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Do Your Research Before Moving To Salt Lake City

If you want to move, you need to do a little bit of research. Naturally, people move so they can get a new job or simply be closer to their family. In that case, you more or less have to move where you have to move. That said, there’s no reason you can’t do a bit of research, especially if you’re moving into Salt Lake City.

Why that city in particular? Because Salt Lake City is an interesting intermingling of different cultures, all shoved together into one city. Each and every individual neighborhood is different and has a beauty all its own.

What’s more, you can’t always tell what the neighborhood is like via raw numbers. Sure, one area might have “better schools”, but that’s not necessarily judged by how many students graduate. Sometimes it’s a matter of what special electives the school offers, or what kind of outside help the school will help with.

There’s also what to do if you lose the job you moved for, or are simply looking for a job once you move. Being able to find a neighborhood that best suits your job hunting needs can be incredibly important. With such a wide variety of cultures and people all mashed together in one huge city, finding out all the details can be difficult.

So don’t just look at the raw numbers. You should take the time to talk to people who are actually from the city. That way, you can get a real and true understanding of what the city is like. You can find out not just about the price of housing in each neighborhood, but how it looks and whether the price is liable to go up or down. You can ask about great restaurants and transit. And you can find a home that works perfectly for you.

21 Jun

Summer concert series’ cost a concern for Salt Lake City Council

Deseret News Archives

Modest Mouse performs as part of the Twilight Concert Series in Pioneer Park on Thursday July 8, 2010, in Salt Lake City. The summer Twilight Concert Series is headed into its 30th year, but there’s a chance it could be its last. Neither Mayor Jackie Biskupski nor the Salt Lake City Council set aside any funding for the downtown Twilight Concert Series next year in the budget approved last week.

SALT LAKE CITY — The summer Twilight Concert Series is headed into its 30th year, but there’s a chance it could be its last.

Neither Mayor Jackie Biskupski nor the Salt Lake City Council set aside any funding for the downtown Twilight Concert Series next year in the budget approved last week.

Because the concert series happens during the following budget year, Salt Lake City usually funds about half of the concert series’ cost about a year in advance, with the expectation that the Salt Lake City Arts Council would request the rest of the funding in a budget amendment the following fiscal year.

However, after several years of cost overruns — including an emergency request for $60,000 in 2015, $150,000 last year, and a $200,000 request for ongoing money earlier this year — the City Council began questioning the concert series’ sustainability.

"The council has made it clear they’re not going to do (budget amendments) anymore," said Karen Krieger, Salt Lake City Arts Council director.

Instead, the arts council has been asked to present a plan this fall that evaluates the concert series’ overall cost compared with its economic benefits, as well as lay out a better, more predictable way to fund the concert series next year — if it continues.

Krieger said it’s "way too soon" to say whether there will, in fact, be a 31st Twilight Concert Series.

If there is, however, it’s expected to cost about $1.8 million, Krieger said.

"Our goal is to have a sustainable and successful Twilight," she said. "We’re just not sure what that’s going to look like. We’re still in the early stages of developing a plan."

That plan could include private donations so the arts council doesn’t have to go back to the City Council each year to request funding, Krieger said.

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Over the past five years, the concert series’ cost has increased due to escalating artist and production fees, Krieger noted. It’s been challenging to predict each concert series’ cost a year in advance, she said.

"The mayor’s office is deeply committed to the arts and wants to make sure there are arts opportunities for all people in the city," said Lara Fritz, Biskupski’s economic developement director.

However, Fritz said city officials want to have a better process in place so the arts council doesn’t have to ask the City Council year after year for additional funding — and to fund the concert series in the fiscal year it occurs rather than over a year in advance.

City Councilman Stan Penfold said he recognizes the value of the concert series and city-funded arts programs, but a "pattern" of escalating and unexpected costs have frustrated council members.

"One of the challenges is we’ve never had a really good counting of what people’s expectations were for Twilight," Penfold said. "It started as a small, free concert 30 years ago, and it just kept growing and growing."

Councilman Derek Kitchen said he and other council members have become concerned with the way the arts council has been funding the concert series and whether it’s been a worthwhile investment.

