Cronkite News

Phoenix out to reduce economic, human cost of disconnected youth

  • Slug: Disconnected Youth,750
  • Sidebar: About disconnected youth.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By RACHEL LUND
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Isaiah Whiteside first went to jail at 16. That point in his life didn’t have any meaning, he said, which led to boredom and then trouble.

“What led to my incarceration was bad association – that is always something that can get you in trouble,” Whiteside said. “I would get up, look for something to do, be bored, go out and just hang out with people who were doing the same, and we got in a lot of trouble that way.”

As a young person not in school and without a job, Whiteside fit the definition of a disconnected youth.

So did Richard Martinez-Teller, a 15-year-old who already knows what it means to be hungry and begging for money on a street corner.

“I used to just be in the street doing drugs, selling and partying,” he said. “I’d try to find shelter and food for myself so that I wouldn’t starve to death.”

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Tech firms offer seminars to help businesses prepare for Super Bowl

  • Slug: Super Bowl,500
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By CARLENE REYES
Cronkite News

TEMPE – With only a few months left until the Super Bowl in Glendale, Diane Radeke wants her Native American jewelry store in Scottsdale, Old Town Jewels, to maximize the opportunity by helping visitors find her store online.

“We are a brick-and-mortar business for 30 years and last year decided to try expanding into e-commerce,” she said. “We’ve been trying to establish a Web presence and learn about social media.”

Technology companies GoDaddy, PayPal and Yelp want her to build her online presence too, so the three have teamed to create a series of workshops to teach Radeke and others how their small businesses can thrive during the Super Bowl and the months leading up to it.

Get Big Game Day Ready is a series of workshops that providing advice on how using each of the companies’ services can prepare them for the 90,000 visitors expected for game day.

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VA knew of problems in Phoenix years earlier than previously thought

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Deja VA,610
  • Video story available on YouTube.
  • Photos, graphics available (thumbnails, captions below)

By CAMARON STEVENSON
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers reacted angrily this week to reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs may have known about problems at its Phoenix health care facilities years before they came to light this spring.

A 2008 report by the VA Office of Inspector General found that workers in Phoenix were manipulating records to improve their own performance reviews and to make it appear as if veterans had shorter wait-times for care.

That was echoed in a 2010 internal memo that said VA employees were “gaming the system” to make wait times appear shorter.

Those same practices were revealed this spring, when whistleblowers charged that delays in health care may have led to the deaths of some veterans. Those disclosures sparked a series of angry hearings in Congress, which passed a multibillion-dollar reform bill this summer. Read More »

Taking aim at party-spot image, Parker group gets grant to fight drug use

  • Slug: La Paz-Drugs,700
  • Sidebar: About the grants.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)
  • Video story planned

By LAUREN LOFTUS
Cronkite News

PARKER – Roughly a million visitors pass through La Paz County every year, ranging from so-called river rats drawn to the Colorado River to RV-driving snowbirds seeking mild winters.

Though the influx is good for the economy, officials say this area’s reputation as a party spot can give children the wrong message – namely that daily partying and drug use are normal.

The Parker Area Alliance for Community Empowerment, or PAACE, was established in 1995 to combat this perception among the 3,000 or so permanent residents in the county seat of Parker. And after years of trying, this year the group was one of 197 programs nationwide to be awarded a federal Drug Free Communities grant.

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Diamondbacks looking toward the future in Arizona Fall League

  • Slug: Fall League,800
  • Sidebar: Fall League Diamondbacks.
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By THOMAS MITCHELL
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – After posting Major League Baseball’s worst record this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking toward the future at this year’s Arizona Fall League.

The team’s top prospect, starting pitcher Archie Bradley, is among seven Diamondbacks playing for the Salt River Rafters, the organization’s Fall League affiliate. Viewed as potential anchor in the rotation, Bradley struggled with an elbow injury last season and is hoping to get things back on track here against tough competition.

“You’re playing against guys you heard about on minor league reports and all kinds of stuff. These are some of the best players in the minors,” Bradley said. “The lineups you face are similar to what you’re facing in the big leagues.”

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CrossFit takes fire for injuries, but devotees say it depends on individual

  • Slug: CrossFit,850
  • Sidebar: Sample workout.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By MORGAN CHAN
Cronkite News

MESA – It’s 9:15 a.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, and Britt Burns is teaching his fourth CrossFit session of the morning.

He spends time with each of the 20 members as they stretch, practice lifting weights and jumping onto boxes. His gym, CrossFit Incite, is one of several gyms in the Valley that are certified to be affiliated with the CrossFit program.

Burns isn’t alone. As of June 2014, CrossFit had 10,000 affiliated gyms around the world offering its brand of exercise: a mixture of high-intensity interval training, power lifting, speed exercises, gymnastics and more to achieve, as its website states, a broad and general level of fitness.

“I’ve done it with a group of close friends, I’ve done it by myself in my garage and I’ve done it in a class setting like this,” he said. “I think I’ve had experience.”

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Cronkite News Digest for Thursday, Oct. 23

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Thursday, Oct. 23. Please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu or Steve Elliott in the Phoenix bureau at 602-496-0686 or steve.elliott@asu.edu if you have questions. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at cronkitenews.asu.edu/clients.

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DEA offers Arizonans ability to provide tips about prescription drugs via text, website

  • Slug: Prescription Drugs,450
  • Sidebar: Submitting tips.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By ALEXA ARMSTRONG
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A challenge in trying curb illicit prescription drug trafficking is that people who have tips are afraid they will be identified and harmed, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s top official here says.

“A lot of people have a little bit of animosity or fear of calling us directly because they are afraid that something may happen to them,” said Doug Coleman, DEA special agent for Phoenix.

Because prescription drugs are often a gateway to heroin use, he said, those fears make it more difficult to combat the epidemic use of that drug.

At a news conference Wednesday, Coleman announced TIP411, which features a technology allowing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others with knowledge of illegal prescription drug transactions to submit tips anonymously via text (to TIP411, using the keyword “tiprx”) or a form on the Phoenix DEA website.

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Fitness trail has travelers walking through Sky Harbor terminal

  • Slug: Airport Trail,450
  • Sidebar: Exercise and the traveler.
  • Photo and graphic available (thumbnail, caption below)

By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – During the best of conditions, travelers typically don’t stroll 2 miles through throngs of people with their carry-on bags in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s busiest terminal.

However, some jet-setters are doing just that – for their health.

After downloading a PDF or logging onto Sky Harbor’s mobile site, travelers beyond Terminal 4′s security checkpoints can follow a fitness trail and get some exercise while viewing local landmarks. The U-shaped route is a little more than a mile long each way, running from gate A30 at the terminal’s northwest corner to D8 on the southwest side.

The Sky Harbor Fitness Trail, which opened in May, was developed as part of the city’s FitPHX initiative started last year by Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela and Olympic swimmer Misty Hyman.

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Report: Arizona ahead of the game on its after-school programs

  • Slug: BC-CNS-After School,530
  • Sidebar: Top 1o states in report
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By MIRANDA RIVERS
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona ranked sixth in a new national report on the quality of after-school programs, with the state’s score driven by the large number of poor kids enrolled and by relatively high parental satisfaction.

The Afterschool Alliance’s “America After 3PM” looked at how children spend their hours after school and before parents come home from work, focusing on participation, public support and benefits associated with after-school programs.

In Arizona, 97 percent of parents said they were satisfied with their child’s after-school program, compared to 89 percent nationally, and low-income children in the state accounted for 53 percent of participants. Nationally, the number was 45 percent, according to the report. Read More »

Oakland Athletics show off new training facilities in Mesa

  • Slug: Mesa Stadium,650
  • Sidebar: Hohokam Stadium upgrades.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By BETHANY REED
Cronkite News

MESA – The Oakland Athletics’ new spring training home at Hohokam Park features an upgraded clubhouse, a high-definition scoreboard, new seats and shaded party decks.

Developers gave team officials and Mesa leaders a tour of the stadium Wednesday as well as showing upgrades to minor league training facilities nearby in Fitch Park. In all, the project will cost $26.9 million with Mesa providing up to $17.5 million and the team putting up the rest.

Built in 1997, Hohokam Stadium was home to the Chicago Cubs until the team moved to brand new Cubs Park, also in Mesa. The A’s signed a 20-year agreement with the city to relocate from Phoenix Municipal Stadium and will play their first Cactus League game here next year.

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Secretary of state candidates seek more dark money disclosure

  • Slug: Dark Money,750
  • Sidebar: Candidate bios.

By ANASTASIA REYNOLDS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With shadowy nonprofit groups expected to spend millions this year to influence Arizona voters without disclosing the sources of their money, both candidates for the state office overseeing elections are offering plans to address the practice.

Democrat Terry Goddard and Republican Michele Reagan say they want laws taking a harder line with so-called dark money groups and requiring them to register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

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Social-themed website aims to create links between businesses in Arizona, Canada, Mexico

  • Slug: International Trade,350
  • Sidebar: BIEN partners.
  • Video story available on YouTube.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By IMELDA MEJIA
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Handling community outreach and client relations for DIRTT Environmental Solutions, a Canadian firm that manufactures in Arizona, Mary Wolf-Francis typically attends business events or pays for a service to help make industry contacts.

Now she is going to work and logging on to the social network website BIEN, or Building an International Economic Network. On it, she can see profiles for companies in Arizona, Mexico and Canada and send them personal messages to create relationships that might not have been possible before.

“It’s a venue for companies like ours and other international companies to coalesce and hang out together and get to know each other in a virtual environment,” Wolf-Francis said. “So when those opportunities for business come up, we have a solid relationship already built.”

On Tuesday, the Maricopa Association of Governments formally launched BIEN (www.connectbien.com) after Wolf-Francis and others participated in a soft launch that began in April.

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Shop owners: Tempe ban on e-cigs in public spaces not hurting business

  • Slug: Tempe E-Cigs,750
  • Sidebar: About e-cigs.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By CARLENE REYES
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Thick layers of vapor fill Carl Dewberry’s e-cigarette shop Valor Vapor on a recent afternoon. Some customers chat with one another on couches with slim e-cigarette devices in hand, exhaling vapor into the air, while Dewberry and an employee help others create custom-flavored liquids they will soon “vape.”

