A sophisticated computer virus that attacked Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office early morning April 19, then spread to computers in every department of county government, appeared to be under control Friday, April 22.

Yavapai County Administrator Julie AyersCounty computer technicians believed they had the virus under control numerous times in test environments during the past few days but quickly determined it was still present, Yavapai County Administrator Julie Ayers said.

“It’s been extremely challenging,” Ayers said. “We will be working throughout the weekend. We have our fingers crossed that we have a solution. It has been successful in the lab environment and we began to roll it out to departments [Friday] morning.”

“It’s a very sophisticated virus. It is very good at hiding itself. It has multiple ways of promulgating itself and hiding within the servers,” she said.

The Treasurer, Human Resources and Board of Supervisors offices were up and running on a limited basis Friday as technicians tried to determine whether the fix was successful, Ayers said.

The selection of departments to be cleared of the virus first was not based on priority, but proximity to technicians, she said.

Known as Qakbot, the virus probably made its way into the system through an email attachment sent to YCSO, despite up-to-date antivirus software, Ayers said.

The attack did not appear to be directed at Yavapai County specifically since government computer systems were simultaneously impacted in other areas of the nation, Ayers said.

“I don’t know how public others affected are being about it, but we are not alone,” Ayers said.

The virus is normally directed at financial institutions, she said.

County computer technicians were aware of the presence of the virus almost immediately as errors and glitches began showing up on screen in the YCSO and then elsewhere around the county.

The only county departments not affected by the virus are the Superior Court, Clerk of Court, and Juvenile Probation departments because those systems are separately tied into the state judicial system network, Ayers said.

Work performed by any county employee using computers between 6 and 7 a.m. April 19 was lost. The county’s computer system was shut down almost immediately after the virus was discovered, she said.

A ban on Internet use by county employees continued through Friday as the three department systems were operated in a test environment to determine whether the virus was still embedded.

Ayers said she was extremely proud of the way county departments found ways to work around the problem, although several employees whose jobs are limited to use of a computer were sent home on vacation.

“For example, the health department has gone back to charting medical records by hand, the same type of system they used 20 years ago,” Ayers said.

The county, which has crisis management plans for fires and floods, will devise a similar plan for computer system crashes to handle any similar situation that may arise in the future, Ayers said.

A day-long standoff in Jerome at the Columbia mine shaft between local police agencies and an unidentified man who escaped from a Cottonwood mental health facility ended peacefully at approximately 12:45 p.m., Thursday, April 7.

Officers were able to lure the man away from the edge of a 900-foot deep shaft with the promise of walking his family's dog.

The man reportedly escaped from the Mingus Center on Wednesday, April 6, and unconfirmed reports said he led police on a foot chase down a steep gully just east of the Jerome State Historic Park before moving into the entry of the Columbia mine shaft.

Fearful of the man falling down the mine shaft, the police treated the situation delicately and gave the man food, water and a blanket for the cold night after he refused to leave the mine. It is not known exactly how the man made it from Cottonwood to Jerome.

Around noon on Thursday, Jerome Police Chief Allen Muma and Clarkdale police officer Nicole Florisi brought down the man's parents' dog to try to convince him to leave the mine and surrender. The man soon agreed to leave with the police if he would be allowed to walk the dog back up the steep hill.

After securing the distressed man, police escorted him up the hill with the dog to waiting police vehicles and his parents.

Before being taken away to the Yavapai County Detention Center, the man announced he had been Tasered by police officers outside of the mine shaft entryway.

Law enforcement agencies responding to the incident included Jerome, Clarkdale and Cottonwood police departments and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.Police officers lead a mentally ill man who had been refusing to leave the entry to the Columbia mine shaft in Jerome up a steep hill to waiting police cars Thursday, April 7. The man allegedly escaped from a Cottonwood mental health facility on Wednesday, April 6.

Defense attorneys for James Arthur Ray have made another attempt to have the trial, scheduled to start this week, moved out of Yavapai County.

