Vision quest: New ASU baseball coach Bloomquist has high expectations for program

  • Slug: Sports-Willie Bloomquist Arizona 1,629 words.
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By Catie Cheshire
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Even though he grew up in Washington, Willie Bloomquist’s connection to Arizona runs deep.

From playing at Arizona State to spending eight seasons with the Diamondbacks as a player and then special assistant to President & CEO Derrick Hall, Bloomquist has made the state his home, even though he grew up outside Seattle and played for the Mariners for nine of his 16 years in Major League Baseball.

“I love Arizona State,” said Bloomquist, who was named ASU’s baseball coach in June. “I view Arizona State as one of the best programs in the country and, for me, I want people to feel that way when they come here and understand that this place is special.” Continue reading “Vision quest: New ASU baseball coach Bloomquist has high expectations for program”

Yurok Tribe in Northern California grows solutions in soil of crises

  • Slug: BC-CNS Yurok Food Security, 1,725 words.
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By Mackenzie Wilkes
News21

A drought, a virus and a landslide – these concurrent crises have worsened the food insecurity of Northern California’s Yurok Tribe and spurred some members to explore their own solutions.

Their reservation, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the redwoods of the Klamath Mountains, was declared a rural food desert by the USDA in 2017. The situation worsened when the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with severe drought and a crumbling highway, slammed the reservation and nearby Indigienous communities. Continue reading “Yurok Tribe in Northern California grows solutions in soil of crises”

Cronkite News Digest for Wednesday, Aug. 4

Here is your Cronkite News lineup for Wednesday, Aug. 4. If you have questions on news stories from the Phoenix bureau, please contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or christina.leonard@asu.edu, while questions about stories from our Washington bureau should go to Steve Crane at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu. Sports story questions can be directed to Paola Boivin at paola.boivin@asu.edu, while audio story questions can be answered by Sadie Babits at sadie.babits@asu.edu. Clients who want to use Cronkite videos can find clean versions, and scripts, for download in a Dropbox – if interested, contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at christina.leonard@asu.edu for access. Stories promised for today, along with photos and links to multimedia elements, will post to our client site at cronkitenews.jmc.asu.edu/clients. Continue reading “Cronkite News Digest for Wednesday, Aug. 4”

Attorneys waive fees to prepare name-change petitions for LGBTQ+ community

  • Slug: BC-CNS LGBTQ Name Changes, 1,515 words.
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By Rae Johnson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In the Zoom window, Odele Pax looks small, contained. Her boisterous laugh and candor belie her many mentions of how nervous she is. Pax holds back tears as she talks about her journey toward gender affirmation.

“There are no words to describe how liberating it feels, you know, that, finally, I not only know who I am, but I get to turn to the world and say, ‘Look … this has always been who I am,’” Pax said.

Pax, originally from New York City and now living in Queen Creek, is referring to the process of legally changing her name to match her trans femme label. She’s one of more than 100 people who reached out to Daniel Riley, a family attorney with Curry, Pearson and Wooten, on his offer to do pro bono gender-confirming name changes for trans and nonbinary people in honor of Pride month in June. Continue reading “Attorneys waive fees to prepare name-change petitions for LGBTQ+ community”

Pet owners urged to keep close eye on animals during extreme heat

  • Slug: BC-CNS Pets and Heat, 445 words
  • 1 video here, credit Isabella Fredrickson

By Victoria Hill and Isabella Fredrickson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A string of June temperatures above 115 degrees prompted extreme heat warnings, advising people to stay cool and indoors when possible. But humans aren’t the only ones at risk when it gets dangerously hot, as it’s going to be Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ruthie Jesus, a field operations supervisor with the Arizona Humane Society, said the organization responded to more than 240 calls in June. More than 50% were related to the heat.

“We as people need to remember that the weather really affects animals,” Jesus said. “We might have the luxury of being inside in the air-conditioning, but if you have the ability to keep your pets indoors, we always encourage you to do that.”

