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KUNR Today: Nye County commissioners push for hand-counted ballots, Lake Powell hits historic low

An aerial view of Lake Powell, Mount Ellsworth, Mount Holmes and Mount Hillers.
NASA Johnson
Flickr Creative Commons
An aerial view of Lake Powell with Mount Ellsworth and Mount Holmes at center and the snow-capped Mount Hillers toward the right. This photo was taken from the International Space Station as it orbited 259 miles above the state of Utah on Feb. 5, 2022.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Thursday, March 17, 2022.

Nye County commissioners are pushing for hand-counted, paper ballots
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

Some Republicans in the region are trying to use the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen to change the way elections are held.

On Tuesday, commissioners in rural Nye County asked election officials to keep things old school by hand-counting paper ballots in upcoming elections.

They said residents are concerned about election integrity. But Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State has said there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

Emily Persaud-Zamora is with a nonpartisan coalition called Silver State Voices. She says the push for paper ballots is just the latest piece of misinformation to come out of 2020.

“They’re creating this narrative that paper ballots should be the alternative, because electronic machines are not safe. And that’s just not the case at all,” Persaud-Zamora said.

In Washoe County, a Republican commissioner introduced a similar measure calling for National Guard troops to monitor the polls. That proposal was withdrawn but could be revived.

In Utah, Arizona and Colorado, Republican lawmakers introduced bills in support of paper balloting.

Lake Powell hits historic low, raising hydropower concerns
By The Associated Press

A critical Colorado River reservoir has fallen to a record low level, raising new concerns about a power source for millions of people in the U.S. West.

According to Federal water officials, Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border fell below 3,525 feet on Tuesday. Western states had set that mark as a buffer to keep the lake from reaching a level that would prevent the turbines at Glen Canyon Dam from generating power.

Federal officials are confident Lake Powell will rise quickly with springtime snowmelt and Glen Canyon Dam will stay productive. But the new low marks another sobering realization of the impacts of climate change and a megadrought on the country’s second-largest human-made lake.

Nevada’s newest wildlife management area now open to public
By Kaleb Roedel

Nevada’s newest wildlife management area is now open to the public. The 1,500-acre Argenta Wildlife Management Area is located just north of Battle Mountain in northern Nevada. It’s a habitat for native species like mule deer and sandhill cranes, and the Humboldt River and Rock Creek flow through the property. It’s Nevada’s 13th wildlife management area.

Remote-control robot can detect, alert safety inspectors of potential rockslides
By Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

Researchers in the region have developed a remote-control robot that can alert safety inspectors of potential rockslides.

The little robot is a foot or two long, with an audio recorder and a tall stick topped with a silver ball. Once against a rock, the robot named Brutus swings the stick and starts to tap.

Dr. Fernando Moreu is the director of the University of New Mexico lab that made Brutus. He says before, inspectors had to tap the rocks and see if they sounded healthy or cracked and dangerous.

“For the first time, the inspector doesn’t need to remember in their head the sound. It’s very difficult for humans to remember the sound, so Brutus will record those sounds,” Moreu said.

He says, with Brutus, things can be more efficient and safer for inspectors on roadsides. The team hopes to customize Brutus to work in many situations, like inspecting historic buildings, piers and underwater infrastructure.

Carson City residents allowed to burn weeds, yard debris starting Saturday 
By Kaleb Roedel

Carson City residents will soon be able to burn weeds and debris that has piled up in their yards. The Carson City Fire Department says the Spring 2022 Open Burn will begin Saturday and run through April 17.

Residents are required to have a permit on hand when conducting a burn. The permit is free and can be printed off the Carson City County website starting Friday.

COVID-19 cases in Washoe County continue steep drop  
By Kaleb Roedel

The number of Washoe County residents testing positive for COVID-19 continues to drop at a rapid pace. Just two months ago, Washoe County had an average of 1,700 cases per day. Last week, there were only 24 cases per day. Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick says he feels a sense of relief.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll continue to watch what happens. I expect we will have some different surges that occur down the road, but I’m hoping that the worst is behind us,” Dick said.

So far, Washoe County has not been impacted by the omicron variants fueling a rise in cases in Western Europe.

Public transportation from the RTC will be free on St. Patrick's Day
By Kaleb Roedel

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County says it will offer free bus rides Thursday to help people celebrate Saint Patrick's Day responsibly. The free rides start at 4 p.m. and run until 2 a.m. Coupons are not needed. The agency says passengers are still required to wear masks.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

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