"We do care about Twilight. We just want to see it better, but we also want to make sure the community resources and public dollars are being managed wisely," Kitchen said.

If the concert series continues, Penfold said the council could choose from a variety of options to control costs.

"We could say we want to do it, or maybe we want to scale it down or move it to (the Gallivan Center) where it’s less expensive. There’s a whole host of options," he said. "But it’s too early to tell. That decision won’t be made until this fall."

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12 Jun

Salt Lake City Play Ball draws huge turnout

Former major leaguer John Buck and President and CEO of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner discuss the Play Ball event in Salt Lake City

For president of the Pacific Coast League Branch Rickey III, it was meeting Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese on the steps outside of a hotel in Philadelphia while his family was in town to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play.

For president and CEO of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner, it was Freddie Patek saying, "How you doin’, kid?" as the two made eye contact while walking by the Columbus Jets’ dugout on Little League Day.

These memories have stuck with Rickey and O’Conner throughout the years, and that’s exactly the reason why Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the Salt Lake Bees teamed up to host a Play Ball event at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Saturday morning.

MLB hosts Play Ball event with the Salt Lake Bees to celebrate the new MiLB partnership and youth baseball strategy in Salt Lake City

"We’re excited about the event and the initiative, in general," said senior vice president of youth programs for Major League Baseball Tony Reagins. "Being able to be here in Salt Lake City with the Bees and the support that they’ve given this initiative has been great. Not only the Bees, but the entire state of Utah, and the city, has been tremendous."

The event was a stem of the Play Ball initiative that MLB launched in 2015. This is the first year that MiLB has joined in on the efforts, and while it officially began last weekend in Oklahoma City, the turnout in Salt Lake, which included more than 500 youth participants, was a sight to behold.

"The bar has been set pretty high with the turnout here in Salt Lake with the organization," O’Conner said.

The event featured stations for the youth to participate in, including a home run derby, running the basepaths and agility drills. They also received instruction and guidance from players on the Salt Lake Bees, the University of Utah baseball team, the Weber State softball team and former professional baseball players like John Buck, a former All-Star from nearby Taylorsville High School.

The demand for the event in Salt Lake City was so high that the organizers created two sessions to accommodate everyone.

More than 500 boys and girls participated in Saturday’s Play Ball event.Asay Photography/Salt Lake Bees

"It’s important that we do this," Reagins said. "To be at communities around the country and giving kids the opportunity just to play our game, and to have an event like this where we’re doing multiple sessions because of the demand and the interest of the young people here is great. That’s what it’s all about."

The hefty participation numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as the Bees have always put in a concerted effort to host youth clinics, and it also has the largest kids club in Minor League Baseball in the Knothole Club.

Even so, the Bees have decided to ramp up their efforts. They announced before Saturday morning’s event that the organization will be developing four new programs — the Junior Bees, Salt Lake Bees Kids Club, Salt Lake Bees Baseball Academy and RBI Salt Lake — that will "further connect with the community" and continue to grow the game.

Another successful Play Ball Weekend wraps up on Sunday with various teams and players contributing to the initiative

"It’s going to be great, because each one of them does something a little different," said Bees general manager Marc Amicone. "We see one of our obligations to our community is to steward the game of baseball. We think it’s important for us to help the game grow. This is the kind of thing that helps that."

The nationwide effort to get today’s youth out and playing the sport of baseball can be hard work, but it becomes easier when the people in cities like Salt Lake City, and its surrounding areas, are willing to buy in.

"We’ll know better down the road, but it’s like planting seeds," Rickey said. "You have to go out and spend the time planting. You have to make sure all the ingredients are there for those seeds to sprout. And then later, you’re going to start seeing those little shoots to pop up. Down the road, it could be a full-fledged field of whatever you planted. We’re looking at the seeds and it’s just wonderful to see going on."

Griffin Adams is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jose Abreu collects three hits and drives in the opening run of the game, helping the White Sox to a 5-3 win against the Indians

"It is kind of cool. Just thinking about that, it’s been a long time since I got drafted by this organization," Holmberg said. "I’m happy to be here, and I’m happy to win the ballgame."

