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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

News Brief: Rent Control, Fighting Australian Fire & A White Christmas

Snow covers a tree-lined road.
Austin Benjamin / Flickr
Snow covered trees in Provo Canyon, Christmas 2016.

Tuesday evening, December 24, 2019

Southern Utah

Committee Recommends New Grand Co. Government

Grand County will change its form of government next year due to a new state law that invalidated the county’s existing seven-member council. Last week, a study committee suggested a five-member council elected at-large with an appointed county manager. The county attorney has until January 31st to sign off on the recommendation. If that happens, voters will be asked to approve it in November. Read the full storyKate Groetzinger, Moab


Considering Rent Control

State Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, plans to introduce a 2020 bill to allow Utah cities to consider rent control measures. Under current state law, local governments can’t impose rent caps without approval of the Legislature. Daily-Provost says that power should be left to local communities, and that this could be one way to help address the affordable housing crisis. — Jon Reed

White Christmas

Much of Utah could see a white Christmas. On the Wasatch Front, one to four inches are expected by Wednesday afternoon. This could impact road conditions, and drivers are reminded not to use their bright lights in snow. Higher elevations could see several inches, and mountains in the Four Corners area could see over a foot. And if you’re hitting the slopes for the holidays, all of Utah’s resorts are open. Alta is currently clocking in with the highest snowpack at 65 inches. — Caroline Ballard


Regional Wildland Firefighters Work Christmas In Australia

Some firefighters from Utah and across the Mountain West are spending Christmas battling blazes in Australia. The U.S. Interior Department says a total of 21 state and federal wildland firefighters were sent there to help contain the devastating fires. Australia recently declared a state of emergency because of a nearly 1 million acre bush fire burning near Sydney. It’s the first time in nearly a decade that the U.S. has sent firefighters down under. — Nate Hegyi

Conserving With Heat Pumps

new study by Columbia University shows that heat pumps could be one of the best solutions towards carbon efficiency in homes and commercial buildings. That’s because heat pumps can replace both air conditioners and furnaces in homes and commercial buildings and they are more energy-efficient. Some areas in the Mountain West, like the City of Boulder and the Southeast Colorado Power Association, have programs incentivizing the use of heat pumps. But those programs are still far and few between. — Ali Budner, Mountain West News Bureau

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