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Plans for alcohol, wine at Utah Starbucks on hold

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah liquor bosses say they want state lawmakers to rule on whether Starbucks is considered a restaurant before they give the coffee company permission to serve beer and wine at Utah cafes. Starbucks has applied to serve alcohol at five Utah locations but commissioners with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control declined to vote on the issue at their Tuesday meeting. • RELATED: Starbucks hopes to sell beer and wine in 5 Utah locations Chairman John T. Nielsen says the commission questioned whether Starbucks can be considered a restaurant because its food is heated and served rather than prepared on site. Starbucks already offers beer and wine at 75 stores in 10 states as part of their “Starbucks Evenings” menu. Two representatives for the company at the commission’s meeting declined to comment Tuesday. Messages left with the company’s corporate office were not returned.

Coke Health Group

Emails reveal Coke's role in anti-obesity group

NEW YORK — A nonprofit founded to combat obesity says the $1.5 million it received from Coke has no influence on its work. But emails obtained by The Associated Press show the world’s largest beverage maker was instrumental in shaping the Global Energy Balance Network, which is led by a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Coke helped pick the group’s leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website. In an email last November, the group’s president tells a top Coke executive: “I want to help your company avoid the image of being a problem in peoples’ lives and back to being a company that brings important and fun things to them.” Coke executives had similarly high hopes. A proposal circulated via email at the company laid out a vision for a group that would “quickly establish itself as the place the media goes to for comment on any obesity issue.” It said the group would use social media and run a political-style campaign to counter the “shrill rhetoric” of “public health extremists” who want to tax or limit foods they deem unhealthy. When contacted by the AP about the emails, Coca-Cola Co. CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement that “it has become clear to us that there was not a sufficient level of transparency with regard to the company’s involvement with the Global Energy Balance Network.” “Clearly, we have more work to do to reflect the values of this great company in all that we do,” Kent said. The Atlanta-based company told the AP it has accepted the retirement of its chief health and science officer, Rhona Applebaum, who initially managed the relationship with the group. It said it will not fill the position as it overhauls how it goes about its health efforts. It also said it has stopped working with the Global Energy Balance Network. It’s just the latest example of Coke working with outside experts to promote messages that benefit the company. Coke has long maintained that the academics and other experts it works with espouse their own views. But the collaborations can be fraught and blur the lines between advertisements and genuine advice. In February, several health and fitness experts paid by the company wrote online posts with tips on healthy habits. Each suggested a mini-soda as a snack idea. One dietitian wrote five such posts in less than a year. The Global Energy Balance Network came under fire in August after The New York Times reported it was funded by Coke. On Nov. 6, the University of Colorado School of Medicine said it was returning $1 million from the company because of the distraction it was creating. The University of South Carolina said it plans to keep $500,000 it received from Coke because one of its professors is also among the group’s leaders. The school said there was no misuse of funds. On its website, the Global Energy Balance Network says it received an “unrestricted gift” from Coke, but that the company has “no input” into its activities. Behind the scenes, however, Coke executives and the group’s leaders held meetings and conference calls to hash out the group’s mission and activities, according to emails obtained through a public records request. Early on, Applebaum informed the group’s president, James Hill, that those involved would need to be open about collaboration with private industry. “That is non-negotiable,” she wrote. Relatively minor matters, such as the group’s logo, were also covered. “Color will not be an issue — except for blue. Hope you can understand why,” Applebaum. Coke’s cans are red, while Pepsi’s are blue. “It seems like another one of these classic cases of money coming from industry with no strings attached — that’s the official message. But it’s a very different kind of story taking place,” said Leigh Turner, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics who studies academic integrity and conflicts of interest. The exchanges weren’t strictly limited to discussions about the group, and included Applebaum expressing approval or disapproval of health articles, and talk of other work with Coke. In an email to another Coke executive, Hill proposes research on “energy balance” that would be “very specific to coke interests.” Coke has long stressed the idea of “energy balance,” or the need to offset calorie intake with physical activity. It’s a basic concept few would disagree with, but critics say the company uses it to downplay the effects of sugary drinks by shifting more attention to the need for exercise. In an introductory video, one of the Global Energy Balance Network’s leaders said the media focuses on “eating too much, eating too much, eating too much — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on.” The video has since been taken down, and the group said the idea that it only focuses on physical activity is inaccurate. Hill declined a request for a phone interview, but said in an email that the group’s strategy benefits “all who are concerned about obesity.” He said Coke provided input into the group’s “organizational structure,” but that it was understood the company would be “hands off.” The group wants to continue its work, he said. Since 2010, Coke said it gave $550,000 to Hill that was unrelated to the group. A big part of that was research he and others were involved with, but the figure also covers travel expenses and fees for speaking engagements and other work. It does not include money from Coke’s overseas divisions or industry groups such as the American Beverage Association.

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Can Ogden's Washington Boulevard regain its glory?

Once the fashion hot spot, Washington Boulevard’s market patterns are changing. 

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Is Washington Boulevard getting 'gentrified' or 'redeveloped?'