David Holmberg bends a breaking ball over the outside corner of the plate, freezing Yan Gomes for the out in the 3rd inning

Carlos Santana added a solo shot off White Sox reliever Dan Jennings in the sixth.

"We’ve never faced him," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Holmberg. "I think there’s some deception. There’s a good changeup. I think he also knows how to pitch for a younger guy. I think he has a good feel to pitch. We didn’t get much going besides the home runs. That was kind of our offense."

Carlos Santana clubs a hanging breaking ball into the left-field seats for a solo home run, making it a one-run ballgame in the 6th inning

It was an odd night for the White Sox offense, which piled up 14 hits, but also ran into five outs on the basepaths. Indians left fielder Michael Brantley delivered a pair of outfield assists, throwing out Melky Cabrera at the plate in the second and nabbing Jose Abreu trying to stretch a single into a double in the fifth. In all, Chicago ran into three outs at third, one at home and one at second.

Michael Brantley digs a ball out of the left-field corner and throws to Francisco Lindor, who fires to the plate to nab Melky Cabrera

The White Sox did not hit Tribe starter Josh Tomlin hard, but they hit the right-hander a lot, connecting for nine hits in his 2 2/3 innings. That flurry included seven singles — three straight to open Chicago’s three-run first inning. Matt Davidson (two-run single), Abreu (RBI single) and Cabrera (RBI single) each came through against Tomlin.

"It just came down to me not doing my job early on in the game," Tomlin said. "It put us in a hole. We weren’t able to dig out of it. As a group, there was a lot of fight in the dugout. There was a lot of intensity. The one person who didn’t do their job today was me."

Davidson delivers: Already up 1-0, the White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the first and looked to add on. But Todd Frazier chopped into a 5-2 fielder’s choice, providing Cleveland hope that it could escape further damage in the inning. Davidson then sent a pitch from Tomlin into left for a single that brought both Abreu and Avisail Garcia home, giving Chicago a quick 3-0 advantage.

Matt Davidson breaks his bat and lines a single into left field, driving in two runs to give the White Sox an early 3-0 lead in the 1st

Brantley’s rare error: Entering Saturday, Brantley had committed just two errors in 3,563 2/3 innings in left field, dating back to 2013. In the second, a fly ball off the bat of Leury Garcia clanked off Brantley’s glove as he closed in on the side wall down the line. Garcia made it all the way to third on the error (Brantley’s first of the year), then crossed the plate on Cabrera’s bloop single to right two batters later.

Leury Garcia flies a ball deep down the left-field line and off Michael Brantley’s glove, then he races into third on the defensive miscue

"That would’ve been a great play," Tomlin said. "I talked to him on the bench about it. He was trying to take blame for it. He was playing the guy kind of a pull-gap a little bit. He made an unbelievable play on the ball. He got there. He’s close to the wall right there, tried to make a good play right there. Good players still make mistakes." More >

Melky Cabrera flares a single into shallow right field, plating Leury Garcia to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning

"His throwing, the accuracy, the carry. I don’t know if you would term it a ‘gun,’ like you see some guys. Like Santana, that to me is a gun. But Brant is so consistent and the ball has so much good carry to it. And he’s so accurate, that very few times you see him throw the ball and an infielder gets handcuffed. He just has such a nice feel for it." — Francona, on Brantley’s outfield assists

Jose Abreu slides into second trying to extend a hit, but Jason Kipnis is able to tag him out as the two try to avoid each other at the bag

"They came to me before the game and said to be ready for multiples. I said, ‘OK, perfect.’ I came in after the first inning and they were like, ‘Can you go again?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I went out there and finished the job." –Robertson, on his first two-inning save with the White Sox

David Robertson gets Bradley Zimmer to swing at a pitch in the dirt, as Kevan Smith throws him out at first to finish off a 5-3 win

Encarnacion’s home run in the fourth had an exit velocity of 111 mph, marking his hardest-hit homer of the season. The Indians’ designated hitter had a .199 average on May 20. In 16 games since, Encarnacion has turned in a .362/.403/.672 slash line.

This marked the first time in Brantley’s career that he had two outfield assists in one game. It was the first two-assist game for an Indians outfielder since June 9, 2016 (Rajai Davis).

