Students seek to overturn rule on gay blood donors in Virginia, Minnesota monument to stop selling pipes from sacred stone, and more
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Birmingham: Advocates for breastfeeding say employers in the state should do a better job of allowing the practice at work. At least 29 states have laws that protect breastfeeding and pumping breast milk at work – but Alabama is not among them, Al.com reports. The state has the third-lowest breastfeeding rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alabama mothers tend to quit breastfeeding sooner than women elsewhere, says Gayle Whatley, a registered nurse and vice chairwoman of the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee. She says that’s happening because of the lack of knowledge and support from their employers. Once women head back to work, that’s when breastfeeding rates “dramatically drop off,” Whatley says.
Anchorage: The Anchorage School District has received a donation of high-end guitars that were bound for Hong Kong before they were confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Anchorage Daily News reports the district estimates the 10 guitars have a combined value of nearly $54,500. The Fish and Wildlife Service says it intercepted the instruments in Anchorage in July 2018. The electric guitars had been commercially shipped from the East Coast and were declared as clothing. An official says the guitars feature Brazilian rosewood, which is protected by an international treaty and cannot be exported without permits. Fish and Wildlife officials began a civil forfeiture proceeding, and the guitar dealer who shipped them eventually gave up the instruments.
Phoenix: A state senator plans to seek legislation that would prohibit city officials from earning more than the governor, officials say. Republican Sen. Paul Boyer said that would mean no employee could make more than Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s current $95,000 salary. Ducey’s salary is on the low end for governors; only the leaders of Colorado and Maine make less, according to the Council on State Governments. Even high-level municipal employees make more than the Arizona governor. Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher makes $315,000 annually, more than three times the amount the bill would limit, state officials say. Other cities outside Phoenix provide similarly high salaries for their top administrators, including city attorneys, public works directors, municipal judges, and long-tenured police and fire officials.
Canoeing is a popular activity on Arkansas' Buffalo River. (Photo: Arkansas Dept. of Parks & Tourism)
Little Rock: The state and private groups are putting aside $2 million for conservation and water quality grants within the Buffalo River watershed. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order Monday creating the Buffalo River Conservation Committee, which will be chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. It will also include Secretary of Energy and Environment Becky Keogh; Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst; and Health Secretary Nathaniel Smith. Hutchinson said $1 million from his discretionary fund will go toward the water grants, with an additional $1 million from the Nature Conservancy and the Buffalo River Foundation.
Sacramento: As tensions between China and the United States ratchet up, former Gov. Jerry Brown sees a way to bring together the world’s largest carbon emitter and this state that’s leading the way in energy standards. Brown and Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate official, announced on Monday a new university partnership focused on climate research and policy. The California-China Climate Institute will be housed at the University of California, Berkeley and work in partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing. The institute will invest in research on zero-emission vehicles and low-carbon transportation, carbon pricing, climate adaptation, sustainable land use and agriculture, carbon capture and storage, and long-term climate policy enforcement. California has adopted some of the nation’s most aggressive climate goals.
Denver: The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded five airports in the state $7.6 million in infrastructure grants. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced in a Monday statement that the FAA grants are going to Denver International, Durango-La Plata County, Lake County, Pueblo Memorial and Wray Municipal airports. The FAA says DIA is getting $1.3 million to reduce aircraft emissions on the ground by connecting parked aircraft to central heating and cooling systems. Durango gets $1.8 million to repair an airport ramp. Lake County, in Leadville, will receive $600,000 to repair a ramp and build a parking lot, and Pueblo receives $3 million for perimeter fencing. Wray receives nearly $900,000 to build a taxiway.
Stamford: A wind sculpture in memory of three girls who died in a Christmas Day fire eight years ago has been dedicated. The Stamford Advocate reports the sculpture, called Three Souls, was unveiled Sunday during a ceremony attended by about 100 neighbors and friends. The sculpture has a large circle representing Lily Badger, who was 9 at the time of the Dec. 25, 2011, blaze, and two smaller circles for twins Grace and Sarah Badger, who were 7. It’s on land where the home once stood but was sold to neighbors Steve and Fern Loeb, whose son was friends with the girls. The girls’ grandparents, Lomar and Pauline Johnson, also died in the fire blamed on fireplace ashes that had been bagged and left in a mudroom.
Dewey Beach: A horde of undead is expected to flood the streets of this unsuspecting town. News outlets report organizers of Milton’s zombie festival announced the event’s resurrection Monday, unveiling a new name and location. The new all-ages Milton Theatre Zombie Fest will take place Saturday, Oct. 19, in Dewey Beach. The original festival was killed in August, with organizers blaming town leaders for the loss of an event that nearly doubles Milton’s population each year. Organizer and theater director Fred Munzert previously said Milton leaders had approved new guidelines that essentially took the street festival off the street and upped the event’s financial burden. Munzert says the cancellation led 11 other Delaware towns to offer to host the growing festival.
Washington: The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would bar people charged with violent offenses from claiming they acted in self-defense after learning the victim was gay or transgender. WTOP-FM reports Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced the “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2019” last week, saying it’s unacceptable for “bigots to claim panic as a defense.” The bill would prohibit defendants from claiming they acted in the “heat of passion” or suffered reduced mental capacity upon learning about a person’s actual or perceived sexuality or gender identity. Mendelson was involved in helping the district legalize same-sex marriage.
Orlando: It’s a vegan world after all, at least at Disney’s U.S. theme parks. Disney said Tuesday that plant-based meals would be available at all of its restaurants and quick-meal hubs at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. The company says on its blog that the vegan meals will be available starting next week at the Florida resort’s parks and hotels and beginning next spring at the California resort. Visitors will be able to identify the dishes by a green-leaf icon on menus. Disney officials say guests have embraced vegan offerings on its menus around the globe, inspiring the company to offer more options. The vegan meals won’t have animal meat, dairy, eggs or honey. They will be made from vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains and legumes.
Smoke rises from a cargo ship that capsized in the St. Simons Island, Ga., sound Sept. 8. (Photo: Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News via AP)
St. Simons Island: Authorities say oil from an overturned cargo ship has reached several parts of the state’s shoreline, leaving a sheen in marshes and oiled debris on beaches. State and federal authorities overseeing the cleanup say crews have been working to clean up the oil at Quarantine Beach in the Brunswick area, among other places. Authorities say more than 5,500 feet of oil-absorbent boom is being used to try to contain pollution from “sporadic discharges” from the South Korean ship Golden Ray. The vessel was carrying 4,200 vehicles when it capsized in the St. Simons Sound on Sept. 8. The ship’s pilot and 23 crew members were all safely rescued, including four men trapped for 36 hours before they could be extracted through a hole drilled into the hull.
Honolulu: A plan to minimize the effects of strobe lights on endangered seabirds will allow at least three Friday night football games on Kauai this fall. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami approved an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the County of Kauai. The plan will allow stadium lights during high school football games this Friday and Oct. 4. Officials say teams are required to play during the day from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15, when the island’s young seabirds take their first flights. Officials say the birds can mistake stadium lights for the moon and stars they use to navigate, causing them to fall from exhaustion after circling the lights. The agreement calls for monitoring and reporting downed seabirds during games.
Twin Falls: Twin Falls School District is offering a construction program for students in hopes of helping to fill a regional labor shortage. The Times-News reports the district in southern Idaho recently started the program, with high school students from the region traveling to a satellite facility to learn to build foundations, building frames, exteriors, siding and interior finishes. The district also plans to offer a second-year course that aims to move students onto a construction site to work directly with area employers. Teacher Cameron Hoge says the program will give students the skills they need to get a job in the trades.
Springfield: The state has issued about 300,000 driver’s licenses that are compliant with a 2005 law aimed at strengthening rules for identification at airports and federal facilities. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that after long delays, the Illinois Secretary of State is now processing thousands of the documents daily. The licenses that are compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005 have a small gold circle with a white star in the middle. Those applying for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses need to show additional paperwork to prove their identity. Starting in October 2020, Illinois residents over 18 who fly or visit military bases will need a REAL ID-compliant document. Along with the new driver’s licenses, passports can also be used.
Stairs and boardwalks traverse tall dunes along the Dune Succession Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park. (Photo: Chelsey Lewis/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Porter: The Indiana Dunes National Park saw its highest number of visitors this summer after receiving national park status. The 15,000-acre park along the southern shore of Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana became the state’s first national park in February. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center has tallied 131,662 visitors in the first eight months of 2019, breaking its all-time annual record. The park drew in over 42,000 July visitors, more than doubling totals from the same period last year. Park officials say the higher visitor numbers indicate the public has responded to the national park designation. The giant sand dunes were formed more than 10,000 years ago and reach almost 200 feet tall in some places.
West Des Moines: The West Des Moines Community School District has stopped a high school football team’s volunteer chaplain from praying with players before and after games. West Des Moines Superintendent Lisa Remy said Monday that the district received written concerns from parents that the prayers were a violation of the First Amendment. The district then asked the self-described chaplain, Chris Barr, to stop working with the Valley High School team while the concerns are reviewed by the district’s legal counsel. Barr did not pray with players Friday night when Valley played Waukee. He doesn’t work for the district but rather with West Des Moines Community Schools Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an independent organization that works with Christian students enrolled in West Des Moines schools.
Wichita: Kansas’ newest state park is slated to open next month. Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in Logan County is a rare geological gem that features chalky spires and buttes projecting as high as 100 feet in the air. The Wichita Eagle reports the park is set to open Oct. 12. The park’s grand opening ceremony will be followed by free, guided tours that run every hour. Kansas dropped a $50 visitor’s fee last month. The fee had been intended as a warning to anyone who might damage the park’s fragile rock formations. Tours will now be free, but visitors must schedule them in advance. Guests will be required to buy a $5 state park vehicle permit or have a yearly Kansas state parks vehicle pass.
Raptor Rehab volunteer Jon Weigle releases a female bald eagle back into the wild March 1 at Fort Duffield Park in West Point, Ky. The eagle was brought to the facility last December after fighting with another female bald eagle and then being struck by a car. (Photo: Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal)
Louisville: Eagle populations in the state are growing rapidly thanks to deliberate hacking – the release of young eagles into the wild – over the past 33 years. Now, hacking isn’t necessary. Eagles are reproducing on their own at a sustainable rate. Kate Slankard, an avian biologist in the nongame branch for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, calls the population uptick a “fantastic recovery” and “a good example of how the Endangered Species Act can work to recover a species.” This year, Slankard says, surveyors found 19 new territories – areas where eagles haven’t been recorded before – in eastern and central Kentucky. It’s the latest in a series of successes eagles have had in the state after a decline Slankard says was due to widespread use of the pesticide DDT.
Baton Rouge: A Tulane University professor has been chosen as this year’s winner of the Louisiana Writer Award, presented at the state’s annual book festival. Richard Campanella is being honored for his work documenting Louisiana’s history and culture. Campanella will receive the award, announced by the state library’s Louisiana Center for the Book, at the state book festival Nov. 2. Campanella, originally from Brooklyn, is a professor in Tulane’s School of Architecture. He says he was drawn to Louisiana when reading in 1971 about an Abraham Lincoln visit to New Orleans. Campanella’s books include “Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans” and “Geographies of New Orleans: Urban Fabrics Before the Storm.” Past recipients of the Louisiana Writer Award include Ernest Gaines and Elmore Leonard.
Portland: The largest cannabis conference in the Northeast is coming to Maine’s largest city next week. The New England Cannabis Network says the 5th Annual Maine Cannabis Convention will take place in Portland on Oct. 5-6. The event is expected to bring more than 150 exhibitors and more than 30 speakers to the state. The event is geared at people who work in the cannabis industry as well as growers and consumers. New England Cannabis Network says the convention “is designed specifically to help educate, promote, and develop state-wide cannabis resources and networking opportunities.” The keynote speaker at this year’s event is Shay Stewart-Bouley, a Maine-based writer. The event, taking place at Portland Sports Complex, is also the Northeast’s longest-running cannabis conference, according to organizers.
Baltimore: The University of Maryland has received a $200 million contract to research seasonal flu vaccines. The university’s School of Medicine says the research is aimed at testing vaccines and conducting controlled studies. The money is coming from the federal government’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which hopes to develop a universal vaccine against new flu strains and to improve existing flu vaccines as well. The university say influenza affected more than 43 million people in the U.S. last flu season. The principal investigator for the research will be Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, a professor of medicine and pediatrics and director of the school’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health. She’s considered one of the leading scientists for vaccine development and policy.
Burlington: Police officers briefly turned into Amazon drivers after a stash of undelivered packages was found in a cemetery. Burlington police tweeted that a “diligent groundskeeper” at a cemetery in the town northwest of Boston found the packages Monday morning in a trash receptacle and contacted police. Police did not say exactly how many packages there were, but photos posted on social media showed about 20. The packages were addressed to Burlington residents, so police took it upon themselves to deliver them. They are also investigating to determine how the packages ended up at the cemetery and have contacted Amazon. They tweeted, “If you see an officer delivering your packages say hello!”
Joe Garverick, owner of Indian Creek Zoo in Lambertville, Mich., holds Renegade, a male American alligator that was pulled out of the Biology Pond on the Bedford Junior High/High School campus last week. (Photo: Tom Hawley/The Monroe News via AP)
Temperance: An alligator rescued from a school pond is doing well in its new digs at a zoo. Staff from the Indian Creek Zoo in Lambertville on Friday captured the American alligator – originally believed to be a caiman – from a pond on the Bedford Junior High/High School campus in Temperance. It was discovered the day before in the pond used for academic study. Zoo employees have named the reptile “Renegade.” It’s about 3 feet long and believed to be roughly 3 years old. It was likely an illegal pet that escaped or was released. Zoo officials tell The Monroe News that Renegade will spend the fall and winter inside a heated barn and move into a new enclosure in the spring. Temperance is just north of Toledo, Ohio.
Culturally significant Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota is where American Indians have quarried red pipestone for generations. (Photo: John_Brueske, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Pipestone: The Pipestone National Monument says it will stop selling pipes following decades of tribal complaints that the sales desecrate sacred grounds. Minnesota Public Radio News reports Faith Spotted Eagle of the Yankton Sioux Tribe calls the southwestern Minnesota pipestone from which the pipes are carved “the blood of our people.” Superintendent Lauren Blacik says the monument’s leadership has come to understand that carrying a pipe is a deeply personal, cultural and spiritual responsibility. Native American craftspeople will continue to demonstrate pipestone carving and share their cultural history with visitors. And the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association, which operates the park’s store, says it will open a location downtown where such pipes may be sold. Spotted Eagle says the decision answers decades of prayer.
Tupelo: A businessman is pulling his $5.3 million donation, plus interest, from the University of Mississippi and giving the money to a nonprofit group that does community work and owns a newspaper. Ed Meek’s action comes months after the university removed his name from its School of Journalism and New Media after Meek commented on a Facebook photo of two young African American women wearing short dresses, suggesting they exemplified problems that threatened the Oxford economy. Meek later apologized. News outlets report Meek filed papers in July transferring his money to the CREATE Foundation, which owns the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Meek tells the Daily Journal he was treated unfairly by the university and “roundly labeled as a racist.” Meek led Ole Miss public relations for 37 years, starting in 1964.
Joplin: A sawed-off shotgun used by Bonnie and Clyde will remain in the city after being sold at auction. The Joplin Globe reports the weapon and other items related to the notorious criminal couple were auctioned Saturday in Boston. The Western Field Browning Model 30 shotgun was recovered after a 1933 gunfight in Joplin that killed two Missouri law officers. Bonnie and Clyde and their gang escaped. Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of RR Auction, says the shotgun sold for $68,750. He says the bidder wanted to remain anonymous but was determined to keep the weapon in Joplin. A Bulova wristwatch taken from Clyde Barrow’s body after his death in a 1934 gunfight sold for $112,500. And bidding on a book of poetry written by Bonnie Parker reached $25,000 before a cosigner withdrew it.
A herd of bison moves through land controlled by the American Prairie Reserve south of Malta, Mont. (Photo: Matthew Brown/AP)
Billings: A conservation group trying to create the largest nature reserve in the Lower 48 is scaling back its request to expand bison grazing on public lands. The Associated Press obtained information about the decision by the American Prairie Reserve ahead of a public announcement. It follows opposition from ranchers who worry about being pushed out of the area. The Bozeman-based group is reducing the scope of its request from more than 450 square miles to about 94 square miles. Reserve Vice President Pete Geddes says the group doesn’t want neighboring landowners to feel “bulldozed.” The long-term goal remains unchanged: a 5,000-square-mile expanse of public and private with at least 10,000 bison. U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Al Nash says the changes are under review.
Lincoln: A state commission has approved spending an estimated $181,000 on emergency repairs to the Capitol’s gold-tiled dome. Bob Ripley, administrator for the Office of the Capitol Commission, says the work to protect the dome from moisture and winter’s freeze-thaw cycles likely will begin in mid-October. A July inspection discovered caulking applied to expansion joints in 2001 had deteriorated so much that water was getting inside the inner dome structure. Ripley says some tiles had been moved out of place, raising the risk they could fall off. Plans for the emergency repairs call for workers to rappel down the dome and temporarily seal the expansion joints to keep the tiles in place. Ripley says the longer-term solution will require scaffolding.
Las Vegas: The off-Strip Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino is being sold. Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced Monday a deal with New York real estate group Imperial Companies worth $516.3 million. Despite the sale, the 2,500-room Rio – home of the famed World Series of Poker – will likely remain much the same, and the 2020 poker tournament will be hosted there. Caesars will operate the property under a two-year lease agreement at $45 million a year. Imperial has the option to pay Caesars $7 million to extend the lease for a third term. When the lease expires, Caesars may manage the Rio or help the buyer transition to a new arrangement. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2019.
Somersworth: The mother of a middle school student says a teacher told her daughter to stop playing with her hair, then cut off 3 inches of it. Jillian Miglionico, of Somersworth, tells WMUR-TV the principal of Somersworth Middle School called her Monday after a teacher’s aide came forward. She said her daughter didn’t report the incident because she was scared and embarrassed. Miglionico said the teacher told her daughter to stop playing with her hair during class. When she didn’t, he said he’d cut it off – and did, using scissors. Miglionico said she wants to see the teacher removed. The Somersworth School District superintendent said his office is investigating and is taking the situation very seriously but can’t comment further.
Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, from the television show “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” stands during a 2014 hearing in the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson, N.J. (Photo: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media via AP)
Newark: The husband of a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member will have to remain in jail while he awaits a final decision on whether he will be deported. A judge denied a request Friday by Joe Giudice to be released on bail. Giudice and his wife, Teresa, pleaded guilty in 2014 to financial fraud. Teresa Giudice served her sentence first and was released in December 2015. Joe Giudice has been held by immigration officials since he completed his 41-month prison term. A judge ruled in October that he would be deported to his native Italy upon completion of his prison sentence. Giudice has said he came to the U.S. as an infant and wasn’t aware he wasn’t an American citizen.
Albuquerque: More than a dozen pueblos are being awarded grants to expand and create library services. Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation say the pueblos will receive funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The money can be used to organize and preserve the historical records of Native American communities. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan says the investment will bolster opportunities for exchanging knowledge, especially for students. Isleta Pueblo will receive nearly $150,000 to organize and translate historical records to ensure they can be used as a resource for future generations. The pueblo of Pojoaque will get more than $123,000 to preserve archival resources and to promote the Poeh Cultural Center Archives and Library. The funding will be used to hire additional employees and to buy equipment.
The New York Islanders unveiled designs Monday for the team's new Belmont Park arena, which will include a retail and entertainment village. (Photo: New York Governor's Office)
Elmont: Work has begun on a $1.3 billion arena for the New York Islanders hockey team at Belmont Park. The 19,000-seat arena will also include shops, restaurants and a hotel. Work is expected to be completed in time for the 2021-2022 season. Until then, the Islanders will play home games at the Nassau Coliseum and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Dignitaries attending a groundbreaking Monday included Gov. Andrew Cuomo and actor and big-time Islanders fan Ralph Macchio. Cuomo says the project builds on two Long Island traditions: the Islanders and Belmont Park, home of racing’s Belmont Stakes. The arena is being built on state-owned property. As part of the work, developers have agreed to pay to build a new Long Island Rail Road station nearby.
Cedar Island: A wild horse manager says more than half of one herd is thought to be dead after Hurricane Dorian’s storm surge slammed their island home. Manager Woody Hancock told McClatchy news that 28 of the 49 horses on Cedar Island, between the Outer Banks and the mainland, are suspected dead. He says the herd is lesser-known than the Corolla herd on the northernmost parts of the Outer Banks. That herd didn’t suffer any losses. He says 21 of Cedar Island’s horses survived, some managing to swim to safety. But dead horses have been washing up on beaches, while others remain missing. The horses normally migrate to higher ground during storms, but Hancock says they didn’t have time as a “mini tsunami” overwhelmed the island Sept. 6.
Bismarck: The North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission plans to formally request that the flags of the state’s five tribes become a permanent fixture at the Capitol. The Bismarck Tribune reports that a committee of state lawmakers will hear the commission’s request Thursday. The commission’s executive director, Scott Davis, says he doesn’t anticipate there will be any opposition. Gov. Doug Burgum declared during his State of the State address in January that he would display the flags outside his office in Bismarck. They represent the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation; the Standing Rock Sioux; the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa; the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate; and the Spirit Lake Nation. Sen. Richard Marcellais, a former Turtle Mountain tribal official, previously proposed three failed bills to erect a display of tribal flags.
Columbus: The Ohio Parole Board has changed its approach to interviewing condemned inmates asking for mercy in a move that addresses a longtime criticism of the process. Under the old approach, board members would interview a death row inmate armed only with court records about the inmate’s case and the inmate’s disciplinary record while imprisoned. Under the new system, board members will have the inmate’s application for mercy, including information about upbringing, mental health history and rehabilitation while on death row. David Stebbins, a federal public defender overseeing capital punishment cases, says the goal is to provide the board with a more complete picture of the inmate before the interview. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the state public defender’s office back the changes.
Oklahoma City: A local couple has been giving away free copies of the investigative report on Russia’s interference in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election. The Department of Justice appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 to investigate Trump’s campaign and Russia’s influence on the election. The probe’s findings, known as the Mueller report, were released in April. The report concluded there was no collusion with Russia but did not exonerate the president of a crime. Nick and Louise Brooke of Oklahoma City have disseminated more than 60 copies of the report since July. Nick Brooke tells the Oklahoman that although the investigation has been heavily reported, many people don’t understand what’s actually in it. The couple leaves the Mueller report in mailboxes along with voter registration forms.
Salem: After two wildfire-filled seasons, Oregonians got a break this summer. The state’s fire season was the mildest since 2004 and the least expensive since 2010, according to statistics from the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. Statewide, wildfires burned just 67,795 acres this year compared to 883,405 acres a year ago. Cost also plummeted, dropping to $58 million this year compared to a record-high $530 million in 2018. One reason for the lack of wildfires was that Oregon’s forests never dried out to the level of the past two years, thanks to cooler temperatures and greater humidity, especially in the mountains.
Harrisburg: The debate over guns has been revived in the Legislature, although Democrats say the process ignores their top priorities and could end up loosening gun laws. Tuesday marked the start of a two-day Senate committee hearing on gun violence and a slate of House committee votes on gun-related legislation. The action follows a burst of gun violence in Philadelphia and the wounding of six city police officers in a standoff. The Republican-controlled Legislature is historically protective of gun rights. The House committee unanimously advanced legislation to more swiftly take away guns from someone involuntarily committed for mental health treatment. Another bill it advanced would make it harder and more expensive for municipalities to defend their firearms ordinances against lawsuits, although that’s likely to draw Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto.