Ray, 53, a self-help author and motivational speaker, is charged with three counts of manslaughter stemming from deaths that took place at a special sweat lodge ceremony at Angel Valley Retreat Center near Sedona in October that was part of a $10,000 a head weekend event.

Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Michigan, Kirby Brown, 38, of New York and James Shore, 40, of Wisconsin, died after exposure to conditions inside the sweat lodge, a large tentlike structure that was heated to high temperatures.

Defense attorneys for James Arthur Ray have made another attempt to have the trial, scheduled to start this week, moved out of Yavapai County.Official trial proceedings are set to begin Wednesday, Feb. 16, in Yavapai County Superior Court at the courthouse in Camp Verde.

In a motion filed earlier this month, Ray’s defense team argues that excessive media coverage of the event and pretrial proceedings has made it extremely difficult to find an impartial jury in Yavapai County.

Much of the defense’s argument rests on opinions given about the case on questionnaires sent to potential jurors.

“Questionnaire after questionnaire reflects community members who have been steeped in unfavorable media portrayals of Mr. Ray and have formed a firm opinion of his guilt,” the motion reads. “Indeed, the defense submits — and will show … that there has never been an Arizona case with the depth and intensity of prejudice involved here.”

The defense acknowledges that some of the media coverage of Ray’s case has been national in scope, but that the immediate Yavapai County community has had more exposure to media coverage and could be additionally affected by news about the case since it happened locally.

The defense goes on to argue that Maricopa County would “offer a much greater chance of a fair trial by an impartial jury” thanks in part to having a population 20 times the size of Yavapai County from which to draw jurors.

The court dismissed an earlier attempt to change venues last year, but the defense argues that “inflammatory and inaccurate media coverage” has continued unabated since the sweat lodge incident.
This coverage, the motion states, resulted in questionnaires from people who believe Ray is a con artist, among other things.

To help back up the argument for a change of venue, the defense submitted an affidavit from Norma Silverstein, Ph.D., a vice president of research and development at Vinson and Company, a Los Angeles firm “engaged in the business of understanding human behavior and the social and psychological processes involved in a jury trial.”

The company is assisting Ray pro bono, according to the document.

Silverstein and her company conducted a three-day survey in early February to measure public opinion concerning Ray in Maricopa and Yavapai counties.

Of those interviewed, 94 percent of Yavapai County residents sampled through jury questionnaires said they had heard of the case, compared with 72 percent in Maricopa County, reached by telephone.

Just over 36 percent of Yavapai County residents said media coverage “would” interfere with their ability to be fair and impartial, compared to just over 27 percent in Maricopa County.

“The level of vitriol expressed by potential jurors in Yavapai County is at a level I have not seen in prior cases,” Silverstein wrote. “Emotionally laden descriptions of the defendant go far beyond simply leaning toward believing him to be guilty.”

Barring a change of venue or other circumstance, the jury selection process is expected to begin Wednesday in the courtroom of Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow.

The recent precipitation in northern Arizona has helped make conditions ripe for prescribed pile burning. Fire managers on the Coconino National Forest are conducting prescribed pile burns in three different locations today, Tuesday, Feb. 1:

  • Oak Creek Canyon
  • south of I-40 and Little America off Harold Ranch Road
  • northeast of Lake Mary Road near the Heckethorn neighborhood.


U.S. Forest ServiceLight smoke will be in the area during ignition. Piles are smaller and should be completely consumed before the day’s end, leaving little residual smoke. Crews anticipate continuing to conduct pile burns in these areas for the next couple of weeks as conditions allow.

All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, weather – including ventilation, and approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Fire managers work hard to balance the critical need for reducing the risk of severe wildfires with the importance of minimizing smoke impacts to communities. The Coconino National Forest coordinates prescribed fire plans with the partners in the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council (which includes local fire departments), as well as neighboring forests, to reduce the overall impact of smoke on the communities.

