‘Deaths of despair’ grew slowly in Arizona, but still higher than U.S.

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By Miranda Faulkner
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – “Deaths of despair” have grown more slowly in Arizona than in the nation as whole since 2005, but death rates in the state still exceed the nation in every category, according to a recent national survey.

Deaths of despair – the catchall name for deaths from drug overdoses, alcohol and suicide – have seen “alarming” increases across the country since 2005, said the Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance for 2019. Continue reading “‘Deaths of despair’ grew slowly in Arizona, but still higher than U.S.”

Tiny terrors: Mosquitoes in Arizona and how to avoid them

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By Tim Royan
Cronkite News

ARIZONA – Monsoon storms, haboobs, scorching temperatures: Let’s face it, summer in Arizona comes with some big hazards. So it could be easy to forget one of the tiniest perils. Yes, mosquitoes, those buzzing, blood-sucking little demon insects.

The mere mention of the pests is enough to make your skin itch, triggering flashbacks of outings gone awry. But mosquitoes are more than a mere annoyance – they can be deadly.

Worldwide, mosquitoes kill more than 700,000 people a year – more than any other animal by a large margin – by transmitting diseases. Humans, the second deadliest animal, kill more than 400,000 people a year. As for sharks, they kill about six people a year. Continue reading “Tiny terrors: Mosquitoes in Arizona and how to avoid them”

Without federal disaster aid, states must fend for themselves

  • Slug: BC-CNS News21 FEMA Contracts. 2,465 words.
  • 19 photos and captions below.
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By Drew Hutchinson and Bailey Lewis
News21

BONDURANT, Wyo. – Marlene “Lanie” Beebe stood in slippers, surrounded by scorched trees. A long gravel road led to rubble: shards of pottery, doll heads and a blackened metal chair. That’s where her neighbor, Nikki Cowley, said she found Beebe one day, among the remnants of 20 years in her home.

The next morning, Cowley saw Beebe, 74, at the end of the gravel road, hand-sifting through her shattered treasures. Small fires still burned around her.

Beebe and Cowley’s homes were two of 55 residences in Hoback Ranches in western Wyoming that burned in the September 2018 Roosevelt Fire. Some homeowners were uninsured. None received individual financial help from the state or Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many have started rebuilding by hand. Continue reading “Without federal disaster aid, states must fend for themselves”

Rosie the Riveter 2.0: Welding, wielding power in male-dominated industry

  • Slug: BC-CNS Women Welder. 1,130 words.
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By Thalia M. España
Cronkite News

GOODYEAR – Rachel Miller’s chestnut hair is tied up in a ponytail that slides halfway down her back. She’s wearing steel-toe boots that are ripped at the seams and a plaid button-up over a gray T-shirt. Her clothing reflects a gap in women’s wear, where trade uniforms are rarely made for them.

Through safety glasses, Miller surveys her workplace, a warehouse next to the Goodyear Airport.

She’s a welder, and she’s ready for the day.

Miller is a modern-day Rosie the Riveter, who became the face of thousands of American women who worked defense-industry jobs so that men could fight World War II. Miller, too, is doing a job that’s mostly done by men. Continue reading “Rosie the Riveter 2.0: Welding, wielding power in male-dominated industry”

Developments in disaster-prone areas mean big bucks for builders but can put homeowners at risk

  • Slug: BC-CNS News21 Building. 2,925 words.
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By Anna Huntsman and Jake Steinberg
News21

ELFIN FOREST, Calif. – Elfin Forest is named for the miniature trees that blanket the surrounding ridgeline. The terrain acts like a wall, which has until recently prevented suburban San Diego from sprawling into the bucolic valley.

The town, home to 800 people and 300 horses, bills itself as “A Rural Community.” It’s accessed by a single winding two-lane road. When the valley catches fire, as it does periodically, that road is the only escape route. Residents will soon share it with 700 new neighbors.

“We’re already at maximum density when it comes to evacuation,” said JP Theberge, chairman of the Town Council. “This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.” Continue reading “Developments in disaster-prone areas mean big bucks for builders but can put homeowners at risk”

Resource centers nourish parents, young children with food and education

  • Slug: BC-CNS Child Development Centers. 1,015 words.
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By Abbagail Leon
Cronkite News

PHOENIX - Jessica Sauter moved from San Diego to Phoenix in November, and like many young mothers, she searched for ways to keep her 3-year-old occupied. She and Bodey spent many days at the park until a neighbor told her about the Creighton Family Resource Center.

“It’s an amazing experience,” Sauter said.

Mom and son regularly make it to the resource center. Some of her afternoons are spent in parenting classes and others in arts and crafts with her son.

Food pantry. Parenting classes. Tiny library. Reading skills for preschoolers and other children. Maricopa County has more than 30 family resource centers, from Buckeye to Chandler, that offer services to children, parents and guardians. Continue reading “Resource centers nourish parents, young children with food and education”

Wildfire-vulnerable communities search for ways to live with growing threat

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Emergency Wildfires, 2,070 words.
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By Anton L. Delgado and Dustin Patar
News21

SHINGLETOWN, Calif. – Unless it’s Sunday, Kelly Loew is steering her rusty-red Jeep down the same mail route in Shingletown, as she has six days a week for the last seven years. But she delivers less mail these days as California’s persistent wildfires drive residents away.

Last year, California experienced its deadliest and most destructive wildfire season. Shingletown, nicknamed Little Paradise, is one of the state’s most wildfire-vulnerable communities.

Despite the National Interagency Fire Center recording federal fire suppression costs quadrupling since 1989, the damage caused by wildfires has increased fivefold.

“The fear is palpable,” Loew said. “When I drive home through my neighborhood, I see tinderboxes everywhere.” Continue reading “Wildfire-vulnerable communities search for ways to live with growing threat”

Out of sight is out of mind: Small communities across U.S. struggle in shadow of larger disasters

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By Justine Coleman and Isaac Windes
News21

OSO, Wash. — Katrina. Sandy. Harvey. Maria.

Each was a disaster of shattering magnitude, battering America’s shores over the past two decades.

But between these pivotal storms lie hundreds of smaller disasters that garner a fraction of the national attention and the billions of federal dollars that accompany them.

A News21 analysis of Federal Emergency Management Agency data shows those smaller disasters accounted for more than 60 percent of all federally declared disasters between 2003 and 2018. Yet they received at least $57.3 billion less in public assistance from FEMA. Continue reading “Out of sight is out of mind: Small communities across U.S. struggle in shadow of larger disasters”

Monsoon madness: You say dust storm, I say haboob

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By Tim Royan
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The monsoon thunderstorms have finally arrived after a delayed start to the season, and with them comes the familiar (or if you’re new in town, terrifying and apocalyptic) dust storms also called haboobs. These fast-moving leviathan walls of dust can quickly transform the streets into a scene ripped from a Mad Max movie, make you regret yesterday’s car wash and may even spread the nasty fungal infection known as Valley fever.

Whether you’re new transplant or a long-time resident of metro Phoenix, you may wonder how haboobs got their name (or vociferously defend calling them dust storms), what causes them or how you can steer clear of their dusty wrath.

Scroll through our guide to get your answers. Continue reading “Monsoon madness: You say dust storm, I say haboob”

Vulnerable communities adapting to ever-present threat of wildfires

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By Anton L. Delgado
News21

PINETOP-LAKESIDE – Learning to live fire-wise is a cause for celebration in areas that are vulnerable to wildfires. Especially in this White Mountains community, which is becoming one of the country’s next fire-adapted communities.

Bounce houses, barbecues and face-painting are hallmarks of the annual White Mountains Communities Firewise Block Party. But this year, the party included presentations from the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire program, or CPAW, which is funded by the U.S. Forest Service and private foundations.

The program works to make communities in the wildland-urban interface “fire-adapted” through fire-safety training, land-use planning, hazard assessments and wildfire risk trends. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group defines a fire-adapted community as one “consisting of informed and prepared citizens collaboratively planning and taking action to safely coexist with wildland fire.” Continue reading “Vulnerable communities adapting to ever-present threat of wildfires”

Tolleson opens new high school with state facilities funds

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By Abbagail Leon
Cronkite News

PHOENIX- The Arizona School Facilities Board helps fund new school buildings and renovations in Arizona to relieve outdated and overcrowded classrooms throughout the state.

Since 2000, the board has used their funds to help build more than 320 new schools, according to Kerry Campbell, the deputy director of operations for the board.

The board budgeted $80 million for building renewals and $75 million for new school facilities for fiscal year 2020.

Continue reading “Tolleson opens new high school with state facilities funds”

Native American history in Washington – it’s more than just a museum

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By Julian Paras
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Washington is full of popular tourist sites that are monuments to American history, from the White House to the Capitol, from Arlington National Cemetery to Congressional Cemetery.

And, with a little more exploring, visitors can learn that all those sites are monuments to Native American history as well.

The National Museum of the American Indian may be the first – and possibly only – site that comes up with an internet search for “Native American landmarks” in Washington. But a new app opens the door to a range of other sites. Continue reading “Native American history in Washington – it’s more than just a museum”

‘Large and in charge’ drag queen inspires youth, other queens of color

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By Jessie Jo Pauley
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Neon strobes flash as the eager crowd hollers and holds their drinks aloft. Music blares from the speakers as the emcee announces Rosie Cheeks, who strides onstage in high heels and a wide, black cape, ready to reveal her sparkling jumpsuit to her fans.

Before Rosie Cheeks can strut her stuff, Steven Juniel takes hours transforming himself through makeup, wardrobe and glitter. Lots of glitter.

Juniel, an up-and-coming drag queen in Arizona, self-described as “large and in charge,” said he wants to represent queens of color and those of different sizes. Continue reading “‘Large and in charge’ drag queen inspires youth, other queens of color”

Taliesin West added to World Heritage List after 15-year wait

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By Melissa Robbins
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – The slanted roofs of Taliesin West mimic nearby ridgelines in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Its massive stone walls, long and low-slung, almost blend into the surrounding desert.

Legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright began construction on Taliesin West, meant to be his winter home, in 1937. His vision was to create a structure that reflected the expansiveness of the Sonoran Desert.

Eight decades later, the complex and seven other landmarks designed by Wright have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The designation, which was announced July 7 during a ceremony in Azerbaijan, places the collection of Wright buildings alongside the Great Wall of China, the Pyramid Fields of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the ruins of Pompeii and other sites that are “irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration” for the whole world and must be protected for future generations, UNESCO said. Continue reading “Taliesin West added to World Heritage List after 15-year wait”

How Arizona’s outdoor workers stay safe in the swelter

  • Slug: BC-CNS Outdoor Heat Relief. 395 words.
  • 7 photos and captions below.
  • Video by Taniyah Williamson here.

By Elly Lundberg and Taniyah Williamson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Avoiding hot summer temperatures is impossible for Arizonans who make their living beneath the scorching sun. Earlier this month, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, introduced a bill that would establish a federal safety standard for workers who labor in the heat, both inside and outdoors.

The bill is named after Asunción Valdivia, a California farmworker who died in 2004 after picking grapes on a 10-hour shift in 105-degree heat.

If adopted, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would limit the amount of time workers are exposed to high heat and require those workers be given paid breaks to cool down and drink water. Continue reading “How Arizona’s outdoor workers stay safe in the swelter”

Childhelp center places help for abused children under one roof

  • Slug: BC-CNS Childhelp Center. 380 words.
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By Jessie Jo Pauley
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Teddy bears, toy cars and clouds painted on sky-blue ceilings surround the small survivors of abuse and neglect.

