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AM News Brief: Apprenticeships, Managed Burns & Free Fare For Clean Air

Photo of a TRAX train.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
All Utah Transit Authority bus and rail services will be free Thursday and Friday to mark Free Fare for Clean Air days. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, Aug. 12, 2021

State

Defending Kids In Court

After observing more than 200 juvenile delinquency proceedings, Voices For Utah Children found legal representation for kids has increased in recent years. That’s according to a new report released Wednesday. The group pointed to a state law from 2019 which automatically appoints a public defender to children until they decide to pay for a private attorney. Pam Vickrey, executive director of Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys, said it’s critical for young people to really understand the judicial process, which is why having defense counsel is so important. As a next step, Voices For Utah Children recommended studying the quality of legal counsel kids are receiving. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Spike In Common Respiratory Illness In Kids

Utah doctors are seeing an early spike of a common but dangerous respiratory illness this year. Respiratory syncytial virus — or RSV — can hit children, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions especially hard, affecting the lining of the lungs. Doctor Per Gesteland with Intermountain’s Primary Children’s hospital said they really didn’t see any cases last year,likely because of COVID-19 precautions. Cases usually climb in the winter, but this year doctors in Utah say they are already seeing the number of patients they’d expect in January. So, hospitals are gearing up for a surge of RSV. Gesteland recommended taking precautions the public is familiar with now — washing hands, wearing masks and keeping kids home if they’re sick. He said this is especially important as school gets underway. — Elaine Clark

State Launches New Apprenticeship Resource

Utah has launched a website to connect people to apprenticeship opportunities. The program also provides an apprenticeship model to employers with the goal of providing on-the-job training for workers. There are traditional positions in fields like construction, utilities and trades, and opportunities are expanding in healthcare and technology. The state said the average salary for people who complete the program is $60,000 a year. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Study Identifies Gaps In Addressing Homelessness

Salt Lake County accounts for over half of Utah’s homeless population according to data released Wednesday by the Utah Foundation, a nonprofit public policy group. The report looked to identify homeless service gaps in the county and found the largest need is for more shelters and emergency beds. Employment and general support services like transportation and child care also had large service gaps. This was the latest installment of the Foundation’s series looking at the issue of homelessness in Utah. — Tess Roundy

Free Fare For Clean Air

All Utah Transit Authority bus and rail services will be free Thursday and Friday to mark Free Fare for Clean Air days. It’s an effort by the environmental advocacy group HEAL Utah and others to help improve air quality along the Wasatch Front. Funding for it comes from a bill passed by state lawmakers two years ago. The two days were selected by the state’s Division of Air Quality based on projected poor air quality due to traffic and weather patterns. — Tess Roundy

Region/Nation

Study Points To Importance Of Managed Burns

A recent study in the journal Ecosphere predicts a decade-long burst of intense wildfire, followed by a gradual decline in both the number and size of fires. But that depends on letting some blazes run their course and burning through fuels. The study comes on the heels of the U.S. Forest service announcement that it would temporarily halt its lower-intensity burns. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau