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Ben Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

The Flagstaff Eagles girls cross country team claimed the first-place state championship trophy for the fourth consecutive year Saturday morning at the Cave Creek Golf Course.


News
County confirms rabid foxes captured at Country Club and Mars Hill

The two foxes responsible for several attacks in the Country Club and Mars Hill areas early this week have tested positive for rabies, the Coconino County Public Health Services District confirmed Friday.

All individuals involved in the attacks are being treated with post exposure rabies prophylaxis. Two dogs were also bitten. Both pets were current on rabies vaccinations and are being quarantined by their owners for 45 days for observation, CCPHSD reported.

Wandering creatures may look cute and cuddly, but humans should not come into contact with any wild animal under any circumstances – especially if the creature looks sick or wounded – to avoid a swift death or the extensive treatment required when exposed to rabies.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that bats, foxes and skunks are the most common rabies hosts in the state. There were 32 lab confirmed rabies positive animals in Coconino from January through November this year, 25 of which were foxes. Coconino followed Pima and Cochise for total number of cases by county.

The first 11 months of this year have shown a drastic increase in cases compared to previous years. In 2017, there were three cases – including two foxes – while in 2016 and 2015, there were only two cases each year. All four were infected bats. The county has not seen numbers this high since 2009, when the total count reached 35 animals and included 24 foxes.

Across the state, there have been 153 recorded rabid wild animals through this November, with the most cases registered in March and September. Twenty-six humans and 50 domestic animals were exposed to these creatures, but there has not been a recorded human rabies death in Arizona since 1981.

The goal is to keep it that way.

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can kill within days of symptoms appearing. Early symptoms are incredibly similar to those of other illnesses, such as fever, headache and general weakness. Humans can prevent exposure to rabies by avoiding all wild animals when walking, hiking, camping or in other areas where wildlife may be present. Rabid animals often do not show symptoms of rabies before death.

Although foxes are the primary carriers in the region, AZDHS reveals their strain of rabies can be transferred to other mammal species, including pets and livestock. Always keep pets up-to-date with their vaccinations and obey all leash laws.

If any animal is displaying unusual or erratic behaviors, such as aggression, sluggishness or tameness, keep your distance and report the sighting to the CCPHSD Animal Management Program at 928-679-8756 or the City of Flagstaff Animal Control/Flagstaff Police Department at 928-774-1414.

For more information on rabies, visit www.azhealth.gov/rabies.


Ben Shanahan  

Randy walks through downtown Flagstaff in this year's Fourth of July parade. 


Local
Randy Wilson receives the Platt Cline Humanitarian Award

The Arizona Daily Sun’s newsroom is a space filled with windows, and late editor Randy Wilson would offer to close the blinds if he saw the afternoon light was blinding one of his reporters. Nearby sits a whiteboard covered in tally marks:

“Use of ‘mulls' in 2012/13 headlines,” it reads. There are 36 marks and then, clearly, someone stopped counting -- but the use of mulls continued. 

Former reporter Emery Cowan referenced fondness for wordplay in a July article written after Wilson's memorial service.

"Coworkers remembered Wilson's love of puns, his frequent use of the word mulls, and his tradition of handing out a carefully curated selection of used books and magazines upon an employee's departure from the newsroom," Cowan said.

In many ways, it was words -- in the form of journalism and his commitment to it -- that defined Wilson's career, whether it was his time at Wesleyan University or at newspapers in Maryland and Berkeley.

"He was incredibly knowledgeable about so many things," said Marj McClanahan, who sits on the Publisher's Advisory Board for the newspaper. She was one of the voices deciding that this year, Wilson would posthumously receive the Platt Cline Humanitarian Award for Service. 

In addition to knowing him professionally, McClanahan became friends with both Wilson and his wife Lindsay as all three would meet on their frequent walks in the Cherry Hill neighborhood they call home. 

"I'd known Randy for at least 15 years," McClanahan said. "At first he seemed seemed shy and serious, but sometimes when we would stand at the corner near our houses, or wherever, we would just talk and talk and talk. He’s a great conversationalist. A great sense of humor, very thoughtful."

