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UVU continues massive growth with 4.5% increase in enrollment over last year

Utah’s largest university is only getting bigger.

Utah Valley University’s enrollment increased 4.5% from the fall of 2018 to fall 2019, bringing it to 41,728 students, according to data released Wednesday from the Utah System of Higher Education.

“We are excited to have these students enrolled at UVU,” said Cameron Martin, the vice president of university relations at UVU.

Of those students, 27,530 are full-time and another 12,080 are high school students taking concurrent enrollment courses.

More than half of UVU’s students work at least 21 hours a week, 27% work more than 31 hours a week and 36% percent are 25 years old or older, according to the data. About 36% of the students are first-generation college students, 40% are married or in a partnership, 17% support at least one child and 19% are students of color.

The university has been working to offer more hybrid, online courses and provide other options to manage its growth, which Martin said is reflective of the area. It is also reviewing feedback on the UVU Vision 2030 plan, which will serve as a roadmap to handling the university’s next decade.

UVU has been utilizing mass transit and satellite campuses to handle its growth. Martin said university sold 700 fewer parking passes this year and 650 fewer the previous year, a change he attributes to the introduction of the Utah Valley Express bus route.

“It has been a huge game-changer for us and will continue to be so,” Martin said.

Additional student housing being built by private developers around the campus is expected to further reduce vehicle traffic near the university.

The university also plans to break ground on a new business building this year.

Martin said UVU has been experiencing growth for decades.

“The growth challenge and management of that is not new to us,” he said.

Martin said it’s growth fluctuates each year and is dependent on multiple variables. Enrollment grew 7% from 2017 to 2018.

Historic Big Boy locomotive steams into Provo for two-day stay

The last handful of days have been years in the making for Vic Bartsch.

A lifelong train fan, he remembers saving up money with his brother from paper routes to buy a model Big Boy. Then, two years ago, he heard about the train’s restoration, and has been following it ever since.

“I’ve never seen one in real life,” Vic Bartsch said. “Once I caught whiff of that, I had to see it.”

Vic and his wife, Pat Bartsch, drove from Vancouver, Canada, to Provo as part of their ongoing journey to physically follow the Big Boy.

“The first time I saw it moving, I had tears,” Pat Bartsch said.

The Big Boy No. 4014 stopped in Provo Tuesday and will remain on display from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 400 E. 900 South through Thursday.

The Big Boy No. 4014 is one of 25 of the massive steam locomotives that were built for Union Pacific, with the first delivered in 1941 in order to conquer the steep terrain between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Ogden. No. 4014 is the only Big Boy still operating in the world, and the only one still owned by Union Pacific. There are eight remaining in existence.

The train is on a tour across the southwest after traveling through the upper Midwest. It was in Ogden in May for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

“There’s really no place you can go to see something like this run,” said Ed Dickens, manager of Union Pacific Heritage Operations and engineer on the Big Boy.

He’s seen children dress up as railroad employees along the tour stops. Dickens, who got involved with the crew 15 years ago, said the train is an example of what Union Pacific used during World War II.

Keeping the train running is a constant endeavor.

“It is a lot of work that goes into it,” Dickens said.

People of all ages surrounded the train Wednesday morning to ask Union Pacific workers questions and snap pictures of the locomotive. People posed next to wheels as large as an adult as modern trains rolled by on nearby rails.

Keira Carter brought her two sons, 1-year-old Kai and 3-year-old Evan, from Spanish Fork to see the train.

Carter said Evan gets excited every time trains go by their property.

“It’s just one of those things kids gravitate towards,” Carter said.

She heard about the event from family and brought the two boys. Evan, in particular, she said, was blown away by how big the train was in person.

“He’s just in awe,” she said.

Take a look at the Spanish Fork's new fire station coming next year

For more than 100 years, Spanish Fork residents have relied on a department of volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel to respond to emergency calls and residential fires.

But as the population reached 40,000, city officials decided it’s time to begin construction for a second fire station to serve the needs of the city.

“We’re excited to be able to give them the equipment and facilities so they can do their job to the best of their abilities and help us all out,” said Mayor Steve Leifson.

On Wednesday, dozens of community members and department volunteers attended the groundbreaking ceremony at 2635 E. Canyon Road where the new fire station will be built.

The 14,500-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in October 2020 and will cost around $6 million, including equipment expenses.

“We asked some of the citizens how they would feel if we had a fire station across the street here,” said Spanish Fork Police Chief Steve Adams. “Every one of them mentioned they would welcome a fire station in their community and in their neighborhood.”

Designed by Salt Lake City company Blalock and Partners, the fire station will provide housing for seven individuals, feature three pull-through entrances and offer space for office work and gym equipment.

Company founder Kevin Blalock stated he hoped the state-of-the-art building would become a source of community pride.

“We view fire stations as more than just buildings for fire trucks and emergency equipment,” he said. “These critical facilities are for and about people, ensuring the safety and well-being of those that need assistance as well as housing the brave individuals that commit to providing that assistance in times of emergency.”