Holmberg earned the championship belt for his efforts on Saturday, a belt awarded to the player of the game after a White Sox victory. But it was Mike Pelfrey who got the postgame beer shower as Saturday’s contest gave him 10 years of big league service.

"That’s hard to do. You don’t see many guys get there. I’m proud of him," Robertson said. "That’s awesome."

White Sox: Jose Quintana (2-7, 5.30 ERA) makes his 13th start of the season, seventh on the road and second against Cleveland at 12:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. Quintana is 0-3 with a 6.68 ERA over his last six starts, allowing 24 runs over 32 1/3 innings.

Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (5-3, 3.36 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe in a 1:10 p.m. ET divisional clash with the White Sox on Sunday at Progressive Field. Carrasco has a 0.60 ERA (one earned run in 15 innings) in two starts against Chicago this season.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk’s Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brian McCann launches a solo home run to right field and gives the Astros a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning

"It’s a different game when you have your control and throwing everything you want where you want," Fiers said. "Throughout the game, there were a couple of at-bats where I fell behind some hitters and walked a couple guys, but for the most part, I had everything going."

Mike Fiers goes 7 1/3 innings against the Angels and gives up only two hits and one unearned run while striking out eight batters

"This is the best stuff I think he’s brought into a game this season," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was a combination of everything, but it seemed to be everything was working off his changeup. He could throw it at any count. He threw some nasty ones that looked like split-fingers. He could change pace with it and control at-bats and bat speed."

With little offense to show between the Astros (44-19) and the Angels, Brian McCann’s ninth home run this season — a solo shot in the second inning off Angels starter Ricky Nolasco — gave the Astros a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish to the Angels, who are once again below .500 at 32-33. It was the Astros’ 18th consecutive game with a homer and Nolasco’s 19th long ball surrendered this season, the most in the American League.

"He pitched a good game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Nolasco, who allowed two runs in seven innings. "Obviously his back is against the wall the whole way. He got some double-play balls to help him out of some jams, but he pitched a really strong seven innings and gave us a chance to win."

Ricky Nolasco gives up only two earned runs in seven innings and picks up two strikeouts in a start against the Astros

Houston tacked on a pair with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly via Yuli Gurriel — whose single in the seventh extended his hitting streak to 10 games — and a Carlos Correa RBI single in the eighth.

Carlos Correa singles into left field and drives in Josh Reddick to give the Astros an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th inning

McCann goes deep: With one out in the second inning, McCann ripped a solo home run to right field to put the Astros up by one. McCann’s bomb traveled 386 feet and left his bat with an exit velocity of 100 mph, according to Statcast™.

"It was a good pitch, but you’ve just got to barrel it in this park," Nolasco said. "He barreled the ball up, basically. It wasn’t a great swing, but at the end of the day, he’s strong enough to get it out of here by just barreling up the ball, and that’s what he did."

Devenski inherits danger: Chris Devenski relieved Fiers in the eighth inning with Angels on first and second. Ben Revere and Danny Espinosa, the duo on base, used a double steal before Revere scored on a groundout by Andrelton Simmons. Devenski, with one out remaining and a runner on third in a 2-1 ballgame, needed five pitches to strike out Kole Calhoun, ending the inning and keeping the Astros in front.

With the tying run on third, Chris Devenski gets Kole Calhoun to strike out swinging to end the top of the 8th inning

"It’s important for not only the rotation but for the bullpen," Hinch said. "Having to use Devenski and Giles today, obviously, is how we win."

"He throws hard and has a good changeup," Calhoun said of Devenski. "He’s got probably a 10-12 miles an hour difference. It’s a good pitch, has a good bottom to it. He threw me a couple good ones."

"I felt really good. I had a really good bullpen before the game and I just knew I was throwing my good stuff. When I feel like that, I feel like I’m one of the best pitchers in the league when I have my stuff." — Fiers

McCann’s solo home run in the second was his ninth career homer against Nolasco. No other active pitcher/batter matchup has yielded more home runs. Evan Longoria vs. Chris Tillman was tied with McCann-Nolasco prior to Saturday.

