All posts in "Coconino"

State Overturns Local Liquor License Denials



In the four previous years, the board denied a total of 26 applications, compared with the 77 licenses that municipalities around the state recommended for denial.

A city or town council serves as an advisory body to the state board, recommending denial or approval of licenses that are then decided on at the state level. If the council chooses to recommend denial, the applicant can then make his or her case to the state board, which makes the final decision.

The board can also choose to deny an application that was recommended for approval by a city or town. That hasn’t happened in 2017, but occurred six times between 2013 and 2016 for applications throughout the state.


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Stephen Munk has joined the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University



Stephen Munk has joined the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University as deputy director of science and technology. In this role, Munk will focus on the strategic, business and technical operations of Arizona’s single largest bioscience research infrastructure investment.

Most recently, Munk was president and CEO of Ash Stevens Inc. in Riverview, Michigan, a pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company, where he became known for his success in gaining rapid FDA approval for novel therapies.

“With our aging population and growing threats to our air, energy and water, we need to find new ways to hasten the complicated and time-intensive process that brings new discoveries from the research lab to the world,” said Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Biodesign Institute.

“ASU has earned its reputation as the top university in the nation when it comes to innovation,” said LaBaer. “Now is the perfect time to engage someone with Stephen’s reputation for taking innovation into the marketplace where it can have its greatest impact.”



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University of Arizona Ranks 77th On Best Global Universities List

The University of Arizona was ranked 77th out of 1,250 schools in 74 countries in the newest U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities ranking.

ASU ranked 134 and NAU ranked 654.

Harvard was ranked No. 1 overall, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley. The United Kingdom’s University of Oxford was ranked No. 5.


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New Coconino County Job Training Program



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Coconino County Career Center is launching an innovative job-training program this month to reach individuals ages 16 to 24 who are not in school and not working. StartHere offers these individuals training, resources, mentors, internships and jobs with community businesses.

The initiative kicks off at 2 p.m., Oct. 19, in Bushmaster Park with a public celebration with food, T-shirt giveaways, pickup basketball and a hands-on spray chalk gallery.

“The County is reaching out to individuals who are not in school and not working, and providing a supportive environment for them,” said Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors Liz Archuleta. “We will facilitate a training program to connect the youth with local businesses so they can get job experience and learn new skills. This will empower these individuals to grow into an integral part of our community.”

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Navajo Council Extends Lease For Coal Plant


The Navajo Nation Council has approved a lease extension that will allow a coal-fired power plant in northeastern Arizona to continue operating through December 2019.

The 18-4 Council vote came Monday night after about eight hours of debate. It means at least 700 jobs at the Navajo Generating Station near Page and the coal mine that supplies it won’t be immediately lost.

The lease for the 1970s-era plant is set to expire in two years. The plant’s owners announced in February they would close it because cheaper power from natural gas is readily available, and they told the Council Monday they’d shut it down this year if they didn’t get an extension.

The Owners said it will take about two years to tear down the massive plant.

The Navajo Generating Station is owned by three Arizona utilities, one in Nevada and the federal Bureau of Reclamation and is operated by Phoenix-based Salt River Project. It has been a major provider of power used to pump water from the Colorado River to Phoenix and Tucson through the Central Arizona Project.

The decision to close the plant left Navajo lawmakers scrambling to save the jobs it supports and the millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that support government spending.

“You all know the history of the reason we are why here today,” Council speaker LoRenzo Bates told fellow members before the Council debate. “If it fails we can begin to expect an impact beginning in 2018. It will have a ripple effect � it will impact the central government,” he said.

If the owners sign off on the lease extension, the tribe will have time to either find a new operator or plan for life after the plant. The Navajo Nation hopes to keep it open at least through 2030, although how it will find a buyer for a more-expensive coal power facility remains unclear. The Nation has asked the federal government for assistance.

Owners want a decision on a new operator by Oct. 1, said Jared Touchin, a tribal council spokesman.

Environmentalists hailed the possible closure of the plant as an opportunity to find new job sources that are better for the environment. Jihan Gearon, executive director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, has criticized the plant’s water pollution and the environmental impact of heavy mining of coal.





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SCA To Close Flagstaff Plant

Steam rises above the SCA Tissue plant on East Butler Avenue in Flagstaff in this file photo. The company announced the plant will close in June 2017.

The Flagstaff SCA tissue production plant will halt operations Thursday and close later this month, company officials announced Wednesday. The Bellemont plant will remain open.

Amy Bellcourt, the vice president of communications for SCA, said the plant employs 78 people who were notified Wednesday that they will no longer have jobs.

“Their positions will end,” Bellcourt said.

Bellcourt said the Flagstaff plant and the Bellemont plant serve two different purposes — the paper is actually made at the Flagstaff plant and the finished products are created at the Bellemont plant.

Due to a recent purchase of Wausau Paper by the Sweden-based SCA, the company obtained additional production capacity, which partially eliminated the need for the Flagstaff plant, Bellcourt said. The company has also increased production efficiency, which contributed to the decision to close the plant.

“This is not a reflection of the skill and hard work of the employees in Flagstaff,” Bellcourt said.