The first fire station in Spanish Fork was built in 1934 at 370 N. Main St. City officials decided to demolish the facility in 1996 and rebuild the Public Safety Building in the same location.

From there, volunteer firefighters can respond to most places in the city within three minutes. The new fire station will double the size of that area.

“As a city, putting a station in that area will help us to respond more quickly to areas that might be in need,” Adams said.

Volunteer firefighters were first organized in May 1908 with 20 men volunteering from local religious congregations. Today, there are about 40 volunteers who respond to calls throughout the city.

The mayor said city officials will eventually organize a paid firefighter force when the necessity arises, but there are currently enough volunteers to meet the demand and help save the city millions of dollars.

The city has already created and hired nearly 30 part-time EMS personnel who serve the city in shifts from morning to midnight.

“We realize that’s going to have to happen,” Leifson said. “I know they all love the job and they love being a firefighter and being on call. We’d love to have them keep coming as long as we can.”

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LDS Church policy change will allow women to serve as witnesses to ordinances

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Wednesday more inclusion pertaining to witnessing ordinances performed both in and outside of the church’s temples.

According to the press release, any baptized member of the church may serve as a witness of the baptism of a living person. Baptisms for the dead inside the temple may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend. And any member of the church who has received their endowment ordinances may serve as a witness to the sealing ordinance, both as a living ordinance for couples and as proxy for ordinances for the dead.

In the past, only the male holders of the priesthood could serve as witnesses for ordinances, both for the living and for the church’s practice of performing ordinances as proxy for deceased ancestors. This policy change allows all worthy members, including women, to serve as witnesses to these ordinances, which the church considers as saving and necessary ordinances.

In December 2017, the church announced that worthy priests — young men ages 15 and up — could serve as witnesses to proxy baptisms in the temple.

A witness supervises ordinances to ensure proper decorum and instruction are followed, such as full immersion during baptisms and proper wording of prayers and blessings, where needed in certain ordinances.

“Obedience to sacred temple covenants is essential for us to qualify for eternal life—the greatest gift of God to His children,” President Russell M. Nelson, president of the church, said in the press release. “As leaders in the Lord’s Church, we need to understand the eternal truths taught in the temple. We need to know the importance of and the difference between sacred covenants, ordinances and procedures.”

The announcement came as a part of the church’s leadership sessions, held before each of the church’s semiannual general conferences. Church leadership, including the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other organizational leaders, gathered in Salt Lake City on Wednesday to be instructed and informed of new policies and procedures, including instruction on doctrine in the church.

Included in the press release were statements from each of the three members of the First Presidency. While Nelson’s remarks focused on the policy change aforementioned, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, piggybacked on remarks Nelson made at Brigham Young University two weeks ago, specifically with regards to LGBT individuals.

“While God’s commandments forbid all unchaste behavior and reaffirm the importance of marriage between a man and a woman, the Church and its faithful members should reach out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same sex or whose sexual orientation or gender identity is inconsistent with their sex at birth,” Oaks said in the press release. “We do not know why same-sex attraction and confusion about sexual identity occur. ... They are among the challenges that persons can experience in mortality, which is only a tiny fraction of our eternal existence.”

Oaks continued to say that “binary creation is essential to the plan of salvation” and that the statements in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” will not change, though may be clarified as directed, including that the intended meaning of gender in the proclamation is referencing “biological sex at birth,” Oaks said.

“When counseling with any members experiencing challenges related to their sexual orientation, Church leaders should affirm that God loves all His children, including those dealing with confusion about their sexual identity or other LGBT feelings,” Oaks said. “Such members and their families have unique challenges. They should be offered hope and be ministered to as directed by the Spirit according to their true needs.”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke primarily about the role of church leaders.

“What we desire is to have Church programs serve Church members, not the reverse. We also want priesthood leaders to take into account, prayerfully and carefully, the needs of their members and to focus on meeting those basic needs,” he said.

Leadership meetings continue on Thursday.

Utah issues emergency rule amid vaping-related illnesses

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials have implemented an emergency rule Wednesday restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and requiring warnings about unregulated THC products amid an outbreak of lung illness related to vaping.

All tobacco sellers will be required to post notices about the danger of vaping unregulated THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana that’s been linked to most lung-damage cases in Utah.

The Utah Department of Health also said flavored nicotine e-cigarette products will be banned from general tobacco retailers, including grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations, to help keep them away from young people.

Many people who vape THC start with flavored nicotine, Joseph Miner, a director at the health department said.

Retailers will have until Monday to comply.

Utah has been hit especially hard in the national outbreak, Miner said.

Utah health officials have reported 71 lung-damage cases linked to vaping. Ten more potential cases are being investigated, the agency said.

The department said 94% of the people who became sick reported vaping THC products, the majority of which were purchased at vape shops or convenience stores in Utah.

At least 805 people across the country have become sick from vaping, and 13 people have died, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Over the summer, health officials in a few states began noticing reports of people developing severe breathing illnesses, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. The only common factor in the illnesses was that the patients had all recently vaped.

Symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Health officials throughout the country are advising people not to use any vaping product until the cause of the illnesses is better understood.