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AM News Brief: Moab to replace police chief, alleged racism on a school bus & solar energy in the West

Detail of a yellow school bus.
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A Utah school district is investigating possible racism and bullying on a school bus after a video surfaced on social media. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Wednesday morning, Jan. 26 2022

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City mayor reflects on progress and challenges ahead

During her annual State of the City address Tuesday, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall praised the “grit and the grace” of city residents while facing challenges over the past two years. Mendenhall, who is at the midpoint of her first term in office, reflected on the successes of her administration as well as the challenges that still lie ahead. She touched on some tension with state leaders, particularly around homelessness, and asked the public to advocate for more investment at the state level on that issue. Mendenhall also said her administration has been working to improve Salt Lake City’s air through a variety of programs but acknowledged it’s a complicated issue with no quick fix. Read the full story.Emily Means

Video shows racism and bullying on a Utah school bus

A Utah school district is investigating possible racism and bullying on a school bus after a video surfaced on social media. Fox 13 reported the video showed middle school children gathering around a Black student while the bus was moving. In the video, the students surrounded the student, with one boy referring to him as “Black guy” and some poking him as he said, “stop touching me.” The Alpine School District said in a statement that administrators have opened an investigation. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office has also been involved and is working to identify the students. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Moab police chief will step down

Moab is seeking a new police chief, according to a news release from the department issued Tuesday. Fox 13 reported the announcement came one day after the current police chief, Bret Edge, returned from a four-month leave. Edge temporarily left the department in September soon after the city publicized a video of two of Edge’s officers investigating a domestic altercation between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. A review later found the officers hadn’t followed the law when they chose not to cite or arrest Petito, and they made other mistakes. While away, Edge continued to collect sick leave, but he was also promoting his personal photography business. That isn’t allowed under the department’s rules which state, “Employees who have accepted outside employment may not use city paid sick leave to perform work on the outside job.” Edge will continue in the role until the department finds a replacement. — Nate Carlisle, Fox 13

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.

State

New ethics course required to collect antlers

Anyone who wants to collect fallen antlers between Feb. 1 and April 15 must now take an online ethics course. That’s according to a release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources issued Tuesday. In the release, DWR officials said collecting antlers that have fallen from the heads of deer, elk and moose is a popular activity, but it can harm the animals if done incorrectly, especially in late winter and spring. They said people may accidentally spook animals while searching for antlers, causing the animals to run and use up fat reserves and energy — reserves which are critical for the animals to survive. The free course is available on the DWR website. Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Many western states lead the nation in solar energy

A new report shows many western states have some of the largest solar energy economies in the U.S. According to the online research firm Stacker, Nevada leads the country based on the number of jobs in the solar industry compared to the state’s economy. The firm also ranks Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico in the top 10. John Scire, a professor of energy policy at the University of Nevada, Reno, said that’s not just because the region is so sunny all the time — it also has lots of federal land, where large-scale solar plants can be developed. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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