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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Politics
4:11 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Congressman Jason Chaffetz Opposes Count My Vote Initiative

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)

Mitt Romney has endorsed the Count My Vote initiative in Utah, but Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT3) said Monday he is opposed to changing the state’s nomination process from a caucus-convention system to direct primaries. In his annual address to the state legislature, Chaffetz told lawmakers he could never have beat incumbent Chris Cannon without the caucus system. He said he didn’t have big name ID, and he didn’t have big money, but he did spend time talking with delegates.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:50 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Bill to Restrict the Permitting of Medical Waste Incinerators Clears Committee

Children play in backyards that are less than a football field a way from Stericycle
Brian Grimmett

A bill that would prohibit the permitting of new medical waste incinerators within two miles of a residential community passed a legislative committee Friday, and now heads to the state Senate for consideration. A Republican lawmaker’s bill has succeeded where a Democrat’s bill failed.

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Health Care
11:54 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Salt Lake City Man in Recovery from Heroin Addiction Falls in Coverage Gap

Salt Lake City man works to overcome heroin addiction at First Step House.
Andrea Smardon

Hundreds of people are expected at the Utah State Capitol Thursday afternoon to rally for those with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Advocates will be calling attention to a shortage in public funding for treatment, and they’ll be asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

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Health Care
11:36 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

House Republicans Work to Close “Coverage Gap” Without Expanding Medicaid

Representative Jim Dunnigan
Brian Grimmett

Republican state lawmakers have come up with a proposal to provide health insurance for those who fall below the poverty line, but it does not expand Medicaid in the state. Democrats say rejecting those federal dollars is irresponsible.

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KUER Local News
4:53 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

State to Revoke License of Adoption Agency

An adoption agency in American Fork has been put on notice that the state plans to revoke its license. In September last year, the Office of Licensing for the Utah Department of Human Services told The Adoption Center of Choice to correct various operating problems. An extensive list of violations includes missing documentation, failure to account for expenditures made on behalf of birth mothers, and failure to conduct home studies before placement of babies.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:25 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Protestors not Satisfied with State Action on Stericycle

Dr. Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment with protestors at the state capitol. (Feb. 13, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

Environmental activists and concerned residents rallied in front of Governor Gary Herbert’s office Thursday to let him know that they would not be satisfied until Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake is shut down.  A recent health report by the state, and news that the company may move its incinerator to Tooele County have not changed protestors' minds.

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Health Care
6:57 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

The Coverage Gap: Transgender Utahn Can’t Get Health Insurance

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those find themselves in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

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Health Care
6:57 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

The Coverage Gap: Transgender Utahn Can’t Get Health Insurance

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

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Local Government
3:34 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Bill to Change Utah Gas Tax Advances

A proposal to tie Utah’s gas tax to the price of fuel is heading to the state Senate for consideration. Members of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in support of a bill which would impose a percentage tax per gallon of gas.

Utahns currently pay 24.5 cents to the state for every gallon of gas, a tax rate set back in 1997. Senator John Valentine believes that the tax should more closely align with the price of gas – since that’s how the state pays for road construction and maintenance.

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Environment & Public Lands
8:21 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Study Finds No Extra Environmental Cancer Risk Near Incinerator

The Foxboro neighborhood of North Salt Lake is adjacent to Stericycle's medical waste incinerator.
Andrea Smardon

The Utah Department of Health has completed an analysis of 35 years of cancer data in the area surrounding Stericycle’s North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator. The study shows no increased environmental cancer risk for residents in South Davis County.

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LGBT Rights
10:15 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

State Troopers Arrest Protestors at Capitol Sit-in for LGBT Rights

Protestors defy orders from the Utah Highway Patrol, and sit in front of the Governor's office.
Andrea Smardon

A dozen protestors were taken away from the Utah Capitol Monday afternoon in handcuffs. The protestors were there to demand that an LGBT anti-discrimination bill be considered. They were arrested when they blocked the entrance of a Senate Committee hearing.

