Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from April 22-24
PHOENIX — Evacuations for the Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff were lifted, the owner of two Phoenix burger shops in metro Phoenix pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and a man died after driving through a security checkpoint at Luke Air Force Base.
Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.
Evacuations for the Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff were lifted Sunday and Highway 89 was reopened as authorities determined the wildfire no longer posed a threat.
The fire located 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff had burned 21,164 acres as of Sunday morning and was 3% contained, fire management officials said.
Evacuation status for the neighborhoods associated with the fire was changed to “SET” at 9 a.m. as people were reminded that could change at any time based on fire behavior.
The fire forced the evacuation of 766 homes and has burned 30 homes and two dozen other structures since beginning a week ago, the Coconino Sheriff’s Office said.
The owner of two metro Phoenix burger shops pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing false tax returns across at least three years, authorities said.
Leonard Fleszar of Lenny’s Burger Shop filed federal personal income tax returns between at least 2015 and 2017 that underreported the taxable income from the restaurants, according to court documents.
Fleszar underreported about $450,000 in 2015, $475,000 in 2016 and $605,000 in 2017.
The moves created tax losses of about $560,000 over the three years.
Fleszar will have to pay $689,475 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service as part of his plea.
The Glendale Police Department is leading an investigation after an unidentified man died Friday at Luke Air Force Base after driving through a security checkpoint, the United States Air Force said in a release.
At 3:42 p.m., the man drove through the south gate of the base failing to follow proper entry protocols.
Members of the 56 Security Forces Squadron then deployed an automated barrier, which stopped the moving vehicle, the release said.
Medical personnel pronounced the individual dead on the scene.
A Texas-based, physician-led health care network has acquired Abrazo Mesa Hospital and renamed the facility.
Steward Health Care purchased the eight-bed micro hospital at 5750 E. Baseline Road and named it Steward Mesa Hospital, according to a Tuesday press release.
It’s Steward’s fifth facility in Arizona.
“Providing exceptional, community-based care is at the heart of what we do at Steward, and we are excited to welcome Abrazo Mesa Hospital and its excellent staff into our world class, physician-led health care system,” Damon Brown, Steward Health Care Arizona region market president, said in a press release.
“Together with our existing hospitals, this facility will bolster our ability to serve even more patients in the East Valley – providing the care that they need right where they live.”
The U. S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development announced on Monday more than $5 million in grants will be allocated to 12 rural health care organizations and groups in Arizona.
The funding, made available through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants, will go toward helping rural hospitals and health care providers implement nutrition assistance programs, build or renovate facilities, purchase medical supplies and increase staffing, USDA Rural Development officials said in a press release.
The Gila River Health Care Corporation, one of the 12 Arizona recipients, received about $1 million and plans to broaden access to COVID-19 testing and services for those on the Gila River Reservation.