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Illegal drug spice leads to a spike in emergency calls

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Spice and its increased, widespread availability in smoke shops has led to a rise in emergency calls in Arizona and around the nation. Spice abuse is not just localized to Arizona; other states such as New York and Maryland have reported this as a national problem, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and other municipalities struggle to combat the addictive effects of the drug. Spice, better known by the street names “K2” or “Black Mamba,” was introduced as a synthetic substitute to marijuana. Spice consists of a blend of herbs sprayed with manmade chemicals. Although the formula for spice varies from brand to brand, most are possible of inducing a long list of dangerous symptoms in users such as hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, vomiting, kidney failure, acute psychosis, tachycardia, stroke and in some cases death. Additionally, the effects...

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Health care not easy for AZ rural women

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Women in rural Arizona, like most women in rural America, run into obstacles as they seek comprehensive healthcare within their communities. The issue is one of access – economic and geographical – and one of comprehensive health care, according to Leah Meyers, director of the Arizona Rural Women’s Health Network. Comprehensive health care necessitates service that meets the needs of women from check-ups to childbirth, and beyond. “I’ve heard so many stories from many women in rural communities who say that it’s one thing to have to get their regular check-ups, but when they’re ready to deliver their baby many times they can’t necessarily stay in their small rural communities,” Meyers said. According to The University of Arizona Center for Rural Health Annual Report 2013-2014, Pinal County had the greatest number of federally qualified rural health centers and rural...

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Elderly more prone to depression, suicide

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The elderly suffers from depression in larger numbers than most other age demographics, making them more likely to commit suicide. Due to Arizona’s large elderly population, keeping aging adults mentally healthy and happy is a growing concern that officials are working to address. According to Census information from 2012, Arizona is fifth on the list of population growth between 2010 and 2012 for adults over 65 years of age. The United States Census Bureau also reports that in 2014, 15.9 percent of Arizona’s population consists of adults 65 years and older. Due to the large number of “Baby Boomers” growing older and entering retirement, and because Arizona is a popular retirement destination, it is projected that by 2025 there will be as many people over the age of 65 as there is under 15 years of age living in the state. Older...

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Brains and Byrne behind the brand

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  ESPN’s College GameDay coming to Tucson marks a rite of passage for University of Arizona athletics. The UA brand is sticking. After years of constructing the university’s reputation, Athletic Director Greg Byrne has hit a landmark with GameDay’s appearance. It part of a long-term strategy to extend the recognition of the Block A around the nation. And by all accounts, he has been wildly successful. A dramatic removal of a head coach and the appointment of a former Big-10 head coach in 2011 kick started the UA brand revolution. When Byrne snagged Rich Rodriguez in 2011, construction for the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility was scheduled to break ground at the beginning of 2012. With a new coach and facility, Byrne was forging the groundwork for progress. The University of Arizona basketball program has held serious weight in the Division 1...

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Organs still needed despite willingness to donate

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At age 15, Nick Korte came home with his driving learner’s permit, nagging his parents for consent to become an organ donor at the first opportunity. Five years years later, on Nov. 9, 2012, he was brain dead in the hospital with a gunshot wound to his head. His persistence to donate became his legacy. “We knew that [organ donation] was something that he wanted,” Caitlin Korte said, recounting the day her family decided to donate Nick’s organs. His death would ultimately go on to help 75 other people through organ and tissue donations. According to Donate Life AZ which handles the organ donor registry for Arizona, about 54 percent of citizens (2.6 million) in the state are registered organ donors, a rate that nearly doubles the national average. Yet life-saving organ donation is still at a premium in...

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Hermosillo redefines Sonoran cuisine

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Roughly 67 miles from the Gulf of California, surrounded by rocky hills and lush greenery sits Hermosillo, Sonoran’s thriving food scene. Visitors walking along the cobblestone streets discover creamy white cathedrals in the distance offset by crumbling buildings strewn with colorful murals and artwork.Busy city streets wind around the center of the city where the air is thick and smells of charred meat and spices. Rotisserie chickens spin on large metal contraptions, colorful fruit line wooden stands, and fresh cheese wheels are sold on the corner. Hermosillo has developed a rich personality that combines a long history of cattle ranching, the desolate Sonoran desert, and strategic agriculture. Progressive chefs and street food vendors have redefined Sonoran cuisine by integrating new techniques and cultural fusions. Sonora is best known for its various cuts of beef, with over 80 percent of...

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Tombstone businesses pin financial hope on cooler times

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Tombstone relies on its tourism to keep itself afloat and while those numbers are continuing to tumble the town may find itself six feet below with nothing left but its history. Or is there hope for the notoriously too tough town? “Dying’s not much of a living is it?” Trolley conductor Lee Mckechnie tells his few guests as they step off his ride and into the dusty road where they had began just 30 minutes ago. It’s 5 p.m. and the hot air doesn’t indicate it will cool down for at least a couple more hours, if not at all. “Slow day for a Saturday,” says Gordon Anderson, owner of Larian Motel, who says he’s usually completely booked on the weekends. A slow summer for Tombstone it has been. The number of visitors this year dropped to 42,549 compared...

