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PM News Brief: University Of Utah Safety Officer Leaving, Federal Tourism Aid & Night Flying Exercises

A photo of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Edgar Zuniga Jr.
/
Flickr
The University of Utah’s Chief Safety Officer is leaving his position next month. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, February 2, 2021

State

Utah’s Office Of Tourism Getting $1 Million In Federal Aid

Utah’s Office of Tourism announced Tuesday it will receive $1 million in federal CARES act money. Tourism has been one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, as fewer people are traveling. The funds will be used on a two-year project that will include a training program, marketing campaign and recovery plan for certain destinations. The state will also contribute $250,000. The tourism office said the grant will help create a little more than 250 high paying or high skill jobs. — Ross Terrell

COVID-19 Cases Just Back Up To More Than 1,200

New COVID-19 cases in Utah jumped back up to just over 1,200 Tuesday. On Monday, health officials reported the state’s lowest total since mid-September. Seventeen more people died from the disease, but officials said six of them died in early January. Utah’s hospital capacity is also beginning to free up. About 76% of ICU beds are occupied. That's down from 86% a month ago. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Salt Lake Officials Host Panel To Discuss Homelessness In The Valley

Salt Lake City and county officials held a panel Monday to discuss homelessness around the Salt Lake Valley. Panelists also included community members. Dale Keller is with the Salt Lake County Health Department. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued pandemic related guidelines for breaking up homeless encampments. “The truth is we have hundreds of camps that we know about that are small camps that we haven’t addressed,” Keller said. “And part of that is because of the CDC guidelines. Where we will take action is when a camp becomes a bit of a problem.” Problems include size, garbage and health concerns. Salt Lake City has an encampment cleanup scheduled for Thursday. — Ivana Martinez

University Of Utah’s Chief Safety Officer Leaving For Michigan State

The University of Utah’s Chief Safety Officer is leaving his position next month. Marlon Lynch announced Tuesday that he will take a job at Michigan State University. Lynch was the first person to hold the newly-created Chief Safety Officer position at the U. His resignation is the latest in a number of changes in the university’s leadership and its department of public safety. Last month, U President Ruth Watkins announced she would step down. In December, the U placed its Police Chief Rodney Chatman on leave over questions about his certification as a police officer in Utah. An investigation is still ongoing. Both Chatman and Lynch served in their positions for about a year. Their hirings were part of a plan to revamp the school’s Department of Public Safety following the on-campus murder of student athlete Lauren McCluskey. — Caroline Ballard

Hill Air Force Base Night Flying Exercises

If you live in parts of Northern Utah, getting to sleep may be a little difficult for the next couple of months. Hill Air Force Base officials said today {Tuesday} night flying exercises will be happening at the Utah Test and Training Range on “most” weekdays through the second week of April. They should wrap up between 7 and 10 p.m. But could go later on some nights. Officials warned the timing could change depending on weather and airspace availability. Pilots are required to get in a certain number of hours of night flying to keep their skills sharp. The Air Force base said all three of its fighters wings have deployed to the Middle East at some point over the past two years. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Bill To Change Name Of Dixie State University Introduced In State Legislature

A bill to change the name of Dixie State University has been introduced in the Utah legislature. However, it’s being sponsored by a representative from the northern part of the state. Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, represents parts of southwest Utah and he works for Dixie State University. Advocates for a name change thought he was a likely candidate to sponsor the bill to drop Dixie. But Last said it made sense for the chair of the legislative committee that oversees higher education to do it, since the name of the university is a statewide concern. Two southern Utah legislators have publicly come out against the name change so far. Last said the bill will be heard in committee this week. Read the full story. Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Royalty Rate Hikes On Federal Lands Could Be Coming Soon

President Joe Biden’s administration may hike royalty rates on oil, gas and coal leasing on public lands for the first time in more than a century. Last week, Biden ordered the Department of the Interior to consider adjusting just how much of a cut taxpayers get when companies drill on public lands. These are called royalties and they have stayed at 12.5% for years. But Biden wants to make them higher to offset climate costs. The oil and gas industry is already hurting due to the pandemic and argues this will make business even more difficult. There are already a handful of states that charge more than the federal government in royalty rates for oil, gas and coal drilling on state-managed public lands. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau