Utah lawmaker wants to raise legal marriage age to 18

Heidi Clark holds a photograph from her 1995 wedding at her home in Orem, Utah, on Friday, May 18, 2018. Clark became pregnant at 16 and married soon after, under pressure from her boyfriend’s religious community of Seventh-Day Adventists in Pennsylvania, she said. “I always felt a little bit like I was trapped,” Clark said, now 40. “I was 17. I was so young.” Utah state Rep. Angela Romero wants to ban marriage for anyone under 18 as part of a national push to outlaw underage marriage. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — A push against underage marriage in the U.S. is coming to Utah, where a lawmaker wants to raise the legal age to 18 to prevent girls from being pressured into the unions associated with higher poverty and lower education rates.

High-profile teen marriage cases in Utah have happened in polygamous groups involving leaders like Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life prison sentence for sexually assaulting girls he considered wives. But it’s not the only place where it’s an issue.

There have been thousands of underage marriages in the U.S. since 2000, and until recently more than half of states didn’t set a limit on how young someone could be to get married if they met criteria like parental approval, said Jeanne Smoot of the Virginia-based Tahirih Justice Center.

“Many people assume this was something from generations that’s no longer happening in the U.S.,” she said Friday. But marriage data show more than 200,000 Americans younger than 18 got married between 2000 and 2015, she said. “We know there are significant numbers and we know there are some shockingly young minors who are married.”

In Utah, 253 people under age 18, most of them girls, got married in 2010, the most recent year Utah Health Department figures are available.

Under current Utah law, people as young as 15 can marry with permission from their parents and the court, while 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with parental permission.

Utah is in the top third of all states when it comes to children married each year, according to data gathered by the Tahirih Justice Center.

The nonprofit women’s legal advocacy group has pushed for reforms that started in 2016 when Virginia limited marriage to legal adults. Delaware became this first state to ban anyone younger than 18 from getting married, even with parental permission, earlier this year.

Such a law might have changed Heidi Clark’s life. The woman got pregnant at 16 and married soon after, under pressure from her boyfriend’s religious community of Seventh-Day Adventists in Pennsylvania, she said. A second daughter followed days after she graduated from high school, but the marriage went downhill after he husband was injured at work.

“I always felt a little bit like I was trapped,” Clark said, now 40 and living in Orem, Utah. “I was 17. I was so young.”

Determined to make the marriage work, she stayed even as the relationship because abusive. She didn’t go to college and when they divorced she had few job prospects and lost custody of her children. She’s since managed to rebuild her life and her relationship with her daughters but wants to see other girls spared her experience.

Rep. Angela Romero, a Salt Lake City Democrat, is preparing a proposal to raise the legal marriage age for the next legislative session in 2019. Teenage unions are particularly concerning when there is a large age gap between a bride and a groom, or when a there’s pressure to wed due to pregnancy, she said.

“We want to ensure that we’re protecting young women and giving them that choice,” she said.

One woman who said she didn’t have a choice in marriage was Elissa Wall, a Utah woman who testified was forced to marry to her cousin at age 14 when was growing up in the polygamous group led by Jeffs.

Her testimony about the 2001 union helped convict him on an accomplice-to-rape charge. She’s since left the group and was awarded a $16 million judgment last year.

Still, Romero said it’s a wider issue and polygamous groups aren’t her focus. Her proposal would apply to legal marriages; polygamous unions are illegal under the state’s bigamy law.

Utah law now allows a marriage exception to statutory rape laws, opening a potential way to avoid prosecution by marrying the victim, Smoot said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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State looking into reports United Utah Party members’ party affiliations being switched

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — State elections officials are looking into instances of unauthorized voter registration changes reported by members of the United Utah Party, including the year-old party’s first candidate, Jim Bennett.

Bennett, who ran in last year’s special congressional election, said he checked and found that his voter registration had been switched to unaffiliated after hearing from other United Utah Party members their registrations had been changed.

"It’s bizarre to me. I don’t know what they think they can accomplish by doing this if sabotage is the goal," Bennett said. "The only damage being done to the party is we look smaller than we actually are."

State Elections Director Justin Lee said his office "will be looking into the issues. We encourage anyone who believes there is an issue with their voter registration to contact their county clerks or the lieutenant governor’s office."

On Friday, United Utah Party Chairman Richard Davis sent a letter to Lee requesting an investigation, citing at least three instances where party members discovered their affiliation had been changed without their consent

Besides Bennett, current 1st Congressional District candidate Eric Eliason and the party’s social media director, Jared Oates, both said they had been notified they were no longer United Utah Party members.

Eliason, who had previously changed his party registration when he got into the race to unseat Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he received a new voter registration card showing him as a United Utah Party member.

But then, Eliason said, a second card arrived showing he had chosen to be an unaffliated voter.

Oates said he, too, initially received confirmation he was registered with the new party only to find out that he was listed as a Republican Party member online. Oates and Bennett both had made videos when they signed up with the new party.

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Bennett, who now serves as the spokesman for the United Utah Party, said Lee told party members last week that the changes were clerical errors made by county clerks offices.

The three instances cited by the party occurred in Salt Lake, Cache and Utah counties, Bennett said, raising the party’s concerns about what might be happening. He said the party is urging members to check their registrations.

Bennett said he has not yet corrected his party affiliation.

"I will," he said. "I want to make sure it’s solved before I change my registration back again. There may be an innocent explanation for this. We’re trying not to cast aspersions on anyone."

But Bennett said the number of registered United Utah Party members has appeared low compared to participation at party events. The state lists total membership at 591, the lowest of any recognized political party in the state.

Because the United Utah Party allows a member of any political party to participate, Bennett said the voter registration issue is hurting the party only "in terms of perception of our numbers."

He said that seems "to be an incredibly petty thing to do deliberately."

Lee, asked if he was concerned the United Utah Party may be being targeted to keep its membership number low, said, he has "no reason to believe that, but we will look into the issues to see what is going on.

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Alternative housing could mitigate decreasing affordability, advocates say

SALT LAKE CITY — With housing costs rising rapidly in the Salt Lake Valley, some advocates believe affordable solutions may lie in downsizing the way people live.

A few community advocates have introduced less expensive housing that could mitigate the growing affordability concern. Salt Lake resident Jeffrey White has spent decades in the real estate business as a broker and more recently as a non-traditional homebuilder.

A few years ago, he designed and constructed Sara House, located in the Glendale neighborhood in Salt Lake City, as a model for a possible alternative housing option. The dwelling was built using a discarded shipping container. The containers used are typically 20 feet or 40 feet in length and just over 8 feet high, White said, and can be constructed using a "kit" process that would allow almost anyone to build their own home.

The 20-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom model would cost about $36,000, while the larger model, which has an additional bedroom, would cost about $70,000, he said. He built a 432-square-foot model in a workspace located in the Granary District near downtown Salt Lake.

While not familiar to many in Utah, container homes have been used in other cities and abroad for decades, he said.

"We have built with containers before and those are the two models that somebody (with lower skills) that knows their way around a hammer would look at this and say, ‘Yeah, with a couple of friends, we could put either of these homes together.’"

The construction time would generally take a few days to a couple of weeks, he noted.

A somewhat similar designed was developed in Summit County with the development of Park City Base Camp, an answer to the call for affordable, functional, and flexible housing for seasonal workers, the homeless, emergency shelters, and special event spaces, explained project developer Blake Christian.

The unique design was developed as an ‘ultra-green,’ sustainable housing solution, said project designer Roi Maufas with Salt Lake City-based Gorilla Design.

Beginning with a used 45-foot shipping container, the unit can be made into an ultra-efficient, fully functional living space that sleeps four, uses recycled materials such as bamboo cabinetry and flooring, generates solar power and offers a minimal physical and carbon footprint, he said. It boasts the same ‘bones’ as White’s design, along with amenities such as 320 square feet of living space, optional shore-supplied or plug-in power, solar power that generates 5.9 kilowatts of power even in moonlight, on-site sewage treatment via bioremediating toilet, full insulation, a full kitchen and bathroom with shower, heat recovery ventilation system for efficient fresh air supply and low-voltage LED lighting.

He said the model would cost between $80,000 and $150,000 depending upon customization. He added the goal of his project is to develop a manufacturing facility and create jobs "in new, emerging green technologies" that pay a "living wage" in the $15 per hour to $26 per hour range, depending upon skill set.

"This model was developed for the worker population of Park City," Maufas said. "But it’s become more about starting a genuine conversation about affordable housing and sustainable economic development."

That idea is exactly what other advocates say can help mitigate the complicated matter of housing affordability, said June Hiatt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Utah Housing Coalition. Bring various stakeholders, including state and local civic leaders, together to address the issue of how to tackle the affordability issue facing the Wasatch Front today, she said.

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors reported that the median single-family home price in the first quarter climbed to $340,000 — 13.3 percent above the median price of $300,000 in last year’s first quarter. The county’s median home price reached its highest point ever recorded, up 11 percent over the previous peak in the summer of 2007 when the median single-family home price was an inflation-adjusted $306,624, the report stated.

Additionally, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute recently released a study on the rapid appreciation of housing prices in Utah and the increasing threat to affordability, especially along the Wasatch Front. Researchers discovered that significant employment and demographic growth has fueled exceptionally strong demand for housing — both rental and single-family, which has put upward pressure on housing costs.

Data from Irvine, California-based ATTOM Data Solutions showed the affordability gap in the Salt Lake metro area growing as the demand for housing rises. For the eighth straight year, vacancy rates for rental apartments in the Salt Lake valley declined — down to the lowest rates ever. A Sept. 2017 report by Cushman & Wakefield indicated the apartment market is currently at historic levels with mid-year figures showing the vacancy rate of just 2.6 percent — the lowest ever reported and that trend is continuing.

However, developers are responding by building scores of new units in an attempt to meet demand. Last year marked the sixth consecutive year with an overall vacancy rate below 4 percent, the report stated. While the optimal vacancy rate is considered to be around 5 percent, said Kip Paul, executive director of investment sales at Cushman & Wakefield’s Salt Lake office.

One local developer saw the trend for smaller urban living space becoming a growing trend nationwide a couple of years ago. Prompted by the "tiny house" or small-house movement — an architectural and social drive advocating simple living in spaces typically under 500 square feet — developer Steve Ruf of Ruf and Associates in Orem built 60 units of micro-apartment housing in the Central Ninth neighborhood of Salt Lake City directly across from the 900 South TRAX station.

The Greenprint Apartments include two four-story buildings that house 30 units each with 250 square feet to 350 square feet of living space, a bathroom and a kitchenette. Rents range between $700 and $800, Ruf said.

"It’s affordable (for new housing) because of the price point," he said.

He said the idea for the micro-units was born after a visit to Seattle and Portland in the Pacific Northwest where such housing options have worked well, particularly in cities where housing costs are higher than average. He also saw similar units in Des Moines, Iowa, he added.

"We thought, ‘Wow, this could work really well in Salt Lake, especially with what is going on with the housing market here,’" Ruf said, noting the increasing demand for affordable apartments by the younger demographic.

"We’re trying to attract professionals, millennials, people who want to have a small (environmental) footprint and who don’t necessarily want or have cars," he said. These are people who want a more urban lifestyle, he added.

Meanwhile, among the main hurdles to climb for container homes or even alternative rental units would be state and local ordinances that have yet to consider non-traditional building materials and structures, as well as density levels, Hiatt said. It’s an issue legislators and municipalities would have to take on sooner than later if the problem isn’t to become too big to handle, she said.

In Utah, we have 68,762 extremely low-income households with earnings less than the poverty guideline or 30 percent of area median income, Hiatt explained. Across the state, there is a deficit of 47,180 rental homes both affordable and available to extremely low-income households, she noted, 68 percent of such households pay more than half of their income on housing.

New research shows rapid job and population growth in Utah is producing exceptionally strong demand for housing and creating an affordability issue in the process as prices for rental units and homes for purchase climb higher and higher.

"In the short run, the state of Utah and cities need to put money into housing. They need to ‘put money where their mouth is,’" she said. "The state can allocate funding to the development of affordable housing to supplement the skyrocketing cost of building (new units)."

According to Zillow.com, the median home value in Park City is $679,189, with a median list price per square foot in the Summit Park metro area above $600 — making it the most expensive residential real estate in Utah. Because of that expense, affordability has been a long-standing concern, particularly for the scores of employees that work at area ski resorts as well as local municipal workers and people in fields like public education.

A recently proposed residential housing plan could offer a possible solution to the issue of affordability. Discovery Ridge, scheduled to break ground this spring, will be a 70-acre mountain residential development that will include 97 lots, 30 of which will be set aside as "affordable" units, explained Mitch Beckstead, managing partner with Salt Lake City-based American Landmark Group.

"It’s 50, 60 and 70 percent of average median income (for Summit County)," he said. The plan is for 10 units for each income segment, he noted.

The need for increased affordability came from a 100-home community the company built in North Dakota during the energy boom. It was then he realized how expensive housing was becoming and that something needed to be done to allow "average" wage earners to be able to live in the communities they were working in, he said.

"I got to know the state police, border patrol, sheriff’s office and they had no place to live," Beckstead said. "Rents were $4,000 a month and they couldn’t find houses (they could afford)."

Fast forward to today, he noted that when Summit County required affordable units to be included in the Discovery Ridge development, he asked civic leaders to designate the lots for public safety and teachers.

"The reason why is because when we have (an emergency) situation, 65 percent of the public safety people live in the Salt Lake Valley because they can’t afford to live up there," he explained. Upon hearing his suggestion, local civic leaders concurred and the plan was approved, he said.

With real estate prices escalating rapidly, solutions like this are critical to future development, Beckstead said. Governmental entities also should consider streamlining the approval process to help developers keep up with increasing demand, he added.

Lastly, he noted, municipalities will have to reconsider density restrictions rather than continuing to demand large lots as land prices rise and demographic changes shift demand away from traditional, stand-alone single-family properties.

"The market is not going to support it (going forward)," he said. "(Conversely) there is not one city in the state that wants (high-density housing). Condo flats and townhomes — cities do not want them."

He said with the younger generation moving away from large homes to smaller (and even tiny) dwellings, cities will have to shift their priorities in order to accommodate the new breed of buyer and renter.

"Millennials don’t stay in the same house for (decades)," Beckstead said. "They stay for 10 (years) and leave."

Municipalities will need to learn that lesson sooner rather than later in order to mitigate the growing affordability issue in Utah, he said.


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Wasatch Front homes prices soar as ‘for sale’ signs remain scarce

Trent Nelson | Salt Lake Tribune file photo The median sales prices of a home on Salt Lake City’s east side, below the University of Utah and north of 900 South, rose 31 percent in the past year to $440,500.

Veteran real estate agent Liz Slager wasn’t a bit surprised to hear that the median sale price of a home in and around Emigration Canyon skyrocketed to $600,000 in the first quarter of 2018 — nearly $100,000 more than just a year earlier.

“For properties up to $1 million, there’s a lot of people chasing those deals,” said Slager, who has specialized in the sale of high-end homes for nearly two decades.

Demand and a limited inventory of available homes are driving up prices in the ZIP codes where she spends much of her time, including 84108, which covers Emigration Canyon and the St. Mary’s neighborhood at the canyon mouth.

The 19 percent, year-over-year gain there made 84108 the first Salt Lake County ZIP code to reach $600,000 in median home value, according to quarterly sales statistics released Thursday by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

The median price of Salt Lake County homes sold in the first quarter was $340,000, up 13.3 percent over a year earlier ($300,000). Utah County had virtually the same percentage increase, to $325,000, while sale prices rose 12.2 percent in Weber County (to $230,000) and 10.2 percent in Davis County (to $297,000).

