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The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Dec. 10 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Ashley Heuser was one of a group of people who helped pull a man from under a vehicle following an accident at 1000 North and Redwood Road in Salt Lake City where a man in a wheelchair was hit by an automobile, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011.

Deseret News

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Loser: This is why state officials build penalties into contracts. The rebuilding of State Route 92 near Alpine was supposed to be finished Oct. 20. That was even allowing for an extension granted to compensate for a wet spring and negotiations for rights-of-way. Still, much of the work remains undone, and now the contractor is being assessed $15,000 a day. The work is expected to be finished by the end of the year, at which time the state and the contractor will decide exactly how much should be paid in late fees. But a rigorous late-fee schedule, if enforced, will make companies think twice before making promises as they submit bids.

Winner: Once again, people in Utah have shown that when someone is in distress, they spring into action. It happened in Logan last September, when bystanders rushed to free a motorcycle driver from beneath a burning car. It happened again this week when several people watched as a man in a motorized wheelchair was hit and dragged by a minivan. The driver apparently didn't see the man before she struck him near Redwood Road and 1000 North. The people came quickly, lifting the van and pulling the injured man from beneath it. While the man was reported in critical condition, he may not have been alive without the quick work of strangers, one of whom said she realized, "If there wasn't going to be anyone else, it needed to be me."

Loser: Maybe NASA just figured there would be more missions to the moon, so it wasn't that important to keep track of all the rocks and dust Apollo astronauts brought back. This week the agency's inspector general said NASA has lost or misplaced 517 pieces of the lunar rocks and other space samples. Some were loaned to researchers and professors who misplaced them. We only hope they haven't ended up a part of someone's rock garden.

Winner: The chief economist for J.P Morgan Chase Wealth Management told a luncheon gathering this week that Utah's economy is making impressive progress amid a struggling national economy. The state's low corporate tax rate and business friendly policy have led to a robust labor market and an unemployment rate that, at 7 percent, is well below the national rate. Things may seem bad, especially when today's unemployment is compared to the much lower rate in Utah only five years ago, but the state seems poised to rebound well once the rest of the nation begins an earnest recovery.

Loser: When it comes to texting and driving, Americans don't seem to be getting the message. Or maybe they understand the dangers but think the words they are sending are more important than their lives. The National Traffic Safety Administration released a survey this week that showed the practice increased by 50 percent in 2010. Twenty percent of divers now say they have sent texts or emails while driving. That 20 percent can cause a lot of carnage.

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