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

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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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Utah's Top Google Searches May Surprise You

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In the United States, we love our entertainment and our Google searches in the USA reflect that -- "Matthew Perry," "Dolly Parton," "Taylor Swift," and "Barbie" were among the top Google searches this year.

But what about Google searches originating from ISP addresses in the state of Utah?

Interestingly, Utah seems to have quite an internal good vs. evil struggle taking place. We are tops in the nation for searches like "Jesus," "Sabbath Day" and Food Storage."

But we also make the top 10 lists when it comes to searches like "Naked girls," "Topless," and "Lingerie."

So what gives?

In a Deseret News article, Lee Davidson quotes psychologist Steve Pumphrey, "When you have extreme light, or people trying to do good things, you often also find the opposite in extreme."

Clinician Theresa Martinez expounds more on this: "The forbidden is really tempting. Where you have a culture that is known for family values, morality and apple pie, you will also have curiosity and interest in the forbidden."

It's worth mentioning that Utah, long accused of being a voracious consumer of pornography, is not any worse per capita than any other state. In this article in Public Square Magazine, details are given on how this became a common misconception.

Still, the searches are there and recently Viasat Savings published on its website that "What is catfishing?" is the most commonly searched phrase on Google in our state. (To save you time, catfishing is defined as the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.).

Analyzing our searches can reveal much -- or very little.

For instance, Utahns searched for Pallas Cat more than any other state. These small wild cats are adorably expressive, with short legs, dense grey fur, and round pupils as opposed to the usual vertical line pupils of most small cats.

But that doesn't really mean much, except that pallas cats are cute. (OK, go ahead and Google that one, it's worth it).

Utah also is No. 1 in the nation in the searches "roast beef sandwiches near me," "Lord of the Rings," and "Cheese Fries."

Now that sounds like a fine afternoon.

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