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Education
5:29 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Westminster Cheers for 23 Students in Russia

Westminster College Junior Jessica Jerome will be ski jumping in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Westminster College community will be watching the opening ceremonies in Sochi with extra pride this year. The liberal arts school in Salt Lake City has more students competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics than any other U.S. college or university.

In all, there are 23 skiers and snowboarders in Sochi right now who are working simultaneously towards a degree at Westminster College. Deb Vickery is their academic advisor on campus.

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Health Care
5:50 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Utah Gets Visit from Federal Healthcare Officials

Kim Gillan is the new Region VIII Director for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are in Utah this week on a two-day trip to talk with state lawmakers and advocates. The visit was ostensibly a chance for Utahns to meet the new regional director, but healthcare advocates say they also got a pep talk to sign more people up for insurance, and to continue pushing for a Medicaid expansion in the state. 

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LGBT Rights
4:38 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Despite Public Outpouring, Senate Leaders Determined to Ignore Anti-discrimination Bill

Senate Bill 100 sponsor Steve Urquhart (R-St George) encourages citizens to voice their support of anti-discrimination legislation by posting notes on the door of the Senate chamber.
Andrea Smardon

The Utah Senate chamber doors were plastered with pieces of blue paper today - all expressing support for a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. But Senate leaders are still determined to bar the bill from being debated on the floor.

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Health Care
3:22 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

House Republicans Working on “Utah Solution” for Poor, Uninsured

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert said this week that the state has a moral obligation to provide some type of health coverage for those living in poverty. House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart says she doesn’t want to accept any federal dollars to do that. Now Republican House lawmakers are working to find a solution that will solve the so-called Medicaid gap, but will also be politically acceptable to those in their own party.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Utah House Speaker Challenges Governor Herbert

Members of the Utah House of Representatives stand and applaud during Speaker Becky Lockhart's remarks. (Jan. 27, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

The Utah House of Representatives opened this year’s legislative session with some bold remarks from Republican Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, challenging Governor Gary Herbert.

Just like speeches from years’ past, Speaker Lockhart railed against the over-reach of the federal government, and insisted that Utah resist. But this time, she targeted Governor Herbert who has recently said that he favors some limited expansion of Medicaid in the state.

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Public Safety
1:13 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Stericycle In Talks with County and State Officials to Move Incinerator to Tooele County

Stericycle Medical Waste Incinerator in North Salt Lake
Brian Grimmett

UPDATE: Since the broadcast of this story, Stericycle has confirmed in a written statement to KUER that it is seriously considering the option of moving, and that the company has taken steps to secure property in a remote area of Tooele County. The company's Vice President for Legal and Regulatory Affairs Selin Hoboy says the details are still being finalized.  

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Health Care
3:58 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

U Physicians Investigating Fertility Clinic Mix-Up

Sean Mulvihill, M.D., chief executive officer of the University of Utah Medical Group and associate vice president for clinical affairs, speaks to the press. (January 22, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

The University of Utah is investigating an incident at a fertility clinic where an employee is accused of illegally using his own semen to father at least one baby. The University is clarifying its relationship with the now-defunct clinic, and trying to uncover what records still exist from more than 20 years ago. U officials say up to 1000 patients could possibly have been affected.

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LGBT Rights
5:07 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Federal Court Grants Utah More Time to Prepare for Amendment 3 Appeal

LGBT Advocate Kate Kendell
Judy Fahys

A federal appeals court has granted Utah's request for more time to prepare opening arguments in defense of the state's same-sex marriage ban. A lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Amendment 3 case happened to be speaking at the University of Utah Law School today, and said she was disappointed by the extension, but not discouraged.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:17 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

U Hospital System Facing Tough Decisions on Medical Waste Disposal

Bins of trace chemotherapy waste are picked up once a week at the Hunstman Cancer Hospital on the campus of the University of Utah.
Andrea Smardon

Last year, clean air activists called on Utah’s hospitals and clinics to stop sending their waste to Stericycle’s incinerator in North Salt Lake. One of the state’s largest healthcare providers, The University of Utah, is looking at some significant changes to the way it handles medical waste, but there are some types of waste that university officials say they have no other option at this time but to burn.

