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AM News Brief: Ice Shortage, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations & Utah Navajo Water

Colorado River in Utah aerial view
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iStockphoto
Congress is currently debating a major infrastructure bill, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said some of that money could fund the Navajo Utah Water Settlement Act passed by Congress in December. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, Aug. 5, 2021

State

High-Risk Kids And The Return To The Classroom

The state health department is recommending that students and teachers wear masks. But some parents say it’s hard to know how many people will follow that advice. With school starting up again in a few weeks, some Utah parents of high-risk kids say they still can’t tell if it’ll be safe to send them to in-person classes. The state Legislature passed a law that prevented schools from issuing mask mandates. Local health departments can issue them — with permission from the county legislative body, like a county commission. About 58% of people eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated, but children under 12 are not yet approved for vaccination. One parent said she will continue to watch case counts, which are currently worsening. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Expands Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Salt Lake County Facilities Management is installing seven new electric vehicle charges for public use. They're being placed at the Salt Lake County Government Center on State Street near 2100 S and will provide charging capacity for up to 14 vehicles. Facilities management said the move was prompted by increased demand, with the existing station well over capacity. Director Rory Payne said the project would have been completed in 2020 if not for COVID-19. The current charger technology also provides integrated data collection that will allow Salt Lake County to better understand and plan for future usage and demand on EV infrastructure. — Pamela McCall

Southern Utah

Funding Water Projects On Utah Navajo

Congress is currently debating a major infrastructure bill, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said some of that money could fund the Navajo Utah Water Settlement Act passed by Congress in December. The settlement gives the Navajo Nation the right to use a set amount of water from the Colorado River and approves $220 million in federal funding to treat and move the water. Nez said in a statement Wednesday that the tribe has invested nearly half a billion dollars in water, electricity and other infrastructure projects, but that more investment is necessary to reach rural communities. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

Ice Shortage

There’s an ice shortage in parts of the Mountain West due to a big increase in events, the heatwave and a labor shortage. Michael Bickelhaupt owns Colorado Ice Works near Denver, and he said he’s seen the shortages affect businesses around the entire state. He’s even been ordering ice from Utah to help meet demand but is still turning people away. Distributors said it’s especially hard to find truckers to deliver the ice. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau