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PM News Brief: Staying Cool In Heat Wave, Tax Commission Hearings & Wildfire Evacuations Continue

A photo of a landscape on fire.
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info Twitter
The Bennion Creek Fire near Carbon County grew overnight due to extremely dry conditions and erratic winds. State officials say it’s scorched more than 7,700 acres and is just 10% contained. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, June 14, 2021

State

Utah State Tax Commission To Continue Holding Remote Appeal Hearings

Utah’s State Tax Commission announced Monday it will continue to offer remote appeal hearings. Starting in late July, all appeals will be conducted virtually with an option to be held in-person. The commission said people involved in cases pushed for remote hearings because they’re more cost effective. They don’t have to fly in witnesses and cover hotel and meal costs. For anyone who wants to handle their case in-person, they must give notice at least a week in advance. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Continues To Climb

Utah health officials reported 169 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. But the state’s average number of new cases per day and positivity rate have both increased week to week. Right now, about 4.7% of tests are coming back positive. Last Monday, it was only 4%. Hospitalizations are also up compared to last week. So far, nearly half of all Utahns have gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. — Ross Terrell

More Evacuations Due To Utah Wildfires

More evacuations have been put in place for areas near the Pack Creek fire. It has burned more than 8,000 acres just south of Moab and it’s only 6% contained. Residents of the Blue Lake and Dark Canyon areas are the latest to be ordered to clear out. The Bennion Creek Fire near Carbon County grew overnight due to extremely dry conditions and erratic winds. State officials say it’s scorched more than 7,700 acres and is just 10% contained. The Aspen Cove subdivision has been evacuated. Fire officials say Utah is currently experiencing its worst drought in at least 90 years. That has led to severely dry vegetation which serves as fuel for wildfires. — Ross Terrell

Intermountain Doctors Say Practice Safety During Current Heat Wave

Large chunks of northern and southern Utah are under excessive heat warnings from the National Weather Service until Friday night. Intermountain Healthcare said people need to be cautious. IHC doctors said the best way to stay out of the emergency room due to heat related illness is to stay hydrated. People should also stay inside during the hottest parts of the day. Children and the elderly are at higher risk of falling ill due to the heat. Cooling centers across Salt Lake County are open for people who need to get inside. To find locations, visit the county’s website. — Ross Terrell

The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints Announces Scholarship With NAACP

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday it will be funding programs to help Black communities. It’s a continuation of an ongoing partnership with the NAACP, and the news comes just days before Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved people were freed in 1865. Church President Russell M. Nelson said the Church will put forth $1 million a year for the next three years for scholarships for Black students. The Church will also donate $6 million over the next three years to support humanitarian efforts in “underprivileged areas” throughout the country. Read the full story.Emily Means

Southern Utah

Dixie State University Votes On New Name

Dixie State University is one step closer to a new name. Its Name Recommendation Committee voted 11-3 Monday to recommend calling the school Utah Polytechnic State University, with “Utah Tech” as its nickname. Monday’s vote is the latest step in a push to rename the school, which started after last year’s racial reckoning across the country and some people’s concerns about “Dixie’s” ties to the Confederacy. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

President Biden’s Nominee Under Fire From Republicans

President Joe Biden’s nominee to oversee federal public lands in our region is under fire from Senate Republicans. The criticism stems from Tracy Stone-Manning’s ties to an ecoterrorism case more than three decades ago. Lawmakers will vote on her nomination in the coming days. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau