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Precollegiate
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Alpine School District board continues discussion on 2016 bond deficit

A decision on what the Alpine School District will do to cover the costs of its remaining 2016 bond projects could come by the end of the month.

The Alpine School District Board of Education continued discussions into the bond’s remaining phase Tuesday.

“It is a difficult decision because we have more need probably than we have money,” said Mark Clement, a member of the board.

The district has about $40 million remaining of its $387 million bond to construct about $80 million left of bond projects. Construction has not started on the final three school projects in the bond, which include a middle school in Lehi and elementary schools in Eagle Mountain and Vineyard.

The district has attributed the deficit to expanding the scope of projects through decisions such as adding additional square footage to schools and through rising construction costs that have overwhelmed initial estimates.

Other bonds have traditionally been over budget, Rob Smith, the district’s assistant superintendent, told the board Tuesday afternoon. The 2006 bond was budgeted at $230 million and had $296 million spent on projects, the 2011 bond was budgeted for $210 million and had $235 million spent and the 2016 bond was budgeted at $387 million and is expected to have had $457 million spent on its projects.

Smith said he remembered the meetings about the 2006 deficit.

“It was a little different situation and we had to do a lot of things to make it work, but we did, and we kept those commitments to voters,” he said.

Smith said the district doesn’t know how much a project will cost until it does the bids, and that there’s always a difference between the projected cost and the bid.

The district could dip into other funding sources, such as utilizing its local building authority, to complete the remaining projects.

“When we make commitments, we need to follow through with commitments made,” Smith said during the meeting’s study session. “That is a guiding principle we feel is critical for us.”

Bond projects have included Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain, along with multiple new elementary schools, school renovations, security updates and property purchases.

The board could make a decision about the funds Sept. 24.


Orem
featured
Orem's 311 help center celebrates first year of serving city residents

Just over a year ago, Orem brought together a number of its services to one central 311 help center. More than 70,000 phone calls later, leaders are calling it a success.

“The biggest accomplishment is the employee team that came from all areas (in city departments) and transferred their knowledge to others,” said Kathy Phipps, city treasurer and help center director.

Phipps said the 311 help center is designed to take care of any residents concerns. While it is a high stress and emotion-filled job, Phipps is proud to say there has be zero turnover.

“They are there for each other,” Phipps said.

Most residents may not be aware of all of the services offered in one location at the south end of the city building.

The help center provides passport applications, business licenses, finger printing for employment, utility bill payments, they handle the public works dispatch, dog licenses, general questions and more.

“The average problem is resolved in less than a day,” said Pete Wolfley, communications and innovations manager. “They have given 2,300 answers on the website without having to call.”

Liz Payne, a help center communication agent, left a law firm to come to the help center in its beginning and as it was transitioning into a one-stop shop location.

“It’s a very unified team,” Payne said. “It's a pleasure to know what’s going on with the city.”

Payne said, for instance, they process 24,000 utility bills each month.

“We are improving the quality of the service residents are getting,” Phipps said.

Of the 10 employees that work in the help center, a number of them are bilingual and help those speaking Spanish on a daily basis.

Wolfley said the city is continuing to improve the help center by adding new technology.

The city is working with the help center to in the near future take Alexa commands, and texts, according Wolfley.

They are also continuing to improve mobile phone services and are making online improvements.

Residents may also call after hours. “Someone still takes the call but the concern is handled the next day,” Wolfley said.

Residents who would like to know more or connect through chat online with the 311 help center should visit https://orem.org/help.


Elections
featured
Provo businessman Jeff Burningham announces run for governor

A Provo businessman became the second officially-declared Republican candidate in the upcoming race for Utah governor Tuesday morning.

Jeff Burningham announced he would be running as a Republican for the state’s highest seat, touting himself as an “innovative outsider” and a jobs-creating entrepreneur who will bring his business skills to the political arena.

During an announcement at the state capitol Tuesday morning, Burningham said it is time for Utah to challenge the inertia of bureaucracy and bring a new way of thinking to government.

“Politicians say, ‘We need a governor who understands how government works,’” Burningham said. “I say we need a governor who understands how the world works and how to get our government to work more for us and intrude less upon us.”

Burningham said his political involvement to this point has included serving as a precinct chair in Utah County and helping raise money for candidates.

Burningham, who lives in Provo, began an institutional venture fund to provide capital for tech startups, which he says has helped create more than 4,000 jobs in the state. He said he started his first tech company while a student at Brigham Young University, and went on to build a national real estate enterprise.

Burningham joins Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox as the officially declared Republican candidates in the race, while numerous other Republican candidates are considering runs. Current Gov. Gary Herbert announced he would not seek re-election and threw his support behind Cox, who has been traveling the state on his own listening tour to visit each of Utah’s cities and towns.

Having already traveled across the state on a listening tour, Burningham said he sees issues that need to be addressed in Utah.

“I don’t think it makes sense to incentive growth along the Wasatch Front by a tax giveaway,” he said.

He said it’s time to rethink corporate tax giveaways, address issues like the housing shortage, and end the overregulation of small businesses.

Burningham said occupational licensing is an example of overregulation that he would want to rethink how the government approaches.

