Kate Groetzinger | KUER 90.1

Kate Groetzinger

Reporter, Southeast Utah Bureau

Kate joined KUER from Austin, Texas, where she attended the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody School of Journalism. She has been an intern, fellow and reporter at Texas Monthly, the Texas Observer, Quartz, the Texas Standard and Voces, an oral history project. Kate began her public radio career at Austin’s NPR station, KUT, as a part-time reporter. Now, she is a corps member of Report For America, a public service program that partners with local newsrooms to bring reporters to undercovered areas across the country. She’s excited to be living in and reporting on San Juan County, one of the most beautiful — and interesting — parts of the United States.

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White business sign with blue lettering gives hours of operationan and visitor information.
Steven Baltakatei Sandoval / Wikimedia Commons

The federal government could ramp up spending on domestically produced uranium, based on a recommendation from a working group created by President Donald Trump. 

A table displays many posters of missing Navajo people.
Courtesy Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates

Salt Lake resident Cassandra Begay says her family left the Navajo Nation to escape violence on the reservation. But she wasn’t able to leave the issue behind. 

two ornaments with different designs hang from a tree branch. One is a starry sky and the other is turquoise and says “take pride of being indigenous” with a red handprint beneath it.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Twenty-four custom ornaments made the trip from Montezuma Creek to Washington, D.C. to adorn a Christmas tree across from the White House this holiday season. The tree is part of the ‘America Celebrates’ display, which includes the towering National Christmas Tree, and 56 smaller trees, representing every U.S. state and territory. 

Photo of the San Juan County administrative building.
Courtesy of San Juan County

Weber County has completed an investigation into an allegation of electioneering by the San Juan County Clerk. But San Juan will have to find another county to determine whether or not to file charges. 

A deer looks at the road while stuck.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

 


BLANDING — Every weekday morning, Derek Bethea drives from his home in Blanding to Monticello, where he works as a therapist at the San Juan County jail. His route — State Highway 191, which runs north-south along the eastern edge of the state — is not prone to traffic. But it can be treacherous.

Photo of Monument Valley in Utah.
Wikimedia Commons

GALLUP, N.M. —  When Tyrannus White, 41, went missing here in March, his parents ran into a dizzying maze as they sought help from law enforcement to find their son. 

 

Aerial view of houses located in valley among red rock formations.
istock / Alena Mozhjer

GALLUP, N.M. — Most people in the United States will receive a letter in the spring asking them to fill out the 2020 census online. But residents of the Navajo Nation will receive a paper questionnaire, hand-delivered to their door. That means the Census Bureau must recruit workers to visit every home on the reservation. 

Photo of six people seated at a conference table, as an audience seated in chairs looks on.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — Just south of Moab, across the boundary splitting Grand and San Juan counties, the night sky in Spanish Valley is dark enough for residents to make out full constellations. 

Photo of women and men in military uniform holding open a large american flag, with a tipi in the background.
Russel Daniels / For KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah — Sitting in a white tipi below red sandstone buttes and spires, Navy veteran Misty Cly received a hero’s welcome in the form of a traditional healing ceremony.

Photo of a hand painted sign on a gate that says "Dooda, proposition 10, vote no."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY — A proposition to explore a change in county government in San Juan County has failed by a margin of just 153 votes. The county clerk called the race Friday morning, saying that the outcome wouldn’t change with the 125 still-uncounted ballots.

Two women walk up to a house with dogs running around on red dirt ground.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

There is only one measure on the ballot this year in San Juan County. It asks voters if they think the county should explore changing its form of government, which is currently a three-member commission. That could mean more commissioners and new districts. And that’s got some residents concerned. 

A man holds up a sign that reads "state of Utah constitution. Article 3, right to public lands / domain disclaimed by the State of Utah, May 8, 1895" while a policeman talks to him.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, hosted a roundtable for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining in Moab on Friday. He chairs that subcommittee, and invited Republican politicians from Utah, Arizona, Indiana, and Alaska to take part in the discussion. He framed it as a way to raise awareness of public land issues in Washington, D.C.

Photo of Dalene Redhorse holding a Google plus code sign.
Elaine Clark/KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY — It’s a hot, October afternoon, and Dalene Redhorse is driving down an unnamed road on the Navajo Nation. In the backseat of her pickup, she’s got a bag of small blue signs that she’s delivering today. 