Named after the Sun's former longtime editor, the Platt Cline Humanitarian Award is chosen by former Citizens of the Year. Like the awards for the Daily Sun's Citizens and Organizations of the Year, the Platt Cline designation is chosen by past winners, though there is no nomination process in advance.

Previous recipients include Lucy Walkup and neurosurgeon Nate Avery. 

"It was really quite a unanimous yes to give it to Randy," said Nat White, former vice-mayor and retired astronomer for Lowell Observatory. 

Both White and McClanahan have called Flagstaff home for half a century. White moved here in 1969 and McClananan said she has lived in Flagstaff for 51 years now. 

"I've lived here for 50 years and having seen various editors come and go, I thought Randy was one of the most informed and eclectic in his knowledge of what was going on. For me, he was one of the classic small-town editors, staying out of the limelight but getting into the fabric of the community through his editorials and his reporting, but also being totally informed in terms of the state and national things that were going on."

Whether it concerned Flagstaff history or unexplored trails, former Sun publisher Don Rowley called Wilson an expert.

"He’s one of the smartest people I ever met, period," Rowley said. "Just in terms of raw intellect, he was just phenomenal and probably as widely read as anybody I’ve ever met as well. He just knew a lot about the world and the nation and was somewhat of an expert in terms of Flagstaff and its history.

"He was a real outdoor enthusiast, too, and he seemed to have a propensity for finding places that were sort of out of the way so he could have an experience that wasn’t so pedestrian," Rowley added. 

White, who has been a runner all his life, spoke to Wilson's love for the outdoors as well. 

"I thought he really fit in with Flagstaff as an outdoors town," White said. "He had both the outdoor and the scholastic, and I thought this was just a wonderful combination."

Wilson's outdoors columns, of which there are hundreds, chronicled his adventures -- often with wife Lindsay and dog Skye. 

"If I ever wanted to find a place to go in Oak Creek or to look over the rim of the Grand Canyon, he seemed to know the secret spots," Rowley said. 

Rowley, in his position as publisher (in addition to then-editor Mike Patrick), was one person behind Wilson's promotion from city editor to managing editor, a move that occurred not long after Wilson's hiring.  

"We did a pretty exhaustive search for managing editor. We interviewed people all over the country," Rowley said. "Back then the industry was much more robust and we had a lot of extremely qualified candidates, and we decided we would go with the top local candidate. I think it was a really good decision."

Wilson is also remembered for his work in holding local institutions accountable, even if that meant ruffling some feathers.

"Randy had the respect of all sides, so it’s that respect whether you agree or disagree that Randy tried to achieve," White said. 

"He and Platt Cline were both extremely dedicated to high quality journalism and were pretty adamant in their approach to no-nonsense journalism," Rowley added.

His editorials are referenced frequently and by many as a prime example of his leadership, journalistic integrity and attention to the political and social environs of the world. 

"It's rare to find a managing editor who writes editorials as well as he did and as prolifically as he did. I think his editorials would rival what has been written in major metro papers across the country," Rowley said.

Wilson often returned to topics including the forests and the need to protect them, climate change, and something that Rowley cited as a top priority for him: education.

Wilson incorporated issues in education funding in the state, early development of skills in children and an always critical eye for decisions on education being made by the state legislature. 

This commitment also came through in his time spent leading the Sunday school lessons at the First Congregational Church of Flagstaff, where he and his family have been members for many years. Susannah Carney, a fellow member of the congregation, remembered his teaching skills well. 

"He was the most marvelous storyteller. He would tell a story to the Sunday school children and he would give them an up-to-date story that would match a Bible story in order to illustrate it," she said. 

"He had their rapt attention," Carney added.

At his memorial service, people spoke of Wilson's dry humor -- often dressing up for Halloween or crafting complicated punny headlines. His siblings spoke of their childhood in Pittsburgh, defined by neighborhood games and Wilson's strong sense of leadership, even back then. 

"Randy was so dedicated to Lindsay and Caroline," said McCLanahan of Wilson's wife and daughter whom he is survived by, along with his son in-law Chris Herrington, brother Chad, sister Polly and nieces and nephews alike.

