10 years later, Katrina memories still fresh for Arizonans who responded

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By ELIZABETH BLACKBURN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – It’s been 10 years since he responded to the devastation that was left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but the memories are still clear for Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Darrell B. Wiseman.

“My first recollection is driving onto the causeway” as he arrived in Louisiana with 80 members of Arizona Task Force 1 in the days after the storm. “The causeway, their freeway system, was like a mini city.”

The road was crowded with displaced people living – and some dying – there, said Wiseman, who remembers using a causeway exit as a boat ramp. He recalls water rescues where his team boated down what had been streets, trying to avoid road signs and cars below.

But what Wiseman said he remembers most, through all the memories of the devastation, was “how impressive those people were in surviving.” Continue reading “10 years later, Katrina memories still fresh for Arizonans who responded”

ADVISORY: BIZ-Vemma story delayed

ADVISORY: The story slugged BIZ-Vemma that was listed on the Cronkite News digest for today will not move this evening. We hope to move it Wednesday and apologize for any inconvenience. Please contact Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or christina.leonard@asu.edu if you have questions.

Arizona high schools forced to seek creative funding solutions for athletics

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By TYLER FREADER
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Perry High School’s badminton team is good.

So good that the team finished as the runner-up in Arizona’s Division I state badminton finals last season.

But Perry’s success on the court doesn’t make the team or the Gilbert school immune to the funding challenges faced by high schools across Arizona.

“I would say that if you look at our calendar, someone, either athletics or activities, is doing a fundraiser almost at any given time throughout the year,” Perry High School Athletic Director Jennifer Burks said.

As one of its biggest fundraisers, the badminton team offers parents, students and fans a chance to face off with the team in an exhibition match. Those matches usually end in Perry dismantling its overmatched opponents.

“It’s actually pretty interesting because our badminton team is quite good,” Burks said. “So it’s very rare that you can get a point or two off of them.”

As the costs of high school athletics rise and education funding in Arizona continues to be squeezed, revenue streams like this have become critical to maintaining the viability of high school sports in the state. Continue reading “Arizona high schools forced to seek creative funding solutions for athletics”

New deals app aimed at millenials launches in Tempe, aims to help build small businesses

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By LAUREN CLARK
Cronkite News

TEMPE –  Gil Schmitt said he has long struggled to get a steady flow of Arizona State University students into his ice cream and sweet shop on Mill Avenue.

Because he uses local ingredients and high-quality butterfat, students sometimes balk at the prices at Sparky’s Old Town Creamery in Tempe.

But Schmitt said he may have found a solution.

It’s an app called Hooked, which operates like deal promoter Groupon, but for millenials. The company launched last week in Tempe.

“It was going after a market that we really need in our business,” Schmitt said. “When college kids are buried into their phones, it seemed like the perfect way to meet them on social media.”

Continue reading “New deals app aimed at millenials launches in Tempe, aims to help build small businesses”

Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Aug. 28

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday, Aug. 28. If you have questions on news stories, 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. For questions on business stories, please contact Christina Leonard at 602-496-5241 or christina.leonard@asu.edu. Questions on sports stories should be directed to Brett Kurland 602-496-5134 or bkurland@asu.edu. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at cronkitenews.asu.edu/clients.

Continue reading “Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Aug. 28”

Ripples in Chinese economy could make waves for Arizona businesses

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By CHARLES McCONNELL
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – What happens in China, doesn’t necessarily stay in China.

For Arizona, which exported more than $1 billion to China in 2014, the economic turmoil currently being experienced by one of the state’s biggest trading partners could cause ripples that are felt back home.

But economists and business leaders said that although the slowing Chinese economy could be cause for concern, there is still a lot of potential for American companies for now. Continue reading “Ripples in Chinese economy could make waves for Arizona businesses”

ADOT starts demolishing homes for Loop 202 extension

By TY SCHOLES
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Crews have started demolishing homes in the Ahwatukee Foothills to make way for a long-planned Loop 202 extension.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has purchased about 200 homes in the path of the South Mountain Freeway. Seventy-three are in Goldman Ranch, where heavy equipment tore down one stucco home and began razing another Thursday.

Holdouts remain, including Sherry Woodwing, who watched the demolition from her house next door.

Continue reading “ADOT starts demolishing homes for Loop 202 extension”

Mercury’s male practice squad a hidden key to team’s success

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By CUYLER MEADE
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Former NCAA Division III Puget Sound forward Robert Krauel frequently squeezes in a workout on his lunch break from his job at Grand Canyon University.

