Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. 

With the sand dumped out into a pile at 200 East and 400 South in Salt Lake City, artist Ted Siebert with the Sand Sculpture company is ready to get to work, creating a sculpture of a flamenco dancer.

World-Class Young Pianists Compete and Impress in Salt Lake

Jun 19, 2012

A world-class piano competition is going on this week and next in Salt Lake City featuring some of the most talented young people in the world.

In order to compete in the Gina Bachauer Junior & Young Artist Piano Competitions, contestants auditioned in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Venice, Hamburg, and New York City. The best of the best earned a place at the competition in Salt Lake.

For the first time in more than a decade, Utahns will have a new Attorney General after this November’s election. Three-term Republican Mark Shurtleff is stepping aside, and two other GOP contenders are looking for the chance to fill his shoes. Only one will make it past the upcoming June 26 primary and onto the final ballot, and as Jessica Gail reports, it’s been a hard-fought race.

A Mesquite police officer conducting a routine traffic stop observed suspicious behavior and indications of criminal activity in 2 southern Utah men during a routine traffic stop. The officer deployed the newest member of the Mesquite Police Department, Noro the K-9.

Noro immediately alerted the officer to the presence of drug odor, confirming the officer's suspicions. Upon a search of the vehicle, police located just over 8 grams of methamphetamine. The 2 men, both of La Verkin, Utah, were arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and felony drug trafficking.

The bust came before Noro was even formally introduced to the Force.

To encourage self-sufficiency and sustainability the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is challenging Utahns to grow their own food with the 10,000 Garden Challenge.

The overgrowth of invasive weeds in Utah is in part to blame for out-of-control fires in the state according to Larry Lewis of the Utah Department of Agriculture. Lewis says the department is working with Utah State University Extension experts and local weed control experts to eradicate weeds and encourage the regrowth of native grasses.

According to Lewis, wildfires burning in rural communities where invasive weeds are found can force smoke to filter throughout the state, impacting air quality in all areas of the state.

The Tour of Utah cycle race -- "America's Toughest Stage Race" -- will take the state by storm August 7 - 12. UPR's Kerry Bringhurst spoke to Steve Miller, the Tour's president, to find out just how excited we should be about this event coming to Utah.

Six of the world's top 15 international cycling teams have committed to the race that will see some changes this year, says Miller.

Logan's annual Summerfest begins at noon Thursday at the downtown historic tabernacle. UPR's Brianna Bodily brings us a preview of what we will see from one Cache Valley artist whose works incorporate quilting, painting, and photography.

Lucy Peterson Watkins is this year's featured artist, who describes her unique work to UPR this way:

Listen to Storee Powell's full interview with Donna McAleer, 1st District Congressional Candidate. McAleer will debate Ryan Combe in Logan on June 14 in anticipation of the Democratic Primary on June 26.

Ken Lund / Creative Commons

A complaint from a European tourist visiting Zion National Park prompted a state audit of the Springdale Police Department. The tourist claimed that after receiving a citation, she was told she needed to pay the fine immediately, and in cash.

That practice violates state law. The concern is that officers could conceivably write citations, collect cash, destroy the documents, and keep the cash. Of the 423 citations issued from January 2011 to January 2012, the audit found that 1/3 were missing from the town's records.

Kanab-based Healing Heart Sanctuary is one of only 2 Utah non-profit organizations that has been selected this year as a finalist in Toyota's 100 Cars for Good program, a major philanthropic initiative in which the automaker is giving 100 cars to 100 non-profit charities over the course of 100 days. Healing Heart Sanctuary was selected as a finalist from more than 4,000 applications nationwide.

Listen to Storee Powell's full interview with Ryan Combe, 1st District Congressional Candidate. Combe will debate Donna McAleer in Logan on June 14 in anticipation of the Democratic Primary on June 26.

In the 1st Congressional District's Democratic primary on June 26, Utahns will decide between the candidates Ryan Combe and Donna McAleer. The winner will try to unseat the Republican incumbent Rob Bishop, who has represented the 1st Congressional District since 2003.

Both contenders said they will not be "career politicians" and are in favor of campaign reform.

In all, the White Rock Wildfire charred over 6,200 acres of both public and private land in steep rugged terrain along the Utah-Nevada Border and claimed the lives of two heavy air tanker pilots.

Incident commander John Kidd reported over the weekend that the fire had been 100% contained but clean up continues and the flight data recorder from the tanker that went down a week ago Sunday, killing both crew members, has been recovered.

The Utah Homeless Youth Drop-in Center in Downtown Salt Lake City continues to grow.

“Five years ago 25 youth a day on average is what we saw and now we see about 65 a day," says Zach Bale. He's the Vice President of External Relations with Volunteers of America in Utah and says many of the youth the center serves categorize themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender: “Our most recent survey we had about 42% identify as LGBTQ...When you look nationally it is about 1/3 across all homeless youth providers.”


On Monday Utah cyclists began riding from Beaver to St. George as part the Road Respect Tour that concludes in Logan on Saturday. Cycling with the group during the 518 mile tour is Evelyn Tuddenham with the Utah Department of Transportation. UPR's Kerry Bringhurst talked to Tuddenham at the start of her second-to-last day on the road.

