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Olympian’s company received $ 10 million in pandemic bailout despite conflicting figures

PARK CITY, Utah – Allison Baver had a dream come true when she won an Olympic medal in short track speed skating.

In October 2019, she set her sights on the film and television industry by incorporating her own production company. When the pandemic arrived months later, Baver was among the business owners who sought help from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP.

The Small Business Administration reports that the average PPP loan was $ 206,000. Allison Baver Entertainment received the maximum amount of the program – $ 10 million.

Why Baver Entertainment needed so much is unclear. By email, Baver declined to answer FOX 13 questions and said she was not available until the end of July. Neither Baver nor anyone associated with his company has been charged with any crimes.

On social media, Baver recently posted articles saying she was visiting film festivals and filming locations.

According to data released by the Small Business Administration, which administers the PPP, Baver Entertainment said $ 8.6 million in aid was for payroll. The company said it has 430 employees.

But Baver Entertainment was telling the Utah Department of Workforce Services that it has between one and four employees.

The lower numbers would be more typical of a production company, says Marshall Moore, vice president of operations at Utah Film Studios in Park City. Production companies will hire more workers — actors, crew and support staff — when they shoot.

“You’ll get small budgets under a million dollars and sometimes they’ll work with 30 to 50 people,” Moore said. “And then you can go further. “

“Over a million dollars, 5 million to 10 million dollars, sometimes these teams are about 120 people and that includes the producers, the cameramen, the handles, the electricity,” he added.

What would it take to employ more than 400?

“I mean, for me it would be ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’,” Moore said. “It would be Marvel.”

The P3 is often described as a loan, but the loan can be canceled if the recipient maintains their payroll and only uses the money for other approved expenses, including utilities and rent or mortgage. Candidates were supposed to describe the expenses they had in February 2020.

“The purpose of the Paycheque Protection Program was to reduce unemployment,” said Richard Gordon, professor of law at Case Western Reserve University and director of its financial integrity unit.

He says the PPP did not require banks processing applications to verify that the borrower was telling the truth about their employees and their needs.

With the PPP, “the US government is actually the co-signer,” Gordon said. “So if the borrower doesn’t pay the US government back, that is, we, the taxpayer, will eventually pay off the loan.”

Baver is a native of Pennsylvania who moved to Utah to train. She made three Olympic teams. Baver won a bronze medal with a relay team at the 2010 Games.

For the PPP loan, Baver Entertainment turned to Pennsylvania-based Meridian Bank to process its request. The bank’s CEO declined to discuss the app with FOX 13.

Baver Entertainment has production credit this year for a drama starring actor Elijah Wood titled “No Man of God”. IMDB says Baver Entertainment provided funding.

Gordon, who hasn’t researched Baver Entertainment and only talks in general, said PPP can’t be used as capital to grow. He also doesn’t think funding for a film would be allowed under the PPP unless everyone on set is on the recipient’s payroll in February 2020.

“I think Congress could have made this pretty close to the absence of fraud if it was handled by the Internal Revenue Service,” Gordon said.

The IRS “knows our employees. They know exactly how much they are paid because they know how much they are being withheld. Only three other Utah companies have received $ 10 million, according to a Salt Lake Tribune analysis of PPP data. These three were all in business long before Baver Entertainment.

Some more established production companies have received much less from the PPP. The Jim Henson Co. asked for $ 2.3 million and said it has 110 employees.

New Regency Productions, the film company behind films such as “The Revenant,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and the latest release of “Little Women,” received $ 1 million and reported 50 employees.

In December, Variety attributed to Baver that his upcoming productions included a horror comedy now called “Monsters.” When FOX 13 reached out to the writer-director named in the article, his rep responded by saying that the project had been put on hold when the pandemic arrived and they had heard nothing more.

Baver also told the news site that his company was working on a horror film called “Dead Princess”. Production was halted by the pandemic and is expected to resume this year.

Baver Entertainment’s listed address is the former Olympian’s townhouse in Taylorsville. According to documents filed with the Salt Lake County Recorder, the Baver Homeowners Association filed a notice in January 2020 that the townhouse was behind on its fees; the HOA was planning to sell the property to settle the debt.

In July 2020, about three months after Baver Entertainment received the $ 10 million, the HOA filed a new notice stating that the debt had been paid. The sale was canceled.