A child-abuse center in Phoenix places everyone crucial to helping these children – police officers, prosecutors, mental-health counselors and medical-services employees – in one place, so survivors can avoid the trauma of going to multiple locations and enduring multiple interviews.

“This child’s being victimized and traumatized over and over again. They’re thinking, ‘Let’s get the bad guy,’ which is, of course, what we want, but the child’s needs aren’t being met, so a center like this, that’s the purpose, to meet the victim’s needs,” said Shefali Gandhi, clinical director of the Childhelp Children’s Center of Arizona Dedicated to Linda Pope.

Ghandi said child survivors who have to tell their story over and over again also risk being discredited, because some details of their abuse can naturally change from one retelling to another. Continue reading “Childhelp center places help for abused children under one roof”

Goofball: Dangerous drug combination increases likelihood of opioid overdoses

  • Slug: BC-CNS Goofball Dangers. 650 words.
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By Gabriella Khalaj
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – Drugs have been a part of half of Perie Prickett’s life, and she’s only 24. In addition to those 12 lost years, drugs have stolen most of the experiences and memories that come with adolescence and early adulthood.

It started with peer pressure, wanting to fit in and be accepted by classmates. Drugs gave her the confidence she didn’t have.

“It takes you out of your norm and helped me to open up in a way I thought I couldn’t,” Prickett said.

She went from being involved in such activities as dance, acting and theater to smoking marijuana regularly. Two years later, at 14, she tried heroin.

“Once that addiction set in, my social life went out the window and my hobbies and my dreams my aspirations – everything was gone,” Prickett said. Continue reading “Goofball: Dangerous drug combination increases likelihood of opioid overdoses”

Syringe program for addicts operates in legal gray area as debate continues

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EDS: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect hometown for state Rep. Tony Rivero in the seventh graf. The Republican lawmaker is from Peoria. The story below has been corrected, but clients who used the previous version are asked to run the correction that can be found here.

By Taniyah Williamson and Tanner Puckett
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – While the debate around laws that would allow clean needle exchange programs to operate legally in Arizona continues, one organization continues working in a legal gray area to help stop the spread of disease.

Shot in the Dark is a nonprofit that provides drug users with clean needles, educational materials, treatment referrals and more. The organization is operated by those who have seen the impact of opioid abuse on communities.

Volunteer Jonathan Martinez said Shot in the Dark is intent on helping addicts manage their drug habit in a safer way. Continue reading “Syringe program for addicts operates in legal gray area as debate continues”

‘We need to live our values every day’: Warren’s Tempe town hall spotlights immigration reform

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By Tanner Puckett
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren lashed out at the Trump administration’s immigration policies Thursday night, telling a town hall crowd of 3,500 that “while Donald Trump may be willing to look the other way, President Warren will not.”

The Massachusetts senator took the stage at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe to the music of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” a working-class anthem that has been the theme of her campaign since she announced her candidacy Feb. 9. The song echoes the details of the progressive agenda found on her campaign site, with one header reading “Rebuild the middle class.”

“This administration has cut down on the number of people who can be here legally,” Warren said. “That’s keeping families separated for months, for years. That does not make us stronger, that does not promote our economy, and it is not consistent with our values. We need to expand legal immigration.” Continue reading “‘We need to live our values every day’: Warren’s Tempe town hall spotlights immigration reform”

Senate GOP steamrolls Democrats, gets immigration bill out of committee

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By Miranda Faulkner
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee pushed through a Republican-backed asylum reform bill on a party-line vote Thursday over the strident objections of Democrats, who were blocked from offering amendments to it.

The Secure and Protect Act of 2019 would force migrants to apply for asylum at new facilities outside the U.S., increase the number of days immigrant children can be held in detention and add 500 new immigration judges, among other changes.

Democrats blasted Sen. Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman, whom they accused of breaking committee and Senate rules when he ignored more than 100 proposed amendments to the bill, leaving the panel as what one called little more than a “Donald Trump Committee.” Continue reading “Senate GOP steamrolls Democrats, gets immigration bill out of committee”