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KUNR Today: Tahoe bears coming out of hibernation, NSHE chancellor may resign soon

A bear is standing on all four legs walking over sand and some grass.
William Andrus
Flickr Creative Commons

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor may resign April 1
By Kaleb Roedel

The Nevada Board of Regents will hold a special meeting on Friday to consider a separation agreement with Higher Education Chancellor Melody Rose.

Last fall, Rose lodged a hostile workplace complaint against two members of the Board of Regents. She alleged Board Chair Cathy McAdoo and Vice Chair Patrick Carter had discriminated against her because of her gender and tried to limit her influence within the system. An investigation by a law firm hired by the regents did not back up Rose’s claims. But it did say the two regents may have violated ethics rules.

Rose could get $610,000 in a separation agreement.

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

Lake Tahoe Interagency Bear Team warns of bears coming out of hibernation
By Gustavo Sagrero

As the weather gets warmer, the Lake Tahoe Interagency Bear Team is warning people about bears coming out of hibernation and foraging through the area burned in the Caldor Fire.

The bears are eating grubs and termites, which are plentiful in the downed and decaying trees. More than 200,000 acres burned last year. During the evacuations last year, neighborhoods were abandoned. That led bears - who were already testing their boundaries with humans - to freely roam neighborhoods.

To keep them away, the bear team is urging businesses and residents to keep trash in bear-resistant containers, lock up dumpsters, and stop using attractants like bird feeders. It’s also reminding people that it’s illegal to feed bears.

New data shows pandemic impact on workplace fatalities
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

New federal data shows the pandemic’s impact on the number of fatal workplace injuries. In some Western states, fewer people died at work. In Nevada, 37 were killed on the job. The annual report covers 2020, the most recent year for which data was available.

Matthew Insco of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that’s likely due to pandemic-related business closures.

“Nationwide, we looked at data from 2019 to 2020, and we actually saw an 11% decrease in fatalities,” Insco said.

Still, the rate of fatal injuries went up in Nevada, because the overall size of the labor force dropped. Same goes for Arizona and Wyoming, which was ranked highest in the nation with 13 deaths per 100,000 workers. Colorado, Nevada and Utah were at or below the national average.

Insco says the economy of each state influences mortality rates, too. Transportation-related incidents were the most common type of fatality.

UNR receives nearly $150,000 for drought research
By Gustavo Sagrero

The University of Nevada, Reno will receive about $150,000 from the National Science Foundation to come up with ideas to address drought in the region. The grant will create a “Nevada Water” partnership, pulling together public, private, tribal and nonprofit groups to work together on sustainable water projects.

Washoe County elementary schools awarded $100,000 for health and wellness
By Kaleb Roedel

The Education Alliance of Washoe County is giving more than $100,000 to the county’s school district for physical, nutritional and mental health services. The money will allow 64 elementary schools to give students things like nutrition education, running clubs, and social and emotional learning tools. The program was launched to address impacts brought on by the pandemic.

Research looks at the impact of wildfire smoke on nursing homes
By Rachel Cohen, Boise State Public Radio for the Mountain West News Bureau

Elderly adults are particularly vulnerable to wildfire smoke. A research team at Boise State University is studying how these small particles make their way into nursing homes.

Two years ago, researchers, including assistant professor Luke Montrose, placed indoor and outdoor air quality sensors at four skilled nursing facilities across Idaho.

2020 was a record-setting wildfire year for the West, and especially California. And the smoke from those fires made its way to Idaho.

“Some facilities did really well, even when there was an outdoor event, to keep the air relatively clean. Other facilities were less so able to do that,” Montrose said.

Data from the sensors showed Montrose that all four facilities were affected by smoke, but some more than others. A new grant will help the team, which includes the university’s center for the study on aging, understand how things like HVAC systems or opening and closing windows affect smoke in a facility.

“There are things that we think we can learn from the facilities that do a good job, that we could then use to then help the other facilities do better,” Montrose said.

Montrose thinks the findings could apply to other buildings with vulnerable populations, including schools.

California calls for more local water conservation
By The Associated Press

Nearly all Californians will be asked to further cut back on their water use as drought continues in the nation’s most populous state. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order to require cities and local water districts to adopt stricter conservation rules. He’s also directed the state water board to consider a ban on watering of grass used for purely ornamental purposes.

Newsom administration officials say local officials are better poised than the state to dictate limits on water use because they understand community needs. Restrictions could include further limiting household’s outdoor water use or less frequently watering parks and other public spaces.

California considers letting election workers hide addresses
By The Associated Press

Some California election workers could keep their home addresses hidden from public records under a bill in the Legislature. The bill is in response to an increasing number of threats against election workers following the 2020 presidential election. It’s one of a number of proposals states are considering to protect election workers.

A survey of election workers from across the country found 1 in 6 have experienced threats because of their job. The bill cleared a legislative committee in the California Assembly on Monday. California also lets domestic violence victims and abortion providers hide their addresses.

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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