Andrea Smardon

Reporter

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World.  Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Boston.com.  Prior to that, she worked at Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW.  Andrea’s stories cover the local to the global - from controversial school committee votes to dissident Burmese hip hop artists.  She holds a Bachelors degree in English and Music from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.  Andrea says she misses the ocean, but is happy to be surrounded by mountains.

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Health Care
3:29 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Utah Stroke Survivors Take Part in National Dance Day

Andrea Smardon KUER

A group of Utah dancers was featured this week on the Fox show So You Think You Can Dance. National Dance Day is Saturday, and the group submitted a video of the routine that many are doing across the country in hopes of being featured on the program.  But these Salt Lake City dancers have a special distinction. They’re all stroke survivors.

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Business & Labor
1:22 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Child Poverty on the Rise in Utah

Photo courtesy Community Action Provo

Children in Utah are more likely to be living in poverty today than they were two decades ago. That’s according to new data released from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The percentage of Utah children living in poverty rose from 12 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2012. That’s a concern for Deputy Director of Voices for Utah Children Terry Haven.

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Health Care
4:23 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Utahns Keep Health Insurance Subsidies for Now

A federal court in Washington DC ruled Tuesday that Obamacare subsidies are illegal. Utah is among 36 states that would potentially be affected by this ruling, but for now, Utahns will continue to receive those subsidies.

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Health Care
4:05 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

West Nile Virus Detected in Utah Mosquitos

Health officials say West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitos in Utah. But so far, no human cases have been reported.  The virus has been found in mosquito pools in Box Elder and Uintah counties. Rebecca Ward with the Utah Department of Health says humans who contract the virus may not necessarily develop symptoms, but it can be very serious, particularly for those with compromised immune systems.

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Business & Labor
5:32 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Stericycle Another Step Closer to Moving

Proposed incinerator location in Tooele County

Medical waste company Stericycle has cleared another hurdle in its effort to relocate its incinerator from North Salt Lake to Tooele County. The local planning commission approved a conditional use permit for the new facility this month, though two commissioners voted against it.

Stericycle Vice President of Corporate Communications  Jennifer Koenig says the permit is necessary to move forward with a new facility, but it’s only one step among many.

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Health Care
4:20 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

AirMed Takes Emergency Newborn Care to the Sky

Andrea Smardon KUER

A University of Utah AirMed team can now deliver emergency care to newborn babies. The perinatal team has just been licensed to transport babies from zero to 30 days, and they have a new larger helicopter for the necessary equipment.

University of Utah chief flight nurse Bart Chournos says he’s been treating pregnant mothers for 30 years. He travels by helicopter to expecting moms in need of urgent care at smaller, regional hospitals throughout the Mountain west.

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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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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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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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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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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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Business & Labor
4:04 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Report Finds Shortage of Workers with STEM Skills

A new national report shows that there is a shortage of workers with developed skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  The Brookings Institution report analyzed how long job vacancies were posted last year for various occupations. The study’s author Jonathan Rothwell says STEM jobs took the longest to fill everywhere across the country, indicating difficulty finding workers with adequate skills.

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Religion
4:27 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

How Does Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Decision Affect Utah?

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that two private companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. It’s the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

FEC Complaint Names Senator Mike Lee for Alleged Campaign Violations

Brian Grimmett

Alliance for a Better UTAH has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, asking the FEC to investigate allegations that Utah Senator Mike Lee violated election laws.

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Health Care
5:01 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Utah Health Department Wants More Federal Money to Prevent Obesity and Injuries

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wants more money from the federal government to help prevent obesity and injury, and is seeking public input on its proposal. The UDOH is asking for 1.5 million dollars for Preventive Health and Health Services. That’s an $850,000 dollar increase over the amount Utah originally applied for this fiscal year. Currently, the block grant funds are primarily used by the state and local health departments for the prevention of obesity and injury.

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Business & Labor
4:43 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

DABC Approves Snowbird’s Oktoberfest Liquor Permit

Snowbird

There will be beer at Snowbird’s Oktoberfest after all. Commissioners with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control approved a single-event permit for the festival Tuesday, but the discussion around Utah’s liquor laws is not over. 

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Business & Labor
3:06 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Department of Labor to Help Uranium Workers File Claims in Moab

A uranium mill tailings pile near Moab, Utah.
Wikipedia

The US Department of Labor is holding town hall meetings in Moab this week to help uranium workers who may be eligible for compensation and medical benefits.

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State Government
5:34 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Utah Attorney General’s Office Investigating Newspaper Agreement

The Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune

UPDATE: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released a statement since this story aired on Friday, June 20th:

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Immigration
4:20 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Ruling Clarifies Utah’s Role in Immigration Enforcement

Protestors at the US Courthouse in Salt Lake City for a hearing on HB 497. (February 15, 2013)
Andrea Smardon KUER

A federal judge issued a split ruling Wednesday on HB 497, Utah's controversial immigration law. It upholds several measures but strikes down others in the legislation that was passed in 2011.

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KUER Local News
5:20 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Initiative Aims to Help Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care

Volunteers load Lifestart boxes for young people aging out of the state's foster care system. (NPS Warehouse, June 18, 2014)
Andrea Smardon KUER

Volunteers in Salt Lake City are filling boxes full of household goods this week intended to go to young adults who are aging out of the state’s foster care system. The Lifestart Initiative tries to provide this vulnerable population with some of the things they need to live on their own.

Up on the 2nd floor of the NPS Warehouse in West Salt Lake, volunteers are filling large plastic bins with towels, sheets, sponges, and tools.

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Religion
4:12 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

LDS Church Will No Longer Operate Adoption Agency

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it will no longer operate a full-service adoption agency. LDS Family Services will instead shift resources toward counseling for unmarried, expectant parents.

LDS Family Services Adoption Manager David McConkie says the Church will still be working to promote adoption.

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KUER Local News
7:41 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

SLC Author Tells Story of Internment through Words and Watercolor

Lily Havey's "Only My Freedom" depicts her experience living in the Amache Internment Camp in Amache, Colorado.

Local artist and writer Lily Nakai Havey has just published a new memoir chronicling her experience as a child in two Japanese American internment camps during World War 2. Havey and her family were living in Los Angeles, when they were sent to an assembly center in Pasadena in 1942, and then to the Amache Relocation Center in Colorado. The book is called Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp. The story is told not only through the writing, but also through Havey’s watercolor paintings and photographs.

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Energy & Environment
3:36 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Park City Native Plant Sale Aims to Reduce Water Consumption

Wasatch penstemon in bloom on May 31, 2014 in Salt Lake County
Utah Native Plant Society

The annual native plant sale takes place Saturday morning at Recycle Utah in Park City. Organizers say replacing that Kentucky bluegrass with Wasatch penstemon will help conserve water - an increasingly valuable resource in Utah.

Utah is the second largest consumer of water per person in the nation, and Utahns use about two-thirds of that water on lawns and landscapes.  Executive Director of Park City Conservation Association Insa Riepen says that’s an irresponsible and unnecessary use of a valuable resource.

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Health Care
4:51 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Salt Lake County Medicaid Argument Doesn’t Sway Republican Lawmaker

Brian Grimmett

The Salt Lake County Council is sending a letter this week to the Utah legislature asking them to support the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan and accept Medicaid funds. County councilors have said those federal funds could offset a 12 percent budget shortfall for behavioral health services expected next year. But so far, state lawmakers are holding firm in their positions on Medicaid.

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Health Care
4:30 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Salt Lake County to Cut Services if State Doesn’t Accept Medicaid Funds

Salt Lake County government offices

Salt Lake County faces a budget shortfall and service cuts if the state doesn’t accept Medicaid funds from the federal government. The County Council will draft a letter at their meeting Tuesday urging state lawmakers to support the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan, and to do it this summer before the County has to complete its budget. 

Democratic Salt Lake County Councilor Sam Granato was hoping the legislature would have made a decision by now on whether Utah should accept Medicaid funds to provide health coverage for more than 110,000 low-income Utahns.

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LGBT
5:14 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Same Sex Unions Still in Limbo After 10th Circuit Extends Stay

Matthew Barraza and Tony Milner with their son on their wedding day.
Photo courtest Matthew Barraza

The fate of about 1300 same sex marriages in Utah is now in the hands of the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court granted a temporary stay of a US district court’s order to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah during a 17-day window when the unions were allowed. The state Attorney General’s Office requested the stay Thursday and filed a Notice of Appeal on Evans versus State of Utah on Wednesday.

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Business & Labor
5:21 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Utah Reconsiders Work Requirements for Food Assistance

The number of people getting food assistance from Utah’s SNAP program has significantly declined over the past two years. State officials credit improvements in the economy and employment, but some advocates for the poor say it also has to do with work requirements that make it harder for people to receive benefits.

Nic Dunn is a spokesperson for Utah Department of Workforce Services, and when he looks at the decline in SNAP caseloads, he sees evidence that the state is climbing out of the recession.

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Health Care
3:50 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Film Highlights Utah’s Health Coverage Gap

Stacy Davis-Stanford is featured in the film highlighting those in the health coverage gap.
"Entitled to Life" screenshot

A film debuting Tuesday in Salt Lake City highlights Utah’s low income citizens who don’t have access to affordable health insurance.  The new documentary tells the stories of Utah adults who fall within the state's coverage gap, earning too little to buy subsidized insurance on healthcare.gov, but too much to receive Medicaid.

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Education
7:30 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Students Say Racist Graffiti Doesn’t Diminish Power of Photo Exhibit

Andrea Smardon KUER

As the school year comes to an end, we checked back in with some East High students who took part in a public art exhibit. The We Are One: Inside Out Project was initiated by East High sophomores taking part in a new college prep course in partnership with the Utah Humanities Council.

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Business & Labor
4:59 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

“Utah’s Own” Branding Campaign Expands into Rural Areas

"Your State of Chocolate" in Tooele is a member of Utah's Own

The push to promote local products made in Utah is expanding into rural areas. Tooele County hosts its first ever Utah’s Own Summit on Friday to help small food-oriented companies expand their business, add jobs, and improve rural Utah’s economy.

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