A1 A1
BYU raising tuition by few percentage points

Brigham Young University’s students will see another raise in tuition next academic year.

The Provo university will increase its tuition by 3.1% for undergraduate students for the 2020-21 academic year. The raise will increase tuition by $90 a semester, bringing undergraduate tuition to $2,985, according to information released by the university Wednesday.

Tuition for graduate students will be raised by 3%, increasing by $110 and bringing it to $3,755 a semester. Law and graduate Marriott School of Management students will see an increase of $205 a semester, bringing tuition to $6,930.

Tuition for spring and summer terms will increase by $45 to $1,493 for undergraduate students and by $55 to $1,878 for graduate students.

The increase will cover increases in the cost of supplies, library and laboratory materials and for travel, according to the university’s announcement.

Students who do not belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pay twice the tuition of members of the church.

BYU announced in both 2018 and 2017 that it would be raising tuition by 3% the following academic years for undergraduate and graduate students.

Utah Valley University students also saw an increase in tuition this year. The university raised tuition by 1.7% for the 2019-20 academic year, leading to an increase of $86 to $2,561 a semester for an in-state, undergraduate student taking 15 credits.

Tuition at UVU increased by 1.5% for the 2018-19 academic year and by 2.5% for the 2017-18 academic year.

Utah Irish dance champ opens studio in Pleasant Grove

When Naomi Lou Smith was just a little girl, her mother wanted to help Smith and her twin sister connect to their Irish heritage. She decided to do so through dance.

Now, a journey that Smith started in her childhood has finally come to fruition as she recently opened up her own Irish dance studio in Pleasant Grove.

Initially, Smith’s journey began when her mom ordered some VHS tapes from Ireland that had an instructor teaching a few traditional steps, which she then taught to Smith and her sister before signing them up for dance classes with Maurenn McTeggart Hall, who immigrated to Los Angeles in the 1950s and started Irish dance schools throughout the western and central parts of the United States.

According to Smith, Hall told Smith’s mom her girls ought to compete — but at the time, there were no competitions in Utah. After a while, Hall herself relocated, leaving Smith and her family to fend for themselves when it came to dancing.

Eventually Smith and her sister just turned to dancing for fun with kids in their neighborhood, a group which soon grew into its own school that still runs today: Rinceoiri Don Spraoi, which Smith said translates to “dancing for fun.”

Dancing opened up several opportunities for Smith and her siblings to dance for the 2002 Winter Olympics and perform in Park City with the original fiddler for the Riverdance Irish dance troupe, among other performances.

“I performed on every stage probably here in Utah several times,” Smith said.

When Smith was 16, however, her family opted to explore other musical talents and start a family band. Life happened, and Smith became engaged to her husband and later gave birth to her first son, Dallen, and decided she wanted to get back into Irish dancing, with the goal of becoming a teacher.

“I started going back to classes. (Dallen) was still in diapers. ... I started getting myself back into the conditioning of it all,” Smith said.

Then, on the morning of her very first regional championship performance since getting back into Irish dancing shape, Smith found out she was pregnant with her second son, Rorey.

“I was so sick on that stage,” she said.

After Rorey was born, Smtih went back to train, working up to the “open championship” level, which she said is the highest level of competitor in Irish dance. Qualifying as a mom of two, she said, was no easy feat.

“You have to be in almost every day practicing, an hour, two hours a day,” Smith said.

Once again, Irish dance has become a family affair, with both of Smith’s boys dancing. Dallen even became an open champion at the tender age of 10, after six years of dancing. Dallen turns 12 this month and his mom said he’s ranked 28th in the world for his age group, 11th in North America, and both Dallen and Rorey are ranked second in the western region for their age groups. Rorey is just a few years younger than Dallen.

“I think after just being in all the classes with Mom all those years, hearing the tunes, hearing the rhythms and watching it, both of them had just taken to it,” Smith said. “I never expected them to go as far as they have.”

The entire Smith family has traveled together to Scotland and Ireland for various competitions over the years, with Smith continuing to compete until three stress fractures in her left foot forced her to change direction and become a teacher instead.

But becoming a certified Irish dance teacher, even for someone with Smith’s extensive history and experience, is no walk in the park — or simple jig. It’s a rigorous, yearlong process made up of 12 different exams. Smith studied for a year to prepare to be tested on her musicality, dancing capability, as well as teach dancers she had never met and take a written examination.

Smith said Irish dance teachers even have to be able to sing traditional melodies at the drop of a hat.

“It’s very intense,” Smith said.

Smith barely failed one section of the intense process and had to wait another year to travel back to Ireland and test again. She finally passed in August 2018.

“You have to wait until the commission ratifies your results, and then they send you an email with one word,” Smith said. “Successful or unsuccessful. That’s all you get. You don’t get the scores, you don’t get answers to, ‘Well, what did I do wrong?’”

Smith told the man teaching her, 1998 “Lord of the Dance” Stephen Scariff, and her kids that she had passed, to which she said Scariff simply responded, “Welcome aboard.”

Smith has taught at the Sandy Scariff School of Irish Dance for the past year, and just a few weeks ago, opened her own studio in Pleasant Grove. The studio also houses a ballroom dancing team and offers fitness classes, and Smith said she’s already had calls from parents wanting to start their kids Irish dancing.

“It’s just getting the word out that we’re here,” Smith said.

Smith acknowledged Irish dance may not be for everyone because of how competitive it is.

“Irish dance is not an, ‘everybody gets a medal, everybody gets a trophy,’” she said. “It’s very clear(ly) defined who’s working hard and who’s not, and who’s willing to go the distance with their own goals.”

But the kids who are willing to put in the work, Smith said, are so proud of themselves when they accomplish their goals, and that’s why she loves to teach.

“These kids ... they’re the hardest working kids I’ve ever met,” Smith said. “The girls support each other ... I love that we have that camaraderie kind of built in with them.”

Smith also teaches an adult Irish dance fitness class Tuesday nights, which is also offered on the Freeplay fitness app.

“I’d like to expand in the future. I don’t know, maybe have more than one big studio,” Smith said. “We’re just going to see how it goes, and where it takes us.”

Learn more about Irish dancing and the other offerings at Smith’s studio by visiting http://naomiloustudios.com.

Pleasant Grove's G Trail gets a facelift

Climbing the G hike to G Mountain in Pleasant Grove is a favorite pastime of many locals and visitors.

The trail is now safer and easier to use, thanks to about 200 volunteers who came out on Wednesday to help improve the trail. The service was part of an Eagle Scout project of 13-year-old Garrett Robinson.

Volunteers included Pleasant Grove High School’s baseball, wrestling and women’s basketball teams with their coaches, a local scout group, youth group and many community members.

Some volunteers worked the trail while others manned the pavilion, handing out snacks, keeping volunteers organized and providing first aid when needed.

“I feel relief that we’re finished because I’m tired,” Garrett said when the project was completed. “I’m grateful that all of these people came.”

Different groups of volunteers worked at various times throughout the day clearing overgrown weeds blocking portions of the trail, removing large rocks that were tripping hazards, trimming trees and cutting and hammering down pieces of rebar that had been placed there to keep rocks from sliding onto the trail. They also cleaned out culverts that were clogged with dirt, rocks and debris.

According to Ryan Robinson, Garrett’s father, some hikers came up the trail while volunteers were working. Later, when they came back down, they commented that they could tell that there was a difference and an improvement on the trail.

“It turned into a really cool community effort,” he said.

In addition to the many hours of work volunteers put into the project, many other community members and businesses donated to the effort. Food for volunteers, water, first aid kits, safety vests and other needed items were donated. Pleasant Grove city’s parks and recreation department loaned some tools for volunteers to use.

Garrett said he wanted to do this project because he lives near and uses the trail often and he wanted it to be usable to others.

“This is my mountain and I wanted to do it because I want to make it clean, so whoever comes up will think, ‘This is cleaner than it was last time,’” he said.

Garrett began planning the project months ago. Originally, he wanted to help upgrade the letter G that sits on the mountain. However, after meeting with Deon Giles, parks and recreation director, it was determined that that project would not be safe for community members to participate. However, there are tentative plans to upgrade the G in the future.

“We are working with the high school and engineers on a concept for improvements for the G,” Giles said. “Once a plan has been prepared, we will submit the proposal to the Forest Service for approval.”

According to Giles, Pleasant Grove city holds the special-use permit with the Forest Service for the G Trail and the G on the mountain.

According to Giles, the G was originally placed on the mountain decades ago by Pleasant Grove High School’s Class of 1921. The area was cleared and a G was framed, filled with rocks and whitewashed. In the spring of 1927, the G was lit up for the first time with torches. In 1978, the perimeter was poured with concrete. In 1986, the G was covered in aluminum slats, which are still there today.

Health officials report Utah’s 1st West Nile death of 2019

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health has confirmed this year’s first human death from West Nile virus.

Authorities said Saturday that a central Utah resident at least 65 years old died from the disease carried by mosquitoes sometime between Sept. 21 and 28.

Information about the victim including name and gender have not been released.

Utah health officials have confirmed 19 human cases West Nile virus this year.

The total is higher than last year, when 11 residents contracted the virus and one person died.

State health officials have said the wet spring Utah experienced this year created more standing water habitats for mosquitoes, attracting species that can transmit West Nile virus to Utah.

Symptoms include headaches, joint pains and a high fever.

Ex-AG Mark Shurtleff accepts $600K settlement from Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has accepted a $600,000 settlement from the state to pay for legal fees accrued when he defended himself against bribery charges that were dropped before trial, officials said.

Shurtleff, a Republican, sought $1.1 million in legal fees when he sued the state of Utah in 2017 but told the Deseret News on Wednesday it’s time to move on.

“I get substantially less than what I ended up paying,” Shurtleff said.

The agreement is pending formal approval from a legislative committee later this month.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s spokeswoman, Anna Lehnardt, said the governor had signed off on the agreement with Shurtleff but declined to comment further. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, a Republican, said in a statement that the settlement was negotiated by the office of current Attorney General Sean Reyes, and will be reviewed at an Oct. 16 meeting.

Reyes, a Republican, had no comment on the settlement.

Shurtleff, a three-term attorney general, was arrested in 2014 and charged with obstructing justice and accepting improper gifts such as beach vacations from businessmen in trouble with regulators. His successor, John Swallow, was also accused in the pay-to-play scheme.

Shurtleff pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrongdoing.

Charges against Shurtleff were surprisingly dropped in 2016. Prosecutors at the time pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell that they said narrowed the scope of charges in influence-peddling cases.

Swallow’s case went to trial, where a jury acquitted him of bribery. Earlier this month, the Utah Legislature approved a $1.5 million settlement for Swallow.

The settlement does not end a separate, multimillion-dollar civil rights lawsuit filed against law enforcement by Shurtleff last year, in which he accused authorities of causing him emotional distress and humiliation for their role in the investigation that led to his 2014 arrest.

The law enforcement agencies being sued have defended their actions. The case is pending.

Shurtleff said he would keep about $60,000 and use the rest of the settlement, $540,000, to pay off his remaining legal bills.