Mackinzie Hamilton

Residents in the Northern Utah community of Providence, who were evacuated during a police stand-off Thursday have been allowed to return to their homes.

"[Police] responded, and when they responded to the residence they were notified by the neighbors that the neighbors had heard gunshots inside the residence."

This week, the Salt Lake City Council met to discuss changing some of the city’s zoning laws which could allow businesses that serve alcohol more opportunities. City officials say the changes are important for the vitality of Salt Lake City.

Two adult Utahns have died in the last month from Hantavirus infection, which leads to a deadly lung disease. That comes as a surprise to the Utah Department of Health.

Epidemiologist Jody Baker says Utah typically only sees about one Hantavirus case a year and the fatality rate is about 32%.

"To have 2 fatalities so early in the season is definitely unusual. That's why we wanted to get the message out to the public to be aware of what to look for when it comes to exposure, rodent droppings, how to clean appropriately, and what symptoms to look for."

Cross-State Bike Ride to Promote Road Sharing Safety

Jun 5, 2012

To encourage safe cycling and to promote road respect throughout the state, bicyclists in Utah are taking to the roads this week.

The 2012 Road Respect Tour commenced in Beaver on Monday morning and the tour made it through Cedar City and St. George by the day's end. The tour is moving through Panguitch and Richfield and will continue through Saturday with the final stop in Logan, where a Road Rally at the historic Logan Court House will allow the public to celebrate the riders.

Governor Decrees No More Vehicle Idling on State Dime

Jun 4, 2012

Governor Gary Herbert has issued a new executive order for state employees to turn off the ignition when they’re not driving.

The order requires more than 7,300 state vehicles to be turned off when drivers expect to be idling more than 30 seconds. Sam Lee, Director of the Utah Division of Fleet Operations, says the move will curb vehicle emissions, thus helping clear the valley’s notorious smog. And it’s good for the bottom line.


Bianca Morrison Dillard and her husband are devout Latter-Day Saints: “My husband and I teach primary in our local ward and I grew up LDS and it’s always been something that’s been very important to me.”

But Sunday, Morrison Dillard and her husband had to excuse themselves from church to participate in what she calls an important act of discipleship: walking in the 2012 Pride Parade.

Hatching More of Utah's State Fish without a Hatchery

Jun 1, 2012

A new experiment could expand the population of Utah’s state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

Paul Thompson, Division of Wildlife Resources aquatics manager for the Northern Region, says they’re collecting eggs and sperm from the trout out of Logan River’s Temple Fork, spawning them on site and transporting them to experimental streamside incubation boxes on the river’s Right-Hand Fork, where water will be pumped into them.

Learning to Read the Clouds

Jun 1, 2012

In the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse, where we would be safe from any form of severe weather, people from northern Utah and southeast Idaho are training to become weather spotters. Weather-wise it's a calm night in Preston and a little stuffy in the basement meeting room where John Keyes, from the National Weather Service office in Pocatello, is explaining what kinds of weather conditions should be reported by the volunteer spotters:

Thursday afternoon Washington Square was being transformed. Dozens of workers spent the day putting up tents and setting up food carts for what Michael Westley, Spokesman for the Utah Pride Center, says will be the largest Pride celebration ever.

“This will be absolutely a record breaker. We estimated about 28,000 attended last year, we had about 25,000 paid ticket sales and we are expecting that number to go well above 30,000.”

EPA Pitches in to Revitalize Contaminated Areas of Utah

May 31, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded local governments along the Wasatch Front more than a million dollars to help clean up and revitalize blighted property. Here's how Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and Ogden plan to use the EPA Brownfields grants given to 245 communities nationwide.

With major development underway along North Temple in Salt Lake City, including construction of the Airport TRAX line, Mayor Ralph Becker says this money is a huge leg up for the process.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch teamed up with a Wyoming lawmaker this week to highlight his efforts to get the gray wolf removed from the Endangered Species List. Some local groups strongly support this plan, while some think it's the wrong path for Utah.

Small business leaders in Utah had the opportunity yesterday to let two Western federal lawmakers know what economic issues impact them the most. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho joined Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah at Zions Bank Tower in downtown Salt Lake City to hear from local business leaders about what’s impeding job growth and profits. Crapo says the number one obstacle is the U.S. tax code:

“Our tax code is probably the most unfair, complex, expensive to comply with and anti-competitive code we could have come up with and our businesses are facing that.”

A single-engine plane crash over the Memorial Day weekend claimed the live of 4 young men in their 20s. There were no eyewitnesses to the crash, nor were there any airport personnel on duty.

The crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, but was not discovered until St. George Municipal Airport workers arrived at 6:00 a.m. The Cessna 172 went down 300 feet south of the airport runway. It is not known whether the plan crashed upon take-off or landing.

Watch Transit of Venus in Utah

May 29, 2012

Keep your eclipse glasses handy, Utah, because there's more solar blockage coming our way this summer. The transit of Venus across the sun on June 5 will be visible from all points in Utah.

Patrick Wiggins, NASA's Ambassador to Utah, explains that this relatively rare event has been "seen by humans only 7 times since the invention of the telescope in the early 1600s."