Wilson ran the Polar Bear Plunge every year, handing out certificates to each and every brave swimmer, started the so-called coffee klatches to allow the community to give feedback about the paper, and organized the annual Four-on-the-Fourth run, sending runners racing early in the morning every Fourth of July.

On July 4th of this year, Wilson could be found at the Fourth of July parade, waving to crowds as he walked the streets of downtown Flagstaff. He passed away three days later on one of his many outings in the great outdoors.

"He was just an amazing man who is much missed," Carney said. 

"Randy once said to me: 'I don’t want to tell people how to think, I want to tell people things to consider and then let them draw their own conclusions.' That in journalism nowadays is a real gift and something that we all really, really miss about Randy," McClanahan added.


National
AP
EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday targeted an Obama-era regulation credited with helping dramatically reduce toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, saying the benefits to human health and the environment may not be worth the cost of the regulation.

The 2011 Obama administration rule, called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, led to what electric utilities say was an $18 billion clean-up of mercury and other toxins from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants.

Overall, environmental groups say, federal and state efforts cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 85 percent in roughly the last decade.

Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities and other birth defects in children, among other harm. Coal power plants in this country are the largest single man-made source of mercury pollutants, which enters the food chain through fish and other items that people consume.

A proposal Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency challenges the basis for the Obama regulation. It calculates that the crackdown on mercury and other toxins from coal plants produced only a few million dollars a year in measurable health benefits and was not "appropriate and necessary" — a legal benchmark under the country's landmark Clean Air Act.

The proposal, which now goes up for public comment before final administration approval, would leave the current mercury regulation in place.

However, the EPA said it will seek comment during a 60-day public-review period on whether "we would be obligated to rescind" the Obama-era rule if the agency adopts Friday's finding that the regulation was not appropriate and necessary. Any such change would trigger new rounds in what have already been years of court battles over regulating mercury pollution from coal plants.

Friday's move is the latest by the Trump administration that changes estimates of the costs and payoffs of regulations as part of an overhaul of Obama-era environmental protections.

It's also the administration's latest proposed move on behalf of the U.S. coal industry, which has been struggling in the face of competition from natural gas and other cheaper, cleaner forms of energy. The Trump administration in August proposed an overhaul for another Obama-era regulation that would have prodded electricity providers to get less of their energy from dirtier-burning coal plants.

In a statement, the EPA said Friday the administration was "providing regulatory certainty" by more accurately estimating the costs and benefits of the Obama administration crackdown on mercury and other toxic emissions from smokestacks.

Hal Quinn, head of the National Mining Association, charged in a statement Friday that the Obama administration carried out "perhaps the largest regulatory accounting fraud perpetrated on American consumers" when it calculated that the broad health benefits to Americans would outweigh the cost of equipment upgrades by power providers.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, condemned the Trump administration's move.

The EPA "decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" after the successful clean-up of toxins from the country's coal-plant smokestacks, Carper said.

He and other opponents of the move said the Trump administration was playing with numbers, ignoring what Carper said were clear health, environmental and economic benefits to come up with a bottom line that suited the administration's deregulatory aims.

Janet McCabe, a former air-quality official in the Obama administration's EPA, called the proposal part of "the quiet dismantling of the regulatory framework" for the federal government's environmental protections.

Coming one week into a government shutdown, and in the lull between Christmas and New Year, "this low-key announcement shouldn't fool anyone — it is a big deal, with significant implications," McCabe said.


News
2018 in review
2018 in review: Large developments continue while new city policies provide guidance

This year, Flagstaff saw the construction of one controversial development finish up just as others begin to gain attention. But perhaps more important, the year also saw the city council passing policies governing how the city should shape development, in particular large scale development, into the future, and voters saying no to one potential solution to the issue of affordability. 

The Hub

After development was the subject of a nearly two-year fight that was eventually decided in the courts last year, construction of the Southside student housing complex called the Hub was completed in August.

