Author: Jessi

They also serve: 4,254 volunteers keep Arizona national parks humming

Renata Cló Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 They also serve: 4,254 volunteers keep Arizona national parks humming WASHINGTON – Sarah Herve’s plan for the dozen volunteers she oversees every season at the Petrified Forest National Park is simple. “My goal is to treat volunteers so well that they don’t want to leave and always want to come back,” said Herve, a park ranger supervisor at the national park near Holbrook where she has been working with volunteers since 2013. Those dozen are among 4,254 people who volunteered at 16 national parks in Arizona last year, donating a total of 204,886 hours to help keep the parks running, according to the National Park Service. It said those volunteer hours included all kinds of tasks, from orienting visitors to maintaining historical collections and monitoring wildlife. Nationwide, 315,000 volunteers worked more than 7 million hours in parks, historic sites, monuments and other sites, according to the park service. It’s not always smooth sailing. The Washington Post reported this week that volunteers at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, stretching from Washington to West Virginia along the Potomac River, have been walking off the job, angry over the way they are treated by paid staff. That does not appear to be the case for volunteers in Arizona, however. Calls to 19 national parks in Arizona seeking comment on the situation led to...

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Arizona’s first malt house saves water and supports local breweries

Corey Hawk Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 Arizona’s first malt house saves water and supports local breweries CAMP VERDE – Zach Hauser, like many farmers in the Verde Valley, takes pride in his land and the crops he grows. Normally this time of year, rows of corn, alfalfa, carrots and watermelon would cover his acreage. But today, two large sections of his property look like a farmer’s worst nightmare: fallow land strewn with dead vegetation and weeds. That’s by design. Hauser swapped out some of his usual thirsty crops – which require flood irrigation from the Verde River during scorching summers – for barley, which uses less water. “Normally on that ground, we’d be planting corn,” Hauser said. “We wouldn’t be planting until the first of May, and we’d use water all summer. With the barley, we’re planting it in late January, early February, and we’re done watering it by the end of May.” Hauser made the change as part of a collaboration between local farmers, investors and the Nature Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit. The group worked with Hauser and Hauser Farms and nearby Speck Farms to swap 144 acres of summer corn for winter barley, and they’re now seeing the fruits of that labor. Sinagua Malt – a malt house built specifically to encourage Verde Valley farmers to plant barley – turns that grain into a key ingredient of...

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Protesters walk out of hearing on rules for holding immigrant youth

Vandana Ravikumar Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 Protesters walk out of hearing on rules for holding immigrant youth WASHINGTON – Immigrant-rights advocates carrying signs and babies walked out of a Senate hearing Tuesday to protest its review of a court ruling that limits the amount of time the government can hold immigrant children in detention. Those limits in the so-called Flores settlement were key to the Trump administration’s decision earlier this year to end its policy of separating families at the border. Protesters said they fear that modifying Flores could lead to indefinite detention for undocumented families, including children who have already sustained trauma from detention. Jorge Silva of the advocacy group Latino Victory was one of those who brought a child to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing . “They’re talking about numbers, but they need to see babies, they need to see parents with their babies in their arms,” said Silva, as he held his 8-month-old daughter, Isabel. “When they talk about beds, and when they talk about numbers, we hope they see that this is what they’re talking about.” The committee grilled officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Justice and the Government Accountability Office on how Flores can be enforced while border security is protected. Senators on both sides of the aisle agreed that family separations cause...

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Court: Bartenders, waiters entitled to higher pay for non-tipped work

Brendan Campbell Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 Court: Bartenders, waiters entitled to higher pay for non-tipped work WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Arizona bars and restaurants cannot pay tipped employees less than minimum wage for doing work that does not directly generate tips, a decision that one attorney called “a game changer.” The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling and was a victory for 14 bartenders and servers who sued nine businesses that they said used the minimum wage exemption to illegally underpay them. But in a dissent, Judge Sandra Ikuta said the majority’s opinion will impose impossible requirements that leave employers open to “unfair and unexpected imposition of staggering liability.” The case centered on a rule defining how much and what type of work can be done that does not directly generate tips before the employer has to pay the minimum wage: When are workers no longer servers or bartenders, but rather dishwashers or janitors? “Today’s decision is an important victory for employees across the country,” said Cliff Bendau, a Phoenix attorney who was part of a team of attorneys representing the workers. They successfully argued that federal law that lets businesses pay less than minimum wage for tipped work cannot be applied to hours a tipped worker performs unrelated jobs – like cleaning – or related...

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