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Drought issues in dry western US raise fears of July 4th fireworks

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Many Americans seeking normalcy as pandemic restrictions end are anxiously awaiting the traditional July 4 fireworks display. But with a historic drought in the western United States and fears of another devastating wildfire season, authorities are canceling exhibits, banning setting off fireworks, or calling for caution.

Fireworks have already caused a few small wildfires, including one started by a child in northern Utah and another in central California. Last year, a pyrotechnic device designed to celebrate a baby’s gender reveal sparked a fire in California that killed a firefighter during a season of wildfires in the United States that burned the second largest land area in nearly 40 years.

Parts of the American West are experiencing their worst drought conditions in more than a century this year, said Jennifer Balch, director of the Earth Lab at the University of Colorado. People setting off fireworks in the home are of concern due to both the powder magazine conditions conducive to wildfire outbreaks and the threat of injury. Last year, injuries hit their highest level in 15 years after the pandemic canceled large gatherings, federal data showed.

“As a fire specialist, I am preparing for this fire season due to the drought and heat already present,” Balch said. “I think the fireworks right now is a terrible idea.”

Fireworks industry professionals, who have also stressed caution in drought-prone areas, expect strong sales despite a shortage caused by pandemic-related manufacturing downturns and disruptions commercial.

“We think we’re going to have a great year,” said James Fuller, a fireworks safety expert at Alabama-based TNT Fireworks.

While fireworks are an integral part of the nation’s Independence Day celebrations, they light thousands of fires a year, including one that burned down Bobbie Uno’s home in Clearfield, Utah, l ‘last year. She had to jump out of the way before it hit the side of her house.

“In five seconds my house, from the bushes to the roof, was on fire,” Uno said. The fire caused $ 60,000 in damage and forced her family out of their home for weeks.

“I want everyone to be aware of the danger because it’s scary even in a little cul-de-sac,” Uno said.

Several Utah cities are banning people from setting off their own fireworks this year during the record drought, but many Republicans are against a statewide ban. Salt Lake County Councilor Aimee Winder Newton supports the restrictions but thinks this year is a bad time for a blanket ban.

“We’re just coming out of this pandemic where people already felt like the government was restraining them in so many ways,” she said. “When you pronounce bans arbitrarily, we might have a situation where people who weren’t going to light fireworks will voluntarily buy fireworks just to send a message to the government.”

State fireworks laws vary widely across the United States, but local bans on personal fireworks are appearing from Montana to Oregon, which has been hit by massive wildfires the last year.

In Arizona, already ravaged by more than a dozen wildfires, many cities have called off their public fireworks displays. The Yavapai-Apache Nation typically holds an exhibit outside of their casino near Camp Verde in central Arizona.

“This year, with worse conditions than last year, we decided in May that we would not have fireworks,” said James Perry, spokesperson for the tribe’s Cliff Castle Casino Hotel. “Based on the large fires currently burning in and around our community, we are happy with our decision. “

It’s a similar story in Colorado, where dozens of shows have been scuttled, most notably in Steamboat Springs, a ski town where firefighters are already scattered around.

“The grass always catches fire… why are we doing something that causes fire when fire is our biggest problem?” Said Winnie DelliQuadri, the city’s special projects manager.

But in neighboring Wyoming, business is booming in fireworks shops, including sales of banned items elsewhere. Parking lots fill up on weekends and many cars have foreign license plates.

“It’s not just Colorado,” said Ben Laws, director of Pyro City. “We see people from Nebraska, we see people from Montana, we see people from all over come and buy.”

Other cities, including Boise, Idaho and Santa Fe, New Mexico, are working to ban personal fireworks while keeping their exhibits public, where safety precautions are often stricter and firefighters are in alert.

In North Dakota, where more than two-thirds of the state experiences extreme or exceptional drought – the two worst categories – some areas are passing local bans. In South Dakota, where conditions are a little less difficult, the governor is fighting the federal government to organize a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore.

A show that draws tens of thousands of people to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, near the California state border, was initially canceled for the second year in a row, but organizers subsequently decided to host an “experience of smaller and safer fireworks “. Holding fireworks over the water is one of the safest ways to celebrate, said Professor Balch.

The industry is urging people who light their own fireworks to follow local restrictions, choose a flat location a safe distance from homes, have a source of water on hand to extinguish used products and dispose of with care.

Some security officials would prefer people to avoid lighting their own fireworks all together. Michele Steinberg of the National Fire Protection Association pointed to federal data showing 15,600 Americans attended emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries last year, thousands more than the year before.

