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PM News Brief: Police Reform Efforts, Finding Child Care & National Park Visitation

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A photo of Zion National Park during the winter.
Richard Schneider
It may have felt crowded, but popular national parks in the Mountain West region saw a decline in visitation last year in comparison to 2019. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday morning, March 9, 2021


Black Lives Matter Launching Ballot Initiative For Police Reform Measures

Black Lives Matter Utah plans to launch a ballot initiative campaign to address police reform. Lex Scott is the head of the group and said two key bills failed during the recent Legislative session. One of them would’ve allowed cities to create community boards to oversee law enforcement. Scott said the most important part of police reform is “having independent oversight of police, so that police are not investigating themselves and finding themselves innocent.” The other piece of legislation would’ve required law enforcement agencies to release body cam footage within 10 days of an incident. Scott said Black Lives Matter Utah had planned the initiatives prior to the session because they didn’t think those bills would pass. — Emily Means

560 New COVID-19 Cases Announced Tuesday

Utah Department of Health officials reported 560 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. So far, more than 878,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered. Officials said 13 more people have died from COVID but most of those deaths happened before February. There are currently 187 people hospitalized due to the virus. — Ivana Martinez

Utah Launches Website To Help Find Child Care

Utah is launching a new website to help parents find child care options. It’s run by the state Office of Child Care. It can help parents find services based on location, their kid’s age and cost. There is also information about financial assistance and a list of providers that accept subsidies. State officials said the need for child care has increased during the pandemic. They said providing quality options throughout the state is a top priority. More information about available services can be found online at — Jon Reed

Former DNR Employee Faces Multiple Felony Charges

A former Utah Department of Natural Resources employee has been charged with multiple felonies for fraud and unlawful activity. The Utah attorney general’s office announced the charges Tuesday against Daniel Wayne Clark. Officials allege Clark illegally gave construction contracts to his own paving company. Clark was listed as the president and lone employee. The AG’s office said the scheme amounted to more than $1.3 million over the past 20 years. Some of the payments were for projects that didn’t exist. The DNR fired Clark last summer. He faces charges of communication fraud, unlawful activity, obstruction of justice and using his position to secure privileges. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Navajo Nation Students In San Juan Getting Internet Access

The San Juan School District has completed a project to bring the internet to its students on the Navajo Nation. Not all students are online yet, but teachers say it’s already making a difference. The school district built more than 100 radio towers around the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation. That’s according to Superintendent Ron Nielson. He said the project will eventually provide internet access to more than 500 homes. Right now, around 10 are connected. The district plans to complete the connections by the end of the semester. Read the full story. Kate Groetzinger, Bluff


Visitation To National Parks Declined Compared To 2019

It may have felt crowded, but popular national parks in the Mountain West region saw a decline in visitation last year in comparison to 2019. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park saw a 29% decrease in visitation. In Utah, Zion National Park’s numbers dipped 20%. Meanwhile, in Wyoming and Montana, Yellowstone saw a smaller decline with roughly 5% fewer visitors. Overall, park visitation across the nation was down 27% — the lowest since 1980. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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