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FOREST RESTORATION

Arizona forest proposes using fire as tool for restoration

FREDONIA, Ariz. (AP) — Forest officials in northern Arizona have plans to use prescribed fire to help with restoration efforts in an area north of Grand Canyon National Park. The Kaibab National Forest is seeking public comments on a proposed vegetation management project that would span more than 43 square miles. Managers are calling for using prescribed fire and managed wildfires in combination with mechanical thinning to treat the area. Officials say the goal is to make the forest more resilient by creating conditions better able to withstand the effects of climate change and severe wildfire.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ARIZONA

Massive layoffs hit Arizona as virus staggers economy

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona is ramping up its unemployment insurance operations as the coronavirus staggers industries that are key to the state's economy. The state agency overseeing the program saw a 760% increase in new filings last week to nearly 30,000. It is expected to see an exponential increase for the current week as restaurants, bars, resorts and other industries that cater to tourists and the public cut huge numbers of staff. Arizona officials said Friday there are now 666 confirmed coronavirus cases and 13 deaths in the state. There were 64 confirmed cases and just one death a week earlier.

ARIZONA SCHOOLS

Arizona governor OKs bill giving closed schools flexibility

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation that will give the state's K-12 schools added flexibility to deal with shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The measure signed by the Republican governor Friday relaxes rules requiring a minimum number of school days and mandatory testing. Schools are required to switch to online-only instruction or other alternatives after the end of the month and teachers and support staff can work remotely and won't lose pay. A series of other requirements are waived, as are penalties for not meeting school letter grade requirements.

EX-OFFICIAL-ADOPTION FRAUD

Prostitution camp provided women in human smuggling case

PHOENIX (AP) — A co-defendant in a human smuggling operation told police that a prostitution camp in the Marshall Islands provided many of the pregnant women involved in former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen's allegedly illegal adoption business. The Arizona Capitol Times reported that co-defendant Lynwood Jennet told police that majority of the women were from a prostitution camp. Authorities say Jennet is accused of serving as his fixer in the Marshall Islands. Petersen has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Arizona. His lawyer Kurt Altman told The Associated Press that any implication that Petersen knew of or was involved in a prostitution camp is absurd.

INMATE DEATH

Inmate serving life sentence found dead in Florence prison

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — An inmate has died in a state prison in Florence. The Arizona Department of Corrections said in a news release that 47-year-old Samuel Rotondo was found dead Saturday in the Arizona State Prison Complex–Eyman. According to prison staff, Rotondo had committed an “act of self-harm” and was unresponsive in his cell. They tried to revive him before paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Rotondo had been serving a life sentence since 2001 for first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and theft. He was sentenced in Maricopa County. As is routine, his death will be investigated and an autopsy will be performed.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MAIL

Handling mail amid coronavirus: Low risk but wash your hands

Health experts say there's very low risk of catching the coronavirus from handling mail and packages. But they say to avoid touching your face and wash your hands after handling the mail. Those making deliveries are taking steps to try to protect themselves from the virus. They're no longer requiring signatures for packages, wearing gloves, cleaning off common areas at post offices and trying to steer clear of customers. The union for letter carriers says 51 postal employees have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and that nearly 2,000 are in quarantine.

TEEN KILLED-RELATIVE ARRESTED

Tucson police: Man arrested in death of his teenage cousin

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Police in Tucson have arrested a man in connection with the death of his teenage cousin. They say 32-year-old Gerardo Salinas is being held in the Pima County Adult Detention Complex on suspicion of first-degree murder, kidnapping and the abandonment and concealment of a body. Police say the remains of 17-year-old Sofia Hurtado were found at multiple burial sites across Pima County. They say the teen was reported missing March 19 after Salinas picked her up from Mexico, where she lived with her family and took her back to Tucson for a visit. Investigators say they saw what looked like dried blood in Salinas’ home and they came back with a search warrant. Forensic evidence showed a violent crime happened in the home.

ARIZONA REAL ID

Deadline to get AZ Travel ID postponed until October 2021

PHOENIX (AP) — The deadline for Arizona residents to obtain a driver's license or ID that complies with federal law has been pushed back by a year. The Arizona Department of Transportation announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has delayed the deadline until Oct. 1, 2021. The decision was made to help reduce crowds at motor vehicle offices during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Getting an AZ Travel ID must be done in person. Initially, the updated ID that will be required to fly commercially and enter federal facilities would have been enforced starting this October.