Angels: Right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-6, 4.56 ERA) will start Sunday’s series finale for the Angels at 11:10 a.m. PT at Minute Maid Park. Chavez has faced the Astros twice this season, going 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA.

Astros: Rookie right-hander David Paulino will start to close the Astros’ three-game series against the Angels at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday afternoon in Minute Maid Park. Paulino will make his third start of the season Sunday and is 0-1 in two starts this season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for based in Houston.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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3 Jun

Salt Lake City mayor criticizes Paris accord withdrawal

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The mayor of Salt Lake City says Utah’s capital city will continue to follow the guidelines of the Paris climate change accord despite Republican President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the pact.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski, a Democrat, said in a news release Thursday that warming temperatures are threatening the state’s water supply, air quality and ski industry.

She said cities "must lead where the White House refuses to."

Biskupski also signed a letter sent by a coalition of U.S. mayors called the "Climate Mayors" that criticizes President Trump’s "denial of global warming." The coalition vows to buy and create more demand for electric vehicles and cut greenhouse emissions.

"The world cannot wait – and neither will we," the mayors wrote.

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25 May

High wind warning issued for Northern Utah until 9 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — High winds will impact Northern Utah Wednesday evening.

A high wind warning has been issued for Weber, Davis and Box Elder until 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

Showers and thunderstorms moving through the area will cause wind gusts of up to 50 to 60 mph, with a few gusts approaching 75 mph.

High Wind Warning thru 900 PM for widespread microburst winds of 50-60 MPH with some gusts of 70+ for most valleys of wrn UT & far sw WY.

— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) May 24, 2017

Thunderstorm activity will begin late afternoon and persist throughout the evening, the NWS says. The storms will also have the possibility to generate strong microbursts.

During high winds, the NWS recommends securing items like lawn furniture, garbage cans and trampolines.

Strong cross winds could also cause hazardous driving conditions.

Reach digital producer Jessica Kokesh at 801-625-4229 or You can also follow her on Twitter at @JessicaKokesh or

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16 May

UT student, a sexual assault victim, touts ‘no means no’ legislation


Christina Breitbeil, a senior at the University of Texas who testified at a Senate hearing on Monday about her experience as a victim of sexual assault

It happened when Christina Breitbeil was a junior in high school. Her boyfriend raped her after she got drunk at a party and passed out, even though it was well known to him and other students that she wanted to remain a virgin until marriage, she testified Monday at a state Senate hearing.

Later, at the University of Texas, Breitbeil found that she lacked confidence to resist unwanted sex.

Now, with newfound resolve thanks in part to her association with Deeds Not Words, an Austin-based group that advocates for women’s rights, Breitbeil is proving herself an articulate and confident proponent of sweeping legislation aimed at improving the reporting, disciplinary proceedings and other matters surrounding sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence and stalking at public and private colleges.

It is in part to honor the courage of Breitbeil and other victims that lawmakers are working to enact legislation dealing with sexual assault, whether on or off campus, said Sen. Kirk Watson. The Democrat from Austin authored four bills dealing with the issue that have passed the Senate and is sponsoring a comprehensive House-passed bill that includes many features of his measures. The proposals come amid disturbing reports about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide.

Breitbeil, who will graduate on Saturday with a double major in English and the Plan II honors program, testified that she was raped a second time in high school, at the age of 17, by a 23-year-old family friend in the back of a truck in the middle of the woods off a country road during a trip to a convenience store.

“One year later I began at the University of Texas with no confidence in my abilities to protect myself from rape and unsure how to handle dangerous situations in the future,” she said. “At this point, the line of consent was blurred for me and I did not know that my ‘no’ and lack of consent meant that sexual activity should not and must not occur.”

That is why House Bill 16, a revised version of which was the subject of Monday’s hearing before the Senate Higher Education Committee, is crucial, Breitbeil said. The measure, authored by Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, and tweaked by Watson, was left pending by the panel. Among its requirements for public and private postsecondary schools:

• Policies that spell out prohibited behaviors as well as procedures for reporting allegations, including online and anonymous reporting.

• Heightening awareness by devoting a web page to the issue with a link on the university’s home page, and by mandating that the topic be included in freshman orientation.