An excessive heat warning is in effect the next two days, prompting the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department to close several popular trails during the hottest hours under a recent pilot program. Dogs are banned from all Phoenix trails when temperatures top 100 degrees. Continue reading “Pet owners urged to keep close eye on animals during extreme heat”

Delta force: What makes the COVID-19 variant different, and dangerous

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Delta Variant,600
  • Graphic, explainer video, photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By Jamie Landers
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – After a brief period of decline, COVID-19 cases are back on the rise in the United States and experts say the delta variant, now deemed to be as contagious as the chickenpox, is to blame.

Delta, the name for the variant officially known as B.1.617.2, is a mutation of the original coronavirus strain. Originating in India, the World Health Organization called delta the “fastest and the fittest” in regard to its rapid spread.

As a result, new cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed: Nationally, new cases jumped from an average of 14,438 a day in the first week of June to 72,493 per day in the last week of July, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while in Arizona, cases rose from an average 425 a day to 1,595 a day in the same period, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Continue reading “Delta force: What makes the COVID-19 variant different, and dangerous”

Environmental remediation costs present challenge for Coyotes’ proposed Tempe stadium site

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Tempe Remediation, 1,018 words.
  • 2 photo available

By Henry Greenstein
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – It’s a short declarative phrase in the city of Tempe’s request for proposal, published July 22: “Finally, it will be respondent’s financial responsibility to remediate the land.”

But taken together with a $70 million cost estimate presented in June, it represents a considerable fiscal and logistical burden for the Arizona Coyotes if they seek to develop a new stadium in the East Valley.

The process of environmental remediation – removing contaminants from water and soil – for the 46-acre site northeast of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway on the Salt River will be multifaceted. Judith Grant Long, a professor of sport management and urban planning at the University of Michigan, said she has seen reports of land costs become much more detailed during her time studying sports venues. But she added that the public might not have a desire to know the intricacies of these estimates. Continue reading “Environmental remediation costs present challenge for Coyotes’ proposed Tempe stadium site”

Ducey asks U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, outlaw abortions

  • Slug: BC-CNS Ducey and Abortion, 680 words.

By Emma Ascott
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, 11 other Republican governors and more than 200 GOP lawmakers on Thursday filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.

The 1973 court decision for women’s reproductive rights set a precedent for a constitutional right to access to abortion – and has been challenged ever since. The current nine-member court has a 6-3 conservative majority after the confirmation of the Trump administration’s three nominees – Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch – and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, which was filed by Mississippi.

One legal expert at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU predicts the court will continue to chip away at Roe v. Wade without making the more controversial decision to eliminate it completely. Continue reading “Ducey asks U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, outlaw abortions”

Few rental assistance dollars reach renters, as eviction moratorium ends

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By Brooke Newman
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The federal government’s COVID-19 moratorium on renter evictions ends Saturday, leaving thousands of Arizona renters vulnerable while state and local officials have distributed just a fraction of the funding aimed at keeping people in their homes.

Government agencies in Arizona received almost $495 million for emergency rental assistance from the federal government this year but had distributed just $86.2 million, or 17% of the total, as of this week, according to data from the Arizona Multihousing Association.

The rest of the nation was in no better shape: The Treasury Department said that through June, the most recent month for which it had figures available, just $3 billion had been disbursed of the $46 billion Congress approved for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program this year. Continue reading “Few rental assistance dollars reach renters, as eviction moratorium ends”

House rejects extra funding to help tribal courts after McGirt ruling

  • Slug: BC-CNS-McGirt Muddle,570
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By Kaitlyn Deggs
Gaylord News

WASHINGTON – The House this week rejected a proposal that would have added $154 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget to help tribal courts cope with an influx of cases after a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that expanded tribal jurisdiction.