The public can obtain prescribed fire information via the following:

 

Local Ranger Stations:

  • Red Rock Ranger District, Sedona, 203-2900;
  • Peaks Ranger District, Flagstaff, (928) 526-0866
  • Mogollon Rim Ranger District, Blue Ridge,  (928) 477-2255

After being closed Wednesday, Dec. 29, by the Arizona Department of Transportation, Interstate 17 is now open northbound and southbound.

ADOT closed State Route 89A between mileposts 386, Pumphouse Wash, and 397, the Forest Highlands area, at 2 p.m. today to prioritize snow removal and deicing efforts on Interstate 17.

Mackenzie Nuño, ADOT public information officer, stated this portion of SR 89A will remain closed for at least 24 hours.

Snowy conditions caused the closure of Interstate 17 northbound 4 p.m. Wednesday. Dozens of calls of vehicles stuck or sliding off the roadway were reported to emergency crews all morning long. Southbound I-17 closed at 6 p.m., between mileposts 316 and 327, about two miles south of Flagstaff. Traffic was rerouted back north.

After midnight, due to a severe storm cell, Interstate 40 stretching through Kingman, Flagstaff and Winslow, milepost 71 to 252, was been closed in both directions due to winter driving conditions.

US Highway 180 was closed also between mileposts 236, Kendrick Park, and 248, Cedar Ranch.

Interstate 17 southbound out of Flagstaff opened at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 30. The roadway remained slippery and motorists are advised to use extra caution and reduced speeds.

As of 1:20 p.m., Thursday, Interstate 40 opened in both directions. I-17 northbound opened at 1:45 p.m.

Oak Creek Canyon is still closed.



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 12/30 Storm Update: I-17 northbound OPEN
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2010 13:46:49 -0700
From: Mackenzie Nuno
To: Undisclosed recipients:;


12/30

FLAGSTAFF DISTRICT

1:45 PM

*Interstate 17 is open northbound.

*US 180 is expected to remain closed through the evening.

*SR 89A will be reopened as soon as snowplows are able to clear the roadway. I will update you as soon as the roadway reopens.

 

1:20PM

*Interstate 40 is open in both directions.

*Interstate 17 northbound remains closed but crews are working diligently to reopen the roadway just as soon as it is safe to do so. I will update you as soon as the road opens.

*State Route 89A and US 180 remain closed.

 

10:30 AM

*Interstate 17 southbound is open out of Flagstaff. The roadway remains slippery and motorists are advised to use extra caution and reduced speeds.

*The other closures noted on the 6:03AM update remain.

 

6:03 AM

*Interstate 40 stretching through Kingman, Flagstaff and Winslow (milepost 71 to 252) has been closed in both directions due to winter driving conditions.

*I-17 northbound remains closed north of State Route 179. Traffic at this time is being diverted to southbound I-17. Drivers are advised to detour in advance or delay travels to avoid congestion at the turnaround.

*I-17 southbound is closed at Airport Road, about two miles south of Flagstaff. Traffic is being rerouted back to the north. Travel south from Flagstaff at this time is not recommended; no reopen time has been established.

*State Route 89A remains closed from Pumphouse Wash at milepost 386 to Forest Highlands Road at milepost 397 due to winter conditions and resource allocation.

*US 180 between mileposts 236 (Kendrick Park) and 248 (Cedar Ranch)

 

12/29

 

11 PM UPDATE

*Snowfall has subsided for a short time this evening but NWS is forecasting heavy snow to begin again around midnight and continue for another 8-12 hours.

*I-17 Southbound has been cleared of traffic tie-ups but remains closed until crews can properly plow and apply de-icers.  It is planned to reopen southbound at 01:00, Dec. 30, 2010.  This is subject to change depending on conditions.

*I-17 Northbound has not been completely cleared of tie-ups but there is improvement and traffic queues have been turned around and mainly redirected back south.  Northbound will remain closed for the night and reassessed tomorrow morning.

