Roosevelt Lake among 2017 U.S. “Waters to Watch”

The National Fish Habitat Partnership has unveiled its list of seven “Waters to Watch” for 2017, a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes and watershed systems that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition.

Roosevelt Lake in the Tonto National Forest was listed for its collaborative partnership that has been formed to address habitat issues.

“We’re honored to have this project recognized by the National Fish Habitat Partnership and it wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of our outstanding partners,” said AZGFD aquatics branch chief Chris Cantrell. “We hope that within the next 5-10 years anglers can enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake. This effort should also have a positive economic impact on local communities.”

Read more about this Tonto National Forest Lakes Habitat Improvement Project that is a cooperative effort with numerous anglers, as well as volunteers from organizations such as Gila Basin Angler Roundtable and Midweek Bass Anglers.

Supporting agency partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program, Tonto National Forest, and the National Fish Habitat Partnership-Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership.

Portions of state routes 261, 273 to close for winter Tuesday, Jan. 2

PHOENIX – State routes 261 and 273 in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona will close for the winter on Tuesday, January 2, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. They are among a handful of routes across the state that close for the winter and reopen in the spring.

State Route 261 will close between milepost 404.9, several miles south of State Route 260, and the SR 273 junction at Crescent Lake.
State Route 273 will close between Sunrise Park and Big Lake. The 4-mile portion of SR 273 between SR 260 and Sunrise Park remains open to provide access to the ski area.

Three other highways have already closed for the winter.

State Route 67 between Jacob Lake (US 89A) and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.
State Route 473 to Hawley Lake in the White Mountains.
A portion of State Route 366 that leads up Mount Graham near Safford.

Tips on winter driving are available at

ADOT, GEICO partner to offer rest area Safe Phone Zones

PHOENIX – As drivers take to Arizona’s highways over the holidays, Arizona Department of Transportation rest area Safe Phone Zones sponsored by GEICO encourage motorists to pull off the road before using smartphones for talking, texting and more.

“Even a moment’s distraction can be deadly,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “We are at our best as drivers when we are focused on the road, rested and sober. Using Safe Phone Zones at rest areas allows drivers to stay connected in a safe way.”

Taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, regardless of the reason for doing so. Texting while driving is an especially great concern because it distracts visually, manually and cognitively. During the 5 seconds a person can look away from the road to send or receive a text, a car going 55 mph can travel the length of a football field.

The ADOT partnership began in 2014, with GEICO sponsoring Safe Phone Zones at 14 rest areas to encourage drivers to safely and conveniently use their phones and other mobile devices for calling, texting, navigating and accessing mobile apps. Signs bearing the GEICO logo alert motorists to Safe Phone Zones at each rest area.

GEICO has similar partnerships with Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Texas.

More facts and tips on ways to avoid distracted driving can be found at as well as at

Elk poaching investigated northwest of Williams

WILLIAMS – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating the poaching of a bull elk, which occurred on Sunday morning, December 17.

The elk was shot and left to waste in Game Management Unit 10 along U.S. Forest Service road 6, south of Martin Draw northwest of Williams. There was not a lawful bull elk season going on at the time and the elk was shot with a large caliber rifle behind the shoulder.

Investigating officers are seeking information to locate two individuals last seen wearing orange hats that may have left the scene in a low-profile Nissan Titan pickup truck accented with chrome.

“This crime isn’t the act of an ethical, responsible hunter. It is the action of a criminal,” said Game and Fish Wildlife Officer Noah Silva. “Poaching is a crime. These people are stealing wildlife from the citizens of Arizona and we need those who have information to come forward to help bring these criminals to justice.”

Anyone with information about the case can call the Department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700 or use the online form at Callers should provide case number 17-004934 and may remain anonymous upon request, and all identities will be kept confidential.

A reward of up to $1,500 is being offered in this case for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

Electronic WIC program launched in Coconino County

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Department of Health Services has completed a multi-year effort and launched a system replacing paper checks with a card for families that participate in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. The new system, called “eWIC,” will make it easier for families to access healthy foods.

“The Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) WIC Program provides services to nearly 2,000 participants each month,” said CCPHSD WIC Program Manager Lorraine Ornelas. “The move to eWIC means that our WIC families can shop throughout the month for the same healthy WIC-approved foods. With eWIC, clients have their WIC benefits on one convenient card.”

WIC families can also download the EzWIC app for Apple and Android devices. The app will allow them to search the WIC Food List, scan items in the store to see if they are WIC-approved and check their current benefit balance.

WIC is a successful public health nutrition program that provides healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and connections to community services for income-eligible women who are pregnant and postpartum, infants, and children up to five years old. To learn more, call the CCPHSD WIC Clinic at 928-679-7850 or visit

Williams holds annual Christmas pageant

WILLIAMS – People crowded around heaters to watch the Williams annual Christmas pagent tonight. Before the pagent there was some excitement as a light appeared in the sky.

It was not the Star of Bethlehem, however. It appeared in the west. That light was a Space X Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

This pageant represents the second annual presentation of the nativity with scripture readings from the Holy Bible by various pastors of the churches of Williams. Between train interruptions, there were songs and some surprisingly good presentations by the kids of Williams.

The pageant could

Weekend Travel Advisory

PHOENIX – Motorists in Arizona driving to holiday destinations won’t encounter any scheduled freeway closures for construction work during or between the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends.

The Arizona Department of Transportation will not schedule any full closures for construction or maintenance work on state highways between Friday, December 22 and Tuesday, January 2, in order to limit traffic restrictions and promote safety over the holidays.

While no closures are planned, travelers should be aware that existing improvement project work-zone restrictions will remain in place. Motorists should allow extra travel time and use caution when driving in work zones.

To encourage smart driving decisions, ADOT’s electronic highway signs at times will display holiday-themed safety messages.

Because unexpected delays can occur due to crashes, disabled vehicles and weather, motorists traveling during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays should:

  • Pack extra drinking water and snacks
  • Avoid the busiest travel times, if possible
  • Be patient and obey speed limits – speeding is a leading cause of crashes
  • Get plenty of rest before driving – drowsy driving is unsafe
  • Check vehicles, including tire pressure, engine belts and fluid levels
  • If traveling to the high country, pack cold-weather clothes and blankets
  • Never drive while impaired – arrange for a designated driver or a ride service

Another option for emergency communications is a Citizens Band or Amateur Radio. Some areas are void of cell phone coverage. Amateur radio requires a license, which is relatively easy to obtain but requires you to take an exam. A citizens band radio does not require a license, but you must follow the rules and regulations in Part 95 of 47 C.F.R. The FCC does allow you to use amateur radio or the General Mobile Radio Service frequencies (both which require a license normally) to call for help in an emergency. Channel 9 of the citizens band radio service is reserved for emergencies only.

Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT. When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, our free app available at will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

Fox in Oak Creek Canyon tests positive for rabies

FLAGSTAFF – The Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) was recently contacted regarding an individual in the Oak Creek Canyon area (near Sedona) who was attacked by a fox. CCPHSD Animal Management responded and sent the fox to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) State Laboratory where it tested positive for rabies.

The individual who was exposed is receiving post exposure rabies prophylaxis treatment. CCPHSD is providing signage for area trails, and notifying local businesses in the area.

Rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord of animals and humans. It is caused by a virus present in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted to humans through contact with the live virus.

The Coconino County Public Health Services District recommends taking precautions to protect yourself and your pets from rabies. Keep all pets current on vaccinations and obey leash laws. Do not let pets roam freely. Avoid wildlife, especially those exhibiting unusual behaviors which can include; showing no fear of humans, aggressive behavior, staggering and/or acting sickly, and nocturnal mammals active during daytime.

Call 911 if a wildlife emergency occurs. To report unusual wildlife sightings or behavior call the Coconino County Public Health Services District Animal Management Program at 928-679-8756.

Employee innovation helps ADOT reopen freeways faster after pavement treatment

PHOENIX – After asphalt lanes get a rejuvenating seal designed to reduce cracking and extend the life of pavement, an innovation by Arizona Department of Transportation employees allows crews to reopen freeways faster.

Using scrap metal, ADOT maintenance workers fashioned what’s essentially a reverse stencil – a diamond-shaped template that keeps the oil-based seal off of white HOV markings within lanes. They also designed a metal arm to lift and transport the template from one HOV diamond to the next.

While applying the seal doesn’t affect lane striping, HOV markers within lanes once had to be repainted before a freeway could reopen. In addition to shortening the full closures required to apply the seal, saving the time and money needed to repaint HOV markings adds up to $310 for each diamond.

According to Mark Kilian, an ADOT highway operations technical supervisor, using the reverse stencil usually involves two trucks, each transporting and placing one template. This process improvement, he said, is designed to better serve drivers, who are ADOT’s customers.

“We had a major interstate shut down, and we wanted to make sure we can get it open as soon as possible, so we have to be as efficient as possible,” Kilian said.

This innovation is another example of ADOT’s commitment to continuous improvement through the Arizona Management System (AMS) championed by Governor Doug Ducey. AMS challenges all employees to identify and develop ways to deliver more value for taxpayers.

“Every time that we are successful at something like this,” Kilian said, “it gives us even more motivation to go out and find new innovation and ideas to help us make processes easier.”

ADEQ Announces $8,600 Brownfields Grant to the Town of Superior, Arizona

PHOENIX – Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) officials announced today an $8,600 Brownfields Grant award to the Town of Superior to conduct an asbestos survey of the Belmont Hotel building constructed on Main Street in 1935.

The survey work is set to begin Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. The Town of Superior intends to conduct remediation and abatement of contaminants based on these survey results and to prepare to make the site available for commercial development.

“The Belmont Hotel is an iconic building to Superior’s downtown, standing in the center of the community and serving as a symbol of the economic challenges that we have faced,” says Superior Town Manager Todd Pryor. “Returning this building to usefulness and productivity will serve as a symbol of the Town’s recovery and hope for the future.”

Established in 2003, BAP conducts projects through Arizona’s State Response Grant using funds provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. The program has funded more than 70 projects, assisting entities from local governments, schools, hospitals and nonprofits to tribes in completing environmental assessments, cleanup and restoration.

Redeveloping Brownfields has the potential to reduce environmental hazards, mitigate public health threats, create new business opportunities, increase tax revenue and restore habitats and blighted areas to productive use. Program funds are limited and available to eligible applicants in the order that they apply and qualify.