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KUNR Today: Naomi Irion’s body recovered in Churchill County, Vegas tourism rebounding

A headshot of Naomi Irion. She is looking toward the camera while smiling.
Photo courtesy of Lyon County Sheriff’s Office
The remains of Naomi Irion were recovered in Churchill County, Nev., according to a joint press release from the sheriff’s offices in Lyon and Churchill counties sent on Wednesday, March 30.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Thursday, March 31, 2022.

Naomi Irion’s body found in Churchill County
By Michelle Billman

The body of kidnapping victim Naomi Irion has been recovered in Churchill County. The sheriff’s offices for Lyon and Churchill counties made the announcement in a joint press release Wednesday. Law enforcement officers received a tip on Tuesday that brought them to a remote area of Churchill County where the gravesite was located.

The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy to confirm Irion’s identity and her family has been notified. The statement said that both offices would like to extend their sympathy to the Irion family and thank the volunteers who searched for her. Officials say no more information can be released now and that they will continue working on this investigation.

Suspect with criminal record arraigned in Nevada kidnapping
By The Associated Press

A 41-year-old man with a violent criminal record has been arraigned on a first-degree kidnapping charge in the disappearance of an 18-year-old northern Nevada woman who was last seen more than two weeks ago. A judge in rural Lyon County left bail unchanged Wednesday after it was set at $750,000 following Troy Driver’s arrest. Driver, of Fernley, was arrested Friday as a suspect in what authorities have characterized as the abduction of Naomi Irion. She last was seen before a man got into her car before dawn March 12 in a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno.

Vegas tourism rebound fueling robust Nevada economy numbers
By The Associated Press

Nevada’s tourism economy is putting the coronavirus pandemic behind it, with regulators reporting the best casino winnings ever for a February and the airport serving Las Vegas announcing plans to resume nonstop international flights in April.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday reported a 12th straight month of $1 billion or more in casino house winnings.

Harry Reid International Airport announced that 16 airlines will begin nonstop service in coming weeks to destinations in countries including Mexico, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Tourism numbers are improving and Nevada’s unemployment rate is rebounding. The jobless figure dropped from a pandemic-caused record of 30.1% in April 2020 to 5.1% statewide last month.

Former hospitality workers sue Station Casinos to return to work
By Gustavo Sagrero

Seventy-six former Station Casino employees are suing to get their jobs back. They’re arguing the company has violated the Nevada Hospitality and Travel Workers Right to Return Act, which passed last year.

The law requires an employer to offer a job to employees who were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint alleges Station Casinos hired new workers instead.

Station Casinos is the third-largest private employer in Nevada. Among other properties, they own and operate nine casinos in the Las Vegas area. Station Casinos did not respond to a request for comment.

Navajo Nation considers repealing its ban on same-sex marriage
By Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

The country’s largest tribal nation, the Navajo Nation, is considering repealing its ban on same-sex marriage. The Navajo Nation lies within Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and has approximately 400,000 members. And almost 20 years ago, it banned same-sex marriages.

Alray Nelson heads the LGBTQ Indigenous advocacy group Navajo Nation Pride. He says the ban has resulted in problems for partners who want to adopt, build a house, have joint health issuance and more.

“In order for us to really feel safe in our own communities living on the Navajo Nation, the Nation has to open up those doors and send a message to the rest of the country that the largest tribal nation in the United States is inclusive, and you’re a part of our family,” Nelson said.

He estimates out of the 574 federally-recognized tribal nations in the U.S., there are about a dozen bans still in place.

The proposal to repeal the ban will go to one of the tribal government’s committees next.

NV Energy provides funding for new forecasting tool
By Nick Stewart

The Nevada Energy Foundation is giving a $150,000 grant to the Desert Research Institute to develop a new weather forecasting tool.

The advanced computer modeling tool will be used to predict weather, fire and smoke. It will help determine where wildfires could occur along with where they may spread. It can be used for modeling conditions from a few days out to more than one year away.

The forecasts will be available to fire mitigation teams and meteorologists in Nevada and California.

USDA finds 5 new cases of avian flu throughout U.S.
By Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau

Avian flu can be highly contagious — and deadly — for poultry, and new cases are popping up around the U.S., including in the Mountain West. On Wednesday, the Agriculture Department confirmed five new cases of the highly pathogenic avian flu — known as HPAI.

The cases in chickens and other birds were scattered across the nation. One came in a backyard flock in Johnson County, Wyoming, north of Casper.

Officials said the areas were quarantined and birds from those flocks will not enter the food system. Meanwhile, the CDC says recent cases don’t present a public health problem.

Earlier this year, the flu was found in chickens, turkeys and wild birds. Officials are watching closely because the flu can cause big problems for the poultry industry.

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.

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