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PM News Brief: Dark Skies, Dixie Name Committee & Education Inequality

A photo of an overlook at Goosenecks State Park.
Bureau of Land Management
/
Flickr
Two more Utah State Parks have been recognized for their dark skies. The International Dark Sky Association gave the designation to Goosenecks and Fremont Indian State Parks. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, March 25, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox Gets Vaccinated, Announces Federal Financial Support

The state opened up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone age 16 and older this week. Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox got their shots at a vaccination clinic in Utah County Thursday. Cox also announced that families who have lost loved ones to the virus will soon qualify for financial support as part of the latest federal COVID relief package. Nearly 2,100 Utahns have died since the start of the pandemic. State health officials reported an increase of 527 new cases. The 7-day positivity rate for tests is less than 4%. Read the full story. Emily Means

Utah’s Weekly Unemployment Update

About 3,400 Utahns filed for new unemployment claims last week. That’s based on numbers released Thursday from the state’s Department of Workforce Services. For this same time period last year, nearly 19,600 people had filed for first time unemployment and federal unemployment funds had yet to kick in. Continued claims continue to drop as well. State officials said it’s a sign Utah’s economy is recovering. Over the past year, Utah has paid out almost $662 million in unemployment benefits. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Dixie State Creates Name Recommendation Committee

Dixie State University officially created a Name Recommendation Committee Thursday. They’re tasked with surveying the community and coming up with options for a new name by the summer. David Clark is the chair of the board of trustees. He said there have been no decisions about whether “Dixie” will be kept or not. The 19-person group is made up of community members, students and university employees. They plan to hold their first meeting on Monday. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Two More Utah State Parks Receive Dark Sky Designation

Two more Utah State Parks have been recognized for their dark skies. The International Dark Sky Association gave the designation to Goosenecks and Fremont Indian State Parks. That brings the total number of dark sky state parks in Utah to 10. According to the association, that’s the most of any state park system worldwide. Other dark sky places in Utah include Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument and Antelope Island State Park. Goosenecks State Park in southeast Utah features steep canyon walls showing millions of years of geological history. Fremont Indian State Park is home to the largest settlement of Fremont Indians yet discovered. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Far-Right Actors Weaponizing Colorado Mass Shooting

Following the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado on Monday, far-right actors are using the tragedy to sow division. They’re peddling Islamophobic rhetoric after reports emerged that the suspect is Muslim. That’s alarming extremism experts at the Western States Center which focuses on extremism movements, hate crimes and ways to strengthen democracy. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Rep. Burgess Owens Speaks On Educational Inequality

U.S. House Republicans are calling for an investigation into how school closures are impacting children with disabilities. Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, spoke about the issue during a subcommittee hearing Thursday. Owens said the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major setback for all K-12 students but especially for lower income households. “Too many poor families, many of them, students of color as well as those with disabilities, have been left with no educational option other than to wait on bureaucrats to follow the science and reopen schools,” Owens said. He said the best way to help struggling families is to give them more freedom to make choices for their children’s education. — Ivana Martinez