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 U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a Senate compromise today that shrinks student loan rates. Members of Utah’s congressional delegation say it was a good bipartisan deal. 

Earlier this month, rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent after Congress failed to reach a deal before a July 1st deadline. In a retroactive move, the U.S. Senate agreed on a bill last week that would bring those rates back down.

Salt Lake City officials say their non-profit bike-share program GREENbike has exceeded ridership expectations. That’s why today they added two new stations and expanded several existing locations. 

Speaking at the new Radisson bike share station on South Temple, Salt Lake City’s Transportation Division Director Robin Hutchison says this expansion will be the first of many.

Utah State Office of Education

Public schools in Utah are getting fewer federal education dollars this year than last;  due in part to federal budget cuts, but also because there are more low-income students nationwide who are in need. 

A projected nine percent reduction in Title 1 funding nationally will mean cutbacks in summer school programs, teachers and technology in many school districts and charter schools locally.

While Democrats piece together their own party-specific plans, a Republican group is preparing to file a statewide ballot initiative.  

Utah Democratic Party delegates voted last month to keep the caucus and convention system with the understanding that a committee of Democrats would spend the next year studying possible changes to the status quo.

An uptick in home prices combined with higher interest rates is making life hard for first-time homebuyers. But Zions Bank’s residential lending numbers show construction activity is strong. 

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors home sales statistics for the first quarter of 2013 show home prices in the Salt Lake area climbing steadily.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Downtown Salt Lake City this morning to witness the annual Days of ‘47 Parade. 

The annual celebration remembers the arrival of the first pioneer settlers to the Salt Lake Valley. On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and his fellow Latter-day Saints emerged from the mouth of Emigration Canyon, pulling handcarts and driving wagons. 165 years later, colorful floats, horse-drawn carriages and pioneer wear harken back to that momentous trek.  

Tesoro Corporation

Environmental groups are suing the Utah Division of Air Quality hoping to stop an oil and gas refinery expansion the regulator approved in Salt Lake City.  The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment say the expansion would move the state further out of compliance with federal air quality standards.

Salt Lake City officials hope to reign in escalating healthcare costs while improving the overall health and wellness of city employees and their families. The new Midtown Clinic for city employees opened this afternoon. 

Family practice physician, Dr. Trevor Jacobson says the hallmark of Salt Lake City’s Midtown Clinic is that visits will be longer and more personalized, similar to small-town family practices.

Bob Nelson

A legislative audit released today accuses the University of Utah of competing with private businesses by selling U of U merchandise at its off-campus “Red Zone” stores. The audit says the university needs to change the way it does business or state lawmakers should step in.

Republican State Representative Johnny Anderson says he first became concerned about Higher Education competing with the private sector last year when employees of the Dixie State College- run television station were under fire for leasing its broadcast vehicle out for non-university purposes.

It could be another couple of weeks before Salt Lake City parking meters are back in working order. A spokesman for the mayor’s office says the city is trying to determine why the big blue meters stopped accepting credit cards on Friday. 

City officials turned off the meters after receiving several calls about the issue. Spokesman Art Raymond says they’re not sure whether it is a software or hardware breakdown, but the city will figure out who’s responsible to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Salt Lake City has missed a deadline to apply for a federal grant for the second phase of the Sugar House streetcar line.  But a spokesperson for Mayor Ralph Becker says they never intended to meet it.  

Investigators have released a summary of their investigation into the University of Utah swim team and its embattled former coach.  The team was hired by the University’s Board of Trustees to research and review evidence linked to ousted coach Greg Winslow’s alleged misconduct and the University’s response to those allegations.

Some members of the Salt Lake County Council want a bigger role in deciding who the mayor appoints to county offices, boards and departments. They’ll consider an ordinance on Tuesday that would give them more time to review the resumes and qualifications of the mayor’s appointees.

The proposal requires the mayor provide information to the council about nominees prior to making an appointment.  It also requires some nominees to interview with the council.  Republican Council Chair David Wilde is advocating for the changes.

Student loan interest rates are set to double on Monday after members of Congress failed to agree on how to keep costs down before a July 1 deadline. 

Next week, interest rates on Federal Subsidized Stafford loans will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.John Curl is director of financial aid and scholarships at the University of Utah, where he says student’s take out between 9 and 10,000 individual subsidized loans each year. But he says they won’t feel the sting of higher interest rates until after graduation.

Whittney Evans

    

A lot of people in Utah were celebrating last night after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Gay and lesbian activist groups sponsored a community event at Club Sound, while hundreds of conservatives convened at the South Towne Expo Center to venerate heterosexual marriage.

At Club Sound, music blared, confetti fell and people of all ages took to the dance floor to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage act.

Many students who are enrolled in charter schools across the nation are gaining on their traditional public school peers in some academic areas. But according to a new independent study out of Stanford University, Utah charter Schools are lagging behind. 

