Once, long ago, a guy had an idea.

"Let's sell lots of stuff, but make people pay just to walk through the doors of our store. Then we'll talk about how cool we are, sell more stuff, make people jealous, charge more for this store membership and then get mad at people who borrow this membership from their friends or family members.

"Then we'll devise a way they can't share anymore so that more people will have to pay, just for the privilege of walking through the front doors of our stores. It's brilliant!"

Sound familiar?

Costco, which makes about $4-billion a year in membership fees alone and has a renewal rate of 93 percent, doesn't want you sharing your membership.

And they're doing something about it.

The retail giant, home of cupcakes disguised as muffins and comically large packs of toilet paper, is going to begin making you scan your card just to enter the store.

That's right, no more waving your card at a human employee. Instead, Costco will require you to scan your membership card, sometimes with an accompanying photo ID, in the near future.

The store claims it is to speed up the eventual checkout process, but the real reason is that too many "members" were sharing their memberships.

Like Netflix and other pay services, Costco has determined shared memberships are costing them millions of dollars and they've had enough.

Costco finance chief Richard Galanti told CNN that a lot more people have been sharing memberships since the pandemic in 2020.

According to Galanti, Costco had around 66 million paid members and 119 million cardholders in 2022. Costco members pay either $60 a year for a regular membership or $120 for an “executive” card, which includes additional perks.

Costco officials have said that shared memberships cut into their profit margin and could force them to raise prices if not held in check.

The new entryway scanners are being tested in Washington state right now and could spread to Utah in the near future.

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Boom! Roar! Crack! Red Flag Exercises Will Rock Your World

Red Flag-Nellis 24-1 Arrivals
Nellis AFB Public Affairs
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Get ready for all the social media posts in the next few days:

"Just heard a loud boom ... are we having an earthquake?"

"Anyone hear that huge roar? My windows were rattling! We must have had an earthquake or a huge plane crash."

"My house shook hard. Anyone know what's going on?"

"This new construction! My house is rattling and shaking a lot"

So, when you see these posts, you can be the one in the know. All that noise -- the shaking, the rattling, the booms and roars -- is all about the Red Flag Exercises taking place at Nellis Air Force Base.

Nellis, located 101 miles (as the crow flies, 114 by road), is putting on its Red Flag 24-1 exercise starting today through Jan. 26.

Nearly 100 aircraft are scheduled to depart Nellis twice a day and could remain in the air for up to five hours during this large-scale exercise. There will also be night launches to train air crews for nighttime combat operations.

Since St. George is only 100 miles away and these jets travel in excess of 500-miles per hour, well, we're very, very close.

More from Nellis' official press release:

"On January 15 over 30 units from across the U.S. Department of Defense, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force will converge at Nellis for the start of Red Flag 24-1. The 414th Combat Training Squadron conducts Red Flag exercises to provide aircrews the experience of multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment. This iteration of Red Flag provides unique training with an emphasis on readiness for high-end warfighting and strategic competition.

Also included in the exercises from Utah's Hill Air Force base, among many others.

And while the Air Force makes no apologies for the noise, they do acknowledge that the exercises may spook pets, children and the noise-sensitive.

Nellis has hosted Red Flag exercises since 1975.

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St. George Area Experiencing Surge In Vehicle Burglaries: How To Stay Safe

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash
Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash
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There's been a rash of vehicle burglaries -- some from unlocked cars, some not -- in the St. George area in the past few days.

"Don't be an easy target," said St. George Police Department public information officer Tiffany Mitchell. "Basically, most criminals are lazy and are looking for an easy score. Lock your doors, and don't leave things out in the open where thieves can see them."

Those are the two biggest victim mistakes.

Many people stash their stuff under a seat or in the middle console or glove box, but then don't complete the safety practice by locking their doors.

This makes it super easy for even a casual thief to just open the door and grab something and then take off.

But even if you do make it a practice of locking your doors, if you leave something of great value out in the open where criminals can see them, they will not hesitate to smash a window and abscond with the item.

Mitchell admonishes all of us to stow items of value (wallet or purse, iPad, smartphone, jewelry, etc.) out of plain sight.

"Or better yet, just take the items with you," Mitchell said.

SGPD also said a lot of thefts are taking place at trailheads (St. George has dozens of them), where the thief knows the car owner will be gone for some time.

Although many of the thieves are from out of the area, Mitchell said there are a few homegrown criminals, especially where it is a crime of opportunity, like an unlocked car.

HOW TO AVOID CAR BURGLARIES:

  • Keep all car doors and windows closed and locked – about 30% of vehicle burglaries are from vehicles where the doors were not locked or a window was down.
  • Do not leave valuables or packages in plain sight in your vehicle.
  • If your vehicle has a built in security system, use it. If you don’t have a security system installed, it may be worth the investment.
  • Park your vehicle in an area that is visible to the public and well-lit at night.
  • Never leave an electronic garage opener in the car. It can provide a thief easy access to your home.
  • Headed to the beach or to go hiking? Burglars are, too. When you pack the car, bring as few items as possible with you - leave jewelry, watches, laptops, etc at home..
  • Keep a list of serial numbers (include make and model information, as well) for the commonly used electronic equipment you may keep in the car, like stereo faceplates, etc.
  • If your car is burglarized, report it to the police department immediately.

For more safety tips, go to the St. George Police Department web page.

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Handcuffs? Nope. Guns? Nope. Stuffed Animals? That's The Ticket

Photo by Barrett Ward on Unsplash
Photo by Barrett Ward on Unsplash
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Did you know policemen and other First Responders carry more than weapons and restraining devices to help in times of emergency?

Sometimes they carry Winnie the Pooh.

"Most of us officers are parents," said police lieutenant TJ Low. "We understand that kids are sometimes traumatized by seeing an officer in uniform. It's something as little as a teddy bear or a police sticker that goes a long way with these kids. That's what we want to pass along to them: we're there for them. We're not there to hurt them. We're not going to take their parents away. We're just there doing our job, and we want the kids to have somebody they can look up to."

Studies have shown that when police respond to family disturbance, they are often viewed as the "bad guy" by young children, who believe the police are there to take away their parents.

This is a belief that often is taught in the home of many parents who skirt the law, especially when drugs are involved.

An officer ofttimes will give a child a stuffed animal to 'break the ice,' or when the child is afraid during what could be a traumatic family event.

"That kind of helps give them some security, and kind of helps them when they're in a time of trouble and things aren't going well at home," patrol officer Jimmy Knox told David Chasanov of Fox25 TV. "It's kind of a bright light in their lives during a dark moment."

A pair of teens in California learned about this heart-warming program and began a drive to make sure every police officer in their area had plenty of stuffed animals to go around.

Michael and Elizabeth Christensen, siblings in Carlsbad, Calif., in a story highlighted by the Church News, saw the need and the great cause and put together a program to fill the need.

"The Christensens invited local schools, law enforcement, first responders and businesses to take part. Over several weeks, they organized donation drives at five locations. “When we first started reaching out to organizations, people said ‘no’ until we started showing up in person,” Michael said. “We spend most days running around, meeting with people after school, creating partnerships with local schools and businesses throughout Carlsbad and Encinitas.”

If you want to help or perhaps start a program in Utah, the St. George Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Department said they'd be glad to take donations on behalf of the children.

Here are links to contribute: St. George Police DepartmentWashington County Sheriff's OfficeWashington City Police DepartmentHurricane Police DepartmentSanta Clara/Ivins Police Department.

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Dedication And Enthusiasm: St. George's Police Dogs Turn Work Into Play

Photo by Marisa Teruel on Unsplash
Photo by Marisa Teruel on Unsplash
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You probably work pretty hard.

Modern society dictates that we put in 40, 50 or even 60 hours a week in our jobs if we're to be considered a valuable employee. Being the first one in the office and the last one out is often revered in the workplace (whether that's right or wrong is a debate for another time).

But if you love your job so much that it's like just going out to play, then being at work long hours is no big deal.

That's why Enzo, Karly and Emma don't mind at all putting in a long week. To the trio of St. George police officers, work is play.

I'm sure by now you know I'm talking about the three police dogs employed by the City of St. George.

And when it's time to go to work, those three can't wait.

"They don't know that it's work, they think it's time to play," said K9 Division Director Joe Watson. "You've got to understand that these are high motor, high energy dogs and they are excited to get out there and do what they've been trained."

Watson joined me on The Andy Griffin Show to talk about the 10 dogs working for our safety throughout Washington County, and in particular the three canines that work for St. George City.

"They work hard and they don't even know it," Watson said. "To them it is just fun."

I wish we all could love our jobs that much.

With each dog there is a mandatory four hours a week of training in each discipline they specialize in. Most dogs have at least two areas they specialize in (narcotic detection, explosive detection, criminal apprehension, etc.), which equates to at least eight hours of training each week to remain certified.

Watson, who used to be a K9 handler officer himself, now supervises the program. He is a big believer in the value of the K9 program.

"It's the only use of force a police officer has that can be recalled," he said. "You can't recall a taser or a bullet, but you can recall a K9."

Watson also was adamant about the most crucial role of a police dog.

"They save lives, of civilians and of police officers," he said. "If I can send my K9 into harms way to help save a human's life, I will be sad, but I will not hesitate to do it."

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