Southern Utah News Bureaus | KUER 90.1

Southern Utah News Bureaus

KUER’s Southeast Utah Bureau is based in San Juan County. The Southwest Utah Bureau is based in the St. George area. Both initiatives focus on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

Photo of a room full of people raising their hands in a sign meaning "love" in American Sign Language.
David Fuchs / KUER

WASHINGTON, Utah — The Utah State Charter School Board voted unanimously on Thursday not to close Saint George Academy.

Photo of six people seated at a conference table, as an audience seated in chairs looks on.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — Just south of Moab, across the boundary splitting Grand and San Juan counties, the night sky in Spanish Valley is dark enough for residents to make out full constellations. 

Photo of piles of debris burning in the distance amidst small piles of snow.
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info, via Twitter.

Updated 9:13 a.m. MST 11/15/19

The closed fire season in Southwest Utah has been extended until Nov. 30 due to unprecedented conditions across the region, state fire officials announced this week.

A seated audience listens intently to a presenter.
David Fuchs / KUER

WASHINGTON, Utah — Lily Twitchell had been bullied so much in the Washington County School District that she had become “really good” at hiding its effects.

Photo of women and men in military uniform holding open a large american flag, with a tipi in the background.
Russel Daniels / For KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah — Sitting in a white tipi below red sandstone buttes and spires, Navy veteran Misty Cly received a hero’s welcome in the form of a traditional healing ceremony.

Photo of a hand painted sign on a gate that says "Dooda, proposition 10, vote no."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY — A proposition to explore a change in county government in San Juan County has failed by a margin of just 153 votes. The county clerk called the race Friday morning, saying that the outcome wouldn’t change with the 125 still-uncounted ballots.

A sign points the way towards a labyrinth in Kayenta against a backdrop of red mesas.
David Fuchs / KUER

It’s widely known that Southwest Utah has an abundance of red rocks, scenic vistas and retirees. But off the beaten path, the region is rich in another resource: labyrinths.

Yard signs for Kanab City Council candidates are clustered on the main corner in town.
David Fuchs / KUER

KANAB — The charged atmosphere surrounding a proposed frac sand mine about 10 miles north of here has electrified Tuesday’s city council election, eliciting a level of divisiveness in public comments that some long-time residents have described as unprecedented.

Two women walk up to a house with dogs running around on red dirt ground.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

There is only one measure on the ballot this year in San Juan County. It asks voters if they think the county should explore changing its form of government, which is currently a three-member commission. That could mean more commissioners and new districts. And that’s got some residents concerned. 

Photo of a team of firefighters climbing a slope as smoke rises from a forest behind them.
Courtesy of Utah County Fire Department

Utah sent dozens of firefighters to California this week. 

Their goal is to help combat the blazes that have led to widespread power shut-offs and evacuations across the Golden State. California has seen a string of horrific fire seasons over the past few years, which it attributes to a changing climate.

The group, Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty, is just what it sounds: conservatives across the country questioning the use of capital punishment. 

The group’s members include hundreds of conservatives from 44 states — including Utah.

A man holds up a sign that reads "state of Utah constitution. Article 3, right to public lands / domain disclaimed by the State of Utah, May 8, 1895" while a policeman talks to him.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, hosted a roundtable for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining in Moab on Friday. He chairs that subcommittee, and invited Republican politicians from Utah, Arizona, Indiana, and Alaska to take part in the discussion. He framed it as a way to raise awareness of public land issues in Washington, D.C.

Five people hunch over a table, signing documents.
Tony Young / Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development

ST. GEORGE — Five new states signed a pledge to support outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship at the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit on Thursday. 

Photo of Dalene Redhorse holding a Google plus code sign.
Elaine Clark/KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY — It’s a hot, October afternoon, and Dalene Redhorse is driving down an unnamed road on the Navajo Nation. In the backseat of her pickup, she’s got a bag of small blue signs that she’s delivering today. 