Krauel regularly drives from GCU’s campus to US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix and hits the basketball court.

But the training isn’t for his own benefit. Krauel is helping to train the defending WNBA champions.

Krauel is a member of the Phoenix Mercury’s all-male practice squad, a team of nine men who volunteer about an hour and a half of their time several days a week to help the Mercury prepare for each opponent. Continue reading “Mercury’s male practice squad a hidden key to team’s success”

Paying a price for going nowhere: Traffic hits Arizona commuters’ wallets

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By TOM BLANTON
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Traffic delays in Tucson and Phoenix last year cost the average commuter more than $1,000 in extra fuel and lost time, among other costs, according to a new report on rush-hour congestion on the nation’s highways.

The 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute estimated that commuters in Phoenix spent about 51 hours sitting in traffic, racking up a “congestion cost” of $1,201 last year. Tucson commuters spent an average of 47 hours stuck behind the wheel for a congestion cost of $1,128, the report said. Continue reading “Paying a price for going nowhere: Traffic hits Arizona commuters’ wallets”

Obama honors Phoenix Mercury at White House for 2014 WNBA title

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By CHARLES McCONNELL
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Even star athletes can get awestruck.

“It’s just overwhelming when you’re in the room with the president of the United States,” said Diana Taurasi, a three-time U.S. Olympian and the Phoenix Mercury’s star guard. “These are moments that you’ll cherish, you know, for the rest of your life.”

The moments she was referring to were the Mercury’s visit Wednesday to the White House, where President Barack Obama honored the team for its 2014 WNBA championship. Continue reading “Obama honors Phoenix Mercury at White House for 2014 WNBA title”

Stanton: Victory for Phoenix transit tax proposition shows ‘a belief in our future’

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By SAMANTHA WITHERWAX
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The first benefits of a transit tax increase that was winning approval from Phoenix voters will likely be increased service by Valley Metro’s Dial-a-Ride and more attention to potholes, supporters said Wednesday.

While opponents said Proposition 104 and the billions of dollars it will raise over 35 years would benefit only a small percentage of residents, Mayor Greg Stanton said improvements to public transportation will help everyone by providing better access to education and jobs.

“What happened last night, the overwhelming support by the people of the city of Phoenix, was a showing of a belief in ourselves, a belief in our future,” Stanton said at a gathering of Proposition 104 supporters and others.

Continue reading “Stanton: Victory for Phoenix transit tax proposition shows ‘a belief in our future’”

Groups to feds: Tighten mining rules in light of Animas River spill

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By TY SCHOLES
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Citing the release of millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into a southwestern Colorado river earlier this month, a coalition of conservation groups, two Arizona Native American tribes and two county governments petitioned federal agencies Tuesday to tighten mining regulation on public lands.

The groups, led by the Grand Canyon Trust, pointed to dangers from so-called zombie mines, those that reopen after not operating for long periods. The petition said regulations governing mining, particularly for uranium, fail to prevent water pollution, soil contamination, harm to sensitive species and more.

Continue reading “Groups to feds: Tighten mining rules in light of Animas River spill”

Financial advisers, economists urge calm in face of market volatility

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By CHARLES McCONNELL
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The stock market has been buffeted by historic drops over the last week, but economists and financial advisers in Arizona were telling investors Tuesday that it’s still “too early to be concerned.”

They said volatility is normal in the markets and pension funds and other investments are designed for the long term. While sustained declines could be a problem, they said, investors who get spooked now and pull their money out of the market are probably making a mistake. Continue reading “Financial advisers, economists urge calm in face of market volatility”

Report: Arizona beer has an economic kick, too, in terms of jobs, taxes

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By NIHAL KRISHAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – When Rob Fullmer, the executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, says “everything is improved by the presence of a brewery,” he’s talking about the economic buzz it brings and not the alcoholic kind.

“Anytime you can put a business between two breweries, you’ll see a much more foot traffic in that area, and you’ll see a real benefit to your employees,” said Fullmer – not to mention “the lunches and happy hours.”

New industry-generated numbers appear to back up that claim that beer brings economic growth and prosperity.

A recent report by the National Beer Wholesalers Association said the beer industry in Arizona – from brewers to drivers to bartenders – had an economic output of almost $4.3 billion in 2014, generated more than $800 million in federal and state taxes and was responsible for 38,627 jobs in the state. Continue reading “Report: Arizona beer has an economic kick, too, in terms of jobs, taxes”

Small UA program produces big results in horse racing industry

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By CHRIS WIMMER
Cronkite News

TUCSON – The well-dressed horse trainer with the signature white hair and dark sunglasses who was the darling of the sports media this spring got his start in the racing industry in the most unlikely of places. Before Bob Baffert trained the first Triple Crown winner in 47 years, he cultivated his tradecraft in Tucson.

