10 Aug

New State Crime Lab Designed to Make Processing Evidence More Efficient

It’s a phrase often heard when police detectives talk about their investigations: “We’re waiting on results from the State Crime Lab.”

Jay Henry, the State Crime Lab’s director, says that’s about to change with the completion of Utah’s new $41 million, 90,000-square-foot facility this winter.

“The faster they can get results for their criminal investigations, the quicker and better they can resolve their cases,” Henry said. “Their turnaround time for their evidence will be quicker, faster and more efficient.”

The new Utah State Crime Lab is currently under construction at 4431 S. 2700 West, next to the Cal Rampton Building where the Department of Public Safety and the current crime lab is headquartered. The new facility will replace the current facility, which was built in 1980.

Right now, the Utah State Crime Lab has different specialties spread across northern Utah. The ballistics testing area, for example, is currently done in Ogden.

Once the new facility is completed, all disciplines of the State Crime Lab will be moved back under one roof. In addition, the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office and the Department of Agriculture will share lab space in the same building.

The result, Henry said, will be more efficient and quicker testing of evidence.

“What this facility does, it increases our capacity and makes us more efficient, and it allows for a safer environment for employees to work,” he said. “It also consolidates our firearms laboratory from the northern part of the state back to the central lab. It provides us with some crime scene processing bays and trace evidence rooms. And we do it in a combined facility.”

Henry said he expects employees to start moving into the new facility by December or January and for the building to be fully up and running by next spring.

On Tuesday, in conjunction with National Forensic Science Week, Henry gave the media a first look at the facility.

“This kind of represents the future of forensic science in Utah. This is just kind of a glimpse,” he said.

Each room of the new crime lab is being built for a specific purpose. For example, one area will be exclusively for chemistry, another will be dedicated to robotics DNA testing, another to trace sampling, and so on.

“We’re to the point that we’ve outgrown our structure we’re in, and most laboratories weren’t purpose-built. They were office buildings that were kind of made into laboratories,” Henry said.

The new State Crime Lab is being constructed for that purpose, he said, with “adequate ventilation and adequate gas lines, electrical (and) DNA networking services.”

“Plus, there’s extra capacity here so there’s room in the future to grow,” Henry said.

During Tuesday’s tour, Henry showed off the area where robotics DNA will take place, noting that once that’s up in running, the State Crime Lab will be able to test DNA samples faster and with less room for error. There will also be more “hands-off” applications, he said.

“Technology is allowing us to do more with less. So now you have robotic systems that actually handle the specimen, add the chemical (and) extract the DNA,” Henry said.

The State Crime Lab is in the process of hiring an additional five DNA analysts, he said.

DNA and ballistics testing will benefit the most from the new building, Henry said. The state also plans to bring back the ballistics database with the new facility, something it stopped doing about five years ago. The new ballistics range will be able to test up to .50-caliber rounds.

The extra space will also help lab technicians process the backlog of state rape kits more efficiently. As of Tuesday, Henry said the lab was about one-third of the way through the state’s backlog of 2,700 kits.

Rooms dedicated to trace evidence, such as hair fibers, blood and paint, as well as a secure, contamination-free, two-bay garage large enough to hold RVs, will be new additions that the current crime lab doesn’t have.

The chemistry area, already one of the most efficient in the nation, will be made safer with an advanced ventilation system. Henry said lab technicians are sometimes asked to work with hazardous materials.

But one of the biggest advantages of the new building and putting all 45 employees under one roof will be the improved continuity of the process, he said.

“When you have a purpose-built facility and … you’re operating at maximum efficiency with extra capacity and technology, you’re going to see better turnaround times for evidence in court,” Henry said.

To view the full KSL article, click here.

01 Aug

Big-D Construction Certified as a Great Place to Work

SALT LAKE CITY – AUGUST 1, 2016 — Big-D Construction  was certified as a great workplace today by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work®. Big-D earned this credential based on extensive ratings provided by its employees in anonymous surveys. A summary of these ratings can be found at http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/big-d-corporation.