Construction was finished with just days to spare before the beginning of the fall semester at Northern Arizona University and residents, most of whom are students, moved into the building shortly after.

The 589-bed development also quickly sold out of all 223 on-site parking spots, forcing American Campus Communities, which owns and manages the complex, to offer on-campus parking permits to residents.

Mill Town

Council also approved the zoning changes to the student housing development on Milton Road and on the site of the current Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) facility.

A redesigned Mill Town apartment complex removes ground-floor commercial uses and replaces them with one-bedroom apartments while lowering the overall height of the building.

Before Council approved the plan, they forced developer Vintage Partners to change the project by replacing the bottom floor, which had been planned for commercial, to be apartments rented at 30 percent below market rate for 10 years and to have the height of the building lowered.

The building is part of a multi-stage private public partnership that has the city, the MVD, Harkins Theaters and Vintage Partners working together.

Affordable housing proposition

Despite it being a major issue in Flagstaff, voters in November shot down a proposition designed to help address affordable housing issues.

The measure, which would have provided $25 million in bonding capacity to help address affordable housing, garnered only 48 percent of the vote citywide.

One issue may have been uncertainty among voters as to how the money would be spent -- the proposition was written to be open-ended, allowing for future determinations of how the money would be used.

The Standard

Another large scale student housing complex on West Route 66, known as The Standard, also began construction this year.

The development, which is being built by Landmark Properties, is planned to contain a 660-space parking garage and will have 852 beds. It has also meant the installation of a new streetlight at the intersection of West Route 66 and West Riordan Road.

Earlier this year, The Standard also opened an office on San Francisco Street to provide information to prospective residents.

High Occupancy Housing Plan

Council passed a new high occupancy housing plan to help govern where and how large developments such as the Hub, Mill Town or The Standard should be built.

In some parts of the city, the plan lays out how such developments are not only appropriate but should be encouraged, while in other parts, they should be dissuaded. It also describes how high occupancy buildings should look based off the neighborhood they are built in. 

The city's recently passed climate change plan also has sections focused on large developments, describing how these high occupancy buildings are often more sustainable than single family homes, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation. 

Arrowhead Evictions

This year also saw the eviction of residents of the Arrowhead Village Mobil Home community. The evictions occurred after the land was sold to Kings House Inc. for $2.25 million in 2017.

Adrian Skabelund / Adrian Skabelund 

A wheat paste mural by local artist Chip Thomas depicts three residents of the Arrowhead Village mobile home park who were evicted to make way for future development. Thomas' series of murals demonstrated the power of community and in the end it helped raise $4,450 for the residents via a GoFundMe campaign. 

Kings House has put the land on the market again, asking for $6 million.

For former residents of the village, many of whom had lived there as long as 12 years and were primarily Spanish speakers, relocating was a challenge. Because of this, a number of residents, unable to find affordable housing in other parts of the city, were forced to relocate to other counties, and in at least one case to Mexico.

Development on Butler and Sawmill

A new development is planned by the Houston-based developer Asset Plus Corporation at the intersection of Butler and Sawmill and across from Aspen Place.

At the moment, the land is zoned for light industrial uses and Asset Plus is asking the city to rezone the property. The development is planned to have 238 units and will be marketed towards families rather than students, according to the developer.

Crestview

Council approved the construction of 119 homes off of West Route 66 by the local developer Capstone Homes. At first, the development had been planned to use pre-built homes, but after Capstone told the council they would be able to build homes on site to be sold for similar prices, council changed that requirement.

The development is also being built with 12 homes designated for affordable housing.

McMillan Mesa development

The privately owned portions of McMillian Mesa that were not set aside as green space by voters in 2016 have seen a construction boom throughout 2018. Phoenix-based developer Cavan Companies is building 132 rental bungalow units much like the ones the developer already built on the other side of Pine Cliff Drive.

Canyon Del Rio

After nearly 16 years of planning, development plans for a 270-acre swath of land at the intersection of Butler Avenue and Fourth Street began to get underway this year. Construction on the site, called Canyon Del Rio, could start as soon as 2020 and could include multiple neighborhoods and commercial areas.