Morning Rundown: Tuesday, July 20
It’s Tuesday, July 20. The City of Flagstaff now estimates recent flooding brought on a total of $2.6 million in damages to public infrastructure, along with $1.1 million in damages to private property. Assessments are ongoing; pre-filled sandbags remain available. A 71% chance of rain is on tap today in Flagstaff, according to the National Weather Service.
Forest Restoration Bill Passes Through Senate Committee
Ariz. Sen. Mark Kelly says he’s supporting a congressional bill that would award $20 million to Northern Arizona University to support forest restoration efforts. The legislation, if enacted, would allocate $5.75 billion to wildfire prevention and management. The legislation could also lead to pay increases for firefighters — some of whom make as little as $13 an hour. An additional $8 million would fund transfers of national forest wood to tribal communities to provide fuel for heat. Last week, Kelly voted for the bill, which passed with support through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Statewide Unemployment Showed Slight Rise In June
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Arizona’s unemployment rate hit 6.8% in June 2021 — a slight uptick from 6.7% in previous months. It remains slightly higher than the nationwide rate of 5.9 % in June.
Employment figures have not yet been released by the BLS for individual Arizona cities, though Flagstaff sustained an unemployment rate of 8% in May; in Prescott, 5.9%. Gov. Doug Ducey earlier this month halted national unemployment insurance benefits for residents; he’s defending the move as a method of incentivizing residents to return to the workforce.
Legislative Session Begins On Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation Council kicked off its summer legislative session Monday. Speaker Seth Demon says the council’s highest priorities include bolstering water, infrastructure and broadband access along with waste management.
The council says it’s also aiming to finish building housing units in three Utah chapters. It’s also seeking the approval of funding for a Nahata’ Hogan and Leadership Building in Window Rock for all branches of the tribal government.
President Jonathan Nez issued a State of the Navajo Nation address Monday; he lauded vaccination rates on the Navajo Nation along with the tribe’s gradual reopening.
Council Reports Dog Attack Fatalities On Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation Council is reporting a rise in stray dog aggression and attacks. The Council says six related deaths within the past year, using data from Animal Control Manager Kevin Gleason. A 13-year-old girl died mid-May in Fort Defiance after sustaining injuries from a dog attack, according to the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Individuals can be charged up to $500 on the reservation for vicious animal activity; The Council earlier this year proposed legislation further criminalizing dog attacks. President Jonathan Nez vetoed the measure, saying the council needs legislation that "address the root cause" for stray and dangerous animals.
Mohave County Among AZ Communities Seeing Bump In COVID-19 Cases
Mohave County has allocated the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to several pharmacies this week in Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City. Mohave County health officials reported more than 213 new cases between Friday, July 16 and Monday, July 19. It’s more than double the number of cases recorded by the county over the previous weekend. About 38.4% percent of the county’s population has received a vaccine, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services — falling below the statewide rate of 51.1%.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting high community transmission in five counties including Yavapai, Gila, and Mohave. No Arizona county is currently exhibiting low transmission.
Navajo Police Say Search Continues For Ella Mae Begay
A 62-year-old woman last seen in Sweetwater remains missing after over a month, according to the Navajo Police Department. Ella Mae Begay is 5-foot-1 with brown eyes and light brown hair. Her case was declared a homicide investigation on June 20. The NPD is asking those with relevant information to contact the Shiprock District.