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

David Walsh, Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is expected to make an appearance just south of Utah’s border at Glen Canyon Dam Monday.  Salazar will be there to trigger a controlled flood from Utah’s Lake Powell into Arizona’s Glen and Grand Canyons, the first high-flow release conducted at that dam since 2008. 

Governor Gary Herbert plans to send a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services Friday declaring the state’s intentions on its health insurance exchange. Up until now, the Governor’s Office has not said whether the state will update its existing exchange, Avenue H, to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act - or let the feds create their own exchange in the state. But Utah’s Health Reform Implementation Coordinator Norman Thurston says the letter doesn’t commit the state to anything.

Andrea Smardon

Hundreds of Mormons in Utah participated in gay pride parades across the country this summer.  Now some LGBT Mormons and their supporters have formed a choir in Salt Lake City.  Organizers say they are not pushing a political agenda.  They say they simply want to create a space where all are welcome to sing in praise of God.  But the choir has not been completely welcomed by some Mormon communities. 

On a Wednesday evening at a historic LDS Church in downtown Salt Lake City, about 20 people gather to sing.

Circling the Wagons held its 2nd annual conference over the weekend for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Mormons in Salt Lake City.  The event is intended to be a supportive place for LGBT Mormons and their families, but some were offended by some of the invited speakers, and chose not to attend.

The controversy centered around speaker Josh Weed, a family therapist from Seattle.  He’s an out gay man, and devout Mormon, who says he is happily married to his wife.   Circling the Wagons organizer Anne Peffer said she knew inviting Weed to speak would upset some. 

Cardiology researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute have found that 75 percent of patients taking two common blood-thinning drugs may be receiving the wrong dosage levels.  The Utah researchers presented their findings today (TUES) at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles. 

Utah Governor

Republican Gary Herbert secured his second term in office last night, breezing past Democrat Peter Cooke by more than 36,000 votes.

Just before 11 pm, General Peter Cooke arrived unexpectedly at GOP headquarters to congratulate Governor Gary Herbert on his win. Cooke said he tried calling the governor first but he didn’t pick up. Cooke later returned to the Democratic headquarters to concede, saying Utahns need to continue fighting for education.

Utah’s 2nd Congressional District has been overshadowed by the newly added 4th District this election year.   The race between Jim Matheson and Mia Love has attracted national attention as well as money from out of state, while candidates in the recently redrawn 2nd District have had little time in the spotlight. 

Andrea Smardon

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray turned five years old Monday, and some of the hospital’s smallest and very first patients were there to celebrate. 

First in line for birthday cake were triplets Natalia, Connor, and Janessa Nagel.  They were also the first patients transferred by Life Flight to the newborn ICU on October 29, 2007, the morning Intermountain Medical Center opened its doors.  Hospital Administrator David Grauer said he remembers the moment well.

Thanks to early voting and absentee ballots, 169,000 people have already cast ballots in Utah - or about 13 percent of registered voters. Those are the latest numbers on Friday afternoon from Justin Lee, Elections Specialist for the Lieutenant Governor’s office.  At this rate, Lee said, early voting may make up half of all ballots in the state.

Utah has three independent candidates running for Congress this election.  But most voters haven’t seen a single ad or billboard about their campaigns.  For a candidate with no funds or party support, it’s an uphill battle to get a message out.  This story looks at what it means to be an independent candidate in Utah.

Andrea Smardon

Utah businesses interested in expanding their global sales got some help Monday at an International Trade Summit at the Marriott in downtown Salt Lake City.  The conference  - hosted by the Governors Office of Economic Development - gave local business people a chance to meet the state’s Foreign Trade Representatives.  Ariel Briggs is Coordinator for the State Trade and Export Promotion Program.  

A new national survey reveals the most important issues to small business owners in this year’s election.  Utah is in line with national trends - rating the economy as the most important issue.  But the Beehive state parts ways with the rest of the country on which Presidential candidate is a better supporter of small businesses. 

George Washington University and Thumbtack.com surveyed more than 6000 small businesses across the country. 

Andrea Smardon

Democrat Jay Seegmiller came out with an attack Thursday on his Republican opponent for the 2nd Congressional District Chris Stewart.  Seegmiller called Stewart a hypocrite for accepting federal stimulus dollars and for refusing an invitation to debate. 

Seegmiller squinted into the sun as he stood in front the State Capitol building, where he once served as Representative.  He told reporters that it was here he learned that if you say something, you better mean it, or someone will call you out on it.  

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.”

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.    

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.

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. 

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.

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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