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KUNR Today: Nevada Gov. Sisolak appoints lieutenant governor, Quad Counties top 400 COVID-19 deaths

A headshot of Lisa Cano Burkhead. She is looking toward the camera and smiling.
Nevada Governor’s Office
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Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed Lisa Cano Burkhead, photographed above, as the state’s lieutenant governor on Thursday, Dec. 16.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Nevada Governor Sisolak appoints longtime educator as lieutenant governor
By Noah Glick

Democrat Lisa Cano Burkhead will take over the state’s second-highest post after former Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall accepted a position within the Biden administration earlier this year.

Cano Burkhead is a longtime educator from southern Nevada, and she said she is dedicated to getting schools and families back on track. As lieutenant governor, she will preside over the state Senate and chair the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Carson City schools closed Friday over online threats of violence
By Noah Glick

The Carson City School District closed all schools Friday due to increasing concern around social media threats circulating online. Citing increased and alleged threats of violence at schools, officials decided to begin the two-week winter break one day early.

A social media challenge on TikTok has dubbed Friday as “National Shoot Up Your School Day.” Law enforcement says the threat is likely from outside of Nevada, and no credible local threats have been identified.

Leaders worried about the Colorado River’s future
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

A big conference about the Colorado River wrapped up in Las Vegas Thursday. The river provides power and water to millions of people living on farms, towns and reservations across the region. But water officials expressed tentative hope in the face of a mounting water shortage.

The picture of the Colorado River isn’t good right now. The region is in the midst of a severe and prolonged drought. Its two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are at their lowest levels on record, and an unseasonably warm and dry winter so far in the West isn’t helping.

Federal officials say one of the region’s largest sources of hydropower, the Glen Canyon Dam, could stop producing power as early as next summer. That provides electricity to millions of users in the West. If it fails, authorities will need to find other sources to replace that power, which could raise electricity costs for homes and businesses.

Crystal Tulley-Cordova is a principal hydrologist for the Navajo Nation. She said states, tribes and the federal government need to come together now and enact substantial conservation measures.

“We have to think swiftly. Otherwise, we will continue to be in the situation that we are in or even in the worst circumstances,” Tulley-Cordova said.

State and federal water officials signed an agreement at the conference Wednesday promising more conservation measures in an effort to increase the levels of Lake Mead over the next two years, but advocates and some tribal officials say steeper cuts are needed.

Investigation pointing to father, son suspected of sparking Caldor Fire
By KUNR staff

Investigators say that target shooters likely ignited the Caldor Fire, which burned more than 200,000 acres near South Lake Tahoe.

The Reno Gazette Journal is reporting that court documents point to father and son David and Travis Smith. They were arrested earlier this month on suspicion of reckless arson in connection with the blaze, which destroyed about 1,000 structures. The Smiths posted bail earlier this week.

Quad Counties top 400 COVID-19 deaths
By Noah Glick

Carson City Health and Human Services announced Thursday that the death toll from COVID-19 across the Quad Counties area has surpassed 400.

More than 22,000 people have contracted COVID-19 across the region, which includes Carson City, as well as Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties. Sixteen additional deaths were reported over the last week, bringing the total number of people lost to 409.

Meanwhile, rates of full vaccination range in the region from 62% in Carson City to just 20% in Storey County.

Walk-in vaccine clinics will be available next week:

  • Monday, 11 a.m. to noon, Fernley City Hall
  • Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Fuji Park Exhibit Hall in Carson City
  • Thursday, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Storey County Senior Center in Virginia City

Wreaths Across America returns with its annual holiday remembrance ceremony
By Lucretia Cunningham

Nevada’s Department of Veteran Services is inviting the public to Wreaths Across America ceremonies this weekend. Saturday’s ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. at both the Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley and the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

Organizers are expecting hundreds to attend after COVID-19 restrictions closed last year’s “laying of the wreath” to the general public.

Wreaths Across America is an annual holiday tradition for observers to honor and recognize fallen veterans. The event is hosted at over 2,100 locations around the globe. Many service organizations and families participate to ceremoniously say the name of each veteran as they place a “wreath of remembrance” at their gravesite.

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