It’s Great to be a Utah Man

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip

Today the Utah State Senate recognized the University of Utah Football team for its 13-0 season and Sugar Bowl victory.  In celebrating the University’s success, the Senate passed two Resolutions.  The first Resolution seeks to have a playoff system to determine college football’s National Champion.  This will avoid the injustice which the University of Utah football team finds itself in being the only undefeated Division 1-A team in the country and yet not playing for the National Championship.  The second Resolution, sponsored by Senator Jones, honored the Utah football team for its success.

I  was also very pleased to see the great support the Utah community showed the Utah football team when it was recognized in Salt Lake City on January 16, 2009.  It was wonderful to see how the state came together to cheer on the Utes (even from those who usually root for the BYU Cougars).  The community came out in force and showed its support for OUR National Champions.

I am proud to serve as the Senator whose district includes the University of Utah.  I am not only proud of the University of Utah for its athletic successes but for educating and preparing great men and women graduates who go on to lead and succeed, both on and off the field.

Go Utes!

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A Treasure in our Community

by Senator Ross Romero
District 7

Senator Romero and Scott LyttleRecently I had the opportunity to tour the National Ability Center (“NAC”) in Park City.  It was great to see all the work the NAC does in and for our Utah community.  I hope you might consider the Center in your giving or volunteer plans this year.

The NAC is the nation’s largest provider of recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.  Founded in 1985, the NAC has grown from teaching a few dozen ski lessons to wounded veterans in its first year to teaching more than 20,000 lessons annually in 22 programs.  While the activities at the NAC are designed to give individuals with disabilities a chance to participate in sports using adaptive techniques and equipment, the bigger purpose is to help those individuals reach their potential as human beings.  A physical or cognitive disability may change the way someone skis on the Greatest Snow on Earth or rides a horse on the trails of the Beehive state, but it shouldn’t inhibit their ability to be a part of society.

This year, studies by Harris Interactive and Disabled Sports USA showed that participants in programs like the NAC’s are twice as likely as their peers to be employed.  Those same studies show that individuals with disabilities who participated regularly in recreational or competitive sports programs are more fit, confident and positive people.  With more than 8,000 participants in the NAC programs last year, the NAC sees these results in many lives.

Programs at the NAC include skiing, snowboarding, the world’s only adaptive bobsled team, horseback riding, cycling, swimming, and archery, to name a few.  During the summer, they host Discovery Camps as week-long day camps for kids with disabilities  There are different camps for kids with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Having a camp where kids can hang out and do things with others who are in similar situations can have great results.

Helping people discover their abilities brings with it a unique and wonderful feeling.  The NAC records tens of thousands of volunteer hours each year because everyone from middle school students to retirees finds a place to help out.  Some like to help with a ski lesson, and others enjoy helping at one of the NAC’s annual fundraising events.  No matter where the help is given, it is always appreciated and needed.  If you are interested in volunteering or registering for a program, call Jenn Carpenter at 435-649-3991.  If you would like to help the National Ability Center with a donation to help its programs, contact Scott Lyttle at 435-200-0983.  Much more information is available at the NAC’s website www.discovernac.org.

Investing in the Local Community

by Senator Ross Romero
District 7

 

Sen. Romero at Boys & Girls Club

Earlier this summer I was contacted by the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Valley asking me if I had time to visit the Clubs and find out what they were doing to help our community’s youth.  The Boys and Girls Clubs offer after-school programs addressing educational achievement, career exploration, drug and alcohol avoidance, health and fitness, gang and violence prevention, cultural exploration, leadership development and community service.  I was very interested to learn the Clubs help over 11,000 youth each year.

I was pleased to learn youth who participate in Boys and Girls Clubs programs statistically have a 15% higher overall GPA, a 90% high school graduation rate, and 26% are likely to earn a college degree.  I was informed during my visit that it takes $454 for a child to participate in Boys and Girls Clubs programs for a year (“454 Club”).  In contrast, it takes $82,402 per year for a child to be admitted to a full time juvenile detention facility.

Last week, I was invited to the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Valley “Thank You and Get Acquainted Dinner” for the “454 Club.”  It was a great event, which again highlighted the wonderful work being done at the Boys and Girls Clubs.  The guest speaker was Dan E. Jones (our very own Senator Patricia Jones’ husband).

Dan Jones at Boys & Girls Club

Needless to say, my wife and I are now sponsoring a Club member and wanted to make sure others knew about this great community organization and the work it is doing.  If you would like more information about the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Valley or about the 454 Club, please contact Toni Geddes, Director of Development at 801-284-4248 or t-geddes@hotmail.com.

