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AM News Brief: Food Assistance Expiring, Police And Military Equipment & Native Remains Returned

A view of Balcony House, one of the cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
U.S. National Parks Service
A view of Balcony House, one of the cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

Friday morning, September 18, 2020

Northern Utah

Governor To Consider COVID-19 Measures This Weekend

Utah is in the midst of a second COVID-19 spike as state health officials reported a record 911 new cases Thursday. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said the first surge was driven by 15 to 24-year olds, but that now there is an increase across all ages. Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll be meeting with stakeholders this weekend, and could decide to tighten public health restrictions to try to contain the spike. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Limiting Police’s Access To Military Equipment

The Salt Lake City Council is considering an ordinance that would limit police department access to decommissioned military equipment. A provision in the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act makes it easy for police departments to ask for surplus military equipment from the federal government, including office furniture, vehicles and weapons, some of which is free. Salt Lake City Council members are weighing a draft measure presented this week that would ban the police from using city funds to acquire drones, combat aircraft, grenades, grenade launchers, military-grade weapons, silencers and armored vehicles. — Associated Press

Few Power Outages Remain

Nearly 350 customers in Utah are still without power 11 days after the extensive wind storm took out power lines, poles, and trees. As of 9:15 a.m., Rocky Mountain Power says there are 106 outages scattered from Ogden to Murray and Draper. — Diane Maggipinto

Region/Nation

Federal Food Assistance Program Set To Expire

A federal program called Pandemic EBT has been a lifeline for many low-income families recently. It’s designed to provide a substitute for free or reduced lunch in schools. With many school districts teaching remotely, families get a monthly debit card of at least $250 per student for groceries instead of free hot lunch at school. Every state implemented the program, and more than a million children in the Mountain West are eligible. Without new Congressional action, it’s slated to expire at the end of this month. — Amanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

Interior Department Reviews Its Lack Of Diversity

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing Thursday to investigate the lack of diversity in the Interior Department. The federal government controls around two-thirds of the land in Utah, and over 70% of the Department's employees are White. Sandra Washington, a Black woman who worked for the National Park Service, spoke at the hearing. She said she experienced racism while at the agency but believes it can get better with strong leadership that values diversity. The agency’s acting Assistant Secretary refused to participate in the hearing, according to Rep. TJ Cox, D-CA. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Native Remains Return Home From Sweden

Tribal leaders have reburied the remains of their ancestors that were taken more than a century ago from what is now Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado. A Swedish researcher unearthed the remains of about 20 people along with funerary objects during excavations in 1891. They eventually became part of the collection of the National Museum of Finland. The remains and funerary objects were reburied over the weekend at Mesa Verde, best known for hundreds of cliff dwellings and petroglyphs from the Ancestral Puebloan age. — Associated Press