Sunwhee Mike Park




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Brynna Maxwell




Some businesses remain closed while others attempt to brave the COVID-19 storm in Salt Lake City’s west side

Some businesses remain closed while others attempt to brave the COVID-19 storm in Salt Lake City’s west side

Story and photos by MARTIN KUPRIANOWICZ

klub deen

Klub Deen in west Salt Lake City’s Poplar Grove neighborhood has been closed since early April when the coronavirus began shutting down the nation’s economy.

Business owners everywhere are getting hit hard by the financial impacts of COVID-19 as hundreds if not thousands are being forced to temporarily suspend physical operations.

One such owner is Newton Gborway, the owner of Klub Deen, a nightclub with a focus on African culture, music, and dance in Salt Lake City’s west-side Poplar Grove neighborhood. 

“Music and dancing are a huge part of life in Africa,” Gborway said in a phone interview. “It brings people together and it’s a great way for everyone to have fun, especially refugees who may be struggling after they move here.”

Gborway is from the West African nation of Liberia. Like most other Americans, he was taken by surprise when everything started shutting down because of social-distancing mandates. His business — which operates on the coming together of large groups of people — was hit especially hard.

“Every day that we’ve been closed we’ve been losing money,” Gborway said. “We had to shut down in the beginning of April because of what the public health order said, and now they’ve just pushed it back until the end of the month. We want to set a good example by following these health orders and doing what the government is telling everybody.”

As Utah’s stay-home directive gets extended until May 1, Gborway can only patiently wait to get the green light to re-open business doors. He hopes that the spread of COVID-19 is reduced and public health orders allow for some normalcy to return. Otherwise, his night club business will continue to suffer financially every day it remains closed. 

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A COVID-19 health notice posted on the outside of Klub Deen.

Some other west-side business owners are more fortunate than others. Those who own or operate what Utah decides are “essential businesses” are still able to keep their workplaces open for now. Christine Mason — the owner of Rise by Good Day, a Polish grocery located in the same Poplar Grove neighborhood as Gborway’s club — is still running her store at this time. However, she has had to make drastic changes to the way she does business and she, too, has suffered near-catastrophic financial loss.

“When the shutdown started, I had to close down my catering business,” Mason said. “I lost 98% of my revenue stream with that alone.”

Mason said in a phone interview that times have been tough for the Polish grocery store. As the coronavirus put its grip on the economy nationwide and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert urged his state’s citizens to “stay home, stay safe,” Mason had to make modifications to her shop.

“We’re hanging in there. We’ve had to adapt since this has happened, and a lot less people have been walking into the store,” Mason said. “But we’ve just ordered sneeze guards and a new hand sanitizer station and we’re going to continue to stay open as long as we can. We’re just going to have to take this one day at a time.” 

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Mason. She’s optimistic about the future. She just hired a new chef and plans to stay open as long as possible. “People still need food,” Mason said, and with that in mind she’s confident she can get through this crisis. 

For business owners like Gborway and Mason, there’s not much else they can do besides wait and remain positive and adapt their businesses where they can. They do not know what the future will bring. 

In the meantime, Salt Lake City’s nightclubs will stay closed hoping they can reopen soon, and food stores deemed “essential” will continue to strive to give their customers what they need. As Christine Mason put it, you can only take things now one day at a time. And as time goes by, sanguine west-side business owners along with an anxious nation are all doing just that. 

Rise by Good Day

A pre-pandemic photograph of Rise By Good Day in west Salt Lake City’s Poplar Grove neighborhood.


Family-owned taxi service brings success to Salt Lake City’s west side


Passengers from an arrival flight at the Salt Lake City International Airport make their way to the outside pickup location. Cellphones are pulled out within seconds and with a simple tap on an app, ride-share drivers swarm, like busy bees picking up their pollen. 

Corporate ride sharing has dominated the field, casting taxi drivers to the curb. But not all taxi companies have lost their edge. A family-owned business stays competitive in this evolving marketplace. 

