lake 'Pond Scum" Is Toxic, State Finds

A view of the microsystin, a toxic bacteria that has made parts of Utah Lake unhealthy, especially for dogs and other animals.
Credit Courtesy: / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Environmental officials have confirmed that levels of toxic algae are elevated at Utah Lake. But they say ordinary activities are fine as long as people steer clear of the bright blue-ish green blooms.

Water tests came back on Thursday showing some of the pond scum on Utah Lake has reached worrisome levels. Environmental officials tested the blue green algae near the Lindon Marina on Monday, after they heard that a dog that had been playing in it died Sunday.

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Public Safety
5:30 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Manalughter Charges Against A Former West Valley Police Officer Are Dismissed

Former West Valley Police Officer Shaun Cowley consults with his attorney during the hearing.
Credit Salt Lake Tribune Photo Pool

A  3rd District Court judge dismissed charges Thursday against former West Valley City police officer Shaun Cowley in the 2012 fatal shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard during a drug investigation.  Cowley and his partner Detective Kevin Salmon were working undercover and stopped Willard whom they believed had just purchased drugs. Willard put her car in reverse attempting to flee the scene and Cowley fired rounds at the car fearing he would be run over. But the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office claimed that Cowley was not in danger and acted recklessly.

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Mid-Term Elections 2014
4:51 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Utah Democratic Hispanic Caucus Launches Spanish Ad Campaign to Dispel Voting Myths

Screen grab from UTah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus TV ad.

The Utah State Democratic Hispanic Caucus is launching a statewide, Spanish language media campaign in the run up to this year’s mid-term elections.

The 15-second ad will run on Univision and Telemundo TV stations as well as several local Spanish language radio stations until election day. It features young, college aged Hispanics and Latinos and local Hispanic and Latina elected officials, like State Sen. Luz Robles.

Nate Salazar is the Salt Lake County chairman of the Utah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus.

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Congressional Politics
4:22 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Voter Confusion Could Work to Stewart’s Advantage in 2nd Congressional Race

Democrat Luz Robles and Republican Christ Stewart shake hands before a debate on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City.

It’s pop quiz time. Do you know what congressional district you’re in? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Utah’s largest and possibly most misunderstood district is the second.

I’m at a playground in Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City, looking for potential voters. I chose this park because it’s in the Second Congressional District, but it’s right on the edge. Just on the other side of Interstate 80 is Utah's Fourth District. There seems to be some confusion about this.

“Do you know what district you’re in in terms of Congress?” I asked one man.

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Public Safety
3:30 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Missing Murray Woman's Family and Friends Ask Public for Help Finding Her

Tim Asay (left), Kayelyn Louder's mother Susie Louder (center), and Amy Fugal (right) ask for the public's help in finding Kayelyn Louder
Credit Tim Slover

30-year-old social worker Kayelyn Louder has been missing since September 27th. She left her home at the Willows Condominiums in Murray around 7:00pm. and left behind her purse, keys, phone, and dog. Amy

Fugal is Louder’s cousin.

“We’re asking everyone, where you live, to please hang flyers where you live,” says Fugal. “It doesn’t matter if you’re close to her condominium or if you live in a different city. Just please hang flyers wherever you can, to get her face out there even more.”

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Public Lands
2:01 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Elected Officials in the West Believe State Controlled Public Lands Movement is Gaining Steam

Sen. Jennifer Fielding, R-MT
Dan Bammes

Officials from 14 states who favor state control of federal land within their boundaries just wrapped up a three-day conference in Utah.  They believe their movement to take ownership of public lands is gaining momentum. 

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Mid-Term Elections 2014
9:00 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Incumbent Bishop, Challenger McAleer Face off in First District Rematch

The candidates, Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop and Democratic challenger Donna McAleer, make their cases to 1st Congressional District voters, thanks to the Utah Debate Commission last month.
Credit Tom Smart / Utah Debate Commission Pool

    

News Director's Note: Throughout this month, KUER reporters will profile the five major mid-term election races leading up to Election Day. This is the first.

Utah’s First Congressional District includes all or part of 10 northern counties, and Rob Bishop, the Republican congressman who’s represented it for six terms, wants the voters to send him back to Washington. Donna McAleer, the Democrat challenging him for a second time, finds herself on a steep path to unseat him.

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Mid-Term Elections 2014
11:10 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Mitt Romney Stumps for Mia Love

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney stumps for Mia Love at Wednesday night rally along with Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Governor Gary Herbert.
Credit Terry Gildea/KUER

Former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in Utah County last night campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Mia Love. Local and state lawmakers also attended the rally to show their support for the candidate. 

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Transportation
5:34 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

UTA Adds Holiday Service in Budget Proposal

Brian Grimmett

Utah Transit Authority will likely add holiday service to its 2015 operating schedule. The agency gave preliminary approval to its budget today, which includes money for improved Wi-Fi on Frontrunner and the addition of TRAX and bus service on July 4th, Labor Day and Memorial Day.

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State Government
2:08 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Homelessness Still Declining in Utah

The homeless population of Utah has declined over the past year.
Utah Department of Workforce Services

  Utah has made substantial progress in the past few years providing service to homeless people across the state.  But some new challenges in meeting their needs were discussed at the state’s annual Homeless Summit meeting.

Utah’s overall homeless population has dropped by about nine percent over the past year.  That’s partly due to an improving economy.  The annual count in January put the number of homeless at about 13-thousand people, and that includes some who’ve come to Utah hoping to find work.

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Mid-Term Elections 2014
12:18 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Chaffetz and Wonnacott Spar in First and Only Debate

Democrat Brian Wonnacott greeting the audience after the 3rd Congressional District Debate.
Whittney Evans

Democratic Brian Wonnacott challenged three-term Republican incumbent Jason Chaffetz to a debate Tuesday night at Utah Valley University. Both men are competing to represent Utah’s third congressional district.

Speaking about the recent White House security breach on the watch of the Secret Service, Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there are clearly problems with leadership, training and protocol. Wonnacott stumbled on that topic and struggled to clearly answer a question about the federal government’s handling of the Ebola crisis.

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Education
7:38 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

AG's Analysis of Common Core Finds Utah in Complete Control of Standards and Curriculum

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
Brian Grimmett

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has completed an analysis of Utah’s involvement in what is known as the common core standards.

Governor Gary Herbert requested the report in order to get to the bottom of the debate over the common core.

“I want the truth and I can handle the truth," he says. "As I know the people of Utah can do so also and want and desire the truth.”

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Health Care
5:20 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Last Resort: Alternatives to Incarceration

Dusan Petrovksy attends a support group at Psychiatric Behavioral Solutions in Salt Lake City.
Andrea Smardon KUER

Most people who end up in Salt Lake County jail go in with some kind of mental illness or addiction to drugs. While there, they have access to mental health treatment. They usually leave sober, but support services outside of jail are difficult to find. In the final part of our series Last Resort, KUER follows some former inmates to see what happens to them after their release.

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