Photo of a yard sign with donkeys on it that says, "Just Vote No on Proposition 10."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

San Juan County is holding a special election on Nov. 5 to ask voters if the county should explore changing its form of government. But the county may have failed to adequately notify Navajo voters about it, according to Niki Venugopal, a voting outreach coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. 

Flocks of birds float on the surface of a lake. Cliff face, shining with alpenglow, rise up behind them.
Photo courtesy of Washington County Water Conservancy District.

It has been a year of extreme weather in St. George. 

Stock photo of chairs on top of desks in a classroom.
iStock

Updated 10:15 a.m. MDT 10/18/19

St. GEORGE — When charter school Saint George Academy opened here three years ago, Jennifer Racker says her family’s life changed.

Photo of a Navajo man wearing a black cowboy hat stands in front of a sign that says "Indigenous People’s Day."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Students at Utah State University Blanding rose before dawn this morning to greet the sun with corn pollen in the Navajo tradition, before embarking on a 5k run to kick off the college’s first Indigenous People’s Day. 

A road with worn pavement and lots of patches.
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY -- As winter approaches, Navajo Nation residents in Utah say roads on the reservation are increasingly hazardous because of a lack of upkeep.

 

And they don’t know who to blame.

A group of police officers stand with a wooden plaque.
Dixie State University

The campus police department at Dixie State University has become the first campus police department in Utah to receive an official accreditation from the state’s Chiefs of Police Association. 

Photo of Navajo woman filling out form.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 10:05 p.m. MDT 10/3/19

 

An upcoming special election in San Juan County has some Native residents worried they will lose representation in government.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
Erik Neumann

Legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments may move forward, now that a federal judge has denied the Trump Administration’s requests that the cases be dismissed. 

Photo of Hovenweep National Monument.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 11:30 p.m. MDT 9/30/19

Meeting in Utah for the first time ever, the All Pueblo Council of Governors passed resolutions last week calling for the protection of the Bears Ears region and pushing back on efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County. 

Two Navajo men face each other for a conversation during a commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Following a five-hour mediation process on Friday, San Juan County has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation $2.6 million in attorney’s fees. The county is responsible for compensation after losing a voting rights case brought by the Nation in 2012. 

Photo of road to Red Knoll.
David Fuchs / KUER

Updated 11:05 a.m. MDT 9/27/19  

KANAB — In the months before being elected to the Kane County Commission last year, Andy Gant paid a visit to a local advisory committee he would soon start working with. His goal: to introduce himself as the newest official in town. 

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Moab.
Creative Commons

Most of Moab’s sewer and water lines were built more than 60 years ago, at the height of the uranium boom. Now, the town of around 5,000 residents is seeing a boom in tourism. On weekends, its population can reach up to 40,000, according to City Manager Joel Linares. This puts pressure on its infrastructure, and makes it more expensive to replace. 

Photo of oil pump.
iStock.com / DennyThurstonPhotography

Environmental groups are sounding the alarm about a process they say cheats taxpayers and favors the oil and gas industry. The Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities say Congress needs to pass legislation to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas leasing program.

Photo of tire tracks in red sand.
David Fuchs / KUER

KANAB — A proposed mine for sand used in oil and gas extraction has stirred tensions and spurred questions in this small town just north of the Arizona border since the City Council voted in July to provide water to the project. 

Photo of a street sign on a highway that reads "Sunny Acres Lane."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — From the potential construction of a 13-acre truck stop to the conversion of housing into overnight rentals to the loss of their dark night skies, people who moved to Spanish Valley for peace and quiet say their way of life is under threat. 

Photo of a rock showing pictographs.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Conservation and tribal groups are criticizing the Bureau of Land Management for its latest oil and gas lease sale of more than 70,000 acres of public land in Utah. 

The sale, which occurred this week, brought in around $1.63 million, according to the BLM, more than half of which came from 32,027 acres in San Juan County.

The sale is the third since March 2018 to include land between Bears Ears and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, much of which conservation groups say should not be leased. 

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