Ricardo Mendosa has been a taxi driver for the past 18 years in the Salt Lake City area. 

AAA Latino Transportation owner Ricardo Mendosa at Salt Lake City International Airport. Image from Google Photos.

Mendosa first worked seven years for a major taxi service, but decided that he could create a better transportation business of his own. He calls it AAA Latino Transportation. 

AAA Latino Transportation is located west of Salt Lake City’s Interstate 15, conveniently on 1007 S. 800 West.

According to AAA Latino Transportation’s website, the business provides an efficient and reliable taxi service, without the struggle of getting a rental car and for a good value. Owners stress the importance of helping clientele reach their destination without draining their wallet.

Mendosa generally takes most of his rides to the Salt Lake City area and to the Salt Lake City International Airport. 

“And if you want to drive to Vegas, I’ll drive you to Vegas,” Mendosa said in a phone interview.

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AAA Latino Transportation at the border of Idaho. Image from Google Photos.

The transportation service areas include Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, Park City, Tooele, Layton, Logan, and Heber. 

Ride Sharing has become lucrative and convenient for many. Either as a part time or transitional work. Julie Bennett moved from Georgia and as she was transitioning to her new home in Utah, she had not secured a job. While applying to potential careers, she spent two months driving for Lyft. 

According to Bennett, as a Lyft driver, she would not go any farther than a 20-minute drive. 

Drivers are unable to see a passenger’s destination, until they accept the fare.

“You can’t see where they want to go or where they need you to pick them up. Unless you have a certain amount of rides, which I had not done. Every time I would pick someone up and notice they would need to be driven more than 15 to 20 minutes. I would reject the ride. Nothing more than 20 minutes, just because I didn’t get paid to drive the 20 minutes back,” Bennett said in a phone interview. 

She said many other ride-share drivers also would not go the longer distances.

“I do know some other Lyft drivers. I bet they would not drive more than 20 minutes, because it’s a waste of their time, money, and miles on their car,” Bennett said.

Bennett said she would take Mendosa’s transportation services, since she could confirm that they have great reviews. Google reviews rates AAA Latino Transportation at a solid 4.6 stars, whereas other company reviews like Yellow Cab have 2.4 stars. 

“I would definitely take a taxi to Las Vegas, if I knew they were reliable and at a good price. If I knew what the rate of it was, before they even took me, I would trust them a lot more. I just know that if I were to request a Lyft, they would reject my ride. I don’t even know if any ride-share would even allow a ride that far. I don’t like that I won’t know who I’d be riding with either, until they accepted the ride. I wouldn’t want to be stuck with someone that I would be uncomfortable with,” Bennett said. 

Haley Meyer lives on the west side of Salt Lake City and uses ride-share companies frequently.

“I’m a big skier and sometimes I take an Uber to Solitude [Mountain Resort, a ski area near Salt Lake City]. Solitude at the beginning of the season started enforcing pay parking. Probably to get traffic off the roads. There was a lot of traffic and blockage on the roads up there, last season,” Meyer said in a phone interview. 

Although Meyer takes an Uber to go skiing, she runs into some issues getting rides. 

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AAA Latino Transportation will take you anywhere, in any weather. Image from Google Photos.

“My favorite time to go skiing is when it’s snowing, that’s when there’s fresh powder. That’s when most people go skiing anyways. It’s hard to find an Uber that will pick me up and take me to Solitude when it’s snowing,” Meyer said.

Mendosa’s company will take you to all the ski resorts. 

According to the website, “Our mission is to take you where you need to go, no matter if it’s raining, snowing, lightning, day or night. We are your best option for Taxi Service in Utah. Twenty-four hours, 7 days a week, and 365 days.” 

There is no need to take a shuttle to the ski resorts. 

“Taking a shuttle is not really that convenient. They stop at so many places and I feel like I wasted so much time,” Meyer said.

AAA Latino Transportation promises to be on time, professional, courteous, knowledgeable, and offer a safe taxi service.