“It is our outstanding people who deliver on our promises and create an environment for outstanding careers! We are grateful for the recognition,” said Jack Livingood, CEO of Big-D.

“We applaud Big-D Corporation for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Kim Peters, Vice President of Great Place to Work’s Recognition Program. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with Big-D Corporation should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

“According to our study, 91 percent of Big-D employees say it is a great workplace,” says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Great Place to Work’s Senior Editor.

Big-D employees completed 306 surveys, resulting in a 90 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 3.64.


About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list and a series of Great Place to Work® Best Workplaces lists including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industry lists.

Follow Great Place to Work online at www.greatplacetowork.com and on Twitter at @GPTW_US.

28 Jul

Big-D Completes First of 18 Victory Ranch Cabins

Big-D Construction recently completed the first of 18 cabins at Victory Ranch in Kamas, Utah.

Rated by Robbs Report as one of the Top 10 resorts, this planned golfing and outdoor community includes two lodges, golf club, pools, golf course, and private access to Provo River for fly fishing, mountain bike trails, upland bird hunting, and sporting clays. With cabins averaging in size from 2,200 sf – 3,300 sf, Victory Ranch plans on adding additional cabins over the next few years.

Construction for Big-D began in August of 2015 and has reduced the average build time from 12 months to 9 months while maintaining the high quality standards expected of Victory Ranch and Big-D Signature. Construction has begun on the third lodge, with completion set for June 2017.

“Victory Ranch is truly building a unique property that combines the best of the outdoor experience in Utah with a high quality standard of living in an amazing location along the Provo River.  We look forward to bringing a combination of our large project capability with the high-end finishes of our Signature group,” said Mike Kerby, Vice President of Big-D’s Park City office.

For more information, visit http://victoryranchutah.com/


Big-D Signature Group is a division of Big-D Construction that focuses on the construction of high-end residential and resort projects.

11 Jul

Cedar City Turns Out to Applaud New Arts Center

By Ellen Fagg Weist  | The Salt Lake Tribune

Cedar City • To open the new Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival founder Fred C. Adams held a lit candle — the same candle used to retire the Adams Memorial Theatre at the end of last season — then left it onstage for the actor opening “Henry V.”

Larry Bull, who plays the Chorus, raised the flame on Thursday night to illuminate the famous “O for a muse of fire” speech, opening the play with the same line offered at the end of “Henry IV, Part Two.”

“Welcome to our new home, our glorious new Engelstad Theatre, made possible through the generosity of so many of you,” said R. Scott Phillips, the festival’s executive director, before the production.

The history play about war and leadership opened the theater company’s 55th season, the first in its new digs on an arts complex that represents Adams’ longtime dream.

The 1970s-era Adams theater, across the street, has been returned to Southern Utah University, which will use it for educational programs, said President Scott L. Wyatt.

The festival’s opening unfolded at the end of a day of celebrations and ribbon-cuttings on SUU’s two-block Beverley Center for the Arts, which included flourishes such as a band of heralds, confetti streamers and a processional by a bagpipe band.

Earlier in the day, speeches by state and local officials — ranging from Gov. Gary L. Herbert to Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson — underscored the transformative power of art while thanking donors for their collective efforts to build a world-class arts complex in an unlikely geographical location.

Herbert cited a scripture from Proverbs about how people falter without a vision. The new center represents how a dream, like that of festival co-founder Adams, inspires people to prosper, Herbert said.

During the ceremony, Adams received a standing ovation from a crowd that emcee Ken Verdoia, head of the Utah Arts Board, referred to as “a gathering of great friends.”

Just as fitting, before the ceremony Adams and Phillips could be seen exhibiting their hands-on philosophy as they set up additional chairs in overflow space behind the stage.

Herbert applauded the public-private partnerships that led to the completion of the $39.1 million, 8-acre arts complex, designed around the theater company’s 1989 Randall L. Jones Theatre.

