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AM News Brief: Fishing tragedy in Uintah, light snow averages & growth of gambling in the West

Steinaker Reservoir Sign
A. E. Crane
/
U.S. Federal Highway Administration, public domain
A sign on U.S. 191 announces that Steinaker Dam and Reservoir is a Central Utah Project.

Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

State

Expanding the reach of full-day kindergarten

Every kid in Utah could soon have access to full-day kindergarten thanks to a $48 million bill moving through the state Legislature. Only about 30% of kids in Utah have access to full-day programs, according to state data. That’s by far the lowest in the country. But even with state money, expanding all-day kindergarten is a big lift for some public schools. The Cache County School District will need to find another 25 classrooms. In Davis, which has 63 elementary schools, officials estimate they’ll need to double the number of classrooms and teachers. HB 193 does not require district and charter schools to have the option available to all parents for three years when most reported they could reasonably get them up and running. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Snow for parts of the north

A winter weather advisory is in place until Tuesday at 5 a.m. The National Weather Service said up to 4 inches of snow could blanket valley floors. Higher amounts are expected along the benches from southern Salt Lake and Tooele County, south to Utah County. Less snow is possible over northern Salt Lake and Tooele Valleys. Driving conditions are expected to be hazardous and motorists are advised to slow down. — Pamela McCall

Planning for next winter’s homeless support

There's a push for a new plan to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County next winter. Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, introduced legislation Friday. It would require county officials to come up with a plan by Sept. 1 for at least one homeless overflow shelter. This winter, Salt Lake-based service providers have had a tough time opening overflow shelters — or keeping them running once they are open. HB 440 would allow homeless resource centers in the county to expand their occupancy up to what's allowed under the fire code. It also provides additional funding for cities to mitigate the impacts of homeless shelters. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Fishing tragedy

Authorities have recovered the body of a 52-year-old angler who fell through the ice on a reservoir in eastern Utah. Uintah County sheriff's officials said Travis Hanchett of Vernal was fishing near the west inlet of Steinaker Reservoir when the ice broke Saturday morning. Emergency crews responded after witnesses heard the man yelling and saw his dog jump into the frigid water. The county's search and rescue team pulled the dog to safety, but Hanchett was found dead about an hour and a half later 10 feet underwater. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Snow welcome with lower than average totals

A dry start to the new year has lingered into February for much of the Colorado River basin.

Colorado and Wyoming got off to a strong start with big storms around the holidays, but weeks without new snow have driven those totals down to just below average for this time of year. Other parts of the basin are even drier, with much of Utah and Nevada around 70 to 80% of average. The winter season is far from over, but another dry year would spell trouble for the drought-stricken river basin. Snowpack is sometimes referred to as the savings account for water in the Colorado River, and in places where it matters, that savings account is getting a little lighter. — Alex Hager, KUNC

Gambling grows in Mountain West

Commercial gaming revenue in the U.S. broke records in 2021 at almost $53 billion — a 21% increase over the previous high in 2019. The data come from the American Gaming Association. Nevada revenue grew by 12% in that timeframe, generating $13.4 billion last year. Colorado saw the largest increase in the region with 50% more revenue. The Association said many of these gains can be attributed to the legalization of sports betting. Both Arizona and Montana just adopted it in 2021. — Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

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