Category: Cronkite News

New Arizona special license plates feature Coyotes, firefighters, more

Becca Smouse Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 New Arizona special license plates feature Coyotes, firefighters, more Arizona drivers looking to sport some personality on their rides have more options thanks to four new special license plates. The Arizona Coyotes, Midwestern University, U.S. Marine Corps and Firefighter Safety Training join dozens of other organizations and causes with plate designs available through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division. Of the $25 annual price, $17 goes toward a charity of the sponsoring organization’s choice. Proceeds from the Marine Corps plates will help fund scholarships for children of killed or wounded Marines and Navy personnel. “It’s supporting students in your backyard,” said Jeanette Casselano, vice president of advancement for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation . “It’s a great cause.” Casselano said the foundation provided scholarships for roughly 23,000 students nationwide in the past year, 87 of which went to students in Arizona. The Arizona Coyotes join the state’s other major sports teams with special plates, including the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. “It’s something our fans have wanted for a long time,” said Liz Kaplan, executive director of the Arizona Coyotes Foundation. “I think it’s the best thing going because you get to show your Coyote pride and you get to give back.” Proceeds go to the Arizona Coyotes Foundation , which supports organizations benefiting members of the armed forces...

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Court: Cops can be ordered to provide DNA in probe of officer’s death

Tom Blanton Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 Court: Cops can be ordered to provide DNA in probe of officer’s death WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court said Monday that Phoenix police were within their rights to take DNA samples from officers responding to the 2010 shooting death of a fellow officer, Sgt. Sean Drenth, near the State Capitol. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the claims of three officers that forcing them to provide genetic samples violated their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, calling it “hardly unreasonable” to ask for the DNA. The ruling upholds a 2013 district court decision tossing out the officers’ lawsuit. The Phoenix City Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday’s ruling. But an attorney for the officers said he was disappointed in the court’s opinion. “We’re reviewing the decision and considering the next steps,” said Michael Bekesha, an attorney with Judicial Watch, which represented the three officers before the appeals court. The case began on Oct. 18, 2010, when Drenth was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in an empty lot near the State Capitol. A shotgun was across his chest, a second gun near his feet and his service weapon was just beyond the lot, with his patrol car in the center of the lot, according...

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Spring rains boosted Lake Mead, heading off water emergency – for now

Charles McConnell Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 Spring rains boosted Lake Mead, heading off water emergency – for now WASHINGTON – Unusually high rainfall in the Colorado River basin this spring helped boost Lake Mead water levels, averting a possible water emergency that would have triggered cuts in water allocations next year. Officials had warned as recently as June that there was a 33 percent chance of a “Tier 1″ water shortage in 2016, which occurs when the water level in Lake Mead drops below an elevation of 1,075 feet. A Tier 1 declaration would result in a cut of 320,000 acre-feet to Arizona’s share of Colorado River water, about an 11 percent reduction. But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation earlier this month reported that there would not be an emergency declaration. Lake Mead’s elevation was at 1,078.24 feet on Sunday. “In May and June of this past year … we had unusually high rainfall in the basin,” said Tom Buschatzke, the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. He said it was the second-highest level of rain during that period in the past 108 years, trailing only 1983. In addition to dropping the chances of a Tier 1 declaration to zero for 2016, the Bureau of Reclamation lowered predictions for 2017 from the 75 percent chance it was looking at this summer to just 18 percent in the...

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10 years later, Katrina still fresh for Arizonans who responded

Elizabeth Blackburn Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 10 years later, Katrina still fresh for Arizonans who responded 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.” Wiseman was one of hundreds of Arizonans from scores of organizations who went to the Gulf Coast to assist victims of Katrina, or worked with the hundreds more – some officials estimate the number of displaced people in the thousands – who wound up in Arizona in the days and weeks after the storm. When it made landfall around 6 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina had dropped from a Category...

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Arizona high schools forced to seek creative funding solutions for athletics

Tyler Freader Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 Arizona high schools forced to seek creative funding solutions for athletics 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. Harold Slemmer, the executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, says with high school athletics becoming increasingly complex, schools have had to look beyond their traditional athletic funding...

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