Month: July 2017

USU Adds New Bachelor Degree

Education options in the Uintah Basin continue to grow. USU-Uintah Basin announced new options in technical education including a Bachelor of Science in Technology Systems. The new degree, approved by the Utah State Board of Regents, allows students who have received an approved 900+ hour certificate from a technical college to transfer those hours and receive 30 credits at USU towards their Associate of Applied Sciences in General Technology. Having unique “stackable” degrees thanks to collaboration with UBTech are a strength in the Uintah Basin and one that helps nontraditional students achieve their goals. “This new program allows students to get a bachelor’s degree without going the traditional route,” shares program director Trina Nye. “They can start or stop the process at any point, or leave for a few years if they need to. It’s also a great option for people who already have certificates and good jobs but who need the four-year degree to move up the pay scale or into management positions.” For more information, visit   

Homicide Among List of Charges Following Uintah County Arrest

A police chase this month ended in arrest and a long list of serious charges. The arresting officer’s probable cause statement outlines that on July 14th, Joy D. Murray, was arrested “for attempted homicide with a vehicle, a second degree felony, evading, reckless driving, resisting arrest, false information, DUI, driving on a suspended 2nd per se Utah drivers license, ignition interlock violation, alcohol restricted driver, and open container. This incident occurred on Highway 40 about mile marker 133 [in] Uintah County.” The pursuit of a black Nissan Titan was initiated near 200 South 200 East and eventually lead to 1500 West 1500 South before heading west on Highway 40. It was during the pursuit on the Highway that Murray allegedly tried to run one of the officers over. The officer had to run out of the way and “the vehicle missed him by mere inches.” The truck traveled off the road and was eventually pinned in at the weigh station where Murray was removed from the vehicle. The officer report states that Murray had an open bottle of peppermint schnapps in the vehicle. He was transported to Ashley Regional Medical Center for a medical clearance where a blood draw was taken at the request of the officers to have it read for DUI. The charges filed include those listed above as well as giving false personal identity to a peace officer.

Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office Says Goodbye to K-9 with Cancer Diagnosis

What started out as a trip to the vet for a chipped tooth quickly lead to an unexpected and tragic diagnosis for one of the K-9s on the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office team. Cpl. Morant Harrison was first partnered with the K-9, a female German Shepherd named Q, about a year ago. “She came named with a big really long name…and I couldn’t remember that when I was giving her commands, so I just shortened it to Q,” describes Harrison. “We’ve basically lived together for the past year.” Q was recently certified as a dual purpose K-9, trained in narcotics detection as well as patrol functions such as tracking and apprehending suspects. Q excelled at finding drugs and was well known throughout the K-9 community for having a great nose. Q was also unlike many police K-9s in that she was very social and never needed to be muzzled when taken into schools or when around Cpl. Harrison’s kids. “She’s never shown any aggression unless I’ve given her a command. She’s made it very easy to be a handler,” shares Harrison, who says his wife and kids are very sad and struggling with Q’s tragic diagnosis, as is he. At that visit to the vet, no one could have imagined that Q had a fast-acting, very aggressive form of cancer. The vet simply noticed that one of Q’s eyes was swollen and eventually recommended she see a specialist when the eye did not respond to treatment. The specialist performed an urgent surgery to remove the eye and tissue samples revealed the cancer diagnosis. The Sheriff’s Office, saddened by the news, medically retired the pup that was one of just two K-9s serving in their agency. This leaves a Belgian Malinois named Kimber as the lone K-9 now serving the Sheriff’s Office in Duchesne County. Q will be buried with police honors on Cpl. Harrison’s small farm. The Sheriff’s Office hopes to add another K-9 in the near future.

Fatal Accident on SR-191 in Daggett County

One person was killed and three were injured in an accident on SR-191 in Daggett County Saturday. According to Utah Highway Patrol, a 2015 Nissan was traveling southbound while a 2017 motor home was traveling northbound. The Nissan crossed the center median and struck the Motor Home. The driver of the Nissan was pronounced dead at the scene. Of the four occupants in the motor home, the driver suffered minor injuries, an adult female passenger was transported to Ashley Regional Medical Center in serious condition, a 94-year-old female was flown to the U of U Hospital in critical condition, and a male minor was not injured. The road was closed for about half an hour on Saturday night while the helicopter landed. The motor home was towing another vehicle. No further information has been released.

Babe Ruth 13U Pacific Southwest Regional Baseball Tourney a Success

The board and volunteers behind the 13U baseball tournament held in Vernal know how to do it right. This is the 6th year the regional tournament has been hosted in Vernal and it certainly won’t be the last. “Usually bids have to be put in to host a tournament like this but this year they called and asked us,” shares regional tournament director Kenten Pope. “We always have great feedback and the Commissioner that attended this year said in her 30 years this was one of the very best tournaments she has seen.” The organization, facilities, fields, and community support all stand out to the tournament attendees as well as the tourist attractions that pair athletics with vacation time. 9 teams attended the tournament from 5 states; 3 from California, one each from Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona, and 3 from Utah including the Vernal 13U baseball team. The team from Hawaii won the first championship game on Saturday against Tri-Valley California. It was Tri-Valley’s first loss so they played a second game which Tri-Valley won, earning them the title. Baseball lovers enjoyed the entire week of exciting games and local businesses enjoyed the extra patrons as about 500 people came to town for the tournament. Congratulations to the volunteers and board members that made this year’s regional tournament such a success.

Vernal ROCKS! Rocks Hiding Around Town

Rock hunting has become quite the past time for kids and families in the Vernal area thanks to the Vernal ROCKS group. The all inclusive club started out on Facebook with the invitation to paint rocks and hide them around town for others to see and find. The instructions encourage participants to write on the back of the rock asking the recipient to share and post a picture of the rock to the Vernal ROCKS Facebook page and plenty of participants are complying. When a rock is found, the finder is asked to re-hide the rock or replace it with a new painted one of their own. Over 400 pictures have been shared on the Facebook page as participation continues to grow. The variety of painted rocks range from emojis and owls to hamburgers and designs. Common hiding spots include the walking park and city parks. Join the fun by keeping a watch out for painted rocks and visiting the Vernal ROCKS Facebook page.

Vernal ROCKS Facebook page  

Local Seniors Encouraged to Buy Parks Pass Before Price Hike

Now is the time for local senior citizens to purchase their national parks lifetime senior pass before a scheduled rate hike. On August 28th, the price of the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will jump from $10 dollars to $80 dollars. The pass allows lifetime access to over 2,000 sites and parks throughout the United States and in December 2016, Congress passed legislation requiring the rate increase of the lifetime Senior Pass. The legislation also introduced the option of a new annual Senior Pass for $20 dollars. The Senior Pass has been $10 dollars since 1994 and covers all entrance fees and day-use fees. Those who are age 62 years or older can purchase the lifetime pass for $10 before August 28th. Locally, the pass is available at the Dinosaur National Monument entrance station. It can also be obtained by mail or online but there is an additional $10 processing fee and due to expected high order volume, it could be delayed by up to several months. For more information, visit 

Jade’s Benefit Ride; Locals Rally to Help Vernal Girl with Cancer

The community is rallying around a 4-year-old Vernal girl with cancer and her family as treatments to fight for her life begin. 4-year-old Jade Cooper has a bright smile despite being diagnosed with B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital have said her treatments will realistically take 2 full years and that Jade will need to be in Salt Lake City at least once a week for treatments of at least 6 hours long. Jade’s Benefit Ride has been organized for August 26th as loved ones are asking the community to help this family in their time of need. The benefit ride begins in Vernal at the Beers Harley Davidson and makes stops in Roosevelt and Duchesne before making a final run via Wolfcreek Pass to Heber City for a catered lunch. Fantastic items are being raffled for $1 dollar per ticket or 7 tickets for $5 dollars. For more information on Jade and the benefit ride, visit the Jade’s Journey with Leukemia Facebook page.

Cow/Truck Collision Good Reminder for Safety in Open Range

An accident in western Colorado provides a good reminder for drivers to be extra cautious when driving in Open Range. According to the Routt County Fire Protection District, a pickup truck hit a cow on Routt County Road 129 near mile marker 22 on Tuesday night. The driver was not seriously injured but the truck certainly was and the cow, though able to wander away, died from its injuries. On Open Range, drivers need to slow down, obey the speed limit, and be mindful of the possibility of livestock on or near the roadways. The risk of livestock on or near the roadway runs into mid October. All are encouraged to be careful and mindful when traveling. 

Ute Tribe Make Statement During Annual Native American Summit

Governor Herbert’s annual Native American Summit was held this month with Utah’s Native American communities gathering for the summit’s theme, “Embracing Paths to Success.” Educational opportunities and economic development were both topics as was the importance of peace and unity, among many other topics. At the launch of the summit, the Salt Lake Tribune announced that the Ute Tribe was pulling out of the annual summit, citing what they consider mistreatment by the state government. The Ute tribal leaders outlined their concerns in a letter that was delivered during the summit, stating that they want the state government to treat the tribe as a sovereign nation. Tribe Councilman Shaun Chapoose is quoted as saying the tribe has its own relationship with the federal government and does not need the state acting on its behalf. “We’re well adapted to determine our own future and we’re willing to take the leap forward,” says Chapoose. “We have nothing to lose, because basically the only one who is going to protect us is ourselves.” Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox commented that he was surprised by the withdrawal because he felt that meetings with the tribe chair have been productive.