It’s Time to Save

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
District 7

September is National College Savings Month, and I wanted to make sure all the parents and families of future college students know about the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP).  The importance of a college education cannot be overemphasized.

Did you know?

1.     College graduates age 25 and over earn nearly twice as much as workers who only have a high school diploma.

2.     Earnings from 529 plans are not taxed when used to pay for eligible college expenses.

3.     Utah taxpayers receive a 5% tax credit on contributions up to $1,650 per beneficiary, equaling $82.50.  If filing jointly, the 5% credit is applied to contributions up to $3,300 per beneficiary, equaling $165.  The UESP 529 account must be established before the beneficiary’s 19th birthday to qualify for the credit.

4.     No minimum investment is required to open or maintain a Utah Educational Savings Plan college savings account.

Did you know the UESP has been nationally recognized for its management?

“You will typically find the lowest costs among direct-sold 529s, such  as Utah’s Educational Savings Plan, with expenses of 0.38% or less.”

Money Magazine
August 2007

“The Utah Educational Savings Plan, which is run by the state, remains a top choice due to a diverse lineup of portfolios and low annual expenses, which mostly range from 0.25% to 0.38% across its portfolios.”

Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2007

While I have provided examples from UESP’s program, there are many other 529 plans which you may want to consider.  I personally have opened a UESP account for my son.  I know how much my university experience and education have meant for me (including meeting my wife), and I wanted to make sure he also has those same opportunities.

If you would like more information about saving for college, please review www.collegesavings.org/didYouKnows.aspx.

If you would like more information about USEP or would like to open an account, please visit www.uesp.org.

Visit your State Parks

by Senator Ross Romero
District  7

Senator Romero at Jordanelle

Senator Romero and son with Mike Johnson, Park Manager of Jordanelle State Park.

 

Jordanelle Marina

Jordanelle Marina and Campground

Jordanelle Reservoir

Jordanelle Reservoir

 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go camping with my family and some friends at Jordanelle State Park.  While I was in the Park, I had the chance to meet Mike Johnson, the Park Manager.  Mr.Johnson was nice enough to tell me about the Park and explain what he had been working on for the Park.  Currently, the visitors’ center is being converted into a much more functional event center.  Once open, the event center will be available for rental so more individuals will be able to utilize the facility and enjoy the views of the lake and mountain side. 

Mr. Johnson also explained how he organized a fireworks display over the water on July 12th.  This event will be repeated in the years to come, which should again draw visitors to the Park.  He expressed a desire to improve and groom trails around the Park and perhaps bring in some recreational activities like a zip line to be enjoyed by the Park’s visitors.  I appreciated the time Mr. Johnson took to explain his efforts and desires for the Park.  I think he was doing a great job attempting to blend making sure the Park was open and utilized to the public while at the same time making sure the environmental protections and proper maintenance were being enforced.

I hope you and your family have had the opportunity to enjoy a Utah State Park this summer.  If you have not or would like more information, I would encourage you to visit: www.stateparks.utah.gov.  The Parks’ website provides information about trails, boating, golfing and OHVs.  It is a wonderful resource for what is going on in our State’s Parks and even includes what the weather is in the Parks.  Finally, the website offers opportunity to learn about the family fun activity of geocaching–a high-tech treasure hunt using a global positioning satellite (GPS) unit. 

I hope you continue to have a fun and safe summer and look forward to hearing how you enjoyed your Utah State Park visit.

Zach’s Whereabouts

Intern Zach Fountain

After finishing his legislative internship with Senator Ross Romero and Senator Scott McCoy this past session, Zachery Fountain secured his first “real world” job. He was hired as the Deputy for Legislation and Communication for the Murray City Mayor’s Office. In particular, he is excited about the opportunity to continue the work he relished during the session. Zach is appreciative of the opportunities the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Senate Democrats have afforded him.

Zach’s new job at Murray City means the Senate Ds still have the chance to work with him. He was a terrific intern, and we wish him the best of luck going forward.

What to do with those “extra” tickets this summer…

by Senator Ross Romero
District 7

Sen. Ross RomeroDuring the last Legislative Session, I and Senator Hickman were asked to speak to a gathering of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah (BBBSU) who were enjoying a field trip at the Utah State Capitol. Senator Hickman and I shared with the group how we became involved in public service, some of our goals, and why we thought service was important. During this brief interaction with the group, I was impressed with how committed the Bigs were to their Littles and the bonds that were developed through these relationships. I saw first hand how important this mentoring relationship is in helping the youth in our community have a role model to look up to. Some important information about the Littles includes:

82% of children served in Utah are from families without two parents (single, parent, grandparent, or other guardian-led homes).

82% are from low-income homes.