“I love watching fireworks, but honestly they’re not safe in the hands of consumers,” she said. “Even a sparkler can reach up to 1,200 degrees, which is actually the heat of a forest fire.”

___

Associated Press editors Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Cedar Attanasio in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada; and Associated Press / Report for America, Corps member Patty Nieberg in Denver, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located in the European Economic Area.


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PM Newsletter: Asylum Discrimination, Pioneer Park Map and Trauma at Boarding School

Friday evening June 25, 2021

state

US Department of Justice rules on behalf of asylum in discrimination case

The US Department of Justice settled a discrimination claim with a Utah company. Easterseals-Goodwill is based in Montana but has offices throughout the region, including Utah. A woman filed a complaint against the office here, claiming that her proof of work documents were illegally rejected. She said she was asked to provide additional documents to verify her eligibility to work due to her immigration status. She was asking for asylum in the country. Other non-US citizens have been urged to do the same. As part of the settlement, ESGW was ordered to pay approximately $ 6,200 in civil penalties. They also need to review their policies and train their employees on anti-discrimination laws. – Ross Terrell

SCOTUS rules on exemption from the Air Quality Act

More small refineries can apply for exemptions from certain renewable fuels requirements that are part of the Clean Air Act. That’s from a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Friday. The court ruled that a small refinery that had already been granted a hardship exemption can get an extension. This is even if the refinery allowed a previous exemption to expire. The Biden administration argued that in order to get an extension, a refinery had to maintain a continuous exemption since 2011. Refineries in Wyoming, Utah and Oklahoma have argued that siding with the Biden administration would eliminate the exemption for most small refineries in the United States. – Associated press

Northern Utah

Little Cottonwood Canyon Traffic Plan Update

The Utah Department of Transportation has accepted two proposals to reduce traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the often congested road from the Salt Lake Valley to Alta and Snowbird ski resorts. The two finalists increased the bus service while widening the route or a gondola above the canyon. Josh Van Jura of U-DOT said each proposal serves a different purpose: speed or reliability. The bus is the fastest option, while the gondola offers more regular travel times. The decision comes after three years and 124 initial proposals. The public now has 45 days to weigh in on their preferred option. Read the full story. Jon reed

Salt Lake Valley fire chiefs ask people not to use personal fireworks

Salt Lake Valley fire chiefs are asking people not to use personal fireworks this year. They are just the latest group to call for restraint due to Utah’s extreme drought and dry conditions. The governor and other elected officials have done it too. In a video released on Friday, chiefs across the valley said responding to fireworks incidents prevented them from being able to respond to medical emergencies. Last year alone, they were needed for over 650 fireworks-related calls. People are encouraged to view public postings only. If you are caught lighting fireworks illegally, you can be fined up to $ 1,000. You may also be held responsible for the cost of fighting fires and any damage that occurs. – Ross Terrell

Salt Lake City Seeking Pioneer Park Reviews

Salt Lake City is seeking public input on the revitalization of Pioneer Park. The city launched a poll on Friday to gauge what the public expects from the downtown park. He also organizes a field day and a movie night on Saturdays. The park is home to the city’s weekly farmer’s market. It is also traditionally a gathering place for people experiencing homelessness in the city. Earlier this month, a woman was stabbed in the park. Police arrived and shot the man after charging the officers with a knife. The investigation will be open until July 21. – Caroline ballard

Region / Nation

Supporters of worried history of boarding schools can lead to trauma

News of another unmarked mass grave discovered at a residential school has had an emotional impact on residential school survivors and their loved ones in the United States. But mental health care resources for survivors and their loved ones are limited due to severe underfunding of the Indian Federal Health Service. Advocates call on the Home Office to increase funding before asking survivors to share their stories. Crisis counseling services are available to those dealing with the news on the Residential School Survivors’ website and hotline. – Savannah Maher, Mountain West Press Office

Navajo President Jonathan Nez comments on anonymous graves

The US Department of the Interior announced this week that it would investigate the residential schools it ran for Native American children in the 19th and 20th centuries. It follows the discovery of hundreds of anonymous graves at a residential school for Indigenous students in Canada. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told KUER he was happy the United States was paying attention to a dark period in its history. “Put these types of stories in the textbooks of every school across the country so people know what indigenous people went through,” Nez said. The US government operated a residential school for native children in Brigham City, Utah, from 1950 to 1984. Children from several tribes, including the Navajo nation, were sent there. Listen to the full interview with Nez here. – Kate Groetzinger, Bluff


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Can Utah – and its residents – survive the cut in federal COVID-19 unemployment assistance?