• Amnesty for violating campus conduct codes, such as a ban on underage drinking, for student victims or witnesses who report allegations of sexual assault.

• A disciplinary process that grants the accused and the alleged victim equal access to relevant evidence.

• Training for campus police officers in responding to allegations of sexual assault and harassment, dating violence and stalking.

“It makes it all worthwhile to have courageous young women come down here and talk about what we need to do,” said Watson, who expressed confidence that legislation would be enacted. “The amount of courage it takes is extraordinary, and it’s why we need to pass bills like this. I think we’re at a real turning point in empowering sexual assault victims and changing the culture on campuses.”

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7 May

UT Austin stabbing victim asked stranger to call his mother before dying

UT Austin students are mourning the death of student Harrison Brown, who was killed Monday in a stabbing spree on campus. (AP)

The student who was fatally stabbed on the campus of the University of Texas on Monday asked a stranger to call his mother before he died.

Harrison Brown, 19, had spoken to his mother Lori earlier on Monday. He called around the same time he did most days and interrupted the fourth-grade class she teaches.

But after hanging up, the mother received another call shortly afterward. It was the second call she received from her son’s number, Lori said, that signaled something was wrong.

After being stabbed by Kendrex White, Brown had asked a stranger to call his mother from his phone.

"She said, ‘Are you Harrison’s mom?’" Brown told NBCDFW. "And I could hear it in her voice. Her voice was shaking. The blood just drained through my body and I said, ‘Yes.’ And she said, ‘Harrison has been stabbed.’"


The days following the incident have been painful for the family, Brown said. But she said her son made her proud and she’s convinced that if he were alive he would have already forgiven the stabber.

"Harrison was a happy, compassionate, kind human being," she said. "I know my son Harrison and I know the heart he has and the kindness in his heart and his faith, and I know that Harrison has already forgiven him."

Brown, she said, was a loving son who wanted to pursue music. He had previously auditioned for a spot on “The Voice” TV program.

She noted that the loss had been especially hard for the family as it’s come during Harrison’s father’s final stage battles with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

"I know when my husband does pass away that Harrison’s hand will be the one reaching down for his father’s hand," the mother said.

Three other people were injured in the attack.

White, who police said suffers from mental health issues, is currently being held on a $1 million bond.

Brown’s memorial service will be held Saturday in the Graham High School gymnasium.

28 Apr

Salt Lake City seeks public feedback on plans for parks, open spaces

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City is taking a good look at its entire parks and public lands system, and what can be done to improve it.

Up until now, the city said it hasn’t done such a huge study on parks and open space.

Wednesday night, the city asked for public input at an open house as it works on developing a parks master plan and comes up with projects.

"Asking them what they currently use in their parks and open spaces, what do they like, what do they think is working well, and what isn’t working well for them," said Nancy Monteith, landscape architect and park planner for Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands.

Glendale resident Amy O’Connor was happy to give feedback.

"I spend a lot of time on the Jordan River, on the parkway; I paddle a little in the kayak," she said.

O’Connor said she enjoys watching the birds and ducks and relaxing amid the quiet of nature. With that in mind, she pointed out what she thinks could be improved.

"The wetlands, that I would just love to see more of," she said.

Dorothy Owen, who lives in Westpointe, said her community is lucky to sit on the Jordan River, and she also had ideas for the city.

"We need to be doing things to really make the river more accessible to people, we need to protect it better, we need to bring it back to a more natural state," she said.

Monteith said they’ll take the feedback they receive and incorporate it with a city-wide assessment they’re conducting.

She said it’s the first assessment of its kind for Salt Lake City’s open space. They sectioned off the city into specific areas, and will identify needs in each area.

They’ll look at each of the 126 parks.

"Do we have enough parks space in the right place?" Monteith said, of what they’ll be asking themselves. "One of the things that we’d like to do is make sure every resident is within half a mile of a park space."

The study will lead to real projects, she said.

"That’s going to help us come up with a plan for what do we prioritize for funding requests and projects," Monteith explained.

Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands is hosting a second public open house on Thursday, April 27 at the Forest Dale Golf Course Clubhouse (2375 S 900 E) from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Residents can also give input through an online survey, click here for details.