Baffert, a native of Nogales, who guided American Pharoah into the history books, is the most recognizable alumnus of the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona. But he is just one of the nearly 700 graduates of a program that is one of a kind.

The program is small — usually less than 30 total students combined between undergraduate and graduate levels — but its alumni permeate every layer of the racing industry, from Del Mar, California, to Lexington, Kentucky, to Saratoga Springs, New York. Continue reading “Small UA program produces big results in horse racing industry”

Cards’ coaching intern Welter can learn from female community college coach

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By MICHAEL NOWELS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX — More than 30 years ago, Dot Murphy, former All-American and women’s basketball coach at Mississippi University for Women, sat with her children at Hinds Community College football practice watching her husband, Gene, coach the Eagles defense.

Hinds head coach Bill Buckner suggested she join him on the field and put her coaching and athletic prowess to use with the wide receivers. The first few times he brought it up, she laughed off the idea.

At some point, though, the Murphys realized Buckner was serious, and Dot chose to sign on and join the men on the field at the Raymond, Mississippi, school for the 1984 season. She stayed there as wide receivers coach for 21 years.

“My father was a football coach. I never thought about coaching football. I thought basketball would be what I would stick with for the most part,” Murphy said. “So it’s been an interesting life because I’ve coached football for a long time.”

At the time, Buckner and Murphy agreed to keep the story quiet because neither really knew how the arrangement would work out. Continue reading “Cards’ coaching intern Welter can learn from female community college coach”

Transgender soldiers watch closely as Pentagon reviews ban on service

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By JAMIE COCHRAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – When Capt. Jennifer Peace looks in the mirror, she sees a woman who serves her country like more than 200,000 other women in the military.

She wears a uniform, goes to work and serves like all the others.

But when the Army looks at Capt. Peace, it sees a man.

Peace, an intelligence officer who has served a little more than 10 years in the Army, is a transgender soldier who came out in January to her unit at Fort Lewis, Washington.

While her fellow soldiers have been supportive, Peace said, they still have to live by Army rules and are concerned about stepping over the line. She said soldiers working for her were told, “We use male pronouns. No one will use female pronouns with Capt. Peace.” Continue reading “Transgender soldiers watch closely as Pentagon reviews ban on service”

Hill interns expand minds – and waistlines – working free-food circuit

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By NICK WICKSMAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – August in Washington means a few things – Congress is out on recess, the city is slowing down and the tourists are heading home.

And the interns have to start buying their own food.

One of the perks of being a Capitol Hill intern is the abundance of free food that a savvy “Hilltern” can glean, between the many receptions, events and lunches held when Congress is in session.

“I would say I spend less money on food than I do on dry cleaning here,” said Joseph Carlstein, a Hill intern enjoying a snow cone at an American Petroleum Institute event recently. Continue reading “Hill interns expand minds – and waistlines – working free-food circuit”

Report: DACA applications, renewals still growing after three years

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By SOYENIXE LOPEZ
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The number of people applying for deferred deportation protection, and the number reapplying, have both risen as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program nears its third anniversary, new data shows.

A report Tuesday by the Migration Policy Institute said that 83 percent of the 430,396 people eligible to renew their deferrals had done so as of March 31.

“I think that this number signifies people realizing the benefits and protection DACA grants them,” said Angelo Mathay, an associate policy analyst with the institute. Continue reading “Report: DACA applications, renewals still growing after three years”

Arizona officials watchful, hopeful as EPA spill moves downstream

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By AUBREY RUMORE
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona officials continue to monitor a massive spill of toxic sludge that is heading toward the Colorado River, but most were hopeful Tuesday that it will have little impact by time it reaches the state.

An Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew “triggered a large release of mine wastewater” last Wednesday from the abandoned Gold King Mine near Durango, Colorado, sending about 3 million gallons of wastewater so far into the Animas River.

The spill has turned the Animas, a tributary of the Colorado River, a sickly yellow as it heads downstream carrying its load of lead, iron, zinc and arsenic, among other contaminants.

“We are closely monitoring it,” said Michelle Moreno, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Water Resources. “But at this time, we won’t know what the impacts are until it reaches Lake Powell and Lake Mead.” Continue reading “Arizona officials watchful, hopeful as EPA spill moves downstream”