Is Utah’s economy and tens of thousands of workers still out of work ready for a change on Saturday that comes with a $ 50 million prize?

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said his decision to end pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits to some 24,000 Utahns two months ahead of the deadline was the right call amid rising employment from state and robust recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

But some say they face constant challenges finding work even as the state’s unemployment rate drops to 2.7% and employers advertise 70,000 current job openings. A southern Utah resident recently wrote to the governor describing the hardships he and his wife face as she struggles to find work after losing her job during the pandemic.

“It affects us personally,” said Barry Brumfield of St. George.

The governor gives the reason for the cut

“This is the next natural step in getting the condition and people’s lives back to normal,” Cox said in May when the decision was announced. “I believe in the value of hard work. With the lowest unemployment rate in the country … and many well-paying jobs available today, it makes sense to step away from those added benefits that were never meant to be permanent.

“The market should not be competing with the government for workers. “

He also noted that other “safety net programs” such as assistance with rent, utilities, food and medical bills will still be available.

Stephen Cashon, employment counselor with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, helps Juan Rodriguez apply for a new piece of ID so he can apply for jobs at the department's offices in <a class=Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.” data-upload-width=”3000″ src=”https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/OhJ–bMQQvUxFVfEX8PQyD_b84M=/0x0:3000×2071/1200×0/filters:focal(0x0:3000×2071):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/22675676/merlin_2875060.jpg”/>

Stephen Cashon, employment counselor with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, helps Juan Rodriguez apply for a new piece of ID so he can apply for jobs at the department’s offices in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Cox is one of some two dozen Republican state governors across the United States who have made similar decisions regarding the early end of federal pandemic benefits, saying the added benefit keeps people from wanting to work.

Labor experts say the shortage isn’t just about the $ 300 payment. Some unemployed people have also been reluctant to look for work because of fear of catching the virus. Others have found new occupations rather than returning to their old jobs. And many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children.

Following Cox’s announcement, Utah House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, highlighted these factors while expressing frustration with the governor’s decision to end the benefits. in Utah.

“I mean, it’s the perfect example of a disconnect between people in normal life and people who are struggling to get back on their feet,” King said. “There are many, many people who are worried – afraid – of going back to work. “

What “frustrates me the most,” King said, is that Cox’s decision “reflects this thinking from many across the aisle that people don’t want to work. This is fundamentally wrong.

In early June, the Utah Department of Workforce Services reported that just over 24,700 residents were on some type of unemployment benefit, of which about 12,000 were on traditional benefits plus the federally funded pandemic allowance of $ 300 per week. About 11,000 others were still receiving unemployment insurance benefits under federal extensions also created to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 on American workers. And about 1,200 Utah gig workers – people employed by companies like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, and others who are classified as contractors who are exempt from typical unemployment benefits – have also received benefits under federal emergency warrants. While federal deadlines for most pandemic-related benefits for the unemployed are due to expire in early September, Cox’s order suspends them 10 weeks ahead of schedule.

And it’s a decision that worries Barry and Stacey Brumfield.

An IT position is available for a job seeker at the Utah Department of Workforce Services in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The experience of a family

In an interview with Deseret News, Barry Brumfield said he was a longtime Republican who also voted for Cox in the 2020 Utah gubernatorial election, but felt that the governor’s decision to reduce early federal pandemic benefits was a bad call.

“We are very unhappy with this decision,” said Brumfield. “We truly believe in the individual rights and benefits of your own hard labor, but we have come to the point where we feel our hard work has been lost.

“We support the other things that (Cox) does, but that’s our only argument because it affects us personally.”

Brumfield, who is retired, said his wife lost her 13-year job at SkyWest last year as the air travel industry was nearly at a standstill by the pandemic. As Stacey Brumfield continues to look for work, Barry Brumfield said the only offers she had had so far were for minimum wage jobs and at 63 she was unable to start a new job. new career.

In a letter to Cox, Barry Brumfield wrote that his wife’s job search experiences have led her to believe that employers in their area are looking for younger prospects.

“Governor, you may think you are doing what is best for your constituents, but my wife and I are among those who will be greatly affected and hurt by your decision,” Brumfield wrote. “My wife’s job is ‘essential’ so that we can pay the bills and stay out of poverty.

