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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KUER Local News
5:23 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Federal Grant Helps Salt Lake Area to Expand Domestic Violence Services

Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center Director Asha Parekh and Police Chief Chris Burbank announce a federal grant to expand domestic violence services.
Andrea Smardon

The YWCA kicked off their Week Without Violence Monday by announcing a $900,000 grant from the US Department of Justice to expand domestic violence services in the Salt Lake area. 

The Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center moved into its new home at the downtown YWCA in June this year.  At that time, the city police department started housing six detectives there. 

“We’re just getting started in terms of the center,” said Director Asha Parekh, “There’s so much more work to do in this area.  I think we’re just scratching the surface of things that we can do as a community.”

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Environment & Public Lands
6:01 pm
Sun October 14, 2012

Study Shows Utah Could Save Twice as Much with Energy Efficiency Programs

Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project Howard Geller and Carol Hunter of Rocky Mountain Power hold copies of the SWEEP report.
Andrea Smardon

A new study shows that efficiency programs could save Utah residents and businesses 1.7 billion dollars by 2020.  A group of energy experts gathered at the state Capitol last week to present their findings to state officials and representatives from the clean energy community. 

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KUER Local News
5:19 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Utah's Immigration Enforcement Law in Judge's Hands

The long drawn out legal challenge over Utah’s immigration enforcement law House Bill 497 is nearing its end.  US District Court Judge Clark Waddoups could rule on the so-called “show me your papers law” any day now.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff gave an update at a meeting of the state’s Commission on Immigration and Migration Wednesday.

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KUER Local News
6:01 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Senator Reid Announces Council on Intergenerational Poverty

Utah lawmakers will be tackling the issue of child poverty in the next legislative session.  Republican Senator Stuart Reid of Ogden announced Tuesday the formation of a council which plans to come up with ideas for legislation that will help pull children out of a cycle of dependence on government assistance.   Reid made the announcement at a conference organized by the nonprofit advocacy organization Voices for Utah Children. 

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Science & Technology
4:35 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Rocky Mountain Power to Expand Incentives for Solar Installations

Rocky Mountain Power plans to offer 50 million dollars of incentives for consumers and businesses who install solar power panels over the next five years.  The Public Service Commission of Utah has approved the utility company’s request for a program that will support 60 Megawatts of new solar energy. 

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Science & Technology
6:01 pm
Sun October 7, 2012

Mozilla Ignite Challenge Looking to Utah for Ideas

A Mozilla Ignite Challenge graphic showing the "sweet spot" where smart networks, open web, and civic innovation meet.

Glenn Ricart first came to Utah to be Chief Technology Officer for Novell.  Today he holds the same title for US Ignite, a federal initiative designed to promote the development of applications and services for ultra-fast networks.  Ricart is now spreading the word about the Mozilla Ignite Challenge, which has $485,000 available to support winning proposals.

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Politics
4:29 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Stewart Scores Business Endorsements in 2nd Congressional Race

Chris Stewart holds a press conference at Utah Metal Works to talk about his vision for the economy.
Andrea Smardon

Republican candidate for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District Chris Stewart was endorsed Friday by the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). 

Stewart staged his press conference at Utah Metal Works – a small business that repurposes scrap materials.  Behind him, a mini excavator fed a pile of insulated wires into a machine that chops them into small pieces, so the valuable copper can be separated.  Stewart told KUER that as a small business owner, he understands what businesses like Utah Metal Works need to thrive. 

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Healthcare
2:46 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

A Health Exchange by Any Other Name...

Utah’s Health Exchange has a new name, along with a new website.  State leaders say they want to distance themselves from the Affordable Care Act.  Starting Thursday, the program which connects small businesses with health insurance carriers will be called Avenue H. 

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Healthcare
4:45 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Whooping Cough Outbreak Worst in Decades

The number of whooping cough cases in Utah has reached a level not seen for more than 60 years.  The State Department of Health says there have been 851 cases of pertussis reported so far this year.  The number of people with the bacterial disease already exceeds the total in 2006 when the last notable outbreak occurred.  Health experts don’t know why Utah and the nation are seeing the worst outbreak of the disease in decades.  

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Environment & Public Lands
6:01 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Cache County Looking for Alternatives to Vehicle Emissions Testing

Governor Gary Herbert will meet with Cache County officials Wednesday in Logan to talk about air quality.  County officials requested the meeting with the Governor to express their concerns about state plans to expand vehicle emissions testing. 

Cache County Executive Lynn Lemon says the majority of the people in his region do not want emissions testing on vehicles.  That’s why the County Council voted against it.  Lemon says the state should not impose this policy against the will of the county.

