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 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. 

Whittney Evans

Law enforcement agencies in Salt Lake County seized 31 pounds of heroin in a series of busts from February through July of this year.   But cracking down on the drug trade is complicated and could have some negative consequences.

Officials say the demand for heroin in Utah is a public health crisis. Drug cartels operating from Mexico are bringing significant volumes of the drug into the state. The latest series of busts led to 21 arrests accompanied by charges that range from distribution and racketeering to money laundering.

Utah State Office of Education

Utah students have the highest ACT scores in the nation-- among states that test all of their high school juniors. This is the second year the state has topped the list since officials began paying for all public school students to take the college entrance exam, back in 2012.

Last year, Utah trumped eight states on ACT scores. This year it outscored 12, as more states have decided to offer the exam to students for free.  The exam costs upwards of $40 per student.

Mark Peterson is a spokesperson for the Utah State Office of Education.

Whittney Evans

With all eyes on the death of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri and two recent officer involved shootings in Salt Lake City, Police Chief Chris Burbank opened his doors to members of the media today to discuss appropriate vs. inappropriate force.

Whittney Evans

Police are still searching for the suspect involved in a Salt Lake City night club shooting over the weekend. A crowd of people were caught in a hail of gunfire on Saturday at Inferno Cantina, a Mexican restaurant and dance club, located at 122 West Pierpont Avenue in Salt Lake City.  Six people suffered non-life threatening injuries as a result of the shooting. Police Detective Greg Wilking says when the suspect fled the bar, an armed security guard from inside the club followed and fired at least one round, uncertain if the bullet hit anyone.

Avatar/Media via Wikimedia Commons

The Salt Lake City Council doesn’t want to shut down any more golf courses, but the mayor’s office says it might be necessary to ensure the golf program is sustainable for the long term.

Pkg203 via Wikimedia Commons

This summer, Salt Lake City began issuing warning citations to Lyft and Uber drivers, but city officials are considering a plan to accommodate the ride sharing business model, with some conditions.

West Jordan City

The West Jordan City Council is meeting tonight to consider approving a severance package for former city manager Richard Davis, who resigned from the position on Tuesday.

West Jordan City’s council-manager form of government means Richard Davis was responsible for most of the city’s day-to-day operations. Now, according to city code, assistant city manager Bryce Haderlie will assume that role in the interim.

Salt Lake City officials have outlined a number of new efforts to combat homelessness and crime in the downtown area recently. In addition to Salt Lake City’s new Metro Support Bureau, the city is trying to making more housing available to those who need it most.

The new Metro Support Bureau is located at The Gateway Mall, about a block from Pioneer Park.  Officers there have arrested more than 400 criminals in the area since it was created in early July. But Chief Burbank says arrests alone will not solve the problems that plague the neighborhood.

Over the weekend, Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox were out to crush any notions that the political rivals can’t put their party leanings aside for some good-natured fun. The two battled it out in a demolition derby at the Salt Lake County fair.

McAdams orchestrated the derby, hiring James Simko AKA “Gumby” to build both his and Cox’ derby cars.

The fact that you’re a right-wing republican, is that going to color who you’re rooting for today?, I ask him.

The Utah State School Board has voted to extend a waiver that allows the state to forego key parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law. This comes as critics slammed the waiver for tying Utah to a set of college and career-ready education standards known as the Common Core.

School Board members are calling their decision a compromise--- guarding the state against onerous requirements under NCLB while promising to make a firm statement to the federal government that Utah has control of its academic standards, testing and accountability.

Whittney Evans

Local business and government leaders say they need nearly $9 billion to protect existing water resources in the Salt Lake Valley and provide enough water to keep up with demand for the next half century.

More than 450,000 people in the Salt Lake Valley get their drinking water from this source, a set of concrete reservoirs in Millcreek near Parley’s Canyon. 

The Salt Lake Aqueduct terminal reservoir is where water traveling from the Deer Creek reservoir collects and is distributed to Salt Lake and Sandy City businesses and residents. 

The Utah Attorney General’s office today has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the state’s same-sex marriage battle. The decision comes after the 10th Circuit court of appeals in Denver ruled Utah’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Brett Neilson via Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank announced his department has been selected to undergo a federal review of how it handles sexual assault cases.

