Bob Nelson

Reporter and Host for All Things Considered

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in Mass Communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he has worked for 25 years and is thrilled to be back at KUER.  Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.

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File: League of American Bicyclists Screen Shot

Utah’s bicycle-friendly ranking is in the top ten in the nation for the first time ever. The League of American Bicyclists traditionally marks the beginning of National Bike Month by releasing its rankings. Utah moved to #8 compared to 2013’s #14 ranking. Each state gets a ranking based on a level of achievement in the 5 “E’s”; engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

File: Bill Ingalls/NASA, via Associated Press

Alliant Techsystems announced it is merging the majority of its holdings with Orbital Sciences. The company is best known in Utah as ATK with operations in Magna, Clearfield and Promontory. A company press release says the 1-point-seven billion dollar deal involves spinning off the parent company’s Sporting Group.

Software engineer Brian Wonnacott ran unopposed for the Democratic seat in the 3rd Congressional District against Republican incumbent Jason Chaffetz Saturday. The avid outdoorsman says he regularly climbs Mount Olympus and Grandeur Peak. In asking delegates for their vote, Wonnacott expressed his realistic view of his campaign.

“I’ve climbed Mt. Rainier and Kilimanjaro and now I hope to climb the highest mountain of all, the bureaucracy of the US Government,” say Wonnacott.

Judy Fahys

Charles Stormont will be the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. He’s been working in the Attorney General’s office since 2008. He ran uncontested at the Democratic Convention. Following an impassioned nomination speech by Representative Patrice Arent, Stormont declared his stand against Amendment 3.

“It is time for an attorney general who will not play politics with Utah families,” says Stormont.

He says he doesn’t question the character of his opponent, Sean Reyes.

File: Utah Valley University

The number of Utah women in CEO or corporate board positions is the 3rd lowest in the nation. The findings released Wednesday are from a Utah Valley University study titled “The Status of Women Leaders in Utah Business.” The report shows of the 228 companies surveyed, only 4.8 percent (11) have female chief executive officers compared to 95.2 percent (217) male CEO’s. That’s nearly 10 percent lower than national figures for women in business.

Bob Nelson

Rocky Mountain Power and various rescue crews in the Salt Lake Valley are running three coordinated rescue exercises this week. Monday’s exercise was the first in the series with a mock victim trapped below an industrial power supply box in a Salt Lake City industrial park.

Bob Nelson

The Salt Lake County Emergency Preparedness Expo is going on until 8 this evening at the South Towne Expo Center. Jeff Graviet is the Emergency Services Director for Salt Lake County. He says it is important that at least once a year residents assess how prepared they for unforeseen disasters.

File: Michelle Schmitt, Salt Lake County Mayor's Office

A small number of Midvale senior citizens gathered for the ground breaking ceremony of a new Senior Center this morning. Local seniors regularly meet at an old 3,500 square foot building, originally one of the first senior centers in the valley in Midvale City Park. By next summer they will be enjoying the new 20,000 square foot center on the city hall grounds. Traci Lee is with Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services. She says seniors love going to the center.

Bob Nelson

 The first annual Exposition of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, was held on Saturday at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. The free event was hosted by Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a STEM charter school in Sandy. Hundreds of students in grades 6 through 12 demonstrated their STEM skills to the crowd of parents and spectators.

File: Utah Department of Agricultre and Food

The “Utah’s Own” line of locally generated products are going to be a prominent feature at the 8th Annual Governor’s Economic Summit Conference opening Thursday in downtown Salt Lake City. The unique public/private effort to promote the Utah brand is run through the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  Jed Christenson is the director of marketing and economic development at Utah’s Own. He says their recent poll of 150 members shows an average increase of almost four jobs per company through the recession.

University of Utah

A series of earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park is being reported by the University of Utah Seismograph Stations that began last Thursday. The strongest temblor was Sunday morning around 6:30 with a magnitude 4.8 on the Richter scale. 

Jamie Farrell is a Post Doctoral Research Associate is the U’s department of geology and geophysics. He says in the estimated 3,000 seismic events each year in and around Yellowstone, this one stands out.

File: Rocky Mountain Power

Plans were announced Wednesday for the first utility-scale solar project by Rocky Mountain Power. The 9,000-panel solar farm in Utah will produce enough power to supply 500 homes. Paul Murphy is the company’s spokesperson. He says Rocky Mountain Power is responding to the trend of increased customer desire for renewable energy and tax incentives being offered to keep the initial company investment down.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Utah’s employment numbers for February keep the state among the top five in the country with the lowest unemployment rate. The non-farm payroll employment grew by an estimated two and a half percent adding 32,200 jobs compared to the same month last year. Construction jobs had the highest single increase at 6.2 percent with 4100 new jobs. Carrie Mayne is the Chief Economist with the Department of Workforce Services. She says weather helped add builders to the workforce but construction is still a long way from reaching pre-recession levels.

Bob Nelson

A new coalition in support of marriage equality was announced today Tuesday.  Utah Unites for Marriage kicked off its effort in the same lobby of the Salt Lake County offices where more than 1,000 members of the LGBT Community were married last December and January.  Former U.S. Attorney for Utah, Bret Tolman co-chairs the group with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and former news anchor Terry Wood.

Image from DonkeyHotey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

State Republican and Democratic Party Caucuses are this week. People will gather in neighborhoods across Utah to discuss candidates and issues and to elect their neighborhood delegate. Tuesday is the Democratic Party Caucus. Republicans meet on Thursday. Anna Thompson is the Communications Director for the Democratic Party. She says this is the smallest organizing unit in any election, so it’s very important for everyone to become involved.

