A1 A1
Provo is the biggest per-household CO2 polluter in the country, analysis finds

A new study from a private company found that Provo produces more carbon dioxide per household and has a larger carbon footprint than any other metropolitan area in the United States.

MagnifyMoney, a New York-based site that gives consumers financial advice and discusses economic news and trends, looked at the country’s 200 most populated metropolitan areas and measured the annual average metric tons of CO2 emitted per household.

The analysis found that the average Provo household, a city with an estimated population of 116,702 as of 2018, emits 10.55 metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.

Ogden is not far behind, with the average household emitting 10.16 metric tons of CO2 annually.

The western U.S. is heavily represented on the list of biggest per-household polluters, with Greeley, Colorado; McAllen, Texas; Yakima, Washington; Tyler, Texas; and Oxnard, California all shortly trailing Provo and Ogden.

The most densely populated metropolitan areas in the country tend to have the smallest average carbon footprints. The average households in New York City, NY and San Francisco, CA emit 5.38 metric tons and 7.12 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, respectively. Los Angeles, California has the third lowest annual emission rate at 7.15 metric tons.

The number of cars per household and public transportation options likely plays a role in a city’s carbon footprint, the report says.

There are 2.1 cars in the average Provo household, according to the report, that travel approximately 25,000 miles a year. In New York City, there are an average 1.27 cars per household that travel 13,000 miles annually.

And while only 2% of Provo commuters use public transit, 31% of New York City commuters use public buses and trains.

Another factor is urban density. Only 37% percent of New York City households are single-family, detached homes, compared to 67% percent in Provo and 75% in Ogden.

In January 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that Provo had the filthiest air in the nation at that point in time, noting that the city consistently ranks as a top-five worst air quality city.

As of Tuesday, airnow.gov, the site the EPA uses to track air quality, shows that Provo is at a 27 on the Air Quality Index, which is considered a “Good” and healthy score.

Utah officials have made efforts to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, such as encouraging energy companies to develop alternative, cleaner forms of energy. Earlier this month, Gov. Gary Herbert celebrated Utah’s 11th annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month.

The MagnifyMoney analysis looked at 2017 data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology Housing and Transportation Index.

Charges filed against inmate who reportedly strangled Santaquin man in prison

A Utah State Prison inmate who reportedly admitted to strangling his cellmate nearly two months ago was charged with murder on Friday.

James Afuakimoana Tamoua, 24, was charged in Salt Lake City 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony, for the death of 38-year-old Reo Guy Watts.

According to charges, all inmates were accounted for and locked inside their cells at the Oquirrh block on the night of Sept. 21.

Around 10 p.m., prison officials responded to a cell for an emergency call and found Watts unresponsive on his bed. He was announced deceased at the scene after medical personnel arrived.

Tamoua had reportedly activated the emergency call and told the responding prison officer “I think I killed him” and “cuff me up,” charges state.

During interviews with investigators, Tamoua said he had been sitting at a table in the cell and Watts had been laying upwards on his bunk. He reportedly explained he had choked Watts, flipped him onto his stomach, put an arm around his neck and strangled him, charges state.

Officials did not report a possible motive for the fatal attack.

In February, Tamoua was convicted of federal charges for robbing a convenience store at gunpoint in 2017. He was sentenced to five years in prison for violating the Hobbs Act and sentenced to another five years in prison for the state charge of theft.

As his criminal cases were ongoing, Tamoua stabbed another inmate multiple times with a pencil at the Davis County Jail in October 2018, charges state.

He was convicted of attempted aggravated assault by prison, a third-degree felony, and sentenced up to five years in prison.

Tamoua also broke the fire sprinkler in his jail cell while at the Davis County Jail, according to charges.

Watts was serving time for failing to stop for police in 2017 and sentenced for up to five years in prison.

He “loved the mountains and spent as much time as he could enjoying the great outdoors,” his family members wrote in an obituary. He left behind two children and was buried at the Santaquin Cemetery.

Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run crash in American Fork, reward offered for arrest

The American Fork Police Department reported a pedestrian died in a hit-and-run crash on Monday night.

Around 8 p.m., officers and EMS personnel responded to 280 E. Main St. on reports that an individual had been struck by a car.

The person reportedly died of their injuries before emergency responders arrived, according to a press release from the department.

“Officers found the vehicle that hit the pedestrian did not remain on scene. This street is dark so it is possible the driver did not realize they hit a pedestrian,” police reported.

A nearby business provided investigators with surveillance video of the suspect vehicle: a white 2006-09 Dodge Ram with a cargo style shell and double doors on the rear.

Police stated the headlights near the driver’s side were likely damaged in the crash.

The driver of the vehicle has not been located as of Tuesday afternoon, officials reported.

“We are asking the driver to come forward and speak with us,” the press release stated. “We are also asking anyone who may have seen this accident or anyone who may have information about this accident to please contact the American Fork Police Department.”

A reward is also available for any information leading to an arrest and successful prosecution of the individual involved. The Police Department can be contacted at (801) 763-3020 or at Central Utah Dispatch at (801) 794-3970.

Provo school board votes to accept results of failed bond election

Although it failed on this month’s ballot, Provo City School District Board of Education Board President Jim Pettersson believes the decision to approach the public about a bond to rebuild aging schools was the correct one.

“I firmly believe and will continue to believe that the bond we proposed for $245 million was absolutely the right thing to do at the right time,” Pettersson said during a school board meeting Tuesday evening. “This bond allowed us as a board and district administration to present to the public the full scope of the needs of the district. It also allowed the board and the district administration to represent the most fiscally responsible solution to meeting the immediate and long-term needs for student safety, security and academic equity.”

The Provo City School District Board of Education approved a resolution Tuesday evening accepting the results of the general election canvas, which showed that 63.06% of the 15,183 votes in the November general election were cast against the bond.

If it had passed, the bond would have included $145 million for a rebuild of Timpview High School, except for the Thunderdome, a $55 million rebuild and relocation of Dixon Middle School on Provo’s west side, a $30 million rebuild of Wasatch Elementary School, a $10 million addition at Westridge Elementary School and $5 million for security upgrades.

Tuesday was the first time the board had met since the polls closed Nov. 5.

Pettersson addressed the crowd gathered for the meeting twice regarding the bond, stating that the election process was emotionally taxing for everyone involved.

“There was great passion on both sides of this issue,” Pettersson said in his first remarks about the bond, located near the beginning of the board’s business meeting.

He urged the community to come together to think about what’s right for all of Provo, and led the meeting with a prayer for healing and unity.

In his second set of remarks later in the meeting, Pettersson thanked both those who supported and opposed the bond, including those who studied the issue and asked sincere questions.

“Those questions helped the board and district administration to consider items we have not always fully explored,” Pettersson said.

He said he was saddened that the election became about winning an argument, getting personal wants met or attacking the honesty and integrity of the school board and district administrators.

The needs the bond would have paid to complete, Pettersson said, still need to be met, and the board will look for ways to fund them.

Those options could include deferring other projects, raising the local property tax levy or approaching the public with another bond on a future ballot.

Melanie Hall, the board’s vice president, also took time during the meeting to thank the bond’s supporters.

“It was a true privilege to work with this board and the administration during this time, and I look forward to working with all of you during the next steps,” Hall said.

Orem City Council discusses introducing rental licensing, fees for landlord accountability

Orem City Council is aiming to strengthen neighborhoods — and they need the cooperation of residents and landlords to do it.

On Tuesday, the council discussed introducing rental licensing and fees, which they hope will provide a way to make tenants, and more importantly landlords, more accountable.

The ordinance and code changes are expected to take place at the December council meeting and become effective Jan. 1 with a grace period to July 1.

One major change is the city will require all rental properties to have utilities in the name of the landlord (adding a property management company if applicable).

“Landlords can still assign tenants to pay the utility bill and have the bill electronically sent to the tenant. Tenants will pay any of the ways they currently pay (including autopay),” according to Steven Downs, city spokesman.

The city turns in about $70,000 in unpaid utilities to collections and only gets back about $30,000. The city is hoping to get the other $40,000.

With an ordinance in place the city will begin notifying landlords when citations are issued on properties — this would be programmed to happen automatically, Downs said.

“We are proactively notifying landlords,” Downs said. He indicated the city has garnered property owner information from the county records and is building at database of names, phone numbers, and properties owned or rented.

“This will allow our neighborhood preservation officers to have quick access to the contact information for landlords,” Downs said.

The new database will also address “illegal rentals” by quickly determining if they have a rental license, Downs said.

Over time, they will be able to identify the landlords that are not attentive to the happenings at their property.

The new licensing program will reduce the amount of work city employees spend doing shut-offs, reading meters, reviewing lease agreements, and dealing with various challenges of rental properties.

Downs said the recommended fee for a rental license is $50.

“Licensing rentals would be handled through our Utility Billing system and will be done through the Orem Help Center (311), with the help of our civilian code enforcement employees,” Downs said.

Police Chief Gary Giles said he needs to train his officers in code enforcement on rentals.

Licensing will mirror fiscal years (July 1 – June 30). Signups can begin in January, but the initial license will not expire until June 30.

The city will hold an open house with landlords to let them know of the changes, fees, and how to come into compliance with the changes.

Downs said, the city will forgo the “per-unit” charge for the first year to allow it to further determine how they should proceed — looking to equitably charge fees to landlords through a good landlord program.

“Getting ‘licensed’ will be as simple as getting the utilities in the names of the owners (adding a property manager, when applicable),” Downs said. “Minimal programming will need to be done to allow this system to accommodate both the utilities and the rental licensing”