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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Health Care
4:33 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

U Child Asthma Research Relies on Parents to Track Symptoms

The University of Utah has received a 1.9 million dollar research grant to study asthma in children and how better monitoring of the disease could improve health.  The award comes from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. 

Flory Nkoy is Research Director for the Inpatient Division at Primary Children’s Medical Center, and is leading the study which will involve 10 Utah health clinics and hundreds of local families. Nkoy says this project puts parents in the driver’s seat, so they can control their child’s asthma symptoms rather than the other way around.

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Health Care
4:24 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Utah Lawmakers Consider Partnership to Encourage Long-Term Care Insurance

Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would encourage citizens to buy private long-term care insurance. More than 35 states already have this type of public-private partnership.   

Utah insurance broker Craig Oberle told the state Health and Human Services committee that people don’t like to think about long term care, and how much it might cost.

“We all know the baby boom generation and what’s happening, it’s an absolute tsunami that’s coming,” Oberle said.

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Business & Labor
4:53 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Utah’s Business Deals Topped $11B in 2012

Todd Pedersen will stay on as CEO of Vivint which was sold to Blackstone for more than 2 billion dollars.

Utah’s business mergers and acquisitions reached an all-time high last year. That’s according to a report from the MountainWest Capitol Network to be released on Thursday this week. 

The 2012 Deal Flow Report shows that there were 292 deals, topping 11 billion dollars.  Of those, 110 were mergers and acquisitions of Utah companies. Devin Thorpe is President of the MountainWest Capitol Network, and he says 2012 deals increased more than 60% over the year before.

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Health Care
3:29 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Utah to be First State with Dual-Model Health Insurance Exchange

Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Utah has come to an agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services on how it will run its exchange – or health insurance marketplace. HHS has approved Utah’s first-of-its-kind proposal to split state and federal responsibilities. Under the agreement, Utah will continue running the state exchange known as Avenue H for small businesses. The federal government will run a separate exchange for individual consumers. 

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Health Care
3:59 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Utah May “Walk Away” from State High-Risk Health Insurance Pool

Utah is telling the federal government it’s not willing to take on more of the risk and the cost of insuring people with pre-existing health conditions. The US Department of Health and Human Services wants to cap federal spending on state-run high-risk pools because they are running out of funding. The Utah Governor’s office has until Friday to decide whether to absorb those costs in the state, or transition enrollees into a federal program – which they say will cost more out of pocket.

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Public Safety
1:07 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Community Focuses on Life, Legacy of Ricardo Portillo

Mourners at the Rail Event Center in Salt Lake City
Andrea Smardon

A Utah teen accused of punching a soccer referee who later died was charged Wednesday with homicide by assault. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he will seek to try the teen as an adult in the death of 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo. In the meantime, the community is mourning the loss of Portillo at a memorial service and viewing in Salt Lake City. 

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Business & Labor
4:24 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Senator Hatch Files 24 Amendments to Immigration Bill

Senator Orrin Hatch on Tuesday filed 24 amendments to the comprehensive immigration bill put forward by a group of Senators known as the Gang of 8. Hatch’s amendments focus on law enforcement, high-skilled work, health benefits, and back taxes. 

Speaking in Salt Lake City last week, Hatch told KUER the immigration bill would substantially improve border security, but he said there’s more work to be done. 

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Health Care
4:32 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Sequestration Threatens University of Utah Health Research

Cardiologist Dean Li in his lab on the University of Utah campus
Andrea Smardon

The University of Utah expects to lose 19 million dollars of its medical research budget as a result of sequestration. KUER looks at how that loss will impact the research, industry, and health of the state. 

In the Genetics building, on the wall of cardiologist Dean Li’s lab is a map of North and South Korea. He uses it as inspiration for a pair of graduate students. North Korea, in this case, represents cancer. 

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Health Care
3:20 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Report Estimates Data Breach Will Cost $406 Million

Utah Department of Health
Andrea Smardon

A new report shows that last year’s data breach of Utah health records was a costly mistake with far-reaching consequences. An independent analysis by Javelin Strategy & Research predicts that the total amount of fraud perpetrated could approach $406 million in costs. 

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Business & Labor
4:43 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Senator Hatch Says Immigration Bill Could be Improved

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) talks with Zions Bank clients and business community about immigration reform.
Andrea Smardon

Senator Orrin Hatch spoke about immigration reform in Salt Lake City Wednesday at a Zions Bank client event. He praised the 844-page comprehensive legislation put forward by the group of Senators known as the Gang of 8, but stopped short of supporting it. 

