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AM News Brief: Navajo COVID, Senate Vote On “Troubled Teen” Oversight & Storm Brings Avalanche Danger

Summit County Sherrif  Square Top Avalanche.jpeg
Summit County Sherrif
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A Winter Storm Warning is in effect through the weekend. The National Weather Service Salt Lake City office said the mountains are expected to get significant snowfall, where avalanche danger is already considerable in backcountry areas. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, February 12, 2021

State

Parents’ Rights In Education

Utah made national headlines last weekend after the Maria Montessori Academy in North Ogden said it would allow parents to keep their children from participating in lessons related to Black History Month. State law allows parents to opt their students out of curriculum based on religious beliefs or strongly-held convictions. The Utah House also just passed a resolution that essentially restates a parents’ role as their kids primary educator. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Senate Votes Unanimously To Regulate “Troubled Teen” Industry

The full Utah senate voted unanimously Thursday to bring more oversight to teen treatment centers in the state. It comes just days after an emotional Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which three treatment center abuse survivors, including celebrity Paris Hilton, testified about their experiences and called on lawmakers to enact change. If fully passed into the law, S.B. 127 would include stricter requirements for when treatment centers can restrain or sedate teenagers and increase reporting and inspection requirements. It marks the first time in 15 years the state legislature has considered new regulations for the industry. — David Fuchs

Northern Utah

Rocky Mountain Power Hoping To Head Off Power Outages

Rocky Mountain Power crews are pressure washing insulators by helicopter to head off more power outages. Rain showers Friday may trigger more interruptions following last week's "brown snow" event along the Wasatch Front, according to company officials. They say that snow was mixed with pollutants and dust, and that combination coated big transformers and insulators prompting some arcing and sparking which can make the power go out. Officials said crews are also being added ahead of Friday’s storm for faster response to possible power outages. — Bob Nelson

With Storm Comes Avalanche Danger

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect through the weekend. The National Weather Service Salt Lake City office said the mountains are expected to get significant snowfall, where avalanche danger is already considerable in backcountry areas. Avalanche officials said heavy snow may overload weak snow layers causing the snow to be unstable. Both human triggered and natural avalanches will be likely and can be up to 5 feet deep, several hundred feet wide and likely unsurvivable, according to the weather service. The greatest danger is on or below slopes steeper than 30 degrees. — Bob Nelson

Southern Utah

Black Lives Matter Southern Utah Celebrates One-Year Mark

The one-year anniversary of the founding of Black Lives Matter Southern Utah is this month. The group was just getting started as the pandemic hit and racial justice protests swept across the country. Correcting misinformation about their chapter was one of the main jobs founder Troy Anderson had last year. He said he had to fend off wild rumors and break down what the southern Utah chapter stands for and that it isn’t part of the national organization. The group has also made a lot of progress in its first year, said Justice Slayton. As a member, she organized a Juneteenth event and helped start a Black History Month scholarship. As for year two, Slayton said she’s hoping to recruit more people and help the chapter become more established. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Navajo COVID

The Navajo Department of Health reported 53 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and 11 more deaths on Thursday. Tribal authorities also reported a total of 1,242 cases on the Utah portion of the reservation since the start of the pandemic. The total number of Nation deaths from COVID across Arizona, News Mexico and Utah is now 1,097. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Thursday health care workers are doing a great job getting vaccines administered, but he said they have to "keep fighting hard and not let up." — Bob Nelson