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KUNR Today: Caldor Fire fully contained, Officials starting process of filling state Senate seat

An image of a firefighter carrying a fire hose through the forest
Joe Bradshaw
Bureau of Land Management
A firefighter with Nevada Task Force 5 working the Caldor Fire in September.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

Caldor Fire fully contained
By Noah Glick

The Caldor Fire, which sparked two months ago, burned more than 346 square miles, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and structures, and forced evacuations for the entire city of South Lake Tahoe. Now, fire officials have the fire completely contained as of Thursday morning.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

Officials to start process of filling Senate District 16 seat after Kieckhefer’s departure
By Michelle Billman

Starting Friday, officials in Washoe County and Carson City will take applications from residents vying for the State Senate District 16 seat, following Ben Kieckhefer’s recent departure. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners and Carson City Board of Supervisors will appoint the next senator jointly, since the district includes portions of both areas.

Applicants must meet several conditions, including living in the district, being 21 years or older, and being registered as a Republican. That’s because anyone appointed to the role must be a member of the outgoing senator’s party. The two boards will convene on November 10 to make a final selection. In a statement, Washoe County said the process must proceed immediately ahead of an upcoming special legislative session on redistricting.

Earlier this month, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that outgoing senator Ben Kieckhefer has been appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Reno Councilmember did not break ethics law, according to state panel
By KUNR Staff

The Nevada Commission on Ethics found unanimously that Reno Councilwoman Bonnie Weber did not violate state law when she set up lunches that developers in the North Valleys funded. The ethics allegations have been dismissed, accordingto KRNV, because the investigation did not find enough evidence to show that Weber used city resources for her own benefit.

Despite the outcome, the city’s attorney says the policies related to councilmembers and private events will soon be further clarified.

WCSD holding special meeting over open meeting law violations, trustee censure
By KUNR Staff

The Washoe County School Board is holding a special meeting Monday to discuss potential open meeting law violations and the possible censure of a board trustee. KRNV reportsthat the potential open meeting law violation occurred last month when Trustee Jeff Church accused the board's top lawyer of knowing that another trustee had moved out of the district she was elected to represent.

Board President Angie Taylor allowed a discussion to follow, all of which was not on the agenda, and, therefore, could be a violation of the law. Additionally, the board is set to vote on whether or not to censure Trustee Church. He is accused of violating several board policies.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the school district building in Reno.

COVID-19 surges in some Mountain West states, but there are silver linings
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The high COVID rates mean that Montana, Idaho and Wyoming together are averaging about 2,600 new cases every day. That’s according to the Brown University School of Public Health. Those states are also averaging about 45 deaths and 1,200 new hospitalizations daily.

In Montana this week, Yellowstone County public health officer John Felton briefed county commissioners on the situation there.

“We are on the top of the medal stand and really at the epicenter of what’s going on right now,” Felton said.

He said COVID-19 deaths in the state were outpacing highway fatalities, but things are looking up elsewhere, such as southern Nevada. It was a hotspot this summer but the number of cases are steadily decreasing. If that continues, the Las Vegas area will soon pass a threshold removing the governor’s mask mandate there.

Mask mandate to be lifted in least populous Nevada county
By The Associated Press

The state’s indoor mask mandate for people vaccinated for COVID-19 will be lifted Friday for Nevada’s least populous county while more stringent requirements remain in place in the rest of the state. Health officials said the coronavirus has remained at low transmission levels in Esmeralda County in rural southwest Nevada for two weeks, allowing the mandate to be lifted. The requirement for indoor masking remains in place for unvaccinated people in Esmeralda county, which has fewer than 1,000 residents. Mask mandates for all people, whether vaccinated or not, remain in place for all other counties because transmission remain at high or substantial levels.

California drought emergency extended statewide
By Michelle Billman

California Governor Gavin Newsom extended the drought emergency to all of the state Tuesday.

Newsom issued a proclamationto extend the emergency across eight additional counties that were not included previously so the full state is now included. The proclamation requireswater shortage contingency plans to be implemented by local water suppliers. It also allows the State Water Resources Control Board to ban water practices that are wasteful. That could include using potable water to wash driveways and sidewalks.

The current drought is the worst one California has dealt with since the late 1800s, according to measurements of precipitation paired with scorching temperatures.

Apartment rents in Reno-Sparks averaging nearly $1,500 per month
By Michelle Billman

Apartment rents in Reno-Sparks averaged nearly $1,500 per month in the third quarter of this year, which is slightly lower than what’s being reported nationally.

That’s according to a report out this week from the Nevada State Apartment Association, which shows that apartment rents in the area increased 11.7% throughout the third quarter. For comparison, they increased by 13.3% in the second quarter.

The association’s executive director Susy Vasquez said in a statement that rent is beginning to stabilize since we’re heading into a period of the year during which fewer people choose to move.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
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