The real estate boom is even more evident in Tooele County, which had 307 homes sold January through March, a 41 percent year-over-year increase. And the median sale price of those homes jumped 16 percent since 2017’s first quarter, to $255,000.

“Higher home prices are becoming a hurdle for many first-time home buyers,” said Salt Lake Board of Realtors President Adam Kirkham. “Demand for homes continues to outpace supply. The shortfall in housing units is likely to continue for several more years.”

After the number of Salt Lake County sales dropped in the fourth quarter of 2017 because so few homes were listed, enough single-family dwellings were on the market in the first quarter to boost sales by 5 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Most home salesZIP code 84074 (Tooele) • 254.84015 (Clearfield) • 246.84404 (Farr West) • 220.84096 (Herriman) • 192. 84043 (Lehi) • 186. Source: Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Slager said the mild winter made it easier to look for homes than in past years, accounting for some of the increase. But much of Emigration Canyon’s appeal stems from its proximity and similarity to Park City — “It’s like a back road to get to the ski resorts; you’re out of the inversion, and there are large lots,” she said — while the St. Mary’s neighborhood has many larger homes that have been renovated lately.

Her sphere of influence also takes in ZIP code 84103, which includes posh Avenues and Federal Heights neighborhoods. It was the second most expensive ZIP code along the Wasatch Front. The median sales price of a home there rose 20.4 percent from the first quarter of 2017 (when it was $461,000) to $555,000 this year.

Biggest price increases by percentageZIP code 84058 (Orem) • Up 35.8 percent, to $360,000.84102 (Salt Lake City) • Up 31.3 percent, to $440,000.84029 (Grantsville) • Up 26.8 percent, to $271,250.84014 (Centerville) • Up 26.3 percent, to $360,000.84010 (Bountiful) • Up 23.4 percent, to $359,000. Source: Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

With so few homes on the market, competition for listed properties could be intense. “Some people get pretty discouraged,” Slager said, noting that would-be buyers see deals they can afford, “and they’re going after them, but then they find they’re only one of five or six offers out there. Or they end up buying just to buy because the inventory gets swooped up so fast.”

Along the Wasatch Front, listed homes remained on the market for an average of 24 days in the first quarter of 2018, down from 27 days a year prior.

Median price of Wasatch Front condominium salesSalt Lake County • $240,000, up 11.3 percent.Davis County • $218,000, up 10.4 percent.Utah County • $213,800, up 20.2 percent.Tooele County • $179,200, up 23.6 percent.Weber County • $166,000, up 15.3 percent. Source: Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

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Jazz vs. Rockets: How Utah and Houston match up in the second round of the NBA playoffs

Key stats: Houston outscored Utah by an average of 17.5 points in four regular-season victories. The Rockets have won 23 of their last 24 home games … Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is the only rookie besides Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to score at least 20 points in his first six playoff games. Mitchell’s 38-point close-out game against Oklahoma City was the fourth-highest rookie scoring total in a playoff series-clinching win.

Outlook: Since Rudy Gobert returned for Utah in mid-January, the Jazz and Rockets were the West’s top teams. This series pits defense against offense. Utah allowed 99.8 points a game this season, tied for the fewest in the NBA, while Houston averaged 112.4, second only to Golden State, and jacked that up to 116.3 in four games against Utah, which missed Gobert for only one of them. Gobert transforms Utah. The Jazz limited opponents to 7.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. Houston will try to draw him from rim protection by running pick-and-rolls about one-fourth of the time. Utah guards need to contain on the perimeter, but Ricky Rubio is coming off a hamstring injury and is out for Game 1. Houston made only 31.5% of its three-pointers in the first three games against a weaker Minnesota defense, but the Rockets’ arsenal found the range in the final two games. Likely MVP James Harden averaged 34.3 points against Utah, including a 56-point game when Chris Paul was out. Houston could get forward Luc Mbah a Moute (dislocated shoulder) back this series for a defensive boost against Utah’s slow-paced offense.

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Take a peek inside the homes of Salt Lake City’s Country Club neighborhood during tour on Saturday

Construction began in the 1920s and continued through the 1980s, creating many architectural styles, from Spanish Colonial and English Tudor to more modern ranch styles, said Kirk Huffaker, executive director of Preservation Utah, formerly the Utah Heritage Foundation.

“The homes in this area offer a wide variety of design and scale,” he said, “as they were built over several decades and reflect the wealth that moved to the area.”

Preservation Utah will celebrate the eclectic mix during its 47th annual Historic Home Tour on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Those who buy tickets can see the interiors of three homes. The tour also includes several points of architectural interest. Advance tickets are $20 at preservationutah.org.

On Saturday, tickets are $25 and can be purchased only at the tour headquarters, the triangular park strip between Oneida Street (2150 East) and Country Club Drive (2300 South).

Besides a mix of styles, the neighborhood stands out for its large setbacks from the street and open space, said Huffaker.

Several homes were designed by well-known local architects, including Taylor Woolley, who studied under and drafted for Frank Lloyd Wright. Other local architects include George F. Johnson and Ed Dreier.

The neighborhood is one of several upscale Salt Lake City neighborhoods — along with the Avenues, Federal Heights and Harvard-Yale — in transition. Aging residents sell to younger families who want to live close to the city, but want to change the older homes to include modern-day features.

While there are “good and bad examples” of upgrades, Flanders said, “we hope to show how great the neighborhood is and that you can still have new things but keep the historic character” of a house and neighborhood.

