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

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.

Photo courtesy ACLU of Utah

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is asking for more time to file its opening briefs in the case involving same-sex marriage recognition, but the ACLU opposes the extension.

The personal information of patients at a Tooele hospital has been exposed in a cyberattack. Administrators at Community Health Systems, which operates Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele, say the attack took information from its computer network earlier this year.

The Tennessee company says that no medical or credit card records were taken in the attack, which may have happened in April and June. But the company said the attack did bypass its security systems to take patient names, addresses, birthdates, phone and Social Security numbers.

Photo courtesy Moab Desert Adventures

The summer outdoor retailer show is at the Salt Palace this week, and some locals are using the event as a chance to get the increasingly powerful outdoor industry involved in the Utah public lands debate. Instead of “drill, baby, drill” they’re pushing the tagline, “play, baby, play.”

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A national poll shows Utah’s uninsured rate has not changed since the federal Affordable Care Act required all Americans to have health insurance.  This reflects trends across the country, where states that fully embraced the law's coverage expansion are experiencing a significant drop in the number of uninsured residents. But Utah and other states whose leaders still object to Obamacare are seeing much less change.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Demonstrations against the violence in South Sudan took place in Utah and throughout the country Wednesday as President Salva Kiir visits Washington DC for an African-US summit. The Nuer community in Salt Lake City walked up State Street to the Utah Capitol, calling for peace and the deposition of Salva Kiir. The demonstration comes as the United Nations reports this week that militias in South Sudan killed at least five relief workers of Nuer ethnicity.

Utah Valley University has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to attract and retain science and engineering students. UVU officials say they will use the money to increase the number of local graduates who can fill the demand for high tech work.

This year, the number of computer science majors at UVU is going to grow almost 30 percent. That’s according to Michael Savoie, Dean of Technology & Computing. 

Andrea Smardon / KUER

This weekend, one of the original restaurants at The Gateway shopping center in Salt Lake City will serve its last meal. Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill is closing Saturday. While there is a growing list of closures at The Gateway, one restaurant is opening this month that promises a new experience.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

University of Utah Hospital surgeons performed a kidney transplant this week using an organ from a donor with hepatitis C.

61-year-old Andres Galvan of West Jordan has a huge smile on his face, just four days after his kidney transplant. He raises his hands in the air as he thanks God and his doctors for what seems like a miracle. Doctor Jeffrey Campsen performed the surgery, and he says Galvan’s operation is a huge step for healthcare in Utah. 

Utah women are more than twice as likely as men to work at low-wage jobs. That’s according to a new study released Wednesday from the National Women’s Law Center.

The study shows that about 17% of Utah women work at jobs that pay less than $10.10 an hour, compared to 7.4% of men. Women make up almost two thirds of the low-wage workforce in the state, but Utah is not unique in this way.

courtesy University of Utah Health Care

The US Surgeon General issued a call to action Tuesday to prevent skin cancer.  It’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, and Utah has a higher rate of melanoma than any other state.

An all-electric bus stopped in Salt Lake City Monday on a demonstration tour around the US. The Utah Transit Authority is looking at the bus for possible future use.

There are a few things you notice right away on board the latest model of Proterra’s 40-foot battery-powered electric bus. The driver controls are minimal, there’s a back window that let’s in more light… and it’s quiet. Matt Horton, the VP of Sales for Proterra Incorporated gives me his pitch in under 15 seconds.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A group of Utah dancers was featured this week on the Fox show So You Think You Can Dance. National Dance Day is Saturday, and the group submitted a video of the routine that many are doing across the country in hopes of being featured on the program.  But these Salt Lake City dancers have a special distinction. They’re all stroke survivors.

Photo courtesy Community Action Provo

Children in Utah are more likely to be living in poverty today than they were two decades ago. That’s according to new data released from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The percentage of Utah children living in poverty rose from 12 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2012. That’s a concern for Deputy Director of Voices for Utah Children Terry Haven.