Mosquito Abatement District helps prevent the West Nile Virus in Salt Lake City

Story and photos by CHEYENNE PETERSON

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. 

West Nile Virus was introduced to the U.S. in 1999 and to Utah in 2003, said Greg White, the assistant director at the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District.


Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District located at 2215 N. 2200 West.

Since 1924, the SLCMAD, located at 2215 N. 2200 West, has had a group of specialists working on keeping mosquitoes controlled in the Salt Lake area. The principal focus is on population control and limiting the spread of the West Nile Virus. 

The CDC states that the West Nile Virus often begins with a bite from an infected mosquito. Mosquito season begins in summer and ends in fall. 



“We feel like we do make an impact on the West Nile Virus. We take samples of mosquitoes for [it] specifically so that we find out if they are positive for the West Nile Virus. Then we will increase control in specific areas to try to interrupt the disease transmission,” White said. 

Every year, Utah has a large amount of mosquitos and these mosquitoes tend to gravitate to areas with stagnant water. In residential areas, culex pipiens mosquitoes are very common. These mosquitoes are the specific kind that transmit the West Nile Virus and can be a nuisance at times.  

“We don’t have as much water as the midwest like Minnesota and New Jersey, but we do get all of the water runoff from the mountains that we have. That goes straight down through the Salt Lake and as it gets closer everything stops flowing so good and the water starts to get stagnant,” White said.

The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District provides an Urban Field Operation. There are three different services available within it, but one is critical to managing the West Nile Virus. Greg White calls this service “the bicycle program.” 

The bicycle program was created by the SLCMAD to keep the pesky mosquitoes out of the city.

“We will drop some people off with bikes and they will do their routes down the residential areas of Salt Lake City. They will look for places with standing water, like drains that don’t drain properly and storm water inlets,” White said.

The program consists of four bicyclists. Each has a few disposable pockets of biopesticides that resemble Tide laundry detergent pods. They keep these pods in a pouch located on the back of their bike. When riding their bikes through residential areas and standing water is observed, they throw the pods in the stagnant water. Each treatment lasts for three to four weeks each time.   

According to the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement Center’s website, the biopesticides are “surface agents such as refined mineral oils or monomolecular films spread across the surface of the water to prevent mosquitoes from breathing. Mosquito larvae and pupae breathe through tubes called siphons that extend above the water surface.”

Cindy Oliver was diagnosed with West Nile Virus in September 2006.

“At that time there were a few cases and it was getting in the news that there was a West Nile Virus going around. In that year there were 131 cases in Utah,” said Glenn Oliver, Cindy’s husband, in a phone interview. 

According to the CDC, most people infected with West Nile Virus do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. 

Cindy said she had a headache and didn’t feel well. She thought she had a sinus infection, but it lasted for about five days.

Next, Glenn said, doctors thought she had meningitis.

Eventually they determined it was the West Nile Virus.

“She had to learn how to walk on her own again. Learn her motor skills all over again. So she couldn’t walk, talk, or do anything. She was completely wiped out of abilities,” Glenn said. 

Cindy said she spent four months recovering in hospitals. It has taken an additional 10 years of physical, occupational, and speech therapy in her home. 

“Doctors were amazed how well she has recovered, because we were expecting it to be worse,” Glenn said.

According to Cindy, “Support from family, getting better from doctors, and my faith” are the reasons why she recovered from the West Nile Virus.


Greg White shows a visitor mosquitoes of different ages and sizes at the SLCMAD.

The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District recommends being aware of mosquitoes in the area and to report them. Its funding is from a small portion of the Salt Lake area property taxes. After that there is no additional cost for using the services.

The CDC website suggests, “You can reduce your risk of West Nile Virus by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.”

White said, “If people have a mosquito problem in their area, we will come out, check it out and give them treatment, inspections and everything with no cost.”