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Business & Labor
4:27 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Study Released on Intergenerational Poverty

Utah is taking steps to help families break the cycle of poverty and dependence on public assistance. The Department of Workforce Services released a report Friday on poverty around the state. It’s the first in a series of annual reports mandated by the Utah Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act, passed this year in the legislature.

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Politics
9:44 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Jon Huntsman Appears in Salt Lake City

Jon Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye talk to business leaders at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah's 25 Anniversary.
Andrea Smardon

Former Utah Governor and US Ambassador to China Jon Hunstman was back in Salt Lake City Thursday after a failed run for president.  He was the keynote speaker at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah’s 25 Anniversary celebration. 

Huntsman kept his comments focused on the path towards successful economic development in Utah and around the country.  But when the floor was opened for questions, Huntsman was asked – what is the single biggest issue in the election now?   He replied, money in politics.

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KUER Local News
5:43 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

UTA Keeps Salt Lake City’s Free Fare Zone

The Free Fare Zone boundaries as shown on this map will remain the same.
Utah Transit Authority

Utah Transit Authority announced Wednesday that it will be keeping the Free Fare Zone in downtown Salt Lake City on both buses and TRAX.  But the decision leaves some unresolved issues for the UTA.

UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter says the agency originally proposed ending free bus fares in downtown Salt Lake City because of security concerns and because the free fares cost the cash-strapped agency about $200,000 a year in lost revenue.  But some Salt Lake City Council members and other downtown stakeholders wanted to keep the free service.  Carpenter says the UTA listened.    

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Healthcare
5:18 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Governor Herbert Issues Health Challenge

Governor Gary Herbert gets his own health assessment after announcing his 'Choose Health' Challenge.
Andrea Smardon

Governor Gary Herbert is hoping his quest to lose a little weight will inspire other Utahns to get healthy.  Herbert launched a challenge Tuesday at his second annual Health Summit.   The Governor’s ‘Choose Health’ Challenge is a 10-week long program where state leaders are invited to compete with the Governor in adopting healthy behaviors. 

At the Governor’s own personal health assessment next to the ballroom of the Grand America Hotel, Herbert removed his shoes and jacket for a Body Mass Index measurement, and his finger was pricked more than once for a blood sample.

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Science & Technology
11:39 am
Mon September 24, 2012

U Study Finds a Stratospheric Connection to Climate Variability

These graphs show the spatial pattern of surface impact from the stratosphere on the North Atlantic Ocean.

A University of Utah study shows that changes in the earth’s upper atmosphere have an impact on deep ocean circulation patterns in the North Atlantic. 

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Healthcare
4:48 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Utah Study Finds Gastric Bypass Surgery Has Long-Term Benefits

Diet and exercise alone may not be enough to help people who are severely overweight. A new study by researchers at LDS Hospital and the University of Utah School of Medicine shows that patients who have gastric bypass surgery are much more likely to maintain weight loss and reduce their risk for serious disease than obese individuals who don’t have the surgery.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:14 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Salt Lake City Toxic Plume May Get Superfund Status

The groundwater plume was first discovered in an irrigation well at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

A toxic plume that has contaminated the groundwater in a Yalecrest neighborhood for more than 20 years may be cleaned up under the federal Superfund program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency submitted a proposal Friday to add the groundwater plume to the National Priorities List of uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.  The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Salt Lake Valley Health Department, and city of Salt Lake all support the EPA Superfund proposal. 

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Healthcare
10:37 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Utah's Medicaid Overhaul Challenged as Deadlines Loom

The State Department of Health is moving forward on an overhaul of the Medicaid system despite opposition.  Utah’s new managed care contracts are designed to save the state money and are slated to go into effect in January, but some health advocates say the proposed contracts do not ensure quality care for patients.  And the state’s Inspector General says the contracts do not ensure proper oversight of Medicaid funds.  KUER’s Andrea Smardon reports.   

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Healthcare
4:37 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Health Officials Warn of West Nile Virus Threat

As West Nile virus spreads across the country, Utah health officials are advising residents to use bug repellant this holiday weekend.  So far three cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Utah.  Two were contracted out of state, but one was caught in Box Elder County.   JoDee Baker is an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health.  She says West Nile has been detected in a number of mosquito pools around the state.

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Healthcare
2:41 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

New and Improved Survey Data Shows More Utahns Uninsured

State pollsters now call cell phones as well as land lines to collect health data.

The Utah Department of Health released new data Wednesday estimating that more than 13 percent of the population went without health insurance last year.  That’s about 3 percentage points higher than the previous year, but health officials say the increase is at least partly due to improved survey methods. 

UDOH spokesperson Tom Hudachko says you can’t make a fair comparison between numbers in 2010 and 2011 because state survey methods were changed significantly.  For example, pollsters are now calling cellphones instead of just land lines. 

