Whittney Evans

Reporter

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West. 

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The Salt Lake City council is prepared to pass an ordinance requiring the Police Department send every sexual assault evidence kit in its custody to a lab for testing. 

Here, in this quiet space, no larger than typical college classroom, DNA-soaked cotton swabs hang from clothes pins and photos of crime-scene evidence dress the walls. Jay Henry is Director of the Utah State Crime Lab. He says this is where DNA evidence collected in the aftermath of a sexual assault, also known as Code R kits are tested.

This year’s Utah Education Association convention gave teachers an opportunity to learn new skills, improve their practice and compare notes with other educators. It also gave teachers a venue to speak up about their lack of voice in education policy.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh is president of the Utah Education Assocation. She says public education is too often micromanaged by policy makers, adding there has been too much emphasis on assessments as a means of labeling schools, teachers and students.

Whittney Evans

Republican incumbent Jason Chaffetz is seeking a fourth term. His Democratic challenger is new to politics and not eager to embrace the attention that comes with running for public office.  

Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith has accepted a position as Utah’s next Superintendent of public instruction. A divided school board picked Smith out of four candidates on Friday. 

Whittney Evans

The Salt Lake City Police Department has formally signed on to partner with a national research organization and the U.S. Department of Justice to establish nationwide standards for handling sexual assault cases. 

Brian Grimmett

Utah Transit Authority will likely add holiday service to its 2015 operating schedule. The agency gave preliminary approval to its budget today, which includes money for improved Wi-Fi on Frontrunner and the addition of TRAX and bus service on July 4th, Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Whittney Evans

Democratic Brian Wonnacott challenged three-term Republican incumbent Jason Chaffetz to a debate Tuesday night at Utah Valley University. Both men are competing to represent Utah’s third congressional district.

Speaking about the recent White House security breach on the watch of the Secret Service, Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there are clearly problems with leadership, training and protocol. Wonnacott stumbled on that topic and struggled to clearly answer a question about the federal government’s handling of the Ebola crisis.

Whittney Evans

Same-sex marriage is once again legal in the state of Utah. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday morning it would decline to hear same-sex marriage appeals in five states.

The high court’s refusal to review any of the nation’s gay marriage cases means same-sex couples are free to marry in 11 more states, including Utah. Derek Kitchen is a plaintiff in the case that struck down Utah’s ban. He says families in the 10th circuit, and other states across the country where same-sex marriage bans have fallen, can now plan their lives like every other person in the country.

Whittney Evans

Jon Huntsman Sr. Spoke today for the first time about his new autobiography, Barefoot to Billionaire, Reflections on a Life’s Work and a Promise to Cure Cancer.

Speaking to reporters at the Deseret Book headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City, Huntsman described his life as a series of lucky breaks and tragedies.

The billionaire’s book recounts how he built a manufacturing empire from a modest upbringing in rural Idaho and dedicated much of his wealth to charity.

Whittney Evans

Local health officials say it’s highly unlikely that a person admitted to Primary Children’s hospital yesterday with Ebola-like symptoms actually has the virus. Although medical professionals used the case as an opportunity to make sure they’re prepared to handle potential Ebola cases.

Primary Children’s Hospital Epidemiologist Andrew Pavia isn’t providing any information about the patient who was admitted on Wednesday, but he says the combination of this person’s recent travel history and symptoms initially gave physicians cause for concern. 

U.S. Supreme Court Justices will be talking about Utah Monday as it examines a handful of same-sex marriage cases from across the country. But whether the nation’s high court will take up Utah’s case is still unclear.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban in December 2013, making the state’s ban the first to be challenged by a federal judge. In June of this year, the 10th Circuit Court in Denver concurred with Shelby’s decision. Utah and four other states have since asked the Supreme Court to settle these cases once and for all.

Garrett via Wikimedia Commons

David Burton, the former presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally elected chairman of the Utah Transit Authority board yesterday.  He told reporters that a recent legislative audit criticizing the agency is a no longer a concern.

The audit, released in August criticized UTA for sweetheart deals, excessive pay and bonuses for top executives and insufficient service that disproportionately impacts the poor. But Burton says the concerns highlighted in the audit, have already been addressed.

Whittney Evans

The family of the 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police outside a Saratoga Springs strip mall earlier this month is calling on the U.S. Department of justice to look into the case. Relatives say Darrien Hunt’s civil rights were violated because he wasn’t breaking any laws.

Whittney Evans

The 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed by Saratoga Springs Police last week was laid to rest in Sandy Thursday afternoon.  The funeral took place at an LDS church not far from where he died.

There was little discussion of the circumstances surrounding Darrien Hunt’s death which is still being investigated by Utah County Attorney’s office.  It was a solemn service, broken up by a few moments of joyful tears and laughter. The press was allowed to attend the funeral, but recording devices were not allowed inside the service.

shahram sharif via Wikimedia Commons

The Salt Lake City Council has agreed to move forward with a proposal to require all sexual assault evidence kits in the Salt Lake City Police Department’s custody be tested. The decision comes despite objections from Police Chief Chris Burbank.