*SR 89A will remain closed through the night between mileposts 386 and 397 and will be reassessed once I-17 is completely open and resources can be shifted back to that location. 

 

6 PM

 *I-17 Southbound is closing immediately at Airport Road just south of Flagstaff between mileposts 316 and 327.

*I-17 Northbound remains closed at milepost 299.

 

4 PM

*I-17 Northbound is closing immediately at milepost 299. Traffic is being turned around to head southbound. Only local traffic will be permitted to enter Sedona.

 

12:55 PM

*ADOT will close SR 89A between mileposts 386 (Pumphouse Wash) and 397 (Forest Highlands) at 2 p.m. today in order to prioritize snow removal and deicing efforts on Interstate 17. This portion of SR 89A will remain closed for at least 24 hours.

 

11:30 AM

*All Flagstaff maintenance yards snow removal equipment and staff is fully deployed, plowing and deicing the roadways.

*Page yard has 2 snowplow trucks out on SR 98 and US 89.  Fredonia yard also have trucks out on US 89A and SR 389.

* All highways open and passable with both wet and snowpack conditions.

*NWS expecting conditions to deteriorate over next 12-18 hours with heavy snow and high winds. With these winds, motorists should anticipate the possibility of white out conditions as the snow increases.

 

8:15 AM

*Road crews are calling in conditions of ice and snow on roadways. Crews continue to monitor conditions.

*All roads remain open at this time.

*Snowplows are out removing snow from roadway and applying chemical deicer.

 

 

Mackenzie Nuño

Public Information Officer

Arizona Department of Transportation

Communication and Community Partnerships

Flagstaff District

(928) 779.7554 Desk

(928) 525.6494 Cell

Media Line: 800-949-8057 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 



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Oak Creek Canyon has been closed 11 miles north of Sedona due to the storm system moving through the area Wednesday, Dec.29. The winter storm is expected to linger in Northern Arizona until Saturday, Jan. 1.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, State Route 89a closed at 2 p.m. Wednesday and will likely remain closed until at least Thursday afternoon, Dec. 30.

The section of roadway will be closed so ADOT snowplows can be used on Interstate 17, the alternate route to Flagstaff.

ADOT officials also closed Interstate 17 northbound shortly after 4 p.m. The road is closed at the State Route 179 exit, at milemarker 298. Numerous accidents were reported all day long on northbound and southbound I-17 between the Sedona exit and the southern reaches of the Flagstaff area before the closure.

The American Red Cross and a church set up a shelter in Munds Park that was accomodating 65 people early Thursday.

I-40 into Flagstaff is also closed.

Southbound I-17 opened around noon, Thursday, Dec. 30.

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday, Dec. 6, to hire an expert on redistricting to prepare to redraw the county’s political boundaries, which Yavapai County Administrator Julie Ayers said was “almost guaranteed” before the 2012 election.

The county hired Federal Compliance Consulting of Maryland, headed by former U.S. Department of Justice Senior Attorney Bruce Addelson, who had national enforcement responsibility for federal voting laws.

Yavapai County Administrator Julie AyersThe supervisors authorized the county to spend up to $85,000 for Addelson’s services during the next year.

The county expects the 2010 census to show its population surpassed 175,000 residents, a threshold that will require redistricting under state law, Ayers said.

“When the county passes the 175,000 threshold, we will be required to expand the Board of Supervisors to five members and to establish supervisorial districts accordingly,” she wrote in the Board of Supervisors’ agenda.

Lines that currently draw three supervisors’ districts will be redrawn as five to accomplish several constitutionally required goals, Ayer said.

A redistricting plan must create districts that are relatively equal in population. The plan must not dilute the strength of minority voters. It must not result in a “racial gerrymander,” which attempts to draw lines according to the racial component of various neighborhoods.