A gold-ribbon cutting on Thursday marked the opening of the Southern Utah Museum of Art and the massive-looking, but intimate-feeling, outdoor Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. (It’s like an inside-out TARDIS, theater company officials joked behind the scenes, referring to the “bigger on the inside” phone box that houses a time machine on the BBC’s “Doctor Who.”)

University and theater officials invited the entire town of Cedar City to the weekend’s opening ceremonies, and more than 700 turned out Thursday morning, filling chairs in the plazas outside the new Anes Studio Theater.

Later that morning, the local Scarlet & Black bagpipe band led celebrators to the plaza outside the new arts museum for a second ribbon-cutting. “Today feels like Christmas, and I’m so glad you’re all here to help unwrap this package,” said Donna Law, who led museum fundraising efforts and now heads SUU’s Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service.

Financially supporting the arts is an investment in the economy and entertainment, but also builds society, said Wyatt, underscoring the five pages of donor names printed in the event’s program.

The day felt especially historic for Wilson, a Cedar City native.

Stories about Adams’ vision for the theater company were woven into bedtime stories recounted by her mother, who danced in the first Greenshow as a child, and her grandmother, who choreographed early plays. “What this will mean to our community is beyond any of our wildest dreams,” Wilson said.

On Friday morning, town officials are scheduled to officially transform two blocks of College Avenue into Shakespeare Lane.

For Jack Livingood, CEO of Big-D Construction, the arts project provided plenty of drama, with an incredible setting, plot twists and conflict. “And antagonists — you know who you are — as well as heroes,” Livingood said, to laughter from the crowd.

“We’ve had heroic efforts, we’ve had ghosts haunting us at night, we’ve had a ‘Comedy of Errors,’ ” added Livingood, a longtime playgoer and former theater company board member. “We’ve had a battle or two where we couldn’t find our horse.”

Festival and SUU officials presented original artworks to members of the Sorenson family, whose foundation donated $6 million to the project in 2013.

Philanthropist Beverley Taylor Sorenson, who died later that year, was described as an “arts angel,” a fitting memorial, said daughter Ann Sorenson Crocker, former president of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation. When asked why she cared so much about financially supporting the arts, Beverley Sorenson always offered ready answers.

Learning to present a monologue teaches a child confidence, learning to play the piano teaches perseverance, rehearsing a play or opera teaches collaboration, while dancing teaches communication.

“She knew art changes the world,” Crocker said, recalling watching her mother, at age 80, dancing with students in an elementary arts program.

Her name is memorialized in the signs throughout the complex, which is now anchored by two major buildings that were designed to invite the public inside. “I love what this project has become,” said architect Kevin Blalock. “And now, the entire facility — The Beverley Center for the Arts — belongs to all of you. I leave it in your hands.”

Click here to view the full article.

01 Jul

Utah Leaders Visit New Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts

Cedar City— In a private tour on Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert gave his seal of approval to the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts. Joining Gov. Herbert were State Sen. Evan Vickers, Rep. John Westwood, Rep. Don Ipson and Board of Regents Member Nina Barnes.

State officials were impressed with the $38 million complex, and are eager to celebrate with the Southern Utah community during the formal opening dedication to be held on July 7 at 10 a.m. Gov. Herbert was moved by the vast amount of donors who gave to the project.

“This complex stands as a testament to the value of public-private partnerships,” Gov. Herbert said. “The project itself is an impressive accomplishment. Although the center was built as a 50-year project, anyone who visits will recognize that both the buildings and their influence will last much longer.”

The six-acre complex houses the Southern Utah Museum of Art, the new Engelstad Shakespeare Theater, the Randall L. Jones Theater, and various offices and education areas. The architecture mixes modern and classic styles. Donor names can be seen engraved on the donor walls located throughout the center.

The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts will incorporate visual arts, live theater and dynamic arts education experiences on the Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City, Utah, and aims to further enrich the cultural life of the region.

To view full article, click here.

To view a related article in the Salt Lake Tribune, click here.