Over the last several months, I have had access to information about the increased struggles many in our communities have been facing due to the pandemic and its ripple effects.

On far too many Monday mornings, Police Chief Ferguson has brought me tales of suicides over the weekend. It’s not uncommon for his eyes, or mine, to well with tears as he tells me about the person.

My heart grieves over any human who finds themselves in such a dark place as to make that choice, and for those impacted by their decision. It is partly that sense of grief that makes me want to do anything I can to offer hope and help to those dealing with mental difficulties or addictions.

If any of us can play a role in lightening the burdens of someone struggling with these challenges, surely it will be among our life’s most important accomplishments. Before getting into a list of possible helps, I want to be clear that through close encounters — too many and too personal to detail here — I feel I can stand as a witness to the existence of help and hope for those carrying these heavy burdens.

Where and how does one find such hope and help? I’m certainly not an expert, and the answers are probably as varied as the individuals and families impacted, but here are some ideas, offered with a desire that, if nothing else, they may spark your own better ideas.

  • Take advantage of the resources available to you. This can be everything from a chat with a sibling or friend to professional treatment. Precisely because of the pandemic and its impacts, a new free program has been launched, called the Utah Strong Recovery Project, funded through a FEMA grant.

  • Call or text 385-386-2289 to speak with a counselor (or 1-800-273-8255 after hours) or email utahstrong@utah.gov, providing just your first name and phone number to get started.

  • The program promises to offer free crisis counseling, education on coping strategies, and referrals if more help is needed. Other resources can be identified through the 211 phone number or app. And check out EverydayStrong.org, an acclaimed program to help combat depression and anxiety. Both 211 and EverydayStrong come from our partners at the United Way.

  • Get in touch with the divine. The well-regarded 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous rests on a foundation of acknowledging a higher power. Whatever your faith background, tapping into a power higher than your own seems to be key for many who are recovering from addiction and other ailments. It’s my personal experience that prayer works. If you haven’t tried it for a while, perhaps it’s a tool you could dust off.

For more information and resources, please read my full article in the Daily Herald here.

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  • Michelle

The announcement of the 500 West opening feels like a much-anticipated holiday gift from UDOT. While it’s been a long process, it was a wise investment. Not only do we have new underground utilities, but choosing a concrete surface, while extending construction time, translates to a much-longer infrastructure life and ultimately, taxpayer savings.

In addition, it is due to our strong partnership with UDOT that we are able to add significant safety enhancements like protected bike lanes, landscaped center medians, where possible and new traffic control devices. This stretch of US 89 through Provo will last longer, function better for all modes and be more pleasant for everyone.

500 West Update

The Provo 500 West project team is excited to announce that all lanes and sidewalks will be opened to traffic by end of shift December 23! We are pleased to be able to open the lanes to traffic before the winter weather really sets in. Crews will return in the spring to complete landscape restoration and final quality control items. You can expect some lane or shoulder closures until landscaping is complete.

Project Recap

In addition to the full reconstruction of 500 West, the project also replaced or upgraded several underground utility systems including gas, water, sewer and storm drain. Based on input from you and your neighbors, the project added a number of safety features that include:

  • A 10-foot multi-use path on the east side of the road

  • 6-foot sidewalks along the west side and painted bicycle lanes

  • Improved school crossing signals at 500 North and 300 South, raised medians at key intersections to reduce the potential for side-angle crashes

  • A new pedestrian signal and refuge island at 300 North and upgraded lighting and bulb-outs at local street corners (700 North, 600 North, 400 North, and 200 South) to shorten the crossing distance and improve pedestrian safety.

The 500 West project caps off a series of improvements totaling more than $80 million between UDOT and Provo City to build transportation improvements since 2013. These include: Bulldog Boulevard bike lane conversion, University Avenue/UVX Express line with UTA and the reconstruction of 300 South. Combined, these projects added new transit, bicycle and pedestrian options, improved safety and replaced aging infrastructure to provide Provo City residents more options and long-lasting roadways.

The project team will return in spring to complete work. Email updates will pause until a few weeks before this work resumes. However, we are still available to assist you with questions or concerns in the interim, so please feel free to reach out to the project team at the contact information below.

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  • Michelle

Provo-Orem has been ranked #3 Most Dynamic Metropolitan by Heartland Forward! Provo has become an entrepreneurship haven. Over the last two decades, the region has experienced phenomenal technology sector growth building on STEM talent graduating from Brigham Young University. The tech boom has attracted new residents to the region and supports an expansion of advanced manufacturing around technology components. The result has been one of the fastest GDP growth rates in the country.

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