Military to send F-35 to Yuma, 3 other sites

The military plans to put 400 of the Marine Corps' new vertical-take off F-35B fighter jets at four installations in North and South Carolina, California and Yuma.

Navy documents released Thursday by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's office say that up to 128 of the stealthy futuristic jets will be based in Cherry Point, N.C., and 88 aircraft and a training unit will go to Beaufort, S.C. Another 96 will be based at Miramar, Calif., and 88 will go to Yuma.

The documents say the jets will begin arriving in phases starting in 2012.

The jets are replacing aging F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, AV-8B Harrier jump jets and E/A-6 Prowlers.

The decision will send five operational squadrons with an additional test and evaluation unit to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

Ex-officer arrested, tied to bank robberies

PHOENIX - A former Phoenix police officer has been arrested in connection with five bank robberies in the Phoenix metropolitan area in 2006.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Thursday that Chad Michael Goulding, 40, was jailed on a $1 million bond. Authorities said Goulding left the Phoenix Police Department in 2005 after serving 13 years on the force.

Prosecutors said a 95-count indictment charges Goulding with armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and theft. He's accused of robbing Bank of America branches in Mesa, Glendale, Chandler and Scottsdale over a five-month span from June to November 2006.

Flu cases confirmed in Maricopa County

State health officials say the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases in the Maricopa County nearly doubled last week.

The state Department of Health Services said there are now 33 lab-confirmed cases in the county, with 13 of them diagnosed last week.

Across the state, 103 influenza cases have been confirmed. Fifty-two percent of the cases involve patients 18 and younger, and health officials said most of the flu cases are influenza-A strain.

Meanwhile, the number of respiratory syncytial virus cases in Maricopa County also rose last week. There are now 32 lab-confirmed RSV cases in the county, with 11 of them diagnosed last week.

The East Valley Tribune said RSV is the most common viral infection that involves the lungs.

Bill would restore transplant funding

PHOENIX - A bill to restore funding for medical transplants dropped by Arizona's Medicaid program is the first piece of legislation introduced for the 2011 legislative session.

The bill pre-filed Thursday by the newly elected leader of Senate Democrats - current Rep. David Schapira of Tempe - would restore transplant coverage with an appropriation of $1.2 million of state money and permission to spend $3 million of federal matching dollars.

Democrats say the transplant funding cutbacks included in a budget-balancing plan approved by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and majority Republican legislators amounts to a "death panel."

The Republicans say the state cannot afford to pay for optional services at a time when it can't afford federally mandated basic coverage.

Man loses leg in cotton picker accident

FLORENCE - Doctors in Phoenix amputated the leg of a farm worker run over by a tractor.

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office said 55-year-old Javier Rios somehow fell off a tractor pulling a cotton picker Tuesday near Arizona City, south of Casa Grande.

The cotton picker then ran over Rios.

The tractor eventually stopped after running into a ditch.

Rios was treated by medical personnel at the scene and then taken to Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix in extremely critical condition.

The Sheriff's Office said doctors had to amputate Rios' right leg.

State tops US in cases of West Nile in 2010

PHOENIX - Federal health officials say Arizona experienced the worst outbreak of West Nile virus in the U.S. during 2010.

A new report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Arizona accounted for nearly one in five severe cases.

A total of 159 confirmed cases of the mosquito transmitted virus were reported in Arizona this year through Nov. 30. At least a dozen Arizonans died.

The Arizona Republic reported that state officials updated the count on Dec. 2, reporting 163 cases.

Health officials expressed surprise at the report since West Nile was thought to be more widespread in mosquito-rich environments rather than an urban desert.

The CDC says the disease attacks the nervous system and can lead to life-threatening West Nile encephalitis and West Nile meningitis.

The Associated Press