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Features

Photo of Bilal.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

When Kholoud Abou Arida, Moawiyah Bilal and their three children arrived in Salt Lake City in 2014 after fleeing their war-torn homeland in Syria, they were a different kind of Utah pioneer.

Photo of Bluff Mayor Ann Leppanen and Bluff Town Councilman Brant Murray standing in redrock country.
Judy Fahys / KUER

BLUFF — This recently incorporated town in San Juan County is facing a new test of newfound political clout as a solar farm is being proposed inside the disputed boundaries of the original Bears Ears National Monument.

Kelsie Moore / KUER

In spite of deep political division in Congress and across the country, Utah’s freshman Sen. Mitt Romney has been pleasantly surprised by how “collegial” his fellow senators are.

Daysha Eaton / KUER

 

Sidney Draughon’s first brush with Brigham Young University’s Honor Code Office came out of nowhere in 2015.

photo of horses.
Nate Hegyi / KUER

TOOELE – From behind the wheel of a gray Jeep Wrangler, Rob Hammer scans a high-desert landscape in search of an elusive American icon.

Photo of worker sorting bottles.
Erik Neumann / KUER

Inside a converted office building in a Midvale business park, about a dozen people are hard at work. Two women sort a tangle of coat hangers onto a rack for a dry cleaning company. Several others are busy ripping plastic covers off cans from a nearby medical supply company so the metal may be recycled.

If you kill a wolf in Idaho, your effort might be worth $1,000. 

A nonprofit in North Idaho covers costs for hunters and trappers who successfully harvest wolves. The group, called the Foundation for Wildlife Management pays up to $1,000 per wolf harvest.

 


Image of Temple.
Brian Albers / KUER

There’s an understanding among Latter-day Saints: Change in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happens from the top when God speaks through his prophet.

Photo of Arent.
Judy Fahys / KUER

Utah’s growing interest in environmental issues has translated into an explosion of environmental legislation and budget requests in the 2019 General Session.

Renee Bright / KUER

 

The details on the lengthy federal investigation exonerating Chris Lehnertz of creating a hostile work environment were released Tuesday.

Mohan Sudabattula, a senior at the University of Utah, shows posters he found on campus from the white nationalist group Patriot Front.
Nate Hegyi / KUER

 


When University of Utah senior Mohan Sudabattula found the posters hanging recently from the side of the art building on campus, the first-generation son of immigrants from southeastern India was surprised but not shocked. He’d seen similar posters – the red, white and blue lettering – popping up all over campus.

The closest that Travis Rupp came to getting fired, he says, was the time he tried to make chicha. The recipe for the Peruvian corn-based beer, cobbled together from bits of pre-Incan archaeological evidence, called for chewed corn partially fermented in spit. So, Rupp’s first task had been to convince his colleagues to gather round a bucket and offer up their chompers for the cause.

Shortly after Emily Goodwin relocated her family across the country, they got some big news.   

“We found out we were pregnant less than a month after we moved here and that was a huge surprise,” says Goodwin, who has a homestead in Melba, Idaho.

 


Photo of Fuentes.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

Note that this story discusses suicide.

Standing alone on stage at the Salt Lake Public Library auditorium, Arturo Fuentes takes a deep breath, and begins to tell his story of torment.

A few months ago, John Parker retired and moved into a salmon-colored log house on a mountain called Tungsten in unincorporated Boulder County.

"Just to get a little piece of heaven, get away from the madding crowd," he says.

Inside, a wood-fired stove fills the house with heat and a low hum. Outside, the snow feels like thick, gritty icing. The wind barrels up a slope, gathering snow into a glittery stream. When the glitter stream meets the house, it curves around and hugs it, piling up around the back steps. It does not feel like the time to think about wildfires. But if that same wind was carrying embers instead of snow, those would follow the same path and instead of glittering, that pile by the back door would be glowing.

Renee Bright / KUER

MILFORD, Utah — The San Francisco Mountains in southwestern Utah were once home to one of the richest silver mines in the world. When it comes to mining today, they stand mostly quiet — for now — with only a handful of rock mines operating in the area.