52% are minorities.

BBBSU will provide Bigs to almost 1,700 children in need throughout the state of Utah.

A recent study conducted by a national research firm Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) examined the impact of the BBBSU program on youth and found that when compared to their peers, Little Brothers and Little Sisters who met with their Big Brothers or Sisters for at least one year were:

46% less likely to start using drugs.

27% less likely to start drinking.

33% less likely to act violently.

52% less likely to skip a day of school, and earned higher grades.

Recently I learned I was the highest bidder of four 10th-row tickets to the sold out Stadium of Fire 4th of July Concert with Miley Cyrus. As much as I like the idea of going to the show to heckle Glenn Beck (the host of the event), I thought some Littles might appreciate the concert opportunity more than myself. I therefore contacted BBBSU and have donated the four tickets so some Littles might see their “superstar” peer. I hope this donation idea might catch on with others who have tickets this summer which conflict with travel plans and which might therefore be donated to BBBSU.

If you have any interest in learning more about BBBSU, please review their website at: www.bbbsu.org. If you have “extra” tickets of your own you would like to donate this summer, please contact Kim Sharples at 801-313-0303, Ext. 135, or if you’d like to make another kind of donation, please contact Merridith Ferne at 801-313-0303 Ext. 124 or email her at merridith.ferne@bbbs.org.

A Deserving Father of the Year

Senator Ross Romeroby Senator Ross Romero
District 7

Senators Karen and Ed MayneTonight the American Diabetes Association, through its Utah Chapter, will recognize and honor Senator Ed Mayne as a 2008 Father of the Year. While I did not know Senator Mayne as well as many (having served only 2 years with him in the Senate), I was deeply touched by his family’s openness and love which was evident during the funeral services. It was during these services I came to learn more about Senator Mayne, the husband and father. My respect and admiration for Senator Mayne, the father, grew as I heard from his children during the services as I saw how much they cared for him as a father and how well he had helped guide them to where they are. Similarly, having had the opportunity to serve with Senator Karen Mayne, I have come to see and hear in her the strength and support laid by the foundation and service of the late Senator Mayne. It is therefore truly befitting that the American Diabetes Association is recognizing Senator Mayne as a Father of the Year.

As we approach Father’s Day in a little over a week, it is my hope that we will not only honor our fathers but encourage their good health and exercise. The American Diabetes Association’s website www.diabetes.org offers a lot of important information about diabetes prevention and nutritional recommendations. Some of the recommendations include eating fish 2-3 times a week, drinking water and diet drinks, moderating portion sizes, taking the stairs and not the elevator, taking brisk walks, and reading food labels so you can measure what you are eating. Encouraging our father’s to think about their health through exercise and good health may be the best gift you can give and one that will ultimately be more appreciated than the tie that is returned because it was not the “correct size.”

Again, congratulations to the Mayne family for Ed’s recognition, and thank you for supporting him as he served to benefit all of Utah’s families. I would also like to thank the American Diabetes Association not only for its excellent award selection but for reminding us about the importance of good health.

Rosie’s $30,000 Reward

by Senator Ross Romero
District 7

Senator Ross RomeroIt began at a fund raiser for the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA). I purchased a billboard donated by Reagan Outdoor Advertising as a contribution for UMBA scholarships. I intended to use the billboard for something such as acknowledging my wife’s birthday (which happens to be July 24th–so the whole state already throws her a party) or perhaps our 11th wedding anniversary, but something else came up.

A few months ago, I received a call from Frank Cordova, director of the Utah Coalition of La Rasa, asking if I could help publicize a $30,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed Rosie Tapia. In 1995, Rosie was 6 years old. She was taken from her bedroom window and sexually assaulted. The next morning, her body was found in the Jordan River. Thirteen years later, the crime is still unsolved. For more information about Rosie’s disappearance and efforts to find her, click on these links:

City Weekly; ABC4 News; KSL News

Meadow Gold Dairy, the Salt Lake City Policy Department, and the FBI recently held a news conference and announced the $30,000 reward to find Rosie’s murderer. I was inspired by their generosity and called Reagan Outdoor Advertising and talked with Dewey Reagan about redeeming my billboard certificate. I also asked if Reagan would consider donating an extra month of sign time to highlight the effort of finding Rosie’s killer. Reagan agreed and also secured Vision International to donate the sign printing. You will now see the sign located at approximately 2100 South and 1200 West. It is on the right side of the SR 201 heading west. (Click here to see a copy of the billboard).

I hope this blog post will help spread the word about the reward money being offered to find Rosie’s killer so the Tapia family can finally have some closure.

Please spread the word about the reward. Call 801-799-INFO if you have any information.