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Valley & State

  • Judge: MCSO staff to get corrected on Arpaio case

    PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to immediately issue a statement correcting mischaracterizations his staff made about court findings in a racial-profiling case, according to court documents filed Thursday. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow said a new summary of key findings would be given to employees in Arpaio's office without the sheriff's signature of approval. Snow last year concluded Arpaio's office systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols. Arpaio has appealed the ruling. The judge said he could no longer wait for Arpaio to help write a corrective statement. "The misinformation, misunderstanding, and confusion caused by the inaccurate statements and inappropriate training that has occurred throughout the MCSO cannot wait until such future training or briefing may be approved and implemented to be corrected," Snow wrote. "They require immediate attention." Arpaio said Thursday he has already directed all personnel to read the seven-page statement. He said "the court should have every confidence that I will direct this activity to its timely completion." In the past month, two sheriff's officials admitted to erroneously summarizing Snow's findings. Deputy Chief David Trombi was summoned by Snow after a video showed Trombi making several misstatements at a March 15 community meeting, such as saying the judge found deputies had detained Hispanic drivers 14 seconds longer than non-Hispanics. Trombi also said that Snow based his court findings on the fact that only two sheriff's deputies used race as a factor in determining whether to arrest someone. Snow last month chided Arpaio and Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan for similar errors. Arpaio and Sheridan had initially agreed to join with the plaintiffs in the case to draft a document accurately correcting all the misstatements. However, in court documents, Snow says the sheriff backed off signing the statement because of subsequent news coverage. In addition, Arpaio said he would only give signed approval if certain changes were made, according to Snow. The judge said Arpaio submitted changes he wanted but past a court-mandated deadline to get approval from the court and the plaintiffs. However, Arpaio said he was satisfied that the statement was being issued without his signature. "The court previously requested my signature to be part of this statement, which I opposed. So I am pleased that today the court recognized my position on the matter and my signature will be not a part of this statement," Arpaio said. The judge ordered that all Marciopa County Sheriff's Office personnel, including volunteer posse members, read the summary within the next two weeks. Employees then must sign a form stating that they read and understand the summary. The Sheriff's Office will provide copies of the forms to a court-appointed monitor who is also tasked with overseeing new training. Under Snow's ruling, Arpaio's office is required to install video cameras in hundreds of patrol vehicles, set up a seven-person team of sheriff's employees to help implement the judge's orders, and carry out additional training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops. Snow also ordered all Sheriff's Office command staff with a ranking of sergeant or higher to read the judge's initial 142-page order outlining the findings of the case. They will also have to sign a form stating that they read and understood it. The monitor will verify everyone's compliance, even if it means questioning Marciopa County Sheriff's Office personnel, Snow said. Snow set a status conference in the case for May 7. He said if this order has still not been fully implemented, he may require Arpaio to appear for questioning.

  • House backs expanded race-wagering

    PHOENIX -- Arizonans may soon be able to bet on horse and dog racing without ever going to the track.The state House voted 48-9 Thursday for a series of changes in laws on racing. Potentially the most significant part of SB 1282 would allow "advance deposit wagering,'' where those who want to bet on either the live races at the track or the races from other states televised in to have money on deposit and be able to call in and place their bets. The Senate already has approved a similar version of the measure.Rep. Sally Gonzales, D-Tucson, voted against the measure, objecting to the fact the legislation would allow people to wager with credit cards. "I don't know that we need to go there,'' she said.The House-revised version now needs Senate approval before going to the governor.Legislators, who are near wrapping up their current session, addressed several other issues, while Brewer was vetoing and approving bills. Among the items acted upon Thursday were:Revenge porn

  • Arizona House backs Medicaid benefits limit

    PHOENIX -- More than 140,000 of the state's long-term unemployed could eventually find themselves without health insurance.The state House Thursday gave final approval to legislation designed to pave the way for a five-year lifetime limit on Medicaid benefits. HB 2367 also would require those who are still eligible to be employed, looking for work or in a job-training program. There's a catch of sorts, though: Federal Medicaid regulations currently do not allow such limits.But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which funds the majority of Medicaid costs, does allow states to seek waivers to find more cost-effective ways of providing care. This legislation requires state officials to seek those waivers, not just this year but every year from now on.The measure was crafted by House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden. Tobin was a foe of the decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to take advantage of the federal Affordable Care Act, which allows states to expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs to those up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That is $26,951 for a family of three.Brewer prevailed, over the objections of Tobin and most Republicans.Tobin, who also is running for Congress, said his legislation would help control future costs. Tobin said while the federal government is picking up virtually all costs of the expansion from current limits of the federal poverty level, that won't last forever. And that, he said, means the state needs to start looking now for ways to trim the price tag.

Nation/World

  • Couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    NASHPORT, Ohio (AP) — A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage died 15 hours apart. Helen Felumlee, of Nashport, died at 92 April 12. Her husband, 91-year-old Kenneth Felumlee, died the next morning. The couple's eight children say the two had been inseparable since meeting as teenagers, once sharing the bottom of a bunk bed on a ferry rather than sleeping one night apart, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported (http://ohne.ws/1in7erG). They remained deeply in love until the very end, even eating breakfast together while holding hands, said their daughter, Linda Cody. "We knew when one went, the other was going to go," she said. According to Cody, about 12 hours after Helen died, Kenneth looked at his children and said, "Mom's dead." He quickly began to fade and was surrounded by 24 of his closest family members and friends when he died the next morning. "He was ready," Cody said. "He just didn't want to leave her here by herself." Son Dick Felumlee said his parents died of old age, surrounded by family. "At Dad's bed we were singing his favorite hymns, reading scriptures and praying with him," he told The Associated Press in an email. "It was a going away party, and we know he loved it." The pair had known each other for several years when they eloped in Newport, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, on Feb. 20, 1944. At two days shy of his 21st birthday, Kenneth — who went by Kenny — was too young to marry in Ohio. "He couldn't wait," son Jim Felumlee said. Kenneth worked as a railroad car inspector and mechanic before becoming a mail carrier for the Nashport Post Office. He was active in his Nashport-Irville United Methodist Church as a Sunday school teacher. Helen stayed at home, not only cooking and cleaning for her own family but also for other families in need in the area. She taught Sunday school, too, but was known more for her greeting card ministry, sending cards for birthdays, sympathy and the holidays to everyone in her community, each with a personal note inside. "She kept Hallmark in business," daughter-in-law Debbie Felumlee joked. When Kenneth retired in 1983 and the children began to leave the house, the Felumlees began to explore their love of travel, visiting almost all 50 states by bus. "He didn't want to fly anywhere because you couldn't see anything as you were going," Jim Felumlee said. Although both experienced declining health in recent years, Cody said, each tried to stay strong for the other. "That's what kept them going," she said.

  • Woman says beau stole her dog, TV on 1st date

    DOVER, N.J. (AP) — No stolen hearts on this first date. Instead, a New Jersey woman says a man she met on a dating website stole her dog and her flat-screen TV. Dover police tell the Daily Record of Parsippany (http://dailyre.co/1f8Kwz4) that the pair went out for the first time Thursday night. After returning home, the woman said she became occupied in another room, leaving the man alone. When she returned, he was gone — and so were her Yorkshire Terrier named Violet and her TV valued at $3,000. The woman says her dog was worth $4,000. The woman says she knew her date only as Joel and believes he lives in Elizabeth. Sgt. Richard Gonzalez says police are searching for the man and dog and are checking other locations the short-lived couple visited.

  • Unemployment rates fall in 21 US states last month

    WASHINGTON (AP) — More than two-thirds of the states reported job gains in March, as hiring has improved for much of the country during what has been a sluggish but sustained 4 1/2-year recovery. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates dropped in 21 states, rose in 17 and were unchanged in the remaining 12. Meanwhile, hiring increased in 34 states and fell in 16. The unemployment rate varies from as low as 2.6 percent in North Dakota to as much as 8.7 percent in Rhode Island. South Carolina has experienced the sharpest rate decline over 12 months to 5.5 percent from 8 percent. The rate nationwide stayed at 6.7 percent in March for the second straight month. That national rate stayed flat because someone was hired for almost every person who entered the job market last month. Employers added 192,000 jobs nationwide in March, close to the average monthly gains of the past two years. Ohio experienced the largest month-to-month drop in its unemployment rate: 0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent. That steep drop occurred because the state added 12,000 jobs last month, while the total number of people in its job market fell 11,200 to 5.75 million. Unemployment rates can fall when people leave the job market, as well as when employers hire. North Carolina reported the second largest year-over-year drop in the unemployment rate: a 2.2 percentage point decrease to 6.3 percent. Part of that decline came from the loss unemployment benefits for jobless workers. Because those workers needed to look for jobs in order to receive benefits, the loss of the jobless aid likely caused them to give up their hunts and no longer be counted as unemployed. Several states continue to lag the gains made across the country. Unemployment remains elevated in Nevada (8.5 percent), Illinois (8.4 percent), California (8.1 percent) and Kentucky (7.9 percent).

