Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Feb. 21-23
A fatal car crash leaves three high school students dead, a popular Valley restaurant reopens and Senate candidate Mark Kelly responds to President Trump’s accusations.
Here are some stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.
Three high school students died on Friday night after being ejected from a passenger van in a rollover crash on the U.S. 70 west of Pima, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
A 16-year-old from Thatcher, a 16-year-old from Fort Thomas and a 17-year-old from Duncan, all boys, were killed.
The driver and five other high school students in the passenger van received non-life threatening injuries, according to authorities.
The breakfast and lunch spot First Watch is set to reopen on Feb. 24 after a car crashed forced the restaurant to rebuild and renovate.
At 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 a man in his 40s crashed his truck into the restaurant at 9645 N. Black Canyon Highway.
The driver was pronounced dead at the hospital and there were no other fatalities.
First Watch currently operates 19 restaurants throughout Phoenix, but the North Black Canyon Highway location was its first, having opened in 1992.
Upon reopening, First Watch will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly is taking issue with the way Donald Trump characterized him this week during the president’s campaign rally in Phoenix.
The former astronaut told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona Morning News on Friday that despite what Trump claimed Wednesday, he opposes open borders and supports the 2nd Amendment.
While Kelly said he is against the tax cuts Trump gave to the wealthy – “I think we need to be looking out for the middle class” — he challenged some of the president’s other characterizations.
“I’m completely on the record – I’m not for open borders. I think we need border security. We also have to treat people fairly,” he said.
Kelly has been an active proponent of gun control since his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and seriously injured in an assassination attempt in 2010.
“I’m a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and I’m a gun owner,” he said. “I own more firearms than most Arizonans. I’m pretty sure about that.”
However, he said many in the state agree with him that the right to bear arms should be regulated more than it is.
“I also think we need commonsense legislation that most Arizonans support to keep communities and families safer from gun violence,” he said.
Rainfall at Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday reached a new high for the date of Feb. 22.
The previous record of 0.45 inches set back in 1913 was surpassed just before 8 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
“The bulk of the heavy rain has moved east of Phoenix, but we will expect at least scattered showers — mostly light and possibly moderate at times — through the afternoon and possibly even the evening timeframe,” meteorologist Chris Coolman with the National Weather Service in Phoenix told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Saturday.
“There might be a chance of thunderstorms mainly north and northwest of Phoenix, but a chance of thunderstorms within Phoenix is pretty low overall. Most of the rain has already fallen. I don’t see us adding a whole lot more.”
As of 5 p.m., the total rain to come down at Sky Harbor had climbed up to 1.03 inches, which is the highest daily total since Feb. 21, 2019, according to the National Weather Service.
Two bills were discussed at the Arizona Legislature Thursday morning that would regulate vacation rental properties throughout the state.
Before the committee discussed the legislation inside the Senate, dozens of owners and operators of vacation rentals gathered outside of the Capitol to voice their opposition against bills they say are “overreaching.”
Sen. Kate Brophy McGee’s Senate Bill 1154 would allow owners to lease out vacation rentals only once in a 30-day period.
A bill sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh would add more regulation to short-term rentals by making the owner meet every renter in person during check-in and require contact information for the owner to be posted outside the rental.
Kavanagh’s legislation also would mandate the installation of noise-monitoring equipment.
Vacation home rental operators believe the legislation is unreasonable and overreaching. Those in favor of the legislation hope there can be a compromise if the bills do not pass.
Wearing matching orange shirts that said “Protect Our Right to Rent,” many owners and operators of rental units on Airbnb and Vrbo said the properties are major sources of their income and the proposed legislation would dramatically hurt their business.
“The economy that it represents is compelling,” Mark Bauvis told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “Secondly, 99% of vacation rental operators are responsible neighbors, add value to neighborhoods, and they improve property values around them.”
Bauvis did acknowledge the bad owners out there and said he would be in favor of helping curb the abuses, but doesn’t want to be punished for the 1% who are bad apples.