General Conference

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Happiness: How To Find It Even When Things Are Hard

Everyone wants to be happy, and we put a lot of effort into it. We focus a lot of our life on being happy. And it’s not even just an individual matter. For example, our Constitution even protects “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

So, are you happy?  You say you’re happy, but what makes you truly happy?  Is it genetic, and out of your control? Who are the happiest people in the world, and why isn’t that you?

KSL’s Michelle King talked to three experts and got some great happiness tips.  They go through hard times, but always find a way to choose “happy”.

Sometimes your problems are the everyday variety. On the other hand, you may combat unexpected tragedies, like addiction and depression. With these tools, you are better prepared for what life throws at you.

General Conference Documentaries

You can watch more General Conference documentaries like this one with the KSL-TV app. The app is free, with no cable subscription required, and available for a variety of Connected TV and smartphone platforms including Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, Android and fourth-generation Apple TV boxes.

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Biden wishes Americans happy, closer-to-normal Thanksgiving

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday wished Americans a happy and closer-to-normal Thanksgiving, the second celebrated in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, in remarks welcoming the resumption of holiday traditions by millions of families — including his own.

“As we give thanks for what we have, we also keep in our hearts those who have been lost and those who have lost so much,” the president said in a videotaped greeting recorded with first lady Jill Biden at the White House before their trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts, for the holiday.

On the island, the Bidens visited the Coast Guard station at Brant Point to meet virtually with U.S. servicemembers from around the world and personnel at the station. “I’m not joking when I say I’m thankful for these guys,” the president said when asked what he was thankful for, referring to the Coast Guard members standing ramrod straight before him on the grounds as he departed.

Reporters were kept out of the room for Biden’s virtual remarks, apparently because of tight space in the building. Well-wishers waved and cheered as Biden’s motorcade navigated the island’s narrow paved and cobblestone streets to and from the Coast Guard compound.

Biden, whose late son Beau was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, said he has watched U.S. service members in action around the world, from the South China Sea and Iraq and Afghanistan to South America. He said when foreigners wonder what America is, “they don’t see us here,” meaning civilians. “They see them,” he said of members of the Coast Guard and the other branches of the U.S. military. “It makes me proud.”

From Nantucket, the Bidens also called in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, briefly bantering on air with NBC broadcaster Al Roker. Shut out a year ago, spectators again lined the route in Manhattan as some 8,000 participants joined the parade. Parade employees and volunteers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks.

Biden and his wife started spending Thanksgiving in Nantucket since before they were married in 1977 because they were looking for a way out of choosing whose family to spend it with. They did not visit in 2015 following Beau’s death earlier that year from brain cancer at age 46, or in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on large family gatherings.

Biden instead dined at home in Delaware last year with just his wife, daughter Ashley and her husband.

But this year, the president joined the millions of Americans who are celebrating the holiday with big groups of loved ones. Biden’s entire family flew up with him Tuesday night on Air Force One to resume the Thanksgiving tradition: his wife; son Hunter and his wife, Melissa and their toddler son Beau; daughter Ashley; and grandchildren Naomi, Finnegan, Maisy, Natalie and young Hunter, as well as Naomi’s fiance, Peter Neal.

Naomi Biden and her fiance rode bicycles along on a local path just before her grandfather’s SUV departed the secluded home where the family is staying. The home belongs to David Rubenstein, a billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of the Carlyle Group private equity firm.

Biden’s visit, his first as president, is markedly different from his previous holidays here when he was a U.S. senator and later vice president. Then, he might have been seen walking around downtown.

Biden lost much of his freedom to move around on his own when he became president and now travels with a large group of security personnel, White House and other officials, and journalists. His every public move is closely watched by the U.S. Secret Service and other law enforcement.

Jill Biden was heard telling the Coast Guard members she would see them again Friday night at Nantucket’s annual Christmas tree lighting, another Biden tradition.

“We’re all going together,” she said of her family. The tree lighting ceremony is where Beau Biden proposed to his wife, Hallie, in 2001. They were wed on the island the following year.

Biden is expected to return to the White House on Sunday.


Associated Press writer Calvin Woodward in Washington contributed to this report.

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General Conference Available on the KSL-TV App

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – For the first time ever, viewers of General Conference will be able to live stream sessions on the big screen – and to watch them on-demand – with the KSL-TV app.

In addition to KSL-TV’s broadcast coverage, General Conference sessions will air live on the KSL-TV app at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. MDT on Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1. The app will also have all sessions available for later viewing on-demand.

The KSL-TV app is available for Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, Android and fourth-generation Apple TV boxes — this means viewers aren’t limited to watching on mobile devices or scheduled timing: General Conference sessions can be watched on the big screen, whenever it’s most convenient.

To find the KSL-TV video app, search “KSL TV” in app stores.

General Conference Documentaries

In addition to providing sessions live and on-demand, all of KSL-TV’s General Conference documentaries will be available on the KSL-TV app. Simply select “Documentaries” in the ON DEMAND section (tap the remote control icon) – or search “General Conference.”

Documentaries this session include:

  • History of the Saints: Respected scholars come together to answer questions and address concerns about Joseph Smith the Prophet.
  • Choosing Happy: Key strategies to find happiness, with specific techniques to get through severe setbacks and sorrow.
  • An Artistic Vision: The first-ever Mormon Arts Center festival in New York City, where artists, scholars, and musicians come together to elevate the concept of why Mormon Art matters.
  • Civility: Changing the Conversations: Civility has taken a serious hit, but despite the trend toward negativity, there are positive voices working hard to make communication more civil.

The KSL-TV video app, found by searching “KSL TV”, offers live KSL-TV video streams along with an extensive library of on-demand news, entertainment, and sports content.

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General Conference

KSL has new and exciting ways to watch General Conference this year. In addition to KSL-TV 5’s broadcast coverage, General Conference will also be streamed live in the KSL-TV mobile and Connected TV apps (iOS, Android, Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV). No cable subscription required. And don’t worry if you miss anything or want to watch again later. All sessions and KSL Conference documentaries will also be available in the app on-demand.

Conference Sponsors

A lot of work and production goes into our Conference documentaries and coverage. Thank you to all of our sponsors: The Piano Guys, EDGEhomes, Deseret First Credit Union, Siegfried & Jensen and Living Scriptures.

Deseret First Credit UnionSiegfried & Jensen EDGEhomes

General Conference Documentary Schedule

Here is KSL-TV’s programming documentary schedule for General Conference October 2017:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

  • History of the Saints: 9:30-10:00 am
    Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration and as such occupies a unique and singular place in Latter-day Saint history. Because of who he is and what he represents he frequently comes under attack by critics. This History of the Saints special brings together respected scholars to answer questions and address concerns about Joseph Smith the Prophet.
  • 50 Years of Miracles: 12:00-12:30 pm
    Once a year the quiet community of Manti Utah is transformed into a hub of activity as thousands of people from around the world flock there to experience the Mormon Miracle Pageant. What began as a one-time performance, at the foot of the Manti Temple, has transpired into a half a century of tradition. Join KSL News Specialist Sam Penrod as he explores “50 Years of Miracles” the story of the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti.
  • LDS News and World Report: 12:30-1:30 pm
    This one-hour semi-annual report explores some of the major news events around the world pertaining to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Choosing Happy: 1:30-2:00 pm
    Who doesn’t want to be happy? It’s one of the basic rights Americans were guaranteed when this country was founded — “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But how much of your happiness is due to your circumstances? What portion is genetically determined? Who are the happiest people in the world? And, if you’re not happy—why not? Host, Michelle King talks to three experts who lay out some key strategies for finding happiness. You’ll meet several strong everyday people who’ve used those techniques to get through severe setbacks and sorrow. From dealing with the typical adversities life throws at you, to combating unexpected tragedies, addiction, and depression, you’ll be better prepared, once you’re armed with new tools and actually make the choice to be happy.
  • To The Rescue: 4:00-5:00 pm
    Members of the LDS Church have been counseled to reach out and help refugees. KSL News Specialist Deanie Wimmer shows how this call to service has inspired many people to step outside their comfort zones to help those most in need. A young woman, drawn to help in whatever way she could set up a successful nonprofit organization that now provides thousands of pounds of needed items to those fleeing their dangerous homelands. Some members have traveled to refugee camps to show compassionate care, while others serve closer to home helping in their own communities. It’s a movement that is gaining momentum — it’s a desire to help those who cannot help themselves.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

  • Connecting Roots: Freedmen’s Records: 9:00-9:30 am
    The Freedmen’s Bureau Project has changed the very fabric of genealogy for African Americans. “Connecting Roots” explains the history behind this project and the personal stories about why this is so meaningful for so many families.
  • Family History 2.0: A New Generation of Genealogy: 12:00-12:30 pm
    Think genealogy is digging through musty libraries and church basements? Think again. Family History research has come a long way in the past few years. Today, you’re just as likely to uncover hidden mysteries on your smartphone, or in your DNA results. Popular television programs like Relative Race have helped intensify interest in family history research. Program host, Michelle King explores how modern technology is making your family research fun, engaging and memorable.
  • An Artistic Vision: 12:30-1:00 pm
    Artists, scholars, musicians and interested observers come together for the first-ever Mormon Arts Center festival in New York City. This gathering is dedicated to elevating the concept of why Mormon Art matters. KSL Arts and Religion Specialist Carole Mikita shares the humble beginning of this movement and how the festival came to be. Visit the studios and art spaces of both new and known Mormon Artists and hear the music created by some very talented Mormon Composers.
  • Members in Many Lands: 1:00-1:30 pm
    Travel to far off places with News Specialist Ashley Kewish to see what life is like for Mormons around the world in India, Mali, Mexico, Jamaica, Austria, Brazil, and Ghana. Many of these members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are recent converts who have adopted a new lifestyle as they embrace the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Civility: Changing the Conversations: 1:30-2:00 pm
    Civility has taken a hit lately. The art of disagreeing gracefully has been replaced with vitriol comments and caustic feelings. It seems no matter the topic, discussions in online comment boards, on social media sites, and in public gatherings have become increasingly more hostile. These disagreements affect our families, our schools, and our workplaces. Despite this trend towards negativity, there are voices working to change the communication—to make it more civil. We highlight these positive voices.
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Jan. 6 witness: Trump ‘detached from reality’ over election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s closest campaign advisers, top government officials and even his family were dismantling his false claims of 2020 voting fraud on election night, but the defeated president was becoming “detached from reality,” clinging to outlandish theories to stay in power, several said.

Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien testified Monday before the House Jan. 6 committee that Trump was “growing increasingly unhappy” at the election results as the night wore on.

Son-in-law Jared Kushner tried to steer Trump away from attorney Rudy Giuliani and his far-flung theories of voter fraud that advisers believed were not true.

Former Justice Department official Richard Donoghue recalls breaking down one claim after another — from a truckload of ballots in Pennsylvania to a missing suitcase of ballots in Georgia —- and telling Trump “much of the info you’re getting is false.”

“He was becoming detached from reality,” said former Attorney General William Barr, who resigned. “I didn’t want to be a part of it.”

The witnesses appeared before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack as the panel focused on the “big lie,” Trump’s false claims of voter fraud that fueled the defeated Republican president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and provoked a mob of his supporters to lay siege to the U.S. Capitol.

Most of those appearing did so in previously recorded testimony from closed door interviews over the course of the panel’s yearlong investigation. The committee has interviewed some 1,000 witnesses and compiled 140,000 documents, and some members say they have uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented criminal indictment against the former president.

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., opened Monday’s hearing saying Trump “betrayed the trust of the American people” and “tried to remain in office when people had voted him out.”

Stepien was to be a key witness Monday, but abruptly backed out of appearing live because his wife went into labor. The ex-campaign manager is still close to Trump, and had been subpoenaed for to appear.

But the panel marched ahead after a morning scramble, showing previously recorded testimony from the ex-campaign manager and others close to the president as Trump latched on to repeated false claims about the election although those closest told him the theories of stolen ballots or rigged voting machines were not true.

Stepien described how the festive mood at the White House on election night turned as Fox News announced Trump had lost the state of Arizona to Joe Biden, and aides worked to counsel Trump on what to do next.

But he turned a deaf ear to them, choosing to listen instead to Giuliani, who was described as inebriated by several witnesses. Giuliani issued a general denial on Monday, rejecting “all falsehoods” he said were being said about him.

“My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted, it’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” Stepien said in the recorded testimony.

But Trump “thought I was wrong. He told me so.”

Kushner testified that he told Trump the approach Giuliani was taking was not one he would take. But the president pushed back and said he had confidence in the attorney.

And Barr, who had previously testified in last week’s blockbuster hearing that he told Trump the allegations being raised were bull——, revealed in gripping detail how was “as mad as I’d ever seen him” when the attorney general explained that the Justice Department would not take sides in the election.

Monday’s hearing also featured other live witnesses, including Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News Channel political editor who declared on Election Night that Arizona was being won by Biden.

Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., were leading the hearing after last week’s blockbuster session drew nearly 20 million Americans to see its prime-time findings.

For the past year, the committee has been investigating the most violent attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 to ensure such an assault never happens again. Lawmakers hope to show that Trump’s effort to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory posed a grave threat to democracy.

A second group of witnesses testifying Monday was to be made up of election officials, investigators and experts who were likely to discuss Trump’s responses to the election, including dozens of failed court challenges, and how his actions diverged from U.S. norms.

Among them those witnesses is the former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, BJay Pak, who abruptly resigned after Trump pressured Georgia state officials to overturn his presidential defeat. Trump wanted to fire Pak as disloyal, but Pak stepped down after Trump’s call urging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state became public.

The panel will also hear from former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the election board and who faced down criticism as the state’s election was called for Biden, and noted Washington attorney and elections lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg.

As he mulls another White House run, Trump insists the committee’s investigation is a “witch hunt.” Last week he said Jan. 6 “represented the greatest movement in the history of our country.”

Nine people died in the riot and its aftermath, including a Trump supporter shot and killed by police. More than 800 people have been arrested in the siege, and members of two extremist groups have been indicted on rare sedition charges over their roles leading the charge into the Capitol.

In its prime-time hearing, the committee laid out how Trump was told over and over again by his trusted aides and officials at the highest levels of government that there was no election fraud on a scale that could have changed the outcome. But Trump pursued his false claims about the election and beckoned supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 to overturn Biden’s victory as Congress was set to certify the Electoral College results.

Additional evidence is to be released in hearings this week focusing on Trump’s decision to ignore the outcome of the election and the court cases that ruled against him.

Monday’s hearing was also turning to the millions of fundraising dollars Trump’s team brought in in the run-up to Jan. 6, according to a committee aide who insisted on anonymity to discuss the details.

The committee has said most of those interviewed in the investigation are coming forward voluntarily, although some have demanded subpoenas to appear in public. Stepien, who remains close to Trump, oversaw the “conversion” of Trump’s presidential campaign to a “Stop the Steal” effort, according to a subpoena issued by the committee last fall. Stepien is now a top campaign adviser to the Trump-endorsed House candidate, Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary election.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich suggested Sunday that the committee’s decision to call Stepien was politically motivated.

Lawmakers indicated that perhaps their most important audience member over the course of the hearings may be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt as to their own view whether the evidence is sufficient to proceed.

“Once the evidence is accumulated by the Justice Department, it needs to make a decision about whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the president’s guilt or anyone else’s,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, a panel member.. “But they need to be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I think there is.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., another member said on CNN he doesn’t intend to “browbeat” Garland but noted the committee has already laid out in legal pleadings the criminal statutes members believe Trump violated.

“I think that he knows, his staff knows, the U.S. attorneys know, what’s at stake here,” Raskin said.

No president or ex-president has ever been indicted. Garland has not said whether he would be willing to prosecute.


Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.


For full coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to

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SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands gathered at the Conference Center and overflow seating in Temple Square for a big event that hasn’t taken place with this many people in-person, since before the start of the pandemic.

Many of them took away more than just a message and connected with others sharing their age and beliefs.

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited young adults between the ages of 18-30, and those in their last year of seminary, living within an hour and a half drive of the Conference Center to a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults.

Approximately 24,000 secured a seat between the Conference Center, and the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Many more who couldn’t make it in sat outside the Conference Center, watching the talk on their phone.

The sound of thousands of voices echoed with excitement across the Conference Center courtyard, with many showing up two hours or more early in hopes of making it inside for the event.

“I haven’t been in this atmosphere for a long time, so I was like, ‘Yes! We are back again.’ I was so happy,” said Ericson Weih, who lives in Sugar House and arrived two hours before the devotional began.

Naomi Gonzales said she drove down from Clearfield and found it “really awesome” to be surrounded by so many people with similar beliefs, and who care about the Church as much as she does.

“With people my age, I can relate to them more,” she said.

Inside the Conference Center, thousands of young adults eagerly listened to President Nelson and his wife. President Nelson shared a message centering on choosing what kind of life one wants to live forever and understanding fundamental truths to prepare for their future course—relayed in a way young adults could appreciate.

“These truths ought to prompt your ultimate sense of FOMO,” President Nelson said, as everyone laughed. The crowd chuckled again as he continued. “Or, ‘fear of missing out.'”

Gonzales shared how she loved hearing President Nelson describe important labels about who she is, including being a child of God, that she will now prioritize in her life.

“Everything he said was so perfect with what I needed,” she said.

“It pushes me to go back again, to come back to myself, go back to the principals– which is learning and improving all the time,” Weih said.

Gonzales and Weih also felt something else resonate during the event—finding connection and friendship with each other. The two met outside the Conference Center, after they couldn’t make it in. Weih saw Gonzales taking notes, and the two opened a conversation.

“To be honest, I didn’t really expect it. I just kind of expected to come and take notes,” Gonzales said. “But that was really awesome to have someone talk to me, and it was really nice– so thank you.”

She said it was good for her to step out of her comfort zone and meet new people her age, who share the same belief as she does.

“I want to experience more of these things, and especially as this gospel is centered around people,” Gonzales said. “What a good opportunity for me.”

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As shares plunge, Netflix takes aim at password sharing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A sharp drop in subscribers sent Netflix shares into freefall Wednesday, forcing the company to consider experimenting with ads and — hold onto your remote — cracking down on millions of freeloaders who use passwords shared by friends or family.

Looming changes announced late Tuesday are designed to help Netflix regain momentum lost over the past year. Pandemic-driven lockdowns that drove binge-watching have lifted, while deep-pocketed rivals such as Apple and Walt Disney have begun to chip away at its vast audience with their own streaming services.

Netflix’s customer base fell by 200,000 subscribers during the January-March quarter, the first contraction the streaming service has seen since it became available throughout most of the world other than China six years ago. The drop stemmed in part from Netflix’s decision to withdraw from Russia to protest the war against Ukraine, resulting in a loss of 700,000 subscribers. Netflix projected a loss of another 2 million subscribers in the current April-June quarter.

The steep erosion, which follows a year of progressively slower growth, has given Netflix investors major jitters. The company’s stock was down as much as 37% midday Wednesday. If the stock closes at this level, the selloff will have wiped out nearly two-thirds of Netflix’s market value since the end of last year, erasing $170 billion in shareholder wealth in less than four months.

The impact on current Netflix customers won’t be clear for some time. To David Lewis in Norwalk, Connecticut, it’s doesn’t seem like a big deal. Lewis shares a premium plan with his three adult children and some of their friends and says they will keep it, even if they have to cut off the friends and each pay for their own accounts.

“We would keep Netflix and pay for the four in our family, even if it was more,” he said. “We love the service and what it offers.”

The Los Gatos, California, company estimated that about 100 million households worldwide are watching its service for free by using the account of a friend or another family member, including 30 million in the U.S. and Canada.

“Those are over 100 million households already are choosing to view Netflix,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said. “We’ve just got to get paid at some degree for them.”

To prod more people to pay for their own accounts, Netflix indicated it will expand a trial program it has been running in three Latin American countries — Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. In these locations, subscribers can extend service to another household for a discounted price. In Costa Rica, for instance, Netflix plan prices range from $9 to $15 a month, but subscribers can openly share their service with another household for $3.

Netflix offered no additional information about how a cheaper ad-supported service tier would work or how much it would cost. Another rival, Hulu, has long offered an ad-supported tier.

While Netflix clearly believes these changes will help it build upon its current 221.6 million worldwide subscribers, the moves also risk alienating customers to the point they cancel.

Netflix was previously stung by a customer backlash in 2011 when it unveiled plans to begin charging for its then-nascent streaming service, which had been bundled for free with its traditional DVD-by-mail service before its international expansion. In the months after that change, Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers, prompting an apology from Hastings for botching the execution of the spin-off.

Tuesday’s announcement was a sobering comedown for a company that was buoyed two years ago when millions of consumers corralled at home were desperately seeking diversions — a void Netflix was happy to fill. Netflix added 36 million subscribers during 2020, by far the largest annual growth since its video streaming service’s debut in 2007.

But Hastings now believes those outsized gains may have blinded management. “COVID created a lot of noise on how to read the situation,” he said in a video conference Tuesday.

Netflix began heading in a new direction last year when its service added video games at no additional charge in an attempt to give people another reason to subscribe.

Escalating inflation over the past year has also squeezed household budgets, leading more consumers to rein in their spending on discretionary items. Despite that pressure, Netflix recently raised prices in the U.S., where it has its greatest household penetration — and where it’s had the most trouble finding more subscribers.

In the most recent quarter, Netflix lost 640,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, prompting management to point out that most of its future growth will come in international markets. Netflix ended March with 74.6 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada.

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These fossil fuel companies sent more than $15B in taxes to Russia since it annexed Crimea, NGOs say

(CNN) — Nine European and US fossil fuel companies have paid a collective $15.8 billion to Russia in various forms of taxes and fees since the country annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a group of NGOs said Thursday.

The groups, Global Witness, Greenpeace USA and Oil Change International, used data from the Oslo-based Rystad Energy, an independent energy research firm, to calculate how much money oil and gas companies based in North America and Europe had sent to the Russian state. They looked only at companies with exploration and production operations in Russia.

The data was shared amid criticisms that the West’s purchases of Russian coal, oil and gas — which are largely state-owned assets — have helped fund Russia’s war in Ukraine. These payments underscore how much capital Western energy companies that chose to continue operating in Russia after Crimea was annexed have transferred to the state.

The groups looked at royalties, export duties, bonuses, taxes and fees, as well as “government profit oil,” which includes the value of any actual oil that the companies may have given to Russia to come up with the $15.8 billion figure.

They came up with a list of nine companies from these regions that had paid the most money. All those payments were legal, and other multinational companies outside the energy sector have also have made similar kinds of payments to the Russian state.

Shell, which is registered in the UK, sent $7.85 billion, the highest amount of the companies listed, the groups said in a statement, shared first with CNN. It was followed by US-based ExxonMobil ($2.81 billion). Two companies registered in Germany, Wintershall and Wintershall DEA, which have since merged, paid a combined total of $2.86 billion. BP, the British multinational oil and gas company, paid $817 million, the data from Rystad shows.

The three groups that compiled the data said that while the $15.8 billion figure was substantial, the companies identified were also responsible for tens of billions of dollars more flowing to the Russian state because of stakes they hold in Russian oil and gas companies.

BP until recently held a 19.75% stake in the Russian energy company Rosneft, for example. Rosneft paid $353.16 billion to Russia in taxes, fees, royalties and oil profit between 2014 and 2021, Rystad’s data shows.

While BP may not have paid that money directly to Russia, Murray Worthy, gas campaign leader at Global Witness, said that it still bore some responsibility for the payments.

“The true amount that these companies are responsible for paying to Russia is much closer to the $100 billion mark, but it is obscured by their stakes in Russian companies. We believe that BP alone are responsible for $78.4 billion going to the Russian government through the stake in the oil and gas giant Rosneft it says it held until just a few weeks ago,” he told CNN. He was referring to payments during the period between Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the end of 2021.

In a statement, he added: “The Russian energy industry is Putin’s biggest earner and companies like BP that (continued to do business with Russia in spite of) … the Crimean invasion, continuing to support money pouring into his war chest, should surely be questioning whether they now have Ukrainian blood on their hands.”

BP announced it would give up that shareholding just days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. A number of other fossil fuel companies have since followed.

In an email to CNN, BP spokesman David Nicholas said that the company did not recognize the $78.4 billion figure and explained that the only money BP paid the Russian state directly was $350 million in taxes for the six years between 2015 and 2020. The spokesperson was unable to provide data for the whole eight year period.

“On February 27 we announced that we will exit our shareholding in Rosneft, that the two BP-nominated directors are resigning from its board with immediate effect and that we will exit our other businesses in Russia with Rosneft,” Nicholas said.

BP now faces a potential loss of $25 billion related to its exit.

Worthy said that while BP might deny responsibility for Rosneft’s payments to the Russian state, “it has always been more than happy to benefit from the billions that have flowed from its involvement in the company.”