The extra funding was proposed by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., as an amendment to an appropriations bill that included fiscal 2022 funding for the departments of Interior, Labor, Agriculture, Health and Human Services and more. Cole’s proposal would have offset the increased funding for BIA with cuts to environmental programs. Continue reading “House rejects extra funding to help tribal courts after McGirt ruling”

Former Arizona Wranglers preach patience, stability for new USFL

  • Slug: Sports-New USFL, 1,400 words.
  • File photo available

By Henry Greenstein
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The United States Football League of the mid-1980s brought sports fans a three-season whirlwind of front-office intrigue, roster turnover and eventually litigation, occasionally interrupted by some decent spring football.

Before imploding in spectacular fashion in 1986 amid a failed move to the fall, the league, broadcast on a fledgling ESPN, introduced future stars like Steve Young and Herschel Walker to fans nationwide.

It also gave untapped markets like Jacksonville, Memphis and of course Arizona an early taste of professional football – even if it wasn’t always of the highest quality. Continue reading “Former Arizona Wranglers preach patience, stability for new USFL”

Lake at new SoFi Stadium captures and reuses recycled water

  • Slug: BC-CNS SoFi Stadium, 560 words.
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By Jackson Devine
Cronkite News

LOS ANGELES – SoFi Stadium, the new home of the NFL Rams and Chargers, was designed with sustainability in mind when landscaping around the building and at Hollywood Park.

Kush Parekh, landscape architect, designed an artificial lake to hold 100% recycled water, using it to water greenery around the stadium in Inglewood. The design also utilizes natural wetlands and mechanical systems to filter runoff.

“We’re using reclaimed water in a partnership with West Basin,” a public agency that provides water supply, said Chan Onechanh, vice president of engineering and transportation for SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. “We have 27 reclaimed water connections here on-site, and then we used that reclaimed water to kind of irrigate our landscapes.” Continue reading “Lake at new SoFi Stadium captures and reuses recycled water”

Critics: $5.7 million in private funds for ballot audit taints results

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Ninja Funding,890
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By Brooke Newman
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The private firm hired to audit Maricopa County’s 2020 elections said this week that its work was funded by $5.7 million in donations from conservative groups, a revelation that raised as many questions as it answered for critics.

The state Senate approved $150,000 in funds earlier this year for the work by Cyber Ninjas and other firms, an amount that was quickly eclipsed by the donations from private groups which critics said taints any findings of what they have called a “sham” audit. Continue reading “Critics: $5.7 million in private funds for ballot audit taints results”

‘Hold tight’: Highly touted Diamondbacks prospect Alek Thomas excited for future

  • Slug: Sports-Alek Thomas Diamondbacks, 835 words.
  • File photo available

By Catie Cheshire

PHOENIX – At just 21, Alek Thomas has already played in two MLB Futures Games.

The Diamondbacks prospect is with the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles and, along with All Star Eduardo Escobar, was one of two representatives from the organization at this year’s All-Star festivities at Coors Field.

After playing in the 2019 Futures Game, Thomas wasn’t expecting to get the opportunity to play in it again. Continue reading “‘Hold tight’: Highly touted Diamondbacks prospect Alek Thomas excited for future”

Masks can reduce risk of Valley fever, Arizona experts say

  • Slug: BC-CNS Valley Fever Masks, 395 words
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  • 1 video here, credit Julia Sandor.

By Victoria Hill and Julia Sandor
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona has recorded more than 6,800 cases of Valley fever so far this year, according to July data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Cases have steadily climbed every year since 2016, with the state reporting more than 11,400 cases last year.

Valley fever is a lung disease caused by the inhalation of Coccidioides,​​ a fungus common in the alkaline soil of the Sonoran Desert. Experts say it’s particularly important to take precautions during monsoon season, which puts more dust, dirt and bacteria into the air.