19 Apr

UT students build better Smokies donation boxes

KNOXVILLE – At the University of Tennessee, six graduating seniors are building a big graduation present. That is, they have to build the gift to graduate from the college of engineering. When the gift is complete, the best thing about it will be the box.

UT’s Tickle College of Engineering is using the students’ final senior design project to build an improved outdoor donation box for the non-profit Friends of the Smokies. The group collects donations to fund all sorts of projects in the Great Smoky Mountains, which benefits from the generosity of visitors as one of the only national parks in the country that does not charge a fee to enter.

Friends of the Smokies donation box at Newfound Gap.

"I’ve seen the [donation] boxes before where you stick a couple of bucks in from your pocket to say thanks," said Chris Wetteland, a UT mechanical science and engineering lecturer. "But I never looked at the construction of a donation box before now. It has been a great project. We want the students to not only get real life experience with this stuff, but we want them to try to help our neighbors [in the national park]."

"Recently, they [the boxes] have become a little outdated and had a little trouble with vandalism," said Jesse Johnson, a UT senior majoring in material science and engineering. "All of us have a great love for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It’s one of our refuges where we go, so that alone was one of the best reasons we wanted to get on this project."

The gift is truly from the entire college of engineering. Most seniors complete a solo project within their specialized area of engineering. For the donation box prototype, the design has involved collaboration across three different departments.

Evan Rankin, a UT senior majoring in civil environmental engineering, shows the design for a new donation box for Friends of the Smokies.

(Photo: WBIR)

"We’ve got the material science department, the mechanical engineering department, and the civil engineering department working together," said Johnson. "It’s been a challenge just coordinating everything with our schedules because it’s a group that might not naturally be in the same classrooms, but it has been fun."

"It has been a lot of work and a lot more fun than any other class I’ve taken in college," said senior Evan Rankin, whose major is civil environmental engineering. "It was just really cool to see someone else’s perspective and their ideas coming from other areas of engineering."

Friends of the Smokies has six outdoor donation boxes in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Theft is rarely successful because the boxes are incredibly strong and workers collect the donations frequently. Cash does not stay in the boxes for long, as someone learned in 2013 when they tried to cut into donation boxes with a blow torch during the government shutdown when the park was vacant. There was no money inside.

A donation box for Friends of the Smokies at Newfound Gap.

The bigger problem is when a would-be thief tries to break in, the damage to the box itself costs Friends of the Smokies a sizable chunk of change.

Each donation box was installed over time and none of the designs are the same. Each is a custom one-of-a-kind box, so replacement parts are difficult to obtain and expensive. Damaged boxes are usually replaced entirely and cost several thousand dollars.

The box designed by the students at UT will set a new standard for donation boxes.

"To go ahead and standardize the box with exact dimensions and a design that will be robust and give the group the best return on investment," said Wetteland. "Then they can know exactly what parts they need, how much material is needed, and have those parts fabricated and be confident in the price."

"Looking at different metals for something that would stand up to corrosion. Trying to figure out what will be strong, what will keep people from vandalizing it and roughing it up, and what will look good without having to be constantly painted," said Johnson.

A welder works on a prototype donation box at the University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering.

"There is a lot going inside of this box," said Caleb Brownfield, a UT senior majoring in mechanical engineering. "I think it would be really cool to see it in the Smokies. This box design could be used anywhere. Hopefully, down the line, this could be adopted by other national parks. Maybe we could see it out west at the Grand Canyon or somewhere like that."

"Hopefully, we make it look nice enough that people want to go donate," said Rankin.

When the new box is complete, the graduation gift will ultimately keep giving by keeping the gifts from visitors safe.

"It will definitely be pride, just knowing we built something that is helping," said Johnson.

High-pressure water jets cut steel to precise measurements at the University of Tennessee.

The students should finish grinding, welding and cutting the prototype within the next few weeks. Then the final design will be used to assemble a new donation box from scratch. That second box will be given to Friends of the Smokies and hopefully installed this fall, according to Wetteland.

The existing donation boxes collect close to $200,000 per year, according to Friends of the Smokies. Two boxes are located in Cades Cove. There are also donation boxes at Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, Chimney Tops picnic area and Cataloochee.

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