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Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah

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Townspeople of Navajo have rallied behind surviving members of a family devastated by an alleged drunken-driving collision that killed a couple and their 8-year-old daughter and orphaned six other children. Ray and Christine Hobb and daughter, Shasawn, suffered fatal injuries March 13 in a car crash in Gallup. Shasawn was airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital where she died a day later. The six remaining children range from college-age to a kindergarten student. An account has been set up at First American Bank to handle donations. Relatives said Hobb had been employed installing TV satellite receptor discs for a Gallup firm. His wife was a silversmith. It is believed the couple went to Ramah to deliver jewelry and stopped in Gallup for some shopping. They were such good parents, one high school faculty member said. They took such good care of those children.

Smoke from a 1,500-acre fire on the Navajo reservation, possibly sparked by a discarded cigarette, channeled an explosive, short-circuiting arc that switched off electricity to an estimated 1.6 million people. Nation utility officials said the fire tripped off one unit of the Four Corners Generating Station, owned by several utilities, and also knocked out Plains Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperatives Escalante power plant near Prewitt. New Mexicos largest blackout caused traffic lights and cellular telephones to wink out, forced businesses to close, trapped people briefly in elevators or in darkened offices, set off security alarms and caused at least two elderly patients oxygen bottles to switch off. Nobody was seriously hurt. The outage struck from the northern town of Questa to the southern town of Las Cruces and neighboring El Paso, Texas, and as far west as Gallup. Power was restored in stages over the next six hours.

Thanks to a huge federal grant, the Nation expects to build about 600 new homes for its members. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved a grant of nearly $89 million, the Navajo Housing Authority said on March 20. About $52 million will go toward new construction, the agency said. The rest will be used to improve current homes and for crime and drug abatement programs. The Navajo agency said about 19,180 families live in substandard housing and about 18,900 live in overly crowded homes. Its the third year in a row the nation has received about that amount. Kayenta Township will get about $7.5 million of the grant for a 230-unit subdivision under construction since January, the tribal agency said. The division had raised about $13.7 million already for the project thats expected to cost up to $45 million overall. Nearly $1.8 million will go to the Navajo Utah Commission for Halchita, Utah, and about $4.3 million will feed into various projects under the Navajo Nation Veterans Affairs agency.The Whippoorwill Springs area gets $1.4 million for subdivision development, the agency said.