Local Trucking Company Proud of UHP Crosses

Several crosses honoring fallen Utah Highway Patrol officers have been moved to new land after a state judge ruled the symbols as meshing state and religion.

Members of The American Athiests Inc. sued the state of Utah in 2005 for posting the Roman crosses on state land and bearing the UHP insignia on each symbol. After a nearly seven year battle, the crosses have been ordered to be placed on private land and have their Utah Highway Patrol insignias removed.

Local CEO and President of DATS Trucking, Don Ipson, told SUN News the crosses on his property are here to stay. “We’ve had 14 crosses on our property next to I-15 since 2007,” Ipson said, “and as long as I own this business, they’re not going anywhere.”

Ipson’s respect for men and women who have served is reflected into his personal life.

“I have worked closely with the Utah Highway Patrol in their trainings and I have a great respect for their service and the service of those who have fallen.”

When asked about the court’s ruling to remove the insignias, Ipson replied, “When I am formally asked to remove the insignias, I plan to do it.”

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Device Causes Virgin River Gorge Closure

A potentially life-threatening device was the cause of Tuesday’s overnight Virgin River Gorge road closure.

A Mesquite bank robbery suspect was reportedly fleeing the scene driving north-bound on I-15 when Arizona highway patrol officers pulled his vehicle over. “As one of the officers was walking up to the car, the man put a gun to his head in attempt to commit suicide,” Arizona Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Carrick Cook told SUN News. “He succeeded.”

After searching the car, officers found what looked to be a box that Cook said was “out of place, and containing dangerous substances.”

Arizona officials immediately called for the section of I-15 in the gorge to be completely shutdown until proper hazmat crews could tend to the scene.

Arriving around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, crews were able to clean the scene and contain the object. Traffic returned to normal by 5:00 a.m. Wednesday.

“With dangerous items such as this, we wanted to make sure every precaution was taken,” Cook said.

Lowry Officially Appointed to Legislature

Early Wednesday morning, in front of a St. George audience at the “What’s Up Down South” Washington County Economic Summit, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed the official letter to appoint V. Lowry Snow to Utah House District 74. The appointment comes at the recommendation of the Washington County Republican Party delegates who selected Snow to replace David Clark by a large margin. Clark resigned last month to run for Utah’s Second Congressional District.

“Lowry’s diverse legal experience and economic development background make him an ideal candidate for this position,” the Governor said. “I believe he will be an outstanding addition to the Utah House and an excellent representative of his southern Utah constituents.”

Snow is a founding partner of the St. George-based law firm Snow Jensen & Reece. He has worked as an attorney in real estate, civil litigation, business and land use planning. He has served as president of the Utah State Bar, as well as a board member of the Southern Utah Community Legal Center.

Snow is also a member of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Board, the Washington County Economic Development Council, and is an Economic Development Corporation of Utah trustee.

Local Man Arrested Within Hours of Burglary

A man suspected of breaking into a local business and separate storage unit is in jail following his arrest on multiple theft and burglary charges.  29-year-old Timothy Cleveland Griffith of Hurricane was arrested Monday and charged with four third-degree felony counts of theft and burglary of a dwelling and non-dwelling.

Hurricane Police Sgt. Stacey Gubler said an employee of a local business called police Monday morning as soon as he arrived at work and saw obvious signs of a break-in.  “Windows were broken and electronic equipment was missing from the business,” said Gubler, adding the business had been broken into sometime Sunday night. Electronic equipment worth more than $5,000 including computers vital to the business was missing, he said.

Evidence gathered at the business led officers to Griffith’s nearby residence, where he was detained until a search warrant was obtained from a judge. A Washington County Drug Task Force detective also came in on his day off to help write and process the search warrant, Gubler added.
Some of the items police saw inside Griffith’s house while serving the search warrant made him a primary suspect in the burglary of a storage unit reported just hours later. The second victim was a retired general contractor who reported close to $5,000 in construction tools had been stolen.
“We had a lot of people involved in working these two crime scenes, which really cut down on our investigation time,” Gubler said. “We were happy to locate and recover most of the property from these two burglaries.”
Griffith was booked into the Washington County jail on $20,000 bail.

Public Invited to Red/White Gymnastics Preview

Southern Utah University gymnastics will begin its season this Friday, January 13, when the Thunderbirds host the University of Missouri. However, fans will be able to get a sneak peek at the team during the annual Red/White Preview on Tuesday night at 7:00 in the Centrum Arena.

The meet will pit T-Bird against T-Bird with the active squad of 12 being divided into two teams of six. The night will be a condensed version of what fans would typically see at a regular season meet, with only four gymnasts competing on each event instead of the customary six.

“We expect our girls to come out strong and perform just like they would during the regular season,” head coach Scott Bauman said. “We understand that it will be the first meet of the year and that we have some inexperienced girls competing on some of the events, but this is really the time to secure their spot in the lineups.”

Fans are encouraged to stay after the meet and enjoy a poster signing event that will take place on the west concourse of the Centrum Arena. Admission is free.

Grand Canyon National Park to Offer Free Entrance

Grand Canyon National Park will be joining national park sites around the country in celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday with a fee-free weekend. 

Entrance fees will be waived for all visitors to Grand Canyon National Park January 14 – 16, 2012. Visitors arriving in the park on any one of those three days will be allowed to enter free of charge. Those who plan to spend time in the park beyond the 16th will need to pay the regular entrance fee for the remainder of their stay. 

“Winter can be a wonderful time to visit the Grand Canyon,” says Deputy Superintendent Palma Wilson. “There are fewer people in the park and the pace is slower, more relaxing. Fee free days are a great opportunity to discover a new season in your favorite national park.” 

The fee free designation applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours, or use of concessions. Park entrance stations will have Interagency Senior and Annual Passes available for those who wish to purchase them. 

Park visitors are reminded that Grand Canyon’s South Rim sits at approximately 7,000 feet and that winter weather and driving conditions are always a possibility during the month of January. 

The National Park Service will be offering additional fee-free days throughout 2012, including April 21 – 29 (National Parks Week), June 9 (Get Outdoors Day), September 29 (National Public Lands Day) and November 10 – 12 (Veterans Day weekend.) 

For more on what there is to see and do in Grand Canyon National Park, please visit the park’s web site at
. For more on National Park Service fee-free days, go to

Mesquite Police to Enforce Cell Phone Use While Driving

A good New Year’s resolution to have may require putting down your cell phone while driving, at least in Nevada. 

As of the start of this year, Mesquite Police Officers will be issuing motorists citations for texting, accessing the Internet, and hand-held cell phone use while driving.  Drivers can talk using a hands-free headset and, while making voice calls, touch the phone to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function on the device.

Exceptions include: 

*  Any person reporting a medical emergency, a safety hazard, or criminal activity.

*  Drivers using a voice-operated navigation system affixed to the vehicle or those riding in autonomous vehicles.

*  Drivers using citizen band (CB) or other two-way radios that require a license and have a separate, hand-held microphone.

*  Law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency medical personnel acting within the scope of their employment.

*  Utility workers responding to an outage or emergency and using devices provided by the company.

*  Amateur radio operators providing communications services during an emergency or disaster.

The fines are $97 for the first offense in seven years, $182 for the second and $342 for the third and subsequent offenses.  Fines are subject to doubling if the offense occurs in a work zone. 

Man Arrested For Charity Theft

An Ivins resident is behind bars after stealing funds from a local charity.  St. George Police say 36-year-old Gregory Swenson was arrested for theft of two Coins for Kids donations boxes.  Officials initially responded to two convenience stores in St. George with reports that the suspect entered both stores and took the donation boxes with an approximate value of less than $100. 

After review of the surveillance footage and an investigation, a Maverik store employee recognized Swenson as a regular customer.  On January 5, detectives found that Swenson had been booked into the Washington County Jail on unrelated charges.  He was then charged on two counts of theft with a $10,000 bail.

BBB Names Top Ten Scams of 2011

Better Business Bureau investigates thousands of scams every year, from the latest gimmicks to schemes as old as the hills. Our new Scam Source (www.bbb.org/scam) is a comprehensive resource on scam investigations from BBBs around the country, with tips from BBB, law enforcement and others. You can sign up to receive our Scam Alerts by email, and you can also be a scam detective yourself by reporting scams you’ve discovered.

We’ve divided scams up into nine major categories and picked the top scam in each, plus our Scam of the Year.

Top Job Scam

BBB sees lots of secret shopper schemes, work-from-home scams, and other phony job offers, but the worst job-related scam can dash your hopes and steal your identity. Emails, websites and online applications all look very professional, and the candidate is even interviewed for the job (usually over the phone) and then receives an offer. In order to start the job, however, the candidate has to fill out a “credit report” or provide bank information for direct deposit of their “paychecks.” The online forms are nothing more than a way to capture sensitive personal data – Social Security number, bank accounts, etc. – that can easily be used for identity theft. And, of course, there is no job, either.

Top Sweepstakes and Lottery Scam

Sweepstakes and lottery scams come in all shapes and sizes, but the bottom line is almost always this: You’ve won a whole lot of money, and in order to claim it you have to send us a smaller amount of money. Oh, and keep this confidential until we’re ready to announce your big winnings. This year’s top sweepstakes scam was undoubtedly the email claiming to be from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announcing that the recipient was the winner of $1 million from the popular social networking site. These kinds of scams often use celebrities or other famous names to make their offer seem more genuine. If you aren’t sure, don’t click on the link but instead go directly to the homepage of the company mentioned. If they are really giving away $1 million, there will be some kind of announcement on their website. But don’t waste too much time looking.

Top Social Media/Online Dating Scam

On the Internet, it’s easy to pretend to be someone you are not. Are you really friends with all of your “Friends” on Facebook? Do you have a lot of personal information on a dating site? With so much information about us online, a scammer can sound like they know you. There are tons of ways to use social media for scams, but one this year really stands out because it appeals to our natural curiosity…and it sounds like it’s coming from a friend. Viral videos claiming to show everything from grisly footage of Osama bin Laden’s death to the latest celebrity hijinks have shown up on social media sites, often looking as if they have been shared by a friend. When you click on the link, you are prompted to “upgrade your Flash player,” but the file you end up downloading contains a worm that logs into your social media account, sends similar messages to your friends, and searches for your personal data. The next time you see a sensational headline for the latest viral video, resist the urge to peek.