One way to protect yourself, doctors say, is by wearing something you likely already own: a mask. Continue reading “Masks can reduce risk of Valley fever, Arizona experts say”

Justice Department issues clearest warning yet on Arizona election audit

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Voting Warning,1130
  • 2 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Alyssa Marksz
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department issued guidance Wednesday on voting rights and on the pitfalls of post-election audits, reminders that were sent to all states but clearly aimed at Arizona and its audit of Maricopa County elections.

The two statements follow months of warnings from the department raising concerns about the security of the more than 2 million ballots that were handed over to a private firm for review and its plans to go door-to-door to question voters.

While the department’s guidance cited states’ rights to conduct elections, it also laid out controlling federal law, and Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a prepared statement that “where violations of such laws occur, the Justice Department will not hesitate to act.” Continue reading “Justice Department issues clearest warning yet on Arizona election audit”

Schools chief, health experts call for more precautions after Ducey stands firm on mask protocols

  • Slug: BC-CNS Ducey Mask Pushback, 935 words.
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  • 1 video here, credit Faith Abercrombie.

By Gregory Hahne and Faith Abercrombie
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As schools begin to open for the fall semester, the state’s top education official is frustrated by Gov. Doug Ducey’s refusal to impose a mask mandate – defying new guidance from the CDC to wear masks indoors and in public, even if vaccinated.

“This did cause more of a disruption,” Kathy Hoffman, Arizona superintendent for public instruction, told Arizona PBS on Wednesday, “and I have to ask, why? What is the purpose of questioning these evidence-based practices?” Continue reading “Schools chief, health experts call for more precautions after Ducey stands firm on mask protocols”

Tourists returning to Grand Canyon, but not like before the pandemic, business owners say

  • Slug: BC-CNS Grand Canyon Tourism, 460 words.
  • 1 video here, credit Faith Abercrombie

By Victoria Hill and Faith Abercrombie
Cronkite News

GRAND CANYON – Grand Canyon National Park has seen a rebound in domestic visitors in 2021, but not enough to compensate for the volume of international travelers the park usually attracts, officials say.

Since May 2020, parts of the park have been accessible for tourists who abide by COVID-19 guidelines, which instructs people who aren’t fully vaccinated to wear face masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces, among other measures. Local businesses still are adjusting to reduced visitation as a result of the pandemic in 2020. Continue reading “Tourists returning to Grand Canyon, but not like before the pandemic, business owners say”

As cops testify on Capitol attacks, GOP lawmakers blast ‘sham’ inquiry

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Insurrection Reflection,1040
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By Alyssa Marksz
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Police officers gave hours of emotional testimony Tuesday about being on the front lines at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, while separate groups of GOP lawmakers attacked the hearings as a sham and defended the rioters as “political prisoners.”

The comments came as a special House committee began investigating the assault by supporters of former President Donald Trump who were trying to keep Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election on Jan. 6.

More than 500 people have been arrested in the attack that injured 140 police officers, four of whom testified Tuesday that they were beaten, shocked and gassed by chanting protesters who called them traitors and threatened to kill them with their service weapons. Continue reading “As cops testify on Capitol attacks, GOP lawmakers blast ‘sham’ inquiry”

A Dreamer’s dream: DACA status almost tripped NAU runner’s Olympic hopes

  • Slug: Sports-Grijalva DACA Olympics, 830 words.
  • File photo available

By Kaylee Connors and Joey Serrano
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Luis Grijalva could see the finish line. He just wasn’t sure he could reach it.

That changed Monday when the former Northern Arizona runner, who had qualified for the Olympics in July, learned he had been approved to travel to Tokyo in time for the preliminary 5,000-meter race Aug. 3. Because DACA recipients who leave the country typically aren’t allowed to return, the Guatemala native wasn’t sure he could participate.

“He is extremely deserving and is one of the most special people we’ve ever had the chance to work with,” said Jarred Cornfield, NAU’s assistant track and field and cross country coach. Continue reading “A Dreamer’s dream: DACA status almost tripped NAU runner’s Olympic hopes”