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AM News Brief: Senior Housing, Rock Art Vandalism & Addiction Medicine

Sunrise over Utah Valley.
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A new report from Utah housing advocates shows the state could lose 40% of federally subsidized rentals for older adults by 2045. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, April 28, 2021

State

Utah Could Be Losing Senior Housing

A new report from Utah housing advocates shows the state could lose 40% of federally subsidized rentals for older adults by 2045. Otelo Reggy-Beane with the Utah Housing Coalition authored the report. He said subsidized units are being converted into market-rate spaces, and that forcing seniors to relocate can “negatively impact their physical and mental health and increase their likelihood of experiencing homelessness.” Reggy-Beane said many older people rely on fixed incomes, and with current housing prices, that’s not enough to afford market-rate rent. He recommended that state and local governments dedicate funds to preserving senior housing. — Emily Means

Acting State Treasurer Named

Gov. Spencer Cox has named Kirt Slaugh as acting state treasurer effective May 3. Slaugh has been chief deputy state treasurer since 2016. The state treasurer position became vacant when David Damschen stepped down April 13 to become president and CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation. — Pamela McCall

Southern Utah

Ancient Rock Art Vandalized With Racist Graffiti

A tour guide with the Moab Tour Company discovered racist graffiti on an ancient rock art panel Monday which includes the phrase “white power” and graphic imagery. The graffiti is carved on a panel called “the Birthing Scene,” estimated to be nearly 2,000 years old. The person had to cross out their first attempt after misspelling the word "white." The Utah Bureau of Land Management is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the incident. First-time vandalizers can face fines of up to $20,000 and one year in prison. — Associated Press

Increased Visitation Could Damage Landscape, Artifacts At Bears Ears

This year is shaping up to be one of the busiest ever for visitation in and around Bears Ears National Monument, and advocates say tourism is wreaking havoc on the fragile landscape. Tourism in the area has been increasing significantly for over a decade because of social media, according to Josh Ewing, executive director of Friends of Cedar Mesa. This year, they’re expecting around half a million people to visit the area. That’s a problem, according to Vaughn Hadenfeldt, a retired backpacking guide who helped start the conservation group. He said without proper education, visitors end up doing things that destroy cultural sites, like picking up pottery shards and other artifacts. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Northern Utah

Utah Biologist Named To National Academy Of Sciences

A Utah biologist has been named to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Mary Beckerle is CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute and a professor of biology and oncological sciences at the University of Utah. Beckerle discovered a way that cells respond to signals which help regulate cell growth. The Beckerle Lab at the Institute researches how those responses influence tumor growth. Beckerle is among 120 members elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year. Fifty-nine of them were women, the most ever elected in a single year, according to a press release from the Academy. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

Easing Access To Addiction Medicine

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is easing restrictions on a key medication to treat opioid addiction called buprenorphine. They’re making it so healthcare professionals don’t have to get extra training to offer the medication to as many as 30 patients with opioid addiction. Some believe singling out this one medication further stigmatizes the treatment of addiction and hope for more changes to ease access to that treatment. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau