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News Briefs: Functioning Toilets, Drought & The Great Seal Of The State of Utah

Cami Mondeaux / KUER
The Utah Association of Realtors sent thousands of these mailers, which prompted a cease and desist letter from the Utah Elections Office over improper use of the state seal.


Friday morning, November 22, 2019

Central Utah

Pilot UTA Program For Shared Rides

Utah Transit Authority began a one-year pilot project Thursday that will better connect people to transit routes through a mobile app. The app is called ‘UTA On Demand’ and is similar to the UberPool service that allows people to share a ride when going in the same direction. It will cover the southern part of Salt Lake County down to Herriman, where two UTA trax lines and the Frontrunner line connect. Rides are available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. — Jenny Goldsberry, Draper

The Road Home Receives Grant

On the same day the Road Home ended services to the homeless in Salt Lake City, the shelter received a $5 million grant from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund. The one-time grant will pay for a new data system that will assist caseworkers, clients and the housing team to secure dwelling for those who need it. Road Homeshelter services ended Thursday, and leaders are working to get people into permanent housing through the transition. Three new homeless resource centers are now open, but the total number of beds at these centers is roughly 400 fewer than were available at the Road Home. — Diane Maggipinto


Southern Utah

Southwest Utah Drought

Despite finally getting rain this week, extreme drought persists in parts of Washington and Kane counties. A large portion of central and southern Utah is under a severe drought. Much of northern Utah is free of drought with zero abnormal dryness in Box Elder, Cache and Davis counties.  — Diane Maggipinto


Are Amber Alerts Effective?

There was confusion and a lot of complaints on social media this week after Utahns received an Amber Alert with nothing but instructions to call 511 for details. But as the calls came pouring in, many were answered only with a busy signal. Department of Public Safety officials say Utah’s system is one of the best in the country. Forty-seven out of 51 total alerts have ended in safe recoveries. One researcher, though, questions whether the entire system is effective, or just “crime control theater.”Read the full story.Jon Reed

Criminal Charges Possible After Use Of State Seal In Political Advertising

The Utah Association of Realtors may face criminal charges after sending 90,000 mailers in support of a legislative tax reform plan that would impose new sales taxes while cutting the income tax rate. The mailer was designed as an $80 million check for Utah’s working families signed by the Utah Legislature with the state seal stamped in the upper left corner. The mailer was met with a cease and desist letter from the Utah Elections Office, which oversees the emblem’s use. State Elections Director Justin Lee says unapproved use of the seal is subject to a criminal penalty, and the case will likely be forwarded to the Attorney General’s office. — Nicole Nixon



Many Americans Lack Water Access

A report out this week shows a significant number of Americans don't have functioning toilets or running water. Overall, access is improving but there are a number of concerning spots, including in the Mountain West. The researchers found that “small pockets of communities without complete plumbing exist in every state.” They say the gap in water access is not driven by people who choose to live off-the-grid, but by a lack of basic infrastructure. More than 2,600 homes in Utah lack complete plumbing. Read the full storyRae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

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