The Police Detective Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will conduct the review. Salt Lake City is one of four police departments nationwide to be selected. Police Detective Greg Wilking says it’s expected to take about a year to complete but there is no definitive deadline.

Connor Boyack

 

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in 3rd District Court, the libertarian group Libertas Institute alleged the Utah school board violated state law by adopting the common core state standards. And the group says the governor’s recent call to investigate the standards will likely overlook that violation. 

The number of eligible Salt Lake County residents applying for county property tax relief programs has declined in recent years. That’s why Salt Lake County officials are reaching out to seniors and residents with disabilities during the month of August to get them signed up before the next deadline.

David Sallay via Wikimedia Commons

South Jordan City will likely not be asking voters to decide whether to split from Jordan school district this November. The five-member council has decided instead to join an agreement with the Jordan School Board.

Whittney Evans

The Salt Lake City Police Department began putting extra attention on Pioneer Park this month with the creation of a special bureau. Law Enforcement officials say that effort combined with new family-friendly activities will make the park and the neighborhood safer.

If you’ve spent any time around Pioneer Park lately, whether it be for the downtown farmer’s market or the Twilight Concert Series, you may have noticed some athletic, enthusiastic people flying high above you.

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City has once again expanded its bike-share program to include more stations, more bikes and more options.

More than 6,000 people rode GREENbikes, 26,000 times in the program’s inaugural year. It began in April 2013 with 10 stations and 55 bikes. Now officials are hoping to get more people on two wheels by doubling the number of stations and bikes across the city. Salt Lake City Councilor Erin Mendenhall says that’s crucial. 

Wikimedia commons

Animal doctors at a laboratory in Logan should know by the end of the week how ten horses found in a Magna field over the weekend died. The answer could lead to criminal charges for the animal’s owner.

On Friday afternoon Salk Lake County Animal Services and the Unified Police Department responded to reports that several horses were found dead in a field near 3500 south and 9200 west in Magna. One horse was still alive but in poor condition.

For the past two years, the federal government has allowed Utah to waive key parts of the No Child Left Behind law. Now that waiver is up for renewal and the state board of education is questioning if it should instead go back to the largely unpopular law.  

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert is calling for a comprehensive legal review of the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. He’s hoping a legal analysis performed by Utah’s Attorney General will quash any misconceptions and ease ongoing concerns that the state has lost control of academic standards and curriculum.

The committee tasked with finding a new state school superintendent has hired a private search firm to seek out potential candidates. Salt Lake City-based SEARCH Group Partners will work alongside the committee to help recruit applicants and sift through resumes.

Utah has missed out on approximately $100 million in property tax revenue over the past eight years because of an error in how property taxes are calculated. Now as the state moves to fix the problem, taxpayers will likely be asked to pay more.

The office of the state auditor released a study on Monday that details how local governments across the state have been miscalculating new commercial and residential growth, thus driving down the certified tax rate. David Stringfellow is Chief Economist for the state auditor’s office.

Michelle Edgar via flickr

The West Jordan City Council decided last night it will not look into separating from the Jordan School District. But some members of the council, including the mayor say without investigating all the options, West Jordan residents could end up paying higher taxes.

Whittney Evans

About 50 people gathered at the Utah Governor’s mansion Wednesday morning to deliver thousands of signatures collected for a petition asking Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes to stop fighting same-sex marriage in court.

Nicole Nixon

A man accused of shooting and killing a Draper City police officer last September will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Thirty-four-year-old Timothy Troy Walker was convicted Tuesday morning in 3rd District court with aggravated murder in the death of 32-year-old police Sergeant Derek Johnson.

National Education Association

A Former Utah Teacher of the Year who was just elected president of the nation’s largest teacher’s union plans to use her authority to fight over testing in public schools.

Whittney Evans

Independence Day festivities are underway across the state. 

The heat didn’t keep hundreds of people from gathering along State Street this morning for the nearly 2-hour Murray City Fun Day Parade. James Burt and his family, including two 18 month old twin girls relaxed in the shade. Burk says it’s his family’s favorite holiday.

“To see everyone come together, wearing the colors celebrating our freedom, hot dogs, and hamburgers. We love it,” Burk says.

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