OGDEN — Back in June, when he was trying to save his downtown all-ages music venue, Mojos owner Ron Atencio used the “G” word. Gentrification. Atencio claimed a recent wave of gentrification — defined as an older, deteriorated area of a city gradually being transformed into a more affluent neighborhood, resulting in rising property values and a displacement of the poor — was taking place downtown along the east side of Washington Boulevard. According to Atencio, gentrification led his landlord to sell the building at an inflated price, effectively displacing the decade-old music venue. Mojos has since closed. READ MORE: Ogden's Washington Boulevard forgotten, some business owners say Can Ogden's Washington Boulevard regain its glory? As sympathetic as he may be to Atencio’s plight, Tom Christopulos, director of community and economic development for Ogden City, says he wouldn’t call what’s going on in downtown Ogden gentrification. “Gentrification typically refers to a residential neighborhood,” Christopulos said. “Here in the downtown area, we just use the term ‘redevelopment.’ Basically, we’re just trying to introduce tenancy to the buildings down here. Because if they’re not occupied, they decay — and decay very quickly.” Gentrification, redevelopment — whatever you call it, it’s now a fact of life on east Washington Boulevard.  “I think sometimes we forget how many buildings used to be vacant there,” Christopulos said. But, as he acknowledged, the boulevard still faces challenges. A classic challenge One of the challenges facing east Washington Boulevard is also one of its charms. There are a number of older buildings along the street, and Christopulos says it’s a delicate balance to update buildings that might have structural problems, but at the same time preserve the neighborhood’s history. “We’re trying to save as many historical buildings as possible,” Christopulos said. “Because a lot of those old buildings in Ogden have gone away ― like the old Carnegie Library, and the Broom building.” Saving such buildings isn’t simple. Or cheap. “It’s easy where the building is in good shape,” Christopulos said. “But remember, many of these sat vacant for a very long time. That provides interesting challenges to the landowners.” The age of the buildings there provides the “classic challenge” to redevelopment, according to Christopulos. “The owner invests in a property, and wants to get a reasonable return on investment,” he said. “But renovation is so costly, and what renters are willing to pay keeps the property in stasis. That’s why it remains vacant.” He sees downtown Ogden as the proverbial drinking glass and asks, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” Christopulos says that just across the street , the Junction is running at 90 percent occupancy. On the other hand, some of the most-noticeable storefronts on the west side of Washington — newer spaces that were part of the development of The Junction — sit empty. “Those have always been the most difficult spaces to lease out,” Christopulos said. “We think size is an issue. They’re small shops … and we haven’t been able to find a lot of small users for them, because smaller businesses are more rent-sensitive.” There’s also a problem on the east side of the boulevard that doesn’t plague the west side, city planner Greg Montgomery observed — topography. There’s a small hill or ridge running right behind the buildings on the east side of Washington, and it affects both parking and how people access the buildings from the east. That’s a tough nut, Montgomery says, but one they’ll need to crack in order to fully develop downtown’s east side. “The way I see it, that part of Washington Boulevard has got to be a link between the residential areas to the east and the rest of downtown,” Montgomery said. “It’s a link, a bridge we’ve got to fix. It’s a key connection.” And speaking of residential areas, Montgomery says housing is another piece of the puzzle. He sees apartments and condominiums as vital to the health of a vibrant downtown. “In its heyday, I think Ogden had a lot of apartments downtown,” he said. “By the time you get to 1990, no one lives downtown. But to make a downtown work, you need residents.” “Not perfect yet” Claims that the city is ignoring the east side of Washington Boulevard simply “aren’t fair,” according to Montgomery. He points to the partnership that bought a downtown presence to Weber State University, saying city officials were key brokers in that deal. It’s equally unfair, Montgomery says, to compare the current business climate in downtown Ogden with earlier eras — especially from Junction City’s heyday. “Back in the 1950s and early ’60s, 70 percent of Weber County’s population lived in Ogden,” he said. “Now, we’re 34 percent of the county’s population. And retail follows the people.” Christopulos, pointing to roughly $1.5 billion in downtown construction since 2005, insists the city hasn’t ignored or given up on the east side of Washington Boulevard. “We haven’t forgotten anything there,” he said. “We just go where we have the opportunity. Sometimes, people don’t realize what it looked like 10 years ago. There are changes — and there have been changes — since I’ve been here. It’s just not perfect yet.” He recalls that storefronts on Washington Boulevard used to boarded up and the sidewalks littered with dead pigeons. And now? Christopulos is optimistic that downtown Ogden — including east Washington Boulevard — will maintain its upward trajectory. “We’ll continue to work on the east side as long as we possibly can,” he said. “It’ll all come together, block by block, piece by piece.” Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at

National Business

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Ogden's Washington Boulevard forgotten, some business owners say

Whereas Historic 25th Street and The Junction are offered as shining examples of progress, much of Washington Boulevard has remained virtually unchanged — particularly on the east side between 22nd and 26th Streets.

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Utah Farm Bureau elects Weber leader as new president

  The Utah Farm Bureau will start its second century the same way it started its first -- the federation has put a Weber County man at its helm.    

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Layton WinCo Foods store gets closer to reality

Open by Thanksgiving 2016? That’s the goal for Layton’s WinCo Foods development, which has cleared necessary hurdles to speed up the process.

9th president william harrison billboard

What are those '9th President' billboards on display in Utah?

Yes, William Henry Harrison was the 9th President. Thank you, Reagan Outdoor Advertising.