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AM Brief: Moab says no lux campground, fentanyl’s deadly surge & assessing Short Creek’s health

Moab, Grand County sign
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Welcome sign that greets motorists entering Moab, UT, Jan. 24, 2022.

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022

State

Improving Utah students’ reading ability

About half of Utah’s third graders are not reading at grade level, according to data from the state board of education. Part of the problem has been the slow adoption of what are now considered best practices, said Kathleen Brown, director of the University of Utah’s reading clinic. They involve helping kids learn the basic building blocks of language, such as phonics. Many teachers were previously trained to use a different method, called “whole language,” which emphasized reading aloud to kids and letting them choose the books they wanted to read to build the skill. New legislation, if passed, would provide $20 million for ongoing training and mentoring for teachers and data analysis. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

“Candy Bomber” laid to rest in Provo

World War II hero Col. Gail Halvorson will be laid to rest in Provo Tuesday. The Utah man dubbed the "Candy Bomber" died Thursday at age 101. When supplies were short during the Berlin Airlift, Halvorson dropped candy from his plane for the city's children. Gov. Cox ordered flags to be lowered in honor of Halvorson and encourages private citizens and businesses to do so as well. The Utah Air National Guard's 151st Air Refueling Wing will also conduct a flyover for the graveside service. Wing Commander Col. Robert Taylor said the flyover serves to acknowledge the light Halverson brought to so many during such a dark time in history. — Pamela McCall

Southern Utah

Officials reject luxury campground near Arches

Grand County commissioners have denied a rezoning request that would have allowed for a luxury campground near Arches National Park. KZMU reported that developer Entrada Camps and Conservation planned to set up luxury tents, a spa and a swimming pool. Commissioners cited concerns about the shortage of long-term housing in the area. They heard from many citizens and followed residents’ guidance by rejecting the developer’s request. The company had promised to build employee housing and set aside a large conservation easement — but the promise wasn’t legally binding. Commissioners said they may reconsider the application if they tighten zoning codes, making the promise legally mandatory. — Molly Marcello, KZMU

Northern Utah

Park City officials worry about dangerous opiate surge

The increasing prevalence of fentanyl, which has been fueling a surge of drug overdoses nationwide, has Park City officials worried. KPWC reported fentanyl has been found in area schools and in other parts of the community. It’s often mixed with other substances, but even a microscopic dose can be fatal. Officials say people should know the signs of a drug overdose — including an inability to wake up or breathe, and pale skin — and call 911 if they see these symptoms. — Ben Lasseter, KPCW

Region/Nation

Health needs assessment approved for Short Creek residents

Mohave County officials unanimously approved funding to assess the health needs of a remote community in northern Arizona, according to the Havasu Sun News. The area of Short Creek was once dominated by a polygamous religious sect headed by Warren Jeffs. The former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was sentenced to life in prison over a decade ago for sexually assaulting girls he considered brides. Area nonprofits said the sect inflicted long-lasting trauma on the community of former believers. Residents will now conduct the first-of-its-kind study, which will help strategize ways to address community needs. — Associated Press

Report finds increase in murders by extremists

A new Anti-Defamation League report documented a rise in killings at the hands of extremists who committed 29 murders last year — up from 23 the previous year. The Mountain West played host to the only 2021 incident with five or more deaths back in December. The shooter was linked to the so-called "manosphere" — a collection of toxic masculinity subcultures. Mark Pitcavage, who wrote the report, said documenting extremism across the region is getting harder because some parts of the Mountain West are news deserts. Pitcavage said that means even less information on extremist movements. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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