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KUNR Today: Laxalt Expected To Run For U.S. Senate, Mackay Statue To Stay On UNR Campus For Now

An image of the John Mackay statue on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
University of Nevada, Reno

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

GOP Chair Expects Former Nevada AG Laxalt To Run For Senate
By The Associated Press

The head of the Senate Republican political arm says he expects former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt to challenge Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada next year. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the chair of the National Republican Senate Committee, told The Associated Press he has been in touch with Laxalt. Scott said, “He has not told me that he for sure will run. But I’ll actually be surprised if he doesn’t.” Laxalt, a close ally of former President Donald Trump's, would give Republicans a boost in their quest to seize Senate majority in next year’s midterm elections. The GOP needs to flip just one seat to take Senate control.

WCSD Board To Discuss Social Justice Curriculum For Youngest Students
By Lucia Starbuck

The Washoe School District Board is set to discuss a potential social justice curriculum for kindergarten through fifth graders at their meetingTuesday. That curriculum aims to provide students with classroom instruction that prompts conversations about different cultures and the events that took place in the U.S. over the last year.

In a survey for school district parents, staff and community members, nearly 83% of respondents were in opposition. The Washoe County School District superintendent recommended the board move forward with what she called a measured approach and create a task force to discuss the curriculum further.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Controversial John Mackay Statue To Stay At UNR For Now
By Lucia Starbuck

The John Mackay Statue Discussion Advisory Committee has recommended keeping the controversial John Mackay Statue at the University of Nevada, Reno - for now.

Last summer, a petitionwas started, calling for the removal of the statue. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who’s most known for creating Mount Rushmore, was connected to the Ku Klux Klan years after creating the statue.

The committee was tasked with determining if the statue condones or perpetuates systemic racism through the sculptor or through the commemoration of John W. Mackay. Mackay made his wealth in Virginia City as a miner.

The committee recommended keeping the statue in place but continuing discussions around Nevada’s history and its impacts on marginalized communities. UNR President Brian Sandoval said the university will be reaching out to more stakeholders, including Indigenous community members, moving forward.

As a note of disclosure, the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education owns the license to this station.

Half Of Residents In Carson City and Washoe County Have Completed COVID-19 Vaccination
By Lucia Starbuck

Carson City and Washoe County lead the state in COVID-19 vaccinations per capita. They are the only counties in Nevada that have completely vaccinated half of their residents 12 and older. For comparison, across the state, fewer than 41% of Nevadans 12 and older have completed vaccination.

The statewide vaccination rate has steadily decreased since mid-April. About 7,500 people are getting vaccinated per day on average. Roughly twice as many people were being vaccinated about a month ago.

Officials are also reporting an average of 117 COVID-19 cases per day over the last two weeks, along with two deaths during that same time period.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, or view the stateand Washoe County COVID-19 dashboards.

Wildfires Leading To Contaminated Water Supplies
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Debris from last year’s wildfires is sullying water systems for towns in our region. Imagine a creek of black, sludgy water running along a burned hillside. It’s collecting ash and possibly heavy metals once rooted in the ground by trees and plants that burned up last year. This isn’t new, but with the West seeing record-setting megafires, you start to run into problems.

“It means you’re going to see water that may not be treatable. We’re already seeing that,” said Esther Vincent with Northern Water, which provides water to northern Colorado towns.

She said even if they had come up with the worst-case scenario in planning water systems, no one would have designed a scenario this bad. Fort Collins, Colorado is already on a water shortage watch because of runoff from the Cameron Peak Fire, and partially from what’s expected to be another hot, dry summer.

Vincent said with climate change, she expects more fires, more contaminated water and more water shortages.

Housing Voucher Waitlists Now Open For Washoe County Residents
By Lucia Starbuck

Waitlists for housing vouchers are now open for Washoe County residents.

Individuals can sign up for the Reno Housing Authority’s voucher program for public housing and other housing choices through June 18.

Households are encouraged to apply to several waitlists for programs that best meet their needs. Washoe County residents will be prioritized.

The Reno Housing Authority typically helps more than 4,000 households access housing per year.

Learn how to sign up for a waitlist here.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
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