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PM News Brief: Autism diagnoses, Kimball Junction development & state lawmaker resignation

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Brian Albers
/
KUER
A study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network found that in less than a decade, the amount of 8-year-olds diagnosed with autism in Utah increased by almost 30%. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Dec. 2, 2021

State

More autism diagnoses in Utah

A study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network found that in less than a decade, the amount of 8-year-olds diagnosed with autism in Utah increased by almost 30%. Researchers said it is likely due to more accessible diagnosis and treatment services. University of Utah professor Dr. Deborah Bilder was a co-author of the study. She said researchers also found that Latino kids in Utah are diagnosed with autism at a lower rate than white kids. "There's no understood reason to think that the rate of autism will affect children of different ethnic or racial backgrounds differently," she said. Bilder said the discrepancy is most likely an accessibility issue. As of 2018, 1 in 46 8-year-olds in Utah are diagnosed with autism, which is up from 1 in 58 in 2012. — Martha Harris

Northern Utah

New Kimball Junction development hearing draws record crowd

Hundreds of Park City residents showed up to a city council meeting Wednesday night to voice their opposition to a proposed development. Salt Lake City-based Dakota Pacific Real Estate wants to build a mostly residential project at Kimball Junction just west of state Route 224. It would add around 1,100 homes, as well as other buildings like a hotel and offices. Many residents took issue with how the project would affect traffic. Others brought up concerns about water usage and housing affordability. After the four-and-a-half hour meeting, city council members decided to postpone the vote. The decision is set to come out by the end of the year. — Ivana Martinez & KPCW

Paul Ray leaves Utah House after nearly 20 years

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, announced his resignation from the Utah Legislature Thursday. Ray has been in the State House for nearly 20 years. He recently served as co-chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee which was tasked with proposing new voting boundaries for the state. Ray will join Utah’s newly merged Department of Health and Human Services as its Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs. The department is being formed because of legislation Ray sponsored earlier this year. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

‘Aggressive’ water saving goal

Washington County leaders want to cut water usage by 14% per capita by 2030. To reach that goal, the Washington County Water Conservancy District plans to implement things like tiered water rates and rebates for removing turf. Zach Renstrom, the general manager of the agency, said they release plans every five years and this one came at an important time with the ongoing megadrought. Another key part of the plan is for cities to have stricter water regulations, like limiting grass in new developments. St. George Mayor Michele Randall said her city and others nearby will be passing these ordinances soon. The district estimates the plan will cost $12 million per year until 2025. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Online lithium mine hearing draws criticism

A public hearing about a controversial lithium mine in Northern Nevada was moved online Wednesday. It had originally been planned for an in-person meeting. The mine would provide critical materials for electric vehicle batteries. It's not the first time the public has had to weigh in remotely. The mine received federal approval in January, so public comment happened during COVID lockdowns. Nearby Native American tribes consider the area sacred and complain a lack of broadband internet service limited their input. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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