Top Home Improvement Scam

Always near the top of BBB complaint data are home improvement contractors who often leave your home worse than they found it. They usually knock on your door with a story or a deal – the roofer who can spot some missing shingles on your roof, the paver with some leftover asphalt who can give you a great deal on driveway resealing. Itinerant contractors move around, keeping a step ahead of the law…and angry consumers. The worst are those who move in after a natural disaster, taking advantage of desperate homeowners who need immediate help and may not be as suspicious as they would be under normal circumstances. A large percentage of BBB’s Accredited Businesses are home contractors who want to make sure you know they are legitimate, trustworthy and dependable. Find one at www.bbb.org/search.

Top Check Cashing Scam

Two legitimate companies – Craig’s List and Western Union – are used for an inordinate amount of scamming these days, and especially check cashing scams. Here’s how it works: Someone contacts you via a Craig’s List posting, maybe for a legitimate reason like buying your old couch or perhaps through a scam like hiring you as a secret shopper. Either way, they send you a check for more than the amount they owe you, and they ask you to deposit it into your bank account and then send them the difference via Western Union. A deposited check takes a couple of days to clear, whereas wired money is gone instantly. When the original check bounces, you are out whatever money you wired…and you’re still stuck with the old couch.

Top Phishing Scam

“Phishing” is when you receive a suspicious phone call asking for personal information or an email that puts a virus on your computer to hunt for your data. It’s almost impossible to avoid them if you have a telephone or an email account. But the most pernicious phishing scam this year disguised itself as official communication from NACHA – the National Automated Clearing House Association – which facilitates the secure transfer of billions of electronic transactions every year. The email claims one of your transactions did not go through, and it hopes you react quickly and click on the link before thinking it through. It may take you to a fake banking site “verify” you account information, or it may download malware to infiltrate your computer.

Top Identity Theft Scam

There are a million ways to steal someone’s identity. This one has gotten so prevalent that many hotels are posting warnings in their lobby. Here’s how it works: You get a call in your hotel room in the middle of the night. It’s the front desk clerk, very apologetic, saying their computer has crashed and they need to get your credit card number again, or they must have gotten the number wrong because the transaction won’t go through, and could you please read the number back so they can fix the problem? Scammers are counting on you being too sleepy to catch on that the call isn’t from the hotel at all, but from someone outside who knows the direct-dial numbers for the guest rooms. By the time morning rolls around and you are clear-headed, your credit card has been on a major shopping spree.

Top Financial Scam

In challenging economic times, many people are looking for help getting out of debt or hanging on to their home, and almost as many scammers appear to take advantage of desperate situations. Because the federal government announced or expanded several mortgage relief programs this year, all kinds of sound-alike websites have popped up to try to fool consumers into parting with their money. Some sound like a government agency, or even part of BBB or other nonprofit consumer organization. Most ask for an upfront fee to help you deal with your mortgage company or the government (services you could easily do yourself for free), and almost all leave you in more debt than when you started.

Top Sales Scam

Sales scams are as old as humanity, but the Internet has introduced a whole new way to rip people off. Penny auctions are very popular because it seems like you can get something useful – cameras, computers, etc. – for way below retail. But you pay a small fee for each bid (usually 50? to $1.00) and if you aren’t the winner, you lose that bid money. Winners often are not even the top bidder, just the last bidder when time runs out. Although not all penny auction sites are scams, some are being investigated as online gambling. BBB recommends you treat them the same way you would legal gambling in a casino – know exactly how the bidding works, set a limit for yourself, and be prepared to walk away before you go over that limit.

Scam of the Year

Yep, it’s us – the BBB phishing scam. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people have gotten emails that very much look like an official notice from BBB. The subject line says something like “Complaint Against Your Business,” and the instructions tell the recipient to either click on a link or open an attachment to get the details. If the recipient does either, a malicious virus is launched on their computer…a virus that can steal banking information, passwords and other critical pieces of information needed for cyber-theft. BBB is working with security consultants and federal law enforcement to track down the source of these emails, and has already shut down dozens of hijacked websites. Anyone who has opened an attachment or clicked on a link should run a complete system scan using reputable anti-virus software. If your computer is networked with others, all machines on the network should be scanned, as well.

For more information on these and other scams, go to BBB Scam Source (www.bbb.org/scam). Sign up for our Scam Alerts and learn about new scams as soon as we do.

The Better Business Bureau was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1912. It was started by ethical business owners frustrated by having to compete with companies that were using misleading advertising to attract customers. These business owners banded together to form a “Vigilance Committee,” which challenged these unethical companies and made their findings public. In 1913, the Better Business Bureau of Utah (originally named the Business Men’s Alliance) was established. There are now 116 BBBs throughout the United States and Canada.

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. For additional information on Better Business Bureau services, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Web site at www.utah.bbb.org or call (801) 892-6009, or toll-free in Utah (800) 456-3907.

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