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Business & Labor
5:08 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Medical Device Company for Children Relocates to Salt Lake City

Kurt Vedder demonstrates new device designed to improve how elbow fractures are treated in children.
Andrea Smardon

A pediatric medical device company has relocated from Silicon Valley to Salt Lake City. It’s called Fixes 4 Kids, and it recently launched its first device, designed to improve how elbow fractures are treated in children.

Once upon a time, a broken arm meant a bulky white cast covered in classmates signatures. But in the future, it will be a sleek, black customized orthosis. 

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Health Care
5:44 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Community Workgroup Holds First Meeting

Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup meets at the Utah State Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

A select group of healthcare providers, advocates, and community leaders met at the State Capitol Tuesday to discuss Medicaid, and the state’s pending decision on whether to expand the program to include more uninsured, low-income Utahns. Utah Department of Health Executive Director David Patton brought together about 20 people for the Medicaid workgroup.

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Environment & Public Lands
10:18 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Will Utah Weigh in on EPA’s New Cleaner Fuels and Cars Standards?

File: Gas Pump

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is now taking public comment on proposed new cleaner fuels and cars standards. Known as Tier 3 of the Clean Air Act Amendments, they’re designed to improve air quality and public health by reducing the sulfur content of gasoline and making cars more efficient. 

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Science & Technology
5:51 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Google Fiber to Buy Out Provo’s Fiber Optic Network

Governor Gary Herbert and Provo Mayor John Curtis Cheer a Pending Agreement with Google Fiber
Andrea Smardon

It was billed as an epic announcement in Provo. Mayor John Curtis announced Wednesday an agreement to make Provo the third US city to have access to Google Fiber’s ultra-high-speed Gigabit Internet, after Kansas City and Austin. 

Google Fiber General Manager Kevin Lo stood on the roof of the Utah Valley Convention Center with the Wasatch mountains behind him, buffeted by strong winds. He promised all Provo residents would have access to free basic Internet, with the option to upgrade to speeds 100 times faster than the average American can access.

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Public Safety
3:30 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Salt Lake City Resident Narrowly Avoids Explosions at Boston Marathon

Crowd at the Boston Marathon before explosions on April 15th, 2013.
Rennly Williams

After the explosions in Boston Monday, one Salt Lake City mother was relieved to find out that her daughter was safe at the Boston Plaza Hotel. But the family is still having trouble getting past the incident.

Rennly Williams says she didn’t see or hear the explosion at the finish line. Her boyfriend Tom Hickenlooper had finished the race 10 minutes before – faster than he expected because of a knee injury. Just a little slower, and he and Williams might have been there for the blast. 

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Science & Technology
4:44 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Researcher Brings Neuroscience to Utah Foster Families

Dr. Daniel Siegel takes part in the Utah Foster Care Symposium, featuring the findings of his book, The Whole-Brain Child.

The Utah Foster Care Foundation held a Symposium Monday focused on the latest science of child brain development, and how neuroscience is helping foster families overcome trauma and attachment issues.

Foster parents need help and support, according to Mick Woolsey, Director of Education for Utah Foster Care.

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Business & Labor
4:49 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Microsoft Opens Utah’s First Store at City Creek Center

Andrea Smardon

Utah’s first Microsoft store opened its doors Thursday at City Creek Center. Customers were greeted with high fives and cheers at the door. Some came for the giveaways and free concert tickets, but Kelly McClean of Salt Lake City says she came out of curiosity. 

“I’d never heard of a Microsoft store before, so I thought I’d come and check it out,” McClean says. 

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Public Safety
5:27 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Swallow Joins Other Attorneys General Backing Immigration Reform

Courtesy of the Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Attorney General John Swallow is encouraging Congress to enact immigration reform.  Swallow is part of a bipartisan group of 35 Attorney Generals who sent a letter to federal leaders calling for reform that improves the immigration system, keeps communities safe and protects borders. 

Swallow says drug crime, identity theft issues, and gangs tied to illegal immigration are threatening Utah’s safety and economy.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:41 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Conservation Groups Call for Federal Protection of Utah's Parks

Outdoor businesses and conservation groups are calling on the federal government to protect the land in and around Utah’s parks. 29 organizations sent a letter Monday to President Barack Obama calling for lasting protections for state and national parks from overdevelopment. 

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Public Safety
5:50 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Utah Mother of Five Faces Deportation; Friends and Family Plead for Help

Brenda Guzman-Sandoval's five children and brother wait outside the Wallace F. Bennett federal building in Salt Lake City, while supporters meet with Senator Mike Lee's staff.
Andrea Smardon

A Utah County woman with five young children may be deported to Mexico next week. But her family and community advocates are trying to stop that from happening. They met with representatives from Utah's congressional delegation Wednesday, pleading for help and for immigration reform. 

