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KUNR Today: Public gets updates on Reno's 'Neon Line,' NDOC limits visitation

An image of the Reno Arch
Jana Sayson
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KUNR Public Radio

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

Developer provides updates on controversial 'Neon Line' district
By Bert Johnson

Jeff Jacobs plans to donate land in downtown Reno where more than 800 housing units could be built. Jacobs is the investor behind the planned Neon Line District.

His new proposal would include some affordable housing, but Jacobs doesn’t want to build it himself – he’s hoping the Reno Housing Authority will take it on.

Jacobs says federal funding from the recently-passed infrastructure package could help.

"So if everybody's on the same page on the vision, then we go out and try to see if we can attract some federal and state money to come into Reno," he said.

The Neon Line district has been controversial. To make way for the project, Jacobs has knocked down weekly motels that used to provide housing for low income residents.

Nevada Department of Corrections suspends visitation due to spike in COVID cases
By Kaleb Roedel

The Nevada Department of Corrections has temporarily suspended visitation statewide due to a spike in coronavirus cases among inmates.

So far this month, more than 200 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the corrections department. That’s more than a 300% increase in cases compared to the entire month of November.

The department has also seen a surge in COVID cases among employees. This month, more than 200 staff members have tested positive. That’s a more than 600% jump from all of November.

Just under 77% of corrections employees are fully vaccinated against the virus while roughly 67% of inmates have received the vaccine.

NDOT contracts to support more than 500 jobs in 2022
By Kaleb Roedel

Nevada transportation contracts approved Monday are expected to support more than 500 jobs this year. That’s according to the Nevada Department of Transportation. One of the projects that the state transportation board approved is to resurface 27 miles of U.S. 95 near the Amargosa Valley area in Nye County.

The transportation board also reviewed the emergency drainage pipe repairs that crews installed on Mount Rose Highway in Washoe County last month.

Nevada ranked No. 1 in the nation in economic momentum
By Kaleb Roedel

When it comes to states with the most economic momentum, the Silver State is ranked number one. That’s according to a report by Federal Funds Information For States.

The report says Nevada is recovering from the pandemic at one of the fastest rates in the country when it comes to three key factors: personal income growth, employment growth, and population growth.

This top ranking comes on the heels of reports showing that Nevada led the country in Gross Domestic Product in both the first and second quarters of last year.

Low-income households not taking advantage of internet incentive program
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The incentive gives households a monthly $50 discount on their internet bill. It applies to everyone making 135% or less of the federal poverty guideline. Those living on tribal lands get a $75-a-month discount.

It’s aimed at reducing the digital divide. Folks who don’t have broadband face disadvantages from a lack of online education to telemedicine, but a recent report from the California-based research firm Broadband Now estimates that only a fraction of eligible households are actually receiving the discount.

Just 7-8% of eligible households in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming have taken advantage of this benefit. The number is higher – between 13-25% – in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.

Tyler Cooper is an author of the report. He said advertising for the program has fallen to internet providers.

“And in really rural areas, that communication just might not be as constant or even present at all," Cooper said.

Changes are coming this year. A new program reduces the incentive to $30 dollars a month but expands eligibility to anyone making 200% or less of the federal poverty guideline. The $75 discount will remain for those on tribal lands.

Federal lawmakers discuss hydropower, as drought grips the West
By Mountain West News Bureau

The West is facing an historic drought, and our two largest reservoirs – Lake Mead and Lake Powell – have been getting smaller and smaller. That’s a huge problem for supplying our region’s water – and its electricity.

Experts warn that unless current trends change, the giant Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell might stop producing electricity as soon as this summer. And that could affect millions of westerners.

On Tuesday, federal lawmakers will hear from experts about this problem. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee also will discuss potential solutions, like expanding hydropower to other dams.

You can tune into the hearing live through the committee’s website. It’s scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

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