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AM News Brief: Inland Port Pushback, Weber Prof Rescinds Resignation & Church Leader Hospitalized

Photo of northeast quadrant wetlands.
Brian Albers
The Stop the Polluting Port coalition has responded to the proposed business plan for the controversial Inland Port, a transportation hub under development outside of Salt Lake City. This and more in the Thursday morning news brief

Thursday morning, June 18, 2020

Northern Utah

Coalition Wants More Transparency In Inland Port Plan

The Stop the Polluting Port coalition has responded to the proposed business plan for the controversial Inland Port, a transportation hub under development outside of Salt Lake City. Members of the coalition said the proposal didn’t do enough to address concerns about things like air quality, wetlands and satellite ports throughout the state. Stan Holmes, with the coalition, said the team came up with some recommendations to improve the plan. They suggested transparency in cost analysis, third party audits and accountability for compliance with national environmental standards. The port authority will be accepting public comment on the business plan until Monday. — Jessica Lowell

Weber State Professor Rescinds Resignation

A professor has reversed his decision to resign from Weber State University. Criminal justice instructor Scott Senjo was broadly criticized for tweets about nationwide protests over race and police use of force. He resigned in the wake of that, and then rescinded it on June 3, according to The Standard-Examiner. Senjo's Twitter account shows he tweeted support for damage done to CNN headquarters in Atlanta and made threatening comments toward a reporter and protesters in New York City. Weber State officials say Senjo will remain on leave while the university in Ogden conducts a review. — Associated Press

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Hospitalized

Jeffrey R. Holland, a high-ranking leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. Church spokesperson Eric Hawkins said Wednesday in a statement that the 79-year-old Holland was tested negative for the coronavirus. Hawkins said more diagnostic studies were being done to determine what's wrong with Holland, who was admitted to the hospital last week after feeling ill for several days. Holland has served since 1994 on the governing panel called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which sits just below the church president and his two top counselors and helps set church policy. — Associated Press


Local Governments Burdened By Pandemic

Representatives from the Utah Association of Local Health Departments and Utah Association of Counties said insufficient levels of staff and access to funding impact cities and counties’ ability to respond to health and economic needs related to the pandemic. They said that as the state has loosened restrictions, contact tracing has gotten more complicated. They also asked for more flexibility in how they can spend state funds earmarked for marketing tourism. Members of the Political Subdivisions Interim Committee said the issues outline how local government needs more direction in responding to emergencies. Read the full story. — Emily Means

State Urges Caution While Getting People Back To Work

State leaders said Wednesday that updated plans for driving economic recovery won't compromise the health of residents even though the state is experiencing a multi-week rise in cases. Gov. Gary Herbert said the spike was somewhat expected because many businesses were allowed to reopen in May and restrictions were loosened on the number of people allowed to gather. He acknowledged that the rise causes "concern and pause," but Herbert said the state shouldn't have to choose between keeping people healthy and making plans to reopen businesses and get people back to work. The state Department of Health reported 407 new cases Wednesday — along with four additional deaths. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn urged people to take the spike seriously and said the risk for catching the virus in Utah has never been higher. — Diane Maggipinto/Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.


Navajo Nation Reissues Weekend Lockdown

Because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Arizona, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has issued another emergency order for weekend lockdowns. Nez said for this weekend and next, residents are under curfew from Friday at 8 p.m. until Monday at 5 a.m.. Businesses will be closed and tribal parks are not open to visitors. In a travel advisory, Nez also urged residents to stay on the Navajo Nation because of a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in areas surrounding the reservation, saying “don't back down.” As of Wednesday, the Navajo Department of Health reported 322 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths on the reservation. That brings the total positive cases to 6,747. — Diane Maggipinto

Juneteenth Rally Planned On Blackfeet Reservation

This Friday is Juneteenth — a holiday in most states celebrating the end of slavery. There are planned protests around the region to keep attention on racial injustice and police brutality, including one on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. The group Voices For Change said Indian Country has racial biases and injustices too. They include the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people and the jurisdictional quagmire that activists say results in crimes not being solved on the reservation. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Ski Industry Sees $2 Billion In Losses

The National Ski Areas Association said the U.S. ski industry lost at least $2 billion last winter because of the economic collapse that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. The trade group said skier visits fell 14% compared with the 2018-2019 season. Resorts were forced to close in March following state restrictions intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. It is unclear how the pandemic will affect next ski season. If the downturn continues, economic losses could increase to about $5 billion. — Associated Press

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