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KUNR Today: Vacancy Rates Tighten As Demand Rises, Tribes Join Lawsuit Against Lithium Mine

An aerial image of Thacker Pass. A large, desert-like landscape with some hills and a paved road.
Bureau of Land Management
Thacker Pass is a proposed site for a lithium mine in northern Nevada.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, July 30, 2021.

COVID-19 Spike In Hospitalizations, Deaths Prompt Tough New Action
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

In Nevada, Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak is planning to require all state employees to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. President Biden announced he’s doing the same for federal civilian employees, at least 160,000 of whom live in the Mountain West.

Many counties in the region are increasingly vulnerable to infections from the delta variant because of low vaccination rates. However, some states have recently passed laws weakening the authority of local and state governments to take action during a public health crisis. They include banning quarantines in Montana and blocking vaccine requirements for hospitals and universities in Arizona.

Federal Eviction Moratorium Ending: Funding Available For Washoe County Residents
By Isaac Hoops

Although the federal eviction moratorium is ending after this month, there are options for Washoe County residents.

The Cares Housing Assistance Program has about $20 million in funding for individuals who experienced a negative financial impact due to the pandemic. Emergency assistance for rent, late fees and utilities can be accessed through the Reno Housing Authority.

Reno/Sparks Vacancy Levels Decline While Rent Prices Rise
By Isaac Hoops

The Nevada State Apartment Association is reporting rising demand for housing in Reno and Sparks. A recent report shows the vacancy rate for apartments in the area is at 5.2%, the lowest it has been in years.

Leasing prices have also risen with the average rent for an apartment 13% higher now than it was last year. The apartment association’s officials say the growth is fueled by people moving from more expensive parts of California.

Judge Allows Nevada Tribes To Join Fight Over Lithium Mine
By The Associated Press

A judge has cleared the way for two tribes to join an ongoing legal battle over plans to build a Lithium mine in rural northern Nevada. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du granted formal intervenor status to the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and another group known as the People of Red Mountain. The tribes say their ancestors were massacred in the late 1800s at Thacker Pass, the site of Lithium Nevada's proposed mine. The tribes can now seek a ban on mining in the area because it would desecrate sacred tribal lands near the Oregon line. Thacker Pass is the largest known deposit of lithium in the U.S.

Bill Introduced To Help Veterans Access Clothing Benefits
By Paul Boger

Nevada's Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has introduced a measure aimed at helping veterans with service-related injuries or disabilities access their clothing benefits.

The money helps veterans with prosthetics, orthopedics or other medical devices pay for clothing or alterations to accommodate their particular needs, but federal law dictates beneficiaries apply for the allowance annually.

There are an estimated 40,000 veterans across the county who qualify for the allowance.

City Of Reno Looks Into New Utility Bill To Expand Stormwater Infrastructure
By Isaac Hoops

The City of Reno is requesting residents’ input on a potential new public utility to deal with stormwater drainage. The proposal is aimed at improving drainage and reducing flooding in some areas.

The city’s public works staff have scheduled two meetings in August to provide information and to hear public comment. If approved, city residents will see an increase on future sewer bills.

Three UNR Football Players Included On Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List
By Isaac Hoops

Three Nevada football players are on the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award. They include wide receivers Romeo Doubs and Elijah Cooks, along with tight end Cole Turner. This award goes to the top receiver in college football each season and the winner is announced in December.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Isaac Hoops is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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