October 2013

Age Change Leads To Flood Of Female Mormon Missionaries

For many young Mormons, going on a mission is a rite of passage, but most missionaries have traditionally been men. Now, that is changing. Last October, the church lowered its minimum age for female missionaries from 21 years old to 19 years old. The response was instant and enthusiastic.

The response was instant and enthusiastic, and it came from women like Tara Carpenter,  who is about to spend 18 months proselytizing in and around Nashville. Carpenter is smiley, outgoing and young.

Banks Renew Interest In Jumbo Loan Market

The market for luxury home loans is waking up. Banks had been wary of lending big money as the market recovered from an historic recession, but now they have started loosening the purse strings.

Sales of homes costing over $500,000 in the Phoenix market are up 64 percent compared to last year around this time, according to research from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and that demand is driven, in part, because it is easier to get financing for a so-called jumbo loan, said Guaranteed Rate’s Mike Metz.

Yarnell Water And Fire Agencies Struggle To Recover

An Arizona House committee met Tuesday to learn about the benefits paid to survivors of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. It also heard about the difficult recovery facing the town of Yarnell.

The Yarnell Hill fire was so hot some of the town’s water pipes melted, according to a state employee who spoke at the meeting. A skeleton staff at the Yarnell Water Improvement Association is patching hundreds of leaks, and the system is losing 40 percent of the water that gets pumped through.

Judge Rules Against Maricopa County In Medical Marijuana Case

A judge has overturned Maricopa County's zoning ordinance which restricts where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located. 

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon has ruled the 2011 local law was a "transparent attempt" to keep the businesses out of county islands, areas that are outside incorporated cities and towns.

Gordon's ruling is a win for the operators of a dispensary planned for the Sun City area.

Customers Who Received Contaminated Gas Encouraged To Call Western Refining

Western Refining is looking for people whose vehicles may have been damaged by a problem at its refinery in northwestern New Mexico.

Ten gas stations in northern and eastern Arizona got the contaminated fuel, which the company says was the result of a gasket failure that allowed water to leak into a petroleum storage tank near Gallup.

The bad fuel was sold at Mobil, Shell, Maverick and Safeway stations from Flagstaff to the Navajo Nation.

Company spokesman Gary Hanson says the contaminated gas could cause a number of problems.

State Must Decide By Wednesday Whether To Keep Grand Canyon Open

The state has until Wednesday evening to decide whether keeping the Grand Canyon open beyond Friday is worth it.

The park reopened Saturday, after Arizona covered a week’s operating costs.  But the deal spells out that it takes two days to shut the park down. That means the state has to wire another $186,000 to the Parks Service by close of business Wednesday. And it has additional funds, after the town of Tusayan came up with $426,000 in town and private dollars.

Palo Verde Nuclear Plan Seeks Cause Of Leak, How To Fix It

An investigation is underway at the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, west of Phoenix, after workers discovered a small water leak in one of the reactors.  Senior Vice President Bob Bement says the leak is inside a containment building. He says they’re working to determine exactly what caused the leak and the best way to fix it.

“The inspection and the repair will be done remotely,” Bement said. “I’ll bring in a couple of companies to help up that have the remote capabilities to allow us to characterize and repair this flaw.”

US Forest Service Parking Lot Re-Opened For Traffic

A Coconino County sheriff's deputy opened a Forest Service parking lot to traffic Saturday, after a northern Arizona highway got jammed.

The Arizona Daily Sun says The U.S. Forest Service ordered the company that maintains the day use area to close it last week because of the federal government shutdown.

But when Highway 89A through Oak Creek Canyon was blocked in both directions, the deputy opened the gate to clear the highway, otherwise emergency vehicle access would have been blocked.

Former State Lawmaker Dies

A former state lawmaker has died at the age of 88. Manuel ‘Lito’ Peña, who was known as the ‘Godfather of Senate Dems,’ died over the weekend of natural causes. Former state lawmaker Alfredo Gutierrez calls Peña a major force in transforming Arizona.

 “He was a rock,” Gutierrez said. “He was unmalleable and he would fight back. He was quite a character.”

Gutierrez says Peña was a partner with Cesar Chavez in the early years of organizing farm workers. And, he says Peña helped with the initial integration of Latinos into Arizona’s schools in the city of Tolleson.