“However, my wife, who worked in the airline industry for 13 years, lost her job due to the pandemic and the drastic decline in airline operations. Now she is unemployed by the state and the federal government, which is vital for us. She is 63 years old and has been looking for a job since the start of the pandemic. His attempts to find a job were unsuccessful due to his age !!! Businesses want someone younger !! said the letter.

The Brumfields aren’t the only Utahns who find themselves both nearing the end of their career and currently looking for a job. As of June 17, the Department of Workforce Services reports 13% of those currently unemployed are 60 years or older.

But the majority – 68% – of those who will be affected by the suspension of federal pandemic benefits are in the “peak working age” category of 25 to 54.

And that’s a statistic that some economists say bodes well for Utah’s overall economy, which continues to outperform the rest of the country.

Utah can absorb lost federal aid

Phil Dean, former director of the state budget and current senior public finance researcher at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, said Utah’s economy is well positioned to absorb the $ 50 million that will be lost in the suspension of federal benefits in the event of a pandemic.

“I just think we’re at a point in the economic recovery where it really makes sense to do it,” Dean said. “Overall, the elimination of the benefits will have a negligible impact on the economy … although some pockets will recover more slowly than others and some households will feel these changes.”

Dean said it’s important to remember that standard UI benefit programs will remain in place and those who fail to find employment will still have access to the standard claims process.

He said that while the programs launched by the federal government to mitigate the worst economic impacts of COVID-19 on individuals and families were the right answer at the time, current circumstances no longer demand the additional benefits.

“The scale of the challenge we had in the midst of the pandemic along with the government’s involvement in restricting the private sector made the initial response entirely appropriate,” Dean said. “And it’s entirely appropriate now to take those enhanced benefits and go back to the traditional programs and system.”

At a virtual Facebook event on June 15, Cox reiterated his belief that his decision to end the pandemic-related benefit and allowance extensions was the right economic call and highlighted efforts to channel additional funds towards worker retraining programs.

Cox said the state has spent $ 16.5 million to help more than 5,700 people get training and find better employment opportunities through the Learn and Work program. He also noted in a press release that the state has committed an additional $ 15 million that will go to Utah training institutions to help those who want to upgrade their skills improve their employment opportunities.

You can find more information on the possibilities for retraining at jobs.utah.gov/jobseeker/career/index.html and uselessah.org/learn-work.


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Salt Lake City workers could get pay raise

SALT LAKE CITY – Police, firefighters and other employees in the city of Salt Lake City could benefit from a pay rise. Salt Lake City Council has approved a measure that sets aside millions of dollars to negotiate the salaries of hundreds of people.

City officials have three different unions they work with. They include the Salt Lake Police Association, the IAFF of Salt Lake City Firefighters, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

In total, these unions have over 1,800 members. Currently, negotiations are still ongoing with two of them.

Meaning. no one wanted to divulge specific details of a potential pay raise for Salt Lake City employees.

However, in a special working session, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall told city council his police department was dealing with 70 pending vacancies, and that a police shortage in the ‘Utah makes it very difficult to find new ones.

District 1 representative James Rogers told council he should not seek to create new departments within city government while dealing with this issue.

He said, “We have a board moving forward with a new department when we shouldn’t be, in my opinion, when we should be looking first and foremost on public safety.”

In the end, the council decided to take $ 9 million from the balance of the city fund, which is their rainy day fund, and set it aside so that it could eventually be used during their negotiations.

District 3 Representative Chris Wharton said the police department had a much higher turnover rate in 2020, and that wasn’t just due to violent protests and calls for police department funding. .

“Salt Lake City was lagging behind in agent compensation compared to other cities in Utah and other comparable cities in the region,” Wharton said. “Salt Lake City has asked officers to do more than any other police department in the state.”

Wharton said they still wanted to create a system that had less funding for police services and more funding for other forms of crisis response. However, he said they just weren’t ready for it yet.

“We don’t have a system in place where we just can’t send the police and send something else. We have to build this system as we move forward, ”he confirmed.

The City will finalize its agreements with these unions at a tax truth hearing scheduled for August 17, and the public will be able to comment.


