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AM News Brief: Bills Signed, U Coach Ousted & Draper Attorney Charged

Photo of the Utah Senate gallery.
Lee Hale
/
KUER
Gov. Spencer Cox signed 172 bills into law on Tuesday. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, March 17, 2021

State

Slate Of Bills Get Governor’s Signature

Gov. Spencer Cox signed 172 bills into law on Tuesday. Dixie State University will undergo a public process to potentially rename the school under a new law. Cox also signed a bill that makes it illegal to pay signature gatherers for initiatives and referenda on a per-signature basis. Another new law will create a task force to come up with designs for a potential new Utah state flag. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Gearing Up For Wildfire Season

Most of Salt Lake County, and the entire state of Utah for that matter, is in extreme or exceptional drought. Even though the state’s official fire season doesn’t start until June, fire authorities in the county are already gearing up for the 2021 wildfire season. Besides dry conditions, canyons around the Salt Lake Valley are a wildfire danger because forests butt up against urban areas, according to Dan Petersen with Unified Fire Authority. Brad Larson is a fire marshal with UFA and said communities should be proactive in preparing for fires. That includes having up-to-date building codes and creating a defensible space around homes. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

Draper Attorney Charged In Fraud Scheme

A Draper attorney has been federally charged with conspiring to launder money in a wire fraud scheme. Officials allege Matthew Kober started a sports betting software company in 2018. He used that business to launder money from a fraud scheme run by Christopher Hales, who separately pled guilty to fraud. Officials claim Kober accepted a wire transfer of more than $400,000. He gave some of the money back to earlier victims and allegedly kept some. Along with criminal charges, the U.S. district attorney is seeking a money judgment of nearly $260,000. — Ross Terrell

Logan Teen Gets New Start With Robotic Arm

The Logan teenager who was shot and left for dead in a canal four years ago has what she calls an “expensive new toy.” The family of Deserae Turner said she now has a robotic arm to help in her recovery. In 2017 two classmates lured her into a canal and shot her, blinding one eye and paralyzing her left arm. Turner received the device just as she started a new job as a restaurant hostess. — Associated Press

Utah’s Coach K Ousted

University of Utah head basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak is out after 10 seasons. The U's athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement, “the decision comes after a thorough evaluation of the program — both on and off of the court — as I do with every head coach at the conclusion of their seasons.” Coach K's most notable years were 2015 to 2017. That's when Delon Wright, Jacob Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma came out of the program as first round draft picks for the NBA. — Associated Press/Bob Nelson

Region/Nation

Homelessness Increases Risk Of Death From COVID-19

New research from UCLA shows people experiencing homelessness are 30% more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general public. Advocates say this is one reason to prioritize unhoused people in state vaccination plans. The study is not yet peer-reviewed, but researchers released it early in the hopes that it will impact policy changes to state vaccination plans. In the Mountain West, Wyoming is the only state vaccinating people experiencing homelessness. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau