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AM News Brief: Cedar High Mascot Debate Tabled, Kaibab Forest Closure & Utah Boasts Lowest Unemployment In Region

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Cedar High School
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Discussions around Cedar High School’s mascot are bubbling up again at the Iron County School District Board of Education. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, June 22, 2021

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Urges Fireworks Caution

As fireworks sales in Utah begin on Thursday, elected officials are asking residents to refrain from setting them off this year. The plea comes as the state faces its worst drought in decades. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said it’s out of her power to create an outright ban on fireworks, so she’s asking people to take personal responsibility. “Let's plan ahead and find a place to view our great firework shows throughout the valley,” she said. “As opposed to what we sometimes do — our own special fireworks local shows.” There’s an interactive map of restrictions in Salt Lake County and Eagle Mountain. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Being Prepared Outdoors

Three people have died this year hiking in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons in Salt Lake County. Unified Police Department Sgt. Melody Cutler said they were all experienced hikers. She said that should be a warning for anyone recreating in the area to educate themselves of the realities of exploring the outdoors. Cutler said people should be prepared with adequate gear, which means packing enough to potentially spend the night. Water is especially important, she said, given Utah’s hot and dry climate. — Lexi Peery

Southern Utah

Iron County Tables New Discussion On Native Mascot

Discussions around Cedar High School’s mascot are bubbling up again at the Iron County School District Board of Education. Their mascot used to be the Redmen but was retired two years ago due to controversy around its Native American imagery. Now, they are the Reds, but a board member wants to change it back. It was expected to be addressed during Tuesday’s school board meeting, but board president Michelle Lambert said it doesn’t have enough support. So, it’s tabled indefinitely, unless a majority of the board requests it. During a meeting about the name last week, people on both sides presented their cases. In April, Bountiful High School became the latest to retire its mascot due to its native imagery when they became the Redhawks instead of the Braves. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Kaibab National Forest Closure

The entire Kaibab National Forest will be closing Wednesday morning due to high fire danger and a lack of resources to combat them. The area is southeast of Kanab just across the Arizona state line and borders both rims of the Grand Canyon. Forest Service members are working to clear out campers and said the public should cancel plans of visiting the forest for the next several weeks. The closure will be in effect until the area gets significant precipitation that reduces wildfire risk. Anyone who enters the forest can be punished with a Class B misdemeanor and face fines up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Bison Injures Woman At Yellowstone

A bison injured a hiker in Yellowstone National park on Sunday. The unidentified woman was near a trail at the northern end of Yellowstone Lake when it happened. A park spokeswoman described the injuries as significant, and The Billings Gazette reports that she was flown to a hospital in Idaho Falls. Bison injure one or two people in Yellowstone a year on average. Park officials urge people to stay at least 25 yards away from large animals — and at least 100 yards away from wolves and bears. — Associated Press

Utah’s Unemployment Rate Lowest In Region

Unemployment rates vary significantly across the region as people get vaccinated and states lift COVID-19 restrictions. The latest data shows Utah and Idaho have the lowest unemployment rates at 2.7% and 3% respectively. Montana and Wyoming are the next lowest. All those states are planning to, or have already, ended $300 weekly unemployment supplements. But experts say the kind of jobs available might play a larger role than those payments. There’s also variation within states. In Idaho, for example, the highest county unemployment rate is more than double the state average. Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in the Mountain West at nearly 8%, followed by New Mexico and Colorado. However, unlike the rest of the region, New Mexico and Montana don’t have data for May yet. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau