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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Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker unveiled his $229 million budget Tuesday for the next fiscal year. It includes a 3 percent pay raise for city employees and funding for air quality initiatives. But it also proposes some cuts the city council may resist.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is recommending employee pay raises and continued funding for air quality initiatives in his 2014-2015 budget proposal. He’s also calling on the state auditor to look into why the city’s property tax revenue is lower than expected. 

Speaking to the press Tuesday afternoon Becker once again stressed the city’s role in addressing poor air quality.

“ It is very much at the heart of this city’s financial success and prosperity," Becker says. "It is a dark cloud hanging over the city.”

Gloriaricardi via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is prepared to start regulating electronic cigarettes. But advocates say the proposal would be detrimental to consumers and businesses.

The FDA’s plan is to classify electronic cigarettes, a personal vaporizer that delivers nicotine as a tobacco product. This means merchants will be banned from touting the devices as a safer alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes.

Whittney Evans

Ten of Salt Lake County’s 16 cities have combined forces and set aside $200,000 to increase services for the homeless in Salt Lake County. It’s a new collaboration spearheaded by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. 

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A Salt Lake City taxi cab company says the city should be more serious about cracking down on ride-share company Lyft instead of just warning drivers who city officials say are breaking the law.

Lyft is a smart-phone app that connects passengers to local drivers who offer rides with their own personal vehicles, identified by a pink mustache on the grill. City officials say it’s an innovative idea, but the company must first comply with local rules and regulations.

Pkg203 via Wikimedia Commons

Salt Lake City is issuing warning citations to anyone offering a car-ride service without a business license—and yes that means the drivers of the pink mustachioed cars that recently hit Salt Lake City streets.

San Francisco-based Lyft is a booking service that connects ride-seekers to local drivers through a smart-phone app. The drivers use their own vehicles, which can be identified by a large pink mustache on the grill. The company launched its program in Salt Lake City about a week ago.

GOP delegates passed a resolution at Saturday’s state convention to defend the caucus and convention system. The issue likely forced one incumbent Senator into a primary election.

By a show of hands, delegates opposed changes the state legislature made this year to the nominating process – a compromise between supporters of the Count My Vote initiative, who want a direct primary election and backers of the caucus and convention system. But delegates like Michael Willson, say it violates the right of the party to exercise political speech.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is working with local businesses and homeowners to stamp out crime in and around Pioneer Park…with video cameras.

The SafeCam program encourages businesses and residents to share their security camera footage with police who can then view the camera footage in real time by tapping into their IP addresses. Mike Brown is Deputy Police Chief at the Salt Lake City Police Department. He says businesses and developers are looking to clean up the neighborhood along Pioneer Park which is a well-known spot for drug deals.

Brian Grimmett

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he supports school grading, but he says a single letter grade isn’t enough information to determine how well a school is performing. Herbert was speaking at his monthly televised news conference on KUED.

Governor Herbert says it’s important to have an accountability system that clearly illustrates a schools successes and weaknesses. He says his education advisor Tami Pyfer has come up with an alternative system that would do that.

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Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s education advisor is working to replace Utah’s two school accountability systems with one easy-to-read, yearly report card. The newest school grading system received mostly negative responses when letter grades were first released last fall.

Utah’s school accountability systems use factors like end of year tests, student growth and graduation rates to show how schools are performing. School grading assigns letter grades A through F and the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System or UCAS grades schools based on a 600-point-scale.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the state of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action. Utah lawmakers have considered a similar ban in the past. But advocates say marginalized groups still need protections.

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker visited a group of 8th graders at Hillside Middle School Monday to answer questions about climate change in advance of the 44th annual Earth Day.

Students at Hillside Middle School spoke at length about climate issues like melting ice caps; migratory bird habitats and droughts. Becker was a senior in high school the year Earth Day became a national holiday. It was a time he says he knew very little about his own impact on the environment.  

uber.com

A taxicab alternative e-travelers hail with a smartphone app will be available in Salt Lake City starting at seven o’clock tonight. Two companies called Uber and Lyft have announced plans to expand here, but city officials say the companies must first comply with safety and fair business rules.

Whittney Evans

Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is featured in Next month’s issue of National Geographic. The article explores Utah’s ancient history as a hot and swampy island teeming with dinosaurs.

The article follows a group of researchers, hunting fossils in the remote landscapes of Southern Utah, which about 75 million years ago, looked more like the Louisiana Bayou.

On the heels of a heated conversation with the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday, Police Chief Chris Burbank maintains the department’s backlog of unprocessed rape kits is not an issue of cost or bureaucracy—but necessity.  Today he announced steps to make the process more transparent. 

The Salt Lake City Police Department has hundreds of unprocessed rape kits collecting dust on a shelf. Now the Salt Lake City council is looking into how to best manage the backlog of evidence.

Data from the Salt Lake City Police Department show 625 kits that contain physical evidence of a sexual assault are still in custody and have not been sent to the state lab for DNA testing.

Whittney Evans

The walls are up at the new  Guadalupe School in Rose Park. And school administrators say the fundraising campaign is on target for an August opening. 

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is looking for residents of unincorporated Salt Lake County to take part in a new citizen’s advisory committee. The committee will be tasked with deciding how to preserve unincorporated communities, provide high quality services and keep taxes low. The Salt Lake County Council will consider a resolution today to move forward with the committee. McAdams says the so-called Community Preservation Project will bring peace to a decades-old fight about the future of unincorporated Salt Lake County.

University of Utah

Utah’s higher education system has been chosen to collaborate with 11 other states to improve college participation and completion rates. The state has received about $200,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the time and resources the project will require. Higher education officials have identified three key issues the state will focus on.

Veterans Health via Flickr

In the wake of another tragic shooting at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, the Veteran’s Affairs office in Salt Lake City is reaching out to military veterans who are seeking mental health services and is trying to dispel any misconceptions about mental health and violence.

Seventeen teachers in the Ogden School District were told not to come back to work next fall.  Many were surprised to learn one Jr. High School took the brunt of the layoffs. 

Six teachers at Highland Jr. High School will now have to find a new job. 

Ogden School District Spokesman Zach Williams says the school isn’t keeping pace with the progress other schools are making, adding the district is in the process of implementing a school improvement program.

Tnvols2 via Wikimedia Commons

An official with the U.S. Department of Education is in Salt Lake City today talking about the impact technology has on young children. Dr. Libby Doggett is President Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of early education. She's at the Hilton Hotel speaking and taking questions.

Doggett’s presentation, called “High Tech Tots: Opportunities and Challenges” explores how ever-increasing screen time can both aid and impair early learning. But she’s focused on helping technology improve education for young people. 

http://schools.utah.gov/superintendent/

The Utah State Office of Education announced today State School Superintendent Martell Menlove will retire after only a year and three months on the job.

Menlove was appointed as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in January 2013 after serving as deputy to Superintendent Larry Shumway, before Shumway, himself retired in 2012. 

Menlove said in a statement his immediate plans are to spend time with family.

A new health clinic in Midvale is serving residents who may not otherwise have access to primary care. Salt Lake County and Midvale City officials gathered at the clinic this morning to celebrate the new facility.  

The Mid-Valley Health Clinic at Copperview Recreation Center provides medical care on a sliding pay scale, particularly to people who don’t have health insurance. It’s operated by non-profit health provider Utah Partners for Health.

Mayor Ben McAdams says the county is providing the space for the clinic.

Markus Koljonen via Wikimedia Commons

The West Valley City Council decided last night to postpone passing an ordinance that would allow residents to keep chickens in their yards. The decision came after residents made cases both for and against the measure at Tuesday’s meeting. Layne Morris is Director of West Valley City’s Community Preservation Department which deals with code enforcement and animal services. He says he gets up to 20 calls a week from residents complaining about chickens.  But he says people also complain about the city’s ban on the birds.  

About 50 people spoke out against a proposed rezone in Sugar House that could bring permitted building heights in some areas up ten stories tall. the proposed changes are focused around the newly-laid Sugar House Streetcar. 

Many Sugar House residents who attended the meeting, like Wayne Halverson say they’re opposed to the administration’s plan to permit the construction of four-story buildings near single-family homes and buildings up to 10 stories tall along 700 east and 2100 south.

The University of Utah is bringing science education to inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail. Starting today, scientists and educators will volunteer to give lectures and arrange hands-on projects inmates can do to get them motivated for life outside.

One by one, cell doors at the county jail open to release about half the inmates lodged in a housing unit of about 64. They take a seat and turn their attention to Nalini Nadkarni, a professor of biology at the University of Utah and director of the U’s Center for Science and Math Education.

Utah’s Higher Education Commissioner is recommending the smallest tuition increase in more than a decade. The Utah Board of Regents will meet next Friday to consider the proposal.

Anna Botz via Wikimedia Commons

A professor at Utah Valley University who founded the Utah Women in Education Project says women in the state continue to lag behind the rest of the nation in college graduation rates, despite gains in recent years. Dr. Susan Madsen was speaking at an annual meeting of the independent research group Utah Foundation.

The focus of this year’s Utah Foundation meeting was growing the state’s economy with graduates.

Dr. Susan Madsen, a keynote speaker at the event says in a statewide comparison between men and women, women are outpacing men by about 6 percent.

About 450 elementary and middle school students were in Lehi today competing to see who could build the best underwater robot.  The event is part of an annual competition that gives students a hands-on introduction to science, technology engineering and math or STEM education.

Ashton Adamson and Brenna Pope are sixth graders at Snow Springs Elementary School in Lehi. They’re sitting poolside, where Adamson says they’re preparing to submerge their robot named Nemo into a tiny obstacle course. 

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