The city council made it clear at its Tuesday night work session that it wants more from the Salt Lake City Police Department—more information, more processing of evidence, more transparency and more cooperation.

Brian Grimmett

The U.S. Department of Transportation has denied Salt Lake City’s application for a federal grant that would help the city stretch the Sugar House Streetcar eastward about half a block. Now the city council must decide how to move forward with federal funding off the table.

LDS Democrats

LDS Democrats, the largest caucus in the Utah Democratic Party has a launched a new billboard campaign aimed at Mormon swing-voters.

The billboards focus on education, poverty and LDS scripture. One billboard criticizes Utah’s position in the nation for per pupil spending in public education. It reads quote, “Our children deserve better than last place.” End quote.

One billboard states simply Mosiah 4, referring to the LDS scripture that State Representative and Mormon Democrat Brian King says highlights the churches’ focus on service, giving and reserving judgment. 

Joe Gratz via flickr

U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups ruled this morning that Utah must add two candidates who were rejected by the state’s controversial state school board election process to the November election ballot. The order comes after Waddoups ruled last week that the current process is unconstitutional.

Taylor Hayes

The Utah State Fair Board of Directors met this afternoon with Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen to consider his proposal to build a new minor-league soccer stadium at the Fairpark.  Hansen says the plan could save the fair, which is struggling financially.

Brigham Young University

New Brigham Young University President Kevin J Worthen says a BYU education should elevate and etherealize. That was his message during Tuesday’s inauguration, at which Worthen was sworn in as the University’s 13th president.

Worthen offered the mountains surrounding the Brigham Young University campus as religious symbols of enlightenment. He asked that they be reminders of the learning environment he wishes to create at BYU-- one that not only inspires new learning experiences and spiritual insight, but that also allows students to become different, better people.

Taylor Hayes

Salt Lake County officials broke ground on a new regional park in Kearns this morning. The park is the result of a $47 million park’s bond voters approved in 2012.

Whittney Evans

Groups who oppose gay marriage hand delivered more than 18,000 petition signatures to Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s office Friday. The aim of the petition is to thank the Governor and Attorney General Sean Reyes for defending Utah’s law banning same-sex marriage.

Former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman restated his support for gay marriage this week, calling it inevitable. And even Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has said, that eventually the law will recognize same sex marriage. 

Lauri Rantala via Wikimedia Commons

More people are using electronic cigarettes in Utah, but the rate of traditional cigarette smoking has remained unchanged.

Here at Salt Lake Vapors, Adam Christensen talks to e-cigarette users every day. Christensen says he stopped smoking two years ago with the help of these devices, which heat up liquid nicotine into vapor to be inhaled. 

Whittney Evans

Jon Huntsman Junior was at Rose Park Elementary school in Salt Lake City Wednesday. He was there highlighting Chevron’s Fuel Your School Program, but the former Utah Governor also took the time to chat with reporters about his political ambitions for the future.

The 2012 presidential candidate spoke to students about the importance of science and technology in the global marketplace.  

Brian Grimmett

The Salt Lake City Council will seek federal funding to extend the Sugar House Streetcar eastward to Highland drive. The decision squeaked through as a divided council questioned the success of the existing rail-line. 

In a 4 to 3 decision, the council voted to set aside an additional $3 million to match an anticipated $10.6 million federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.  

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

Attempted Murder is the charge Unified Police are recommending for the 24-year-old Kearns woman who dumped her infant child in a neighbor’s trash can to hide her pregnancy. But the charge may change as the circumstances surrounding the incident come to light.

A 24-year-old Kearns woman has been charged with attempted murder after she discarded her infant child in a neighbor’s trash can Tuesday morning. In an effort to avoid cases like these, local elected officials, medical professionals and law enforcement officers came forward Tuesday afternoon to remind expectant mothers of their legal options.

Alica Englert told Unified Police officers she was afraid to tell her parents about her pregnancy so she discarded the baby girl hoping she would die.

A new poll sponsored by Utahpolicy.com shows most Utahns do not understand where the Common Core comes from or what it does. Meanwhile, proponents continue to defend the education standards against what they say is false information and unfounded fears about federal intrusion.

The Utah State School Board decided Thursday to name Joel Coleman as interim Superintendent of Public instruction. Coleman will hold the place until the board chooses a permanent replacement this fall. But the board was divided on the appointment. 

Coleman was an LDS seminary teacher, a city councilman and a member of the state board of education. Most recently he held the post of Superintendent of Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind. Dave Thomas is the vice chair of the state school board. He says Coleman will be an effective interim leader of Utah schools.

Brian Grimmett

Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart wants to be the next state schools chief. Lockhart announced today  she’s officially applied for the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Less than a year ago, Lockhart signaled she might challenge Republican Governor Gary Herbert for his seat in 2016, but those speculations might have come too soon now that Lockhart is lining up to capture the state’s highest office in public education.  

Lockhart, who is a Registered Nurse, sent an email to members of the media Friday confirming her decision. 

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