Finally, a redistricting plan must take into account traditional redistricting criteria such as compactness, contiguity, and respect for political subdivision lines and communities of interest, she said.

Since the redistricting process must comply with federal statutory guidelines and will be subject to review by the U.S. Department of Justice, it will require careful planning and execution, Ayers wrote.

The time remaining for completion of the process is relatively short. The target for completion of the process and preclearance of the new redistricting plan by the DOJ is December 2011. This will allow the county to make election packets available to candidates by Jan. 12, 2012, she wrote.

It is our intention to utilize in-house resources for this project to the greatest possible extent. There are, however, certain areas where specialized expertise may be particularly useful. These would include the complex statistical and demographic analysis of the county’s voting history and submission of the redistricting plan to the Department of Justice, Ayers wrote.

President Barack Obama is the first president who has actually worked as an attorney to enforce federal voting lights laws, Addelson said. The president appointed more than 100 additional attorneys to the DOJ’s voting rights division in anticipation of redistricting required by the 2010 census, he said.

“The DOJ’s current enforcement posture appears to differ from its approach during the 2000 redistricting cycle, with more vigorous policing apparently in place,” Addelson said.

Because Arizona is one state under court order to submit all redistricting plans to a federal judge for a review known as preclearance, it is important the county do what it can up front to prepare plan that will pass scrutiny and avoid the cost and delay of potential lawsuits, he said.

Addelson said he expects to complete preliminary studies, reviews and analysis of demographic information by the end of this year.

Outreach meetings will be conducted with community leaders in January and February to prepare for the official release of the 2010 census data from February through April. Review of the census data should be completed by April, Addelson said.

Addelson and Ayers will meet with public officials about the data in May and public meetings will also be conducted.

Alternate plans for redistricting of the county will be prepared and presented by July.

August will be spent preparing the final plan for publication in September. The county would adopt the final plan in October, leaving two months in advance of the final deadline to work with the DOJ to obtain preclearance approval, Addelson said.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled an injunction of several major portions of Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, from going into effect at midnight Wednesday, July 29.

The federal government sued the state of Arizona on July 6 to block parts of the bill.

In the 36-page ruling, Bolton blocked:

• Portion of Section 2, requiring police officers to attempt to determine the immigration status of a person detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that they are illegally in the United States, and requiring verification of the immigration status of any person arrested.

•Section 3, creating a crime for failure to apply for or carry alien registration papers.

•Portion of Section 5, creating a crime for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for or perform work.

•Section 6, authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a crime that makes the person removable from the United States.

Minor sections of the law were not challenged by the U.S. Justice Department and will still go into effect, such as making it a crime to pick up day laborers if it impedes traffic, reenforcing the ban on intentional or knowing employment of illegal immigrants, and allowing residents to sue officials who don’t enforce immigration laws.

“We believe the court ruled correctly when it prevented key provisions of SB 1070 from taking effect,” Hannah August, U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs stated in a press release. “While we understand the frustration of Arizonans with the broken immigration system, a patchwork of state and local policies would seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement and would ultimately be counterproductive.”

“States can and do play a role in cooperating with the federal government in its enforcement of the immigration laws, but they must do so within our constitutional framework. This administration takes its responsibility to secure our borders seriously and has dedicated unprecedented resources to that effort,” August stated. “We will continue to work toward smarter and more effective enforcement of our laws while pressing for a comprehensive approach that provides true security and strengthens accountability and responsibility in our immigration system at the national level.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law in April. On Wednesday, July 28, hours before the bill was due to go into effect, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled an injunction of several major portions of the controversial new immigration law.“I am disappointed by Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling,” Gov. Jan Brewer stated in a press release. “This fight is far from over. In fact, it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”

“I have consulted with my legal counsel about our next steps. We will take a close look at every single element Judge Bolton removed from the law, and we will soon file an expedited appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit,” Brewer stated. “I will battle all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, for the right to protect the citizens of Arizona.”

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