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PM News Brief: Wildfire Preparedness, Utah Transportation Authority Oversight, and Rise in COVID-19

Monday evening June 21, 2021

state

Utah sees increase in COVID-19 cases

Utah is seeing a slight increase in new COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates. This is according to data from the state Department of Health. The weekly average of daily new cases is currently 293. The positivity rate is now 5.5%. Both figures are up from a week ago. Over 60% of eligible Utahns have now received at least one dose of vaccine and just over half are now fully immunized. – Caroline ballard

Utah Transit Authority Ends Federal Government Oversight

The Utah Transit Authority will no longer be overseen by the federal government. In 2017, the transportation authority and the United States Attorney’s Office in Utah agreed to the surveillance. Prior to that, UTA had been investigated for such things as its service operations, the use of federal funds, and grant applications. As a result, an independent law firm took a look at how he was doing his business. In a letter on Monday, the prosecutor’s office said it was satisfied with the results of the surveillance and the UTA’s commitment to “do it right.” – Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Plane crash in Tooele County kills two, forest fire

A small plane crash in Tooele County killed two people and started a forest fire. The accident happened Thursday evening. A small plane crashed southwest of Salt Lake City, near Rush Valley. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. The identity of the deceased was not immediately disclosed. According to Utah Fire Info, the Morgan Canyon Fire burned 157 acres over mostly steep and rugged terrain. – Associated press

Responsibly Recreating in Utah Reservoirs

At least four people drowned in Utah tanks last week. Now state and local authorities are urging people to use caution when recreating themselves this summer. Three of those deaths have occurred at Deer Creek Reservoir since June 17. None of them wore life jackets. There was also a big blow to Jordanelle over the weekend. State law requires everyone to have a life jacket handy on the water. Devan Chavez, of the state’s Parks and Recreation Division, said they all appeared to be “unfortunate accidents.” He said it may sound simple, but wearing life jackets saves lives. Read the full story. – Lexi Peery, Saint-Georges

Region / Nation

People overestimate forest fire preparedness

New research from the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder shows how residents of mountain communities can underestimate wildfire risk and overestimate their preparedness. In the town of Bailey, Colorado, 22% of those surveyed rated their property as high risk, while professional wildfire appraisals showed a rate of 61%. – Maggie Mullen, Mountain West Press Office


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Talks continue around a possible expansion and renovation of the Civic Center

After voters raised their voices, rejecting the most recent link surrounding the renovation and expansion of the Amarillo Civic Center complex in November, Amarillo officials are looking for other ways to fund the project.

During Tuesday’s Amarillo city council meeting, the council is expected to take action on a pre-development contract with Garfield Public / Private LLC for professional services related to the Amarillo Civic Center complex. According to the agenda item, the costs for this pre-development period should not exceed $ 494,200 if the contract is approved.

History of Civic Center expansion plans

It comes after a committee was appointed earlier this year to examine the possibilities of a public / private partnership to fund improvements and potential expansion of the civic center complex. Amarillo voters have rejected a $ 275 million bond issue to help fund the $ 319 million civic center project proposed in November.

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But 2020 was not the first time voters have raised their voices regarding the Civic Center complex. City manager Jared Miller said the first needs assessment for the facility was completed in 2012, with the first bond election not being passed by voters in 2016.

After the failed 2020 bond election, Miller said it was important for the city to understand possible next steps regarding improvements to the facility.

“What came out of that was the desire to understand where do we go from here, after the failed November 2020 election. What we heard in that election was, ‘Yes, we want to. totally do the project. We just don’t want to spend that much. We don’t want to have such a tax increase, ”Miller said.

At the last city council meeting, Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said the city was looking for a way forward on the project.

“This is where we are as a board, just wanting to know how we go ahead and plan the project,” she said. “The existing facility has desperate needs and is not competitive. So you have to know. We listened to citizens and we heard what they were saying. We have appreciated this contribution, and now we must move forward with this contribution in mind. It is precisely this contribution that will guide us on how we move forward.

Committee conclusions

Andrew Freeman, director of city planning and development services and committee member, told council the committee had met with five potential public / private partners, with the committee recommending Garfield as the best option after many meetings.

“We think it makes sense to bring in a private partner to work with us on this business, to look at different opportunities, review our numbers, look at our revenue streams, maybe consider other ways to tap into the business. ‘installation that would save money and make this project viable,’ he said.

Jason Herrick, another committee member, said Garfield was the best match for Amarillo, helping the city shift the burdens and cost of a potential civic center complex project to the private market rather than d ” have an impact on taxpayers.

