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ARIZONA OFFICIAL-ADOPTION FRAUD

Suspended Arizona official appeals to keep his assessor job

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona elected official accused of paying women from a poor Pacific island nation to give their babies up for adoption in the United States made an appeal Wednesday to keep his job. Lawyers for Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen told the county Board of Supervisors that he did not neglect his duties in office despite spending three weeks in jail before he was able to post bond. Peterson didn’t attend the hearing. The supervisors voted unanimously in October to place Petersen on an unpaid suspension for 120 days, ruling he'd neglected his office and used his county computer to do work for his adoption business. Petersen has pleaded not guilty in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah to charges stemming from his law firm's adoption practice.

DRIVER SURVIVES EMBANKMENT CRASH

Driver flies off Arizona highway and survives rolling crash

(Information from: KTAR-FM, http://www.ktar.com)

PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities have confirmed the driver of a car that flew off the road, crashed and rolled down an embankment in northern Arizona is expected to recover. KTAR-FM reports that the driver crashed Monday on State Route 89A after traveling 65 mph in a 20-mph zone. Jerome police officers said the driver went 121 feet in the air before landing and rolling about 400 feet down rugged terrain. Authorities say the man was found semiconscious inside the car. It is unclear whether he was wearing a seatbelt.

DUCEY-SELLING HOME

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lists home for $8.75 million

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and his wife have listed their Paradise Valley home for $8.75 million. A spokesman for the Republican governor said Wednesday the Duceys are looking to downsize now that their children are grown. He did not say where they're looking to move but says they're not leaving Arizona. Real-estate listings say the 11,000 square-foot property sits on a 2-acre gated lot at the Paradise Valley Country Club. It has six bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. The Duceys built it in 2009.

ARIZONA WELCOME SIGNS

Grand Canyon among designs for new Arizona 'welcome' signs

PHOENIX (AP) — The Grand Canyon is among six iconic Arizona landscapes that will appear on new signs welcoming visitors to the state. State officials on Wednesday unveiled designs for new “Welcome to Arizona" signs that will replace decades-old signs along highways near borders with other states. According to Gov. Doug Ducey's office, other landscapes that will appear on the the new signs include Saguaro National Park in the Tucson area, Sedona's Red Rocks and Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River. The others are the San Francisco Peaks overlooking Flagstaff and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument along the U.S.-Mexico border.

AP-AZ-ARIZONA-ACCEPTING REFUGEES

Phoenix, Maricopa County intend to keep welcoming refugees

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and leaders of Arizona's largest county on Wednesday followed the governor's lead in affirming they will continue to welcome refugees who have been vetted by U.S. agencies for resettlement. The moves came after President Donald Trump issued an executive order in September allowing states and cities to reject refugees. The number of refugees who settled in Arizona plunged from 4,110 people in fiscal year 2016 to 998 in 2018, then rose slightly to 1,216. Refugees have come to the state from Congo, Myanmar,  Syria, Cuba and other countries.

BC-PLANE CRASH-PHOENIX STREET

Small plane crashes on Phoenix street on approach to airport

PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say two-engine plane with two people aboard crash-landed on a Phoenix street Wednesday while on final approach to a nearby airport after the pilot declared an emergency. Fire Capt. Nicole Minnick said there were no injuries and that both people on the plane initially declined treatment before one requested transport to a hospital for further evaluation. The fuselage ended up on the pavement with one wing was broken off.  Several nearby parked cars were heavily damaged. KNXV-TV quoted the unidentified pilot as saying he was “just glad to be alive.” There was no immediate indication what caused the crash, but FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane was headed for Deer Valley Airport when the pilot declared an emergency. Kenetizer said the FAA will investigate.

ARIZONA UTILITY-CEO

Utility regulators to grill new Arizona Public Service CEO

PHOENIX (AP) — The new head of Arizona's largest electric utility is apologizing for a faulty bill calculator that was supposed to help customers find the cheapest rate plan but instead steered 10,000 of them to higher-priced options. Arizona Public Service CEO Jeff Guldner told frustrated state utility regulators that the company fell short. APS executives pledged to refund customers for the amount they overpaid plus an additional $25 for the inconvenience. The billing error has incensed several members of the elected Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities like APS.

FREEWAY SHOOTINGS-CIVIL TRIAL

Trial set in suit stemming from arrest in freeway shootings

PHOENIX (AP) — An April 6 trial has been scheduled for a false-arrest lawsuit filed by a landscaper once charged in some of the freeway shootings in metro Phoenix during the summer of 2015. Most of Leslie Merritt Jr.’s claims against Arizona Department of Public Safety officers were dismissed after ballistics evidence came under heavy criticism. But he can still seek damages on his claims of false arrest and false imprisonment for the six-day span between his arrest and indictment. Merritt was jailed for seven months before his charges were dismissed. Merritt insisted he was innocent.