Featured columns

  • OPINION: ‘Great progress’ made in mining dispute

    Late last year, the Town of Youngtown and the Agua Fria Ranch Homeowners’ Association signed a settlement agreement with Salt River Materials Group and Olive Avenue, LLC.Olive Avenue, LLC is the owner of approximately 240 acres of property immediately adjacent to and west of Agua Fria Ranch. SRMG is the developer and operator of a sand and gravel operation located on the property.As part of the agreement, Youngtown and AFR voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit in Superior Court without prejudice. They also withdrew their appeal of SRMG’s permit before the board of directors of the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. As it turns out, both the town and the HOA spent far less than anticipated and budgeted during the legal process.The settlement agreement contained serious and significant mitigation requirements. Since then, great progress has been made on the implementation of those mitigation requirements:• Construction of a 10-foot high earthen berm, along the AFR Parkway, has been completed. This berm will act as an auditory and visual screen protecting the town. A decorative composite fence, at the foot of the berm, all along Agua Fria Parkway, has been completed. A three-wire fence tops the berm and acts as a deterrent to trespassers and off-road vehicles. Vegetation of the east face of the berm, along AFR Parkway, is scheduled to begin soon. The town is cooperating with SRMG to help find water and electricity to facilitate irrigation for the berm landscaping.• SRMG’s engineering consultant has performed additional Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System modeling as it pertains to the north entrance of AFR’s drainage channel. SRMG’s permit with the flood control district has been modified and the earthen berm has been extended approximately 100 feet north to the northern property line of the site. This will help push rainwater back into the river channel and prevent rainwater run-off from being diverted into the Agua Fria Ranch community.

  • Master Gardener’s Mailbox: Watering guide

    Q: I have all trees on the same irrigation circuit, including citrus. I strike a compromise of watering the trees every three to five days based on season. Would it be better for me to cap off the irrigation to the citrus trees and deep water them less frequently using a hose? — Patricia Wagner, Sun City WestA: I have found deep watering is better than a sprinkling, for all mature trees. With this being said, if you are diligent about watering and do not forget to give your citrus its well-deserved soaking, then I would believe that this would be better than the hour or so of irrigation it may get. Depending on the size of your citrus, will depend on how deep you should water it and how many gallons of water it will take to wet the root zone. The best way to ensure deep watering is to set your hose on a slow drip overnight. Your tree will be healthiest if you completely wet the root zone each time you water. A good way to test how deep you have watered is to use a soil probe.  If you do not have one available to you, a sharpened piece of rebar, or a very long screwdriver will work. About an hour after watering, push the probe into the soil. It should easily go down into the wet soil about 2 to 3 inches. This is the recommended depth for mature trees. Basin irrigation is often the easiest for a homeowner. Construct a 4- to 8-inch high mound around the tree that is at least as large as the tree canopy. Since the roots actually extend beyond the canopy, a basin that extends about one foot past the canopy is preferred. Then fill the basin as the tree needs water. Water can touch the tree trunk safely if the trunk is not damaged, and if the tree is not planted too deeply. The first sign of water stress in a citrus tree is leaf curling. Citrus should be irrigated every seven to 28 days depending on season and soil type. Citrus will often bloom about one month after being drought-stressed, if allowed to recover. Therefore, if your tree blooms abnormally in September or October, it is safe to assume that the tree has been water stressed during the summer.Mulches are one of the best ways to conserve irrigation water, maintaining soil moisture within the root zone. Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch under the plant canopy.Mulch can consist of pine needles, leaves, bark, wood chips, straw, compost or any other organic materials. Mulch should be kept from direct contact with the trunk and should be extended as the plant grows. A good cover of mulch will help to control weeds under the tree canopy, as well as reduce water evaporation. Trees that are mulched can be irrigated less frequently than those that are not mulched. Mulches also lower soil temperature, allowing for better root growth, and will eventually decompose and add valuable organic matter to the soil. Soils should always be allowed to dry out to a depth of about 6 inches before the next irrigation. This will limit the problem of soil-borne disease.Melissa Stull of Litchfield Park is a member of the International Society of Arboriculture for the Western Chapter, a member of the Arboricultural Research & Education Academy, and a Maricopa County Master Gardener through the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. Stull and her husband have owned a landscape company for the past 12 years and with continuing education, she is constantly growing with new ideas and ways to help our environment.

  • Find C.L.U.E. before buying house

    We all know about the standard safeguards that are supposed protect you when buying a home, like the seller’s disclosure form and home inspections.But a tool you may not know about is the comprehensive loss underwriting exchange, or C.L.U.E. report (https://personalreports.lexisnexis.com/fact_act_claims_bundle/landing.jsp).It’s like CarFax for your house.  And while it may not give you an exact history of the home you want to buy, it can give you a good idea of what questions to ask.The report includes information about any insurance claims on a house and description of what was covered for the last seven years.For example, if a claim was paid out for a flood, you might want have your inspector concentrate on mold issues.

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