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Business & Labor
9:43 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Amid Excitement and Uncertainty, Immigrants Apply for Deferred Action Status

Attorney Mark Alvarez leads an information session on deferred action status at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City.
Andrea Smardon

A federal rule change went into effect this month allowing immigrants who arrived in the US as children to stay in the country and work legally for two years.   Immigrant advocacy groups are holding workshops all over the state to help people through the application process.

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Healthcare
7:00 pm
Sun August 26, 2012

Doctors Say State's Asthma Plan Should Address Pollution

Some doctors are criticizing the state’s newly-released plan to help those with asthma.  The plan advises asthmatics to avoid pollution, but the President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment Brian Moench says that’s not enough.

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Politics
10:22 am
Tue August 21, 2012

State Democratic Party Denied Fee Waiver Request For Redistricting Documents

State House and Senate leaders told the Utah Democratic Party yesterday, they will have to pay more than nine thousand dollars if they want to see the remaining redistricting documents they asked for in a GRAMA request. The party had requested a fee waiver based on the argument that release of the records was primarily in the public interest. But the Legislative Records committee rejected the Party’s request for a fee waiver in a 3 to 1 vote. House Democratic leader David Litvack voted against his own party, saying the request primarily benefits the political interests of Democrats.

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Healthcare
12:22 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Lawmakers Decide on Benchmark Health Insurance Plan

The state’s Health System Reform Task Force has decided on essential health benefits that all insurance companies must cover.  Lawmakers argued that the benchmark plan should cover the bare minimum to keep it affordable, but some advocates are concerned that it falls short in some areas.

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Healthcare
9:50 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Caring for the Caregivers: Salt Lake County Aging Services Offers Education for Families

Myrna Griffith cares for her husband and great granddaughter.
Andrea Smardon

Salt Lake County Aging Services is offering a new series of classes for those who take care of elderly family members in their home.  It’s called Caregiver Academy.  This evening, the Academy is offering a class geared to help those dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.  This story looks at the particular challenges and needs of family caregivers.

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Business & Labor
5:50 pm
Sun August 12, 2012

Computer Maker Xi3 Promises 500 Jobs

Xi3

The maker of a small, energy efficient computer is promising to hire 500 people in Utah over the next 5 years in exchange for $2 million worth of state tax rebate incentives.  Xi3 (X-I-3) Corporation has offices around the world, but is headquartered in Salt Lake City… and Utah’s government leaders want to keep it that way.  

David Politis is Chief Marketing officer for Xi3 corporation.  His office is on the 12th floor of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Salt Lake City, and the view is expansive.  Politis looks down at the birds. 

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Healthcare
5:28 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Report Finds Increased Medicaid Coverage and Efficiency in Utah

An independent analysis finds Utah’s Medicaid program is using state resources efficiently.  The findings were released this week by Voices for Utah Children, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization. 

The report’s author Allison Rowland thinks the data on Medicaid tells a different story than the rhetoric often heard from politicians. 

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Politics
5:15 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Lawmakers Postpone Decision on Redistricting Records: Documents Remain Hidden in Boxes

State Senate President Michael Waddoups and Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis share a word during a recess of the Legislative Records Committee.
Andrea Smardon

Two bins of documents related to Utah’s controversial redistricting process remain hidden from the public.  That’s mainly because Utah’s Democratic Party is refusing to pay thousands of dollars to let them go.  The legislature’s Records Committee put off a decision Monday on whether to waive the fee for the records request.  The committee decided it needs more information to determine whether the request primarily serves the public or the Democratic party. 

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Healthcare
4:29 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Veterans Cut Ribbon on New Mental Health Outpatient Building

Iraq veteran John Angel Jr. and Vietnam veteran Craig Shipley cut the ribbon on the VA Salt Lake City's new Mental Health Outpatient Building.
Andrea Smardon

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City cut the ribbon Friday on its new Mental Health Outpatient Building.  As troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, VA officials say the number of combat troops seeking help is growing. 

Steve Young is the Director of Mental Health Services for the VA in Salt Lake City.  He says the building they’ve been operating in for 20 years is basically a bunch of old trailers without wheels.

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Science & Technology
7:01 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

The University of Utah Hosts Mars Rover Landing Party

An artist's concept of Curiosity's descent to Mars.
NASA

You don’t have to be at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab to get live, edge of your seat, coverage of a rover landing on Mars.  The rover Curiosity is set to land on the red planet Sunday night, and the public is invited to attend a Mars Rover Landing Party on the University of Utah campus. 

A video clip from NASA’s website describes the entry, descent, and landing process – or EDL – as 7 minutes of terror. 

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