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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Today, many residents along the Wasatch Front will be lighting fuses and gazing up at the sky. July 1st is the first day to legally ignite fireworks across the state. 

State-approved fireworks can be discharged from July 1st through July 7th and again on July 21st through July 27th between 11 am and 11 pm. Hours are extended to midnight on Independence Day and Pioneer Day.

This year, the state legislature gave authority to the Salt Lake County Council to place fireworks restrictions on unincorporated areas of the county instead of the state forester.

Whittney Evans

It’s easy for most people to access fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re hankering for a nutritious snack or trying to improve their diet. But many senior citizens in Salt Lake County don’t have that luxury. The county’s aging services department is now delivering fresh produce to the elderly.

Salt Lake County’s MealsPlus program offers weekly produce to Meals on Wheels recipients who request it. Jeremy Hart manages the program.

“We know that there is a lack of fresh produce in the diets of homebound seniors.”

The Salt Lake City Police Department is investigating the actions of a police officer who shot and killed a dog while searching for a missing child in Sugar House. Meanwhile, Police Chief Chris Burbank says the vitriol aimed at his officers as a result of the incident has gone too far.

Earlier this month, Officer Brett Olsen entered Sean Kendall’s backyard through an unlocked gate while searching for a missing child. Saying he felt threatened, Olsen shot dead Kendall’s 2-year-old Weimaraner named Geist.

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It’s unclear how soon the Utah Attorney General’s office will appeal the 10th Circuit ruling that upholds same sex marriage in the state. But lawyers for the state have a strict deadline to decide whether they want the entire 10th Circuit court to review the case. 

Whittney Evans

 Utah Governor Gary Herbert said Wednesday that  he is disappointed in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. It upholds a lower court ruling that struck down the state’s law banning same sex marriage.

Herbert says regardless of his personal views on same-sex marriage, he believes states have the right to determine the definition of marriage.

He says he fully expects the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Polls are open until 8 pm tonight for today’s primary election. But voter turnout in Salt Lake County is already very low.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherri Swensen says mail-in ballots and votes cast prior to Election Day might bring voter turnout into a double digits percentage this year. But right now, she says turnout is only about 6 percent locally.  She says mail-in ballots can be post-marked by midnight tonight.

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A report from non-partisan research group Utah Foundation says road repairs and increased public transit options top the list of ways to prepare for population growth along the Wasatch Front. But the question is who will pay for it?

Whittney Evans

A former West Valley City police officer who shot and killed 21-year-old Danielle Willard in a 2012 drug bust is facing criminal charges. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office filed the charges this morning in 3rd District Court.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has charged former West Valley City narcotics detective Shaun Cowley with 2nd degree manslaughter. Gill opted not to file charges against detective Kevin Salmon who also fired his weapon at the scene. Cowley fired the first and fatal shot.  

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Utah lawmakers were at the state capitol today discussing how to deal with thousands of untested rape in the state. They heard from law enforcement, victim advocates and the state crime lab. But there’s still no consensus on whether all the kits actually need to be tested.

When it comes to gang activity, most people picture cities like Los Angeles and Newark. But gangs are a problem in unexpected places, too — like Salt Lake City, where law enforcement officials are using federal racketeering charges to try to bring them down.

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A vaccination known to prevent cervical cancer is still not offered at public health departments in at least five Utah counties. Meanwhile, the state is nearly dead last in the number of girls who get vaccinated. 

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City’s downtown farmer’s market opens for its 23rd summer season this Saturday. And one local vendor is preparing for another busy year.

It really is a family affair at The Soap Lady’s house in Sandy. Kathy Wawrzyniak’s kitchen is brimming with pots and freshly baked loaves of soap.

“Well I have my sister Michelle and she just does everything,” Wawrzyniak says. “She’s concentrating on wrapping, making sets today, but she helps me make soap and does pretty much everything. I have my niece in the back. She does bath bombs today.”

Salt Lake City’s summer fireworks shows will resume this year, a fire station on the city’s west side is saved from the chopping block and city employees can expect a pay raise. Those are some of the key items the Salt Lake City Council approved in the 2014-2015 budget.

The council’s final budget held fairly close to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s proposal. With the help of last year’s property tax increase, city employees will get a 3 percent pay increase and a chunk of the city’s maintenance backlog will be addressed.

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A public hearing on the Salt Lake City budget Tuesday night drew a crowd of people  concerned about  the possible closure of a golf course on the city’s west side. City officials say the golf program is no longer sustainable.

