Saturday, December 20, 2014

valleyNews

 

Identity Crisis

Weird science helps ID anonymous bodies found near the Mexico-U.S. border.

In 1998, the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office in Tucson recorded 11 deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border. Last year, it was 194, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. Often the bodies can’t be easily identified – exposed to the elements of the low desert, the corpses have literally become dry enough to be classified as “mummified.”

 

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Social Safety Knot

PHM0814PFILE03Governor Brewer stakes her legacy on reforming Arizona’s broken child-protection system.

During her tenure at Child Protective Services (CPS), former caseworker Ashley Kelly says she saw children who had just been removed from their homes forced to sleep overnight in agency offices before being placed in shelters come morning. Kelly says it happened more often toward the end of her two-year stint with the agency, when she found herself bathing children in the office, feeding them from her own paycheck and putting them down for naps on makeshift beds in her cubicle – all while earning $35,000 a year to handle four or five new cases per week.

 

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A Dry Eat

PHM0814PFILE02Community leaders create oases of nutrition across the “food deserts” of Phoenix.

South Phoenix resident Chris Child, 35, eyes a gallon jug warily, silently calculating the risks of transporting it home. He passes over the milk, meat and veggies and loads up on pop-top canned goods. In the 18 months the Montana transplant lived in the Valley without a car, he was rarely able to purchase fresh produce or even a frozen meal. “I had to be especially concerned about dairy products,” he says. “And if I was walking, I could only buy what fit in a backpack.”

 

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Sordid Affairs

MIXED MEDIA: As badly as the recent Veterans affairs scandal has tarnished the agency’s reputation – secret waiting lists, 115-day wait times, deadly neglect – Americans still trust it more than Congress. According to a recent USA Today poll, one in five people think the government is doing an “excellent or good” job providing veterans with medical care, the VA’s lowest rating since 2007. Bleak numbers, to be sure – unless you happen to work alongside the Kyrsten Sinemas and Trent Franks of the world.

 

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Tapped Out?

PHM 500x500 FPOArizona breweries battle restrictive liquor laws to keep pace as craft beer flourishes across the U.S.

Brewmaster Andy Ingram stands behind the bar at Four Peaks’ Tasting Room on Wilson Street in Tempe and considers the grim alternative confronting the state’s largest craft brewery if it wants to keep up with growing demand for its beer. “The statute says we have to surrender our retail licenses, which means we’d have to close the north Scottsdale and Phoenix Sky Harbor restaurants and let go of 200 people,” he says.

 

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Teed Off

PHMPF03Is the Wigwam’s decision to downsize acres of golfing green just par for the course in an ailing industry?

The storied Wigwam resort created a stir in the golf industry and Litchfield Park in April when it announced plans to convert about 50 acres of golf course into condominiums and apartments. Was this the long-feared first step in correcting the Valley’s saturated golf course market? Sort of.

 

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ALL in the Family

PHM0614Flash-1-3A Mormon-founded Valley support group for LGBT Mormons seeks to create acceptance for the gay and faithful.

At the Phoenix Pride parade celebrating the Valley’s LGBT community this April, there was something unusual among the big blonde wigs and boom boxes blaring “YMCA” – a group of about 40 people, dressed in their Sunday best, modestly marching behind a banner that read “Mormons Building Bridges.”“We’re marching because we love our LGBT brothers and sisters, and we want them to know it,” says Vickie Johnson, a Mormon, and the mother of a gay son.

 

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