Purple haze, making the sausage, ‘Goodfellas’ tavern: News from around our 50 states
Mobile: A memorial to the missing and dead of the Korean War was in pieces Monday after a vehicle being pursued by police crashed into the monument and burned. Police in Spanish Fort, located across Mobile Bay from Mobile, told news outlets that officers there tried to question a man after seeing a suspicious truck outside a store early Sunday. The driver took off and headed westward, crashing through a gate at Battleship Memorial Park about 8 miles away. The vehicle then ran into the stone war memorial inside the park, breaking part of the display before it caught fire. Flames charred the memorial, and the driver escaped by running through the smoke and fog, police said.
Juneau: A working group tasked with fixing a public safety program has completed a list of recommendations to send to state lawmakers after meeting in Anchorage last week. Lawmakers formed the working group last year to fix the Village Public Safety Officer program, which has dealt with budget cuts, high turnover and fluctuating job descriptions, Alaska’s Energy Desk reports. The working group has held eight meetings across the state to gather feedback before coming up with the recommendations, officials said. The biggest recommendation is to revise a state statute designating the program’s responsibilities, said Republican Rep. Chuck Kopp, who co-chairs the working group. The program was initially designed to assist with wildlife management and search-and-rescue efforts before it evolved into more policing and public safety efforts, Kopp said.
A marijuana farm causes a purple glow over snowfall in Snowflake, Ariz., on Jan. 10, 2020. (Photo: Cara Smith)
Snowflake: A surprising photo posted to Navajo County’s Facebook on Friday shows a bright purple sky over the town. The landscape, with shades of pink and purple across clouds in the sky and a blanket of white snow on the ground, looks more like a video game than real life. The hue is thanks to lights from nearby marijuana farm Copperstate Farms. It was visible for miles, according to the post. “The purple glow is a result of UV lights from nearby medical marijuana farm Copperstate Farms and the snow clouds overhead,” the post said. The area got 1 to 2 inches of snow over Thursday night and Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Copperstate employed close to 200 people as of last April, growing marijuana in a large greenhouse that formerly grew tomatoes.
Fayetteville: A former Southern Arkansas University student has settled a lawsuit with the university in Magnolia alleging SAU acted with “deliberate indifference” when she reported being sexually assaulted in 2015. The woman filed a Title IX lawsuit in 2018 that said SAU began “reinvestigating” her allegations only after she transferred to another school in 2016 and hired an attorney. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the woman will receive $55,000 and up to an additional $5,000 for legal expenses fees from SAU’s insurance company, according to a document provided to the newspaper by the university under Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act. The woman and SAU filed a motion Thursday in federal court in Texarkana to dismiss her lawsuit.
Livermore: A pristine, 80-square-mile ranch within an hour’s drive of San Francisco is up for sale for the first time in 85 years, and California wants to acquire the property to create one of the largest state parks in decades. When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his $222 billion proposed state budget Friday, he mentioned that he wants legislative leaders to dedicate $20 million from a one-time surplus to help purchase new public parkland. Newsom declined to say where the new park might be, suggesting the asking price could “go up” if he revealed details. For several days, 17 lawmakers in the San Francisco Bay Area have been urging Newsom to appropriate $20 million to help acquire and preserve the N3 Ranch near Livermore, the Los Angeles Times reports. If approved, the money would help complete a purchase package that includes a $30 million commitment from The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Lands.
The Denver Zoo offers free days to make visiting easier for Colorado families. (Photo: Visit Denver)
Denver: In an effort to make the Denver Zoo accessible to all families in the state, the zoo has announced its free days for 2020. People can visit the Denver Zoo at no cost this Saturday; Sunday, Feb. 2; Thursday, April 9; Tuesday, Oct. 20; Tuesday, Nov. 10; and Saturday, Nov. 14. As free days are some of the busiest days at the zoo, guests are advised to arrive early, carpool or use public transportation. Individuals receiving food aid benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can receive discounted tickets to the zoo now through April 30. Admission is $1 per person for up to 10 people for regular, daytime admission only.
Hartford: The state’s public health laboratory has begun testing newborn babies for the genetic disorder spinal muscular atrophy, complying with a new state law that took effect Jan. 1. The rare condition can lead to loss of nerve and muscle control, and it can ultimately be fatal. It’s estimated that SMA afflicts 1 in 11,000 Connecticut residents. State legislation passed in 2019 required the Department of Public Health to conduct newborn screening for the disorder, which was recently added to the Federal Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children’s Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. There are different types of SMA. Most children have SMA Type 1, which causes weakness and, without treatment, can deteriorate quickly and lead to death. There is no cure, but new treatments can slow or prevent symptoms from worsening.
Commuters get on the SEPTA 5:15 afternoon train to Philadelphia at the Wilmington Train Station Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Jerry Habraken, Delaware News Journal)
Wilmington: Eager to lure more of Philadelphia’s young, educated and frequently carless workforce into Wilmington, several influential Delaware companies have been lobbying the state for more frequent express transit to and from that city, such as a new regional express bus or commuter rail option on Amtrak. Don Mell, JPMorgan Chase’s Delaware site leader, for years has called for more express trains to Wilmington and argued that better regional transit would boost the competitiveness of all of northern Delaware. But numerous logistical hurdles prevent the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority from adding to its Delaware service before early 2021, when a two-year construction project will commence. Consequently, Delaware businesses, transit planners and economic development officials have been looking at alternative ways to bring Philadelphia workers to Delaware, including what some have called a “super bus.”
District of Columbia
Washington: A mobile museum celebrating black hockey history has opened in a truck outside the Embassy of Canada, WUSA-TV reports. The museum recognizes today’s black players while also looking back at pioneers who helped shape National Hockey League history. Some of the highlights include a wall to recognize the league’s history makers and celebrate black achievements including the first black NHL player, first black captain and first black Hockey Hall of Fame inductee. The mobile museum launched in D.C. and will visit 14 cities across North America. The museum is equipped with interactive games and displays. A Capitals locker room installation was created specifically for the museum’s stop in the nation’s capital.
Tallahassee: The 60-day legislative session that begins Tuesday will have lawmakers considering everything from coconut patties as the official state candy to a budget expected to exceed $90 billion. Lawmakers are also expected to address abortion rights, private gun sales and environmental issues such as the rise in sea level. While the budget is the only thing the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass each year, there are already about 3,000 bills filed, including about 1,600 that seek to stuff local projects into the budget. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared 2020 “the year of the teacher.” He’s proposing a $91.4 billion budget that includes $600 million to raise the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500 a year. It also includes $1 million to help eradicate pythons in the Everglades and elsewhere.
Cedartown: Body camera video showing the moment an officer was hit by a train while on duty has been released by police. Polk County police officer Andy Anderson suffered a concussion, six broken ribs, a broken elbow and a broken shoulder bone in the collision near Rockmart on Tuesday, news outlets report. The moment of impact was recorded on a new kind of technology: a 360-degree body camera that gives a broader view of the officer’s location. Anderson was so focused on catching the suspect that he didn’t realize how close he was to the tracks, according to Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd. “We call that tunnel vision in law enforcement,” Dodd said. Anderson is expected to make a full recovery. He also got a call from Gov. Brian Kemp who said he was praying for the officer, Dodd told WAGA-TV. The suspect, Jayden Moats, 18, got away and hasn’t been arrested, police said.
From bottom left, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Submillimeter Array sit on Mauna Kea near Hilo, Hawaii. (Photo: Caleb Jones/AP)
Hilo: The decommissioning process for one of the Mauna Kea telescopes to be removed in the coming decade remains on schedule. The Maunakea Management Board approved environmental assessments for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory last month, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. The observatory is one of five telescopes scheduled to be dismantled in exchange for permitting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island. Demonstrators blocked access to the summit of Mauna Kea to prevent construction of the giant telescope from July through December. Demonstrators said the project could damage land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians. The observatory remains on schedule to be removed by the end of 2021, said Doug Simons, a management board member.
Boise: Lawmakers on a state House panel on Monday approved changes to rules for the Idaho Commission on the Arts allowing the agency to participate in art therapy for wounded veterans, stroke victims and others. The House State Affairs Committee voted to approve the substantial change that deletes from the rules a prohibition on the commission participating in such activities. The change is part of massive cuts to the state’s administrative rules book undertaken by Republican Gov. Brad Little last year. Arts Commission Executive Director Michael Faison told lawmakers that art therapy has been proven to have substantial benefits. Faison, after the committee meeting, said he’s waiting for the Legislature to approve the rules before implementing a program for art therapy. Both the House and Senate will have to approve the changes.
Oregon: The Illinois landmark known as the Eternal Indian statue is finally complete after years of planning and fundraising. The scaffolding surrounding the sculpture, also known as Black Hawk, is being removed and should be completely taken down within two weeks, the Rockford Register Star reports. The city of Oregon is ready to celebrate the 109-year-old statue’s makeover, Mayor Ken Williams says. “We’ve received messages and comments from all over the country,” he says. “People who have visited the statue, people who used to live in the area, and they’ve followed the progress of what’s happened and the problems with the statue as it deteriorated. Now that it’s repaired and restored, it is very important to the community.” An unveiling ceremony is being planned for the spring.
Viola Davis speaks at the Women in Film Annual Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Chris Pizzello, Invision/AP)
Bloomington: Indiana University officials plan to toast the school’s bicentennial this month with the dedication of a new supercomputer, the inaugural chiming of a rare collection of bells and a speech by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis. The university’s Day of Commemoration events are scheduled for Jan. 20, the 200th anniversary of former Gov. Jonathan Jennings’ signing of a bill that led to the school’s founding in 1820. All three events are part of a daylong slate of activities to mark the date, including the unveiling of a replica of a giant ground sloth skeleton once housed on the school’s Bloomington campus. A dedication ceremony for the university’s new supercomputer, Big Red 200, will celebrate one of America’s fastest university-owned supercomputers. The bells of the Metz Bicentennial Grand Carillon, a 130-foot steel tower housed in an arboretum, will also ring for the first time.
A tiger and a wolf are penned in side-by-side cages at the Cricket Hollow Zoo in 2015 in Manchester, Iowa. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)
Manchester: A judge has ordered the owners of a closed-down roadside zoo to explain what happened to some animals that were supposed to be removed. In late November, Judge Monica Wittig found the Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester to be a nuisance and said the exotic animals at the site must be placed at accredited sanctuaries or zoos. Four plaintiffs sued to have the animals removed and the zoo owned by Pam and Tom Sellner closed. It had been operated since 2002 despite repeated complaints that animals were mistreated. In April, a federal appeals court upheld a district court ruling that the zoo violated the Endangered Species Act with its treatment of some animals. An attorney who represented Iowans in the lawsuit filed an affidavit requesting a contempt charge. It alleged several animals specifically mentioned in Wittig’s removal order – including five brown bears, two mountain lions, a fox, a wolf hybrid and a camel – could not be found.
Shawnee: A former Kansas City area TV meteorologist has won a Kansas Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of one of the Legislature’s most conservative members. Mike Thompson, who served as chief meteorologist for WDAF until he retired in 2018, was chosen Saturday to replace retiring Republican Mary Pilcher-Cook. Thompson, of Shawnee, has said he plans to fill the remainder of Pilcher-Cook’s term and then run in the primary for a chance at a full four years in November 2020, the Kansas City Star reports. Earlier last year, two other candidates – Republican state Rep. Tom Cox and Shawnee City Councilwoman Lindsey Constance, a Democrat – said they planned to run for the seat.
Kaitlin Bennett interviews Michael Hawse. (Photo: Screengrab)
Lexington: A University of Kentucky student gained some notoriety after a video went viral of him discussing the transgender bathroom issue with conservative personality Kaitlin Bennett, aka the Kent State “gun girl.” Now, Michael Hawse is using his newfound notoriety to raise money for pediatric cancer research. In the video, Bennett, media director for libertarian outlet Liberty Hangout – best known for posing with an AR-10 on Kent State University’s campus for graduation photos – asks Hawse what he thinks of putting urinals in women’s restrooms “for women who have penises and they just want to stand and pee?” “I think people (are) just making too big of a f—king deal about it,” Hawse responds. He finishes the interview by saying, “I care about people’s personal rights. They can do whatever they want.” Since the interaction, hundreds of thousands of people have seen the clip as it has made the rounds on Twitter. On Sunday, in a reply to one of his own tweets commenting on the video, Hawse posted a photo of his Venmo account and wrote that “anything sent will be donated to the DanceBlue Golden Matrix Fund benefiting pediatric cancer research.”
Thibodaux: Faculty and students at Nicholls State University are growing plants that thrive in tough coastal conditions to help restore the state’s dwindling coast. “This is a long-term investment in producing seeds for the future,” university biology chair Quenton Fontenot told The Daily Comet. He said some past restoration projects used plants from different environments – and even species also native to Louisiana would die within four years. Nicholls Farm, south of the main campus, is now growing about 15 species of coastal plants and working with the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry to increase that number. Eventually the team hopes to have enough to supply restoration projects on barrier islands or marshes and businesses that can grow the plants.
Augusta: The state’s annual farming trade show is in session this week, and one of the busiest events will concern the state’s emerging hemp industry. The Maine Agricultural Trades Show is taking place at the Augusta Civic Center from Tuesday to Thursday. The state is encouraging hemp growers to attend the hemp growers seminar Thursday. Maine has more than 150 hemp growers, and the industry is grappling with rule changes from the state and federal level. The trade show is designed to promote collaboration in Maine’s agriculture industry. It takes place every January. Events scheduled to take place over the course of the show include meetings of the Maine Highland Cattle Association and the New England Emu Association. There are also sessions entitled “Local Food in Schools: Building Partnerships with School Nutrition Programs” and “Agritourism Opportunities for Maine Farms and Communities.”
Westminster: Commissioners in Carroll County are looking to repeal a 2013 ordinance that made English the official language of the community. The Carroll County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to hold a public hearing about undoing the law, The Carroll County Times reports. The ordinance requires all county documents, publications, hearing notices and public business to be written or conducted in English only, according to county attorney Tim Burke. It is preempted by federal and state laws that require certain government services to be accessible to the public in other languages. Burke told the commissioners he believed the intent of the ordinance was to avoid unnecessary translation costs and to “encourage assimilation” in the county, though he said the board isn’t aware of any cost savings from the measure.
Boston: The city is expanding its use of designated ride-hailing locations to drop off and pick up riders. Mayor Marty Walsh announced the installation of three ride-hailing drop off zones in the city’s busy South Boston Seaport. A similar program was created last year in the Fenway neighborhood. The goal is to improve safety while reducing traffic congestion linked to double parking by ride-hailing drivers. Acting Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gregory Rooney said people stepping into traffic to enter or exit a vehicle are at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle or bicycle. Private passenger vehicles can also use the zones to pick up and drop off passengers. Vehicles are subject to a 5-minute limit, and drivers must stay with their cars. The zones are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mark Wilson (Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections)
Jackson: A man who said he committed a crime so he could return to prison apparently killed himself in a 40-foot plunge, officials said. Mark Wilson, 59, died Wednesday at Egeler Reception & Guidance Center, where inmates typically are housed before getting a prison assignment, Corrections Department spokeswoman Holly Kramer said. In December, Wilson, who last lived in the Kalamazoo area, was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for armed robbery, a punishment enhanced because of past convictions. Wilson last summer gave a note to a Hardee’s employee in Escanaba, indicating he was robbing the restaurant. Police said he stayed in the restroom until officers arrived. No one was hurt. “Somewhere along the road, your honor, I just seemed to have lost the ability to function normally with society,” Wilson told a Delta County judge, explaining why he wanted to return to prison. He was last released from prison in 2012.
Duluth: Union snowplow drivers in St. Louis County could go on strike as early as midnight Tuesday, as some snow is expected in the region. County officials have a contingency plan to keep roads plowed, but they are hoping they don’t have to use it. “We have supervisors from the Public Works Department and staff in other departments who are all licensed and qualified to use snowplows,” said St. Louis County spokeswoman Dana Kazel. “Public safety is our top priority, and we will get the roads plowed – but it’s a smaller workforce so (residents) will have to be patient.” Members of Teamsters Local 320 voted 117-8 on Saturday to reject the county’s final contract offer, citing issues over health care and accrued sick leave. Starting Tuesday, the union has a 20-day window in which members can go on strike. Teamsters local secretary-treasurer Brian Aldes would not say Monday when or if a strike would begin.
Jackson: The state’s Department of Environmental Quality is set to decide on whether a controversial new landfill will be allowed in a county that already has two other trash dumping sites. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning, one hour ahead of incoming Gov. Tate Reeves’ inauguration ceremony. If approved, the site would be located in Ridgeland, adding a third landfill within Madison County’s lines. The waste company said a third site is needed as the others age. Ridgeland Alderman D.I. Smith, Mayor Gene McGee, and other city officials and community members have voiced opposition to the 89-acre site. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott have also said they disapprove. NCL Waste said its Community Benefit Agreement with the North County Line Homeowners Association offers environmental, economic and educational benefits to those closest to the site.
St. Louis: Passengers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport could soon be able to speed up their check-in process using their fingerprints and the irises of their eyes. The city Airport Commission on Wednesday endorsed a contract with a New York-based company to bring its CLEAR biometric system to Lambert. The contract must still be approved by the city Board of Estimate and Apportionment. People willing to pay up to $179 a year to be identified by their fingerprints and irises would go through the screening at a CLEAR kiosk in the terminal and then be escorted to a special line leading to the Transportation Security Administration employee checking documents. They would then go through the normal security screening like all other passengers, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Montana Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell, puts meat into the grinder Sunday as he prepares sausage with state Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula. (Photo: PHIL DRAKE/GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE)
Clancy: For some lawmakers in Big Sky Country, it was an event that showcased the best of times and the wurst of times. About a dozen state legislators from both sides of the aisle in town for Legislative Week met Sunday in Clancy for a “How the Sausage Gets Made” get-together hosted once again by Jon Bennion, deputy attorney general, who put on a similar event in 2019. The size of the group had outgrown his house, so Sunday’s event was held at the Clancy United Methodist Church, Bennion said. His friend Matt Bitz also helped. The event plays off an adage attributed to German statesman Otto von Bismarck: “Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.” “I think that is total crap,” Bennion said Sunday as he prepped the elected officials and others to begin the process. “You actually can do both really well. It’s just that you have to know what you are doing and do it right.” The country needs more events that promote people who disagree getting together, he said.
Ogallala: The state Game and Parks Commission is considering limiting the number of visitors at Lake McConaughy and adjacent Lake Ogallala, where overcrowding has become a problem. The high number of visitors in 2018 and 2019 stretched public safety, basic sanitation services, shower facilities, campgrounds and parking areas in both western Nebraska recreation areas, the commission said. Proposed actions would be subject to approval of the commission and would go into effect before Memorial Day. They could include designating specific camping areas across both lakes; limiting the number of vehicles and occupants entering those areas; requiring reservations for all overnight camping; requiring reservations for available campsites, including all primitive and beach camping; and a 14-day occupancy limit at all campsites.
O.J. Simpson appears for his parole hearing in 2017 in Lovelock, Nev. (Photo: Jason Bean/Reno Gazette-Journal)
Las Vegas: A Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino denied that O.J. Simpson was defamed when employees banned him from the property in 2017 and a celebrity news site reported the paroled former football hero had been drunk, disruptive and unruly. In recent court filings, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas rejected Simpson’s argument that his reputation was damaged when unnamed hotel staff gave accounts cited in a TMZ report saying he was prohibited from returning after visits to a steakhouse and cocktail lounge. TMZ is not a defendant in the lawsuit that Simpson attorney Malcolm LaVergne filed in November in state court in Las Vegas. Nevada Property 1 LLC, corporate owner of the Cosmopolitan, filed its response Jan. 3, denying Simpson’s allegations. LaVergne filed a request Thursday for a judge to handle the case and not send it to arbitration. The document puts a probable jury award for Simpson at more than $50,000.
Portsmouth: Officials at Pease Air National Guard Base have announced the Air Force will conduct a study amid concerns about exposure to carcinogens at the base. The occupation health study will be conducted with assistance from the Air National Guard surgeon general. The study will examine personnel records of service members who were assigned to the base between January 1970 and December 2019 in order to determine if there was a higher incidence of cancer among those who were assigned to the guard base and the former Pease Air Force base. The announcement of the study comes after concerns were raised by a group of widows of men who served at the bases. Officials closed a well at the base in 2014 because of high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. Exposure to high levels of the toxic chemical is linked to some forms of cancer.
The Strongest Woman on Earth will be a collaboration among more than 30 breweries to produce a Belgian Tripel in honor of Women's Brew Day. (Photo: Courtesy NJBA/Forgotten Boardwalk)
Cherry Hill: At least 100 women from breweries across the Garden State will gather Feb. 3 at Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Co. to create a beer together. Brewers and other brewery team members from at least 34 of the state’s craft breweries will craft a 60-barrel Belgian Tripel, called The Strongest Woman on Earth, in what organizers say is the state’s largest beer collaboration ever. These members of the state’s expanding craft beer community include owners, tasting room managers, sales representatives and other brewery team members, according to Alexis Degan of Barrington, executive director of the New Jersey Brewers Association, which is organizing the daylong event with Forgotten Boardwalk. Women’s Brew Day is taking place a month before Women’s History Month, a time when Pink Boots chapters of women brewers throughout the country join in beer collaborations to highlight the role of women in the craft beer industry.
Santa Fe: A scathing report that found dozens of issues with the Santa Fe Police Department’s handling and storage of evidence is just the beginning, attorneys say. An audit from a public safety consultant found that evidence for a sexual assault from 2015 “could not be located after a prolonged search,” the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. The audit also found that 40% of inventory for misdemeanor cases should be disposed because it was held past the statute of limitations. Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur said the report shows that police and prosecution practices have to be challenged around the state. Issues with the evidence room came to light after the department discovered it lost 11 pieces of evidence in the 2017 murder case of Selena Valencia. Her boyfriend, Christopher Garcia, was accused of fatally stabbing her.
Patrons gather at Neir’s Tavern on Saturday in New York’s Queens borough. (Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP)
New York: A 190-year-old tavern where scenes from the movie “Goodfellas” were filmed will stay open thanks to a deal reached Friday by the bar’s owner and his landlord, city officials said. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Queens Chamber of Commerce announced “a handshake agreement” between Loycent Gordon, the owner of Neir’s Tavern, and property owners Ken and Henry Shi. Gordon announced last week that Sunday would be the the last call for the pub in the Woodhaven neighborhood of Queens “unless a miracle happens.” He said a rent increase and other rising costs had made it impossible to stay in business. Neir’s opened in 1829 as the Old Blue Pump House and has operated at the same location under several different names. It has been featured in several movies, including “Goodfellas,” Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob classic starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta.
The concrete median on Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia, N.C., was recently painted to celebrate the community becoming a Bee City USA and to remind residents to protect pollinators. (Photo: John Clark/The Gaston Gazette via AP)
Gastonia: A run-of-the-mill concrete median in the city’s downtown has been turning heads after getting a flashy makeover. The visual buzz stems in part from the bright yellow coat of paint that has been applied to the low-lying barrier, which separates a short portion of the east and westbound lanes on U.S. 74. But it’s also based on the oversized black honeybees that appear to be crawling and lighting on the surface. The beautification project was carried out by the city and the entity known as Keep Gastonia Beautiful, in honor of Gastonia’s qualification as a “Bee City.” The city recently became the 74th affiliate of the nationwide Bee City USA initiative. As a Bee City, Gastonia will be required to hold an annual celebration each June to promote pollinator habitat plantings, as well as to distribute information about bees and the important role they plan in the environment.
Bismarck: A man who told authorities he suffers from angry blackouts is accused of inflicting a brain injury on a 2-month-old baby by shaking her and throwing her into furniture. The Bismarck Tribune reports Andrew Procive, 27, was arrested Thursday after police were called to an emergency room. The child had bruising on her forehead and right eye, and further testing showed she had a brain bleed, according to an affidavit. She was in Procive’s care during the day. The child’s mother told police the baby had no injuries and acted normally during a midday video chat the mother had with Procive. Procive allegedly told police that when he gets angry he goes into a rage, blacks out and is unable to control himself. He later told them he recalled losing his temper while playing a video game.
Warren: Anger over the removal of several trees to make room for a new bocce ball court has prompted the mayor to announce he’s slowing down the project for more study. The court in downtown Warren is an important part of the northeastern Ohio city’s annual Italian-American Heritage Festival, including money raised at the festival for scholarships, The Warren Tribune Chronicle reports. The court is expected to move to a nearby park when the festival shifts there from downtown later this year. In bocce ball, sometimes called Italian lawn bowling, players earn points by competing to roll balls the closest to to a single target ball. Trees were removed from a nearby park in a historic neighborhood to make room for the court, angering residents who said they weren’t consulted, the paper reports. Residents also said the trees could have been plantings by some of the homes’ original residents.
Tulsa: The mayor says he sees benefits in having A&E’s “Live PD” filmed in the city despite opposition from some local leaders and lawmakers. Mayor G.T. Bynum told the Tulsa World the show that films police officers around the country responding to calls allows residents see for themselves what officers deal with. “I have seen in the last year how two people viewing one police encounter can have completely different understandings of what that encounter was,” Bynum said. City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Sen. Kevin Matthews, and state Reps. Regina Goodwin and Monroe Nichols sent a letter to Bynum last week to end the city’s contract with A&E, calling it “racist” and “discriminatory.” “The renewal of this contract … profits a private entity at the expense of the humanity and trust of communities most directly impacted by policing and must be terminated immediately and permanently,” the letter says.
An angler fishes in the Umpqua River. (Photo: Special to the Statesman Journal)
Roseburg: The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed the harvest of wild spring Chinook salmon in the Umpqua River. The agency prohibited the harvest on the mainstem Umpqua River from Feb. 1 to June 30, The News-Review reports. The primary reason is a low fish count over the past two years. Officials said 64 of the species returned from the Pacific Ocean to the South Umpqua River this past year, while only 29 returned in 2018. Officials hope to preserve the vulnerable species they say was affected in recent years by drought conditions that have reduced river flow and increased water temperatures. The temporary rule change still requires the approval of Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a department spokeswoman says.
Pittsburgh: A former librarian and a bookseller have pleaded guilty in the theft of rare books from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in a yearslong scheme. Gregory Priore, 63, former manager of the rare books room, pleaded guilty Monday to theft and receiving stolen property. John Schulman, 56, the owner of Caliban Book Shop, pleaded guilty to theft by deception, receiving stolen property and forgery. Allegheny County prosecutors said some charges were withdrawn in exchange for the pleas, but the deal contains no agreement on sentencing, which is scheduled for April 17 for both defendants. Authorities alleged earlier that Priore stole prints, maps and rare books and handed them off to Schulman to resell them. Prosecutors said several hundred rare items worth more than $8 million were taken in a scheme investigators believed dated back to the 1990s.
Providence: The state’s pool of unclaimed property grew by $23 million last year, bringing the total worth of unclaimed property being held for safekeeping by the state to more than $389 million, the treasurer’s office announced Monday. Treasurer Seth Magaziner’s Unclaimed Property division also resolved nearly 9,800 separate claims in 2019, returning nearly $11 million in unclaimed property to the rightful owners. Unclaimed property can include money left in old bank accounts and safe deposit boxes, uncashed paychecks, unused balances on gift certificates, unreturned utility deposits, uncollected insurance payments, and forgotten stocks and dividends. To search for unclaimed property, visit www.findRImoney.com.
Charleston: Dozens of cameras have been installed in the city to help curb crime in the months after surveillance video helped capture a suspect in a man’s shooting death. At least 125 cameras were donated to be set up in the East Side neighborhood, The Post and Courier reports. Tim Haman was shot and killed in the neighborhood in August, and police said a neighbor’s camera helped them catch a suspect six days later, according to the newspaper. About 20 cameras were installed by late December, and another 25 were expected to be set up by the end of January, the newspaper reports. The cameras will be registered with the Charleston Police Department, spokesman Charles Francis said. Charleston police data shows 2019 was the second deadliest of the last ten years, The Post and Courier reports.
Pierre: The state’s attorney general won’t sign a brief in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act, unlike 27 other attorneys general across the country. A federal lawsuit could determine the future of the law aimed at keeping Native American families together. Several states, a biological mother, and three non-indigenous couples interested in fostering and adopting Native American children are challenging the constitutionality of the law. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg decided to stay neutral on the matter because of an ICWA federal case in South Dakota, according to the Rapid City Journal. The law was created in response to states removing Native American children from their families at disproportional rates and usually placing them with non-indigenous families.
Memphis: A brewery is planning a $49 million upgrade to keep up with demand, an effort expected to add 155 jobs. According to the Daily Memphian, Blues City Brewery in Memphis is one of three contract-brewing facilities operated in the U.S. by Wisconsin-based City Brewing Company. The company is seeking a local property tax break worth $3.7 million over 12 years. The Economic Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County says the operation will generate $10 million in property tax over the 12-year time frame. The facility currently employs 516 people making an average of $54,000 annually. The plant was built by Schlitz on 83 acres in 1971. City Brewing bought it nine years ago. The 1.3 million-square-foot facility has the capacity to produce more than 60 million cases a year.
Gov. Greg Abbott presents the Governor’s Medal of Courage on Monday to Jack Wilson, who shot and killed a gunman who opened fire on the congregation and killed two people at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, on Dec. 29. (Photo: Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman)
Austin: Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday gave the state’s highest civilian honor to a 71-year-old man who shot and killed an armed attacker at a church in December. Abbott gave Jack Wilson the Governor’s Medal of Courage during a ceremony in Austin, calling him a hero for stopping the shooter at a church in the small town of White Settlement. Wilson, a firearms instructor who trained the West Freeway Church of Christ’s volunteer security team, shot the attacker once in head after he opened fire with a shotgun in the church’s sanctuary. Wilson’s single shot quickly ended the attack in which two parishioners, 64-year-old Anton “Tony” Wallace and 67-year-old Richard White, were killed. “When events arise, you’re going to do one of two things: You’re either going to step up and do what’s right or walk away. And I’m not one to walk away,” Wilson said in accepting the medal at the Texas Governor’s Mansion.
Site manager Al Larsen softens snow and ice using a skidsteer to create a walking path Thursday as the Ice Castles are created at Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Isaac Hale/The Daily Herald via AP)
Midway: An otherworldly frozen kingdom has made its annual winter debut. The Midway Ice Castles feature ice walls and tall towers that take 10,000 man hours and about 25 tons of ice and snow to create, the Daily Herald reports. Crews worked since October to create the attraction hosted at Homestead Resort in Midway, about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake, ahead of the opening Friday. The annual event got started in the backyard of Alpine, Utah, resident Brent Christensen and now has six locations between the United States and Canada. New additions this year include a light garden featuring ice structures with lights shown through them, ice caves, a waterfall, and a maze with a ruins-esque area that resembles an old courthouse or church, said Billy Tiedemann, one of the project’s site managers. The ice castles are typically open until mid-February, but unpredictable weather always makes the attraction’s closing date an unknown.
Burlington: The University of Vermont has received $1 million in funding from a division of Google to support research related to open source software, the school said Monday. Open source software can be shared and modified, but UVM said the concept is about more than software. “The goal of the UVM project is to deepen understanding of how people, teams and organizations thrive in technology-rich settings, especially in open-source projects and communities,” UVM said in a news release. “Researching how people and teams interact in organizations is a powerful way to understand and advance the open source movement,” said assistant computer science professor Laurent Hebert-Dufresne, a principal investigator on the project.
Henrico: Police responded Monday to a report of an active shooter in the area of a Henrico County middle school but said they did not find any evidence of a shooting. There were no injuries. Police initially got a 911 text indicating there was an active shooter in the same block as Moody Middle School, Henrico County Police spokesman Lt. Matt Pecka said at a news conference. Authorities responded but found no evidence of a shooter or of any gunfire after methodically searching the school, Pecka said. Police are investigating what appears to have been a false report, Pecka said. “Obviously, if you have a student in the school system, this is very traumatic,” Pecka said. He said officers were available to speak to concerned parents. There is no evidence students were in any danger, a Henrico County Public Schools news release said.
Washington state House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, center, is applauded as she steps up to speak after being sworn in Monday at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP)
Olympia: The state’s first female speaker of the House was sworn in Monday as lawmakers returned to the Capitol to convene their 60-day legislative session. Democratic Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma is also the first gay lawmaker to take the role presiding over the chamber. She succeeds Frank Chopp, the state’s longest-serving speaker and the second-longest-serving speaker in the nation. Chopp, who is still a member of the Legislature, announced he was stepping down from his leadership position last year after serving in the role for more than two decades. Jinkins and more than a dozen other lawmakers were wearing white in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. She said the fact that a lesbian woman is now holding the House gavel is another broken barrier, “but it won’t be the last.” Washington is now the eighth state to have a woman in the top spot in the House and the second to have a gay House speaker, joining Oregon.
The vibrant, endangered candy darter is the target of conservation efforts. (Photo: Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP)
Charleston: An endangered fish could get a boost from grants aimed at restoring its population in the state. The Division of Natural Resources is matching a $61,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and using it for a program to increase numbers of the candy darter, which was listed as endangered in 2018, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. The DNR will collect candy darters, breed them at a fish hatchery in White Sulphur Springs and release them back into state streams. “This effort represents West Virginia folks working to protect West Virginia natives,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Barb Douglas. The rainbow-colored fish has lost nearly half its population since the 1930s. Candy darters typically live in picturesque mountain streams. The seldom-seen fish are about the size of a cigar and covered in vibrant bands of teal, red and orange. Their biggest threat is “hybridization.” The variegate darter fish species was somehow introduced into some of those streams and is mating with the candy darters. Another threat is development that pollutes the streams with sediment.
Madison: Assembly Republicans will try Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of a bill that would make it easier to become a nurse’s aide in Wisconsin. State law requires nurse’s aide training programs to run at least 120 hours. Federal regulations, however, say training programs need to run at least 75 hours. The Republican-authored bill would have adopted the federal standard, saving nurse’s aides 45 hours of training. Evers vetoed the proposal in November, saying at the time that he objects to reduced training for those who care for Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens and that there are better ways to address the shortage of nurse’s aides. A successful veto override requires a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. Republicans control the Assembly 63-36, which likely leaves them three votes short.
Cheyenne: The state Democratic Party has announced changes to its April caucuses to allow greater participation from those who don’t attend the gatherings. Until now, people who voted in the Democratic caucuses by mail had to request a ballot and could vote for only one candidate. If their candidate did not receive 15% of the vote, they had no option to cast a second-round ballot like people attending caucuses could. Under the new plan, mail-in ballots will allow people to rank up to five candidates. If their first-choice candidate doesn’t draw 15% of the vote, their vote will be assigned to their second-choice candidate. Joe Barbuto, chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that while traditional caucuses are a fun way to encourage political engagement, only a fraction of the state’s Democrats normally show up.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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