Photo of a yard sign with donkeys on it that says, "Just Vote No on Proposition 10."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

San Juan County is holding a special election on Nov. 5 to ask voters if the county should explore changing its form of government. But the county may have failed to adequately notify Navajo voters about it, according to Niki Venugopal, a voting outreach coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. 

Photo of a Navajo man wearing a black cowboy hat stands in front of a sign that says "Indigenous People’s Day."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Students at Utah State University Blanding rose before dawn this morning to greet the sun with corn pollen in the Navajo tradition, before embarking on a 5k run to kick off the college’s first Indigenous People’s Day. 

A road with worn pavement and lots of patches.
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY -- As winter approaches, Navajo Nation residents in Utah say roads on the reservation are increasingly hazardous because of a lack of upkeep.

 

And they don’t know who to blame.

Photo of Navajo woman filling out form.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 10:05 p.m. MDT 10/3/19

 

An upcoming special election in San Juan County has some Native residents worried they will lose representation in government.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
Erik Neumann

Legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments may move forward, now that a federal judge has denied the Trump Administration’s requests that the cases be dismissed. 

Photo of Hovenweep National Monument.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 11:30 p.m. MDT 9/30/19

Meeting in Utah for the first time ever, the All Pueblo Council of Governors passed resolutions last week calling for the protection of the Bears Ears region and pushing back on efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County. 

Two Navajo men face each other for a conversation during a commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Following a five-hour mediation process on Friday, San Juan County has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation $2.6 million in attorney’s fees. The county is responsible for compensation after losing a voting rights case brought by the Nation in 2012. 

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Moab.
Creative Commons

Most of Moab’s sewer and water lines were built more than 60 years ago, at the height of the uranium boom. Now, the town of around 5,000 residents is seeing a boom in tourism. On weekends, its population can reach up to 40,000, according to City Manager Joel Linares. This puts pressure on its infrastructure, and makes it more expensive to replace. 

Photo of oil pump.
iStock.com / DennyThurstonPhotography

Environmental groups are sounding the alarm about a process they say cheats taxpayers and favors the oil and gas industry. The Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities say Congress needs to pass legislation to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas leasing program.

Photo of a street sign on a highway that reads "Sunny Acres Lane."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — From the potential construction of a 13-acre truck stop to the conversion of housing into overnight rentals to the loss of their dark night skies, people who moved to Spanish Valley for peace and quiet say their way of life is under threat. 

Photo of a rock showing pictographs.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Conservation and tribal groups are criticizing the Bureau of Land Management for its latest oil and gas lease sale of more than 70,000 acres of public land in Utah. 

The sale, which occurred this week, brought in around $1.63 million, according to the BLM, more than half of which came from 32,027 acres in San Juan County.

The sale is the third since March 2018 to include land between Bears Ears and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, much of which conservation groups say should not be leased. 

Photo of a brown wooden sign that reads "Manti-La Sal National Forest, U.S. Department of Agriculture" with some trees in the background.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Public lands are usually a divisive issue in Utah, but state and federal lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working together to help counties secure annual reimbursements for federally-owned land. 

Photo of Huckabay looking out her window.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

This story has been corrected.

SPANISH VALLEY — When Marlene Huckabay moved to Spanish Valley in 1994, her two-acre lot was little more than a patch of desert with a tar paper shack surrounded by stark, red-rock cliffs.

Photo of a man and woman dancing together in the middle of a red dirt corral as children look on.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

At the White Mesa fairground in central San Juan County, about 50 boys and girls stand opposite each other in a red dirt corral lined with tall cedars. They’re ready to take their first steps in the traditional Bear Dance. But first, they need a partner. 

Photo of former San Juan County CommissionerMark Maryboy at a town hall meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County brought cultural and political tensions to the fore last week, prompting accusations of racism. Former County Commissioner Mark Maryboy, whose brother Kenneth is a county commissioner, called some residents who support the change in county government “racist Mormons,” adding, “They are all probably a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Photo of people marching at a rally.
Courtesy of Meskee Yanabah Yatsayte / Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates

In response to advocates who say the Navajo Nation isn’t doing enough to help families looking for missing loved ones, the nation recently announced plans to improve missing persons investigations. 

Photo of commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 1:45 p.m. MDT 8/24/19 

A little more than six months after the swearing-in of San Juan County’s first majority-Navajo County Commission, long-simmering tension brought on by years of distrust, frustration and, at times, prejudice is bubbling over.

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