Every year, the What's Up Down South economic summit in St. George grows and expands.

And every year, the convention sells out long before the actual convention.

This year, the day of workshops is on Jan. 11 and already almost all the tickets to the event are gone.

For tickets, go here: WUDS Tix

The list of keynote speakers for the event is impressive with Governor Spencer Cox, Intermountain Health executive Natalie Ashby, author and motivational speaker Just Osmond, economist Mark Knold and Culmination Bio CEO Lincoln Nadauld taking the podium.

In addition, breakout speakers presenting workshops at the event include Joseph McPhie, Zac Renstrom, Marilyn Cannon, Peter Fuller, Rick Atkin, Brad Plothow, Isaac Barlow, Jennifer Janke, Paul Hill, Ph.D, Joshua Aikens, John Collier, Troy Scheel, Emily Merkley, Jamie Shaw, Peggy Green, Tiffiney Christiansen, Ann Marie Wallace, Lance Soffe, Scott Wolford, Danny Stewart, Stephen Smith and Jen Wakeland.

The event will begin at 7 a.m. with registration and a buffet breakfast Keynote speaker Spencer J. Cox will address the convention at 8:10 a.m.

For a full schedule, click here.

The convention concludes at approximately 2:30 p.m.

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Want To Sleep Better? Experts Say Go To Bed Naked

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Health experts say sleeping naked can promote a good night's rest.

Studies have shown that keeping cool can help you fall asleep faster with the ideal bedroom temperature somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.

Cooling your body also promotes better sleep quality, healthier skin and has even been linked to less stress and anxiety.

So even if you're not comfortable sleeping in the nude, health experts say ditching a layer or two of clothing, like that extra sweatshirt you wear to bed in the winter, might help you fall asleep faster.

Washington County health official Dr. David Blodgett said getting a good night's rest is paramount to leading a healthy lifestyle. And he said keeping the bedroom cool is one of the keys.

"Really, a bedroom temperature of about 65 degrees is ideal," he said. "Obviously you don't want to be cold, but keeping the bedroom cool and snuggling up in blankets helps us sleep better."

The website Sleepadvisor.org offers these eight reasons why sleeping in a cool room is helpful:

1. Fall Asleep Quickly

As nighttime approaches, our body temperature naturally drops, signaling that it’s time to slow down and get some rest. By keeping your bedroom cooler, you’re reinforcing your body’s natural instinct to sleep. If the room is too hot, it could potentially block that signal and cause it to take longer for you to fall asleep.

2. Better Sleep Quality

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, you know how disruptive that can be. If you keep your bedroom cooler and regulate the temperature throughout the night, you’ll find that your sleep quality improves.

Another way that keeping your room cold can improve the quality of your rest is by stimulating melatonin production[1], a hormone that promotes sleep.

You also have a greater chance of experiencing deep sleep if your room is cold. Sleeping in a cool room can help you combat insomnia by lowering your body temperature, which then slows down your metabolism rate. As a result, you don’t spend as much energy during sleep, and you’re less likely to wake up in the middle of the night.

3. Anti-Aging

As mentioned above, cooler rooms encourage the body to produce melatonin. In addition to promoting sleep, melatonin is also a powerful anti-aging hormone. Other benefits of increased melatonin production are regular menstrual cycles, enhanced moods, weight loss, cancer-fighting properties, and increased brain health.

4. Weight Loss

Sleeping in a cold room can help you with your weight loss goals. Again, when your room is set to an optimal, cooler temperature, the melatonin your body produces will cause your body to store “beige fat,” which contrary to the name, helps you burn calories instead of storing them.

5. Decreased Risk of Disease

In addition to the phenomenon of beige and brown fat increasing in cooler temperatures and causing your body to burn more calories, it also increases insulin sensitivity[2], which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Colder sleeping temperatures also promote glucose disposal, another indicator of type 2 diabetes risk.

Diabetes isn’t the only disease that a cold room could help combat. The increased melatonin production could also have a positive influence on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Since melatonin can improve sleep, this could lower one’s risk of dementia[1]. However, experts do not recommend melatonin for elderly people already living with dementia due to a higher risk of falls and other accidents.

6. Prevents Insomnia

A stressful day and an overactive brain aren’t the only things keeping you awake at night. According to experts, one of the potential symptoms of stress is an elevated body temperature[4].

Remember that our bodies cool off at night in anticipation of sleep. However, if your body is hot due to stress, you’ll have to alter your environment to cool you down enough to signal that it’s time for bed.

7. Enhances Mood

There are a couple of ways that sleeping in cold rooms can enhance your mood. The first and most obvious one is that since a cooler room improves the quality of your sleep, you’ll wake up more rested and feel better.

The other reason has to do with the link between melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin[5] is a known mood-enhancer, and it’s also the precursor for melatonin, meaning that melatonin is made from it. When we have enough of both of these hormones in our brains, we rest better and feel happier.

8. Reduces Stress Levels

Similar to the mood-enhancing effects of colder temperatures in the bedroom, you’ll also find that getting a higher quality of sleep reduces stress all day long. Chronic stress[6] can lead to long-term health complications, such as depression, stomach problems, muscle tension, weight gain, and memory and concentration difficulties. Therefore, doing your best to alleviate stress is important.

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Discover The Rewards Of Working With Animals

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Cathy Freitas is something of a dog whisperer. Or cat. Or bird. Or hedgehog?

Freitas, who was on the Andy Griffin Show recently, is the Director of the Animal Services Department for the City of St. George and she admits that it's a dirty job. And she loves doing it.

Just an hour after spraying out the dog pens at the animal shelter, Freitas was regaling listeners with stories about wrangling a giant monitor lizard or rescuing a dog with it's mouth permanently wired shut (that dog lives with her now).

Freitas wants people to know in her town that animals need love and just want to have and be a friend to people.

"They just to need be loved," she said.

Freitas said working in animal services can be very tough at times, but like many jobs, the rewards outweigh the heartbreaks.

"There are some tough times for sure, but the positive situations outnumber them by so much," she said. "There's a lot of times you cry, but it's not always sad tears. There are happy tears, too."

There are some definite things Freitas wants the public to know:

  • Dogs bark, but they shouldn't bark incessantly, especially at night and there are legal actions neighbors can take if this happens.
  • Owning a pig is illegal in St. George (yes, even a pot-bellied or teacup pig). The only exception: a pig being raised for the 4H Club, and that's only OK if your area is zoned for that.
  • Hedgehogs are cute, but not snuggly at all. "If you want a snuggly pet, don't get a hedgehog."
  • Pet cats, dogs and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Ferrets make good pets -- fun to play with, will snuggle, warm and fuzzy, but they do produce a strong, um, odor. And they can be mischievous if bored.,
  • You're allowed to own up to six hens, but no roosters. Roosters are illegal in St. George.
  • Domesticated rabbits (think Easter) are very difficult pets to care for, and will not survive if you turn them loose in the wild. Oh, and the stereotype is real, they reproduce very quickly.
  • If you have a reptile problem, Animal Services may have to call in a specialist, like they did when someone needed help with a four-foot monitor lizard.
  • If a stray animal is turned into Animal Services, the owner has five business days to claim it, then the animal will be put up for adoption.
  • Right now there are more than 25 dogs and cats waiting for rescue at the Animal Shelter. A dog costs $60 to adopt and a cat is $50. All of these shelter animals will have been spayed/neutered and vaccinated.

For more information on this or any animal topics, visit Animal Services web pageFacebook page or call 435-627-4350.

The shelter is open:

  • Monday - By Appointment Only.
  • Tuesday - Friday 10 am to 6 pm
  • Saturday - 9 am to 4 pm.
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Would You Trade Your Freedom For $3-million?

Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash
Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash
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What is your life worth?

Could you put a price on it?

An Ohio man's family will be awarded $3-million after the man was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 45 years behind bars.

He was released in 2021 and had roughly one year of freedom before passing away last year from cancer.

Here's the news piece from the wire today:

"The state of Ohio will pay out three-million dollars to the survivors of a Cleveland man who was wrongly imprisoned for more than 45 years.  Isaiah Andrews was convicted of killing his wife in 1974 though later discovery showed that evidence of another suspect was never given to defense attorneys.  Andrews was released from prison and was later found not guilty of the crime at the end of a 2021 retrial.  He died of cancer in April of 2022.  The Ohio Controlling Board gave its approval for the payment yesterday."

It's a tragic case all around. One man spent nearly his entire life in prison for a crime he did not commit. Another man, a murderer, got away with the crime. And Isaiah Andrews never got to properly mourn the loss of his wife.

It also brings up the ethical question: How much is a life worth? Or more accurately, how much is freedom worth?

Because Andrews is no longer with us, we cannot ask him if the $3-million was worth spending his life in prison. But I suspect the answer would be "No way."

His family is fixed financially for life, at least if they use the money wisely. But he spent 45 years falsely incarcerated.

I wouldn't take the deal. I'll never be worth $3-million, but some things, like freedom, are priceless.

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Local Business Hosting Fundraiser For Brinkerhoff Family

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It's a wonderful time of year for almost all of us.

Almost.

The Brinkerhoff family lost their 5-year-old daughter to a drowning accident last week, forever making the month of December a time of sorrow for them.

But the people of Southern Utah are getting the opportunity to try and help heal this family just a little bit with a fundraiser and auction Wednesday night at Mountain  Mike's Pizza in Hurricane.

Sadly, Emma Brinkerhoff passed away after the accident despite heroic efforts in trying to save her life. The Brinkerhoff family is now faced with monstrous medical bills and funeral expenses.

This is where Southern Utahns excel.

Nick Lauritzen, owner of Mountain Mike's, is one of many business owners hoping to help the family out.

"This is so heartbreaking," Lauritzen wrote on social media. "I can't imagine losing one of my children during this time. Heaven gained an angel on December 13th, when Emma passed away from a tragic accident at home. I know right now, money is tight for everyone. If you cannot donate, please share this post. Every share results in an average of $13 more in donations. We will have an auction and a special photo opp with The Grinch."

Lauritzen said donations, plus a percentage of all sales will go to the Brinkerhoff family.

What: Fundraiser for Brinkerhoff family
Where: Mountain Mike's Pizza, 88 N. 3400 W., Hurricane (in front of Walmart)
When: Wednesday (Dec. 20) from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Other contributors: Got Bargains, Tupperware, O So Good Olive Oil, Beauty and Her Barbershop, The Feather Barn, Fisher Family Farms, Babes Handmade, Revival Massage, Mountain Mike's Pizza, Easy Shop Insurance
Activities: Pizza sale, photo opp with The Grinch, silent auction

You may not be able to attend, but donations for the family can still be made at:

  1. State Bank of Southern Utah under Lucas and KariSue Brinkerhoff
  2. Venmo: @kariSueBrinkerhoff or @Lucas-Brinkerhoff-1
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Help Solve Tiny House Theft In Washington County

Stolen House!
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 OK, seriously, who loses a house?

But according to a post put up by the Washington County Sheriff's Department, that's exactly what's happened here.

In a post this morning, the WCSD asked for the public's help in identifying the person or people responsible for stealing a house -- the same house pictured above.

Now granted, it's a tiny house and it's on a trailer, which would make stealing it quite a but easier. But Holy Cow, a house!? Someone stole a house?!?

Here's the verbiage from the listing:

"Have you seen me? Somehow this Tiny House has been misplaced (someone may have borrowed it without the owner's permission and have not told anyone where they left it...). If you happen to see a tiny house like this in the desert or somewhere that seems out of place, please let us know. You can contact dispatch at 435-634-5730 and ask to speak to a deputy. Reference incident 23W007359. #TinyHouse#WeKnowTheHousingMarketIsBadButThisIsExtreeme"

The picture accompanying the listing made the kind of funny post all-too serious. We have a house thief on the loose.

So what can be done?

As referenced above, the police are looking for anyone who has seen the house to call dispatch and tell detectives what/.where they saw the rogues who misappropriated the residence.

I mean, how far can someone go with a house in tow, right?

It also brings up some real questions. Do these tiny houses have VIN numbers? Do they have deeds? Is there a black market for tiny homes? Once stolen, where in the world would you put one of these?

Once again, that phone number to call if you've seen this house is 435-634-5730.

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Banned! New Law Makes This Common Christmas Decoration Illegal in Utah

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We love our Christmas lights in the state of Utah. You can't go more than a block or so without finding houses decorated with festive holiday glow and cheer.

But apparently, the Federal Government is not OK with that.

Last year the Department of Energy announced that the United States would be moving away from incandescent light bulbs and moving towards LED lightbulbs -- this was back in April 2022.

The announcement last year gave citizens some time to get their households in order, because the ban didn't officially take place until Aug. 1 of this year.

But now the ban is in full effect.

As of this moment, you cannot be cited for having incandescent lights hanging from your home (that could change). But retailers carrying incandescent lights could face heavy fines and even sanctions.

The Feds are sending the message loud and clear: the manufacturing, distribution and sale of the old-fashioned light strings is now against the law.

In fact, once these lights burn out on your strings at home, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to find any replacements.

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The Oldest City In Utah Is ...

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The old story goes that four men went into a room to decide which was the oldest city in the state of Utah.

There was a man from Ogden, a man from Salt Lake, a man from Provo and a man from Bountiful in the room.

Officials locked the door and waited for a resolution. An hour later, after a lot of noise and ruckus, the men emerged from the room, beaten and battered, one of them beaming with pride. All four agreed Ogden was the oldest town in the state.

"Wow, I didn't expect a consensus," the official exclaimed.

The man from Ogden, obviously less battered than the others, said, "It took awhile, but I got them to see it my way."

The story, although fictional, is based on the idea that people from Ogden are maybe just a bit tougher than the rest of us.

Another Ogden legend is that Al Capone, the famous gangster, took the train to Ogden looking to expand his empire. After 10 minutes on 25th Street of the northern Utah city, Capone supposedly muttered, 'This is too rough of a town for me."

The truth of the matter is this: As a settlement in Utah, Ogden was, in fact, first, because of the founding in 1845 of a small picket enclosure, Fort Buenaventura, on the Weber River by Miles Goodyear, a mountain man working in the northern Utah area.

But as an incorporated town, Salt Lake City actually beat Ogden to the punch. Bountiful and West Jordan were close behind. All of this was around 1846-47.

St. George was founded a decade later, but has since surpassed Ogden and Bountiful in population.

CITYPOPULATION
1Salt Lake City204,657
2West Valley City136,650
3West Jordan116,664
4Provo113,523
5St. George102,519
6Orem95,910
7Sandy93,022
8Ogden86,825
9Lehi84,373
10South Jordan83,513

The founding dates of communities settled in these years which eventually became important population centers are Salt Lake City (1847), Bountiful (1847), Ogden (1848), West Jordan (1848), Kaysville (1849), Provo (1849), Manti (1849), Tooele (1849), Parowan (1851), Brigham City (1851), Nephi (1851), Fillmore (1851), Cedar City (1851), Beaver (1856), Wellsville (1856), Washington (1856) and St. George (1861).

So technically, Salt Lake City was the first real town in Utah.

But don't tell that to a guy from Ogden unless you want a black eye.

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Trader Joe's Won't Say No To St. George (Does That Mean Yes?)

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By far the most asked question when it comes to retail stores and expansion in our ever burgeoning town is: "When are we going to get a Trader Joe's?"

There are some others (Cheesecake Factory, Hobby Lobby, etc.), but the hope that Trader Joe's makes it to Utah's Dixie is foremost in residents' minds, for sure.

First of all, let's clear a couple of things up. There is no hard and fast demographic or population rule with Trader Joe's, despite the claims of some people. Trader Joe's expands where and when it wants. Certainly, the company does its market research and opens new locations where the parent company (Aldi) thinks there's a profit to be made. But there is no specific trend or number that qualifies a city or county of being "worthy" of having a Trader Joe's.

That being said, Trader Joe's does tend to open stores in locations where the population's median income is about $10,000 more than the state's average. However, with their focus on trying to keep product prices low, TJ's does tend to open stores in less expensive parts of expensive places. Does that make sense?

Doing a search on Trader Joe's reveals a lot. Apparently the store is not just a store, but a religious institution. I write that in jest, but it sure seems like it. People don't just love Trader Joe's -- they LOVE Trader Joe's! (all caps, exclamation point, heart emojis, etc).

I ran across articles like "18 Things You Should Know Before You Shop at Trader Joe's," "We went to Trader Joe's and found 7 main reasons why so many people are obsessed with the quirky grocer," and "6 Not-to-Be-Missed Trader Joe’s Items That Just Hit Stores," among hundreds of others.

And many were from legitimate news websites like business.com and kiplinger.com, not just fansites.

The one that really caught my was this one, "Here's Why There's Not a Trader Joe's Where You Live."

The story, on the popular website allrecipes.com, attempts to explain who gets a Trader Joe's and why (or why not?). The brief article, written by Bailey Fink, is a year old, but does give fans of the store some options to try and get the TJ management to take notice. Most notably, there is actually a "Request a Trader Joe's in my City" form to fill out.

The quirky, but popular retailer, with 542 stores nationwide, is mum about possible expansion in Southern Utah. The fit seems perfect: A decent population base (200,000 in the county), heavy tourism activity (TJ's most popular store is in Time's Square), and a decent household median income (about $62,000 and rising).

So, is Trader Joe's coming to St. George?

I can tell you this, in the article "Trader Joe’s Expands in Country’s Hottest Markets," Jennifer Strailey outlines how TJ's is 100 percent committed to the red-hot real estate markets in the United States.

In case you've been in a cave, the hottest state for real estate in the past year has been Utah and the hottest city in the state -- St. George.

I can't give you a timeline, but if that's the biggest criterium for coming here, TJ's will be here soon.

* BTW, I've been to the Orem Trader Joe's many times and love some of their products -- especially their pineapple habanero BBQ sauce and their huge selection of dark chocolate items).

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