Operations at the plant will halt Thursday and the plant will be shut down in the following weeks, Bellcourt said. Employees will be paid for 60 days following the production halt Thursday, she said.

SCA does not plan to sell the mill or to dismantle the equipment, she said.

Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julie Pastrick said the chamber is working with other stakeholders to help the employees from the closed plant find new jobs.

“78 families affected by the Flagstaff SCA plant closure is a big loss in a small community like ours,” Pastrick said in an email. “We want to be certain we connect them to other manufacturers who may be able to hire the same position, to other Chamber member businesses who offer assistance to distressed workers in situations like this, and to businesses who have employment opportunities. It’s our top priority.”

Pastrick said the chamber hosts the Northern Arizona Manufacturing Partnership, and members will be notified of the job descriptions and skill sets of those being laid off to help match employees with existing job vacancies in the field.

“Severance pay will be helpful but the long-term effects of sudden job loss can be devastating,” Pastrick said in an email. “Fortunately, our community responds quickly with compassion, dignity and respect for those who lost their jobs.”

The reporter can be reached at or 556-2249.




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SRP Helps Customers Choose Solar Installer

Installing solar on a home can be a complex process, and Salt River Project has a new Preferred Solar Installer Program to help customers make the best, informed decisions for their particular needs. The program provides a resource for customers to find participating solar installers to guide them through the process. 

Qualified SRP Preferred Solar Installers must meet certain safety and quality specifications and also be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. SRP will host regular training sessions to help educate installers on how to maximize the customer’s system performance as it relates to the Customer Generation Price Plan.

“Our goal is to assist customers who are considering solar in every step of the process, from evaluating financing options to choosing a solar installer to interconnecting their system to the grid.” said Lori Singleton, director of Customer Programs and Operations Support. “We recognize that deciding to install solar is a big decision for a customer, and we want the customer’s experience to be a positive one.”

For a limited time, SRP Preferred Solar Installers will also offer qualifying customers a $250 SRP rebate on select demand management systems, which will help customers manage their demand on SRP’s Customer Generation Price Plan. The demand management system is an innovative tool that automatically cycles large appliances during peak hours when a customer’s home energy use is nearing a preset demand level selected by the customer. Customers have the ability to choose the order in which appliances cycle.

Currently the SRP Preferred Solar Installers are American Solar & Roofing, Argent Solar, Arizona Energy Pros, Elevation Solar, Harmon Solar, New Sun Energies, PEP Solar, Premier Solar Solutions, Redline Electric & Solar, Solar Topps and Sun Valley Solar Solutions. Additional companies are under review and will be added to the list.

SRP supports customers who are looking for ways to maximize their energy efficiency and offset their energy usage through solar and other forms of distributed energy resources. Nearly 16,000 SRP customers have adopted residential rooftop solar.

For more information about the new SRP Preferred Solar Installer Program and demand management rebate program, go to

SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 1 million customers. SRP also is the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 800,000 acre-feet annually to municipal, urban and agricultural water users.

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With ABOR Approval, NAU’s New Honors Residence Hall One Step Closer To Completion


The Arizona Board of Regents approved construction of Northern Arizona University’s Honors College Living and Learning Community at its meeting in Tucson last week.

The 204,656-square-foot building, which is going up at University Drive and Knoles Drive, includes bedrooms, classrooms, a student advising center and study areas. It is a state-of-the-art building designed to be a place where Honors College students can live, study, congregate and collaborate with others who are passionate about learning and creating.

“We are pleased to see an increasing number of top-performing students choose NAU, and programs like the Honors College play a major role in attracting and engaging these students,” President Rita Cheng said. “This facility is an example of our commitment to make NAU home for the region’s best and brightest.”

The Honors College is the oldest honors program in Arizona, and it continues to grow; enrollment increased by 24 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. NAU recently changed the Honors Program into an Honors College, allowing for greater recruitment and retention opportunities for the top talent in the state.

Participation in the Honors College allows undergraduate students to take specialized courses, including a capstone course, access the Honors Writing Center and do research. Establishing classes specifically for Honors students provides them the opportunity to break out of traditional classroom settings and mentor their peers.

Wolf Gumerman, director of the Honors College, said students are put on flexible and rigorous pathways to help them achieve their educational and career goals, offering access to research and a thesis, internships, faculty mentors and more.

“For high-achieving students, the benefits are amazing,” he said. “Our classes are smaller and more discussion-based, and the new curriculum is really driven by the students’ interests.”

Preliminary work to address infrastructure began in the fall, with construction beginning this summer. With the addition of the Honors community, which is scheduled to open in fall 2018, and SkyView, which opens this fall, NAU will add nearly 1,300 on-campus beds in less than 18 months, allowing the university to remain in the top 1 percent of universities nationwide providing on-campus housing.

“I am excited to see the Honors Residential College move forward and break ground next week,” said Rich Payne, executive director of Housing and Residence Life. “This facility will help NAU recruit and retain highly motivated scholars to the Honors College and provide a new high-profile home to students, dedicated faculty and staff where students will enjoy rich in and out of classroom activities and interactions in state-of-the-art surroundings.”



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