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Quirky, extraordinary stories highlight 2011

Published: Friday, Dec. 30 2011 11:00 p.m. MST

On the Republican side, state legislators Rep. Stephen Sandstrom of Orem and Rep. Carl Wimmer of Herriman already have kicked off their campaigns, as has attorney Jay Cobb. Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love also is running but has yet to make a formal announcement.

Earlier in 2011, state lawmakers took on Utah's open-records laws, passing and then repealing sweeping changes to the Government Records Access and Management Act after the media and the public rallied against the bill, HB477.

Gov. Gary Herbert and GOP leaders agreed to appoint a working group made up of government, media and public representatives, including lawyers and technology experts, to examine the 20-year-old act.

Year in sports

For sports fans in Utah, whether they wear red or blue, 2011 was the year of The Jimmer.

Jimmer Fredette, the 6-foot-2 BYU guard who isn't afraid to hoist up shots from anywhere on the court — and makes them most of the time — achieved celebrity status in 2011, leading the Cougars to school-record 32 victories and their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1981.

Fredette led the nation in scoring during his senior season at BYU, averaging 28.9 points per game, and won just about every award given in college basketball, including national player of the year.

In June, it was announced that Jimmermania was spreading to the West Coast when Fredette was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 10th pick of the NBA draft.

In his first three games of his rookie season, delayed and shortened by the NBA lockout, Fredette has averaged 10 points and 2.7 assists in nearly 25 minutes per game, while shooting 42.9 percent and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.

The University of Utah also had plenty to cheer about in 2011 as the Utes began their first season as members of the Pac-12 Conference.

After an 0-4 start in conference play, the Utes made a run at the South Division title by winning their next four, before falling to Colorado to close out the regular season.

Utah finished 7-5 and will face Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl on Saturday.

In February, longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan called it quits after 22-plus seasons. The reason, according to the 68-year-old coach: "It just seemed it was time to do it."

Longtime and loyal assistant coach Phil Johnson also stepped down Feb. 10, saying, "I came with (Sloan), and I'll leave with him."

The decision came after a well-publicized locker room clash with star point guard Deron Williams. Days later, the Jazz shipped out Williams in a trade with the New Jersey Nets.

Year in weather

With snowpack in the mountains east of the Salt Lake Valley between 130 percent and 140 percent of average, followed by wet and cool temperatures in early spring, Salt Lake County officials were preparing for the worst.

Fortunately, the weather warmed gradually, resulting in a few waterways spilling their banks but avoiding major flooding that officials worried would rival that of 1983.

State and local officials also coordinated their flood-prevention efforts, actions that later were credited for saving several homes and businesses.

Earlier this month, hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc on northern Utah, particularly in Davis County, blowing over semitrailers, toppling trees, downing power lines and closing schools.

Following the Dec. 1 storm, Gov. Herbert deployed the Utah National Guard to help with the cleanup in anticipation of another windstorm. Herbert also sent workers from the Utah Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety to several cities — including Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington and Kaysville — in the hopes of avoiding property damage and personal injury from flying debris left from the first storm.

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