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AM News Brief: Redistricting Grand County, Reimagining Prosecution & Making Merry With Utah Jazz Christmas Game

A photo of the entrance to Vivint SmartHome Arena.
Brian Albers
The Utah Jazz will play on Christmas Day this year for just the eighth time in franchise history. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, Aug. 18, 2021

Southern Utah

Grand County Commission Wants Legislative Districts Redrawn

Grand County is split into two legislative districts through the city of Moab, and the county commission wants that changed as part of the 2021 redistricting process. Right now, people living on the north and west sides of town are in District 70 represented by Rep. Carl Albrecht, R-Richfield. Those to the southeast are represented by Rep. Christine Watkins, R-Price in District 69. Grand County Commission chair Mary McGann told KZMU in Moab that undercuts local voting power. The Commission will draft a letter to the state redistricting committee, asking to keep the community whole and possibly to be grouped with San Juan County. — Molly Marcello, KZMU, Moab

Navajo Students Return To Classroom

Many Navajo students in the San Juan School District are returning to the classroom this week for the first time since the pandemic began. The Navajo Nation was hit hard by COVID-19, and schools in the district and on reservation land were largely kept closed. Kim Schaefer, principal of Whitehorse High School, said most of her students have chosen to return in person, in large part because the Navajo Nation has a mask requirement in place. She said creating a safe environment is a major priority, part of which involves easing students into the new year with reduced class periods and community discussions. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Call For Federal Task Force To Reimagine Prosecution

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is asking President Joe Biden to establish a task force on 21st Century Prosecution. Gill signed onto a letter with more than 100 other members of the criminal justice community ranging from police chiefs and sheriffs to elected prosecutors. The task force would focus on 17 pillars like advancing racial and ethnic justice, and improving jail and prison conditions. In a press release, Gill said pursuing justice is more complicated than just arresting people and putting them in jail and that finding solutions to solve historical problems requires new ways of thinking. — Ross Terrell

Jazz To Make Merry With Christmas Day Game

The Utah Jazz will play on Christmas Day this year for just the eighth time in franchise history. The NBA announced its nationally televised game schedule for the first four days of next season and for Dec 25. The Jazz are set to take on the Dallas Mavericks at Vivint Arena as the last of five games played on Christmas. Utah’s previous seven Christmas Day games were also played at home. They’ve won five. It will be the first time the team has played as part of the NBA’s holiday slate since 2018. The NBA will announce the full season schedule this Friday. — Ross Terrell


No End In Sight For Colorado River Shortage

The Bureau of Reclamation declared a first-ever water shortage for the lower Colorado River basin Monday because of low water levels in Lake Mead. The reservoir supplies water to millions in the Southwest. Escaping the shortage will rely partially on drought conditions to turnaround, but climate change has made that harder to predict. Continued shortage conditions could mean more mandatory cutbacks in the Southwest. The first round of cuts will start in Arizona and Nevada this January. — Alex Hager, KUNC

Poverty Line Misses Important Factors

Advocates are applauding the Biden administration’s move to permanently boost the food aid program SNAP. But in the Mountain West, where income inequality is growing, they say updating the poverty line would make a bigger dent. That federal benchmark doesn’t take into account some of the factors that make it increasingly hard to live in the West, like the cost of health care, housing, child care and transportation. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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