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.

Ways To Connect

Photo courtesy ACLU of Utah

The legal fight over same-sex marriage has come to a close in Utah. The state Attorney General’s Office has agreed to pay attorney’s fees for the plaintiffs in the Evans versus Utah case.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

In the wake of President Obama’s announcement on immigration, lawyers and community leaders met at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City Monday to let immigrants know about available resources…. and to warn them against scams.

Office of Senator Orrin Hatch

Republicans in Utah’s congressional delegation have uniformly condemned President Obama’s executive action extending temporary legal status to some 5 million undocumented immigrants. But Senator Orrin Hatch says he plans to rectify the situation.

Photo courtesy Tony Yapias

Immigrants will be gathering at a community center in Salt Lake City Thursday evening to watch President Obama make his much anticipated announcement about immigration.

Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, says he’s expecting a celebration at Centro Civico Mexicano after the President’s announcement.

“I’m sure we’ll be seeing a log of hugs and joyfulness in our community, just for them to finally see something happen for their families,” Yapias says.  

A regional director for US Department of Health and Human Services is in Utah to raise awareness about the second open enrollment period for health insurance.

Kim Gillan is the HHS Regional Director for six states in the Rocky Mountain region, but for the moment, her role in Utah is to be a health insurance cheerleader. Gillan says healthcare.gov is much more user friendly than it was in the first rollout and it’s operating smoothly.

The US House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday which could change the makeup of the board that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency. The legislation sponsored by Utah Congressman Chris Stewart opens up the possibility for more industry representatives to participate.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

The Utah Symphony and Opera announced a promotion Monday intended to bring ski tourists to their concerts. A quartet of symphony musicians dons ski boots, puffy hoods and goggles to help make the announcement. President and CEO Melia Tourangeau says everyone’s heard about the greatest snow on earth, but they want tourists to know what else Utah has to offer.

“What people don’t often know is that in addition to being a great ski city, we also have one of the finest orchestras and opera companies in the country, ” Tourangeau says.

Some people might think of November as the beginning of the holiday season, but for those involved in the health insurance field – it’s the beginning of another open enrollment season. Jason Stevenson of Utah Health Policy Project joins us to answer questions about health insurance this enrollment season, which begins Saturday, November 15th.

More information about open enrollment is available at Take Care Utah.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah's Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission unveiled a package of recommendations to control prison growth today, including a proposal to make first-time drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

A Utah representative is working on a new bill to protect consumers from payday lenders. This comes as a report reveals the state’s payday lending rate now averages more than 400 percent annual interest.

Nano Letters, Article ASAP (DOI: 10.1021/nl400959z). Copyright 2013 American Chemical Society.

A chemical engineering student at the University of Utah will not be receiving his doctorate after investigators determined that he fabricated data in an academic publication. But his senior co-author has been cleared of wrongdoing.

University of Utah investigators found that graduate student Rajasekhar Anumolu manipulated images of microscopic structures called nanorods. The images were published in the journal Nano Letters, but the paper has since been retracted. Jeffrey Botkin is the Associate Vice President for Research Integrity at the university.

Zaniac courtesy photo

A Utah company that specializes in after-school science and technology courses is offering a new class, but this one is just for girls. Zaniac starts its new gender-specific computer programming course Monday. It will include the same material as traditional Zaniac programs, but will be taught by female instructors and only available to girls. The company’s president Sidharth Oberoi speaks to KUER’s Andrea Smardon.

Monday is the kick-off for an initiative to address health problems among Utah’s Pacific Islanders. In response to some of Utah’s highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and infant mortality, the Utah Pacific Islander Coalition has coordinated a series of health promotion events across the state.  

Eagle Mountain City voters have decided they want Rocky Mountain Power to provide their electric service. Eagle Mountain has been managing their own utilities since the city was founded in 1996 with 250 residents. But Mayor Chris Pengra says the city has since grown to more than 25,000 people, and the population is expected to quadruple by 2050. Pengra says if the city continued to run the utilities, it would have to issue bonds to accommodate the growth, and that would drive up rates.

