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

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.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

The Utah Attorney General’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of misconduct at Stericycle’s incinerator in North Salt Lake.  It’s part of a multifaceted investigative effort announced Thursday by the Governor’s office.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A global forum is taking place at the Salt Palace Wednesday. The conference hosted by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is designed to help Utah businesses expand beyond local borders through imports and exports.

When it comes to international trade, Utah’s growth is above the national average. Governor Gary Herbert says the state has doubled its import-export business over the last 10 years.

“But I’m here to tell you I think we’re just barely scratching the surface,” Herbert says. “I think the potential that we have worldwide is incredible.”

Andrea Smardon / KUER

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held its annual convention in Salt Lake City this week. The organization's leader says Utah may seem like a counterintuitive choice, but it has proved to be a success.

Utah may be sparsely populated, and it may not be the most ethnically diverse state in the country, but the President of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Javier Palomarez was clearly pleased with the turnout.

Another open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance is coming up in November, and rates are going to change. State assistance insurance commissioner Tanji (TAN-jee) Northrup says premium rates increase every year along with healthcare costs. She says preliminary estimates show that premium rates for individuals will go up by about 5.7 percent on average. That’s compared to an estimated national increase of 7 percent.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert is still encountering resistance from fellow Republicans on his plan to provide health coverage to the poor. Utah Department of Health officials briefed a committee of state lawmakers Thursday on their negotiations in Washington. The Governor has said he is pleased with the outcome, but some conservative state lawmakers are still not sold on the plan to expand government assistance in Utah.

Environews USA

A former worker from Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake City has accused the company of illegally burning radioactive waste. Nearby residents are asking Governor Gary Herbert once again to shut down the incinerator.

A new poll shows that Utahns don’t know very much about Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to deliver health insurance to low-income citizens. But when they learn more, they tend to support it. KUER’s Andrea Smardon took to the streets to see for herself what Utahns know and don’t know about healthcare decisions facing state lawmakers. 

Flickr: Sharyn Morrow

Utah ranks 5th in the nation for drug-poisoning deaths, according to data released this week by the Utah Department of Health. Many of those deaths are caused by opioids. But some say that could be changed with better access to treatment.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City are seeing a significant increase in respiratory illness over the past two weeks. They have identified enterovirus D-68 as the likely source of many of these illnesses.

Dr. Andrew Pavia is Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Primary Children’s Hospital. In his twenty years of experience, he says he’s has never seen this many hospitalizations for a viral disease in September.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert says he is very close to an agreement with the federal government on his proposal to provide health insurance for those under the poverty line.

Coming out of his meeting with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Washington, Governor Herbert says he’s gotten about 95 percent of what he’s asked for, and he’s optimistic that a final agreement should be reached shortly.

Courtesy photo

The Utah Labor Commission and the Mexican Consulate are using Labor Day to raise awareness about the work rights of immigrants. Elena Bensor is a Public Information Officer for the Utah Labor Commission, and she says many people don’t know that undocumented immigrants have labor rights.

“It is illegal for the employer not to pay the wages that they are owed,” Bensor says. “Also, employees have the right to medical assistance when they do suffer a work-related accident, regardless of their status.”

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Some conservative lawmakers are still resisting an expansion of Medicaid in Utah, despite testimony from those who can’t afford health coverage and a new analysis showing the economic benefits of the governor’s Healthy Utah proposal.

Charlotte Lawrence tried to contain her emotion as she sat before the state’s health reform task force, with her children on either side. She explained that she is a single parent, working two full time jobs, and she has been diagnosed with cancer. She says she’s done all she can to provide for herself and her family, but it’s not enough.

Utah public health officials are investigating a cluster of illness associated with the consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk.  Officials from the Utah Department of Health say 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been reported in Northern Utah, Idaho, and California. All cases are linked to the consumption of raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County. 

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Salt Lake County sheriff’s office has settled a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union over its immigration detention policies.                                                                        

The ACLU of Utah filed the lawsuit in 2011, accusing Salt Lake County jail officials of holding 22-year-old Enrique Uroza unlawfully for 46 days after he posted bail. As part of the settlement, the county has agreed to end its procedure of delaying releases when authorities suspect an inmate is in the country illegally.

Courtesy photo

Some Salt Lake City arts companies are joining forces Saturday to put on a show that will benefit a homeless shelter.

They call it The Rose Exposed. All six arts groups involved are based at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Linda Smith is artistic director for the Repertory Dance Theatre, and she’s hoping the show will raise awareness about what goes on at the Rose, and build relationships with people in the community.

Courtesy photo

The family of the woman who was severely injured when she drank sweet tea mixed with lye at a Dickey’s Barbecue in South Jordan spoke to the media Thursday at their attorney’s office. Family members say they are not thinking at this time about pressing charges, but their lawyer says he is gathering evidence and witness testimony of the incident.

Eagle Mountain City officials voted Tuesday to approve Rocky Mountain Power's bid to purchase its municipal power company. But it will be up to voters to make a final decision in November.

Eagle Mountain is projected to be among the fastest growing areas in the state over the coming decades. That’s one of the reasons City Councilor Tom Westmoreland thinks the city should get out of the power business.

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