Melissa Allison

Utah City Leaders Commit To Improve Air Quality

Dec 19, 2017
Sierra Club

Park City leaders committed to be a net-zero community more than a year ago. Now other cities in Utah are committing to do the same.

When Park City announced it would become a 100 percent renewable energy municipality by 2022, the Sierra Club helped get the word out and build support within the community.

Utahn Quits Job To Help Teen Addicts

Aug 12, 2015
Melissa Allison

"You know in the bible it says that we’re all created in God’s image and I see that in all of you. I see that higher potential, that higher power in all of you. I know that all of you are capable of great things."

Biologists Put A New Twist On The Easter Egg Hunt

Apr 3, 2015
Rick Fridell

Children all over Utah love spring and hunting for Easter eggs. Chris Crockett, the native aquatics project leader for the Division of Wildlife Resources is hoping to start a new spring tradition - hunting for Columbia spotted frog eggs.

That’s right. Crockett and the Division of Wildlife Resources, with the help Hogle Zoo, have even created an app called “Amphibians of Utah” for people to download so they can be citizen-scientists and help identify various species.

A Utah Man Competes In World Tree Climbing Championship

Mar 6, 2015
Melissa Allison

The 2015 International Tree Climbing Championship (ITC) happens March 21 in Tampa, Fla. Throughout the year, Mark Malmstrom and his crew remove and mulch trees, but during the competition he is on his own.

“We’re not there to cut the tree down or pretend to cut the tree down," said Malmstrom, a Cache Valley arborist. "We’re there to test our climbing ability.”

The ITC invite both male and female entrants to compete in events that arborists encounter in their line of work. Malmstrom said some of these events can be daunting.

Gabrela Woodworth understands that if she wants to become an American citizen, she’s going to have to compete with hundreds of thousands of others who share the dream of citizenship. She knows the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will process approximately 680,000 citizens this year. She also knows the process of naturalization requires her to be able to speak, read and write English.


Kent Rominger is being inducted into the 2015 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 30. Though he has hung up his spacesuit, he hasn’t left the industry. He is now the vice president of strategy and development at Orbital ATK. He said Utah is crucial to space exploration.

“Utah is very important," Rominger said. "It goes back all the way to when the space shuttle was being developed and they were looking at boosters at, ‘How do we get 250 thousand pounds,’ that being the space shuttle, 'Put into orbit?’ Which is a very big payload.”

Utah entered the space program in 1973 when Morton-Thiokol, out of Brigham City, was chosen to develop the solid rocket motors that would propel the shuttle into space.

Utah Band Making A Name For Themselves

Feb 23, 2015
The National Parks

Utah has a reputation for being packed with talent, with break-out artists like SHeDAISY, Imagine Dragons and Royal Bliss. Utahns don’t have to set their sights on Hollywood because, according to Isaac Halasima - a native Utahn and well-known music video director for Imagine Dragons hit video, "Gold" - Utah is making a name for itself in an industry known for its competition.

Orem Teacher Heads To Auschwitz

Jan 21, 2015
Jewish Virtual Library

Seventy years ago prisoners were liberated from the former German Nazi concentration and death camps. “Auschwitz: The Past is Present,” is a professional development program developed by the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and Discovery Education. 

The non-profit organization is sponsoring a program to give educators an opportunity to learn more about the capture and release of prisoners there. Merinda Davis is a teacher in Orem and is one of only 25 teachers from around the world to be selected to travel to Poland this week.

I asked Davis why she applied and she told me that when she was 12 she was in the public library and saw a book title, “Six Million.”

Professor Suprises Students At Final Exam

Dec 11, 2014

College students at Utah State University and across Utah are taking their finals and regardless of what their major is, whether they're  female or male, religion, race, political affiliation, domestic or international, they all have one thing in common – stress.

“On a scale of one to ten, probably a seven," said sophomore Ashley Siddoway.
“Probably like a six," said junior Jeremy Bliss.
“About a nine and a half," said sophomore Jenna Hawley
“I’m a solid eight," said sophomore Jeremy Gage.
“I would say a nine. I have exams like, every day," said sophomore Asfand Khan.

Dr. Cathy Bullock, a journalism and communications professor at USU, said she sympathizes with her students.

“There’s always a lot of work at the end of the semester so it’s a lot of work for us too.”

She said you don’t have to guess how they’re feeling, you can see it on their faces.

Department Of Commerce Warns Shoppers Of All Ages

Dec 3, 2014
Saddle Pals Horse Club

December is the season for giving and according to Daniel O’Bannon, director for the Division of Consumer Protection in Utah, Utahns are among the most charitable givers. But even in December there lurks a shadow that too many fall prey to - holiday scams.

“During the holidays, people are more focused on giving to a charitable cause," O'Bannon said. "So scams that might be out there a little bit more might relate to charities.”

O’Bannon said, in the past, scammers preyed upon the elderly, but today they prey on anyone in too much of a hurry to do their homework. He said there are many tale-tell signs to watch out for, but one in particular is a giveaway.

“Big red flag that we want people to understand is," O'Bannon said. "Watch out for anyone who’s asking you to pay through a wire transfer or through some sort of prepaid money card.”

O’Bannon said the Department of Commerce is a resource for people to use to check how reputable charities and online companies are, and to ensure your purchases are sound.

He said everyone is susceptible to these scams and just a few minutes of research can save a lot of heart-ache and money.

Brown Lawns Popular In Blanding

Dec 2, 2014
City of Blanding

Blanding has a population of more than 3,500 people with a history of conserving water that they are proud of, according to Jeremy Redd, the city manager of Blanding.

“People take a lot of pride in the fact that they’re conserving," Redd said. "And letting their lawns get brown and that kind of thing.”

He said Blanding’s water usage in the 2013 water year used 18 percent less culinary water than in 2012. The town’s 2014 water usage isn’t as impressive, but it is estimated to be close.

Cary Wolinsky

Many traditions have made their way to the Americas since the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but one tradition that has stayed the same is the Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, Ol’ Tom Turkey even has his own hotline.

Karen, a hotline operator for Butterball said people call from all over the world with questions – everything from how big of a turkey they should get to whether or not they can defrost their turkey in their electric blanket. Some questions might be a little harder to answer.  

“A woman called me and asked me if she should invite her sister-in-law to dinner or not," Karen said. "And I had no answer for that one, what so every. What do you say to that? I thought, ‘Ooh, I don’t know, should ya?’”

She said working on the hotline has provided her with more than recipes to enjoy, it has given her memories of people who have touched her life just by calling in for help.


An Old Power Company Scam Makes A Comeback

Nov 18, 2014
Rocky Mountain Power

An old scam is using a new technology to fool unsuspecting customers of Rocky Mountain Power. Because of this, the company has issued a warning to their customers to be leery of anyone calling them for payment of over-due bills.

The perpetrators called businesses, as well as residents, claiming that their bill is overdue and aggressively demand payment in the past scam. According to Paul Murphy, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, the new tricks are easier to fall for.

“They use a caller ID system that makes it look like the call is coming from Rocky Mountain Power," Murphy said. "And they actually give a number that when you call, sounds like the automated telephone answering service used by Rocky Mountain Power, so it’s a very sophisticated way of doing a very old thing which is to take your money.”

Utah Farm-Chef-Fork Gets Extension

Nov 17, 2014
Farm chef fork logo
USU Extension

Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Utah, and it takes some effort to locate farms and what products they provide around the state. Roslynn Brain is an associate professor at Utah State University Extension Sustainability. She said farmers can get lost in the online world, which is how most people find their information.

Brain runs the Utah Farm-Chef-Fork project, a program that trains both farmers and chefs about direct marketing benefits as well as training in things such as social marketing. The project has just received a two and a half year funding cycle.

“Research also shows that when farmers use direct marketing– selling directly at farmers markets or to restaurants–  is an effective way to increase their income and decrease farmland loss,” she said.

The Census of Agriculture results from 1982 to 2007 show that more than 300,000 acres of land have been lost due to population growth. That is more than 50 acres a day of farmland that is lost to development.

Winter Weather Advisory Proves Fall Is Over

Nov 13, 2014
Utah Department of Public Safety

Wednesday had record-setting temperatures reminding Utahns that even though winter doesn’t officially arrive until December 21, keep your winter clothes within hands reach.

Friday, the National Weather Service issued a snow advisory for northern Utah. According to Martin Schroeder, a meteorologist at Utah State University, it is mostly to warn people driving.

“The major concern is for travel conditions on roadways," Schroeder said. "So there’s concern about icing and continued snowfall through the evening as the temperature decreases more.”

Two Utah Public Schools Recognized For Excellence

Nov 6, 2014
National Blue Ribbon Seal
US Department of Education

The National Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education recognizes public schools based on their overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Lincoln Elementary School in Hyrum is one of only two schools in Utah to be recognized; Lakeridge Jr. High School in Orem is the second.

Love In Washington

Nov 5, 2014
Religion & Politics

Now that Mia Love has been elected to represent Utah’s Fourth Congressional District, Utah State University Political Science Professor Damon Cann said Republicans will be pushing hard to have her serve on high profile committees. But Utah’s delegation will be at a disadvantage when it comes to convincing those on the other side of the aisle to consider their constituency in policy making decisions.

Women In Utah Are Stronger Than Study Inferred

Nov 3, 2014
National Endowment for the Humanities

An October study by 24/ shows Utah is the worst state for women to live in and cited lack of leadership roles in government and unequal pay as part of their findings.

Michael Lyons, associate professor in the political science department at Utah State University said Utah’s conservative culture that promotes traditional gender roles means many women in the state don’t choose leadership positions. He said change is a matter of time.

“You’re never going to convert a population to a different set of political values in a short time-frame," Lyons said. "Instead, what you see is generational replacement, altering cultures and political attitudes.”

Jeannie Johnson, an assistant professor in the political science department at USU, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said women in Utah are not without a voice, though their choices might infer otherwise.

Moab's Pumpkin Chuckin Throws A Curve

Oct 22, 2014
Youth Garden Project

Moab’s Youth Garden Project, a nonprofit organization that serves the city’s children, is kicking off their Ninth Annual Pumpkin Chuckin Festival on the Oct. 25.

Kristin Thomas, the program manager for the project, said there are various categories for competitors to enter. One contestant from Lindon has people especially excited.

“The slingshot from Lindon, UT is going to be 10,000 pounds," Thomas said. "It’s a big machine. Supposedly they can shoot it up to 500 feet, potentially farther."

The team Thomas is referring to calls themselves the Smashing Heads but in actuality they are the employees of Universal Industrial Sales, Inc.

The Christmas Creep Sneaks Up On The Holidays

Oct 16, 2014
Delta City

The Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest announced that permits for Christmas trees will be available Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. So... what happened to Halloween and Thanksgiving?

Kenneth Bartkus, a professor of marketing at the Huntsman School of Business said businesses typically don’t want to do things to upset their consumers, but no one seems to be complaining about the current trend.

“There have been some parodies in the past," Bartkus said. "If you go back, 1974 there was a Charlie Brown special where the characters go to a department store and they discover that it has Christmas displays already up in the middle of April. And there’s a sign there that warns them to get their shopping done because there is only 246 days left until Christmas. I think that type of parody resonates with the consuming public but I think they also look at it and they chuckle a little bit."

Operation Underground Railroad

The story of operation Clear Hope has raised many questions such as, who are these American sex tourists and what happened to the children?

Matt, a jump team leader for the Operation Underground Railroad organization, whose last name will not be used for security issues, said Americans are the number one consumer of child sex trafficking.

According to Matt, Colombia is a beautiful destination that attracts many people from all over the world - including those interested in illegal activity.

sex trafficking
Operation Underground Railroad

This story contains graphic material such as quotes and scenarios.

Imagine a father in St. George tucking his children into bed knowing that he was about to walk into a third-world country where little boys and girls are bought, kidnapped and sold for human sex trafficking, sometimes even by their parents.

Dallas Hyland, a photojournalist and resident of St. George, is such a man.

“I am married, I have four children," Hyland said. "I have a daughter who is in her middle twenties from my first marriage and I have three little boys.”