Office of Senator Orrin Hatch

Now that Republicans have a majority in the US Senate, Utah’s senior Senator Orrin Hatch will have more power and influence. He says he wants to try again to repeal Obamacare and roll back a tax on medical devices.

As Republicans celebrated election night, Senator Orrin Hatch was thinking about what could be accomplished with Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell as majority leader. For one thing, he wants to try again to get rid of a 2.3 percent medical device tax passed as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah’s 2nd District Congressman Chris Stewart will get another term. He beat his Democratic opponent Luz Robles easily. In his victory speech, Stewart declared it a good night for the United States of America.

“Tonight, we get to start the fight,” he said. “We get to start the fight to reclaim our country once again.”

Photo courtesy Karen Mathot

The state Department of Health is monitoring a Utahn who has returned from Liberia, where Ebola continues to spread. Karen Mathot has no symptoms, however, and is not expected to contract the disease. She runs a nonprofit organization called Lifting Liberia that helps fund education there. But in an interview with KUER, Mathot said the growing Ebola epidemic has become her priority. She’s just returned from a trip aimed at helping children who have been orphaned by the virus.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

As many as a thousand genes may contribute to the risk for autism. That’s according to a new study by the Autism Sequencing Consortium published his week in the journal Nature. In the largest study of its kind, researchers examined DNA samples from more than 14,000 individuals, including several hundred Utah families. The result was that they dramatically expanded the list of genes identified with autism spectrum disorder.

While the cost of healthcare continues to go up around the country, a new delivery and payment model in Utah is saving money for patients.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah business leaders unveiled a five-year plan on Tuesday to improve the educational system in the state. The plan comes just one day after test results revealed that less than half of Utah students are proficient in math, language arts, and science. Business leaders say Utah’s student performance is on a downward trend relative to the rest of the country.

BioFire courtesy photo

Salt Lake company Biofire Defense has delivered Ebola test kits to Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. The company announced over the weekend that the US Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the test.

The FilmArray BioThreat-E is the first commercial Ebola test to be authorized for use on patients with symptoms of the disease. Biofire’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Wade Stevenson says the company is working fast to meet the demand. 

Photo courtesy Jerry Rapier

The Utah Supreme Court lifted a stay on adoptions by same sex couples Thursday.  That changes the possibilities for many families, but one Salt Lake City man told KUER  that it doesn’t erase the debt his family has incurred in order to adopt. 

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert has concluded negotiations with the Obama administration on his Healthy Utah Plan, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily take effect in Utah. The state legislature still has to weigh in, and lawmakers might be hatching a different plan.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

BioFire Diagnostics announced its plans Wednesday to double its workforce in Salt Lake City and build a new facility. The announcement comes as the company awaits federal emergency authorization to release a rapid test for Ebola.

Photo courtesy curiosityunleashed.com

Utah held its first ever statewide broadcast focused on STEM education Tuesday. It was designed to inspire students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math. 

Tami Getz, Executive Director for Utah STEM Action Center, spoke with KUER before the broadcast. She says it’s the beginning of a grassroots outreach and engagement campaign to get children thinking about a STEM related career.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Students at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorsville got an unusual lesson Monday. The children heard a presentation about pornography. The assembly is part of a pilot project organized by Salt Lake County to educate kids and parents about the dangers of what some are calling the “new drug.”

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.

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.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

For those in Utah who are addicted to drugs or mentally ill, jail may be one of the only places where treatment is free and accessible. In part one of a two-part series, KUER looks at how Salt Lake County cares for its incarcerated population.

Talking to people outside the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City, you hear about job losses and the deaths of family members and friends, life events that can derail those who don’t have much of a support system, but you also hear another prevailing strain.

Photo pool, The Salt Lake Tribune

The major party candidates vying to represent Utah’s second congressional district met in a debate Thursday. Republican Congressman Chris Stewart and Democratic challenger Luz Robles faced off in front of a live audience at Southern Utah University in Cedar City.

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