Bob Nelson

The thousands of commuters through Sugarhouse everyday may only be aware of the project called  'The Draw at Sugarhouse " due to traffic slowdowns on 1300 East. But on June 6th the traffic will once again flow freely when the tunnel between Sugarhouse Park and Hidden Hollow west of 13th is scheduled to officially open. New York artist and engineer Patricia Johanson dropped in to check on the progress Thursday. She won the design competition for the project 11 years ago.

Bob Nelson

A doctor at the University of Utah Hospital implanted a small wireless heart monitor Tuesday in a first-of-its-kind procedure in the Intermountain West. Dr. Fred Han performed the procedure by placing a device the size of a triple-a battery under the skin, near the heart.

File: Canyon Country Discovery Center Campaign

The Four Corners School in Monticello has announced they’ll start construction on the new $8.5 million Canyon Country Discovery Center Campus in June. Janet Ross, the executive director of the school, says it’s the realization of a dream that began in 2002.

File: Governor's Office of Economic Development

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development, or GOED put its newly redesigned website on line today Monday. Michael Sullivan is the communications director for GOED. He says the new Business.Utah.Gov answers a request by businesses and the legislature for more transparency in the operation of the office.

File: C.R. England Trucking

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has been awarded a 496-thousand dollar grant to reduce the emissions of Wasatch Front-based heavy-duty trucks. The funding comes from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. Lisa Burr is senior research analyst with the Utah Division of Air Quality. She says the money goes directly toward improving engine technology.

File: Google

Officials with Google announced Wednesday that Salt Lake City is on a list of nine cities where the company wants to expand its ultra-high speed network called Fiber.  It would be the same system that residents of Provo are now signing up for. Michael Slinger is the director of business operations for Google.  He says the announcement only marks the beginning of a six to nine month process.

File: prosperity2020.com

The University of Utah College of Engineering marks National Engineering Week boasting a doubling of the number of engineering graduates since 1999. 368 engineering and computer science degrees were issued that year by the U. Then Governor Mike Leavitt challenged the state’s higher education system with the 2000 Engineering Initiative. 777 total degrees were issued in 2013. Dean of the College Richard Brown says the result has been a reverse of the so called brain drain of 30 years ago.

Bob Nelson

A $6.6 million dollar renovation is planned for the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Crews will begin work as soon as the Ute basketball season is over so the project can be completed before the commencement season starts.  Shireen Ghorbani  of University Facilities Management says the sound baffle known as “the cloud” is going away.

“And then above in that space in the center will be a grid system that can hang curtains to break up the space in different ways,” says Ghorbani.

She says the project fills the long-time need for medium sized spaces on campus.

Bob Nelson

What is Salt Lake City going to look like in 2050 with double the population predicted along the Wasatch Front? The University of Utah’s Department of City and Metropolitan Planning hosted the 4th Annual Mayor’s Symposium Thursday. Participants worked on that population question with the theme Mountain Urbanism, Mountain Modernism. Nan Ellin is the chair of the department.  She says the intent of the event is to catalyze the conversation about how to build harmoniously in the mountain landscape.

Bob Nelson

The riderless testing phase of the new all electric bus at the University of Utah is now complete. Alma Allred, the Executive Director of Commuter Services, says they’ll start shuttling riders for the next testing phase as soon as they get approval to release the federal grant money.

File: Governor's Office of Economic Development

Utah is the top destination state in the nation for products coming from Mexico but ranks only 37th among states exporting to Mexico.  The Governor’s Office of Economic Development hosted a free Mexico Business Symposium Monday at The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake City in an attempt at reaching a better balance of trade. Harvey Scott is the director of International Trade and Diplomacy for the Office. He says while Utah already has strong business ties with Mexico, there is room for improvement.

Bob Nelson

Chocolate: The Exhibition officially opens Saturday at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Sarah George is the executive director of the museum. She says the exhibition gives visitors a good sense of the botany, culture, and history of the cacao that date back to the Olmec people of the Mexican Gulf Coast.

Bob Nelson

Governor Gary Herbert says he hopes Utahns will increase their donations to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund when filing their Utah State Tax return. He spoke at an event promoting the fund Thursday at the YWCA Center for Families. He says a 50 percent increase from 2 dollars to 3 is not too much to ask in a state that leads the nation in charity and volunteerism.

Pamela Atkinson talked about a young family she met Wednesday night at the St. Vincent DePaul Soap Kitchen.  She says, despite their struggles, she could clearly see they had already accomplished a lot.

Dan Bammes

A settlement in the Chevron Pipeline diesel fuel spill at Willard Bay State Park has been finalized between the company, Utah State Parks and Recreation, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Nearly 21,000 gallons of fuel spilled following a Chevron Pipeline Company pipe failure on March 18th, 2013. The DEQ announced Tuesday that with the Utah Water Quality Board approval, the 5-point 3 million dollar settlement becomes official.

File: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The official Internal Revenue Service tax season kicked off Friday. Legislators and low-income advocates from United Way, Voices for Utah Children, and “Earn it…Keep it…Save it” gathered at the state capitol to mark the day. They are urging Utahns to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or E-I-T-C, when they file their returns. IRS spokesman Bill Brunson says the average Utah EITC was $2,300 dollars last year and he says the amount could be as high as $6,200.

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