Roberto Elguera



This semester writing for Voices of Utah helped me realize the work and talent on the west side of Salt Lake City. Through meeting many new faces and seeing new places, I feel connected with the city more than ever. The city doesn’t feel like concrete slabs, shopping malls, and piercing skyscrapers. No. I see vibrant walls and hear the hissing of the spray decorating a once blank wall. I hear spoken word and mantras of encouragement coming from the local Hip-Hop artists pushing themselves to get their voices heard and put Utah on the map. I feel the care and unity in the community gathering centers. Providing spaces for youth to stretch their creative and academic skills.

The least I can do is amplify these voices and make people more aware of each person’s story. It wasn’t easy, and at times nerve-racking. But as Yoda says, “Do or do not, there is no try.” There was no time, in mulling over how I was going to give a “perfect” interview, I just needed to put myself out there. At times I felt lost. No story in sight, but it was that one detail that helped me to see the bigger picture. Seeing the crowd go wild at Kilby Court helped me realize the impact the Hip-Hop scene can have on a bigger scale.

A book that helped me in my feature writing is William E. Blundell’s The Art and Craft of Feature Writing. Blundell’s story-telling and breakdown of what he’s learned in his years as a journalist, helped me understand the structure, pacing, and word selection, to help me develop my own style. 


I’m, as you can see, Roberto Elguera. I was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Provo, Utah. I’m now living in Salt Lake City, where I’ll be graduating as part of the 2020 class at the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis on journalism. Having a diverse background, I was always interested in people’s stories. In my career, I hope to give people the opportunity to share those experiences. Part of my time at the U included an internship at K-UTE Radio. I was able to pursue my interests in Hip-Hop culture and entertainment by hosting “The Hip Hop Drip.” I got to interview artists, partake in shows in Salt Lake City, and build my radio chops.

Ellie Cook



The objective I found sometimes difficult was to assure the content was related to the subject we’ve focused on this semester. We had such a specific beat to focus on, and sometimes it became easy to lose sight of that focus. Neighborhoods on the west side of Salt Lake City have some individuality, but they also have a lot of similarities to other areas within the city. I found it tricky to sometimes differentiate as to why a certain story that took place in the western area of Salt Lake City needed more attention, while I could touch on the same thing in another area of the city.

I think the most moral/ethical issue I faced with this beat was being politically correct when talking about the populations in which I touched on. I didn’t want to come across as prejudiced and share inaccurate content when referring to certain classes, races, etc. and their involvement within certain areas of the city. That was a huge aspect of my articles and I needed to ensure I respected everyone regardless of race, age or class. Researching other articles written about similar subjects helped, as well as listening to the way politicians referred to these populations. I never want to sound politically incorrect, nor disrespect anyone as my goals are to represent people appropriately.

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely made things difficult for journalists. For me, I wasn’t able to conduct in-person interviews or visit locations I talked about within my stories. I wasn’t able to provide pictures or videos either. My compromise became contacting a giant amount of sources rather than hoping one or two would respond. This was to be sure I would have enough sources to touch on a subject, and I felt since I couldn’t visit these locations myself, interviewing more people who are there regularly would fill in some blanks for my article that I was unable to cover myself.

Overall things were pretty difficult during this time for reporting, but it was good practice for situations in which I won’t be able to get information firsthand. Many situations are out of our control, and it is important for other journalists and me to find other ways to cover stories in these troubling times.


IMG_2367Ellie Cook studied communications with a minor in psychology at the University of Utah and graduated in the class of 2020. Some of her notable work in the communications field has been working as the fashion week coordinator for Trend Prive Magazine and as concerts vice-chair for the Associated Students of The University of Utah. Her writing work has been published in Trend Prive Magazine, U NewsWriting, and the Utah Communication History Encyclopedia. She’s also worked as a Youth Mentor at La Europea Academy, a rehabilitation home for adolescent girls that treats patients with mental health disorders, eating disorders, those suffering from substance abuse, etc. She hopes to one day combine her passion for writing and working with troubled teens and publish research articles regarding the psychology of adolescents. In her leisure time, Ellie enjoys volunteering with animals, participating in community theater, and modeling/acting for NIYA Management. 

