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AM News Brief: Call To Revitalize Japantown, ARUP Leadership Changes & Zoom Bomb Strikes Utah Committee

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Salt Lake City Government
In the early 1900s, the area around 100 South and 200 West became a hub of Japanese culture and business. Now, Japantown could return to downtown Salt Lake City. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021


Women Make Some Gains In Counties’ GOP Leadership

Five women were chosen to chair county Republican parties in Utah this weekend, but not in Salt Lake County. After news broke about bullying toward women in the Salt Lake County GOP, the former chair resigned and some Utah Republicans called for more women in party leadership positions. Chris Null ran against a woman and won with around 60% of the vote. He said now he’s working to bring more diverse voices to the party. Meanwhile, Lesa Sandberg is the new chair of the Washington County GOP. She said she and other women have traditionally worked behind the scenes in the party, but “women are finally at a place where they're ready to lead.” Read the full story. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Revitalizing Japantown

Japantown could return to downtown Salt Lake City. The city's Redevelopment Agency discussed a revitalization project Tuesday. In the early 1900s, the area around 100 South and 200 West became a hub of Japanese culture and business. Following World War II, some people settled Japantown again after being released from Utah's internment camp. In 1966, what was left was demolished to create the Salt Palace Convention Center. Now, community members want to restore the area. Rolen Yoshinaga with the Japanese Community Preservation Committee said the city's investment in this project would change relationships with the Japanese Community. Community members hope the new Japantown can be a place of inclusion and respect. — Ivana Martinez

Delaying Lawn Watering

Five cities in Utah County are asking people not to water their lawns until May because of the current drought. Lehi, Highland, American Fork, Cedar Hills and Pleasant Grove have issued a request for residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use. Schools and churches have already agreed to wait to water their lawns. Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency last month due to the drought conditions — largely extreme and even some exceptional conditions. Other ways to save water include fixing leaks and avoiding watering during high winds. — Roddy Nikpour

First Meeting Of Utah’s Independent Redistricting Committee

Hackers on Zoom interrupted the first meeting of Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission Tuesday night. The so-called “Zoom bombing” included pornographic images, explicit music and racial slurs. The Zoom bombers were also able to imitate other people on the call, writing in the chat and speaking under assumed names. After about 15 minutes of failing to restore order to the meeting, chair Rex Facer adjourned it. — Sonja Hutson

Leadership Changes For ARUP Laboratories

The CEO of the nonprofit research lab ARUP is retiring. After more than 30 years, Dr. Sherrie Perkins will retire on June 30. The board of directors has appointed current president Andy Theurer to step into the CEO role. He's also been with the lab for more than 30 years and oversaw the expansions that brought ARUP to its current facility at the University of Utah research park. Tracy George, a doctor and professor at the university, will become the new president. — Roddy Nikpour

Southern Utah

Former Utah Governor To Deliver Dixie State Commencement

Former Utah Governor Gary Herbert will speak at the commencement ceremony at Dixie State University in St. George. It's set to take place in person on May 7. In a press release, Dixie State praised Herbert for his leadership and for promoting Utah as a premier location in the country for business and growth. Other Utah universities are offering a mix of in-person and virtual celebrations again this year. — Roddy Nikpour


Record Number Bills Seek To Ban Transgender Athletes

This week, the NCAA came out in support of transgender athletes, but stopped short of a commitment to pull championships from states considering banning such athletes. But across the country, 32 state legislatures introduced bills this year to ban trans women athletes. LGBTQ+ advocates say it’s just another culture war issue. Supporters of the bills say it’s about keeping a level playing field. Several states that introduced legislation, copied a bill passed in Idaho last year. That law is currently facing legal challenges. A Utah bill to ban transgender girls from competing in high school sports failed in the state Legislature this year. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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