The conservative Sutherland Institute released a report today weighing Utah’s current method for selecting candidates to the state school board against possible alternatives. Some with the think tank say that despite widespread dissatisfaction with the current process, Utah lawmakers have been slow to agree on a new one. 

Utah Democrats voted this weekend to keep their current method for electing candidates to state and county offices — a system they share with Utah's Republicans.  

The big question at Saturday’s convention in Ogden was whether to keep the caucus and convention system or move to a direct primary.

The Salt Lake City council sidestepped the mayor’s veto of the city- council-approved budget today, which includes an $8 million property tax hike.

The council overrode the mayor’s veto on a five to two vote, with Councilman Stan Penfold and outgoing Councilman Carlton Christensen voting no.  Outgoing Councilman Soren Simonsen said the city can no longer scale back on maintenance to keep ordinary government operations afloat. 

The Salt Lake City Council approved the city’s $200 million budget yesterday, which includes an $8 million property-tax hike.  The council approved the increase despite Mayor Ralph Becker’s objections. 

Outgoing Councilwoman Jill Remington Love says the city has had to make tough budget decisions in the past few years. Because of a weak economy, rising health care costs and retirement, it’s now dealing with a dire structural deficit. 

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says the county can strengthen its supportive role in education by first investing in early intervention and afterschool programs. McAdams was speaking at the county’s first annual Education Summit at the Granite School District headquarters. 

McAdams is looking for ways to double the number of after school programs in the county.

With a handful of wildfires still burning throughout Utah and Colorado, Governor Gary Herbert joined state fire officials this morning to brief reporters on current efforts to control them. 

Firefighters were able to contain fires in Saratoga Springs and Provo last night before they caused major property damage any injuries.  Now they’re focused on a 60-acre fire near the Green River, three fires west of Blanding on Elk Ridge and another on the southwest side of the La Sal Mountains.

Utah State Forester Dick Buehler says suppression crews are out in force. 

Granite and Park City School Districts are getting a funding boost for their pre-school programs, thanks to an investment deal with Goldman Sachs and Chicago investor J.B. Pritzker. The money will provide hundreds of low-income kids in those districts access to pre-school programs for which they might otherwise be wait-listed.

The Salt Lake County Planning Commission unanimously recommended denying a developer’s request to rezone a parcel of land at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Tavaci development was initially approved as a subdivision for single family homes. But the owner is pursuing the rights to build something larger. 

The Salt Lake City Council gave preliminary approval to a $7 million tax increase last night despite opposition from Mayor Ralph Becker.  Members of the council say overdue maintenance can no longer be ignored. 

Salt Lake City Council Chair Kyle Lamalfa says while Mayor Becker’s budget proposal was lean and balanced it left out a few key items.

“What was not included in the budget was, and what has been missing for a very long time is ordinary maintenance of our roads, of our sidewalks, of our parks," Lamalfa says.

http://cottonwoodheights.utah.gov

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. is facing three challengers in this year’s election. Cullimore has been the municipality’s only mayor since residents voted to become a city in 2004. 

Fifty-three-year-old Peyton Robinson is a partner at the Lewis Hansen Law Firm in Salt Lake City. He says he’s eying the Mayor’s seat because he wants to increase green space and create a true downtown area in Cottonwood Heights.

With two high-profile cases in mind, a Utah Lawmaker is drafting a bill to make it easier for a judge to remove children from the custody of a parent who’s a suspected of murdering the other parent. GOP Senator Todd Weiler says his bill would lower the standard of proof the judge needs to make the call.

When Senator Weiler brought the bill to a Judiciary Interim Committee last month, he had in mind the families of missing West Valley City mom Susan Cox Powell and Salt Lake City mom Uta von Schwedler. Schwedler was found drowned in a bathtub in 2011.

Salt Lake City residents will see an increase in their property taxes next year to help pay for area public schools. The Salt Lake City School Board approved the hike on Tuesday, saying the additional revenues will fill a gap in the statewide education budget lawmakers passed this year. 

Despite a 2 percent increase in per pupil spending by the state for the 2013-2014 school year, members of the Salt Lake City School Board say it’s not enough to pay the bills.

http://cottonwoodheights.utah.gov

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvin Cullimore Jr. has filed for re-election. Cullimore was elected as the first mayor of Cottonwood Heights back in 2004 following a successful incorporation referendum. Cullimore says his administration has done an excellent job of providing services at a reasonable cost.

In his re-election announcement, Mayor Cullimore stressed the important things Cottonwood City has not done under his leadership.

http://www.naperville-lib.org/

The Salt Lake City Public Library named an Illinois native John Spears as its new executive director on Thursday. The selection follows a year-long, nationwide recruitment process that began after the library’s former executive director stepped down. 

Thirty-nine-year-old John Spears comes to Salt Lake City after leading a public library system in the Chicago suburb of Naperville for about two years. Library Board President Kevin Werner says he was looking for an effective collaborator, communicator and manager who can think strategically about the future.

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