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“The vote that took place in November, for me, was very clear,” he said. “If we want to do a project that looks like this, it can’t look like what we did. We need to ease the burden on property tax owners, or it’s not something the citizens of Amarillo (are) going to want to do. ”

Garfield is a national developer who focuses on public and private partnerships, Greg Garfield, president of the company, told the board at its last meeting. The company has hosted projects ranging from performing arts centers to government office buildings in cities such as Salt Lake City, Abilene and Atlanta, as well as the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences in Lubbock.

Garfield told the board that his organization would be able to help identify potential private finance and funding options for the project, including private philanthropy and naming rights, as well as identify as much of the initial contribution as possible to reduce the amount of funding.

This pre-development strategic plan would serve as a “solid foundation,” Garfield said, giving council a plan for the potential of the project, how much it will cost, what its benefits might be for the community as well as public investment.

The process also includes conversations surrounding the scope of the project and identifying priorities, Garfield said. The organization would use the plans outlined during the many years of talks surrounding this project.

“We would like to see all the documents. I think the more up-to-date the document, the more relevant the information will be, ”he told the council. “But we want to get all of this information, and we want to capitalize on any good ideas that may have been produced by these other reports. But we think what’s generally different about the report we provide is that it’s a comprehensive plan. It’s not just a needs assessment, it’s not just a market student, it’s not just an architectural master plan. How is it financed? How do you prepare the case? Who is going to own it? … It really is a comprehensive plan; this is what we intend to provide.

After:City of Amarillo adds bike lanes to downtown, connecting to Rails to Trails

Miller said it would be the first time the city has considered a public / private partnership for a project. He stressed that the city would not consider this approach to the project unless it is of benefit to the community.

“We wouldn’t do a public / private partnership if it didn’t benefit our taxpayers,” he said. “That would be the only motive to do something like this, to make a project like this possible. It is a great generational project that does not come about easily.

This pre-development services agreement kicks off the process, Miller said, identifying what is needed regarding the Civic Center Complex project before creating a refined proposal. It would consist of a feasibility analysis and a general recommendation for the future of the project.

While there is no guarantee the project can come out of that deal with Garfield, Miller believes that investment should be made.

“Someone may ask, ‘Why would you spend over $ 400,000 on something that might not go to a project? “, Miller said. “We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars… so it’s a prudent investment to explore all the opportunities we have to make this project a reality. It’s a project that I believe most people in our community want to see come to fruition. It’s just a project where we haven’t found the right price and scope to be able to give the community what they want.

And after?

If city council approves the deal with Garfield, Miller said the city expects the deal to be concluded by the end of the calendar year, which would also include two fiscal years for the city. Although this pre-development services agreement is the first phase, there could be later phases that will flow from the agreement down the road if it is successful.

“It’s still a significant amount of money. But it’s also an investment in identifying how we can move forward in one of the greatest opportunities or challenges, however you choose to view it, which we’ll have to decide. of how we are moving forward, ”Miller said. “The Civic Center is something that we just can’t (make a decision on). We need to figure out how to take care of this investment that we have had, made and nurtured for the past 50+ years.

The City Council meeting will be held Tuesday at 1 pm in the City Council Chamber, located on the third floor of City Hall, located at 601 S. Buchanan. For more information on the city of Amarillo, visit www.amarillo.gov.


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USU Data Law Expert Appointed To State Privacy Commission – Cache Valley Daily

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Chris Koopman, executive director of the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, has been appointed by Governor Spencer Cox to the state’s new Privacy Oversight Commission.

SALT LAKE CITY – Governor Spencer Cox has appointed the executive director of Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity as part of a new state privacy watchdog group.

USU’s Chris Koopman will bring his expertise in data privacy law to Utah’s new Personal Data Privacy Oversight Commission.

Koopman was one of 12 legal and technology experts named to this panel Thursday in a joint announcement by Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes and State Auditor John Dougall.

“Protecting the privacy of all Utahns has become even more important as technology has progressed,” Cox explained. “I am delighted to see this new Privacy Commission convening and look forward to developing policies that will hold the state accountable for the use of personal data and information of the Utahns.”

Spokeswoman Nicole Davis of the State Auditor’s Office explained that the Privacy Oversight Commission was created by the passage of Bill 243 during the 2021 general session of the Legislative Assembly.

The objective of this legislation is to provide guidelines for the use of emerging technologies for public officials, in particular law enforcement.

As Executive Director of the USU Center for Growth and Opportunity, Koopman specializes in technology regulation, competition and innovation.

His research and commentary have been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, as well as on the Bloomberg Network and National Public Radio.