While the dataset focused on payments made mostly through taxes and fees, much more money flows from the West to the Russian state’s coffers in actual oil and gas purchased — which is used for everything from gas for home heating to fuel for cars. The true amount of money that goes from oil and gas companies in the West to the Russian state would be much higher than any amount paid in taxes and fees.

“So when Rosneft sells its products for export, those sales transactions are the way that it earns most of its money,” said Alexandra Gillies, an advisor to the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), which focuses on resource-rich countries achieving sustainability.

According to a database by NRGI, Rosneft transferred $58.6 billion to the Russian state in 2019 alone, the last year before the pandemic.

Gillies said that while Western companies choosing to exit Russia was a step in the right direction, it should have come much sooner.

“It took this invasion of Ukraine for Western oil companies to say, ‘You know what? We don’t want to enable what this regime is doing anymore.’ They should have made that call much earlier with the invasion of Crimea, or with the repressive nature of the Putin regime, or with the Putin regime interfering in US elections, or poisoning opposition figures, including on UK soil,” Gillies said.

“There were so many moments over the past few years that should have led Western companies to divest from their cooperation with the regime.”

The other four companies listed in the NGOs’ statement are France-based TotalEnergies ($568 million); Norway-based Equinor ($455 million); Austria-based OMV ($246 million) and Switzerland-based Trafigura ($202 million).

Rystad told CNN that its datasets were based on estimates derived from limited reporting available on taxes.

TotalEnergies also has stakes in Russian oil and gas companies that have paid hundreds of millions of dollars more to the government, according to Rystad data.

CNN reached out to all companies listed, as well as Rosneft, for comment. ExxonMobil did not respond to CNN’s request.

Nikita Patel, a spokesperson for Shell, told CNN: “The world’s reliance on Russia for energy has built up over many years through decisions taken by governments as well as businesses. As Shell is one of the biggest global suppliers — particularly in Europe which depends heavily on Russia for fuel — the money we have paid reflects the large number of customers we serve, as you would expect.”

On March 8, Shell published a press release in which the company announced it would withdraw its involvement in all Russian fossil fuel activities “in a phased manner” and stop purchasing Russian crude oil.

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden also apologized in the statement after the company was criticized for buying a cargo of Russian crude oil in early March while other companies and traders were shunning the product following Russia’s February invasion.

TotalEnergies announced Tuesday it would stop buying Russian oil by the end of the year but that it would continue to buy Russian gas. The company did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Equinor has shut down its operations in Russia and says it has stopped trading Russian oil. Its spokesperson, Ola Morten Aanestad, did not confirm the $455 million figure in an email to CNN, and said it was “is too early to be specific on the exit process,” when asked whether the company would stay out of Russia permanently.

An OMV spokesperson did not comment on the amount of money it had transferred to Russia when asked by CNN, and pointed to a recent statement in which the company said it was “reevaluating its engagement in Russia.”

Wintershall DEA told CNN the company was “not in a position to verify the figures presented to us” and that it “always conducted our business in compliance with all applicable laws.”

A Trafigura spokesperson said the company did not pay anything to the Russian government “arising from production of fossil fuels.” The company has a 10% stake in the Vostok Oil project, of which Rosneft is the majority shareholder. The spokesperson said “no further monies have been paid” since the acquisition of the stake in 2020. “Trafigura has not received any dividends or similar payments from its shareholding in Vostok Oil.”

Lorne Stockman, Research Co-director at Oil Change International, said the world must now avoid looking to other autocratic regimes to replace the fossil fuels they are shunning from Russia.

“Fossil fuels are the currency of despots, dictators, and warmongers. Our global reliance on oil and gas is not only killing our planet, but also making the world a less safe and equal place. Big Western polluters like BP and Shell have been all too happy to work in countries with despicable human rights records for over a century,” Stockman said.

“Now is the moment to end the fossil fuel era.”

This story has been updated with a response from Shell.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Utahns seek cleaner air as inversion persists

SALT LAKE COUNTYAs the temperature inversion intensifies and traps more pollution in our neighborhoods, Utahns look for ways to escape to breathe clean air. Many are also looking for ways they can reduce their pollution.

Right now, none of the pollution generated along the Wasatch Front is leaving the Wasatch Front, and it could be here for a few more days.

People we spoke with at a high elevation trailhead, where the air is not as bad, were looking for short-term relief from high levels of particulate pollution. But they say long-term solutions are just as important.

“It’s weird being able to see the air you breathe,” Abagael Balavitch said.

Balavitch moved to Utah a few years ago from Michigan, and tries to stay out of the bad air as much as she can.

“At least up here in this area, which is nice, it’s nice to kind of get out of it,” she said, looking at the pollution in the valley below.

But, she’s a dog hiker, and gets outside every day, regardless of the pollution.

“Definitely. It’s not that fun breathing it,” she said. “I’ve definitely noticed it does kind of affect my lungs a little bit. So, I definitely prefer to stay inside when it’s really bad.”

Warm air aloft has again trapped cold air and pollution in Utah’s low elevation neighborhoods.

It will take a storm to clear the smog.

“It’s making me not want to live here,” Dina Drits-Esser, who moved here 15 years ago, said.

Long-lasting inversions like this one make her rethink that decision.

“When it’s this bad, I often think that I want to go back to the Midwest,” she said. “But, I have a job, my husband and I have a family here, and we have a really nice community.”

So, it’s not likely her family would really leave, but Drits-Esser said it’s not good for their kids who are in school lower in the valley.

When the air is this bad in the valley, she said, they take extra precautions at home.

“We have our windows closed all the time, and run our indoor air filters all the time,” she explained. “It just makes me feel like this is not a sustainable way to live.”

Others are encouraged that Utah communities and the state are increasingly more willing to take action.

“I’m happy to see that, politically, we are recognizing it as an issue as something we have to deal with,” Alex Khajavi said. “But, there’s absolutely much more we could be doing, and there’s much more we should be doing.”

The people we spoke with said they take action to reduce their emissions by consolidating trips, driving less, taking the ski bus, and choosing electric vehicles.
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Your Life Your Health

LAYTON, Utah — Being diagnosed with cancer is traumatic at any age, but can be particularly difficult for adolescents and young adults who are finishing school, choosing a career or starting a family.

One Layton woman has found support through a special program.

For Nayeli Gomez, painting is her way favorite to relieve stress.

“You can make a mistake and find out that it actually looks better,” she explained. “Sometimes they’re not great paintings, but they make me happy.”

Nayeli Gomez finds painting to be a good form of stress relief, especially in the last year when she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. (KSL TV)

Unfortunately, she’s experienced a lot of additional stress during the pandemic from the challenging experience she finds herself in.

“Well, I found a lump myself in my chest up here,” she said. “I’m 34. I have no history of family cancer … my thought was, ‘My mom can’t bury her only daughter.'”

Gomez was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer on May 21, and now she faces fears she never anticipated like her ability to have children following chemo.

“I don’t have kids yet. I feel like I haven’t really started my life,” she explained. “I was faced with a decision that I had to make way too quickly. Do I freeze my eggs? And I couldn’t. I couldn’t afford it … It’s a scary thought. I’ve always wanted to be a mom.”

Nayeli Gomez, 34, sorts through her medications including chemotherapy pills and other medications to help with the side effects. (KSL TV)

Gomez also has a dream to go back to school to become a physician assistant. “But I don’t know now if I can do that, because chemo brain is a very real issue,” she said.

Gomez said she also lost her job when she was undergoing treatment. She found a new job but is only able to work part-time to accommodate her treatment schedule and because a lot of the time, she doesn’t feel well.

Dr. David Gill, an oncologist with Intermountain Healthcare, said cancer can disrupt big milestones and create professional challenges.

“You may have to take a year off college, or you may have to take Friday’s off work to get your chemotherapy infusion, (or) maybe you get passed up for a raise and wonder, ‘Is it in part due to my treatment?'” he described.

Gill said patients ages 15-39 are the most underserved cancer population often with little financial support. “So whether that’s uninsured or underinsured patient status,” he explained.

Through the Huntsman Intermountain Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program, or HIAYA, Gomez has found help.

“When I was in unemployment, they put me in contact with people who could answer my questions about, ‘What am I filing? Where do I go?'” Gomez said.

She’s also connected with others through the Facebook support group who’ve sympathized with Gomez when she’s experienced severe pain or needed advice on how to treat a chemo burn.

Nayeli Gomez has found help through the Huntsman Intermountain Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program where she’s connected with other cancer patients and found professional help through patient navigators. (KSL TV)

“It’s really nice to have someone else who’s going through the same thing and being able to both get help and know that your horrible experience can help someone else,” she said.

Gomez has also been grateful for the professional help she’s received from patient navigators who are trained in cancer care, fertility preservative, and family building.

“But being able to call her or text her and just say, ‘I’m hurting,'” Gomez said. “It’s been wonderful.”

Gill said through a combination of contributions from charitable foundations that are willing to assist with the financial costs of fertility preservation and insurance coverage, HIAYA helps patients plan their future. “Some of the treatments we give, including chemotherapies, can cause infertility so fertility counseling is extremely important,” he said. “Building a family is an important part of many of our patients’ lives.”

He said going through this experience at such a young age can be isolating. “Your friends and those around you aren’t having the same challenges,” Gill said. “Anxiety and depression really is the norm after you’ve been through something like this, so providing those resources is incredibly important.”

Though Gomez feels as though she’s benefited from the support group more than contributed, Gill said otherwise. “It’s been amazing to watch her,” he said. “She’s helped a lot of other people as they go through their cancer journeys. She’s very selfless.”

Right now, the group meets together through virtual social events, but when it’s safe to gather again, Gill said they plan to get together again for in-person social events like escape rooms, ax throwing or Top Golf.

Gomez reminds other cancer patients that there is hope. She said her last scan was clear, though she greatly anticipates the day when her doctor tells her she is completely cancer-free. Gomez is so grateful to her boyfriend and her family who have also offered their unconditional support.

She urges others to put their needs first and reach out for help.

“It is the most important thing to advocate for yourself,” Gomez said.

Nayeli Gomez finds painting to be a good form of stress relief, especially in the last year when she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. (KSL TV)

The HIAYA program is free and available to cancer patients ages 15-39 no matter who their healthcare provider is. To support Gomez on her cancer journey, visit her GoFundMe* page.

* does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Your Life Your Health

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Vaccines are now available to all Utahns 16 years old and up, but local officials have noticed vaccine hesitancy among certain minorities. One Salt Lake woman decided to get vaccinated after overcoming some of her initial concerns.

The Ocampo family has every reason to be excited. The addition of their 3-month-old puppy Luna is one reason, and Ana’s recent COVID-19 vaccination is another. But choosing to get vaccinated wasn’t an easy decision for her.

“It brought back fear from when COVID first hit,” Ocampo said. “You just don’t know what to expect.”

Ana Ocampo is a food and nutrition services supervisor and LDS Hospital and delivers meals directly to patients. For this reason, she ultimately felt it was important to get vaccinated. (Photo Courtesy of Ana Ocampo)

Between misinformation on social media and discouragement from her family, Ana was hesitant to take the vaccine. “Seeing it and hearing about it every day just kind of made me think maybe it’s real and so that made me doubt it too,” she said of negative comments and myths on Facebook.

“They were like, ‘Are you sure you want to get it?’ You know, making me doubt like my decision,” she said.

Marco Verdeja, community health specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, says it’s issues like these that have created access barriers for some populations.

“There are a lot of access barriers that we’ve seen along with misconceptions that come with the lack of access to … correct information because of the language barrier, perhaps, and the inability to get that information firsthand,” Verdeja explained. “Getting that information translated into Spanish takes time and that lag can lead to mistrust, and historically we already have mistrust in this particular group, because of historical trauma (such as) immigration status that might lead to fear.

“With Hispanics, we’ve seen surveys that have been done nationally show that there is a higher hesitancy to the vaccine than the general population, about 10 points,” Verdeja described, according to recent studies.

Verdeja said this is especially true among the younger Latino demographic. Verdeja reinforces the notion: “You might feel that you don’t need it right now, because of your age… however by protecting yourself, you’re actually protecting everyone else around you.”

He said this is especially important in multigenerational homes.

“I have a big family. So gatherings are a big thing for us,” Ocamp said.

After doing research, Ocampo ultimately decided to get the shot even though she already had the virus. “I can’t even explain the pain that I went through,” she said detailing the month-long stomach pain she battled after getting COVID-19.

Her work interactions with patients at LDS Hospital as a food and nutrition services supervisor played a role along with her desire to protect her extended family. “That was a big thing for me — is my family, and so that’s mostly the reason why I decided to do it,” Ocampo said.