He spent Saturday in Armenia, Colombia with a privately funded organization, Operation Underground Railroad, to execute what they called Clear Hope; a mission that would prove to be the biggest child trafficking rescue operation in history.

One hundred and twenty-three children were saved Saturday in three simultaneous operations based in Colombia and resulted in the arrest of 15 perpetrators.

City Celebrities Dance With The Stars In Southern Utah

Oct 14, 2014

Moab Valley’s mayor, David Sakrison, is putting on his dancing shoes Friday to compete in the first Dancing with the Moab Stars competition to raise money for their multicultural center.

The mayor was partnered with professional dancer, Rita “Hurricane” Maldonado.

“So for the last month in a half I’ve been practicing with my partner we’re doing a bachatango," Sakrison said. "And it‘s going to be a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause.”

Rhiana Medina, the executive director of the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, said getting their stars first was important.

Car Smash For Cancer Raises Funds And Hope

Oct 1, 2014
State by state map of the U.S. cancer profile

Nine students of Utah State University's management 3110 class have partnered with the school’s Sigma Chi fraternity for an assignment that will raise funds for cancer research. They’ve named it “Car Smash for Cancer.” Inspired by their home game against Brigham Young University on Friday, they’re encouraging students to take a hit at a BYU-themed car on Thursday to prepare for the game and raise money for cancer research. For Trevor Long, one of the organizers, cancer hits close to home.

Enterovirus D68 A Strain On Experts

Sep 25, 2014

The Enterovirus is a source of growing concern in Utah now that it has been discovered in Primary Children’s Hospital. The virus itself is so common that most people have been infected with it by their first birthday with little to no consequences. However, as with all viruses, there are different strains and it is the D68 strain that people, especially those with respiratory issues or children, should pay close attention to.

According to Rebecca Ward of the Utah Department of Health there is no need for panic, just awareness.

“There have been no deaths reported as of yet. We just want parents to be aware that it is here. We are not necessarily in a panic situation. It’s a common virus. This particular strain is a little less common. Look for signs and symptoms and if it becomes more severe, contact your health care provider,” Ward said.

Experts in the field understand very little about D68 at this point. They don’t, as of yet, know how long it stays in the body or how long a person is contagious. They do report that a person experiences symptoms three to six days after being infected with the virus and that people can be infected without symptoms and unknowingly infect others.

Utah Shelters Prepare for Winter: Donations Needed

Sep 23, 2014

Charitable organizations serving individuals and families in crisis are currently strategizing about how they are  going to meet the needs of the homeless this winter. While supplies are always needed, winter is especially a difficult time for those who are homeless because of exposure.

“People who are homeless experience disease three to four times as often as people who are housed," said Jennifer Hyvonen of the Fourth Street Clinic in Salt Lake City. "And in fact, poor health is often a contributing factor of someone becoming homeless.”

Hyvonen said that many supplies are needed throughout the year but winter is especially difficult.

UPR Reporter Takes Day Trip To Salt Lake Comic Con

Sep 8, 2014
Melissa Allison

UPR’s Melissa Allison surprised her sons last week with a day trip to Comic Con in Salt Lake City. The day proved to be more than any of them had anticipated but, by the end of the day, no one was complaining. 

"If you’d have told me 18 months ago I’d be taking my two boys, Sam - 20 and Jack - 17, to Comic Con and reporting our experience for Utah Public Radio, I would have laughed it off and said it was impossible," Allison said. "My family was going through a crisis that didn’t seem to end and I was in survival mode. But, here we are and this is our adventure."

Listen to the complete interviews below:

HungerU Reaches Out To Utah Audience

Sep 4, 2014
Utah State University students attend HungerU event.
Melissa Allison

A national organization dedicated to educating the public about hunger is putting on its second event in Utah this week before heading north to Idaho.

Utah State University is the current location for HungerU, a mobile exhibit that travels across the United States to college campuses. Their goal is to educate students about the number-one killer in the world, topping HIV/AIDS, malaria and all other diseases combined—hunger.

Some might believe Utah is exempt from the issue, but according to Tracee Schiebel, a HungerU crew member, that is not the case.