Prior to joining USU, Koopman was a senior researcher and director of the technology policy program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

He is currently an Affiliate Principal Investigator at the Mercatus Center and a member of the Information Technology and Emerging Technologies Working Group of the Federalist Society Regulatory Transparency Project.

Other Utahns appointed to the Personal Data Privacy Oversight Commission by Cox include Quinn Fowers, a Weber County internet technologist; Aliahu “Alli” Bey, cybersecurity expert; Nayana Penmetsa, representing private companies; and Keith Squires, the acting security officer at the University of Utah.

Reyes’ panel appointments include Jeff Gray, representing the attorney general’s office, and Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith.

Dougall’s appointments include Matthew Weller, president of All West Communications; Amy Knapp, cybersecurity expert; Brandon Greenwood; representing the interests of private technology industries; Phillip J. Windley, an expert in data privacy law from Brigham Young University; and Marina Lowe, representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.

Under state law, the Personal Privacy Oversight Commission is responsible for developing best practices for privacy protection that state agencies can adopt. The panel is also empowered to conduct reviews of government uses of technology to protect privacy and data security.






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Utah Senate Speaker Calls “Regarding” Tribune Report on Co-Diagnosis

Stuart Adams says the legislature has already authorized an audit, which is expected in the fall.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senate Speaker Stuart Adams, R-Layton, during a special session at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

After a recent Salt Lake Tribune report that the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated how Salt Lake City Co-Diagnostics COVID-19 tests were used during Silicon Slopes’ TestUtah initiative, the Senate Speaker Stuart Adams, R-Layton, information as “relating to”.

The Tribune’s investigation found that a Silicon Slopes board member used his connections with Senator Mitt Romney’s office to seek help with FDA approval for the tests. Adams said in an email that the legislature authorized an audit of the Utah Department of Health by the legislative auditor general in October, and that he expects them to present their findings this fall when the audit will be completed.

According to legislative site, the legislative audit subcommittee decided to “prioritize an efficiency and effectiveness audit of the Utah Department of Health” on October 13, as well as “an audit of data and criteria that government entities use to make critical decisions related to COVID-19 ”. The motion was carried with a 5-0 vote.

“Last year we were in the middle of a pandemic and we were trying to save lives and livelihoods,” Adams wrote in an email. “We were informed that there was a charitable effort from these companies to help during this crisis. It is baffling to learn of the financial gains and the SEC investigation. We need more information to fully understand what happened.

Last year, state officials, including Adams, wanted to make the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine available to the Utahns as an off-label treatment for COVID-19.

Meds In Motion Pharmacy CEO and pharmacist Dan Richards, who admitted to mislabeling one of his imported drugs as a herbal supplement, contacted state officials in March to alert them that he had purchased approximately 1,760 pounds of crude hydroxychloroquine. His efforts to stock the drug have drawn support from officials like Adams, who was with the pharmacist at a March press conference at the State Capitol to promote the drugs.

Utah officials contacted by Richards insist they did not know Richards was mislabeling the drug until he was charged.


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Utah Vietnam veteran receives replacement medals for those he lost 20 years ago

Utah Senator Mitt Romney presents Richard DeGooyer with replacement medals for his Vietnam service in Salt Lake City on June 18, 2021 (Derek Petersen, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – Richard DeGooyer said when he returned home from serving in the US Army in the Vietnam War, he was told not to wear his uniform, only Levi’s.

He wore jeans again on Friday, but was able to joke with Utah Senator Mitt Romney as they met in the downtown federal building. “We both wear Levi’s,” they laughed.

DeGooyer and his family reached out to Romney’s office recently, hoping for help securing replacement medals for those he lost 20 years ago.

“It’s beautiful, thank you, sir,” DeGooyer said.

“. , and the marksman badge and rifle bar.

“Very honored, very honored to meet the senator, and it is an honor for all veterans,” DeGooyer told KSL afterwards. He said he was grateful for the help and recognition he had received from the government and VA as well.

Romney said it was his privilege to make the presentation.

“I’m glad we were able to secure replacement medals for him to recognize his service to our country,” Romney said. “People like me have a special place in our hearts for those who served in Vietnam. They did not get the respect they deserved.”

Romney had spent the morning meeting recent high school graduates from Utah en route to various service academies in various branches of the military. They also stayed in the room to watch the presentation and applaud DeGooyer.

The 74-year-old vet said he was grateful to see the young people who would be the next generation to serve the country.

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