Her oldest child, Elizah has a horseshoe kidney and is high risk as a result. Ocampo wanted to do everything she could to protect those around her. “I just would mostly think about my daughter, how it could affect her,” she said.

Elizah and Saul Ocampo play with their new, three-month old puppy, Luna. (Photo Credit: KSL TV)

Ocampo was vaccinated in December with her health care coworkers and said she simply experienced a sore arm. “Do your research. If you’re having any doubts, talk to your doctor,” she said.

“I also wanted to show my family to not live in fear — that if I could do it, so can they,” she said. “And if I need to be the first one to show them and why not.”

Being vaccinated has given Ocampo a lot of comfort knowing she can socialize with other people and not worry about exposing someone to the virus or being exposed herself.

“I am so happy that I got vaccinated so that we can show them that we’re okay. We can overcome this together,” she added.

Ocampo is looking forward to enjoying normal life again with her kids. “Whatever we missed from last year, I want to recover that time this year,” she said.

Verjado said there is no cost to the vaccine even if someone is uninsured and it is available to anyone regardless of their immigration status. “These are also barriers that sometimes we hear about, so these are things that you don’t need to worry about with a vaccine, you can get it easily,” he confirmed.

To register online in Spanish, visit the Utah Department of Health or, or call the Coronavirus Hotline at 1-800-456-7707.

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Matt Rascon, KSL+: Welcome to KSL+, where we break down important topics and stories so have the information you need. I’m Matt Rascon. The Utah legislative session is wrapping up–and we want to look deeper at one of the session’s most controversial bills. A bill that would ban transgender girls from competing on sports teams with other girls. It dosen’t address transgender boys playing with other boys. And it’s a conversation playing out across the country. The bill passed the house but ultimately died in the senate committee, after Governor Cox said he would not sign it as is. I spoke to Deseret News reporter Ashley Imlay. She’s been following this bill and helps us understand all sides.

Matt Rascon: Okay, so we’re talking about House Bill 302–Preserving Sports for Female Students is what it’s called. Talk about what’s in this bill.

Ashley Imlay, Deseret News: So this bill is to ban female athletes or transgender female athletes from playing on girls’ teams at public schools. And it would only affect transgender girls and not transgender boys.

Matt Rascon: It’s just for the K through 12.

Ashley Imlay: Yes, yes. So it really would just affect secondary education where there are school teams.

Matt Rascon: Can you talk about the what the bill sponsor that’s Kera Birkeland. What is she saying about them? Why was this bill introduced? And what is she hoping to accomplish here?

Ashley Imlay: Yeah, she is very passionate about the history of women’s sports. And the crux of this argument is, women weren’t really given opportunities to compete until the mid-20th century. And before that, it was just men and women have fought for their place in sports and their opportunities to compete.

Matt Rascon: Here’s Rep. Birkeland’s speech on the floor.

Utah Rep. Kera Birkeland: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that this bill is something that most people have on their radar. I just want to take a quick moment and explain that women’s sports matter in Utah. They matter to me and they matter to every parent of young girls. And they matter to every athlete out there, trying their best. It used to be, when I was playing sports, that we played sports because it was fun. It was good fitness and health. That’s what I grew up being told what women’s sports is about. These days. women’s sports are about competition. They’re about scholarships. They’re about opportunities to excel and exceed. Currently in our state. There’s litigation, because we have women’s football, women who want to play football. But they were told they weren’t welcomed on the boy’s team. When they played on the boy’s team, they were mistreated. And they felt unwanted. They wanted to have a girl’s team that could play against the boys. They were told no. They wanted to create their own league where they could play. And they again, were told no, because it’s not safe for them. On the other hand, in Utah, we just recently saw a couple days ago in the headlines that we have girls wrestling, finally in Utah. These young women are thrilled for the opportunity to compete. And if you read the articles out there, the interesting part is that we talked about how it is safer now co-ed sports are harmful to our female athletes. So, here’s an opportunity to stand behind that to get behind the triumphs and the successes that we have made as females in the sports arena and to say, You matter and we want fairness for you not just in parts of your life, but in every aspect, including sports.

Ashley Imlay: There are some who feel that their places are being taken away by transgender women and girls. And there have been a few instances where there were transgender women who have won races or who have kind of dominated in their sports and, and so that’s led some cisgender–those born female–athletes to speak out against it, but then there are some who support them, transgender women being able to compete. Really passionate.

Matt Rascon: You said there’s actual instances in Utah?

Ashley Imlay: There are no transgender females who compete at Utah schools. We heard from some track runners at Southern Utah University who testified in the first committee hearing for it, who talked about running against a transgender woman from another school, an out of state. And they talked about how–one of the girls said that just from the start of the race, she knew that she didn’t have the chance and, and that her only chance of winning would be if this the transgender woman let her win. And so yeah, that was a really emotional hearing on both sides.

Matt Rascon: Then you have the other side. So I mean, it seems like it’s trying to even the playing field for women, and it’s in support of those who are born female to be able to compete on an even playing field. And on the other side, it sounds like it’s sort of discriminatory. Let’s talk about the argument against this.

Ashley Imlay: There are quite a few arguments against it. So, there is the argument that we’re only talking about transgender females, and it doesn’t affect transgender males–they still would be allowed to play on, like a boys football team under that bill. So just the fact that it’s targeting this small, small population. And then there is the argument that we already are in a mental health crisis and these kids are already going through a lot and having the opportunity to play on a team, to belong, could really help them. But there are no transgender athletes playing in Utah schools already. So there’s also the argument that it’s an issue that doesn’t even exist, it’s a culture where a bill to get ahead of the issue when it’s not even an issue. So that’s what the LGBTQ advocates say are some of their biggest arguments against the bill.

Matt Rascon: We spoke with Transgender activist Sue Robbins. Here’s what she had to say about the bill.

Sue Robbins, Equality Utah: I am happy to hear that it’s showing some thoughtfulness. Throughout this process, we have been reaching out and saying that this is moving fast, we had no input on the original bill. And we have basically been told that if we want to have an effect on it, it’ll go to the floor and it may get passed, but we can keep talking throughout the year. So the bill, and all the discussions around it have a lot of problems. And I think talking is important, and the governor pumping the brakes, I think will be a very good thing. And then we could sit down and bring sides together and talk because this has become this enormous amount of misinformation. And we should have concern for our girls, whether they are transgender or not, we should protect things for everybody, including our transgender girls. And this discussion has gone heavily down the road of comparing boys to girls and girls who are on a transgender path are girls, they’re not boys. So it is a poor comparison. Transgender girls go on puberty blockers. They go on hormone therapy. And we already have those policies in place. And we don’t have an issue. And that includes the Olympics, that has had this policy since 2004. And we’ve had zero transgender people get out of the trials, never mind being dominant. In the NCAA, they’ve had the policy for 10 years. One medal in Division II out of thousands of competitors. And this bill even covers kindergarten through 12th grade. Pre-pubescent kids are all the same. And we’re sitting here blocking them all in this and impacting our youth based on a broad fear. So I very much welcome this. I very much welcome discussion. I very much welcome calm, cool heads coming together and pulling the science together and looking at the reality of what’s already happening. And not creating fears for the future that we have years of data to show it doesn’t exist.

Matt Rascon: I even noticed that some other representatives we’re talking about how it goes beyond sports–that this would actually hurt the state. Are they talking about this?

Ashley Imlay: Utah plans on making a bid to host a future Olympics and, and those against this bill see that it could really hurt Utah’s chances and take us completely out of the running. Because transgender athletes have been allowed to compete in the Olympics. And the sports community is already trying to address the issue and looking into the science. And there is the fear that it will that it will prevent other tournaments from being held in the state. There are those from Silicon Slopes Commons–which is the kind of sister organization of Silicon Slopes–they’ve spoken out against it and said that it will really hurt companies in Utah with recruiting and it will prevent companies from choosing to move to Utah. And Salt Lake Chamber has also said they feel it should be left in the hands of athletic associations.

Matt Rascon: There’s that argument also that lawmakers should not even be the ones deciding the fate of these transgender athletes.

Ashley Imlay: Yeah, yeah. There’s also the concern that Utah will face heavy lawsuits from this. Idaho–which passed a similar bill last year– already seen lawsuits and unseen economic effects. According to those who are against the bill, they’re worried that Utah will go down that same path and that it’ll hurt the state’s reputation in the country.

Matt Rascon: Now, Governor, Spencer Cox has weighed in on this. And in the past, of course, he’s been looked at as an advocate for the LGBT community. And so I think that a lot of people were interested in “Okay, what’s he going to say about this?” Because in the house, you know, it seemed to be mostly along party lines, right. Republicans voting yes. Democrats now. What is Governor Spencer Cox saying about this bill?

Ashley Imlay: Yeah. So here’s something that really stood out to me what he said. He said, both sides are right, which really, I think illustrates how tough of an issue it is and how both sides are so passionate, and they’re both fighting for the same thing, which is fairness.

Matt Rascon: And the Governor says one of his biggest concerns is maligning a group that is already ostracized more than their peers.

Gov. Spencer Cox: These kids are … they’re just trying to stay alive. There’s a reason none of them are playing sports … I just think there’s a better way.

Matt Rascon: He kind of acknowledges, yeah, there are biological advantages with your birth gender. Women’s sports have had a disadvantage and that’s something that we need to make up for. But then on the other side, sympathizing with transgender students, who he says are just trying to stay alive. I think that was a big quote that stood out to me. And, pointed to that, there’s a reason why they’re not playing right now is because of kind of fear and discrimination, things like that.

In 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 17 and 18-24. Between 2017 and 2019, 414 teens died by suicide. Many advocates and mental health experts believe many of those teens were members of the LGBTQ community. Again, we want to mention, if you are having thoughts of suicide, there is support for you. The SafeUT app and the National Suicide Hotline–1-800-273-8255

Lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Mississippi passed a bill almost identical to this one. Georgia is still debating it. For some that raises the question of so called “culture war bills” or “message bills.” According to the Associated Press, in almost every case, the bills’ sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state where this has caused problems. Proponents have said the bill is about being proactive — preventing possible problems in the future. Some point to a pair of runners in Connecticut. Between 2017 and 2019, two transgender sprinters won a combined 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit. Supporters of transgender rights say the Connecticut case gets so much attention from conservatives because it’s the only example of its kind. They argue these bills address a threat that doesn’t exist.

Ashley Imlay: And then there’s another really interesting aspect–what’s the point of sports? Is it for the competition and for scholarships and, other opportunities? Or is it for friendship and for learning teamwork and, having a place to belong? I think sports are all of those things, but one side of the issue is focusing on the competition and the opportunities that that people get from playing sports and succeeding in sports. And one side is looking at all these opportunities then, and life lessons that that students get, and that they should have the opportunity to get.

Matt Rascon:  The legislative session ends March 5. Debate on the bill at the Utah capitol has ended. But we likely haven’t heard the end of the discussion on this topic. Thanks for jumping on. We’ll be back next week with a deeper look at the future of business, healthcare, and education as we are now a year into COVID.

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Many Turn To Real Christmas Trees As Bright Spot Amid Virus

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ani Sirois, a respiratory nurse, has spent months caring for coronavirus patients at a Portland, Oregon, hospital, and she’s only getting busier as infections — and hospitalizations — surge before the holidays.

But on a recent sunny day, COVID-19 seemed far away as she, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter roamed a Christmas tree farm in search of the perfect evergreen for a holiday season unlike any other. The family was tree-shopping nearly a week before Thanksgiving and, for the first time, they were picking their own tree instead of buying a pre-cut one.

“It’s nice to have home be a separate safe space away from the hospital, and whether we can have a gathering with family or not, I know we’ll have our own little tree with the purple lights, and that’ll be something small to look forward to,” she said.

The real Christmas tree industry, which has been battling increased interest in artificial trees, is glad to see that more Americans appear to be flocking to fresh-cut evergreens this season, seeking a bright spot amid the virus’s worsening toll.

It’s early in the season, but both wholesale tree farmers and small cut-your-own lots are reporting strong demand, with many opening well before Thanksgiving. Businesses say they are seeing more people and earlier than ever.

At some pick-your-own-tree farms, for example, customers sneaked in well before Thanksgiving to tag the perfect tree to cut down once the business opened. As demand surges, big box stores are seeking fresh trees up to a week earlier than last year, and Walmart is offering free home delivery for the first time.

