KJZZ 91.5 FM, Phoenix's NPR member station

Most of these stories were published during my internship with KJZZ from August 2018 - August 2019. I covered spot news and wrote, voiced and produced hundreds of stories on tight deadlines during my tenure. I was also their first intern to publish a five-minute feature story in their Untold Arizona series.

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Phoenix 911 Dispatchers Face Trauma, PTSD — But Aren't Classified As First Responders

Recent efforts to reclassify 911 operators and dispatchers as first responders federally are stalled. Those who work in the Phoenix alarm room, like Maria Abeyta, may not see trauma like police officers and firefighters, but they hear it. After her break, Abeyta sits down in her chair in front of seven glowing computer screens, two keyboards and mice. She plugs her headset in and slides it through her hair. The police radio chatter starts to filter in. “10-4 shots fired … white male had a gun

NAU Shipping Wood Chips To South Korea To Help With Wildfire Prevention

Northern Arizona University has worked with multiple agencies for the past year to ship wood chips to South Korea. The process starts Wednesday, and it will help forest restoration efforts, prevent wildfires and bring in income to the state. Low-value wood, often in chips, costs Flagstaff about $40 per ton to transport to Phoenix, according to Han-Sup Han, a director at the Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU. He says that in Arizona, that’s more than it’s worth. “South Korea is a small co

Yavapai County Proposes Property Tax Increase To Ease Crowded Jail, Pension Debt

With a crowded jail and creeping pension debt, Yavapai County’s Board of Supervisors is proposing a 3% property tax increase to alleviate financial stress. The county has worked to divert potential inmates from jail by addressing mental health concerns. That’s according to Phil Bourdon, county administrator. He said if it weren’t for the sheriff’s department’s efforts, the county jail would have been at capacity years ago. The tax increase would help fund a new criminal justice center in Presco

Light Rail 'Respect The Ride' Staffers Aim To Boost Rider Experience

Valley Metro riders are being greeted with ambassadors at light rail stations. The staffers are part of the transit agency’s “Respect the Ride” program designed to boost rider experience. The employees are called “Customer Experience Coordinators,” or CECs, and is a response to rider safety complaints on light rail. Susan Tierney with Valley Metro said complaints have decreased by 40% since rolling out the “Respect the Ride” program. “It's someone that can help you out if you need help with fa

University Of Arizona Researchers Using Ancient Plankton To Predict Future Climate

Two to 5 million years ago, oceans were 50 feet higher, icecaps were smaller and CO2 levels were about the same as today during Pliocene epoch. Researchers at the University of Arizona are using ancient plankton to help predict climate in the near future. It took more than 2 million years for CO2 levels from the Pliocene epoch to naturally decline from 400 to 180 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. Now just about 150 years later, CO2 levels are back up to their Pliocene heights.

APS CEO Agrees To Appear In Front Of Arizona Corporation Commission

Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt has agreed to appear in front of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Justin Olson, a member of the commission, says he wants more information about the 72-year-old woman who died in her home after APS turned her power off for being about $50 short on her bill. “That's a very important question that I want to understand. Is there a threshold that APS has in place for disconnection? I know other utilities have a $300 threshold? Is there a threshold in place

Section Of Arizona State Route 88 Still Closed Due To Flood Risk

A 7-mile stretch of Arizona State Route 88 remains closed due to a flood risk related to the Woodbury Fire. That area is from several miles east of Tortilla Flat to just west of Apache Lake Marina turn-off. Due to run-off and debris flows that could be much more intense after a wildfire, there's a possibility of flash flooding from monsoon storms," said Caroline Carpenter, with the Arizona Department of Transportation. Carpenter says the Apache Lake Marina is still accessible from State Route

New Trail In The Works At Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

From 2015-2017, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area saw an 83% increase in visitors. Lake Powell used to be the most popular attraction, but in the past few years, visitation to the area’s land has skyrocketed, with nearly half of the 4.3 million visitors per year visiting Horseshoe Bend. A new trail that will be added to promote more land-based activities at the area. Plans for the Glen Canyon Rim Trail began in 2009. Now after environmental assessments and new funding, it is reaching its fin

New Plan Aims To Stop Acid Runoff Leak From Lead Queen Mine

A mine that hasn’t operated in more than a hundred years continues to leak acid runoff in southern Arizona. The leak has been flowing out of the Lead Queen Mine in Patagonia since 2014. The Coronado National Forest has come up with a new plan to stop it. The bright orange color of the runoff is caused by mineralization of iron-rich water, making the water acidic. It contains heavy metals, according to Heidi Schewel with the Coronado National Forest, She said the drainage only happens when it r

Nogales, Arizona, Looking To Expand City Limits

The border city of Nogales, Arizona, is considering expanding its borders to grow its population. Nogales, Arizona’s economy is dependent on sales tax revenue. That’s according to Mayor Arturo Garino. He proposed annexation when he served in his first term as mayor from 2011-2014, but it did not work out. Garino is confident this time, the result will be different. “The hardest part is getting the signatures and convincing people within that area that they do want to be in the city limits. I

117-Year-Old Douglas Dispatch Struggles Amid Tough Economic Times

The Douglas Dispatch has been serving the border town of Douglas, Arizona, for 117 years as the only source of local news, but with tough economic times, the weekly paper is struggling. Manuel Coppola, publisher of the paper, explains how the paper binds community members together. “We do an annual Easter egg hunt, and we do the Best of Douglas businesses, event and special edition. So I just think it just keeps them connected to the community in a way that no other media can," Coppola said.

Department Of Education Teams Up With Department of Health Services For School Vaccinations

The Arizona Department of Education has teamed up with the health department to promote vaccinations for students in public schools after several measles outbreaks in other states. The number of parents who claim a nonmedical exemption to vaccinating their kindergarten children has grown to nearly 6% this year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Now, the health and education departments have sent a joint letter to schools explaining the importance of up-to-date vaccinations

50 Attorneys General Secure $600 Million in Settlement With Equifax

Arizona is among 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to secure a $600 million settlement from credit rating agency Equifax for the massive data breach in 2017. In 2017, an Equifax data breach led to more than half of American adults’ sensitive information, like Social Security, credit card and driver's license numbers, being exposed. Nearly 3 million of those live in Arizona. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said that the multistate settlement was a success. “Anytime you

Arizona School Districts Can't Find Enough Bus Drivers

Bus driver shortages in Arizona districts are not a new problem, but in recent years the situation has become more dire. On any given school day, Mesa Public Schools, the largest school district in Arizona, is short about 80 bus drivers. That’s according to Scott Thompson, assistant superintendent. And Mesa isn’t alone. Glendale, Payson and Prescott school districts have confirmed shortages as well. Thompson said one of the biggest struggles when it comes to recruiting drivers is the low pay.

More Loop 101 Closures In Tempe As Construction Continues

A Loop 101 widening project continues this weekend in Tempe, the latest closures resulting from the $76 million project. Northbound lanes of the Price Freeway portion of Loop 101 will close for the weekend at 10 p.m. Friday. The closure will run from Warner Road to U.S. 60. The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to take the Price Frontage Road instead. ADOT said drivers looking to merge onto the U.S. 60 should exit the 101 at Ray Road, then take surface streets to the 60. Th

Cellar Fire Zero Percent Contained, But Stable

The Cellar Fire has burned about 6,500 acres just south of Prescott. Although it is zero percent contained, Gabrielle Kenton, spokeswoman for the Prescott National Forest, said the fire is stable due to weather conditions. “It’s certainly hot and dry, but not nearly as hot and it’s not as windy. So that certainly does help. High winds are one of firefighters’ worst enemies,” Kenton said. She said the fire has not grown much since Wednesday. Residents near the fire have been told to be ready to

OUI Checkpoints On Colorado River To Check For Impaired Boat Operators

DUI checkpoints are common during holiday weekends to ensure safety on the roads. A different kind of checkpoint will be set up on the Colorado River this weekend to ensure safety on the water. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is joining forces with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this weekend to monitor boating safety. They’ll be checking to ensure operators are not above the legal limit for OUI, or operating under the influence, which is a blood-

Nike Moving Forward With Goodyear Manufacturing Facility

Nike announced Thursday that it will move forward on a manufacturing facility in Goodyear. Nike said the factory is expected to generate over 500 full-time jobs and result in an investment of at least $184 million. In a written statement to KJZZ, Goodyear Communications Director Tammy Vo said “Nike joins a growing list of Fortune 500 companies who proudly call Goodyear, Arizona home. We are excited to partner with them to bring high-quality jobs, breakthrough technology, and advanced manufactu

Loop 101 Construction Continues In Tempe-Chandler Area

Construction for a Loop 101 widening project continues this weekend in the Tempe-Chandler area. Starting at 10 p.m. Friday and ending at 5 a.m. Monday, the northbound lanes of Loop 101 will be completely closed between Loop 202 and Warner Road. ADOT advises westbound Loop 202 drivers to exit at Dobson Road and head north to Elliot Road. Eastbound 202 drivers are advised to exit at McClintock Drive and head north to Elliot. Northbound drivers on Loop 101 are encouraged to take the Price fronta

Bike Ranch Near Saguaro National Park Coming In 2022

Saguaro National Park is one of the few that allow bicycling on trails, and the park Tucson may soon get a lot more active visitors. Bike Ranch is designed to be 45-acre development across from Saguaro National Park-East and will have direct access to the Tucson Bicycle Loop. It will have casitas, a bike rental and repair shop, and a restaurant. Steve Christy, who represents District 4 in Pima County, said the project will capitalize on the city’s bike-friendly reputation. “There really is an
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