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KUNR Today: Nevada governor lifts mask mandate, School districts leaving masks optional

An image of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak sitting at a desk in the legislative building, May 2020.
Lucia Starbuck
This Is Reno
Gov. Steve Sisolak at a COVID-19 press conference at the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City, Nev., on May 15, 2020.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Friday, Feb. 11, 2022.

Gov. Sisolak rescinds Nevada’s mask mandate
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada has joined the growing list of states announcing an end to mask mandates. Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak says Nevada residents and visitors will no longer need to mask up. The governor says that goes for schools, correctional facilities and businesses.

“I think that students and parents have been clamoring for this for a long time; our businesses have been asking for this,” Sisolak said.

Nevada was following the CDC’s guidance to require masks indoors regardless of vaccination status in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 transmission. Infection rates are dropping across Nevada, but every county in the state remains in the high or substantial transmission category.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, COVID-19 testing, or view the state COVID-19 dashboard.

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

Washoe, Clark School Districts say masks optional following governor’s announcement
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced Thursday that the state will be dropping its mask mandate, citing a decrease in COVID-19 cases. The governor said businesses and school districts can implement mask requirements themselves.

Washoe and Clark County School Districts have announced that masks are now optional. Facial coverings are still required on buses.

The University of Nevada, Reno announced that it has lifted its campus mask mandate so no one is required to wear a face covering indoors. Unvaccinated employees of the Nevada System of Higher Education, as well as all state employees, must still complete weekly COVID-19 testing.

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

Report: ‘Insufficient evidence’ of gender discrimination against chancellor
By Jacob Solis, The Nevada Independent

Back in October, Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Melody Rose made allegations that several regents had treated her unfairly. Now, the findings of an outside investigation have been released.

The investigation found the allegations “did not substantiate” claims of a hostile work environment, pay discrimination on the basis of Rose’s gender, or unlawful retaliation. Additionally, investigators found no corroborating evidence to support the allegation that the behavior of Regent Chair Cathy McAdoo and Vice Chair Patrick Carter rose to the level of violating state or federal law.

However, the investigation did find that some of the circumstances reflect an “inappropriate professional environment” during a tense time as colleges were considering vaccine mandates.

Read the full story at thenevadaindependent.com.

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

BIA making arrests at Winnemucca Indian Colony
By Gustavo Sagrero

Law enforcement for the Bureau of Indian Affairs has appeared on the Winnemucca Indian Colony and arrested multiple people there this week. Several people have been arrested on the colony this week and charged with a variety of offenses spanning from traffic violations, trespassing, and assault. That's according to a legal representative for some residents of the Winnemucca Indian Colony.

A judge has been warning individuals after posting bail to not return to the colony other than to gather their personal belongings and leave. A construction dumpster has also been placed in that neighborhood. The last time something like this happened, houses were demolished because of an ongoing cleanup project by the colony’s council, which is starting to redevelop the area. Residents see this project as a means to forcibly remove them from homes they’ve lived in for decades.

The arrests are targeted towards those who have mobilized to prevent the demolitions and protest the council.

KUNR reached out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs but they did not respond in time for this story's publication.

Nonprofits around the state receive recovery grants
By Gustavo Sagrero

Four nonprofits in Nevada have received a little less than $2 million in grant funding from Nevada’s Community Recovery Grants. The Family Support Center in Winnemucca will receive more than $150,000, while the food Bank of Northern Nevada received more than $600,000.

Two other nonprofits in Southern Nevada have also received funds. The Community Recovery Grant gets its funding from the American Rescue Plan. The priority behind the program is to channel funds into non-profit groups with the expectation that it’ll reach the communities they serve.

Legislation to cleanup abandoned mines proposed
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

A bipartisan group of senators from Western states have proposed new legislation to facilitate the cleanup of abandoned mines. The bill would limit liability for nonprofits, businesses or state and local governments seeking to clean up old mining sites on public lands.

John Gale, conservation director for the advocacy group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said liability concerns have blocked cleanup efforts in the past, and that’s having a negative impact on environmental health.

"There are scores of abandoned mines that have been leaching toxic metals, acid mine drainage. A number of watersheds have been completely sterilized. They no longer hold cold water fisheries," he said.

Democrat Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Republican Jim Risch of Idaho introduced the bill. A half-dozen other lawmakers added their names to the list, including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who is a cosponsor. Experts say there could be as many as 50,000 potentially dangerous abandoned mines in Nevada.

This story and its headline have been corrected because they originally stated that neither of Nevada’s senators had signed on as sponsors.

NV Energy seeking input on where to place electric charging stations
By Gustavo Sagrero

NV Energy is looking to get input from residents in the state on where to place electric vehicle charging stations. Residents can give their input at NV Energy's website. The utility says this will help inform where they should begin to install these charging locations.

The Biden administration has also recently backed a $5 billion effort to build a network of EV charging stations over a period of five years. Nevada could receive a share of up to $38 million from that initiative to develop its EV charging network even more.

Corrected: February 14, 2022 at 9:56 AM PST
The Mountain West News Bureau story titled " Legislation to cleanup abandoned mines proposed" has been corrected to reflect that U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is a cosponsor of the bill to cleanup abandoned mines.
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