Dewberry’s shop has been busy, and he said a second location is set to open soon.

In August, Tempe became the first city in Arizona to pass an ordinance restricting the use of e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, in enclosed public areas including restaurants and bars. Despite the new limitations, Dewberry and others say Tempe’s e-cig industry isn’t slowing down.

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Many Arizona national parks trying to address drops in visitors over decades

  • Slug: National Parks,950
  • Note: CORRECTS to Burr sted Barr throughout.
  • Sidebar: Park numbers.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)
  • Video story in YouTube

By STEPHEN HAMWAY
Cronkite News

FLAGSTAFF – James and Kay Burr had visited 20 national parks over the course of their seven-week vacation, ranging from Olympic National Park in coastal Washington to Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

When the Los Angeles couple spotted a sign for Sunset Crater National Park on the way home from the Grand Canyon, they decided on a whim to visit a 21st.

“We saw it on the side of the road, and figured we might as well visit,” Kay Burr said.

While the Burrs made a point of visiting more of these wonders, visitor counts show that fewer people overall have been visiting Arizona’s national parks than they did in previous years.

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Cardinals rookie kicker exceeds expectations with record-tying start

  • Slug: Cardinals-Catanzaro,475
  • Sidebar: Bio.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By BETHANY REED
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he had confidence in kicker Chandler Catanzaro when he chose him over veteran Jay Feely back in August. But the rookie has surpassed his expectations.

Catanzaro tied the NFL rookie record for the longest streak to start a season by making his 15th straight kick in Sunday’s win against the Oakland Raiders. His 56 points for the season are the second-highest in the NFL.

“You never expect anybody to come out and kick 15 in a row,” Arians said Monday. “This was a big one for me.” listen

With 33 seconds left Sunday, Catanzaro put the game out of reach by hitting from 41 yards. The 24-13 win lifted the Cardinals to 5-1, their best start since 1976.

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Autoimmune disorder PANDAS gaining attention in medical community

  • Slug: PANDAS,950
  • Sidebar: About PANDAS.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Abby Pulse has been in pain every day for the past three years. At first, nobody knew what was wrong with the 15-year-old.

“It’s one of those things that, when you become a parent, you know your child,” said her mother, Debbie Heckmann Pulse. “I knew there was something wrong. In 2013, when she was really, really bad. She was stuttering and tripping down the hallway.”

Last year, Pulse was diagnosed with pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, or PANDAS. When the disease is triggered by a different infection, as was the case with Pulse, it is considered a subset of the disorder called pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndromes, or PANS.

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Couples rush to get married after state’s same-sex marriage ban overturned

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Same Sex,910
  • Sidebar: Text of laws, court ruling
  • Video story available on YouTube.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By LAURIE LILES
Cronkite News

Gay couples rushed to Arizona courthouses to get married Friday, just hours after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as a violation of the right to equal protection.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick declared the ban unconstitutional early Friday and Attorney General Tom Horne said later in the morning that clerks could begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.

Horne – who had defended two state laws and a voter-approved constitutional amendment banning gay marriage – was widely expected to appeal the judge’s ruling. But he said Friday that a legal challenge now would be “an exercise in futility” since Sedwick based his ruling on recent decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lightning-fast series of developments left some clerks scrambling to get the paperwork going for same-sex unions, while others in the state began issuing the licenses Friday. Read More »

Whether, when schools get extra $317 million an issue in governor’s race

  • Slug: Governor-Schools,850
  • Sidebar: Bios.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By RACHEL LUND
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – State courts have ruled that Arizona owes public schools a first payment of more than $300 million for failing to make annual inflation adjustments to base funding as called for by a voter-approved law. Over five years, the bill could be $1.6 billion.

Whether and when schools get that money may depend in large part on who occupies the governor’s office come January.

Democrat Fred DuVal says the state should make the first payment. Republican Doug Ducey says he agrees with Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to appeal the ruling, though he isn’t ruling out the possibility of a settlement.

“My most important priority is that we adequately fund our schools, and the Supreme Court has now ruled in this case,” DuVal told Cronkite News. “I believe we have cut K-12 education too deeply. This court order gives us the leverage that we need to get back into the business of our schools and better outcomes for our kids.”

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Proposition 122 aims to allow state to reject certain federal laws, rules

  • Slug: Proposition 122,590
  • Graphic available (thumbnail, caption below)

By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, says too many laws and edicts from Washington are interfering with the individual rights of Arizonans. To combat this, he suggests Arizona assert its sovereignty when state leaders or voters determine that one is unconstitutional.

“There’s so many federal intrusions and encroachments that we have to take a stand and say enough is enough,” Borrelli said. “We should be able to fight back. It goes back to the original intention of the Constitution.”

That’s the essence of a ballot measure to be decided in November. Proposition 122 would amend the state Constitution to say that Arizona may exercise its “sovereign authority” to restrict the use of its money and personnel to purposes consistent with its Constitution.

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