“The season is running approximately six to seven days ahead of what we’ve seen in the past. We’ve never seen the demand like we’ve had this year,” said McKenzie Cook, who ships between 1.8 million and 2 million trees a year combined from McKenzie Farms in Oregon and Happy Holiday Christmas Trees in North Carolina.

A number of reasons are driving the uptick in interest. More Americans are staying home for the holidays amid pandemic restrictions and are realizing that for the first time in years — or maybe ever — they will be home to water a fresh-cut tree. With holiday parades and festivals canceled, stir-crazy families also are looking for a safe way to create special memories.

Plus, fresh-cut Christmas trees are largely displayed outside, where there’s a lower risk of viral spread, said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

The national organization says industry research tells them many people who put up an artificial tree last year plan to buy a real tree this year, and most are citing the pandemic as the reason.

“Yes, it’s a product, it’s a decoration that you put in your home, but getting a real tree involves the choosing, the hunting for it, the family outing. It really is a memory maker, it’s a day you spend together, and it really becomes much bigger than the tree itself,” Gray said. “It’s really making family memories and people really seem to gravitate to that right now.”

The growing interest in real trees comes after the industry has struggled to attract new, younger customers in recent years as more Americans buy artificial trees.

Between 75% and 80% of Americans who have a Christmas tree now have an artificial one, and the $1 billion market for fake trees has been growing by about 4% a year — despite them being reusable.

No one tracks annual sales of real trees because independent tree lots are so scattered, but those in the business estimate about 20 million trees or more are sold each year, most of them at big box stores such as Costco and Home Depot.

Oregon, the nation’s No. 1 supplier of fresh-cut trees, expects to ship nearly 6 million evergreens this season to places as far away as Japan and China. Other top tree exporters are Washington state, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

The fresh-cut tree industry in 2018 launched a social media campaign called “It’s Christmas. Keep It Real!” to attract young families and media-savvy millennials.

This year, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board also asked Rob Kenney, creator of the “Dad, How Do I?” YouTube channel, to make an instructional video for newbies on how to shop for and put up a real tree, then keep it alive. It’s gotten tens of thousands of views.

“We want to introduce real Christmas trees to young families and new buyers and create greater demand among those people who say, ‘I’m a little nervous about just taking a tree and dragging it into my house,'” Gray said.

It appears that message is breaking through as Americans seek a happier way to close out a difficult year.

Lee Farms, a sixth-generation family farm in Tualatin, Oregon, opened for the season a week earlier than last year. It sold more than 100 trees in the first four hours and was seeing new faces at a business that normally welcomes the same customers each year.

“It’s almost a new — or a renewed — experience for a lot of families this year,” said Teagan Milera, co-owner of Lee Farms. “Having that real tree smells so good in your house, something to take care of and decorate together, that nothing beats that for the holiday season.”

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More Utahns Walking, Biking During Pandemic, UDOT Says

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Recent data from the Utah Department of Transportation shows a significant leap in walking and biking amid COVID-19.

The trend is not only good for reduced traffic, but it has a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of the community.

One Utah family in particular tells KSL it has been life-changing for them.

“I went over a month without being in a car, which is crazy because before the pandemic I was in a car every single day,” said Tristin West with her husband, Mike, and their two young children.

Now, the Wests say they are biking every single day.

“We’ve become a biking family,” said Tristin.

Resisting travel right now, the married couple’s investment in a cargo bike fills their son, Jayson, who is non verbal, with excitement.

“Anytime we are in the bike he gets this big smile on his face and he just squeals and babbles and he makes everyone smile as we are passing by because he’s like, ‘Whoo!’” said Tristin.

Jayson has a rare genetic cranial facial syndrome called MCTT Syndrome. The Wests said he’s one of 25 in the world diagnosed. At just 8 years old, he’s already overcome three brain surgeries, two cranial surgeries, and more than 20 other surgeries. His biggest daily battle is headaches, and biking offers some relief.

“He can have a really rough day with headaches, and we can get him in that bike and he may have a few in the bike but he’s just happy for those few moments,” said Tristin.

The Wests are among many Utahns choosing to be more active in the outdoors, according UDOT’s John Gleason.

“In some trails we are seeing a 300% or more increase in use from last year to this year,” said Gleason. “It’s a great thing for your body, your mind, and it also is a wonderful thing for congestion on our roads.”

During a year that has brought so much heartache, the Wests have found something that fills theirs.

“He’s gone through a lot of challenges in his life, and to see the happiness that brings for him is, there’s nothing better than that,” Mike said about Jayson.

UDOT also said with more people out walking and biking, there is always a shared responsibility for drivers and pedestrians to be on the lookout for each other.

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Lauren Llewellyn’s heroin addiction had become so bad she was on the verge of losing everything. She was without her son and feeling completely hopeless and empty. She knew she had to get high. Inside her parent’s home, who graciously took her in, she went into the bathroom downstairs to curb her fix. In her mind life was going to be better in just a few minutes — until her father walked in on her smoking heroin.

At that moment, Lauren stood there, staring at her father. This is when Lauren hit her rock bottom.

A childhood of chaos and uncertainty

Lauren grew up in an ever-changing household. She is one of six children, whose parents were always moving and trying to find the next place to live. They were very young when they decided to have children and never really had a lot of money. They would even move apartments to take advantage of apartments that were offering the first month free of rent. The family would bounce around seeking the next place and by the time Lauren was eight-years-old, she had moved over ten times.

Through it all, Lauren became very close to her siblings. Growing up in such conditions allowed them to “raise each other,” according to Lauren. Being so close to her siblings created a lasting impact that they all share today, but that same impact also introduced Lauren to weed and alcohol at the age of thirteen-years-old. Lauren recalls when she would hang out with her older sister and go to high school parties.

“I was thirteen and I started out with weed and alcohol. I had an older sister, who would take me everywhere with her. We would party with all of her high school friends and I had a few of my best friends who kind of, went down the same path,” she described.

Filling an empty hole with opioids

Experimenting with weed and alcohol at an extremely young age opened the door to Lauren’s experience with her larger vices. And when she was fourteen, she began to have issues with her knee, so much so, that it required surgery. Following the surgery, she began to take opioids for the pain. But for Lauren, they brought so much more.

“I remember feeling like there was something missing inside of myself. Like there was a hole for something. … I remember taking those pills after the surgery and being like … that hole is gone,” she recalled.

A year later she had surgery on her ovaries and, again, she received opioids to help with the pain. This time she looked forward to getting the pills. As of today, Lauren has had nine surgeries, all paired with opioids. When she was twenty-three a very serious lung infection began to plague her body and she was admitted to the hospital. Surgeons then removed a portion of her lungs and she would spend the next ten days in the hospital recovering.

The nurses gave Lauren a drip of Dilaudid to curb the pain from the surgery. For Lauren, it became everything she ever wanted. Unfortunately, it came with its own side effects. When she got home she began to feel the symptoms of withdrawal.

This was Lauren’s first experience with withdrawal, but it wouldn’t be her last.

From opioids to a heroin addiction

Lauren began to abuse opioids with the help of friends. For years she would attend rave parties where drugs were plentiful and a big part of the culture. The pills became such an integral aspect of her life that when she found out she was pregnant, Lauren was forced into a detox program. But once her son was born, her pill habit continued. The only thing that truly stopped her addiction to pills was the cost — which ultimately laid the groundwork for her heroin addiction.

“There never really was any problem with me getting the pills. What led me into choosing heroin was the fact that I couldn’t afford the pills anymore,” she remembered. “I was a single mom at that time and I was living on my own and I just couldn’t afford to keep up on my pill habits.”

Lauren’s heroin addiction began to flourish and take away parts of her life. It not only affected her wallet, but she also began to become more reclusive. Every Sunday she would go to her parent’s house for Sunday dinner, but now she was ashamed of herself.

“Deeper and deeper I got into my addiction the more I removed myself from my family because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want them to know how bad things actually were,” she added.

How Lauren’s heroin addiction started to consume her life

Lauren’s life was spinning out of control. Her family even began to step in and get help for her. So much so that her father offered to help her with rehab.

But in her mind, Lauren didn’t need any help. She had finished hair school and always took care of herself financially. But in retrospect, she did need help.

“In my mind, that meant I was okay. That meant that I had no problem. There was no issue because I could take care of myself,” she said.

There was an issue though. Lauren’s addiction was starting to wreak havoc in her life. She was getting into car accidents and even getting into trouble with the law. She spent two days in jail on drug paraphernalia charges but that still wasn’t enough to stop Lauren from using. In May of 2018,  she found herself on the verge of losing everything after her son’s father witnessed her partaking in a drug deal.

Watching Lauren endanger their son was the last straw for her son’s father. Lauren wasn’t going to see their son anymore. It was time to make a decision — get sober or lose her son.

The moment Lauren was finally able to overcome her heroin addiction

“That night, I called my parents and I was just like, ‘I need help,'” Lauren explained. “I was living with my grandma at that time. I had been evicted from my apartment because of the mess I was in and my mom came down and helped me get all of my stuff and I moved up there.”

Lauren would then spend the next six months clean and participating in an outreach program. She began living a sober lifestyle but mentally she was still having issues coping with her addiction and withdrawals. And after trying to fight for her sobriety as hard as she could, her addiction overcame her and she began using again. Except for this time, she wasn’t alone.

Her father walked in on her smoking heroin in his bathroom. Instead of yelling at her, he stood there and simply asked, “what can I do to help you?”

They both had a long conversation on how Lauren was going to get sober and after years of addiction, she was ready.

“I agreed to go. It took probably about three more weeks for me to finally agree to go but I was just done. I was sick of being unhappy. I was sick of feeling worthless — a waste of space,” she said.

Lauren still recalls the face of her father standing there in the bathroom hallway as she was smoking heroin. She uses that mental image to keep her sobriety still to this day.

“He still loves me. I’m smoking heroin in his bathroom and he still loves me and just wants the best for me. I think that was the push I needed,” she described.

Lauren has been officially been sober for one year at the time of the release of this article.

Listen to the entire episode below

For more information on addiction or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook and on KSL TV. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

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Words Of Love, Forgiveness Shared At Grantsville Family Funeral Service

GRANTSVILLE, Utah – Hundreds at a funeral service for members of the Haynie family paid their respects and offered support for the family’s surviving father and oldest son.

Four hearses lined the street outside a somber Grantsville Stake Center on Friday, carrying the caskets of a mother and three of her children. However, only words of love, forgiveness and faith were shared inside.

Family and friends spoke at the funeral service. Colin Haynie spoke of his love for his wife, Alejandra and children, Alexis, Matthew and Milan.

“It’s become very clear to me that this is not just a family matter, but a community matter,” Colin Haynie said as he thanked those in attendance.

He talked about how he is choosing to not allow thoughts of sadness to consume him. Instead, he wished to instead remember all the happy times the family shared.

“I have a very good wife and very good kids,” Colin Haynie said. “My emotions have been up and down this last week.”

He also told those in attendance that the tragic nature of the deaths may lead some to question God.

“I want you to know that this does not change my faith one bit,” he said. “I know that God lives and loves all his children.”

Danny Haynie briefly spoke of his brother CJ, who is being charged in the deaths.

“CJ will always be my brother and I will always love him,” Danny Haynie said from the pulpit.

The pallbearers leading the four caskets were made up of children in the community. Colin Haynie mentioned he wanted those who impacted his family’s lives to be included and for it to not be like other funerals.

A graveside service was held nearby at the Grantsville City Cemetery with firefighters raising a flag over the final resting place for a family touched by tragedy.

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Your Life Your Health

AMERICAN FORK, Utah – Now that holiday wrapping and other preparations are finally slowing down, it’s time to get outside with family and friends. One Utah family always makes safety a priority before they play in the snow.

Alicia Hodges will be the first to admit getting her four kids ready for the snow is a lot of work.

“I’m not even going to tell you how long it took to get all of their bags together,” she said laughing, as she helped her kids get ready to sled at Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon.

Their family loves winter activities like sledding, so Hodges said it’s totally worth it.

Nine-year-old Corbin said he looks for the steepest hill and his little sister, Ayva, said she likes to go “really, really fast!”

Plus, it’s a nice change of pace for this family of six, especially during the winter. “If you are inside all the time it starts to just become like really hard and the kids get cooped up,” their mother said.

But it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

“It makes all the fun come to a crashing halt,” Hodges said.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Jessica Strong, community health manager at Primary Children’s Hospital, said they see lots of broken bones and head injuries this time of year from snow-related sports like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and sledding.

Fortunately, the Hodges family has not been seriously injured, but they take extra measures to be safe.

“We put on our helmets!” said 11-year-old Kyra.

