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 worked for 25 years, and he 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: 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.

Bob Nelson

The Governor's Office of Economic Development launched its 2-million dollar STEM Media Campaign Thursday at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City. In 2013 legislators approved 8 and a half million dollars to support math readiness and another 1 and a half million to set up the Utah STEM Action Center to build student skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Executive Director of GOED, Spencer Eccles, says kids need to have these skills whether they are going to be artists or astronauts.

File: Office of Utah Governor Herbert

Governor Gary Herbert has appointed state school board member Tami Pyfer as his new education advisor. The Governor’s spokesman Marty Carpenter says Pyfer brings in a very broad-scoped education experience from administrator to parent volunteer in public and private classrooms.

Bob Nelson

A small crowd of about 150 Westminster College students, faculty, and families from the neighborhood celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Junior today Monday. They marched through central Sugarhouse.  Luciano Marzulli is the director of Diversity Student Affairs and Services at Westminster. He says the legacy of Dr. King should be celebrated because there’s still a lot of work to be done.

File: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors all-electric cars still aren’t for sale at a traditional dealer showroom in Utah but at least now you can charge one in the southeast area of the state. The Blanding Visitor Center parking lot is the place to find the first Tesla Supercharging station located in Utah.

Jeremy Redd is Blanding’s city manager. He says the supercharger station fits there and the company is thrilled.

File: University of Utah Continuing Education

Continuing Education at the University of Utah has just added a new cybersecurity certification class to its list of technology education courses. The class is called CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) Certification.

Yesterday’s fire at Utah State University’s Extension Facility in St. George has resulted in an apparent total loss. Brian Higgenbotham is the Associate Vice President for the extension. He says it’s going to be difficult to put a dollar value on the damage to this center of community education.

“In St. George we actually have, we had I should say, a very nice facility that had conference rooms, and rooms for demonstrations for some of our family consumer science programs, also had large area for our 4H,” he says.

File: Utah Solar Energy Association

Part of Rocky Mountain Power’s 76.3-million dollar rate increase request includes a $4.25 monthly increase for Utah customers who generate their own power through windmills or solar panels. The utility classifies them as net metering customers. Rocky Mountain Power’s Dave Eskelsen says the request protects traditional customers and is a very small part of the rate increase request. He says it's also intended to help ready the system for technology for which it was not designed.

Bob Nelson

West Valley City’s new mayor, Ron Bigelow, was officially sworn into office along with three city council members Monday. The new mayor’s speech highlighted the diversity of the city’s residents as both strengths and challenges for the city. Bigelow called on West Valley citizens to play a larger part of making the city a better place to live.

File: Sarah Vaughn

Researchers from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah have discovered a cellular mechanism that drives the spread of breast cancer, known as metastasis, to other parts of the body. 

File: soundspike.com

KUER's Entertainment Contributor Dan Nailen says the "weird quiet period" after the Holidays is rare in Salt Lake City these days. If there was one, it came to a decisive end Friday with the arrival of Reverend Horton Heat with Jello Biafra and Old Man Markley.

Also mentioned: Tennis, Nellie McKay, Maria Taylor

Bob Nelson

Two Salt Lake County residents have died from influenza. Salt Lake County Health Department Epidemiologist Ilene Risk confirmed the deaths Thursday.  Risk says she can’t stress enough the importance of getting vaccinated because flu rates continue to rise.

“Our numbers have steadily increased. We have not seen the peak of this flu season yet,” says Risk.

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