Ben Carson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, paid a visit to the HUB of Opportunity, a mixed-use real estate development located within a Salt Lake County opportunity zone, on Thursday. Carson also serves as the chairman of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.
The HUB of Opportunity, a 200,000-square-foot facility currently under construction, has been designed to maximize land use as well as public transit and economic development as a way to address critical housing and workforce issues. What makes it unique, however, is its focus on individuals with both physical and mental disabilities.
The facility is completely compliant with the American Disabilities Act, according to Cori Swisher Anderson, the marketing manager with R&O Construction, the company building the facility. It features elevators, wide hallways and tall ceilings, and will have 156 apartments when it is finished.
Twenty percent of the apartments will be “market housing,” sold or rented at the market rate, while the rest will be reserved for people with disabilities. The building will also feature a specialized employment training center for young adults with autism, in partnership with the Columbus Community Center. The building will be complete and ready for people to move in next spring.
Carson had nothing but praise for the HUB and what it has set out to achieve, as well as what made it possible — public-private partnerships, he said.
“The important thing is that it’s been done with a combination of federal, state and local funding, as well as some of the nonprofits and others who have gotten involved,” he said. “I think that’s really the key.”
Out of over $41 million of funds invested in the property, a little over half came from federal low-income housing tax credits, with the rest mostly coming from local Utah organizations and charities.
“When things are done this way, and when things are done in private-public partnerships ... you have ongoing appropriate maintenance,” Carson said. “In the past when the government would do things, it wasn’t done with a lot of forethought or afterthought, and certainly not a lot of ongoing maintenance.”
The primary focus of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Carson said, is helping people “climb the ladders of opportunity” if they can, and making sure those who can’t are taken care of.
“This (facility) fits in very nicely with that,” he said. “It’s being done in such a way that it makes (people on the autism spectrum) employable ... these are people who can work very well.”
Opportunity zones were created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with the goal of “stimulating economic development and job creation in low-income community by incentivizing long-term capital investments.” The incentive offers capital gains tax relief to investors who invest in designated opportunity zones. There are 46 designated opportunity zones in Utah; 15 of them are in Salt Lake County and six are in Utah County.
It only takes guests a few minutes in the water before they realize the zebra sharks are practically water puppies, poking their face above the water to search for food and nuzzling against legs in the search for snacks.
“You can feel the tension near the beginning, and at the end, they’re hanging out,” said Mark Murray, the senior saltwater aquarist at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.
Visitors now have the chance to get into the water with the aquarium’s male zebra shark as part of the aquarium’s newest animal encounter.
The shark encounter saw its first paid customer on Tuesday following months of pilots.
The zebra shark is docile and gently swims around guests wearing waders standing on the diver’s platform in the 300,000-gallon shark habitat. While in the water, Murray speaks to guests about the shark, its training and conservation. The shark is fine with being touched — although his skin is rougher than guests expect.
“You can tell right off the bat he’s not what most people think of as a shark,” Murray said.
A zebra shark was chosen for the experience because the shark doesn’t have to swim in order to breathe and can move around and rest, Murray said.
The more guests learn about zebra sharks, the more comfortable they are around it. Murray said guests often start the encounter off with their hands above the water and close to them, and then slowly get comfortable enough to touch the shark.
“It’s an experience that sticks with them for life,” Murray said.
The shark encounters began this week, just in time for Shark Week, which begins on July 28.
It gives the aquarium the chance to talk to visitors about how people in a landlocked state like Utah can help with shark conservation efforts. The aquarium partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to promote the Seafood Watch app, which alerts users about which seafood is sustainably sourced.
The aquarium typically sees more visitors in July, and Shark Week brings its own breed.
“We do get more shark enthusiasts during Shark Week,” said Caroline Ralston, the aquarium’s senior director of marketing and communications.
The aquarium plans to celebrate the week with games, photo ops and giveaways.
The aquarium also offers encounters with stingrays and penguins.
The aquarium’s zebra shark is trained, swims slowly and is between 8 and 10 years old.
Ralston said spending time with the shark helps break down misconceptions people have about the creatures.
“I think culture has conditioned us to fear certain predators, and it’s not the correct experience for (all) sharks,” Ralston said.
The shark encounters are available at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Reservations can be made through June 2020 at http://thelivingplanet.com/animalencounters.
An administrator formerly responsible for an Orem rehabilitation center was arrested on Wednesday for reportedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the business to fund family vacations, home remodeling and other personal expenses.
Timothy Claybaugh, 36, was booked into the Utah County Jail on suspicion of six second-degree felonies including money laundering, communications fraud, pattern of unlawful activity and three counts of theft by deception.
Beginning November 2016, Claybaugh worked as an administrator at Stonehenge of Orem, a short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing center that specializes in post-hospitalization care.
He voluntarily resigned in May 2019 to work for a competing company, and the next day, the company owner discovered Claybaugh had reportedly embezzled over $169,876 from the center.
“It was found that Timothy purchased vast amounts of unauthorized personal items including gift cards, groceries, appliances, flowers for his wife, construction tools and materials to finish his basement, toys, a bike, diapers, furniture, electronics, landscape materials, a barn door, fast food, candy and energy drinks,” police reported. “The amount Timothy has spent on his company card in a two-year time period is a staggering $148,794.”
As an administrator, Claybaugh was in charge of all facility operations and departments, including company finances and any money spent on facility operations.
The company owner acquired bank statements that showed Claybaugh used the company credit card to purchase more than 400 gift cards for Visa, Delta, Hotels.com, Airbnb, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Fandango, Amazon, Target, Cold Stone, Verizon and Walmart.
“It is suspected Timothy used gift cards to fund recent trips to Costa Rica, New York, and Disneyland,” police reported. “He has also funded his new home remodel using gift cards.”
Claybaugh also reportedly wrote company checks to himself totaling $62,708 and stole petty cash totaling $18,768 since he started working in 2016, the report stated.
He also reportedly used his personal credit card at local hospitals for $11,550 and reimbursed himself three times the amount using statements and invoices.
“Timothy devised a scheme to defraud Stonehenge of Orem by communicating (writing) on bills and invoices that he paid with his own credit card when it wasn’t the truth,” police reported.
Detectives discovered Claybaugh hid his purchases by laundering the money through gift cards instead of blatantly using the company credit card.
He also reportedly recorded multiple reimbursements to employees at the time they left the company and then pocketed the money himself.
Claybaugh previously worked as an administrator for Stonehenge of American Fork in 2012 and Stonehenge of South Jordan in 2015. The police report did not disclose whether embezzlement happened at those locations as well.
A spokesperson for Stonehenge of Utah was not immediately available for comment.
Claybaugh was released from jail after posting a $60,000 bail bond on the same day he was arrested.
Borrowing a lesson from an old Sunday school class he had in his youth, Gov. Gary Herbert told Utah’s Native American community Thursday that like a bundle of string, they are stronger together than apart.
“Part of this summit is to see if we can understand better, walk in each other’s shoes — moccasins — and see if we can collaborate better than we have had in the past,” Herbert said.
Herbert shared remarks during the plenary session of the 2019 Governor’s Native American Summit Thursday at Utah Valley University in Orem before entering a closed-door meeting with tribal leaders.
The summit, which continues Friday, brought together hundreds of Native American youth and leaders under the theme of “planting seeds, spreading roots.”
“Seeds only grow under the right conditions,” Shaun Capoose, the chair of the Utah Tribal Leaders, told the crowd during the plenary session Thursday.
Capoose said the summit is an opportunity for Native American communities to bring their youth leaders forward.
Herbert said it was great to see youth present, and touted the importance of pursuing higher education, along with stating there are opportunities for improvement in areas such as health care.
“We don’t want to see this just as a survival test,” Herbert said. “We want to see it not only survive, but thrive.”
The conference has had separate tracks and schedules for adults and youth for five years, according to Ken Sekaquaptewa, the program director of UVU’s Native American Initiative.
Part of the youth track includes encouraging youth to stop by booths for different universities to learn about higher education options.
Summit classes for youth included sessions on health and how youth can tell their own stories.
“We want the students to develop a voice where they are proud of who they are,” Sekaquaptewa said.
Sekaquaptewa said the summit brings in students who live in both urban areas and on reservations. Being at the summit, he said, gives them the chance to see their tribal leaders in action.
“Most kids aren’t exposed to that, even on the reservation,” Sekaquaptewa said.
An additional push this year for preregistrations launched youth participation to about 120. Sekaquaptewa said that between 50 and 100 youth have preregistered in past years.
UVU has hosted the summit for the last several years, and Sekaquaptewa said UVU has the highest enrollment of Native American students out of the state’s universities.
“This helps with the exposure of UVU’s name in the Indian community,” he said.
For Izabela Pete, a 13-year-old who lives in Cedar City, the event allows her to be around other Piute students, an experience she doesn’t get at school.
“We are the only Native Americans there,” she said.
Izabela found out about the summit through a youth leader and was looking forward to computer classes. She said the lessons will help her in a future career as a social worker working with children in foster care.
For Amy Murphy and her 13-year-old daughter, Jordyn Sheridan, the summit gives them an opportunity to network with other Native Americans.
The two, who are Goshute and live in Taylorsville, recently moved from Nebraska, which meant that Jordyn went from a school that was made up of Native American students to one where she is the only one.
Murphy said that while powwows in Nebraska were social gatherings, the ones in Utah lean toward being more competitive.
“In Nebraska, I feel they are very rich in their traditions, and here we are doing our best to maintain it,” Murphy said.