Strong said helmets should fit snugly with no wiggle room when someone moves their head back and forth and side to side.

“You want to make sure that it’s low across your eyebrows, so you can fit two fingers between the eyebrow and the top of the helmet,” she explained.

She encouraged parents to check the fit of their kids’ helmets at the beginning of each season.

“Kids outgrow helmets like they outgrow everything,” Strong said. If it doesn’t fit properly, she said it might be time to get a new one.

Corbin said he understands the importance of wearing a helmet.

“I could get a concussion, go to the hospital and I don’t want to do that,” he said.

Strong said prevention is key.

“The problem with a head trauma is that often there can be long-lasting, lifelong effects,” she added.

In addition to wearing a helmet, Strong encouraged people to be aware of their surroundings.

“Make sure you’re paying attention to potential hazards, whether that’s rocks or trees or a busy road at the bottom of the hill. You want to avoid those things,” she said.

If you have a stubborn child who isn’t excited to wear a helmet, Strong told parents to get creative. “So whether that’s putting stickers on it, or choosing the color that they really love, that’s gonna help motivate them to want to wear it,” she said.

Strong also encouraged people to take breaks and stay hydrated.

“When you’re outside and you’re cold, you may not recognize that you’re getting thirsty. So, it’s important just to continually drink,” she said. “We know that the effects of dehydration are real and can lead to, you know, serious consequences; but it’s really easy to stay hydrated.”

Hodges is always prepared.

“We have a whole thing of water in the back of the van and all times to keep ourselves hydrated,” Hodges said. “And we have a few kids that are very hangry, so we always have snacks on hand!” she said.

She is also extra careful and prepared for snow outings because they have asthma in the family.

Strong also reminded people to wear sunscreen.

“Because the sun will actually reflect off of the snow, and so you get kind of a double whammy,” she said.

Hodges said bundling her kids in layers is also key to a successful snow day.

“I found that if they’re warm, they’ll be out there longer and they’ll be more happy,” she said.

Eleven-year-old Kyra said they wear thermals, wool socks and always use hand and foot warmers to stay extra warm.

For more information on finding the right helmet, visit for a fitting guide.

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KSL Investigates: A Warning About Unlicensed, Illegal Contractors

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — More than two months after Kyle Bowen began the process of remodeling a home on his newly-purchased property, he said the job quickly became a larger, unexpected repair job.

Bowen said after he closed on his new home on Sept. 18, he wanted to install some new flooring and have some painting done since some of the finishes that he felt were a bit outdated.

“I was looking around online, and I found this guy via Facebook. And anyway, he came over and gave me a bid and he was a little on the low end, but in line with some of the other people,” Bowen said. “He seemed honest, and he was prompt and responsive, so I hired him.”

The man who reached out to Bowen on Facebook was Clayton Austin Sweat, 26, of ATD Flooring and Construction. Bowen signed a contract with Sweat and his company on Sept. 20.

Bowen said he paid Sweat $14,000 and work started. Five days later, Bowen wrote another check to Sweat for $10,000.

Although the work had begun, Bowen said it was sporadic.

Soon, he noticed mismatched brick on the façade of the home, tire ruts through his lawn and carpet paid for — but nowhere to be found.

“Every day I came home and there didn’t seem to be really much done. One day I came home and about half of the basement flooring was finished, but that was probably the most progress I ever saw on a given day. And it continued that way,” Bowen said. “Then we started to get a little suspicious why work wasn’t happening as fast as we thought it might.”

That’s when Bowen started looking up Sweat online and said he found several surprises – including a handful of mugshots.

It turned out that Sweat was not a licensed contractor.

“When you see a contract that says here’s my contractor number, here’s my insurance policy number and at the bottom you see contractor signature, to me, that would say he’s a bona fide contractor, when in fact, he was not,” Bowen said.

The license number on that contract turned out to be the number for Sweat’s business license.

“He gave me a contract,” Bowen said. “But the number that he provided on the contract was not a contractor number even though he represented himself as one.”

In fact, the KSL Investigators discovered the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, or DOPL, had cited Sweat four times for contracting without a license and has charged him $3,800 in total fines. Fines Sweat had not paid.

“It is against the law to even advertise that you can perform construction without a contractor’s license,” said DOPL Director Mark Steinagel.

Steinagel spoke in general terms about citations the division puts in place against unlicensed contractors.

“It’s a progressive fine amount. So, the first one is $500, the second one is $1,000, and we usually don’t even go to a third one because by then we’re talking about criminal prosecution,” he said.

Sweat was referred for criminal charges across the Wasatch Front by DOPL.

DOPL referred Sweat for criminal charges in multiple cities in Utah. Those included contracting without a license, a felony charge of theft by deception and at one point, Sweat spent time in jail for violating probation on a theft charge.

Mug shot from Sept. 11, 2013. (Utah County Jail)

KSL TV obtained five mugshots for Sweat in Utah County related to that single theft charge, to which he pleaded guilty in 2013. The first mugshot corresponds to his initial booking on the charge. Four additional mugshots were taken for probation violations on that charge.

Sweat was booked into the Weber County Jail in August 2018 after a warrant was issued relating to his engaging in the construction trade without a license charge, a class B misdemeanor.

Mug shot from 2018. (Weber County Jail)

He pleaded guilty in November 2018.

Multiple small claims cases have also been filed against Sweat.

The KSL Investigators reached out to Sweat on multiple occasions seeking an on-camera interview for our story. He ultimately never made himself available, but on the phone said that while he has a history of “bad business decisions,” he never intended to take money and not do work.

Referring to Bowen’s case specifically, Sweat said he quit after conflicts with Bowen. Sweat said he’s refunded Bowen $7,500 so far and is doing what he can to refund the rest.

When asked why he didn’t obtain a contractor license, Sweat told the KSL Investigators it was a financial burden to do so, saying it is expensive.

KSL TV also verified that Sweat’s insurance policy had lapsed for non-payment.

Bowen has taken legal action and filed a small claims suit against Sweat. Bowen said he hopes others will learn from his mistakes and do their homework first.

“Unfortunately, it’s been a little bit of an expensive lesson,” he said. “I think it ultimately was probably my fault because I didn’t do as much due diligence as I should have.”

“We are in a system where both the government can do some things to help you and also, you as a consumer need to do some things to help you,” Steinagel added.

DOPL: Consumers Tips on Choosing a Licensed Contractor

According to the Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, internet bulletin boards and online classified advertisements may allow for businesses to be deceptive and DOPL officials said consumers should be aware of that.

Steinagel said the main concept is for consumers to “own their project,” in terms of making sure they hire a qualified service provider, plan their project appropriately, seek out multiple estimates and make certain those they hire are licensed to receive the protections licensing provides to the public.

Steinagel also advised consumers to monitor the work as it progresses and make sure it is in line with the signed contract.

DOPL officials suggested consumers take these steps when seeking a bid for contracting work:

  • Verify the contractor or business is actively licensed with the state of Utah
  • Always hire a licensed contractor so you can file a complaint if something goes wrong in the business transaction
  • Request three written estimates to compare
  • Check at least three references with former customers
  • Check with materials suppliers on which contractors/companies they would recommend
  • Require a written contract to protect yourself and your property against liens
  • Don’t make a large down payment; pay as work is completed
  • Monitor the job in progress
  • Don’t make the final payment until the job is completed per the terms of your contract
  • Keep copies of all paperwork related to your job

“Good contractors are going to be willing to work with you through that and those who are unable to start a project without demanding a large down payment would make me worried about their financial capability to complete the project,” Steinagel said. “The good contractors are going to be happy, happy to help you protect yourself. The ones who get very upset at you wanting to do these things, well, there’s an extra warning flag for you.”

Each year, DOPL officials complete a construction fraud sting to protect the public and penalize unlicensed contractors across Utah.

This summer’s effort was part of a national sting that resulted in 96 administrative citations and $543,000 in state fines. The three-week investigation targeted unlicensed contractors advertising online and across various social media platforms. The sting was focused on online advertising to tackle fraudulent transactions on the web, which has become increasingly common.

“The primary goal of the sting was to help the public know that we are looking out for them and to help those who want to be in the industry know that you need to come in in the legal, lawful way, and we will help you get there,” Steinagel said. “There will always be fraudsters. I don’t think we could ever create an environment where it’s so regulated that people can’t hurt the public. That’s why we exist.”

To file a complaint, verify the license of a professional or check on whether a licensee has faced disciplinary action, consumers can visit the DOPL website for more information.

More consumer information is also available on the Utah Division of Consumer Protection’s website.

For more information from the National Association of Contracting Licensing Agencies, click here.

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A Building Problem: Home Inspectors Aren’t Licensed in Utah

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Back to School

LAYTON, Utah – Hundreds of Utah kids in Davis County went on a shopping spree Friday at the Kohl’s in Layton

The event was made possible thanks to the Davis Education Foundation, community donations, Kohl’s and countless volunteers.

The children were excited to shop for new clothes, choosing what they loved and trying things on. The spree also helped boost the kids’ confidence and help with the first-day jitters.

That good feeling gave Danichia Adekai a reason to twirl in her brand-new shirt.

“It makes me happy and proud,” she said.

Students K-6 in the Davis County School District start school Aug. 20. Each student received a gift card from Kohl’s in Layton, purchased by the Davis Education Foundation using numerous donations from around the community. The students also received a 20% discount, so they could get more bang for their buck on much needed items like shoes, shirts, pants and other basics.

Each student was paired with adult volunteers to take them shopping, and it’s been an experience Danichia said she will never forget.

“This is my first year, and I had the luck of the draw ,” said Davis School District volunteer Julie Tanner. “I got Denicia, and she is extremely an bright, happy helpful child. She’s been helping me add up the math.”

After finishing up their shopping, the kids then chose a backpack filled with some much-needed supplies to start their school year off fully prepared.

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Opponent Of Nation’s Public Lands Is Picked To Oversee Them

WASHINGTON (AP) — An ardent critic of the federal government who has argued for selling off almost all public lands has been named the Trump administration’s top steward over nearly a quarter-billion federally controlled acres, raising new questions about the administration’s intentions for vast Western ranges and other lands roamed by hunters, hikers and wildlife.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday signed an order making Wyoming native William Perry Pendley acting head of the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau’s holdings are sweeping, with nearly one out of every 10 acres nationally, and 30% of minerals, under its dominion, mostly across the U.S. West.

Pendley, a former midlevel Interior appointee in the Reagan administration, for decades has championed ranchers and others in standoffs with the federal government over grazing and other uses of public lands. He has written books accusing federal authorities and environmental advocates of “tyranny” and “waging war on the West.” He argued in a 2016 National Review article that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.”

In tweets this summer, Pendley welcomed Trump administration moves to open more federal land to mining and oil and gas development and other private business use, and he has called the oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, “an energy, economic, AND environmental miracle!”

Conservation groups called the Pendley appointment an alarming choice, while Western ranchers called it a welcome move that shows the Trump administration is serious about opening public lands to all uses, including mining and ranching.

The Trump administration already has moved to weaken some protections for public lands. It downsized two national monuments in Utah to scale back protections on sacred tribal lands and signed a land exchange deal to build a road through a national wildlife refuge home to migrating waterfowl near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula.

And in what it called a money saving move, the administration moved BLM headquarters from Washington to Colorado and dispersed staff among Western states. Environmentalists feared that this was a first step in dismantling the agency.

After appointing Pendley as the bureau’s policy chief in mid-July, the Interior Department confirmed late Monday it had newly elevated him to acting director.

Pendley’s “ascending to the top of BLM just as it is being reorganized strongly suggests the administration is positioning itself to liquidate our shared public lands,” said Phil Hanceford, conservation director for the Wilderness Society.

Western Values Project executive director Chris Saeger said in a statement that the appointment could lead public lands to being handed over to the Trump administration’s “special interest allies.”

Interior spokeswoman Molly Block disputed that, saying in an email, “This administration has been clear that we are not interested in transferring public lands.”

Block said agency management plans are developed to allow for a range of uses including energy development, cattle grazing, recreation and timber harvest while protecting scientific, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archaeological values.

An analysis of six new BLM proposed management plans by the Pew Charitable Trust, which calls itself a nonpartisan research center, for parts of six Western states found they significantly reduce protections that have been in place for decades and open up new land for mining and oil and gas. They include Alaskan lands known as nesting habitat for peregrine falcons and Montana rivers homes to the westslope cutthroat trout.

The plans would peel back the label of “critical environmental concern” for nearly all of the 3,125 square miles (8,100 square kilometers) of lands that currently hold that distinction, said Ken Rait, the project director for U.S. public lands and rivers conservation at Pew Charitable Trusts.

