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KUNR Today: Study finds nearly 1 million homes have wooden roofs in areas with high wildfire risk

The Beckwourth Complex Fire burning with tall flames and smoke in the air.
Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue via Twitter

Read or listen to news headlines for Monday, July 18, 2022.

Study finds nearly 1 million homes have wooden roofs in areas with high wildfire risk
By Kaleb Roedel, Mountain West News Bureau

A new study shows many Americans living in wildfire-prone areas have homes that are not built with wildfire in mind. Headwaters Economics in Montana found that nearly 1 million homes in counties with high wildfire risks have roofs made of wood – the most vulnerable to fire.

In the Mountain West, the area with the most is Lyon County, Nev., near Reno. It has nearly 18,000 homes with wooden roofs, and its wildfire risk is higher than 92% of the country. Teton County, Wyo., near Yellowstone National Park, has 4,300 homes with wooden roofs. Rio Blanco County, Colo., has nearly 1,300. Both areas have extremely high wildfire risks.

Kimiko Barrett of Headwaters Economics said the federal government hasn’t provided grants to help homeowners.

“That is a missed opportunity and oversight, and does not provide the homeowners the incentive nor the financial means to be able to replace their roof,” Barrett said. Barrett also said retrofitting all of them would cost at least $6 billion.

Medical waste incinerator company looking to move to Reno
Kristine Weller, KUER for the Mountain West News Bureau

After decades of burning medical waste, Stericycle’s incinerator near Salt Lake City closed on June 30. But now, the company wants to build new incinerators in a neighboring state. Back in 2014, Stericycle agreed to a $2.3 million dollar fine for emissions violations. Since then, residents and activists have been concerned about air pollution.

Bryce Bird is the director of the Utah Division of Air Quality. He said the company agreed to relocate its incinerator as part of that settlement.

“Whatever they build in the future would have to meet even more protective emissions requirements than were identified when that facility was built in the first place,” Bird said.

Now, Stericycle is pursuing a permit to build two new medical waste incinerators near Reno, Nev. But, air quality advocates say that would just move the problem somewhere else. Brian Moench is the president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

“Incineration was never the right way to handle medical waste,” Moench said. “The fact that Stericycle is moving on to a new location to do more incineration, that’s inappropriate.”

He said medical waste should be sterilized and put in a landfill like other hazardous waste.

Nevada GOP candidate files court challenge of primary loss
By The Associated Press

A candidate for Nevada governor who lost the Republican primary in June is contesting the results in a lawsuit. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Saturday that the suit from Joey Gilbert challenges the primary election win by Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. It was filed in Carson City District Court. Lombardo beat Gilbert by 11 percentage points in a crowded field.

Gilbert already paid for a recount that did not change the outcome. In Nevada and beyond, this year’s Republican primaries have revealed a new political strategy among numerous candidates who are denying the results of elections and insisting results were rigged in a strategy with echoes of President Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020.

Nevada First-Gen Network, Incline Education Fund to collab on summer program
By Jose Davila IV

A new summer pilot program launching this month aims to help students in Incline Village, Nev., attend college. The Nevada First-Gen Network and the Incline Education Fund are collaborating on a new summer program for sixth and seventh graders from Incline Middle School. The program focuses on STEM, leadership and art activities as a way to encourage students to perceive college as a future educational option.

The network is based at the University of Nevada, Reno, and supports students who would be the first in their families to attend college. The initiative will last three weeks and host sessions in both Incline Village and Reno. Administrators said that Incline public school students face a large income gap and a dearth of programming. The summer pilot will be funded through State of Nevada COVID relief funds specifically earmarked for expanding educational resources.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Wildcreek Golf Course officially sold to First Tee
By Jose Davila IV

Washoe County Commissioners officially sold Wildcreek Golf Course to First Tee of Northern Nevada at their meeting Tuesday, July 12. First Tee is a national nonprofit youth development organization. The group will immediately start fundraising to remodel the existing clubhouse so it can be used as an after-school tutoring center. The course will remain open to the public during daytime hours while school is in session.

Commissioners approved the deal in principle last year after construction for the new Hug High School campus partially closed the old 18-hole Championship Course at Wildcreek. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, First Tee said it will add three holes to the remaining six left over from that construction to create a new nine-hole course. The separate nine-hole Executive Course will get its own facelift.

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