Whittney Evans

Local elected officials, members of the arts community and business and civic leaders came together in downtown Salt Lake City this morning to break ground on the new Broadway-Style Theater. They also announced the new name of the facility that is linked to a major financial contribution.

Utah State Board of Education

The nominating committee tasked with narrowing the pool of Utah State School Board candidates began interviewing applicants this morning. The governor-appointed group is questioning 36 candidates from 6 districts about funding, the role of the state board and the controversial common core standards.

Whittney Evans

Every year, Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, an alternative high school in Salt Lake City awards college scholarships to dozens of graduates. And every year, many of those scholarships go unused. A new partnership between Horizonte and Salt Lake Community College helps grads stay the course and enroll in college, despite the obstacles.

Whittney Evans

A beloved neighborhood near Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City is making a bold transition from blight and isolation to vibrancy and activity. The evolution moved forward today in a big way after city officials broke ground on the new Marmalade Library Branch.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams wants county employees to be extra-welcoming and respectful to their increasingly more diverse neighbors. As part of a new Inclusion Campaign, McAdams is pushing for every county employee to have completed diversity awareness training by the end of this year. He’s also reaching out to employers outside county government to do the training.

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Members of the Salt Lake City Council are not fond of the Mayor’s plan to scrap summer fireworks shows. They say the ban would make little difference in the valley’s overall air quality problems. 

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In five days, 977 students will graduate from Westminster College. That’s a record for the private liberal arts school.

The 2014 graduating class includes 610 undergraduates and 367 graduate students. It’s made up of students from 35 U.S. States and more than two dozen foreign countries.

John Baworowsky is Vice President for Enrollment Management.  He says a variety of degree programs have motivated more undergraduate and graduate students to enroll at Westminster.

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The board that oversees the Utah Transit Authority decided on Wednesday how much money will go into next year’s employee pay-for-performance program. While more UTA employees will get bonuses next year, individual payouts will likely be smaller. 

The agency will divide more than $1.9 million dollars between eligible employees in 2015, compared to last year’s $1.74 million dollars. UTA Spokesman Remi Barron says the 2013 was successful for UTA and its employees. 

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The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency joined Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker at the downtown Library today to challenge local businesses and institutions to save money and reduce pollution by consuming less energy. 

Salt Lake City leaders are deciding whether or not to make room for embattled peer-to-peer car-sharing service Lyft. Lyft is one of a handful of new online companies that connect drivers through a smart-phone app to passengers in cities all over the globe.

Salt Lake City resident Darin Berntson first used a car-sharing app like Lyft, called Uber when he was traveling in Boston. He likes that the experience is a bit more personal than a taxi cab.

The University of Utah will be closing its Red Zone retail stores after the year 2017. The Utah Board of Regents decided Friday to allow the stores to complete their contracts. The decision comes in light of a 2013 audit that accused the stores of unfairly competing with private businesses.

    

Utah’s superintendent of public schools is apologizing for a political endorsement that was posted earlier this week on the state office of education blog. An official with the lieutenant governor’s office says the endorsement is a criminal offense, but the office doesn’t plan to pursue charges.

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Homelessness in Utah is down slightly from last year. But for the chronically homeless; people who are usually dealing with severe mental illness or drug addiction—that number is on the rise. 

Scott Catron Via Wikimedia Commons

Communities along the Wasatch Front are getting some extra help planning for population growth. Salt Lake County is partnering with the Wasatch Front Regional Council in a new pilot program that gives communities technical and financial aid to brace for demands on services and transportation.

Thirteen communities in the Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties were each awarded between $10 thousand and $55 thousand-dollars worth of consulting to resolve difficult planning issues. 

Ted Knowlton is the Deputy Director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council. 

Lotus Head via Wikimedia Commons

Salt Lake City is grappling with how to keep its golf program economically sustainable without injecting taxpayer dollars. Options include closing down one of the city’s eight public courses. City officials say golf is less popular than it used to be, which is making it difficult for the program to continue paying for itself.

Salt Lake City Arts Council

   

Lauryn Hill, Beck, De La Soul, TV On The Radio and Wu Tang Clan are just a few of the bands that will take the stage at Pioneer Park this summer for the annual  Twilight Concert Series July 10th-August 28th.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says the Twilight Concert Series is the largest summer arts event in the city, bringing tens of thousands of people downtown for nearly two months, who eat at local restaurants, shop at local stores and create a an overall buzz throughout the city.

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