He called it “a total reversal for how the agency has operated in the past.”

In a letter to the agency, Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources said the management plan for public lands in the southwest corner of the state don’t do enough to protect the Gunnison sage grouse , which is a threatened species, or migrating wildlife.

But Utah cattle rancher and county commissioner Leland Pollock said the Pendley appointment is the latest indication that the Trump administration is returning BLM to its original mission of ensuring that public lands are open to multiple uses. That includes mining, ranching, cattle grazing, ATV riding, hunting mountain biking and hiking, he said.

He said the administration has made clear to him and others who had pushed for state control of federal lands that it has no intention of going that route. The 55-year-old is a commissioner in Garfield County in southern Utah, which has 93% federally owned lands.

“He’s going to manage this thing just simply the way it was supposed to be managed,” Pollock said about Pendley.

Utah was among several Western states that explored suing to compel the federal government to hand over control of federal lands, arguing the state would manage them better. The state hired an outside consulting firm in 2014 to prepare a lawsuit, but it has never been filed.

Idaho rancher and county commissioner Kirk Chandler still thinks states should manage the lands but knows that’s unlikely to ever happen. In the meantime, he’s just happy the Trump administration is choosing leaders who will listen to his concerns. He wants to see more logging and forest thinning to prevent fires.

“I think it will be a good thing, a real good thing,” said Chandler about Pendley.


McCombs reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writer Dan Elliott contributed to this report from Denver.

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First Responders Bracing For Higher Fire Risk On Pioneer Day

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With a heat advisory in effect Monday for the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys, as well as along the Wasatch Front, Utahns are bracing for the possibility of triple digit heat.

Meanwhile, first responders are bracing for higher fire risk – especially because fireworks are legal across the state for the first day ahead of this year’s Pioneer Day holiday.

So long as you live in a neighborhood without year-round restrictions, fireworks are legal in Utah July 22 – 25.

Although the July 24 holiday is forecasted to be hot and dry, adding fireworks into the mix any Summer day in Utah can mean firefighters transition their role into “firework responders,” inundated with calls.

Fire agencies across Utah prepare for the increase most of the month, but particularly for the July 4 and July 24 celebrations.

“Historically, by midnight, and through the night on the Fourth and the 24th, we end up to where these guys (firefighters) won’t be in-house (at the fire station) for hours. They go from one fire to the next, to the next,” Matthew McFarland, a spokesman for the Unified Fire Authority, told KSL Investigator Brittany Glas. “Between all the fire agencies in the valley, someone’s going on a firework call almost every day in July.”

The Unified Fire Authority’s response area is split up into four battalions. UFA added an extra fire apparatus in each of those battalions for the July 4 holiday, which means extra staffing and extra equipment are also necessary.

“The 24th is coming up, we’re going to sell more fireworks, and even though they’re not legal to use, we all know that our neighbors are setting them off. We hear them for the entire month. That poses a really big threat, especially if people aren’t using them wisely,” he said.

McFarland said preventable fires like those caused by fireworks put a strain on valuable resources.

“This is all by choice. This isn’t lightning strikes. These aren’t even camp fires, or anything like that. These are people choosing to recreate with fire, and it’s entertaining. I get it, but it’s a big risk when you choose to play with fireworks. So, you got to do it responsibly.”

Click the image below for an interactive map of fireworks restrictions:

McFarland also said when Utah legalized aerial fireworks in 2011, the fire risk increased dramatically.

“When you just have something on the ground, you’re way more in control of it, you’re way more aware of what it’s doing when it’s on fire. You throw aerials in, there’s a lot of unknowns. You can’t control them once they’re up and flying, and they can land anywhere. And, depending on those wind patterns, they could really cause some issues,” he said.

Data shows an increase in July fires after aerials became legal in Utah

According to data obtained by KSL Investigators through an open records request with the Utah State Fire Marshal’s Office, in the months of July alone from 2006 through 2018, there have been 1,956 total fires caused by fireworks in the state.

The data was reported as of 7/2/2019 in the National Fire Incident Reporting System. The state office says it’s important to remember not all fire departments have reported and incidents can be updated and entered into NFIRS at any time. In all reality, the numbers could be higher than reported to date.

In the years since aerial fireworks were legalized in Utah in 2011, the increasing trend of fires caused by fireworks is undeniable. July 2012 alone recorded 396 fireworks-caused fires.

The only significant decline in the data is years it rained on July 4 – in 2013, primarily, and again in 2015 when St. George in Washington County saw 0.72 inches of precipitation.

Penalizing & Deterring Fireworks Violations

In July 2018, firefighters responded to a fire caused by fireworks every day they were legal, as well as on 11 additional days they weren’t. Altogether, fire crews across Utah battled fireworks-caused fires 19 of the 31 days that month.

Despite the number of illegal fireworks-caused fires, KSL Investigators have uncovered that there’s little to nothing being done to penalize violators. We reached out to fire agencies in every major metropolitan area in the state and learned that citations really aren’t being issued — at least that was largely the case in 2018.

Of the fire departments across Utah we surveyed, those that track citations issued for fireworks violations told KSL they had issued no citations. In many cases, we were told law enforcement can play a role in that process.

“Generally, the guys in the station don’t write citations,” McFarland said. “But, we have a really close working relationship with the police in all of our communities, and they’re more than happy to come out there. If we recommend it, they will absolutely write that citation and we do that fairly regularly.”

He added, “If they’re unaware, we’re going to be nice about it. We’re not out to be jerks. We know people want to have fun during the holidays. But, if there’s irresponsible behavior going on, and they’re not willing to fix it, then we’ll happily get police out there and they support us in that.”

Unified Fire says it does have firefighters who are sworn police officers, as well.

July 4, 2019: KSL Investigators ride along with Unified Fire Authority

A view from the east bench shows the number of Utahns igniting the sky in their neighborhoods this Independence Day holiday, before the professional shows even got started. On the same night, the Unified Fire Authority was called out to 21 fire-related incidents with 32 of their units.

Thanks to some rain and cooler temperatures this July fourth, the holiday was relatively quiet – the exception to the trend. Firefighters across the valley doused a number of dumpster fires including one in Midvale and another in West Jordan. Both may have been started by fireworks that weren’t properly disposed.

Things could have been so much worse and they have been in the past.

It’s been more than two years since the Buckley family, of Orem, lost much of their home due to a fireworks-caused fire.

“There were a lot of fireworks going off in our neighborhood. A lot of aerials being lit that night,” Becky Buckley, said.

Jay Buckley, her husband, added, “It’s like we were in the center of a war zone.”

Around 11 p.m. on July 1, 2017, Jay Buckley was sitting in bed, reading. His wife was asleep next to him. One of his children was asleep in their room, too. The other was still out with friends.

“I smelled some very strong smoke. I asked my wife if all of the windows were shut. She said they were, so I went to investigate. I went outside, climbed up on my swing, saw the flames shooting off my roof, came in and called 911,” Jay recalled. “Then I got my wife and child, and we went outside and watched our house burn down.”

“I was just really in shock watching it,” Becky added. “It was just a panic and a shock and disbelief, and grateful that, of course, we were safe.”

That night was also the first legal day Utahns could light fireworks that year. One of the Buckley’s neighbors did just that. Turns out, a bottle rocket firework landed on their roof.

“The fire trucks came pretty quickly, but they were coming from another brush fire and so they were out of water. It took them a little while to get hooked up to a hydrant and get everything situated, and by that time, the fire had punched through the roof. Once it’s inside the rafters, [the fire] spreads quickly all the way around,” Jay explained. “By the time an hour or two had elapsed, it looked like a bomb had gone off in the house. Everything was black, charred, smoky.”

Although it took seven months, $30,000 out of pocket and a $300,000 insurance claim to rebuild their house, the Buckley family did.

“It was a big claim for just a few minutes of carelessness,” Jay said.

“It’s our home. It’s our neighborhood. It’s our people. It’s where we belong,” Becky added. “You just keep moving forward, one day at a time.”

The Buckley family believes there’s something to be said about rebuilding after tragedy. And, instead of focusing on what they almost lost, the family is looking to those who saved what they could – the firefighters.

“They risk their lives every day, which is a real service. But we shouldn’t take advantage of that by putting them in harm’s way,” Jay said.

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For Harris, Memories of a Warrior Mother Guide Her Campaign

NEW YORK (AP) — Speaking from the Senate floor for the first time, Kamala Harris expressed gratitude for a woman on whose shoulders she said she stood. In her autobiography, Harris interspersed the well-worn details of her resume with an extended ode to the one she calls “the reason for everything.” And taking the stage to announce her presidential candidacy, she framed it as a race grounded in the compassion and values of the person she credits for her fighting spirit.

Though a decade has passed since Shyamala Gopalan died, she remains a force in her daughter’s life and her White House bid. Again and again in the campaign, those who gather around the California senator are hearing mention of the diminutive Indian immigrant the candidate calls her single greatest influence.

“She’s always told the same story,” says friend Mimi Silbert. “Kamala had one important role model, and it was her mother.”

Her mother gave her an early grounding in the civil rights movement and injected in her a duty not to complain but rather to act. And that no-nonsense demeanor on display in Senate hearings over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation,

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and more? Onlookers can credit, or blame, Gopalan, a crusader who raised her daughter in the same mold.

Appearing in New York recently, Harris said there were two reasons she was running for president. The first, she said, was a sense of duty to restore truth in justice in the country at an inflection point in history. The second: a mother who responded to gripes with a challenge.

“She’d say, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?'” Harris told the crowd. “So I decided to run for president of the United States.”

Harris’ parents met as doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley at the dawn of the 1960s. Her father, a Jamaican named Donald Harris, came to study economics. Her mother studied nutrition and endocrinology.

For two freethinking young people drawn to activism, they landed on campus from opposite sides of the world just as protests exploded around civil rights, the Vietnam War and voting rights. Their paths crossed in those movements, and they fell in love.

At the heart of their activism was a small group of students who met every Sunday to discuss the books of black authors and grassroots activity around the world, from the anti-apartheid Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa to liberation movements in Latin America to the black separatist preaching of Malcolm X in the U.S.

A member of the group, Aubrey Labrie, says the weekly gathering was one in which figures such as Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro were admired, and would later provide some inspiration to the founders of the Black Panther Party. Gopalan was the only one in the group who wasn’t black, but she immersed herself in the issues, Labrie says. She and Harris wowed him with their intellect.

“I was in awe of the knowledge that they seemed to demonstrate,” said Labrie, who grew so close to the family that the senator calls him “Uncle Aubrey.”

The couple married, and Gopalan Harris gave birth to Kamala and then Maya two years later. Even with young children, the duo continued their advocacy.

As a little girl, Harris says she remembers an energetic sea of moving legs and the cacophony of chants as her parents made their way to marches. She writes of her parents being sprayed with police hoses, confronted by Hells Angels and once, with the future senator in a stroller, forced to run to safety when violence broke out.

Sharon McGaffie, a family friend whose mother, Regina Shelton, was a caregiver for the girls, remembers Gopalan Harris speaking to her daughters as if they were adults and exposing them to worlds often walled off to children, whether a civil rights march or a visit to mom’s laboratory or a seminar where the mother was delivering a speech.

“She would take the girls and they would pull out their little backpacks and they would be in that environment,” says McGaffie.

A few years into the marriage, Harris’ parents divorced. The senator gives the pain of the parting only a few words in her biography. Those who are close to her describe her childhood as happy, the smells of her mother’s cooking filling the kitchen and the sound of constant chatter and laughter buffeting the air.

The mother’s influence on her girls grew even greater, and friends of Harris say they see it reflected throughout her life.

As a kindergartner, Stacey Johnson-Batiste remembers Harris coming to her aid when a classroom bully grabbed her craft project and threw it to the floor, which brought retaliation from the boy. He hit the future politician in the head with something that caused enough bleeding to necessitate a hospital visit, cementing for Johnson-Batiste a lifelong friendship with Harris and a view of her as a woman who embodies the ethics of her mother.

“Even back then,” Johnson-Batiste says, “she has always stood up for what she thought was right.”

As a teenager, after her mother got a job that prompted a family move to Montreal, Harris began seeing how she could achieve change in ways small and large. Outside her family’s apartment, she and her sister protested a prohibition against soccer on the building’s lawn, which Harris says resulted in the rule being overturned. As high school wound down, she homed in on a career goal of being a lawyer.