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The killer bee man of Bisbee

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We’ve all seen the cartoon. Some loony character, flailing his arms, jumps into the lake to escape a swarm of raging bees. But since Africanized hives are spreading further north into the states, here’s some life advice: Don’t jump in water. “They’ll wait all day for you to come up and breath,” said Reed Booth. Booth (a.k.a. the Killer Bee Guy) is a bee exterminator and owner of killer bee honey shops in Bisbee and Tombstone. He is constantly on call, waiting to respond to multiple law enforcement agencies about bee problems in the area. And it’s a good time for business. Luisa Valencia of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department said that calls about hives and attacks have been unusually high this particular bee season (May through October). All bee calls to the sheriff’s department are directed to Booth....

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Cloud seeding viable option to ward off drought

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Drought threatens Arizona’s future and researchers have their eyes to the sky and their hopes in the clouds. The idea is to boost the Colorado River flow by building snowpack and rainfall by seeding clouds. So far, researchers seem pleased with the results. Water augmentation efforts are not new, and there are multiple options that states can use to increase their amount of drinking water from importing it to the much more expensive desalinization process. “There are so many different ways you can augment the river,” said Tom Ryan, a resource specialist with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California who serves on the board of the North American Weather Modification Council and the Weather Modification Association. But out of all the programs to augment the water supply, none quite captures the imagination like cloud seeding, also known as...

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Tohono O’odham Basketry: One of Sells’ richest preserved traditions

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It can take Terrol Dew Johnson a year to make a basket. There are many reasons for that. He must harvest and prepare the fibers, and then plan the intricate designs that adhere to the rich history of basket weaving in the Tohono O’odham nation. The time that goes into making each basket varies by size and intricacy of the design. Johnson says that a smaller split stitch basket takes him about four hours to make whereas a larger close stitch basket can take up to weeks or even months. The Nation’s culture is revitalized through Johnson’s Tohono O’odham Community Action co-op with the numerous events and workshops it offers. Basket weaving is a large component in Tohono O’odham culture and Johnson, the CEO and president of Tohono O’odham Community Action or TOCA, is a contemporary basket weaver himself....

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Picacho once again hitting its peak

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Picacho Peak is back and booming. More than twice as many hikers, climbers, runners and even average Joes visited Picacho Peak State Park this year than they did last year, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. In its Monthly State Parks Visitation Report, the Office of Tourism claimed that the park had 864 visitors in the month of June, which brought the yearly number of visitors up to 73,685. Only 44,334 people visited the park between January and June of 2014, according to the report. The park closed its gates to the public during the summer months of 2011 – 2014, primarily due to the extreme heat as well as to provide staff to assist the busier parks in the state, according to a 2011 Arizona State Parks’ press release.  The 640-acre state park opened its gates on...

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Game and Fish shining spotlight on poachers

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Needlessly cruel and financially costly, poachers in Arizona can be destructive to both wildlife and the state as well as difficult to track or capture but public education and cell phone availability has led to an increase in tips. There are different actions that fall under poaching in Arizona and depend on the weapons used, the hunting season, licensing and tactics. The basic idea of poaching is explained by Mark Hart, the region five public information officer for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “In the simplest definition it is taking wildlife without a proper license or a permit, that’s illegal take, you also have to take it in season,” Hart said. The executive director of Safari Club International’s Arizona chapter, Bobby Boido, commented on the stance of the club and legitimate hunters during a phone interview. “As a...

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Schools make bank on solar

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Drive down Highway 80 into Tombstone and look to the left. A sprawling yellow school reveals itself and to its left stands a little patch of blue. Solar is shining at Tombstone High. Over the past 10 years, school districts in Arizona have been making the transition to solar energy. One of the early adopters to the solar trend in Southern Arizona was Tombstone High School. The school opened in 2006 and the panels joined the campus in 2012. REC Solar installed the panels as a part of a 12-school program by Arizona Public Service (APS). APS is the electric service provider for 11 of the 15 counties in Arizona. The panels were at no cost to Tombstone High School and the other schools including three in Bisbee and Prescott, two in Globe, and one each in Casa Grande,...

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Flock to Arizona’s fall festivals

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Scorching summer days are coming to end, which means comfortable sunny days are ahead for Arizona residents and tourists. Fall is the perfect season in the desert to get outside and enjoy time with friends and family. Take advantage of all fall has to offer in Arizona at one of these popular festivals. September Festivals Sept. 19. 14th Annual Roasted Chile Festival. Indulge on fresh roasted chiles at the 14th Annual Roasted Chile Festival. The event will feature live music by John Grant & the Guilty Bystanders, an alternative country/ rock band from Tucson, arts and crafts, organic produce and a beer garden. This festival is held in Tucson, Arizona. For more information, visit Sept. 18- 26. 8th Annual Arizona Underground Film Festival. Arizona Underground Film Festival in Tucson showcases independent films from all over the country and from a variety of...

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Rescue rangers ramp up for summer in national parks

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National park rangers in Arizona are preparing for the annual summer surge of slips, trips, falls and rescues. Each year, more than 10 million people visit the 22 national parks, monuments and historic sites in Arizona. And each year, hundreds of those people are rescued. “Prevention is huge,” said Christian Malcolm, who leads the Preventive Search and Rescue program at Grand Canyon National Park. “You want to do everything you can to educate your population.” The most common rescues in Arizona’s national parks involve heat-related illnesses and visitors who are unprepared or unfit, said Kenneth Phillips, the National Park Service-wide coordinator for emergency services, based in Flagstaff. In 2014, national parks around the country responded to 2,658 search-and-rescue incidents, including injuries, illnesses, fatalities, lost visitors, and most of all, people who were unprepared or unfit for the activities they...

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