Utah firefighters on high alert for Pioneer Day
(KUTV) Utah firefighters are on alert and are sending out a word of warning to the public about the use of fireworks, especially with the upcoming Pioneer Day holiday.

"The 24th of July is a huge potential for fires," said David Ulibarri with the Unified Fire Department. "Right now we have very high potential for fires. We have very dry hot 100 degree temperatures and low humidity and winds."

Ulibarri says they plan to have a few more crews on July 24 just in case something happens. He says one tip for those setting off fireworks is to make sure they have a water hose and bucket of water nearby. 

"These are just some recommendations we would have for residential fireworks," said Ulibarri.

The State Forestry department is also sending out a word of warning as they battle several lightning strike fires across the valley. 

"We are encouraging people to be real careful," said forestry spokesman Jason Curry.

The Unified Fire Department has set up a website with a map that allows you to find out whether you can or cannot light off fireworks in your area. A red flag warning is in place until 10 p.m. Wednesday night, which means the fire conditions are critical.

By: Dan Rascon

Follow Dan on Twitter: @DanKUTV

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)
Thousands of immigrant children living on shelters along U.S. border, some may come to Utah
(KUTV) Tens of thousands of immigrant children are currently living in shelters at the United States border and a refugee professional says some of them are likely to come to Utah.

Aden Batar directs Catholic Community Services in Utah and says the state already has eight unaccompanied immigrant children who came before the current crisis. They are now in foster care.

"They are going to school, and some of them have graduated from high school and are going to college," said Batar.

About 60,000 more children without parents are waiting in shelters at the border. According to officials, many of these children sleep on mattresses in huge shelters. Some will be sent to their families in America or sent home.  In other cases, the federal government will look for foster homes, and some Utahns will volunteer.

"They open their homes to children in need," said Batar.

Gov. Gary Herbert joined other governors in a letter to President Obama saying the children may put a drain on the states and letting kids stay may attract more lone children to America. Batar says some of the children waiting at the border will come to foster homes in Utah.

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)

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Ogden businesses prep for 700,000 temple visitors
(KUTV) An Ogden ice cream shop is scrambling to accommodate thousands more customers over five weeks as an open house approaches for the newly renovated Mormon temple across the street.

Farr Better Ice Cream is opening up the back of the building to customers for the first time since it was established in 1920. The rear of the shop, a former ice cream plant, is being transformed to sell treats and relieve stress from the front of the shop.

"We were accustomed before to having many people from the temple come get ice cream after temple sessions," said manager Mary Riter. "Now it's going to be quadruple of what it ever was before."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expects to host 700,000 visitors at the open house from Aug. 1 to Sept. 6.

A construction crew began building a wheelchair ramp at Farr's on Wednesday, and new bathrooms were recently installed in the shop that features 80 flavors of ice cream. Managers are hiring more employees and training them daily for the expected surge.

"We're bringing in extra people. We're bringing in temporary people just to scoop ice cream only," Riter said.

Supervisor Sharon Boothe is organizing the transformation of the back of the shop, stocking shelves and training employees. Workers will also sell Hokulia Shave Ice in a variety of flavors.

"We have cones that are going to be sold. We're going to have stuffed animals, punch syrup, soda, candy - all kinds of candy," Boothe said. "Extremely busy is all I can say. It's going to be a mad house."

While sales will inevitably increase, so, too, will the stress. Boothe has been working on the project for weeks already.

"Every day, all day long. A lot of hours," Boothe said. "My family may not know who I am by the time we're done."

Riter, who has worked at Farr's for 40 years, is excited about the rare opportunity for the young employees she manages.

"It will be something that they will experience maybe once in a lifetime," Riter said.

The church opened up online reservations for tickets on Monday. To reserve tickets, click here.

By: Christine McCarthy

Follow Christine on Twitter @ReporterXtine

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)

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Z'Tejas to leave The Gateway, 40 spaces now empty
(KUTV) A spicy fixture at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City is closing, another example of a seemingly slow but dramatic exodus from what has been a premier shopping venue.

"Closing the Z'Tejas Salt Lake City location is an economic decision," said Kennedy Turner, spokesman for the chain of restaurants which operates in several western states.  Kennedy said Z'Tejas---with its blackened catfish tacos---is an original tenant of The Gateway, "but with additional competition in the retail sector downtown, guest counts have decreased over the past couple of years and this location is no longer profitable for us."

The term "additional competition" is an unmistakable reference to the new City Creek Center, built and owned by the LDS Church.  Earlier, the Apple Store left The Gateway for City Creek.

Now, according to a website from The Gateway owner, Retail Properties of America, 87 leased spaces at the center---including large tenants---are filled.  But another 40 spacess at The Gateway are "available," and it's not difficult to see empty storefronts.

"I really love that place," said Z'Tejas regular Raygan Schiefing, who lunched with friends at the restaurant on Wednesday.  "There just aren't a lot of people coming down to The Gateway anymore, unfortunately."

The Gateway still has Megaplex Theatres, Discovery Gateway Children's Museum, and the Clark Planetarium---a trio of attractions that could be the envy of countless retail centers across the country.

A woman, from out of town who watched a movie with her seven year old grandson Wednesday, described The Gateway as "beautiful" and "gorgeous," but also said "it's not very busy."

Retail Properties of America, RPAI, said The Gateway "remains a strong institutional quality asset," and said it's confident it "will continue to be successful for years to come."

The Gateway general manager said another restaurant, DOPO, will move into the center.

By: Brian Mullahy

Follow Brian on Twitter @bmullahy2news

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)

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Utah lawmakers contemplate raising gas tax to pay for education
(KUTV) Law makers are trying to think outside the box when it comes to ways to funding Utah schools.

Could raising the gasoline tax be the simple fix people are looking for? Some lawmakers say it seems impossible since Utah's constitution says gas tax revenue must go to roads.

"We need look at ways to increase our effort for our education system," insist Senate President Wayne Niederhauser.

For more than 20 years, Utah has been among the lowest of all the states in the amount of money spent on per student.  Now this high-powered legislative committee may raise taxes to find more money for Utah schools.

Utah's House Speaker Becky Lockhart says, "Education is our number one priority.  Always has been, always will be."
   
Currently the money that used to go to education now goes to higher education, and higher education money stays in the general fund. It has become a bit of a circular mess because the money from the general fund now goes to roads. 

So if the gas tax went up, all those transfers could end and education could keep more of its money.

The committee will look at a lot of other possibilities before deciding, but even democrats think Utah may finally spend more on schools.

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)

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Blue Angels in southern Utah practicing for weekend shows
(KUTV) Southern Utah residents may be hearing some loud thunder this week roaring overheard in the sky.

The sound is of the Blue Angel F/A-18’s practicing for shows this weekend. KUTV 2News' Reporter D.J. Bolerjack interviewed two lucky VIP’s that got the chance to ride along with the Blue Angel #7.

"We flew down into these little valleys above Southern Utah and it was spectacular," said Lisa Eccles, the CEO of the Eccles Foundation.

Monte Marshall, director of engineering placement at Brigham Young University was also able to ride along.

"We popped out of the canyon and flipped back around at the enemy and it was a lot of fun,” said Marshall.

The Blue Angel is capable of traveling at the speed of sound, which is more than 767 miles per hour, and has the ability to hit over 7 G’s and roll in combat.

Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, pilot of am F/A-18 Blue Angel says he flies civilians around weekly.  He says several first timers get sick, but both Eccles and Marshall held their own.

"That's going to happen," Chamberlain said. "Some folks are going to black out, some are going to maybe lose their lunch a little bit, but that happens. It's just a part of becoming acclimated to the airplane. It's warm outside and being in the back seat and not in control. It's similar to people being car sick."

Both Eccles and Marshall say the flight is something everyone should have on their bucket list.

The top speed the Blue Angel F/A-18 planes reach is at moch 1.8, which is approximately 1,400 miles per hour.

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