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PM Brief: Utah lawmakers support Ukraine, Salt Lake crime stats & Zion Hills academy sex abuse

Photo of two police officers with a Utah Transit Authority police car.
Wikimedia Creative Commons
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Salt Lake City police released crime stats Thursday which show 2021 saw a number of improvements, but there was an increase in violent crimes like homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022

State

Utah lawmakers issue words of support for Ukraine

The Utah House of Representatives held a moment of silence this morning in solidarity with Ukraine as Russia’s invasion of the country continues. Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan, said his wife has family in Ukraine and the events are shocking. He gave an emotional speech on the House floor about the need to protect Ukraine, its people and its culture. House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, threw his support behind Teuscher tweeting, “We stand with Ukraine. We pray for their safety and peace.” The House is drafting a resolution in support of the nation. Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, condemned the attacks and called on Russia to handle the issue diplomatically. In a statement, Gov. Spencer Cox called the invasion an “all out assault on democracy.” — Sonja Hutson 

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City residents fear losing Tejeda’s Market will worsen food desert

Tejeda’s Market, a Latino supermercado on Salt Lake City’s west side, could soon be replaced by new townhomes. Salt Lake City’s planning commission voted to approve the development Wednesday evening. Some residents fear losing access to fresh produce and meat and worry it could worsen the food desert they’re already living in. Store manager Shelly Vredeveld said although there is a big local need, there isn't enough business to keep the store open. "If there were more business and more customers, we may not be going through this change that we're about to face now," she said. The city recently created a Food Equity Advisors program to come up with solutions and recommendations to food access on the west side. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Salt Lake Police release 2021 crime stats

Salt Lake City police released crime stats Thursday which show 2021 saw a number of improvements. Compared to the average from 2018 to 2020, jail bookings, misdemeanor citations and traffic tickets all dropped last year. But there was an increase in violent crimes like homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. There were more than 1,700 incidents last year. That’s the most in a single year since 2011. Still, Salt Lake City mayor Erin Mendenhall said she’s glad to see overall crime is down and that’s a sign the city’s crime control plan is working. — Ross Terrell 

Southern Utah

Zion Hills Academy employee charged with sex abuse 

An employee at an Iron County treatment program for troubled girls was charged with sex abuse Wednesday. The 23-year-old man allegedly kissed and fondled one of the residents before letting her and other teenagers in the program use his vape pen. The man worked for Zion Hills Academy, the sister program of Havenwood Academy. State regulators cited the latter in 2018 for using the unapproved therapy of soaking girls in horse troughs. The company’s director Ken Huey released a statement to KUER’s reporting partners at The Salt Lake Tribune. He said their company fired the employee and reported him to local police after security video appeared to confirm his misconduct. Read the full story. — David Fuchs/Jordan Miller

This story is part of Sent Away, an investigative reporting partnership between KUER, The Salt Lake Tribune and APM Reports.

Region/Nation

Four governors team up for regional clean hydrogen hubs

Four Mountain West governors announced Thursday they’ve teamed up to secure federal dollars for regional clean hydrogen hubs. The new federal infrastructure law includes $8 billion for clean hydrogen production — an energy source some see as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. Now the leaders of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are working together to get a portion of those funds. They plan to develop a Western Inter-State Hydrogen Hub with facilities in each state. Colorado’s governor Jared Polis said low-carbon hydrogen will help meet the state’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. Both Wyoming and Utah’s governors stressed their states' experience with hydrogen as an asset. — Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

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