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AM News Brief: Missionaries leaving Ukraine, Park City teacher’s Title IX lawsuit & Navajo writers honored with children's book awards

Three colorful children's books.
American Indian Library Association
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Two Navajo writers were honored in the American Indian Library Association's 2022 Youth Literature Awards. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Tuesday morning, Jan. 25, 2022

State

Growing pains hit Utah’s technical colleges

Utah’s technical colleges are beginning to face what has become a familiar challenge in the state — managing growth. More students are looking to technical education as a relatively cheap and quick option for building job-specific skills. Colleges say that’s leading to overcrowded facilities, waitlists on courses and difficulties attracting enough faculty and staff to meet demand. Dixie Technical College’s student population has grown by about 70% since 2018. College leaders are asking lawmakers for millions more in funding, most of which would go to expanding programs, hiring more staff and building upgrades. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Thousands of acres burned in Utah in 2021

In 2021, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands reported 1,131 wildfires in Utah — around half were human-caused. The fires burned over 63,792 acres throughout the state. Despite the year’s extreme drought conditions, there was around a 62% decrease in human-caused fires in 2021 compared to the year before. Officials say part of the reason for the decrease was greater awareness of the dangerous conditions. — Leah Treidler

Northern Utah

Park City teacher files Title IX lawsuit

A former Park City teacher is suing the district for what she says is retaliation. Kathy Moore worked at Parley’s Park Elementary where she said several of her female students reported a male student was harassing them on the playground in December 2020. She alleged after reporting the complaints to the principal, her class was physically divided by gender and she was later transferred to a new school. Moore also alleged she was made a “permanent substitute” and blacklisted by the district. In an email to KUER Monday, Park City Schools said they have not been served on this matter — but that they do not comment on pending litigation or personnel matters. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Leaders urge action in State of the Navajo Nation address

The Navajo Nation president and vice president spoke about COVID-19, infrastructure projects and voting rights in the State of the Navajo Nation address Monday. In it, President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said 72.5% of Navajo people over 12 are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 has been surging recently, but they said the majority of cases are mild. Nez and Lizer also urged the Navajo Nation Council to act quickly to approve funding for infrastructure projects. The funds would go to expanding broadband access, electrifying over 3,900 homes and constructing houses, among other things. Nez and Lizer also asked legislators to pass laws to protect Navajo people’s voting rights. They said many Navajo elders have to drive hundreds of miles to the polls and contend with language barriers. — Leah Treidler

Missionaries ordered to evacuate Ukraine

According to a statement released Monday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is moving missionaries out of Ukraine because of ongoing uncertainty in the country. The move came a day after the U.S. state department ordered families of U.S. diplomats and some embassy staff members to leave the country and recommended that any U.S. citizens in Ukraine leave immediately. Russian troops have been building up along the border with Ukraine for months, and U.S. officials warn that the troops could attack at any time. — Leah Treidler

Mountain West writers win book awards

On Monday, the American Indian Library Association announced its youth book awards, and some winners were about the Mountain West region. The winning picture book was “Herizon” — a wordless story about a girl who uses a magic scarf to help her mother retrieve a flock of sheep. It was written by Daniel Vandever and illustrated by Corey Begay, both Diné. "Healer of the Water Monster" by Diné author Brian Young won in the middle school group. The young adult winner was “Apple, Skin to the Core” by Eric Gansworth, a member of the Onondaga Nation in New York. It tells of balancing White and Native cultures. The title plays off a slur that pegs some Natives as red outside and white inside. — Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau

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