Uintah County, UT

Daily Utahan

Uintah County man charged with causing fatal crash while impaired

SALT LAKE CITY — A Uintah County man has been charged with being intoxicated when he crashed his vehicle and killed his passenger. Wayland Charles Serawop, 46, of Randlett, is charged in 8th District Court with automobile homicide, a second-degree felony; failing to remain at an accident involving death, a third-degree felony; drug possession, a class A misdemeanor; possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a denied license, being an alcohol-restricted driver, and driving without an interlock device, all class B misdemeanors.
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Uintah County Animal Shelter Presented With Check At Chamber Luncheon

Like shelters across the state, the Uintah County Animal Shelter has been at capacity and working hard through many difficulties. Their efforts were recognized on Tuesday during the Vernal Chamber luncheon as they were presented with a donation. On behalf of Charitable Friends of Ashley Valley, Darlene Burns explained that Rebecca Boren, owner/operator of Little B’s, is involved in helping the community and instigated this $1,000 dollar donation to the Uintah County Animal Shelter. The following statement from Boren was read: “You will not find a more dedicated and hardworking staff than what we have been blessed with at our own Uintah Basin Animal Shelter. They fight a thankless and endless battle to save the lives of animals every single day.” Well done Rebecca Boren and your team for setting an example of caring for every creature.
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Uintah County Commission Delays Resolution To Pay Off Jail GO Bonds

The Uintah County Commission considered a Resolution on Monday that would authorize using cash reserves to pay off the General Obligation Bonds for the Public Safety Complex as was announced in June. A representative from Zions Public Finance made a brief presentation explaining that the the bonds cannot actually be paid off until 2026 but through the process of defeasance, the County can set up an escrow account to make the payments until it can be fully paid off in 2026. This process does legally allow the County to remove the debt from their books but once done it is irrevocable and that 26 million dollars is not available to the County for any reason. The push to pay off the Bonds is tied to a plan to create revenue by housing federal inmates in the Uintah County Jail though how much potential revenue was unknown. Uintah County Treasurer Wendi Long addressed the Commissioners, pleading with them to reconsider because she said taking that much from the County’s cash reserves puts the County in a very vulnerable position, especially with imminent Centrally Assessed appeals and lawsuit judgements to pay using cash reserves. She also emphasized that by her calculations this move will cost the County $2 million dollars between setting up the defeasance and the loss of 4 years of potential interest the funds could accrue. Clerk/Auditor Mike Wilkins also addressed the Commission and said that during a May meeting, even the representatives from Zions Public Finance said this isn’t the time to do this with the rising costs of inflation, the U.S. very likely heading into a recession, and the way interest rates are going. “It’s good to pay off debt but this is not the time to do it,” emphasized Wilkins. “You are financially crippling the next Commission, forcing them to have to go through an immediate tax increase…Please do not do this,” he concluded. Commissioner Stringer made a motion to approve the Resolution. Commissioner Horrocks, who will be the only remaining Commissioner next year, said he would like to postpone the Resolution in order to run the numbers more closely and the motion failed due to not having a 2nd.

Kids Canal Meeting Presents Plan Variation; Meeting August 8th Vernal City Hall

Modifications to the canal company’s plans for Kids Canal in Vernal were discussed at a public meeting last week hosted by the US Department of Agriculture NRCS and Uintah County. The meeting followed up on public comments received at the Open House held on June 14th and presented a Kids Canal design variation. While the public requests that the canal remain in place with a water feature, the Canal Company made a presentation concluding that full piping is necessary because otherwise there is too much evaporation and seepage. The alternative design, however, would leave the mature vegetation and trees alone as well as the existing canal and place the irrigation pipe under the side of the canal nearest the roadway. The meeting also included a presentation by the NRCS State Resource Specialist Tara Hoffman which focused on the historic significance of Kids Canal and that the adverse effect on the community needs to be mitigated. Comments can still be emailed to until August 12th. A joint City/County meeting is being held on August 8th at Vernal City Hall and Kids Canal is on the agenda to be discussed.

4th Annual JWP RiverFest Attracts Thousands

The 4th annual John Wesley Powell River Festival was held over the weekend with entertainment co-presented by Uintah County Travel and Tourism, Evans Family Media and KLCY. Uintah County Travel and Tourism director Lesha Coltharp said the event was a huge success for the community. “The event is a great time for the community to celebrate the legacy of river rafting that was first started by John Wesley Powell 154 years ago,” shares Coltharp. “Uintah County is the birthplace of white water rafting. During the festival 3 river trips were given away for 2 adults and 2 kids to enjoy the scenic beauty that is the Green River. Also 10 bands played and thousands of kids tried paddling in the pond. We held a Dutch oven cook off with river guides, a smoke off with local competitors, a corn hole tournament, plinko, food trucks, art vendors from Uintah Basin visual arts and of course the Outlaws Lost Treasure Hunt.” The 3 days of festivities were enjoyed by thousands of people.

TriCounty Health Department Having Monthly Naloxone Trainings

TriCounty Health Department shared in a press release that they are now holding monthly Naloxone training at each office location, beginning in August. TriCounty Health invites all to a one-hour training on recognizing the signs of an opioid overdose and administering opioid overdose reversal drugs. Fatal drug overdose counts have increased by 188 percent in the tri-county area from 2020 to 2021. TriCounty Health presented to the Board of Health Wednesday, July 27th, an in depth review of opioid and other overdose rates in the area which have been increasing since 2019. The Uintah County Attorney’s Office states, “[We] fully support TriCounty Health Department’s public outreach program to raise awareness of fatal overdose usage of opioids. We encourage the public to become informed on the benefits of having and administering Naloxone whenever an adverse reaction is suspected. Finally, we encourage anyone to call 911 if they observe an unresponsive individual. In many instances such actions are protected by the State’s Good Samaritan law.” Naloxone training will be the second Wednesday of every month beginning August 10th at 5:30pm. Classes will be held at TriCounty Health locations in Roosevelt and Vernal. There is limited space available in each class so sign up on

West Nile Virus Confirmed In Uintah County

West Nile Virus has been detected in Uintah County and health department officials encourage residents to take prevention tips seriously. Health officials announced that mosquito pools in both Uintah and Salt Lake County tested positive for the virus. Thankfully there have been no animal or human cases so far. West Nile Virus has been in the US since about the year 2000. Mosquitoes get the virus from birds and then infect humans. Mosquitoes breed in existing water in yards, ponds, pools or anywhere there is standing water. Get rid of standing water around your home to prevent mosquito nests. Taking simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites is the best way to reduce risk for infection. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks while outdoors and use an insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning. Remove standing water. Report bodies of stagnant water to your local Mosquito Abatement District.

Dinosaur National Monument Requiring Masks As Part Of COVID Response

Dinosaur National Monument is back to requiring masks as part of their COVID-19 response. The Monument shared that as of July 28th, Uintah County has been identified as a high COVID-19 area and masks are now required for all visitors and staff inside all buildings, including the Quarry Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall, and Canyon Visitor Center. The National Parks Service updated its masking guidance based on the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels tool, which helps communities decide what prevention steps to take. In areas the CDC identifies as high COVID-19 community level, masks are required for everyone in all NPS buildings, regardless of vaccination status. Additional details are available at

Rookie Vernal City Fireman Rescues Distressed Cat Stuck In Tree

There’s a lot that goes into training to be a firefighter and this week a rookie to the Vernal City/Uintah County Fire Department had an experience most firefighters only see portrayed in movies. At 10:34am on Wednesday morning, the Vernal City/Uintah County Fire Department responded to a call of a distressed cat stuck in a tree. “While assessing the situation and extending the ladder truck to prepare for the operation, a few other firefighters set up an extension ladder directly under the tree and one of their newest firemen, rookie BrayDee Nielsen, went to work,” shared Linda Honeycutt with the fire department. “The cat was approximately 30 feet up a pine tree and unhappily crying for help. He welcomed the free ride down without any resistance.” To appreciate how unique BrayDee’s chance was to rescue the stranded feline, the fire department shared that this is only the third cat rescue Vernal City has had in over 20 years. The first was another tree rescue and the second was a successful resuscitation of a cat pulled from a house fire who was dead from smoke inhalation. Well done to BrayDee and the entire team on showing that every citizen matters, even our four legged friends.
Daily Utahan

BLM invites the public to an informational meeting regarding Playa Sand Project

VERNAL, Utah — Bureau of Land Management Vernal Field Office staff invite the public to attend an informational meeting and provide comments on a proposal for a sand quarry on BLM-managed public lands located east of Vernal, in Uintah County. A 30-day public scoping period will provide insight regarding potential sand extraction to help build roads, complete construction projects and for other uses to benefit present and future generations.

Public Meeting On Piping Of Kids Canal Tonight At Western Park

Tonight is the public meeting to discuss possible design modifications for the Kids Canal section of the Ashley Central Canal. The possibility of modification came after public comments were considered and during a June meeting of the Ashley Central Canal Company it was decided to reopen the public comment period and an additional public meeting. The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Uintah County are hosting tonight’s meeting. The Friends of Kids Canal has shared a depiction of the proposed modification which would aim to preserve trees but still ultimately pipes the water. All are invited to attend the Public Meeting tonight at the Western Park from 6 to 8pm. Those interested can voice their comments, ideas and concerns to NRCS and Uintah County during this meeting. A hard copy of the Draft Plan-EA is available for review at the Uintah County Library. An electronic copy and an illustration of proposed Kids Canal design modifications can be accessed on the NRCS Project webpage. Comments can be submitted during the comment period ending on August 12th. Comments may be emailed to or submitted during the public open house.

Bouncer Charged With Aggravated Assault After Altercation Ends In Broken Neck

A Vernal man is facing charges after a man ended up with a broken neck this week in Uintah County. 26-year-old Caleb Christian Lee Pemberton was charged in 8th District Court with Felony Aggravated Assault resulting in Serious Bodily Injury. According to the probable cause statement, Pemberton was working as a bouncer at a bar and an individual came in who was intoxicated. Pemberton told officers he asked the individual to leave and they pushed each other but that no punches were ever thrown. Surveillance video of the incident showed a different story. “Officers could clearly see that Pemberton and the individual had thrown punches at each other. Pemberton punched the individual who was then looking away from Pemberton. Pemberton then pushed the individual who fell onto his stomach and face. Pemberton then grabbed the individual by the hair and drug him to a flight of stairs, approximately 10 feet away. Pemberton picked the individual up by the hair towards some stairs. While doing this Pemberton and the individual fell and the individual hit his neck on the stairs. The individual complained that he thought his neck was broken and it was later confirmed at the hospital that the individual's [neck was broken].” Pemberton’s initial court appearance is August 8th.

Updated Unemployment Data By County

The Department of Workforce Services has released updated unemployment data. Daggett County reported 4.4 percent unemployment which is up from 3.8 percent one year ago. Duchesne County reported 3.1 percent unemployment which is down from 4.6 percent one year ago and Uintah County reported 3.7 percent unemployment which is down from 5.4 percent one year ago. The state unemployment rate has stayed at 2 percent while national unemployment remains at 3.6 percent.

McCoy Flats Vandalized; Authorities Seek Tips To Identify Those Responsible

Uintah County Sheriff’s Office needs help to identify those that vandalized property and used illegal fireworks on public lands at McCoy Flats. According to the report, “On July 19th, BLM Vernal Field Office learned of vandalism to the McCoy Flats trail system area and facilities. Numerous bike crossing signs were pulled, removed, and broken along the paved road to the main trailhead. The signs and signposts were thrown into newly constructed vault toilets. Fireworks were discharged both inside and outside the restroom facilities. The resulting vandalism damaged the public restrooms and caused facilities to close down temporarily.” The Bureau of Land Management is seeking assistance from the public to identify the responsible culprits. If you have any information regarding this vandalism, please contact BLM Law Enforcement in Vernal at 435-781-4504 or 800-722-3998.

Utah Employment Update

Utah’s employment for June 2022 increased by 3.5 percent over the last year landing the state’s job count at 1,666,300. Duchesne County has had an employment increase of 2.5 percent over the year with the current employment at 8,310 and Uintah County employment has increased by 3.5 percent with employment at 13,257. Daggett County has not kept with the state trend with employment a year ago at 548 and currently at 512. Mark Knold, Chief Economist at the Department of Workforce Services, says inflation is currently the most pressing economic issue in Utah but even so he doesn’t indicate that the strong economy is at risk. “At such high levels, there is always concern that high inflation will find a way to weaken the economy,” shares Knold. “So far though there is no evidence that such is happening in Utah. Job growth remains strong and the unemployment rate is very low and little moved across the past six months. New unemployment insurance claims remain tame. That measurement is oftentimes the first indicator that something is weakening in the economy. But again, largely no movement at all is happening there.” Unemployment numbers will be updated this week.

Bill Seeks To Extend Endangered Fish Recovery Programs On Upper Colorado

A bill to extend the current endangered fish recovery programs on the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins is close to its final step of being passed by the Senate. According to Senator Mitt Romney, this bipartisan legislation will continue protecting four threatened and endangered native fish species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins by extending conservation programs for one year to allow communities the time to develop a long-term management plan. Uintah County Commissioner Bill Stringer says that this extension is a good thing because right now it is unknown what plans it could be replaced with. Having more time to implement the right long-term plan is the best scenario at the moment. DWR Recovery Program Director Christopher Keleher says that “with two of the four species recently downlisted from endangered to threatened, these Recovery Programs demonstrate that resource use and development can occur in an environmentally responsible way, concurrently with species conservation. By continuing to make progress toward the recovery of the four fish species, the Programs serve as Endangered Species Act compliance for close to 300 water projects in Utah.”

Outlaws Lost Treasure Hunt With $10,000 Loot Taking Place This Weekend

If you’re bored in Uintah County this weekend it is your own fault. Among the activities is what many would consider the thrill of a lifetime. A treasure valued at $10,000 dollars will be awarded to the most cunning team of treasure seekers as part of ‘Outlaw’s Lost Treasure’ hunt, a free three day activity hosted by Uintah County Travel and Tourism. The hunt is free to play and teams can be any size but each team must register for a team number. The premise of the hunt is straight out of the Wild West and will make you want to sign up. It states, “Butch Cassidy and his notorious gang roamed from Texas to Montana including the Uintah Basin. Butch lived in constant search of the next treasure whether it could be found on a train, stagecoach, in a bank or lost Spanish gold. His gang hid away many of their ill-gotten gains in caves, hills or underground. A recently found letter indicates the location of one of his lost treasures near Vernal. Several of Butch’s associates held a part of the secret to where the loot was stashed. Together the six clues provide insights into the resting place of the hidden treasure.” Get yourself or your team signed up at