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SENATE REPLACEMENT

Allen to replace deceased Arizona legislator

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Republican party officials have chosen a former Arizona legislator to run for a state Senate seat left vacant by a lawmaker's death.

GOP precinct committeemen voted Saturday morning to have Sylvia Allen fill in as the candidate for the Legislative District 6 seat, which was held by Chester Crandell.

Crandell, a Heber Republican, was killed Aug. 4 when he fell from a horse. His name remained on Tuesday's primary election ballot.

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham says Allen's popularity among voters gives the party an excellent chance at retaining the seat.

Allen, who currently serves as a Navajo County supervisor, served in the Senate from 2008 through 2012.

Tom O'Halleran, a former legislator who held office as a Republican, is running for the Senate seat as an independent.

NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY-ENROLLMENT

NAU sees record number of freshmen

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A record number of freshmen are hitting the books at Northern Arizona University.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported Friday that nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in the school's freshmen class.

Officials say that is 5 percent larger than last fall.

However, the rate of class growth has slowed. The 2013 class was more than 11 percent larger than the previous year.

NAU officials say they are pleased that this year's incoming freshmen appear more diverse and have a slightly higher average GPA than in recent years.

Enrollment overall at the school is up for a fifth year with more than 20,000 registered.

Official enrollment numbers will be released Sept. 18.

Arizona State University and the University of Arizona also reported record enrollment numbers for the fall semester.

I-17 CRASHES

Crashes cause delays on I-17 in north Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) - Several crashes in north Phoenix are causing delays for Labor Day weekend travelers on a major interstate.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says there have been heavy traffic backups Saturday afternoon on Interstate 17 from north Phoenix up to Black Canyon City.

According to ADOT, a crash at the exit for State Route 74 and Carefree Highway caused cars to slow for 18 miles. Traffic had to be restricted to one lane in Rock Springs.

Crews are also working to clear a crash at Anthem Way.

ADOT says more lane closures are possible.

Motorists heading north can try alternate routes such as State Route 87 through Payson or State Route 89 through Prescott.

ARRESTED MOTORCYCLIST-DEATH

Motorcyclist dies while in Mohave County custody

LITTLEFIELD, Ariz. (AP) - A motorcyclist who was arrested after fleeing a traffic stop in the Arizona Strip region has died in custody.

Mohave County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Trish Carter says deputies in the Littlefield area spotted a motorcycle Friday night traveling without a rear license plate.

Deputies attempted to stop the rider, who then abandoned his vehicle and ran into the desert.

Carter says deputies found him in some brush and used a Taser twice after he allegedly became combative.

The suspect stopped breathing while being led in handcuffs to a patrol car.

Despite paramedics' efforts, the man died at the scene.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is investigating the incident. The deputies involved have been placed on paid administrative leave.

The motorcyclist has not yet been identified.

QUEEN CREEK-OUTAGE

Vehicle accident causes outage in Queen Creek

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. (AP) - Utility workers are nearly done restoring power to more than 1,000 households in the Queen Creek area.

The Salt River Project says a car hit a power pole around 7:30 a.m. Saturday near Hawes and Riggs roads, causing an outage to about 1,200 customers.

SRP spokeswoman Patty Likens says, as of noon, about 29 residences are still awaiting electricity.

Crews are still working to make repairs caused by the down power poles.

The utility estimates all power will be back by 6:30 p.m.

TEACHER-SELLING DRUGS

Former Havasu teacher sentenced in drug case

LAK HAVASU CITY, Ariz. (AP) - A former Lake Havasu City kindergarten teacher is going to prison after pleading guilty to selling prescription pills.

The Today's News-Herald reported Saturday that Stefanie Courson received a minimum sentence of a year and a half as part of a plea deal.

Mohave County Deputy Attorney Megan McCoy says Courson will receive credit for time already served. Courson will be eligible to get out on good behavior after serving 85 percent of her sentence.

Prosecutors say Courson sold hundreds of prescription drugs to an undercover police detective, leading to her arrest in December.

She pleaded guilty to solicitation of sale of narcotic drugs. In exchange, prosecutors dropped seven other counts.

HIGHWAY-FATAL ACCIDENT

Woman accused of using drugs, causing fatal crash

PHOENIX (AP) - Authorities say a woman is facing manslaughter and drug-related charges after she allegedly ran a red light, causing a fatal crash on a Phoenix highway.

Charging documents show 25-year-old Sarah Ashleigh Ramos was booked into Maricopa County Jail after the accident Thursday morning on eastbound U.S. 60 at the intersection with 99th Avenue.

Authorities say Ramos hit a vehicle being driven by 51-year-old Christine Gearhart, who did not survive.

Police say Ramos, while being extricated from her car, tried to retrieve something from under her seat.

Investigators found a glass pipe used to smoke methamphetamine.

Ramos, of Glendale, was arrested on one count each of manslaughter and drug paraphernalia possession.

Police are awaiting test results of blood taken from Ramos.

It was not known if she had a lawyer.

MEDICAL BOARD DIRECTOR

Top official at Arizona State Medical Board quits

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona State Medical Board is looking for a new executive director.

Lloyd Vest resigned after less than six months on the job for undisclosed reasons.

Board members announced after a 2 ½-hour executive session Wednesday night that Vest's resignation was effective immediately.

They say none of the events that led to Vest's decision involved issues related to public health and safety concerns.

The 60-year-old Vest has been the board's executive director since March.

The board regulates and licenses physicians in Arizona and is the state's top medical licensing entity.

Lisa Wynn was fired last October for unlawfully expediting physician licensing.

The licensing procedures then were overhauled, slowing the process and leading to a backlog of more than 700 pending physician licenses as of March.

WEAPONS VIOLATIONS-SENTENCE

Tucson man gets prison in weapons violations case

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A Tucson man who pleaded guilty to weapons violations has been sentenced to 4½ years in prison.

Pima County prosecutors say 42-year-old Leandro Antonio Perez faced two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a prohibited possessor.

Perez originally was charged with first-degree murder as well as numerous drug charges in connection with the killing of Juan Barrios.

The 41-year-old Barrios was shot to death at his Tucson home in March 2013 and authorities say it was related to a drug debt.

The murder and drug charges against Perez later were dropped.

GOVERNOR-FAITH PARTNERSHIPS

Brewer unites Arizona agencies, faith-based groups

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is bringing state agencies and faith-based organizations together to better serve the needy.

Brewer signed an executive order Friday, establishing the Governor's Office of Faith and Community Partnerships as well as a state council.

Officials say both entities will promote and strengthen the collaboration of faith-based nonprofits and state agencies that offer services to more vulnerable populations.

They will focus on assisting children, the elderly, disabled and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The governor will appoint a director to lead the office, which will be permitted to accept funding from government and outside agencies.

The Arizona Council on Faith and Community Partnerships will help will be staffed by individuals appointed by the governor and serve voluntarily.

PHOENIX-PARK METERS

Phoenix scraps parking meters at hiking spots

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix parks officials have abandoned a proposal to use parking meters to manage overcrowding at the city's most popular hiking spots.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department announced Friday that it will no longer consider installing meters in parking areas at desert preserves such as Camelback Mountain.

Officials say hundreds of residents expressed opposition to the idea in the last several weeks.

They say more than 60 spoke at a department board meeting on Thursday.

The parks department says it will continue to look for other ways to address the crowds and trail impact.

Mayor Greg Stanton says he supports the department's decision and is looking forward to hearing other options to manage traffic at trail heads.

MINUTEMAN FOUNDER-TRIAL

Minuteman movement founder's trial to begin Oct. 9

PHOENIX (AP) - The trial for a founder of the Minuteman border-watch movement on child molestation charges has been delayed by a little more than a month.

Chris Simcox's trial had been scheduled to begin Tuesday but has been reset for Oct. 9.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor and another charge.

Simcox has denied allegations that he abused the two girls in 2012 and 2013.

The Minuteman movement stepped into the spotlight in 2005 as illegal immigration heated up as a national political issue and Minuteman volunteers fanned out along the nation's southern border to watch for illegal crossings and report them to federal agents.

But the movement splintered after Simcox and a co-founder parted ways and headed up separate groups.

DESERT TORTOISE KILLED

Desert tortoise fatally shot; information sought

PHOENIX (AP) - State officials say they could use help from the public in determining who shot and killed a desert tortoise, a member of a protected species and part of a long-term research project.

The Game and Fish Department says the tortoise was killed near the Beeline Highway about 15 miles north of Fountain Hills on the northeastern fringe of the Phoenix area.

The tortoise was part of a research effort and was last observed alive on Aug. 28 during routine monitoring by the department's non-game biologists.

It was found dead on Aug. 25, but investigators believe it was killed several days earlier.

The tortoise was the second of 15 tortoises to have a transmitter affixed and had been tracked since 2010.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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