Brenda Guzman-Sandoval was arrested by Utah County Police on March 20th at her home in Orem.  Her 17-year-old brother Moices Guzman was there.

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KUER Local News
5:30 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Boy Scouts Reject Utah Pride Center Troop Application

Utah Pride Center
Andrea Smardon

The Boy Scouts have rejected an application for a scouting troop sponsored by the Utah Pride Center. The gay rights organization recently asked permission to start a troop for 10 middle-school aged children. 

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KUER Local News
9:25 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Sequestration Hits Hungry, Low Income Utahns

Volunteer Carreen Vigil stocks the shelves at Redwood Neighborhood Center food pantry, which has extended its hours to service people from a closed pantry in Murray.
Andrea Smardon

A food pantry in Murray has closed its doors because of federal sequestration budget cuts.  Nonprofit organizations in Utah are trying to figure out how to continue serving hungry, elderly, and low-income people as their budgets are reduced.  KUER looks at how sequestration will affect some of the most vulnerable parts of the state's population.

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KUER Local News
5:12 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Utah Supreme Court Case Challenges Constitutionality of State’s Adoption Laws

Christopher Carlton looks on as the Utah Supreme Court hears arguments in his appeal.
Salt Lake Tribune

The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on the appeal of Christopher Carlton, a Pennsylvania man whose baby was given up for adoption in Utah against his will. 

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Environment & Public Lands
5:31 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Final Plan for Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development Announced

PR Springs, in the Book Cliffs of Utah, slated for tar sands mining.
Before It Starts

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced a plan to encourage oil shale and tar sands development in the Mountain West. The Bureau of Land Management released its final plan Friday to develop and test technologies to extract these fossil fuels in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. But the citizen group Utah Tar Sands Resistance says this move will endanger the environment and public health. 

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Business & Labor
4:02 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

One Year After City Creek Opening, The Gateway Makes New Investments

As City Creek Center celebrates its one year anniversary, the nearby Gateway Mall is standing its ground and making new investments. 

The Gateway has lost about a dozen stores to City Creek Center.  But The Gateway’s General Manager Scott Bennett says the outdoor center for shopping, dining, and entertainment is doing just fine. 

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Politics
4:25 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Pollster Dan Jones Retires from the University of Utah

Dan Jones was honored at the Hinckley Institute of Politics for more than 50 years of work as a political pollster and political science teacher.
Andrea Smardon

Prominent Utah pollster Dan Jones is retiring from his position as Political Science Professor at the University of Utah.  Jones is stepping down after more than 50 years of teaching, but says he will continue his work in political polling. 

The end of Jones teaching career was marked by a crowd of politicians, academics, and students at the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. 

“Dan Jones has had the largest impact of probably anyone in Utah on civic participation,” said the institute’s Director Kirk Jowers.

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Science & Technology
4:47 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

U Plans to Bring Science to Utah Prisons

Biologist Nalini Nadkarni presents a lecture on trees to prison inmates in Washington state.
Benj Drummond

The University of Utah wants to bring science and sustainability into the state’s prisons. The U is developing a project that would work with inmates on recycling, gardening, and composting among other things. It’s part of a trend toward environmental sustainability in prisons – the subject of a workshop at the university that starts Wednesday and runs through Friday. KUER’s Andrea Smardon talks to the scientist who’s working on the university’s new program, Nalini Nadkarni.

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KUER Local News
3:58 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Gay Rights Group to Challenge Utah’s Amendment 3 in Federal Court

Restore Our Humanity Director Mark Lawrence
Andrea Smardon

Hear the full report.

A gay rights organization announced Monday it is filing a federal lawsuit against the state of Utah.  The group Restore Our Humanity is seeking to strike down Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3, which says that marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.

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Business & Labor
10:25 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Zion Curtain Survives Legislative Session

Sen. John Valeninte, R-Orem, stands behind Rep. Ryan Wilcox,R-Ogden, as he presents conference committee report to House.
Brian Grimmett

Hear the full report.

The Zion Curtain  - the barrier shielding restaurant customers form the preparation of alcoholic beverages - will stand this year, despite attempts by state House members to tear it down.  But some changes to alcohol laws did pass, including the ability for restaurant chains to get a single master liquor license. 

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Health Care
9:56 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Lawmakers Set Course for Medicaid Decision

State Senator Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross) introduced a substitute bill which does not prohibit the governor from expanding Medicaid.

Wednesday night, the Utah Senate guaranteed that Governor Gary Herbert will play a key role in deciding if the state will expand its Medicaid program. Lawmakers in both chambers approved  a substitute bill that now sets guidelines for how the Governor will make his decision.

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