Morning Rundown: Friday, Aug. 6.
It's Friday, Aug. 6. Northern Arizona University student Luis Grijalva finished in 12th place today for the men's 5,000-meter final in the Tokyo Olympics. The 22-year-old athlete, who's representing Guatemala, set a national record for his country in the race, according to NAU.
Flagstaff Flooding Recap: Monsoon Activity To Stay Low Over Weekend
Eighty-two homes have sustained interior flood damage so far during the 2021 monsoon season, according to a report released Thursday by Coconino County.
A state law prohibits counties and other government entities from allocating funds toward private property repairs. County officials estimate the damage totals more than $1 million for property owners.
Flood risk will be lower going into the weekend compared to previous monsoon activity; the National Weather Service forecasts little to no chances for precipitation this weekend in Flagstaff, though chances will increase next week.
E. Coli Levels Decline In Oak Creek
The City of Sedona released new data this week displaying a decline in E. coli levels in Oak Creek. The waterway became contaminated on July 23 after city officials say monsoon-induced flooding caused a malfunction in the municipal sewage system. The spill caused E. coli levels that were several times higher than federal limits for safe recreational water use. By Thursday, July 29, however, levels had declined below the state and federal thresholds.
National Forest Mulls Mining Site Cleanup
The Prescott National Forest is requesting input from the public as the forest system considers further action in cleaning two abandoned gold mining sites — the Eugene Mine and Poland Millsite — in the Bradshaw Ranger district.
Department of Environmental Quality data shows area surface water retains high copper levels near the Eugene Mine, which closed in the early 20th century.
Forest officials say the mines hold a combined total of more than 4,500 cubic yards of waste, or 121,500 cubic feet. PNF is mulling several waste elimination options and leaning toward an excavation process that would seal the area with clean soil. The public comment period is slated to close September 12.
In-Person Instruction Ensues On Navajo Nation
Northern Ariz. schools are continuing to navigate COVID-19 prevention as the academic year begins.
The Piñon Unified School District confirmed two positive tests for students in the past week. One infection was reported Friday, July 30; PUSD Superintendent Chris Ostgaard said contact tracing revealed no additional cases. An additional infection was reported Wednesday, Aug. 4. The Navajo Times reports masks are required in the district’s schools.
The Chinle Unified School District, meanwhile, has opened a virtual online academy as an alternative to in-person learning. Superintendent Quincy Natay acknowledged the difficulties young students face in the pandemic in a letter last month.
“I think of our children whose learning and mental wellness have suffered due to the isolation of school closures,” he wrote. “They are perhaps among those who have lost the most.”
Ash Fork District Releases School Reopening Plan
Miles away, the Ash Fork Unified School District released a reopening strategy Thursday after a COVID-19 outbreak prompted a campus closure. Superintendent Seth Staples earlier this week said the district would return Aug. 9.
The plan includes temperature checks and spaced cafeteria sitting; it also urges students to avoid gathering in hallways between classes. The district recommends, but does not require masks. It’s a stance several area districts have taken, including the Flagstaff Unified School District. A state law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey prohibits Ariz. public schools from enforcing mask mandates.
Roadway Funding Slated Between Pinon, Hard Rock
Navajo Nation Council delegate Jimmy Yellowhair joined the tribe’s president and vice president Thursday to sign a resolution approving $19.5 million to pave roads between Pinon and Hard Rock. A report from the tribe estimates more than 64% of roads on Dine land remain unpaved.
Mountain Line To Install Lights For Passengers Waiting On Buses
Flagstaff’s public transit system says it’s installed new motion-sensored lights at several bus shelters on Route 3. Mountain Line officials say the lights will turn on when individuals sit beneath the shelters; the transit system acknowledged Flagstaff’s status as an International Dark Sky City and says more lights are slated for future bus stops to increase visibility for passengers at nighttime.