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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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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Health Care
1:21 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

H1N1 “Swine Flu” on the Rise in Utah

H1N1
Wikipedia

Health officials say influenza is rapidly spreading around Utah. The state Department of Health has logged more than 200 flu-related hospitalizations this season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 36,000 people die every year from the flu. So far in Utah, there are no confirmed deaths, but state health officials only track flu-related deaths in children. Health department epidemiologist David Jackson says vaccines are still available.

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Health Care
4:04 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Telescope Implanted in Fremont Man’s Eye

Dr. Majid Moshirfar along with medical team at Moran Eye Center implant a tiny telescope in patient Craig Chappell’s eye.
Moran Eye Center’s Refractive Surgery Program and Cornea Program

A legally blind Wayne County man is the first Utah patient to undergo a new procedure – in which a telescope is implanted in the eye. The operation conducted at the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center on December 26th is expected to result in better vision in coming weeks.

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Education
11:59 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Westminster Alum Starts Scholarship for Single Moms

Ann and Tony Merritt
Courtesy of the Merritt Family

When Westminster alum Anthony Merritt died this year, he and his wife left money to start a scholarship for single mothers at the college.

Tony Merritt was born into poverty. His wife, Anne, says Tony’ mother was the sole provider in his family.

“She worked as a domestic, she had 8 children, things were very, very rough. So Tony always said if we had the means to do it that we should set up a scholarship at Westminster,” says Ann Merrit.

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Health Care
3:13 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Utahns on Primary Care Network Won't Lose Insurance Yet

Utahns who receive health insurance through the state’s Primary Care Network will likely have more time before they are cut from the program. PCN was set to expire at the end of this year, but state health officials say they have verbal confirmation from the federal government that the program will be funded for another year.

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Health Care
5:14 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Homeless Utahns, The Dentist Will See You Now

Fourth Street Clinic
Andrea Smardon

Homeless Utahns will be able to get dental care at a clinic in downtown Salt Lake City thanks to a gift from a local business.  Alsco, a linen and uniform rental company has agreed to provide 125,000 dollars a year for five years to fund a full-time dentist at the Fourth Street Clinic. KUER’s Andrea Smardon reports that there is a pent up demand for dental services among the homeless and low-income populations.

Looking at the brand new dental chairs at Fourth Street Clinic, Russell Flowers breaks into a smile, revealing some missing teeth.

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Public Safety
5:15 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

West Valley Police Audit Uncovers Issues with 13 Domestic Violence Cases

West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo
Andrea Smardon

The West Valley City Police Department has announced the results of an audit of its former sex crimes unit. The audit focused on an allegation that a large number of cases last year were left uninvestigated, and that a member of the unit had inappropriately closed cases without following protocol.

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Health Care
4:53 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Intermountain Doctors Say Bad Air Quality Associated with Spike in Patients

Air quality along the Wasatch front this week has reached levels above what the federal government deems safe, and doctors at Intermountain Medical Center say they are already hearing a lot of related health complaints from their patients.

Among those seeing a spike in patients is Denitza Blagev, pulmonary and critical care physician at Intermountain Medical Center. Common symptoms include chest tightness, chest burning, and shortness of breath.

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Health Care
3:36 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Utah Obamacare Enrollment Up More Than 400%

The number of Utahns who have signed up for health insurance through the federal exchange quadrupled last month.  That’s according to federal enrollment data released Wednesday morning.

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Science & Technology
4:10 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

BYU Geologists Discover Supervolcanoes in Utah

BYU geologist Myron Best at the site of the discovery
BYU

Brigham Young University geologists have found evidence of some of the largest volcanic eruptions in earth’s history in their own backyard. The scientific journal Geosphere has published some of their recent findings about supervolcanoes.

Looking at the land West of Cedar City, known as Wah Wah Springs, there is no indication that there was any kind of volcano, let alone one of the largest eruptions in earth’s history. But BYU geologist Myron Best says it’s been hidden in plain sight for millions of years.  

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Health Care
3:29 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Some Utahns Find Affordable Insurance on Healthcare.gov, Some Don’t

Frame shop Signed & Numbered, owned by Phil Sherburne who was able to buy health insurance for his family for $123 a month.
Signed & Numbered

Now that healthcare.gov is working better, more Utahns are going online to sign up for insurance. KUER’s Andrea Smardon reports that it’s affordable for some, expensive for others, and not available at all for more than 100,000 Utah citizens.

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