A federal court in Washington DC ruled Tuesday that Obamacare subsidies are illegal. Utah is among 36 states that would potentially be affected by this ruling, but for now, Utahns will continue to receive those subsidies.

Health officials say West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitos in Utah. But so far, no human cases have been reported.  The virus has been found in mosquito pools in Box Elder and Uintah counties. Rebecca Ward with the Utah Department of Health says humans who contract the virus may not necessarily develop symptoms, but it can be very serious, particularly for those with compromised immune systems.

Medical waste company Stericycle has cleared another hurdle in its effort to relocate its incinerator from North Salt Lake to Tooele County. The local planning commission approved a conditional use permit for the new facility this month, though two commissioners voted against it.

Stericycle Vice President of Corporate Communications  Jennifer Koenig says the permit is necessary to move forward with a new facility, but it’s only one step among many.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A University of Utah AirMed team can now deliver emergency care to newborn babies. The perinatal team has just been licensed to transport babies from zero to 30 days, and they have a new larger helicopter for the necessary equipment.

University of Utah chief flight nurse Bart Chournos says he’s been treating pregnant mothers for 30 years. He travels by helicopter to expecting moms in need of urgent care at smaller, regional hospitals throughout the Mountain west.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah lawmakers were stunned to hear Thursday that the number of people who fall in the so-called health coverage gap is significantly higher than they thought. Researchers from the University of Utah presented results from a new report on the Medicaid eligibility expansion population to a state health committee.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Wearing fake grass skirts and plastic leis, health advocates took turns going under a limbo pole in front of House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s office Wednesday. The idea was to highlight the plight of Utahns who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, and the pole was steadily lowered to represent each month this year that they have not been able to pay for healthcare. The mood was light, but Christine Stenquist quickly became emotional when she began talking about why she is taking part in this demonstration.

An independent audit of Salt Lake County’s Behavioral Health Services system was released Tuesday. Officials say it validates the county’s move to a managed-care model.  County Mayor Ben McAdams called for the audit last year following news that provider Valley Behavioral Health (VBH) would discontinue service to hundreds of patients due to budget cuts.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A Utah veteran says he’s helping to protect the Western world by suing a former Guantanamo prisoner. Retired special forces sergeant Layne Morris of South Jordan believes Canadian national Omar Khadr is a potential threat to national security. But a senior US military official says Morris is wrong and out of line with his lawsuit.

In 2002, Layne Morris was partially blinded by shrapnel from a grenade thrown from an al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Some minority babies in Utah are more likely to experience health problems or die than their white counterparts. That’s especially true for refugees. A new research project out of the University of Utah aims to help African refugee mothers deliver healthier babies. 

A new national report shows that there is a shortage of workers with developed skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  The Brookings Institution report analyzed how long job vacancies were posted last year for various occupations. The study’s author Jonathan Rothwell says STEM jobs took the longest to fill everywhere across the country, indicating difficulty finding workers with adequate skills.

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that two private companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. It’s the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

Brian Grimmett

Alliance for a Better UTAH has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, asking the FEC to investigate allegations that Utah Senator Mike Lee violated election laws.

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wants more money from the federal government to help prevent obesity and injury, and is seeking public input on its proposal. The UDOH is asking for 1.5 million dollars for Preventive Health and Health Services. That’s an $850,000 dollar increase over the amount Utah originally applied for this fiscal year. Currently, the block grant funds are primarily used by the state and local health departments for the prevention of obesity and injury.

Snowbird

There will be beer at Snowbird’s Oktoberfest after all. Commissioners with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control approved a single-event permit for the festival Tuesday, but the discussion around Utah’s liquor laws is not over. 

Wikipedia

The US Department of Labor is holding town hall meetings in Moab this week to help uranium workers who may be eligible for compensation and medical benefits.

UPDATE: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released a statement since this story aired on Friday, June 20th:

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