Last year the nation was shocked when a 9-year-old Colorado boy took his own life. A recent report says youth suicide is a public health crisis in Colorado and the numbers in the Mountain West as a whole are staggering, with some of the highest rates in the nation. At the same time, there’s a significant shortage of mental health professionals -- at crisis levels in some communities. Often, it’s mental health workers in schools who work on the front lines of this crisis.

Imagine a swarm of big, black birds flying overhead at dusk. No, it’s not a scene from a Hitchcock film. This is Nampa, Idaho — a small community that’s become the winter home for tens of thousands of crows. They are noisy and messy, and Nampa residents are pushing back.

 


Photo of McGuire.
Judy Fahys / KUER

If your car warns when you drift into another lane or it adjusts the cruise control automatically, you’re already using self-driving vehicle technology.

Photo of temple statue.
Brian Albers / KUER

Filmmaker Sterling Van Wagenen, a co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival and a University of Utah professor, is facing growing fallout following an allegation that he molested a child more than two decades ago.

Image of inbox/outbox.
Renee Bright / KUER

When Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, resigned from his post as U.S. Interior Department secretary on Jan. 2, he was under fire on multiple fronts.

Photo of Hind Alsboul
Lee Hale / KUER

On a recent Friday, the holy day for Muslims, outside a small carpeted room on the third floor of Brigham Young University’s Wilkinson Student Center, a softly sung call to prayer.

Photo of site marker.
Daysha Eaton / KUER

PRESTON, Idaho — Alongside Idaho State Highway 91 just north of the Utah border stands a prayer tree, its branches tied with remnants of faded cloth.

Photo of commissioners.
Judy Fahys / KUER

MONITCELLO — San Juan County reached an historic milestone earlier this month when a Native American majority assumed control of a county’s governing body — a first for Utah.

The trucking industry is facing a record shortage of drivers. However, over the last couple of years, one demographic has been gravitating towards the industry by the thousands: Indian-American Sikhs.

Photo of Nate Salazar
Courtesy Nate Salazar

Nate Salazar was sworn in as the newest board member of the Salt Lake City School District on January 8. Salazar attended Bryant Middle School and graduated from East High School in 2004. He’s currently the only minority on the board for a district where more than half of the students are minorities. He also works in Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s office as the associate director of community empowerment. KUER’s Rocio Hernandez spoke with Salazar about what he hopes to accomplish and why he wanted to be on the board.

Photo of Brighton sign.
Chelsea Naughton / KUER

Big Cottonwood Canyon’s early settlers were miners looking to make a fortune. Today’s residents call it home because of the canyon’s rich abundance of lush forest, waterfalls and mountain lakes.

Year-end picture
Renee Bright / KUER

It was a year of big — big fires, big ballot initiatives and big political upsets — that collectively defined Utah in 2018 as the state continued its growth spurt. The Beehive State added another 50,000 people this year, owing both to the state’s healthy economy and low unemployment. But Utah also weathered more troublesome headlines, whether through the rushed creation of a controversial Inland Port in northwest Salt Lake City or the publication of sexual abuse allegations implicating leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church.

KUER reporters picked out some of the top stories of this year and explain why they mattered.

Marina and Eleanor Gomberg
Kelly Favero


Five years ago today, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby issued a ruling that struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. That case, Kitchen v. Herbert, and others like it, created precedent that eventually led the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide. It also led to a rush at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office, where hundreds of LGBT couples had gathered to get married.

Photo of Orrin Hatch.
Courtesy Office of Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Sen. Orrin Hatch will retire next month, winding down a political career spanning four decades ... longer than any elected official in Utah's history. The 84-year-old will likely be remembered for his role in bruising Supreme Court nomination battles, passing the Children's Health Insurance Program and funneling millions of dollars back to Utah.

But this week, KUER is remembering lesser known parts of Hatch's legacy. 

In his 42 years in the Senate, Orrin Hatch authored or co-sponsored over 700 bills — more than any other living lawmaker — making him one of the health care industry’s biggest champions.

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