Local News

Hard news covering local government: Park City, Summit County and Wasatch County - city and county councils, planning boards, water entities and issues specific the Wasatch Back.

Park City Chamber/Bureau

The community group Future Park City hosted a city council candidate forum this week ahead of the August 10th primary.

 

There are eight candidates vying for two city council seats in Park City this year. That field will be reduced to four after a primary on August 10th. With so many names -- some well-known in the community, and others new -- Tuesday’s community candidate forum was a chance for the hopefuls to introduce themselves to the public in their own words.

 

Image of the entrance into Park City High School
Park City High School

Masks will not be required in schools when classes begin later this month as Utah schools and the state board of education are banned from requiring them for in-person learning or gathering on school campuses under state law passed in May.

 

Local schools still plan to contact trace and test to stay, if necessary. 

 

Lana Wilson

COVID-19 hit Park City early in 2020 – right as 100,000 visitors were flying home from the Sundance Film Festival to points around the globe. In the weeks after the festival, Park City briefly had the highest per capita rate of COVID cases in the country.

Festival organizers are planning for a healthier outcome next time around. Festival Director Tabitha Jackson announced this week that vaccines will be required for everyone attending the 2022 festival in any capacity.

The next festival runs January 20-30, 2022.

KPCW News

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) on Tuesday released recommendations for K-12 schools amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Utah Department of Health recommends local health departments and schools use what it calls a layered prevention approach, including encouraging vaccination and mask-wearing.

According to Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director of the state health department, doing so can help minimize the disruptions of COVID-19 on schools while maximizing opportunities for children to participate in in-person learning and extracurricular activities.

James Hoyt

The Summit County council meets Wednesday afternoon into the evening for a lengthy session tackling the Highland Flats housing development and a proposed ordinance to regulate private campgrounds.

Review of the proposed Highland Flats housing development is part of the council’s work session, which begins at 2:30.  Action items start at 4:30 p.m. and then the public hearing portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m.

Crowds at popular outdoor spots around Summit and Wasatch counties have grown dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, and the increased use is putting stress on the land and parking lots.

 

  

In the past year and a half, the outdoors has become unprecedentedly popular.

“During COVID, we saw statewide a 300% increase in recreational use,” said Wendy Fisher, Utah Open Lands executive director.

Her land trust works to preserve natural areas, including the Bonanza Flat Conservation Area.

Ellie Fischer

The Arts Festival runs this weekend from August 6th to 8th, and while it will be a little smaller than previous years - and no beer garden - organizers said it's got plenty to offer.

 

Kimball Art Center Executive Director Aldy Miliken and Events Manager Hilary Gilson shared details with KPCW about COVID-19 protocols, registration requirements.

 

As a COVID-19 precaution, they’ve reduced invited artists by 10%, reduced the number of food and drink vendors, and eliminated the beer garden at Miners Park.

Wikimedia Commons

As COVID-19 continues its surge in Utah this week with over 82% of statewide ICU beds in use, hospital workers are expressing frustration with low vaccination rates among the people getting sick.

 

The Utah Department of Health announced 728 new statewide COVID-19 infections Tuesday, bringing the state’s rolling seven-day average of new cases to 877 per day, its highest rate since February 15th.

 

Tom Chappell

Severe weather hit Summit County Sunday, taking out irrigation pumps, depositing debris in yards and filling garages with mud. 

Tom Chappell has lived in Wanship – along Hoytsville Road - for more than four decades. He says Sunday’s storm was the worst he’s ever seen. In just a few minutes, he says water rushing down from Bedford Canyon flooded the neighborhood.

Heber City Police Department Facebook

Heber City police chief Dave Booth is back on the job after city officials determined than an internal complaint against him was unsubstantiated. 

According to a statement from Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter,  the claim against Booth couldn’t be substantiated and was found to be “baseless and without merit.”

Earlier this month, Heber City initiated an independent review by the Utah Department of Public Safety and Wasatch County Sheriff Office regarding the complaint against Chief Booth

Michelle Deininger

KPCW’s report about Elk Meadows, an affordable housing complex near Ecker Hill Middle School that's owned by a multi-billion-dollar company in Seattle,  sparked questions about how conditions could be so unlivable there. As previously reported, it's been operating without a business license due to health, safety and fire code violations. 

Angela McGuire, assistant director of People’s Legal Aid of Utah, joined health officials inspecting Elk Meadows last year. She called it traumatizing.

Utah DPS

A man died in a car accident Sunday afternoon just south of Heber City.

The accident on Highway 189 involved three cars, killing one person and leaving five others with non-life-threatening injuries.

Law enforcement officials said they had not yet identified the man’s name but believed him to have been around 40 years old.

All five of those injured were hospitalized.

AP News

A federal appeals court has dealt a setback to a Utah death row inmate who saw his conviction overturned with a string of violence at a remote cabin located in Summit County. 

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that even if Von Lester Taylor did not fire the fatal shots in a 1990 triple shooting and kidnapping case, he cannot be considered innocent because Utah law makes accomplices as guilty as perpetrators.

Last March, a federal judge overturned the death sentence given to Taylor after he was convicted for murders that occurred 30 years ago.

Heber City

Heber City held a town hall last Thursday to address questions about local water use.

To begin the town hall on Tuesday, Heber City planner Tony Kohler said Wasatch County is in the extreme drought status. He also presented a map that showed the county is one of the two highest in the state for water use per capita. Members of the panel said one reason for the high water use per capita is the amount of farming irrigation there.

His presentation led to discussions about how water allocation works in the area, reasons to conserve and concerns about drought in the future.

Image of the entrance into Park City High School
Park City High School

Schools will welcome back students on August 19, and masks will be recommended but not required - the  Park City School District can’t require them. 

Last May, the Utah Legislature passed a bill prohibiting schools from requiring mask-wearing.

In a letter published Sunday, Superintendent Jill Gildea said students and school employees will be encouraged to wear face coverings, but not required. The same encouragement applies to all, regardless of vaccination status.

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