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Utah’s housing boom in full swing

SALT LAKE CITY — If you are in the market to sell or buy a house, now’s the time to do it.

According to the Utah Housing Corporation, 2013’s home sales numbers hit record highs, bringing the real estate market close to the levels seen in 2007 before the financial crisis.

“I’m used to selling a home in 90 days or less, not 3 weeks or less,” said Salt Lake Realtor Rachel Green.

Utah’s housing boom is in full swing. According to the Utah Housing Corporation, 2013 saw a 16 percent home sales increase from the year before.

Grant S. Whitaker, President and CEO of Utah Housing Corporation, described the market conditions.

“There are single family, there are condominiums, there are existing homes, and newly constructed homes,” he said. “The preponderance is for single family detached homes and the existing market as well.”

FOX 13 News spoke with Alyssa Firszt, who sold her home in November.

Choppers carry critical loads during ‘Helipoo’ day at Zion National Park

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah – Helicopter rides above Zion National Park are common for tourists, but Thursday a pilot took on a different mission, something park employees affectionately call  “Helipoo day.”

“We are actually removing the human waste off of Scout Lookout,” Park Spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said.

The two evaporative toilets on top of Scout Lookout have to be emptied by hand, and because the lookout is close to 1,000 feet up, it can only be done once a year, by air. The park closed the trail, which also leads to Angels Landing, while helicopters took up 15 drum barrels, and a contracted septic company pumped the waste out.

“We can only really do this once a year because flying up to Scout, there is a lot of other issues going on,” Baltrus said. “For instance, the condors are out there, peregrine falcon. In order to not mess with any of their nesting.”

Ranchers, officials propose different paths when it comes to collector road

ST GEORGE, Utah – Ranchers in St. George are fighting the city on improvements to a major collector road, saying the increased traffic from new developments and the long history of agriculture in the area don’t mix.

Growth in the Little Valley area is booming, and with all those new homes comes the need to widen roads. The city council is poised to approve a bid to improve the main artery, Little Valley Road, but ranchers who live on the road said the city should be looking elsewhere.

“Traffic and agriculture do not mix,” Paul Gooch said. “This is one of the big things that’s coming to a head here.”

Gooch and others have petitioned the city to look at alternate transportation routes, saying the road, which has long been a quiet, country one, should stay that way, citing safety as a primary factor.

Polygamy bill yanked from the Utah State Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that could essentially decriminalize polygamy in Utah has been yanked from the legislature.

Rep. Jerry Anderson, R-Price, told FOX 13 on Tuesday that HB 58 has been held as part of a package of bills legislative committees won’t consider because of Utah’s appeal of Amendment 3.

Legislative leadership will not consider any gay rights or religious freedom bills so as not to influence the appeal of Amendment 3, which was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in December. Amendment 3 defines marriage as between a man and a woman and does not recognize anything else.

That decision cleared the way for more than 1,300 same-sex couples to marry in Utah before the U.S. Supreme Court granted the state’s request for a stay pending appeal.

Provo woman falls in canyon, breaks ankle

WAYNE COUNTY, Utah — A woman is recovering after falling in a canyon and breaking her ankle Monday.

Rebecca Quinn Winters, 23, from Provo was hiking with a group in Canyonlands National Park when she fell in Chamber Canyon. Wayne County officers said she was trying to navigate through a tight slot in the canyon with a rope, but she let go and fell 5 to 6 feet.

Rescue teams responded to the canyon around 2 p.m. to help get Winters out. They were able to get her out of the canyon around 10:42 p.m.

Winters was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center to be treated for a broken ankle.

Count My Vote says proposed bill takes choices away from Utah citizens

SALT LAKE CITY – Organizers behind an initiative aimed at changing the way Utahns select candidates for political office say a bill in the Utah legislature is aimed at making their initiative meaningless, and they said such legislation is detrimental.

Count My Vote is a movement seeking to do away with Utah’s caucus system by putting a measure enacting such a change on the November ballot.

Officials with the group said Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-District 16, would establish rules political parties would have to follow—or they would have to move to a direct primary election.

In the statement, Count My Vote officials said the bill takes power away from citizens and could “harm the good faith efforts of citizens to vote and enact a law” because if SB 54 is passed and the political parties adopt the changes then a voter initiative to end the caucuses would be directly impacted.

Snow lovers celebrate Valentine’s Day on the slopes with ski lift speed dating

SOUTHERN UTAH — Snow lovers celebrated Valentine’s Day on the slopes by participating in a speed dating exercise centered around the ski lift.

The event was held at Brian Head Resort. FOX 13 News’ Zach Whitney spoke to those seeking love among the snow, see the video above for details.