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Education
4:58 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Trayvon Martin’s Mother Starts Conversation about Racism in Utah

Sybrina Fulton at University of Utah's Olpin Student Union Building, Jan. 16, 2014
Andrea Smardon

Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton spoke at the University of Utah today as part of its Martin Luther King celebration week. Fulton called on all Utahns to stand up against racism and injustice in their communities.

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Education
4:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

U Kicks Off MLK Week with Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is scheduled to speak at the University of Utah's Olpin Student Union Building on January 16th at noon.

The University of Utah kicks off its week-long Martin Luther King Junior celebration Thursday with an appearance by Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Florida almost two years ago. The U’s theme this year is “Beneath the Hoodie: A Look at Racial Profiling in America”.

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Health Care
3:58 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

“Hair Maidens” Open Utah’s First Lice Clinic

Hair Maidens co-owner Ashley Hafer demonstrates a combing technique for lice treatment.
Andrea Smardon

What do you do if someone in your family has head lice? Not so long ago, you had to make do with home treatment. Now, Salt Lake City has its first ever lice clinic.

They call themselves Hair Maidens, and they consider lice their calling. Co-owners Rita Skolnick and Ashley Hafer saw a need in Utah and decided to fill it. Hafer is a nurse and a mom.

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Local Government
3:02 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Utah Lawmakers to Consider Gas Tax Hike

A Republican state representative is proposing a gas tax increase this year. The Utah legislature has not passed a fuel tax increase in more than 15 years, but Representative Jim Nielson of Bountiful argues the roads need funding, and those who use them should be the ones who pay. Republicans as a rule don’t like to do be associated with tax increases, but Nielson insists raising taxes on gasoline is a conservative idea.

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Health Care
10:18 am
Sun January 12, 2014

After Delay, State Now Processing Medicaid Applications from Healthcare.gov

After weeks of waiting, thousands of Utahns will find out if they qualify for Medicaid. Confusion and technical difficulties with the federal exchange website healthcare.gov have left some Utahns’ applications in limbo.

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Business & Labor
3:20 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Josh Romney Joins Governor’s Office of Economic Development Board

Josh Romney has been appointed to the Board of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Romney is founder of a real estate company, serves on the board of Charity Vision International, and has done political and fundraising work for his father’s presidential campaigns. Director Spencer Eccles says Romney brings valuable experience and contacts to the group, which aims to recruit and grow companies in Utah.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:42 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

University of Utah Announces Grants for Study of Air Pollution

Kerry Kelly University of Utah Air Quality, Health and Society Program

The University of Utah has awarded six researchers grants to study the consequences of regional air pollution.  The seed grants, which total $165,000, are the first to come out of a new cross-disciplinary program focused on air quality.  

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LGBT Rights
5:12 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Group Aimed at Helping Mormons Overcome Homosexual Behavior Shuts Down

North Star International is now the largest single faith-based ministry organization for Latter- day Saints who experience same-sex attraction.

A group that once helped gay Mormons attempt to eliminate their same-sex attractions has closed its doors. Salt Lake City-based Evergreen International is turning over its resources and mailing list to an organization for gay Latter Day Saints called North Star International. The merger makes North Star the biggest group in the world that deals with LDS teachings and same-sex attraction.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:15 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Air Quality Bills to Focus on Changing Utahns’ Behavior

State Democratic Representatives Brian King, Joel Briscoe, and Patrice Arent at a 2013 air quality rally on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Utah’s air quality issues became evident early this winter, and state lawmakers are working on a number of bills to address the problem. Most of them are focused on getting Utah citizens to change their behavior.

Air pollution was reportedly a hot topic at the most recent Utah Republican House caucus. But Republican Representative Jim Nielson of Bountiful says it’s not a partisan issue, and lawmakers have been working together to address it.

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Health Care
1:26 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Utah Awarded 5.4 Million Dollars for Increasing Children’s Health Coverage

Utah has been awarded 5.4 million dollars from the federal government for its efforts to get more children covered by health insurance. The performance bonus comes from the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. For the second year in a row, Utah is one of 23 states to receive it. But some advocacy groups say there are still too many uninsured Utah children.

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