Sophie Maxwell, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, says Harris wasn’t choosing to eschew activism but rather to incorporate it into a life in law: “Those two things go hand in hand.”

In college, at the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., Shelley Young Thompkins recalls a classmate who was certain of what she wanted to do in life, who was serious about her studies and who put off the fun of joining a sorority until her final year even as she made time for sit-ins and protests. Thompkins and Harris both won student council posts.

In her new friend, Young Thompkins saw a young woman intent on not squandering all that her mother had worked to give her.

“We were these two freshmen girls who want to save the world,” she says.

From there, Harris’ story is much better known: a return to California for law school; a failed first attempt at the bar; jobs in prosecutor’s offices in Oakland and San Francisco; a brazen and successful run at unseating her former boss as district attorney; election as state attorney general and U.S. senator; and her run for president.

Each step of the way, friends point to the influence of Gopalan Harris as a constant.

Andrea Dew Steele remembers it being apparent from the moment they sat down to craft the very first flyer for Harris’ first campaign for public office.

“She always talked about her mother,” Dew Steele says. “When she was alive she was a force, and since she’s passed away she’s still a force.”

Dew Steele remembers when she finally met Gopalan Harris at a campaign event. It immediately struck her: “Oh, this is where Kamala gets it from.”

As much as mother and daughter shared, Gopalan Harris believed the world would see them differently. Those who knew her say she was dismayed by racial inequality in the U.S. Understanding her girls would be seen as black despite their mixed heritage, she surrounded them with black role models and immersed them in black culture. They sang in the children’s choir at a black church and regularly visited Rainbow Sign, a former Berkeley funeral home that was transformed into a vibrant black cultural center.

Though the senator talks of attending anti-apartheid protests in college and frames her life story as being in the same mold as her mother, she opted to pursue change by seeking a seat at the table.

“I knew part of making change was what I’d seen all my life, surrounded by adults shouting and marching and demanding justice from the outside. But I also knew there was an important role on the inside,” she wrote in “The Truths We Hold.”

To launch her political career, Harris had to unseat a man of her mother’s generation — a liberal prosecutor who was the product of a left-wing family, who was active in the civil rights movement and who became a hero to other activists whom he defended in court. To win, Harris ran as a tougher-on-crime alternative.

Once in office, bound by the parameters of the law and the realities of politics, Harris’ choices stirred some to dismiss her claims of progressivism even as many others fiercely defend her. She frames her philosophy in the example of her mother — concentrating on overarching goals through smaller daily steps.

“She wasn’t fixated on that distant dream. She focused on the work right in front of her,” the senator wrote.
Gopalan Harris defied generations of tradition by not returning to southern India after getting her doctorate, tossing aside expectations of an arranged marriage. Her daughter portrays her mother’s spirit of activism as being in her blood. Gopalan

Harris’ mother took in victims of domestic abuse and educated women about contraception. Her father was active in India’s independence movement and became a diplomat. The couple spent time living in Zambia after the end of British rule there, working to settle refugees.

Joe Gray, who was Gopalan Harris’ boss after she returned from Canada to the Bay Area to work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, struggles to describe how a 5-foot-1-inch woman managed to fill a room with her commanding presence.

Gray, now a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, didn’t see Gopalan Harris as a “crusader in the workplace” but says she insisted on racial and gender equity, would make known her disapproval to an insensitive comment and was assertive in defending her work in cancer research.

Even from a distance, he’s struck by how much Harris reminds him of her.

“I just get the TV persona, but a lot of Shyamala’s directness and sense of social justice, those seem to come through,” he says. “I sense the same spirit.”

Lateefah Simon sensed it, too. She was a high school dropout-turned-MacArthur fellow Harris hired to join the San Francisco DA’s office to head a program for first-time offenders. Simon was skeptical of taking a role in a criminal justice system she saw as broken and biased, but Harris impressed her, and soon she had a glimpse of her mother as well.

At campaign events, Simon would watch Gopalan Harris, always in the front row, always beaming with pride. She saw how both mother and daughter were meticulous about tiny details, how they were hard workers but maintained a sense of joy in the labors, how their laugh would echo in the room.

One time, Simon says Gopalan Harris sent her away from a fundraiser because she was wearing tennis shoes, gently reminding her, “We always show up excellent.”

Years later, she heard echoes of the same message when Harris took a break from her Senate race to support her run for a seat on the Bay Area Rapid Transit District board. Descending from her campaign bus, Harris was quick with some words of advice for her friend: “Girl, clean your glasses.”

“It’s her saying, ‘I believe in you and I want people to see what I see in you,'” Simon says. Remembering her brush with the senator’s mother, Simon says: “If I got that from Shyamala just in that one moment, can you imagine the many jewels Kamala got from her growing up?”

It’s an influence that far outweighed that of Harris’ father. He and her mother separated when she was 5 before ultimately divorcing. She writes of seeing him on weekends and over summers after he became a professor at Stanford University.

In a piece he wrote for the Jamaica Global website, Harris says he never gave up his love for his daughters, and the senator trumpeted her father as a superhero in her children’s book. But the iciness of their relationship was on display in February when she jokingly linked her use of marijuana to her Jamaican heritage. Her father labeled the comment a “travesty” and a shameful soiling of the family reputation “in the pursuit of identity politics.”

The senator is curt in responding to questions about him, saying they have “off and on” contact and that she doesn’t know if he’ll have a role in her campaign. Labrie says though the father attended his daughter’s Senate swearing-in, he wasn’t at her campaign kickoff. He thinks the marijuana hubbub worsened their relationship. “I think that was the straw that really broke the camel’s back,” he says.

The singularity of her mother’s role in her life made her death even harder for Harris. Gopalan Harris relished roles in her daughter’s early campaigns but was gone before seeing her advance beyond a local office. The senator says she still thinks of her constantly.

“It can still get me choked up,” she said in an interview. “It doesn’t matter how many years have passed.”

The senator still uses pots and wooden spoons of her mother and thinks of her when she is back home and able to cook. Her mother’s amethyst ring sparkles from her hand. She finds herself asking her mother for advice or remembering one of her oft-repeated lines.

She pictures the pride her mother wore as she stood beside her when she was sworn in as district attorney. She remembers worrying about staying composed as she uttered her mother’s name in her inaugural address as attorney general. She thinks of her mother asking a hospice nurse if her daughters would be OK as cancer drew her final day closer.

“There is no title or honor on earth I’ll treasure more than to say I am Shyamala Gopalan Harris’ daughter,” she wrote. “That is the truth I hold dearest of all.”
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KSL Investigates Doggy Daycares, Lack Of Regulations Following Brutal Attack

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – You pay them to watch your pets, but if something goes wrong, who’s watching them? After a tragic incident at a doggy daycare last year, the KSL Investigators decided to ask that question and find out what pet owners can do to choose the right facility for their four-legged family member.

For former University of Utah Coach Ron McBride, life is all about football and family. If you ask him, Christa was definitely part of his.

“Dogs are really like people,” said McBride. “Anybody that has animals knows how important they are to your family.”

Christa was a 10-year-old German Shepherd who McBride said was well-trained and well-loved. He said she didn’t have a mean bone in her body, and she proved it up until the moment she was killed.

In May 2018, the McBride family took Christa and two other family dogs to the Unleashed Dog Hotel in Murray.

According to a lawsuit, Christa was let in to a play area with other dogs. When the dogs were taken back in, the lawsuit states employees did not account for Christa, who had fallen asleep.

Two other dogs were then let into the play area whose owner warned, “would seriously harm another dog.”

Surveillance video showed the brutal attack.

“If you look at the video, the video is so ugly,” said McBride. “I mean, a dog just got murdered. Period. Executed, I would say. So it was just tragic.”

The lawsuit stated, “both dogs attacked Christa simultaneously.”

The attack in the video went on for 15 minutes before she died. Although there were surveillance cameras, McBride said the video showed no one at the facility came to Christa’s rescue.

The lawsuit stated, “no one stayed with the dogs to supervise,” and, “no one monitored the cameras.”

“I’d like to see these people who own this place. They need to step up to the plate and be responsible for their actions,” said McBride.

The lawsuit stated the dogs were left unmonitored for 35 minutes.

After the attack, the Unleashed Dog Hotel expressed their apologies and sent KSL a statement saying:

“While the circumstances leading up to the incident were unforeseeable and unexpected, we are responsible for an irreparable loss.”

They also said they have taken measure to ensure that would never happen again.

“You can see that pain that (Christa) went through,” said McBride. “It’s something you never forget.”

Based on this case, the KSL Investigators started looking into how boarding facilities are regulated in the State of Utah.

“Is there any type of regulation when it comes to facilities like this?” asked Mike Headrick.

“There is no regulation,” said Pam Nichols, a veterinarian and the owner of three doggy daycare centers called Utah Dog Park.

She said her businesses are all accredited, which means the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) inspects them and they have to meet 970 different standards.

The accreditation has cost Nichols thousands of dollars a year.

“Nationwide they say 14 or 15 percent (of dog boarding facilities) choose to become accredited,” said Nichols. “It’s totally voluntary. It’s kind of expensive and it’s really hard.”

The KSL Investigators discovered that because there’s no real regulation, there are no real rules, like whether or not boarding facilities should have cameras and whether or not dogs should be monitored at all times.

While Nichols said her employees were always watching, it’s not legally required by any city or county in Utah.

Boarding facilities in Salt Lake County are inspected by Salt Lake County Animal Services, but only once per year, and the qualities inspectors are looking for are primarily physical.

“A lot of times, what we’re looking for is just proper storage of food, proper storage of cleaning supplies, cleanliness, just basic sorts of things that we’re looking at,” said Callista Pearson with SLCO Animal Services.

There’s also no way for pet owners to check official complaints against boarding facilities. That means choosing a good boarding facility requires some legwork.

“To really look at a place, go to it. Take your dog,” said Nichols. “If you’re going to take your pet to a daycare or boarding facility or a grooming facility, go in and meet the people and see if they’re happy, because if they’re not happy they won’t treat your dog well.”

Nichols also said cameras are critical so you can check in on your pet. She said reading online reviews and getting recommendations is also important. Lastly, she recommends following your nose.

“Does it smell good? Does it look clean? Do you see crud in the corners? Do you see hair and urine in the corners?” Nichols asked. “The reason places smell is because they’re dirty.”

Good advice when looking for the right place for your pet, but as the McBrides learned, even doing your homework can’t prevent every tragedy.

“It’s not acceptable what happened to Christa,” said McBride. “And it’s not forgivable either.”

The McBride family filed suit against the Unleashed Dog Hotel claiming the business was guilty of gross negligence, breach of contract and intentional misrepresentation.

KSL reached out to the Unleashed Dog Hotel for comment on this story but did not hear back.

The McBrides would also like to see the law changed to acknowledge that dogs are not just property.

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Utah Man Turns Bad Situation Into Giving Opportunity

UINTAH, Weber County – Owning a business comes with all sorts of expenses. So imagine something vital to your business getting stolen? That’s what happened to one Weber County man, and he’s choosing to take the bad and turn it into something good.

When you’re a small business owner every cent counts and every drop of gas matters.

“I just want people to be happy,” said Jarad Winterton.

Winterton considers himself a businessman, but also prides himself on spreading good.

“I have a lot of vanity license plates,” Winterton said. “I have one that says sunshine.”

The real estate agent offers up box trucks free of charge to clients moving into new homes. His smiling face adorns the back of each one along with his slogan of “J Winty Fresh n’ Minty.”

“I call it my ‘halfie’ because it’s like a half selfie,” he said and laughed as he pointed to one of the trucks.

However, someone recently targeted his fleet of trucks parked off Highway 89 in Uintah.

“I put the gas pump in and it started leaking out everywhere,” he said.

In all, there were two cut gas lines, nearly 100 gallons of gas siphoned out. The repairs and loss of gas cost him about 650 dollars.

“I got the bill, and I thought I can use this for good or I can use this for bad,” he said. “I want to have something good come out of this.”

Winterton decided to purchase more than 600 dollars in gas cards. He then went to social media to offer them up.

“(On my Facebook) post I wrote that you have to love the post and then share something (in the comments) that makes you happy,” he said.

Winterton’s idea of spreading good worked.

“It just kept going, and I was like, ‘this is awesome’ and then I started crying,” he said. “The people really get it and understand.”

Winterton then personally delivered the gas cards to homes.

“It makes them happy and it makes me happy,” he said.

So, even when he’s been wronged, the guy who looks on the bright side keeps up his minty fresh disposition.

“It’s a different way of looking at it,” he said. “It’s a more enjoyable way of looking at it. That’s how I feel.”

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