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Features

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.

Renee Bright / KUER

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. 

Saul Morales was only 2 when he crossed the border from Mexico, so he doesn’t remember much of the journey.

How A 1994 Law Supercharged Utah's Supplement Industry

Dec 18, 2018
Illustration of supplements.
Renee Bright / KUER

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. 

Ask Sen. Orrin Hatch the secret to his longevity and the answer is likely to involve a cocktail of gel-coated capsules stuffed with vitamins, minerals or other hard-to-pronounce botanicals.

Photo of Hatch and Bush.
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. Today, we start with Hatch's 2000 presidential run.

Photo of Mark Austin.
Cory Dinter / KUER

ESCALANTE — The Highway 12 corridor between Escalante and Boulder, a sweeping landscape of wind-carved and uplifted redrock, has been Mark Austin’s entrepreneurial workshop for nearly half a century.

Photo of Shane Lingo.
Lee Hale / KUER

On a typical Wednesday night at South Mountain Community Church in Draper, about 60 teenagers are gathered for youth group. There’s loud music playing over the speakers, lots of chatter and a very competitive foosball game in the corner of the room.

Renee Bright / KUER

It’s pretty weird seeing my dad cut into the neck of a dead cow elk.

Like me, my dad Mike has never hunted before. He’s a software engineer. But now he’s wearing blue latex gloves, covered in blood, as he peels skin and fur off the animal.

Illustration of immigration line.
Renee Bright / KUER

Like other expectant parents, Kenadee Ferre and her husband Eleazar Ishmael Castro Afane are a bundle of excitement and nerves as they prepare for their birth of first children.

Illustration of office.
Renee Bright / KUER

Braxton Dutson distinctly remembers the first time he heard the word “masturbation.”

Photos of candidates.
KUER News

Congressional races and ballot propositions are getting most of the attention in this year’s election cycle, but there are county-level races, too. A handful of top Salt Lake County officials are up for re-election this November, and three Democrats are being challenged by Republicans who work for them. That’s causing some friction in some county offices.

During a State of the Nation Address last year, the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte called on the U.S. "Give us back those Balangiga bells," said Duterte. "They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage."

In the Mountain West, we love our rivers, our mountains, our forests, deserts and wildlife. They’re part of our economies, our lifestyles and our identity. But that very connection makes us vulnerable to a growing mental health problem -- climate anxiety.

Photo of Grayeyes at canyon.
Erik Neumann / KUER

On a recent Sunday evening around dusk, Willie Grayeyes stood on a sagebrush and juniper-studded mesa, scanning the southeast Utah landscape. It was a place the Navajo Democrat’s family had lived for generations and where he’s hoping to be part of a political first.

Photo of Drage in kitchen.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

 

Michele Jones likes to believe she's pretty good at spotting students who are struggling.

The 41-year-old math teacher at Cyprus High School in Magna is quick to notice when homework gets sloppy or a student misses class. But with Dustin Drage, a quiet freshman with a penchant for art, drawing and doodling, there weren't the typical red flags.

Julia Ritchey / KUER

Shantay Lowell’s kitchen is organized like most working parents, with Oreo cereal in the cupboard and sippy cups on the counter, but one drawer stands out.

Courtesy Brian McInerney


Hurricane Florence battering the Southeast, a typhoon killing dozens in the Philippines, a California blaze taking a Utah firefighter's life - the weather's been surprising all summer. 

Our region has attracted the attention of the Terminator.

“I’m right now on a campaign to terminate gerrymandering,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger in a video from Budapest, where he’s shooting his latest film.  

Schwarzenegger is raising money for efforts in four states, including two in the Mountain West, to end the political practice.

We hear about gerrymandering a lot these days, but not necessarily an explanation for what it is. It’s complicated, but not impossible to explain.

Photo of Chris Cline at Jordan River.
Kelsie Moore / KUER


On a stretch of the Jordan River where it rushes past a wall of industrial buildings and a massive pile of hazardous waste, biologist Chris Cline sees a beautiful future taking shape.

Renee Bright / KUER


As President Trump's nominee moves closer to being confirmed to the nation's highest court, Utahns on both sides of the abortion debate are considering what Brett Kavanaugh could mean for Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Jason Harris photo.
Lee Hale / KUER


Marijuana and Mormonism don't usually go together. And that puts Jason Harris in a cloudy position, even if pot has essentially cleared up his life.

  

Football season kicks off soon with the sport still mired in controversy over whether players should stand for the national anthem. A new NFL policy that would force them to do that is now in limbo while the league negotiates with its players. But the underlying debate over whether political protest belongs on the football field is a familiar story to the University of Wyoming.

Colorado is called “the mother of  rivers” for a reason: it’s one of the most popular states for river rafting in the country.  But like the rest of our region, unprecedented growth, a changing climate, drought, and wildfires are taking their toll on this multi-million-dollar industry.

Ben McAdams and staff in front of campaign bus.
Julia Ritchey / KUER


Democrat Ben McAdams had just finished a stump speech on July 10 in his nascent campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Mia Love in Utah's competitive 4th Congressional District when a young woman spoke up.

Drawing of students in front of chalkboard that reads "refusal skills."
Renee Bright / KUER

 

On back-to-school night recently at Oak Canyon Junior High School in Utah County, eighth grade health teacher Staisha Sheffield was waiting for parents to arrive, and ready to explain — carefully — what she teaches their 12 and 13-year-olds about sex. In Utah, that’s an all-around challenge.

Orrin Hatch in his office in Washington D.C..
Taner Pasamehmetoglu

Utah's senior Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is wrapping up more than four decades in office at the end of 2018. Until then, the seven-term senator and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is leading the charge to get Pres. Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, confirmed.

 


Erik Neumann / KUER


Measles is making a comeback in the U.S. as more parents choose not to vaccinate their children. The childhood disease is a major killer in much of the developing world, but now the public health community is trying to re-educate families about the importance of childhood vaccinations. That includes a new program in Utah.

child runs through water at splash pad.
Kelsie Moore / KUER


  


Some might recall the summer of 2007 for its top billboard song or action-hero movie, but for Utah's public pool-goers that summer stood out for unhappy reasons.

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