Enjoy the Beauty of Utah

Utah is a beautiful state to visit and it is full of natural beauty. If you want to enjoy some beautiful and amazing surroundings, then you need to visit Utah. It is an affordable state to visit and there are plenty of attractions that are going to make your visit unforgettable. If you love the outdoors and want to see some amazing things then plan a trip to Utah right away.

Make sure you visit the Great Salt Lake when you are in Utah. This while lake seems to stretch out forever and there are plenty of activities you can enjoy there. Utah is the type of place that you never want to leave and there are lots of activities that you can enjoy when you visit the lake. You can walk, bike, and even get out on a boat. The lake is beautiful and it is worth visiting for a day.

If you are interested in Native American history, you can find many different ruins and petroglyph sites that you can explore. The ancient sites are fascinating and there is so much history when you explore them. You won’t get bored and there is always more to see.

Another thing you might want to explore are the landscapes and rock arches. The colors in the rock are beautiful and there are so many different things to do and explore there. The state is gorgeous and you can spend plenty of time outdoors. Make sure you are prepared to spend time in the great outdoors because it can get hot during the summer. If you are going to be exploring in the heat, make sure that you have plenty of water and sunscreen or your trip is going to be very uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous.

To See the Best Utah Has to Offer, Look No Farther Than Navajo Lake

Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Navajo Lake in morning.

Yet, from the ancient forces that formed the Cedar Breaks amphitheater and Navajo Lake to more modern natural sites that include wildflower watching, star gazing and fishing, there is much to see and learn here.

For the most part, the effects of the fire, though great for thousands of acres and disastrous for property owners who lost cabins, had little effect on camping or visiting the area, which is now mostly open again for recreation.

According to Dixie National Forest information specialist Kacy Ellsworth, the only campground affected by the fire was Yankee Meadow just east of Parowan.

She said that area could be closed for between one and five years due to possible flooding, numerous hazardous trees and slick areas due to ash.

“The area is not safe for recreation,” she said. “Yankee Meadow has extensive damage.”

Other campgrounds in the area including Panguitch Lake North and South, White Bridge, Spruces, Te-Ah, Navajo Lake, Cedar Canyon, Deer Haven, Duck Creek and Cedar Breaks are open. Many fill quickly, especially on summer weekends, and reservations are suggested.

“We were really lucky,” said Shannon Eberhard, information specialist for Cedar Breaks National Monument. “The fire was six miles north of us and moved north and east. We didn’t fget affected by the smoke, though we had a good view of the flume.”

Jim Facciuto of the Panguitch Lake Resort said his facility has been open since July 3, though business is slower.

“Nothing burned here and there was no damage.” he said. “It is nice and green around us. There are spots on the other side of the lake that got burned. Fishing is great..We are trying to get it back together. It will take a little while, but we will be fine.”

Brian Head spokesman Mark Wilder said that resort was able to open with full operations on July 4th. The resort is offering regularly scheduled weekend operations Friday through Sunday with live music, food and drink, mountain biking, a family adventure trail, zip line, tubing, climbing wall and scenic chair lift rides.

What hasn’t changed is the area’s interesting geology.

Navajo Lake, for example, has an interesting story about its formation. According to VisitCedarCity.com, it formed when an ancient lava flow dammed the eastern side of the lake valley. Since it rests on a bed of limestone and drains underground through sinkholes. Some water drains towards the Pacific Ocean via Cascade Falls and the Virgin River, while the balance runs east coming out at Duck Creek.

There are lava tubes and ice caves in the area to explore and some interesting viewpoints, including some unusual looks of nearby Zion National Park.

Cedar Breaks’ amphitheater offers some of the state’s most amazing views at an elevation over 10,000 feet. It is located on the 100-mile long Hurricane Fault, which became active about 10 million years ago after Cedar Breaks was once covered by an ancient lake.

The high mountain area at Cedar Breaks is known for its displays of wildflowers than can often last through the summer. According to Eberhard, the 12th annual wildflower festival continues through Sunday and includes daily wildflower walks, and this weekend, booths for kids, crafts, sidewalk chalks, games, and flower coloring.

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Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Navajo Lake in morning.

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The monument, which received International Dark Sky designation this year, also holds summer star parties every Saturday evening from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Large telescopes are provided for these events.

The area is also known for good fishing at Panguitch Lake, Duck Creek Pond, Navajo Lake, Bristlecone Pond at Brian Head and Aspen Mirror Lake.

Mountain bikers can enjoy and easy 12-mile ride around Navajo Lake or lift-served mountain biking on the weekends at Brian Head.

The national forest is also popular with off-highway vehicle riders with UHV and ATV rentals available at Duck Creek Village, which features lodges, retail stores and restaurants. There is also a small lodge with boat and cabin rentals on the shores of Navajo Lake.

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Jason Chaffetz Invents a Housing Crisis in D.C. — While Ignoring a Real One Back Home in Utah

In an interview published last Tuesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, proposed a $2,500 housing stipend for members of Congress to more easily afford housing at home and in Washington. Chaffetz, who is resigning from Congress without completing his current term, has ignored the growing affordable-housing crisis in Utah.

The housing shortage, fueled by a low minimum wage and high rental costs, is forcing families to move into inadequate housing or pack many people under one roof.

“We’re getting hit with factors that, combined, have put us in [a] very precarious housing situation that’s going to take some time to get out of,” Jaren Davis, executive officer of the Salt Lake Home Builders Association, told Deseret News in March.

Utah is short 47,180 homes for low-income families, and 68 percent of the state’s extremely low-income residents have “severe” difficulty affording housing, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Utah’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or $15,080 annually; a person on that salary would have to work 76 hours a week to be able to afford a small one-bedroom apartment in Utah.

Speaking to The Hill newspaper on Monday, Chaffetz said, “I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college, and a second place here in Washington, D.C.” Chaffetz is one of several lawmakers who sleeps in his office when in D.C.

Members of Congress earn $174,000 annually. As of 2014, Chaffetz had an estimated net worth of $569,006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. An analysis by CRP found that the average net worth for a member of Congress in 2013 was more than $1 million. Chaffetz’s office did not respond to TYT Politics’ request for comment.

In Chaffetz’s home state, thousands of residents can’t afford one home, let alone two. “We have a number of people paying over 50 percent of their income to housing,” the Utah Housing Coalition’s executive director Tara Rollins told Salt Lake City’s Fox affiliate this month. “It’s discouraging and I think what’s most discouraging is the thought that people aren’t working hard enough. People are working extremely hard and unfortunately, there are a lot of jobs that are only hiring part-time so they have to have multiple jobs to make ends meet.”

There is a more than 2,000-person waiting list in Utah County for affordable housing, Lynell Smith, director of the Utah County Housing Authority, told Provo’s Daily Herald. “It’s about a two-year wait, which is so unfortunate. The people need help now, not in two years.”

Chaffetz’s legislative record also hurts potential homebuyers other than his constituents. He co-sponsored national legislation to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which regulates companies that provide services like credit cards or mortgages.

In 2011, Chaffetz touted legislation to kill the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a pool of money by mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide housing relief for low-income Americans.

“With Fannie and Freddie under federal government conservatorship and losing billions of dollars a quarter, there is no need to have an additional requirement on them to send a portion of their revenue to special interest groups at the expense of American taxpayers,” reads a 2011 press release from Chaffetz’s office.

The legislation was not successful, however, and the Housing Trust Fund became a source of sorely needed funding. Four years later, Chaffetz voted for legislation that would have diverted money from the fund.

In 2016, $3 million of the Housing Trust Fund’s $174 million pool was allocated for Utah. The same amount was allocated for the District of Columbia.

Last month, President Donald Trump proposed cutting the fund entirely.

Kriston Capps at CityLab wrote: “The Housing Trust Fund is not remotely adequate for solving the growing problem of worst-case housing needs. But it was a flexible funding source, driven by local partners to help families with few to no other options… In many communities, it served as a source of gap funding to create more-deeply affordable housing in inclusionary developments.”

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Utah Jazz Release Statement on Gordon Hayward Leaving for Boston Celtics

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Gordon Hayward signs four-year, $128 million deal with Boston Celtics

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The Jazz lost Gordon Hayward to the Celtics during free agency, and that’s not an easy pill to swallow. Hayward not only was their best player, but the organization developed him into the star player he is. The Jazz’s belief in Hayward is a large part of why the forward qualified for the huge contract Boston just gave him.

So it wouldn’t be surprising if Utah were bitter at the circumstances and stayed quiet about his departure. However, that’s just not the type of organization they have in Utah. Jazz executives Gail Miller, Steve Starks and Dennis Lindsey each released a statement on Hayward, and, to nobody’s surprise, it was all class.

Gail Miller, Chairman of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies

“Gordon has been an important part of our Jazz family for the past seven years. While disappointed that he is moving on, we thank him for his contributions to the organization and wish Gordon, Robyn and their family well. We thank him for his play, his leadership and how well he represented the Jazz and the state of Utah.”

“The Jazz made a compelling case for Gordon to stay and managed the process well. A foundation for success has been established here, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to bring a championship to Utah. From our renovated facilities to our dedicated ownership, we are building a winning culture that will make Jazz fans proud.”

“We are proud of the player that Gordon developed into with the Jazz, and wish him and his family the best of luck. Despite his departure, we still have a tremendous coaching staff and very good young core of players in place as we move forward.”

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Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert Gets Shut out at NBA Awards Show

Despite a breakout season in 2016-17, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert failed to capture any hardware at the NBA Awards show.

Coming into Monday night’s NBA Awards show, Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert seemingly had a better-than-average shot at getting some hardware. Gobert, who averaged 14 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per contest last season, was a finalist for both Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.

In the end, though, the Jazz center was boxed out from individual year-end honors.

Although Gobert led the Association in blocks per game, block percentage, individual defensive rating, defensive real plus/minus and defensive win shares, it was Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green that captured the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Green led the league in steals per game and defensive box plus/minus during the 2016-17 campaign.

Not only did Gobert miss out on DPOY honors, but the voting wasn’t that close either. Green paced the field with 434 total points, including 73 first-place votes. Gobert did come in second, but was well behind with 269 points and just 16 first-place votes. San Antonio Spurs’ star Kawhi Leonard finished third (182 points).

The Most Improved Player award went to the Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo. The “Greek Freak” averaged 22.9 points 8.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game for the Bucks last season.

Gobert finished third in the voting for the award, with 113 points, which trailed both Antetokounmpo (428 points) and the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic (161 points). Gobert received just one first-place vote.

Two other Jazzmen also received MIP votes — Gordon Hayward received three third-place votes, while Joe Ingles got one. Meanwhile, Jazz coach Quin Snyder finished sixth in voting for the Coach of the Year award, which ultimately went to Houston Rockets headman Mike D’Antoni.

It was a tough night for Gobert and Jazz fans. On the bright side, we can probably look forward to an angry Stifle Tower working hard and doing all he can over the summer to prove voters wrong in the season ahead.

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What to Do About Gary Ott? Here Are Four Options for Removing the Salt Lake County Recorder

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake County County Recorder Gary Ott sits with his chief deputy Julie Dole before the Salt Lake County Council’s presentation of findings of the county auditor’s performance review in Oct. 2016. A week later, the Salt Lake County Republican Party censured Dole, accusing her of hiding Ott’s health status.

Ott’s term currently runs through 2020. Here are the options for what could happen moving forward.

1 • Salt Lake County Council could cut funds

Gill’s office scoured the state Constitution for any option for the county to remove Ott and found that once an elected official is in office, there is no mechanism for removing him or her if they become mentally incompetent. But the council does control the recorder’s purse strings, and it’s considering flexing that muscle.

The council Tuesday voted unanimously to hold a hearing next week on changing Ott’s budget. Council members have discussed the possibility of cutting Ott’s salary to remove any incentive for him remaining in office throughout the remainder of his term.

Unknown is whether such a move also could involve the pay of his top deputies, who are essentially running the office and have been subject to unsubstantiated allegations of exploiting Ott for personal gain.

The move to look at the office’s budget comes after a week of escalating tensions between the employees running the recorder’s office and other departments and officials at the county, according to Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw. The office has used internal staff to create its own software that it recently launched, which Bradshaw said is creating issues with the other departments that interact with the recorder’s office. Any mistakes from the launch would come at a bad time.

“We’re in a cycle within the property tax system where valuation notices are supposed to be sent next month to all landowners in the county,” Bradshaw said. “The way we know who those are is through the recorder’s office.”

2 • Negotiating an early retirement

There has been talk, confirmed recently by his secretary and personal friend, that negotiations for an early retirement package may be in the cards.

If Ott was provided incentive — including continued health-care coverage — to step down early, the question of forcible removal would become moot, at least in this case. Resignation more than 65 days out from the 2018 general election would trigger a special election. If Ott resigned within 65 of the 2018 general election, his replacement would be a Republican nominee appointed by the county.

3 • Ott’s family could step in

There is no indication Ott is currently married. He has two ex-wives. He told the Deseret News he was “pretty much” married to his secretary, Karmen Sanone, who some county officials have accused of manipulating Ott by insulating him and hiding the truth about his health.

Ott has siblings in southern Utah who until recently haven’t been actively involved in his life. But if the family believed Ott was being manipulated and treated poorly — and wanted to step in — state law gives them priority over any unrelated person. They could file for legal guardianship or conservatorship, said Jennifer Lee, an attorney in estate law, and the court would give preference to any distant or close relative.

Gary Ott’s brother, Marty Ott, said the family was aware of the issues surrounding the recorder, but said the family was just beginning to consider what options it has. That includes taking the matter to court to obtain control over Ott’s affairs, but Marty Ott said family members weren’t to that point.

“There’s not a cookbook here. There’s no recipe. These kinds of things take on a personality of their own,” Marty Ott said. “We’ve had some people come forward that have been very helpful in explaining not only legal implications but other routes that may even be more helpful.”

“The fact is that that’s always been our primary concern is his welfare, his safety, and whether or not he’s being treated properly,” Marty Ott said this week. He said the family was willing to sit down with Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams to work out an agreement for his possible early retirement. “We want to make absolutely sure that before that happens that Gary is well served and so is the county.”

Call it the nuclear option. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, earlier this year pitched a bill that would create a framework for removing county officials from office. Legislators balked, saying they needed more time to consider the bill. They met Wednesday morning to discuss the concept again, and Chavez-Houck now has a Republican backer in Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, and plenty of interest from other legislators.

Lawmakers made clear they want to tread lightly to make sure they don’t pass a bill that could allow vindictive voters or political rivals to remove an elected official they simply don’t like. So Thatcher recommended a three-part framework Utahns would have to follow to remove a mentally incompetent person from office.

If at the county level, the council or commission would have to vote unanimously to move to phase two, a mental competency exam in a courtroom. If a judge found the elected leader to be incompetent, and if the condition couldn’t be treated with medication or other means, the council could vote — unanimously — to remove the official from office.

Thatcher made clear the call to action stems from concerns over the case of Ott, who Thatcher called a close personal and political friend. He said the most recent time he talked to Ott, it was clear there was a problem.

“After about 15 seconds of lucidity he started yelling at me for taking his tools before [his deputy] quickly whisked him away and out of sight,” Thatcher told committee members.

Darcy Goddard, chief policy adviser in the district attorney’s office, told lawmakers on the Political Subdivisions Interim Committee they may need to change the Constitution to provide the framework to remove elected officials in the future.

“Our office certainly thinks if you do intend to do something, it would almost certainly require a constitutional amendment,” Goddard said. “Right now, the specific provision for removal would not allow a statute to go forward that would relate to mental or physical capacity.”

That’s a heavy lift, one that would possibly come after Ott’s situation is already resolved. Utah’s Constitution can be amended only if the House and Senate pass a bill with two-thirds majorities and it then is approved by voters in the next general election. The earliest that could happen is November 2018.

Still, lawmakers on the committee signaled they’re ready to move forward next session. They unanimously agreed to create a bill file that will become the vessel to move forward in February. While Ott was the impetus for the impending bill, Rep. Val Potter, R-North Logan, said he was interested in action whether Ott is still in office next year or not because Ott’s case isn’t the first and it likely won’t be the last.

“This has happened” before, Potter said. “I don’t think we know how many times this has happened.”

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Salt Lake City faces $1M, last-minute budget shortfall

SALT LAKE CITY — Only days away from when the Salt Lake City Council was scheduled to approve the city’s $237 million budget, city leaders learned they’re facing a more than $1 million shortfall.

The shortfall is due to a revised property tax rule adopted by the state, city leaders said Thursday.

“This is disappointing news and will make our decisions about how best to balance the city’s needs with available revenues much more difficult,” City Council Chairman Stan Penfold said in a statement. “The mayor’s recommended budget is very constrained in the first place, so this added limitation coming at the last minute makes it even harder to meet the expectations residents have for services in Salt Lake City.”

Penfold said council members are exploring options to address the shortfall, and they still expect to approve the budget during Tuesday’s meeting.

“There are no easy answers, and we will look at all options to balance the budget,” Penfold said. “In the year ahead, we will need to take a hard look at how we further tackle our infrastructure and maintenance issues citywide.”

Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s budget assumed $2.6 million in new growth in property tax revenue, but the city will only receive $1.53 million this year, city officials said.

Property taxes make up about one-third of the city’s general fund, which pays for city services such as public safety, street maintenance, parks, planning and zoning, housing and neighborhood development, and the offices of the city attorney, City Council and the mayor.

Sewer rate hikes that will double rates over the next five years. Millions more for homelessness, affordable housing and roads. Those are just a few highlights from Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s budget proposal unveiled Tuesday.

The revenue shortfall is the result of how the Utah State Tax Commission now calculates growth in property taxes, city officials said. The new interpretation, which went into effect this year, separates tax on real estate and buildings from tax on personal property — such as vehicles, computer equipment, machinery and furnishings.

City officials said the tax commission informed local governments of its final property tax revenue estimates Thursday, an annual notification that occurs each year shortly before budgets for the coming fiscal year must be adopted.

Under state law, the City Council must adopt a budget no later than June 22.

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Real Salt Lake: as Rsl Teeters on Edge of Lost Season, Gm Waibel Says It’s Time ‘to Get a Little Uncomfortable’

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (10) reacts after narrowly missing a goal on a penalty kick, in MLS action, Real Salt Lake Vs. Atlanta United, at Rio Tinto Stadium, Wednesday, April 22, 2017.

If not at rock-bottom, RSL is certainly in the vicinity as it closes in on the season’s official halfway point. RSL is 4-10-2 through 16 matches, is conceding goals at a historically bad rate, and most troubling, missing windows of opportunity to escape its dreary situation.

The latest episode, the 6-2 loss at FC Dallas, again left Mike Petke beside himself. But as he has so often, the RSL coach delivered a blunt and straightforward postgame response that went viral around MLS. Petke said he “couldn’t protect people anymore,” that he has “to take the gloves off now,” and the stretch of play is “blowing my mind.”

RSL has allowed a league-high 35 goals in 16 games. It sits at a league-worst minus-20 goal differential after allowing 11 goals in road trips at Houston and Dallas last week. Now in the midst of a FIFA international break, Waibel, Petke and the players have gotten an opportunity to get away from the bad start, digest what has gone wrong, and why it continuously has stayed wrong.

“It’s one thing to lose,” Waibel said, “it’s another thing to lose and not try. While I’m not accusing any player of not trying, there’s a level of commitment when you put this jersey on that I have to believe you have. Because ultimately, it’s my decision to make, and I’m going to have to make some tough decisions.”

Waibel’s decisions will come during the summer transfer window, which opens July 10. No movement is allowed within MLS for the next four weeks, but it seems Waibel has seen enough. The GM said RSL will make one roster move for certain this summer — and likely more.

“Any time you’re a struggling team,” Waibel said, “you know change is inevitable.”

It could come organically, too. RSL welcomes back four players who represented the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup in South Korea this week, and Waibel said he expects injured players David Horst, Jordan Allen and Demar Phillips all will be in training within the next week. Waibel did note this is RSL’s first full transfer window with Petke as coach and, after the early coaching change, a rash of injuries and poor performances, this could be a key month for RSL’s long-term future under Petke.

“We haven’t given Mike the freedom to select the players that he believes in,” Waibel said.

Petke’s explanation of the state of RSL after the disaster in Texas has been measured. It was a controlled tirade from a coach who wants more out of the players. He went as far to say he was “appalled by certain things” discussed going into a game and not being utilized during play.

“That tells me one of two things: either they’re not listening or they’re not good enough,” Petke said. “I’ve never been a part of something like this.”

Not since RSL’s earliest days have those around the club seen things go this bad. For context’s sake, RSL has allowed 35 goals in 16 matches; in 2012, 2010 and 2009, it went the entire season conceding 35 goals or fewer.

RSL went to Texas and got squashed after winning two out of three, confirming Petke’s warning that RSL still has a long way to go.

“Every player plays a little better on a daily basis when they know someone is behind them ready to take their job,” Waibel said. “And as much as we all want to believe we go to work every day doing our absolute best acting as if someone is pushing us, I’m sure everyone when they look in the mirror probably has one or two days that they didn’t do that.”

RSL is at a crossroads. The injuries are waning, performances have been subpar and something needs to change to arrest what looks like a free fall.

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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (10) reacts after narrowly missing a goal on a penalty kick, in MLS action, Real Salt Lake Vs. Atlanta United, at Rio Tinto Stadium, Wednesday, April 22, 2017.

Real Salt Lake » Club has allowed more goals in first half than some previous RSL teams gave up in entire seasons.

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“My job is to watch out for this club,” Waibel said, “and lately we’ve seen enough that it’s frustrating everyone and I have to put pressure on these players rather than coddling and making them as comfortable as they’ve been. It’s time to get a little uncomfortable.”

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Thousands Celebrate Pride in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY — The colors of the rainbow took over the streets of Salt Lake City Sunday morning, symbolizing a diverse crowd where differences are celebrated.

“The movement and the beauty and the love and the support that we have for diversity and for our LGBTQ community is very strong,” says Stephanie of Salt Lake City.

It’s not something people would necessarily expect here in Utah.

“I think we’ve come a long way. We still have a lot to go, which is why we have these,” says Bobby, who traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio for the Pride Parade.

However, each year, the acceptance grows and so does the parade.

“We only saw a group of one protesters; everyone else had such love,” says Emerald of Woods Cross.

“It’s been getting bigger and bigger and better every year,” says Aaron of Salt Lake City.

Senator Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, has been at every pride parade.

“I’m just wondering if these glasses are too gay for the senate? I’m getting a mixed reaction,” Dabakis said of his attire for the event.

Dabakis said he remembers what it used to be like.

“From 1994, where there were 100 people in the shadows, to this: The entire community is out here celebrating,” Dabakis said. “Guess what? We’re not going to put all these people back in the closet.”

People here are proud, not only of who they are, but where they live.

“It’s made me really happy to see the community is becoming a lot more accepting,” says Hayley of Bountiful.

It’s a place where you can love whoever you love.

“We have to love one another,” Stephanie said. “We have to be able to accept one another and be able to be open to what love is. Love is love.”

Even when there are setbacks and rainy days.

“There’s a lot happening in the world today, so it’s important to come together,” Bobby said.

A rainbow is on the horizon in Salt Lake City.

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An Inmate Makes It off the Mental Health Waitlist, but Solutions Still Sought

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A mentally ill woman who was featured in a Deseret News investigation about how inmates are waiting five months or more to get into the state psychiatric hospital in Provo was transferred to the facility on Tuesday.

Diane Prigge, 62, of Provo, was still in jail nearly eight months after she had been ordered to receive treatment from the Utah State Hospital when her case was profiled last week. Prigge had been arrested nearly a year ago on misdemeanor charges but could not proceed with her case until she was healthy enough to participate in her own defense.

Aaron Kinikini, legal director of the Disability Law Center in Utah, said news of Prigge’s transfer was met with “relief tempered by frustration.”

“The frustration is constant that there is this waitlist,” said Kinikini, who is representing inmates in a class-action lawsuit against the Utah Department of Human Services over how long it takes to get a bed at the psychiatric hospital. “It would be so much more productive if some high-level decision-makers could be proactive about looking at this issue rather than waiting until someone files a lawsuit.”

Thirty-five men and women with severe mental illnesses are still vying for one of 100 beds at the Provo facility.

Another 28 inmates are receiving regular visits from social workers through the hospital’s outreach program but remain incarcerated despite being deemed by mental health workers to be too ill to participate in their own defense.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s spokesman, Paul Edwards, said on Tuesday that the governor is “deeply concerned” about the people on the waitlist and would like to see legislators address the issue in interim session.

Edwards also said the governor is interested in large-scale mental health reforms undertaken by places like Miami-Dade County in Florida, but that autonomy in those issues is usually given to counties.

“We would love to see that kind of solutions approach because we do believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in these instances,” Edwards said. “We very much welcome a full discussion of that and what it means from a cost-benefit analysis.”

Other top elected officials in Utah were largely silent on the issue. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser declined to comment. House Speaker Greg Hughes did not respond to texts or calls.

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Heather Barnum, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Human Services, said the hospital could not discuss what happened in Prigge’s case. But she said the department is open to engaging with lawmakers on improving the mental health system in Utah, whether that involves a special session convened by the governor, a meeting of experts or any other format.

“Whatever they decide, there can’t be any harm in dialogue on something that we share as a critical issue for the state,” Barnum said.

The Utah State Hospital spends approximately $20 million a year — or 1 in 5 mental health dollars — rehabilitating mentally ill inmates so that they can continue with their court proceedings.

In the last legislative session, the hospital lobbied for and received $3 million to open an off-site facility in what will likely be the Salt Lake County Jail to begin treating male inmates without having to move them to the hospital.

But Kinikini said lawmakers are playing whack-a-mole with stopgap solutions that don’t address the real issue and criticized a “lack of vision and leadership at the top” for the problem.

“Who knows whether the demand is going to outstrip that thing right when it opens,” Kinikini said, referring to the off-site unit.

Utah Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, recalled when the forensic unit was first established at the state hospital as a way to alleviate pressure at the Utah State Prison.

Davis said he’s not surprised to see that the same problem continues today, only in a new location.

“It’s just frustrating to see that we’re this far behind the eight ball and nobody has been decrying this issue,” Davis said. “These individuals that are being incarcerated in jails waiting for a bed in the forensic unit is criminal within itself.”

Davis, who worked for 16 years in public relations for what is now known as Valley Behavioral Health, suggests the state focus on mental health services for juveniles in order to eventually decrease Utah’s population of mentally ill adults.

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, also voiced his concern, saying he is “deeply troubled” by the revelations that Utah has the longest waitlist out of the seven Western states surveyed by the Deseret News.

Eliason added that he is committed to running legislation on the issue next session but said he didn’t know what the solution is yet.

“It’s clear that we currently have a crisis on our hands,” said Eliason, who pushed for a statewide suicide hotline in the latest legislative session and helped legalize needle exchanges in Utah last year. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

Many advocates and elected officials said that programs that were supposed to help people like Prigge and others on the waitlist — such as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative — faltered because of the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid.

A 2016 study by the Utah Association of Counties showed that the Justice Reinvestment Initiative had successfully diverted more than 6,000 low-level nonviolent offenders away from incarceration but had failed to provide them the necessary substance abuse or mental health treatment afterward. Thus, the number of drug-related charges has actually gone up, not down, the report said.

The cost of treating those offenders’ mental health and substance abuse problems is $21 million, according to the Utah Association of Counties.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said that the result is that cash-strapped counties have been left with the responsibility of treating residents’ mental health and substance abuse issues without getting enough funding.

“The reinvestment never happened,” McAdams said.

A small-scale Medicaid expansion program meant to help several thousand low-income parents and childless adults who are homeless, criminally involved and have a mental illness or substance abuse problem has also been stalled since last year, pending federal review.

Edwards said Herbert has been in “direct conversations” with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about getting those waivers approved, which he said would help low-income Utahns get mental health care.

Davis County AttorneyTroy Rawlings floated the idea of convening a panel of mental health and criminal justice experts to bring recommendations to the legislature to fund.

The five-month waitlist, Rawlings added, is an “unacceptable embarrassment to Utah.”

“We’re better than that. As a state we’re better than that. As a people we’re better than that,” Rawlings said, adding that he would like to see an expansion of mental health courts in Davis and other counties.

In 2010, Davis County created a mental health court modeled after Salt Lake County’s successful program. The idea is to help those who are mentally ill and charged with a crime resolve their cases without jail time. Graduates regularly credit the program for helping them break the cycle of recidivism, Rawlings said.

“The sooner we can get these people treated, out of custody in appropriate placements, on the proper medications, with therapy and treatment to keep them out of jail, in the long run, the more money it saves taxpayers,” Rawlings said.

Some communities around the country, like Miami-Dade County, have undertaken large-scale mental health reforms that involve retraining police to divert mentally ill offenders to treatment instead of jail and providing follow-up care for up to a year after inmates are released from jail to ensure that they are getting housing, medication and other services.

But Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, said he would prefer to see how the off-site unit in Salt Lake County jail works before taking any bigger steps.

An internal medicine doctor who works as a psychiatric prescriber at Bear River Mental Health and at the Cache County Jail, Redd acknowledged the “huge” need for community mental health resources.

But “I think we’re doing the best we can at the moment,” Redd said. “We’ve got a good program going, it’s a funded program. I think we run that for a year or two and see what happens.”

Redd said he agrees that the state would likely see cost savings if officials were to invest in preventive medical care instead of catching patients once they’re already involved in the criminal justice system. But getting the mental health community, state agencies and the Legislature to unite around a solution is “not something you can get done overnight,” Redd said.

“Quite honestly, some of us on the front lines are so busy trying to take care of patients that we sometimes get distracted and don’t try to address the bigger issue,” Redd said. “We get stuck in our silos.”

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