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The winners and the losers

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Loser: Years ago, public-service campaigns filled the airways before each major holiday, warning drivers of the possibility many of them would die in highway accidents. Since then, the percentage of accidents relative to drivers has decreased considerably, and we no longer hear the warnings. But after 13 people died in Utah during the July 4 holiday, it may be time to start again.

The real tragedy was that most of the deaths could have been prevented with seat belts. And seven of the 13 died in a wreck in which alcohol played a factor. Timely reminders about the basics of safe driving certainly wouldn't hurt.

Winner: Speaking of the Fourth of July, few people seem more worthy of celebrating the day than Bill Taylor of Provo, also known as the "flag man." Taylor, a former prisoner of war in Japan during World War II, installs dozens of American flags each year, including concrete and flagpole, free of charge to people he thinks could use a lift. Then he sends them a thank-you card for allowing him the privilege.

Perhaps spending 3 1/2 years in a tortuous enemy camp can give one a special appreciation for the freedoms symbolized by the flag. But Taylor's example and his love for his country are helping many others appreciate what it means to live in America, as well.

Loser: Industrialist Jon Huntsman's generosity will keep state-of-the-art brain imaging going at the University of Utah for a while, but eventually the University hospital likely will have to abandon an expensive, but effective, machine for something inferior, and that is a shame. The MEG machine (magnetoencephalography) isn't paid for. It has been funded by grants, but the money is drying up, and most insurance carriers won't pay for patients to use the machine, which takes about $2,500 per scan.

Officials have yet to decide whether to go with a stripped-down model, but unless they can find new grants, that may be the only option. It would be a shame if people had to go to a center somewhere else to get help with head trauma problems.

Winner: Utah is the eighth fastest growing state in the nation, according to a report issued this week by the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The population grew by 1.9 percent last year to 2.121 million. It was the ninth straight year in which more people moved into the state than out of it.

The good news is that people find the state an attractive place to live. The challenging news is that growth brings with it new pressures on the environment and on cities and counties, which have to plan for the best ways to accommodate everyone. The bad news, unfortunately, is that few local governments seem committed to preserving open space, and doing the things that are needed to continue making Utah a desirable place to live.