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AM News Brief: Weber County tax hike, holiday college football and drought streak extends

A photo of a BYU football game.
Kend Lund
Brigham Young University has the highest ranked college football team in the state. The 13th ranked Cougars end their season Saturday night on the road against USC. This story and more in Friday morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Nov. 26, 2021


Studying Utah’s largest fruit crop: tart cherries

Researchers at Utah State University are getting close to $2 million to bring the latest technology to tart cherry farmers. Tart cherries are Utah’s largest fruit crop and the state is the second largest producer in the country. Brent Black, a fruit specialist at USU and the project’s lead, said researchers will use drones and ATVs with GPS and other sensors to map different aspects of an orchard, from soil composition, tree density and which areas yield the most fruit. All of that data can then help farmers fine tune how they manage their crops. He said the grant won’t solve all the problems farmers face. But it will lay the groundwork to understand what’s possible. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Utah’s college football season wrap up their regular season 

Utah has two college football teams in the top 25 for the NCAA’s playoff. The 19th ranked University of Utah knocked off Oregon last week to secure a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. They wrap up their regular season Friday at home against the University of Colorado. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Utah State also plays its regular season finale Friday at 11 a.m. against New Mexico. BYU comes into the weekend as the highest ranked team from the Beehive State. The 13th ranked Cougars end their season Saturday night on the road against USC. — Ross Terrell

The Point opens as permanent housing for homeless community 

A former motel in Salt Lake City has been remodeled as permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. The Point on the city’s west side has more than 130 studio apartments and caters to people 55 and older or veterans. Residents pay $450 in rent. That also includes some meals and support services. The facility was opened as a temporary emergency shelter last winter. — Emily Means

Weber County looking to increase its property tax rate 

Weber County is considering increasing its property tax by 4.5%. The Standard Examiner reports it would bring in an estimated $2.1 million to the county. That money would go toward the library system and flood control projects. Weber County needs about $20 million for flood control, so this would fund just a small portion of that. Critics of the tax hike say the commission should find other ways to bring in money for those projects. They’re worried about tax increases at a time when inflation is also on the rise. — Sonja Hutson


Nation longest drought streak carries on

The nation’s long drought streak is continuing. For the past 61 weeks, more than 40% of the continental U.S. has been in drought. JJ Shinker is a University of Wyoming professor who researches climate and drought across the West. She said the data is not surprising, given what we know about increasing temperatures across the region. But the impact is jarring, especially the recent late-November wildfires seen in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the current drought streak is the third longest streak of its kind in recorded history. — Maggie Mullen

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