The educational system needs modernized, Burningham said, suggesting more “boot camp”-type programs in public schools for tech and skilled construction labor programs.


BYU Photo 

BYU sophomore defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi (90) celebrates with his teammates in the locker room after the 29-26 2OT Cougar win at Tennessee on Sept. 7, 2019.


Crime-and-courts
Judge sends Provo man to jail for domestic violence assault

After pleading guilty to pushing his girlfriend through a wall of drywall and throwing her down the stairs of his home, a Provo man was sentenced to serve probation and a year in the Utah County Jail.

Judge James Brady suspended a prison sentence and also ordered Luke John Battiloro, 37, to serve six months in home confinement on a GPS monitor after he is released from custody.

“Being placed on probation is not a gift. It is also not a termination of the prison sentence,” the judge stated. “The reason for placing you on probation is that I see you have very little in the way of criminal history.”

Battiloro was charged in April with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, as well as obstruction of justice, violation of a protective order and tampering with a witness, all third-degree felonies.

He pleaded guilty or no contest to all charges in July. He will also serve 48 months on probation after his home confinement.

According to court documents, Battiloro argued with his girlfriend before grabbing her arms and pushing her through a wall of drywall in his home.

“Defendant then picked the victim up by her neck, choking her. Defendant then threw the victim down the stairs,” charges state. “During her fall, the victim hit her head and lost consciousness.”

When the girlfriend regained consciousness, Battiloro refused to allow her or the three children in the home to leave to prevent them from reporting the domestic violence assault.

During the sentencing on Tuesday, the girlfriend tearfully explained how her life was altered after the violent assault.

“I keep trying to put my life back together, but the smallest thing sends me back to living that day and I’m terrified all over again,” she said. “I want justice to be served. I want to feel safe.”

She sent pictures of her injuries, including a concussion and severe bruising across her body, to her mother who called the Provo Police Department.

When police arrived, Battiloro refused to let the girlfriend or the children at the home answer the door. When officers called the girlfriend’s phone, Battiloro told her to lie and say she wasn’t at home.

Officers gained entrance to the house anyway and Battiloro was arrested and held without bail.

“This was a one-sided beat down,” said prosecuting attorney David Sturgill. “Clearly, (she) has been the victim of domestic violence.”

While Battiloro’s family members testified that he is a good father and doing good in the community, the judge made it clear his decision was based on the facts of the incident and the recommendations of the law.

Defense attorney Michael Petro stated Battiloro had changed his attitude and taken accountability for his actions during the 126 days he spent in jail following the assault.

“It’s our belief that he should be released from jail and placed on probation,” he said. “I have no doubt he will comply with all the rules of probation.”


Local
Mother of Ogden man seriously ill with West Nile virus urges prevention

OGDEN — For six days, Gina Vodopich and her son thought his illness was something common.

But after he collapsed in his yard, confused, mumbling and sweating, he was hospitalized in intensive care. Four days later, doctors determined Ryan Stuart, of Ogden, had neuro-invasive West Nile virus.

Stuart had improved to stable condition Tuesday, but Vodopich said he no longer can walk or eat on his own and he speaks only a few words occasionally, mostly inaudibly. He has inflammation in his brain and he comes in and out of consciousness.

At a news conference at McKay-Dee Hospital, Vodopich said her 37-year-old son had been strong and healthy and probably did not use mosquito repellent.

Now he may face months of rehabilitation, and she said she is hearing “conflicting stories” from health care people about whether he will make a full recovery.

Vodopich said Stuart has meningitis, encephalitis, and became septic for a time.

She said Stuart began suffering severe headaches and neck pain two or three days before he collapsed.

“He was too stubborn to take action on it,” she said, adding, however, that many strong, healthy people would so the same thing.

Vodopich and a Weber-Morgan Health Department communicable disease specialist who accompanied her Tuesday used the occasion to urge Utahns to take preventive measures against the mosquito-borne disease.

Stuart’s case is the first human West Nile infection in Weber County this year, said the health department’s Amy Carter.

Children, older people and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to severe symptoms, but as Stuart’s plight spotlights, anyone could be at risk.

One in 10 people who suffer the neuro-invasive form of West Nile die from the affliction, Carter said.

She advised people to use Environmental Protection Agency-approved mosquito repellent that contains DEET. Some varieties of sunscreen also contain DEET.

Long sleeves and pants are recommended as well, and Carter urged parents to apply DEET to their children before they go outside during the warm months.

Using repellent “just needs to become a common habit,” Vodopich said.

More than 70% of people infected with West Nile never develop symptoms, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Other symptoms include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, the department said.

Fewer than 1% than of people infected will develop a serious neurologic illness, such as meningitis.

Stuart has a new home and had been irrigating his yard, Vodopich said, and she’s wondering now whether the yard had become a mosquito haven.

“In hindsight there were some red flags,” she said.

Vodopich said she is gladdened that Stuart is well enough to start rehab Wednesday.

“It will be baby steps,” she said. “We have a whole new life coming up.”

The West Nile virus has been detected in mosquito pools across Utah in 2019, including Utah County and southern Utah.