Gail Binkly

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.

A 27-year-old Special Forces soldier from Monticello, Utah, was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday. The Deseret News reports that Army Staff Sergeant Aaron Butler died when he and a group of Utah National Guardsmen were clearing a booby-trapped building and a bomb went off. The 11 other soldiers all sustained injuries. Butler was remembered at a vigil Thursday night in his home town.

A 61-year-old resident of Farmington, New Mexico, has become the state’s first fatality from West Nile virus. The Daily-Times reports the man is among seven cases of the mosquito-borne virus across the state. Most of New Mexico’s cases occur in August and September, and people remain at risk until the first hard frost.

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Monday morning’s solar eclipse will not be a total eclipse when viewed in the Four Corners area, but more than 80 percent of the sun will be blotted out at the event’s peak, around 11:40 a.m. It is not safe to look at the eclipse directly. Special glasses – not just sunglasses – are required, or you can make a pinhole viewer. Eclipse watching events have been scheduled at the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores, the Mancos Public Library, the Powerhouse Science Center in Durango, the Durango Public Library, and San Juan College in Farmington.

Austin Cope

The Bridge Emergency Shelter in Cortez has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs toward the construction of a new facility. Bridge Executive Director Laurie Knutson tells KSJD that DOLA is also providing $725,000 in a low-interest loan. The funds are contingent on a local match for the remaining costs for the new shelter, estimated at $2.3 million. Some has already been raised, and Knutson is seeking grants for the remainder.

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Two cases of West Nile virus in human beings have been confirmed in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that mosquitoes with the virus have been found this summer in eight counties across the state, though not in San Juan County. Health officials are urging residents to take measures to avoid mosquito bites because in rare cases West Nile can be serious or even fatal. There have been no human cases reported in the Four Corners area this year, but there have been a number across the Four Corners states.

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