The updates that Charisse and Andy Theurer have made to their home on Country Club Drive are a good example of what preservation specialists like to see.

“We really like the look and the open feel of our home and have gone to great lengths to try to preserve and even enhance it,” said Andy Theurer, who has the home’s original architectural and landscape plans. They will be available to view on the tour.

He said the Prairie-style home, built in 1977, is reminiscent of the homes built by Wright. It even has a hidden front entrance.

“Wright wanted people to walk around the yard and see the architecture,” Theurer said. “Ours is the same way. It’s hard to find the front door; people are always coming in the back.”

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Inside the film sessions that helped turn Donovan Mitchell into Utah’s No. 1 option

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, remote control in hand as he sits in the spacious, state-of-the-art film room at the team’s practice facility, rewinds the clip of Donovan Mitchell drilling a corner 3-pointer, replaying it a couple times on the large projector screen.

Snyder then poses a pointed question to the Rookie of the Year candidate, the only player in the room, who is seated to the coach’s right in the front row, flanked by assistant coach Johnnie Bryant.

"What do you got going there? Is that a new arrow thing you got going?" Snyder asks, playfully referring to Mitchell’s post-shot celebration.

"Sometimes I just do things that come to my head," Mitchell says, shrugging and taking a sip of his smoothie.

It’s a brief moment of levity during a 55-minute film session the day after the Jazz’s March 28 loss to the Boston Celtics. These sort of sessions, conducted daily by Bryant, with Snyder occasionally joining the pair or calling in Mitchell for additional individual film study, have been an essential part of Mitchell’s evolution into the rare NBA rookie who serves as a bona fide go-to guy on a good team.

Mitchell averaged 20.5 points during the regular season for the 48-34 Jazz, becoming the first rookie since Carmelo Anthony in 2004-05 to lead a playoff-bound team in points per game. He joined a list of legends (Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and David Robinson) as rookies who were the leading scorers on teams that won at least 48 games.

As talented as Mitchell is — and he has drawn comparisons to Dwyane Wade from some scouts — that sort of historic production from a 13th overall pick is a testament to the Jazz coaching staff’s developmental work. They’ve guided the gifted 21-year-old, teaching him how to read defensive coverages as he became the focal point of opponents’ game plans and drilling Mitchell on the finer details of basketball.

"You got to the corner," Bryant says to Mitchell, halting the brief humorous interlude and steering the conversation to the reason Mitchell’s catch-and-shoot 3 in transition was included among the few dozen plays worth reviewing from the loss to the Celtics. "You didn’t stop at the break. How many clips have you seen that this year?"

Bryant has been stressing to Mitchell all season the importance of sprinting all the way to the corner when he’s filling an outside line in transition, trying to break him of his habit of settling on the wing. That’s in large part because the corner 3 is a much more efficient shot, particularly for Mitchell, who made 48.5 percent of his attempts from the corners this season, compared to 32.5 percent of above-the-break 3s.

It’s also due to the impact on spacing, opening avenues for teammates by forcing a defender to account for him all the way into the corner.

"I know this might sound bad, but I hope that he misses those shots at the break," Bryant says. "So I can be like, ‘The basketball gods are rewarding you for getting to the corner.’"

"One thing about him is he’s not afraid to try things and really apply it. That’s something that’s rare. A lot of guys want to stay in their comfort zone."

Mitchell grins. He’s heard this plenty of times from Bryant, a 32-year-old former University of Utah guard who has earned a reputation as a developmental guru, having groomed Gordon Hayward into an All-Star before he departed for Boston in free agency.

The dirty work of Mitchell’s development is Bryant’s top priority. He’s the assistant who conducts the rookie’s individual workouts, pregame shooting routines and film sessions, from scouting opponents to game review to watching other stars to try to learn their tricks. Bryant is the constant voice in Mitchell’s ear.

"So it’s pretty glamorous when he’s watching tape and Johnnie’s pounding him on literally like five feet," Snyder jokes. "Spoken like a true coach, right?"

THIS ROLE ISN’T what the Jazz had in mind for Mitchell when they traded up to draft him out of Louisville, where he averaged 15.6 points per game as a sophomore last season.

Utah’s front office identified Mitchell as a prospect who could contribute immediately due to his athleticism and intangibles and who had potential to develop into a primary scoring option over the years.

Then Hayward bolted in free agency, leaving a huge void in the Jazz offense. The blow of that bad news was eased just a little bit by Mitchell’s dominant performance in the Utah Summer League on the day Hayward’s decision was announced. By the time the Jazz summer team left Las Vegas, expectations for Mitchell had increased dramatically.

The developmental timetable for Mitchell accelerated due to his aptitude. He showed the ability to develop new skills — such as finishing off one foot in traffic, a focus in his offseason workouts with Bryant — and instantly incorporate them into his game, grasping through film study the appropriate times to use his new tools.

"These guys dig in," Snyder says of Mitchell and Bryant. "It’s that kind of cycle of ‘practice it, recognize it, use it.’ That whole process is what makes these guys good together."

Mitchell got off to a slow start, averaging only 9.3 points and shooting an unsightly 32.3 percent from the floor primarily as a reserve in seven October games, but he had established himself as a fixture in the Jazz’s starting lineup by mid-November and as the clear go-to guy soon after.

Mitchell’s reliability in that role was a factor in the franchise’s deadline decision to trade Rodney Hood, a pending restricted free agent who was the top internal candidate to be the offensive focal point after Hayward’s departure.

Mitchell averaged more than 21 points per game in each month from December on, consistently excelling as the defensive schemes to stop him became more complicated. The coaches’ crash course for Mitchell, who starts at shooting guard and plays some point guard, has advanced into masters-level classes.

"It’s gone from reading his defender and the defender in pick-and-roll to reading the help," Snyder says after the film session. "It’s deeper — more levels, more things to see."

"WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" Snyder asks Mitchell a few seconds into a clip of a possession on which the rookie initiated the offense, passed to Ricky Rubio on the wing and spaced the floor as Dante Exum sliced for a layup.

Snyder peppers Mitchell with this sort of pop quiz throughout the session, prodding him to explain his thought process.

"I believe it was this time, I told Ricky, I just want to jam the guy off me," Mitchell says, pointing out a detail a casual fan might not notice: a subtle screen Rubio set to force Celtics stopper Jaylen Brown to switch, leaving Shane Larkin on Mitchell.

"You got it, you got it," Snyder says as the screen shows Mitchell coming off a pick-and-roll with Rudy Gobert and firing a simple pass to Rubio, who is wide-open on the left wing because Brown has shifted all the way to the "nail" — the middle of the free throw line — to help.

That’s the kind of respect elite scorers get in the NBA, and this play is an example of the progress Mitchell has made this season.

In this instance, moving the ball to the weak side was the right play, one that draws praise from Snyder.

"Perfect," Snyder says. "So this is a great example, Donovan, of you starting the blender. So even though this play is quote-unquote ‘for you,’ you go right there, and you make the simple play and get off it.

Maximizing the attention Mitchell commands is a frequent theme throughout the film session. It’s why Bryant harps so much on sprinting all the way to the corner in transition. It’s why Snyder shows Mitchell a possession on which the rookie never touches the ball but impacts the play by circling back to the top of the arc while Rubio probes the baseline — "Nashes," as Snyder calls it — stretching the defense to create room for Gobert to cut for a dunk.

"You’re getting to a point where, because of the way people are playing you, it’s even more important for you to space," Snyder says as the clip of Gobert’s dunk plays. "Because if you’re not spaced, we don’t get to take advantage of your gravity, right?"

That gravity is never heavier than when Mitchell has the ball in his hands during a half-court possession. His coaches are constantly teaching him the NBA chess match, identifying opportunities to attack, where to get shots and when it’s best to move the ball.

Snyder beams when he shows a possession from late in the fourth quarter because Mitchell makes a couple of quick, terrific reads. Never mind that Mitchell admits that he didn’t know which play was called, nor did it produce any points.

"In this action here, you’re going to draw attention, and this is the right play," Snyder says as the clip shows Mitchell running a pick-and-roll on the left wing and firing a crosscourt pass to Joe Ingles.

"You’ve done your job right now. Jaylen Brown has to pull in on Rudy’s roll, and that should be a shot for Joe or a snap to Rudy. Basically, what you’ve done here, Donovan, is got us either a shot or a snap. We just didn’t [execute]."

Ingles instead looks to Rubio in the corner and passes the ball back to Mitchell. As the defense loads up again, Gobert sneaks behind Brown to set a back screen as Mitchell fires another pass to Ingles, giving one of the NBA’s 3-point percentage leaders a wide-open look that he misses.

"And that’s the same thing," Snyder says as the second pass leaves Mitchell’s hands. "It’s f—ing great. So two times in one possession, you’ve read the defense and got out. This is great offense."

Bryant tells Snyder to rewind it again.

"Look where Jaylen Brown’s at once you get the ball back from Joe," Bryant says. "He’s loading up ready to help on the drive. You’re the threat.

"This is what James Harden’s really good at. He’ll see the shift, and before he even comes off the pick-and-roll, it’s a quick swing. So as you’re playing, Rudy may come up and set a pick-and-roll, but it may be a situation where we swing it real quick, and then we have an advantage."

AFTER GOBERT ENGULFS Brown with a screen at the top of the arc, Mitchell gets Boston big man Aron Baynes to bite on the possibility that he’ll pull the trigger on a 3, setting up an easy blow-by into the teeth of the Celtics’ defense. Jayson Tatum grabs Mitchell instead of giving up the easy dunk or layup.

"So why was this open?" Bryant asks. "Why did he foul you right here?"

Mitchell: "Because I hesitated and got back into it."

Bryant’s eyes light up as he nods his head, proud that his prize pupil has gotten the message. Mitchell has the gift of rare explosiveness, but he can’t make the most of it if he drives only 100 mph and misses some billboards, as Bryant puts it.

"Exactly. You changed speeds, right? So the threat of you being able to shoot that shot brings him up," Bryant says, clapping his hands.

"Now he comes up toward you. It’s the same clips we watched yesterday morning [on Damian Lillard]. Now he comes up. Now you attack."

Snyder adds his two cents in support of Bryant’s point of emphasis.

"When Chris Paul says, ‘Wait until the game slows down for him,’ that’s what he’s talking about," Snyder says. "Because when you change speeds, by definition, you see more."

"Like I told Johnnie, I don’t do that on purpose," Mitchell says.

"But you can train it, though," Snyder replies. "In fact, one of the things, because you’re getting more curls on the chase, like almost like a skip, you turn and you change speeds with your body even without your feet. That’s why you do all the stuff you’re doing with JB. The sequence is important."

Bryant wants to note one other thing before they move on to the next clip. When Mitchell caught the inbounds pass as he came off the Gobert screen, he put the ball down with his inside hand, allowing his shoulders to get vertical immediately. It’s something they work on every day, the kind of detail that makes a difference but would never be noticed by most fans.

"You’re here, and now you’re downhill," Bryant says.

"That’s big," Snyder adds. "That’s a huge point, being square, because that’s why that’s a threat."

THE NEXT CLIP features another instance of Mitchell coming off a great screen by Gobert and getting in the lane, this time blowing by Guerschon Yabusele for an easy layup.

"This is really good by Rudy," Snyder says. "Especially when they’re up on you like that, Jaylen Brown’s got no chance. Right? And Yabusele has no chance."

Snyder rewinds to show Yabusele jab his right foot toward Mitchell as the rookie hesitates.

"And all you’ve got to do is get him f—ing leaning a little bit, especially because all these guys now are trained to jab, to fake at you. Look at that.

"But I’m telling you: Rudy makes this play."

If all goes well, Mitchell will have the luxury of playing the majority of his career with Gobert, a dominant defensive force who takes great pride in excelling as a complementary offensive player, in particular as a screener. According to NBA.com advanced stats, Gobert averaged 6.1 "screen assists" per game, the most in the league by a wide margin.

Bryant and Snyder spend a lot of time discussing the subtleties of screens with Mitchell. "Connectivity" is one of Snyder’s big buzzwords, and it especially applies to the Jazz’s two franchise cornerstones.

"How is the communication going with Rudy?" Snyder asks. This question comes after a defensive clip, but it applies to offense as well.

"It’s gotten better," Mitchell answers. "Even if what he’s saying I don’t really agree with, it’s kind of just saying, ‘OK,’ so that he feels confident to keep [talking]."

"When you get married," Snyder says, "you’ll realize that’s how it works."

The last clip of the session features an awkward pick-and-roll dance with Gobert. With the shot clock down to eight seconds, Mitchell rushes and jacks a contested pull-up 3 that misses short after Gobert doesn’t get much of a screen on Larkin.

Bryant, who had mentioned moments earlier that eight seconds is an eternity in a half-court possession, blames Mitchell for not giving Gobert a chance to set a good enough screen.

"Let him get in the channel, retreat dribble, keep [the defender] on your hip, let Rudy flip it," Bryant says. "Now you can attack there."

Adds Snyder: "It’s the patience."

FAST-FORWARD TO the following week, when Mitchell coverts a dazzling drive and and-1 layup over LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan that was featured on all the highlight shows. It’s a high pick-and-roll with Gobert, and after the initial pick isn’t much of a hit, Mitchell spins and takes a dribble with his left and crosses back over.

The move brings Clippers forward C.J. Williams right into Gobert and gives Mitchell a clear runway. He changes speeds and directions as he goes to the basket, getting Jordan on his heels before accelerating at him.

Mitchell draws contact while executing a "goofy-foot finish" — a technique taught to him by Bryant, catching shot-blockers off-guard with a quick, right-handed scoop while leaping off the right foot.

Mitchell listened, learned and executed.

"One thing about him is he’s not afraid to try things and really apply it," Bryant says after the film session. "That’s something that’s rare. A lot of guys want to stay in their comfort zone. He has the ability to go out there and apply it."

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BLM proposes fee increases, improvements at multiple Utah regions

SALT LAKE CITY — The Bureau of Land Management created five recreation business plans for distinct regions in Utah that ponder new fee increases to pay for more campgrounds, better access and to meet demands of significant visitation increases.

Proposals for improvements are out for public comment May 11 and impact recreation destinations in the Moab, Monticello, Vernal, Cedar City and Salt Lake City field offices of the BLM.

The BLM Utah office notes that 95 percent of its lands are fee free. It manages 77 developed recreation fee sites across the state. In 2017, BLM lands hosted more than 7.9 million visitors, contributing $551 million to the state’s economy.

Places under consideration for improvements serve a diverse variety of recreation needs — from a new campground in San Juan County to limit dispersed camping along the Bears Ears Road to improved parking and an electronic payment device for the Knolls Off-Highway Vehicle Area in Tooele County.

In the Moab region, the BLM manages 29 campgrounds that get more than 90,000 visitors a year. The agency is proposing to raise the overnight fees from $15 to $20 and group rates from $4 per person to $5 per person.

The plan proposes to add five developed campgrounds where demand is high: Klondike Bluffs, Black Ridge, Utah Rims, Mineral Bottom Road and Cameo Cliffs/Hook and Ladder.

In 2017, camping fees generated $994,000, but expenses for the BLM’s Moab office eclipsed that at nearly $1.2 million.

Visitation to BLM lands is extremely high in Utah’s red rock country in the Moab region. In 2016, those lands hosted 2.5 million people, more than Arches National Park — by nearly a million more visitors.

The Monticello Field Office primarily covering San Juan County oversees recreation activities on 1.8 million acres of public land. In 2017, it had 64 percent more recorded visits than it did in 2013.

It notes that visitation is causing a strain on natural resources and carries threats to the vast number of archaeological sites in the region.

The draft business plan proposes to increase camping fees for Hamburger Rock, Creek Pasture and the Superbowl campgrounds from $10 to $15. It also proposes to expand Comb Wash and begin charging $15 to camp there.

Three new fee sites will be developed at Shay Vista, Grand Flats and Muley Point. Grand Flats is designed to limit camping along Bears Ears Road and Deer Flat Road to designated camping.

"Increased dispersed camping along those roads and elsewhere in Cedar Mesa has resulted in large visitor impacts to soil, vegetation and cultural resources," the plan noted.

The office plans to expand the Comb Wash campground within the Shash Jaa unit of the Bears Ears National Monument and begin charging a $15 camping fee per night once the improvements are completed. In particular, the BLM will put in barriers to protect archaeological resources.

In the Salt Lake Field office area, the draft plan calls for improvements to Knolls Off-Highway Vehicle Area which covers 35,877 acres in Tooele County. The park was established in 1990 and hosts about 35,000 visitors a year.

The proposal calls for raising entrance fees from $6 to $10 per vehicle and doubling the cost of an annual pass from $40 to $80.

The BLM said the number of registered off-highway vehicle users is on the rise, with 199,231 registered vehicles in the state. Visitation at Knolls has increased 42 percent over the last five years.

Improvements will be made to the parking areas and plans also call for the installation of power for an electronic payment device.

In the Vernal area, the BLM wants to increase fees at three developed campgrounds — Bridge Hollow, Indian Crossing and Pelican Lake — from $5 per site to $10. Group sites would increase from $30 to $35.

Over the long term, the field office’s draft plan calls for the construction of four new campgrounds, two new boat ramps, one new trailhead and one yurt. The area experiences moderate visitation, with about 428,896 people over fiscal year 2017.

The plan for the Cedar City field office that covers Iron and Beaver counties calls for adding fee campgrounds at Rocky Peak, Carter Cabin and the Hanging Rock recreation site. The area features 2.1 million acres that saw 564,864 visitors in 2017 who frequented multiple trails, disc golf courses and the Three Peaks Model Port and RC Track.

The Cedar City Field Office of the BLM does not generate any revenue from recreation sites because it does not assess fees. Under the proposal, there would be modest increases of $5 or $10 for overnight camping at some sites. New fees would be added at the radio control track once it is fully developed.


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Silva, Severino lead Real Salt Lake past Whitecaps

Luis Silva and Jefferson Savarino scored and Real Salt Lake beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 (Twitter/@RealSaltLake)

Luis Silva and Jefferson Savarino scored and Real Salt Lake beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 on Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake (2-2-1) took the lead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Silva settled Brooks Lennon’s cross in the middle of the area, spun back to his left and fired a left-footed shot that redirected in off defender Jakob Nerwinski.

In the 88th minute, Damir Kreilach played a through ball up the left side to Corey Baird, who crossed it back to Savarino for the tap-in and 2-0 lead.

Brek Shea closed the scoring for Vancouver (3-2-1) in the 92nd minute with a left-footed blast into the right corner.

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Families face man accused of murdering Utah teens as grisly details surface in court

PROVO, Utah – Six days after the bodies of Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson were recovered from an abandoned mine in Utah County, their families faced their alleged killer, Jerrod Baum, in court as the Utah County Attorney revealed gruesome details about the case.

Riley’s sister, Nikka Powell, broke into tears as she described her feelings after seeing Baum for the first time, according to KSTU.

"My brother didn’t deserve this and neither did she. They had a whole life. We had a whole life to live. She was only 17. He was 18," said Powell.

According to charging documents, Baum’s girlfriend, Morgan Henderson, says Baum arrived home and became upset that the two teens had visited her.

According to a probable cause statement released in court, Henderson said, "Baum bound the victims’ hands and feet, duct-taped their mouths, and placed them in the back of Riley’s jeep."

The probable cause statement also said that Breezy was, "forced to kneel near the open mine pit and witness the beating and stabbing of her boyfriend, Riley Powell before she had throat cut and (was) thrown into the open mine".

Utah County Deputy District Attorney Chad Grunander said Baum was under the impression that Breezy was pregnant, "offering his congratulations as they walked from the car to the open mine shaft."

"There was a belief she was pregnant but, in fact, we do not believe she was," said Grunander.

Breezy’s aunt, Amanda Hunt, said the thought makes the murder even more horrific.

"If you thought she was pregnant, you’re not only taking two lives, you’re taking a third life and it just makes it more heinous. We don’t understand. It’s not fair," said Hunt.

After the murders, Baum told Henderson he "made Riley suffer, but felt bad about Breezy so he made her death quick and painless," according to charging documents.

At this point, Henderson is only facing obstruction of justice charges.

"An accomplice requires proactive participation in the crime, but also that individual must have the same mental state as the primary actor," said Grunander.

Baum could face the death penalty for the aggravated murder charges.

"This is a potential capital case," Grunander said. "Mr. Baum could die for what he allegedly did."

Riley’s father, Bill Powell, said he thinks that’s exactly the punishment Baum deserves.

"Hit him in the head with a hammer. I mean really. Did those kids get pain reliever or anything? No, they got tortured. They suffered," Powell said.

"It’s just hard to actually realize that they’re gone now. Really gone," said Nikka Powell.

The Utah County Attorney is still deciding whether or not to pursue the death penalty. If not, the minimum sentence for aggravated murder is 25 years to life in prison.

Baum will be back in court on April 26.

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