Liam Elkington



I had no real notion of what professional journalism looked like in practice before taking this course. All my ideas about research, sources and writing had come from classes that took a general approach. The most challenging (and the most helpful) aspect of the course was the fact that you are expected to perform the tasks of producing great reporting largely outside of class. I learned through experience that responsibility and initiative are requirements for accomplishing any form of meaningful storytelling.

Before taking this course, I had no experience working on a beat. While I was familiar with the concept, I learned to appreciate why having publications that cover specific areas and topics are vital. As I started researching the beat for this course, I started to realize just how little I knew about it. Entire communities and cultures exist within a few blocks of Salt Lake City. There are people and ideas that I would have never been exposed to if I hadn’t been looking. Now, I appreciate the purpose of a beat. There is great value in learning about people and things that are not familiar, and this is accomplished by having a group of reporters that are dedicated to telling the stories that might not otherwise get heard.

A side effect of reporting the stories of a specific community is that you learn about many of the issues that are faced by that community. Learning about immigration, homelessness and education is much different when hearing it from the perspectives of those who are actively involved in those issues. The most moving stories are the human ones, the ones that help us empathize and desire for change. In order for change to come about, these stories must exist. Reporting is vital not only for democracy, but also for our ability to care for our communities.


Liam Elkington graduated with a BS in Communication in 2020. He has experience creating stories in multiple media formats such as audio, video and writing. Liam has shot and edited short documentaries, reported local stories and reviewed products and produced radio programs for student publications and projects. He enjoys focusing his stories on people and their perspectives, and is passionate about music journalism.

Cheyenne Peterson



This past year, I moved to Salt Lake City’s west side and I don’t believe I would appreciate it as much as I do now. This beat has given me the opportunity to learn about my new community and the curiosity to explore it. There is so much more to the west side than what is portrayed by others.   

I originally thought that this beat was going to be easier. It was difficult to find people to cooperate with interviews. I had people hang up on me or flat out tell me they didn’t have the time. I had to change the direction of my topics to people who were more agreeable. It was intimidating at times, but it pushed me. It pushed me to try again and again, until there was someone who was willing to give their time to a learning journalist. It was so rewarding in the end. The people who were open to talking to me were so kind and made the push worth it. The experience made me appreciate the amazing people in the west-side community. 

I have learned that I do enjoy talking and interviewing people who are passionate about something dear to them. I have the chance to feature them in my own writing and the ability to have it published. It gives a voice to the community. I have found that it is important to not only write an entertaining article, but also to write something meaningful and impactful. 

I found that being a professional communicator can be difficult at times, but also rewarding. I want to write the story as best as I can, for the sake of the community I am writing it for. It is challenging to get a piece the exact way that you would like. In the end, the time makes up for how a story might impact or change a community.


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My parents gave me a dune buggy when I was 6-years-old. I lived in this buggy and wanted to be just like my dad. He is a retired driver for Mickey Thompson Off-Road Racing and today watches his old off-road racing friends in NASCAR. We attended hundreds of races growing up. I learned quickly that the sport was expensive and my family didn’t have the time to keep up with my own competitive racing. During this time I became fascinated with the NASCAR pit reporters like Jamie Little and Kim Coon. I wanted to know how they became reporters and was informed that they were journalists. This is what sparked my writing career. 

I am an outdoors woman. Almost everyone in the racing world is involved in the outdoors and I wanted to follow the footsteps of the racing community. I found myself working for an outdoor television show in Nashville. I learned how to produce, film, edit, and be in front of the camera. I had the awesome experience to film legendary outdoor television stars like Jimmy Houston, Hank Parker, and Jimmy Sites. I also had my own episodes.

I am currently a student at the University of Utah studying Journalism. I hope to one day become a broadcaster/reporter in the racing industry or have the opportunity to start my own outdoor television show. I am looking forward to using my degree and entertaining many viewers.