7 compelling Utah stories from 2013

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SALT LAKE CITY — At the end of the year, we like to take a look back of some of the major news events that happened during the past 12 months.

And every year, there are always a few stories that stand out more than others.

Major news events are a constant, but there are stories that make us cheer, or shake our heads in disbelief.

A number of Utah news stories in 2013 generated nationwide attention.

In eastern Utah, the coach of the Union High School varsity and JV football teams did the unusual: he had his players turn in their jerseys — during homecoming week.

Due to some off-field conduct by a couple players, Coach Matt Labrum held the entire team accountable.

"It just felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn't want to go," Labrum said. "And so we felt like we needed to make a stand."

Instead of football practice, the players did community service, attended character education classes and elected new team captains.

The school was flooded with supportive messages from around the country. The players earned their way back on the football field, but lost the homecoming game.

Another story made people mad from coast to coast.

A cellphone video showed Glen Taylor pushing over one of the boulders at Goblin Valley State Park.

Taylor claimed the precarious rock was a safety concern, but later said he regretted his actions. Prosecutors have reviewed the case. Charges, if any, will be announced next month.

Two beauty queens made headlines this past year.

Miss Utah's rambling answer during the finals of the Miss USA Pageant caught fire on social media. Marissa Powell placed fourth in the competition.

And then, Miss Riverton, Kendra Gill, got into trouble when she and some friends were charged with possessing explosive devices and throwing them at several houses.

"They threw bombs at her house, and then they came back and threw bombs at my house too," an anonymous caller told police.

Gill resigned her title. She and the others pleaded guilty to reduced charges and were given a fine and community service.

There were also stories we loved.

Two-year-old Peyton Hall flushed her mom's diamond wedding ring down the toilet. Lehi wastewater crews were able to spot it in the sewer line with a video camera.

Then came the messy, smelly job of going down and retrieving it. Hall's mother was more than relieved when it was returned to her and gave the members of the crew a hug.

Last summer, "Jerry" — a Salt Lake City carriage horse — collapsed and eventually died. The horse's owners said Jerry died due to an intestinal illness, but critics called the death suspicious and said horse-drawn carriages do not belong in urban environments.

Every now and then, even big stars do something really sweet.

When Justin Bieber heard about 7-year old Millie Flamm, — a huge fan suffering from leukemia — who was unable to attend his Salt Lake concert, Bieber said he wanted to meet her.

He sang her a song and gave her a kiss — an experience Millie certainly cherished. She died six months later.

And finally, Salt Lake's first Comic Con Convention was hugely popular, with celebrities and comic book enthusiasts attending from around the world.

For that reason, the organizers will do it again next year — twice. Look for oddly dressed people in April and September.

These examples are just a few of the compelling stories that took place in Utah in 2013.

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Keith McCord


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