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AM News Brief: Homeschooling, Storm Cleanup & Court Considers U.S. Citizenship For American Samoans

Photo of school hallway with lockers.
Renee Bright/KUER
Enrollment at public schools in Utah has declined. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, September 24 2020

State

Utahns Gather To Remember Breonna Taylor

From Salt Lake City to St. George, Utahns gathered to protest and remember Breonna Taylor, after a Kentucky grand jury charged just one officer involved in the shooting and killing of Taylor with wanton endangerment for firing into other apartments, not shooting Taylor. The other two officers involved were not charged at all. Mina Sadoon, in Salt Lake City, and Diamond Sluka, in St. George said the verdict was hard to hear but they were not surprised. Another vigil to honor Taylor is planned for Thursday at 7 p.m. in Salt Lake City, but organizers have asked for only people of color to show up so they have a safe space to grieve. Read the full story. — Ross Terrell and Lexi Peery

Parents Turn To Homeschooling

Enrollment at public schools in Utah has declined. The coronavirus pandemic has prompted some parents to homeschool their children because of safety concerns. The state has just under 666,000 students enrolled now, almost 2,200 fewer than last fall. Enrollment numbers dictate how much money districts get from the state. In this scenario, public schools could lose at least $7 million. — Associated Press

Extreme Weather And The Power Grid

As warmer temperatures and extreme weather conditions become more common across the west, power companies face greater challenges keeping the lights on. David Eskelsen with Rocky Mountain Power said they are doing a lot to stay ahead of the curve, like year-round tree-trimming and installing monitors to help find problems. He said over the last decade, their reliability rating has risen to 99.98%. But getting to 100% is not very practical. Masood Parvania, a University of Utah professor who studies grid resiliency, said Rocky Mountain Power has done a good job updating its grid as utilities are facing new problems now, like major shifts in power generation and the possibility of more extreme weather. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Neffs Fire Closures

The 53 acre wildfire in Neffs Canyon is 0% contained and burning through timber and oakbrush on forest service land. It broke out on Tuesday. State fire officials said closures are in place, including all trail and trailheads between Millcreek Canyon Road to the north and Big Cottonwood Canyon to the south. On the west, the closure begins at the forest boundary — east to Big Water trail and south to that trail's junction with Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. The cause is unknown and under investigation. — Diane Maggipinto

Portable Toilets Intended For Homeless Population Removed

Salt Lake City has removed portable restrooms it installed in late July in the Ballpark neighborhood just south of downtown for people experiencing homelessness. Mayor Erin Mendenhall said officials removed them when the city moved from the orange, moderate risk phase of pandemic restrictions to the yellow, low risk phase. That allowed public restrooms to reopen. Mendenhall said if the city has to close public restrooms again due to COVID-19 restrictions, it may re-deploy the portable locations. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Resident Storm Clean Up

Salt Lake County residents can continue to bring downed branches and debris from this month’s historic windstorm to the county landfill at no charge. County Mayor Jenny Wilson and City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Wednesday the extension will last through Saturday. They also asked residents to put any leftover storm debris on the curb by this weekend so that crews can pick it up over the next few weeks. They estimate that all storm debris will be cleaned up by mid to late October. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Circuit Court Considers U.S. Citizenship For American Samoans

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver is weighing whether residents of American Samoa should automatically be granted citizenship under the 14th Amendment. Three judges heard arguments Wednesday challenging a Utah judge's ruling that people born in the U.S. territory are citizens. The focus was mostly on whether people who live in territories controlled by the United States automatically become citizens, despite concerns in the U.S. territory that this would have a negative impact on its traditional culture. American Samoa is the only U.S. territory where residents have no birthright claim to citizenship. — Associated Press

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