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Dillard's moving to University Place

University Place, owned by the Woodbury Corp., officially announced Wednesday they will be partnering with Dillard’s, who will become the newest anchor store at the mall.

The move has long been debated among residents and local social media as the old Macy’s store is in the process of being demolished.

University Place, a 120-acre, mixed-use development project in Orem is undergoing a seven-year update. With the addition of Dillard’s, the original look of the 1970’s University Place Mall will be eliminated.

“We are pleased to join the exciting transformation of University Place with a brand new Dillard’s location,” said Dillard’s Senior Vice President Chris Johnson. “We have enjoyed serving our Utah customers for over 25 years, and we look forward to elevating our efforts with a beautiful new store in Orem.”

Dillard’s is currently located in the Provo Towne Centre Mall.

Dillard’s will be located on the west side of the shops at University Place facing State Street in the former Macy’s building location. Demolition of the Macy’s building is underway and will be followed by the construction of the new building. An expected store opening is set for the spring of 2021.

Dillard’s, which ranks among the nation’s largest fashion retailers, offers a broad selection of merchandise and features products from both national and exclusive brand sources.

The addition of Dillard’s is part of the next phase in University Place’s ongoing redevelopment into a regional mixed-use center, a press release said.

Other developments that will also begin construction include a new parking structure and a Class-A office building with about 90,000 square feet of office space.

Woodbury Corp. indicated the new office building will crown a nine-story structure with the bottom five levels consisting of structured parking and a lobby. The top four levels plan for offices boasting 360-degree, unobstructed views of Utah Valley. That will be located just north of Dillard’s and immediately east of Trader Joe's.

“With this newest phase of redevelopment, we are excited to replace the nearly 50-year-old structure that was originally built for ZCMI with a brand-new Dillard’s,” said Randy Woodbury, CEO and president of Woodbury Corp. “In addition to adding another Class A office building and an expanded parking structure, which will help fill a real need in the community.”

University Place has also begun construction on the new Marriott Courtyard Hotel in the former location where the Utah Transit Authority had its mall hub and transfer station.

Hale Center Theater Orem is still in the design and fundraising stage but anticipates building between Costco to the north and the University Place Mall to the south.

Provo schools increase graduation rates by 12 percentage points within three years

Jacob Griffin can spend a half-hour talking about the challenges any of his graduating seniors have been through in order to get their diplomas.

“I can’t quantify that, but that does something to their confidence when they are the only graduate in their family, ever,” said Griffin, the principal of Independence High School, an alternative high school in Provo.

The district has had a lot more caps and gowns in its crowds over the last three years as it has raised its graduation rate by more than 12 percentage points, according to information from the Utah State Board of Education.

In 2017, 77.2% of students in the Provo School District graduated. By 2019, that had increased to 89.8%.

In the same time period, Provo High School saw graduation rates increase from 88.7% to 95.7%, Independence High School’s graduation rates increased from 50% to 66.7% and Timpview High School’s rates increased from 91.7% to 92.1%.

The district attributes the jump in graduation rates to placing a spotlight on the issue.

“Our singular focus around the last three to four years has been on graduation,” said Todd McKee, the assistant superintendent over secondary education for the Provo City School District.

In that time, the district created a graduation committee, looked at cleaning up its data so that students who had transferred out of the district and graduated elsewhere weren’t counted as non-graduates, worked on summer school programs and created a fall graduation ceremony to incentivize students who are unable to receive a diploma in May.

If a student’s records indicate that they won’t graduate in May, McKee said the high schools work with them to let them know there are still options for graduation.

“Kids need hope,” McKee said.

The district has hired additional counselors and social workers at high schools to help aid in graduation efforts. It is also funding social-emotional learning efforts and looking into adjusting its grading systems.

McKee said the district is aiming to reach a 95% graduation rate.

Boyd McAffee, the principal of Provo High School, said increasing the graduation rates at the school has been a team effort.

“Our teachers have committed themselves and they’ve done phenomenal work in showing proficiency in their courses,” he said.

McAffee said that work has included understanding that students learn at different speeds and giving students the chance to show they have learned the material — even if it’s beyond the end of a term. Counselors also identify students who need help to graduate and conduct home visits.

For McAffee, helping teens graduate is about helping students’ futures.

“It is probably the single most important thing at this stage in their life, so to see more of those kids have those doors of opportunity open, it’s overwhelming,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

The Provo City School District has shifted the conversation around its alternative high school in recent years, instead rebranding it as an option for students to be a part of a smaller learning environment. The school, which once had graduation rates in the 40% range, has moved to a later start time, started requiring an application to attend and attempted to change the culture around it so that attending isn’t perceived as a punishment.

“The attitude within the first six months of a student being here is huge in defining their success overall, and if they can be positive, they’ll have more success,” Griffin said.

He attributes the school’s continual rise in graduation rates to the school’s new culture, and anticipates that the district’s new focus on having graduation emphasized in elementary schools will also improve rates.

“Overall, culturally, I think that is a big help,” Griffin said.

The school received additional counselors and social workers to help students. It has also had increased communication with Provo and Timpview high schools when students transfer in order to know more about the students.

Even if the students don’t pursue college, Griffin said a high school diploma can help them secure a job or receive a promotion.

He said students can do credit recovery through packets, but that the school is focused on helping get students back into traditional classes.

“We feel like that is really successful in helping kids learn, and not just the credit, but that the credit means something,” he said.

New police emergency protocol aims to improve efficiency in Utah County

On Jan. 5, 2018, Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners was killed after responding to a call in the parking lot of the Bed Bath & Beyond store in Orem.

The Utah County Attorney’s office took on the investigation which was the protocol at the time. The man who shot Shinners, a year later, has not been to court.

On Tuesday, the Orem City Council was presented with an update on a newly-combined Officer Involved Critical Incident investigation protocol intended to help with investigations and to take the load off the county attorney’s office.

Orem, and all policing cities and agencies in Utah County, have agreed to an Officer Involved Critical Incident (OICI) protocol to provide procedures and guidelines to ensure every officer-involved investigation is conducted completely and impartially.

“All the chiefs got together to revamp the OICI agreement with the county,” Giles said. They are just waiting on the last few signatures on the agreement.

Giles said that, in the past, the critical incident protocol just involved officer shootings and was called the Officer Incident Shooting, or OIS. The revamp includes not just shootings resulting in death but incidents that involve bodily harm, including stabbings.

Use of a stun gun does not reach the level of a critical incident according to Giles unless there is a death involved.

Giles said county agencies have had protocols in place for more than two decades that meet the Utah Code. Each agency would report their incidents to the county attorney and the county would quickly get bogged down in investigations, paperwork and court.

With the new protocol, the Task Force Management Team will have jurisdiction throughout Utah County with criminal investigation having priority.

The update includes the three-member task force manager/commander team, an incident manager and case officer.

If an incident occurs in two or more jurisdictions, each agency becomes a venue agency.

Giles said that having this protocol is a best practice dynamic. Some areas of the country still have their own agency investigate officer-involved shootings, leaving them open to ethics concerns or impartiality.

With the new protocol, parallel investigations can take place, including administrative and criminal.

It becomes a very busy, and often confusing, time as information is released to city leadership, the media and the community, Giles added.

“In situations like that some information is not out for as long as a year,” Giles said.

Also involved in the protocol are the criminal investigators, employing agency liaisons, Utah County Forensics Unit, the Task Force Public Information Officer and the Utah County Evidence team.

Giles said while it appears to have more teams involved, it will actually make investigations go quicker and smoother. Potential court appearances will also happen in a timelier manner.

‘A real voice in the legislative process’: Rep. John Curtis establishes women’s advisory council

United States Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, announced last week the establishment of a women’s advisory council made up of female lawmakers and business leaders in the state to counsel him on issues impacting women in Utah.

Curtis said in a press release on Friday, Jan. 10, that, as the representative of a district that has more women in it than men, “it is imperative that the female perspective is heard and given a real influence on my decisions.”

According to the press release, the six-person advisory council will meet throughout the year, beginning in February, and will have an open line of communication with the 3rd District representative “to share ideas and concerns about policies and proposals at any time.”

One of the women on the advisory council is Patricia Jones, a former Democratic state senator and congresswoman who founded the Women’s Leadership Institute. Jones said that having input from women can lead to better policy since women bring their own experiences and ideas to the table.

“I think women bring different perspectives to decision-making than men,” Jones said. “I think it’s important for men who are in Congress to hear that perspective.”

Jones added that there is often a “gender gap” in opinions on political and social issues. Poll data shows that women tend to care more about education, health care, environmental issues and gun safety than men do, she said.

When Jones started the Women’s Leadership Institute five years ago, then-Provo Mayor Curtis was curious about the institute and how it could benefit Utah, said Jones.

“He was very interested (in) and passionate about elevating women in business and in politics,” she said.

State Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, who is also serving on Curtis’ advisory council, said she is grateful for the opportunity to advise the congressman and bring attention to things that affect women in the state.

“Any opportunity to bring issues related to women … in the economy and our state” is a good thing, Escamilla said.

Some of the things that need addressing, Escamilla said, are violence against women, including sexual assault, the wage gap and access to high quality child care for working women.

“The more we bring these barriers down and allow opportunities for women to succeed, then the stronger our state is and our economy and our families,” the state senator said.

In an emailed statement, Curtis said women “bring a unique perspective” to policy-making and that he hopes the council will advise him on how Utah women “are specifically impacted by my decisions.”

By having a “continuous influence” on Curtis as he represents the state at the federal level, the council will help give “Utah’s women a real voice in the legislative process,” he said.

The other members of the advisory council are Karen McCandless, director of Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo, Geri Gamber, director of the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Government, University Place Event Coordinator Nichelle Jensen and Women’s Tech Council co-founder Sara Jones.

Also on Jan. 10, Curtis introduced a resolution before Congress to establish Jan. 11, 2020 as “National Martha Hughes Cannon Day” in honor of the women’s suffragist who was elected to the Utah Senate in 1896, becoming the first female state senator in U.S. history.

Utah’s three other congressional representatives, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Chris Stewart and Rep. Ben McAdams, cosponsored the resolution, according to a press release.

"The honeymoon is over:" Report shows Timpview High School continuing to shift

Parts of Timpview High School in Provo have settled up to 5.5 inches, with water expected to spread to other collapsible soils underneath the school, according to a draft of a 103-page report presented Tuesday to the Provo City School District Board of Education.

“This is the most dramatic differential settlement I have seen on a project,” said Dave Cox, a principal with VCBO Architecture who presented the report.

The report includes new information based on testing done on the site in the last few months. It shows that while the southern end of the school is seeing the most settlement, settlement could migrate to the school’s northern end as well.

“The new tests are new information in a bad direction for our budget, safety and student well-being over the last few months,” said McKay Jensen, a member of the Provo City School District Board of Education.

The district proposed a $245 million bond last year, $145 million of which would have gone toward a full rebuild of Timpview High School. The bond failed a public vote in November.

Since then, the board has not made a decision about what will be done with the school.

In 2014, the school was rated tenth on the district’s list of facilities with seismic concerns. The school’s deteriorating condition has escalated in recent years as rough winters have caused the soil beneath the school to shift, creating cracks in the walls and causing a piece of masonry to fall from the ceiling.

Jim Nordquist, a soils engineer with Applied Geotechnical Engineering Consultants, Inc., told the board that he looked to the school’s southern side to see why the building was moving. Test pits dug next to the school’s foundation found wet soil that would collapse when it got wet.

He thought he’d find collapsible soil in a few locations. Instead, they found them throughout the site.

The school’s southern side had settled up to five inches, which Nordquist called significant.

“I also anticipate over time that the water in the ground already has the potential of migrating further and causing more collapse and more differential settlement of the structure,” Nordquist said.

He said it’s a matter of luck until the soil underneath the rest of the school gets wet and begins to collapse.

“I think the honeymoon is over,” Nordquist said.

Cox said the team found a lot of water on the Timpview High School site.

“We are all a little bit surprised you aren’t seeing more settlement than you are,” Cox said.

Cox showed the board a topographical map of the site, which showed that the northern end of the school is seeing up to an inch and a half of settlement, an amount modern buildings are designed to handle.

The school has seen additional signs of settlement in recent months, such as additional cracks in the school, volleyball poles that won’t fit into holes in the gymnasium and sticking doors.

“It tells us we need to pay attention to it,” Cox said.

If the soil were to dry, the settlement would stop. Cox said the school could essentially be used as a dam to stop the water, or that a water collection system could be created.

Cox said the school was built in 1975, before seismic codes were updated and before there was much knowledge about collapsible soils.

The draft of the report recommends for the district to do a full seismic retrofit of Timpview High School. It also recommends for the building to be replaced because any new piers that are put in as a temporary measure would have to be redone if the school is rebuilt.

Cox said the district should do what it can with the funds it has available.

Jensen asked the team if other engineers would give them a different answer about the school’s condition.

“I would be shocked if you had any other engineer that looked at the same data and had any significant difference in what we are seeing,” Cox said.

The report is expected to be finalized within a few weeks.

Two members of the public addressed the board after the report was presented, urging them to look at options other than replacing the school.

Clancy Black said he preferred the idea of a $30 million option to place piers under part of the school over the concept of a full rebuild.

“That could buy us 15 years and be more cost effective,” Black said.

Doug Gale told the board he would like to see more options.

“I’m hoping these individuals who are highly trained can look at the grounds where the school is and provide you with some suggestions about some things that you can do immediately,” Gale said.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald 

Lone Peak senior guard Corbin Zentner drives for a layup during the 61-56 Knight loss at Westlake in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.