Providence: The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority says it is seeking public comment on a proposed digital fare structure. The Providence Journal reports riders will be able to transfer buses for free if they switch to the new digital payment system that RIPTA is expected to release this winter. RIPTA’s mobile app, named the Wave, will let riders pay for bus rides with their phones or fare cards using reloadable accounts. RIPTA is proposing a $5 fee to activate an account. The bus fare would continue to be $2, and riders would be charged $1 for every trip they take on Providence’s new Downtown Transit Connector route. Authority spokeswoman Barbara Polichetti says the changes show the agency’s interest in making it “much easier for the public to ride RIPTA.”
Florence: The county has declared every Oct. 3 “Heroes Day” to honor two police officers killed and five wounded in a shooting. Florence County Council approved the proclamation at its September meeting. The proclamation will be presented to the families of the slain officers at a ceremony planned for this Oct. 3 on the anniversary of the 2018 shooting. Florence Police Sgt. Terrence Carraway and Florence County Sheriff’s investigator Farrah “Maxine” Turner were killed when authorities say Frederick Hopkins ambushed officers coming to his home to talk to Hopkins’ son and serve a search warrant. Hopkins is charged with murder and is awaiting trial.
Sturgis: The state Supreme Court will once again hear oral arguments in Buffalo Chip’s quest to become a municipality. The popular motorcycle rally campground near Sturgis is appealing a February ruling that ordered the town of Buffalo Chip to be dissolved because it didn’t have enough residents when it was incorporated in 2015. The city of Sturgis has opposed Buffalo Chip’s incorporation for years. The Rapid City Journal reports that oral arguments are scheduled for Monday. Attorneys for the state have argued that Buffalo Chip was improperly formed because it had fewer than 100 legal residents or 30 voters at the time it was incorporated. Buffalo Chip officials have argued that the area had more than 30 voters.
Nashville: Tennessee men have been killing Tennessee women at one of the highest rates in the nation for a decade, according to national data, and activists are calling for legislative change in response. The latest Violence Policy Center report finds that Tennessee ranked fifth in the nation for the rate of women killed by men after an analysis of 2017 data, a year where nearly 2,000 women were killed under those circumstances. “Women are most likely to be murdered with a gun wielded not by a stranger but by someone they know,” VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said in a release about the study. Most of those homicides were committed with a firearm and often by an intimate partner of the woman killed, the data shows.
Many buttons and other items are missing – taken over the years as souvenirs, according to employees – at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The building has not been used for two years and is slated for demolition. (Photo: Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Houston: NASA says the building where Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong and his colleagues emerged from quarantine after their 1969 moon mission has fallen into disrepair and will be demolished. The Houston Chronicle reports the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Johnson Space Center hasn’t been used for two years and will likely be torn down next year. The building, completed in 1967, was designed to isolate the astronauts and lunar rock samples until it was clear they weren’t carrying disease. A 2015 economic analysis determined that the historic building has structural and electrical problems and can’t be saved. A replacement building will house artifacts saved from original lab. NASA’s decision comes just months after celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar footsteps by Apollo 11 astronauts.
Salt Lake City: Thousands of people in the state will be able to clear their old criminal records after a mass reduction of criminal charges by the top prosecutor in its largest county, a step that’s among the first of its kind in the country. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Tuesday that he’s filing to reduce drug-related charges for more than 12,000 people. Gill says the move makes most of them eligible to expunge their records, which otherwise make it harder to get jobs, housing and education. It comes amid a national wave of criminal-justice reform. Miriam Krinsky with the group Fair and Just Prosecution says Salt Lake County’s effort goes further than many others by taking on a wide range of drug-related convictions, some dating back two decades.
Montpelier: State regulators have signed off on an ownership deal related to two utilities that critics worry could bring more fossil fuel infrastructure to Vermont. Vermont Public Radio reports the Public Utility Commission has approved the complex deal that will indirectly increase Canadian pipeline company Enbridge’s ownership over both Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas. Julie Macuga, an activist with 350 Vermont, organized a protest Monday. She says the deal “is another case” where the state is heading toward a “fossil fuel monopoly and a consolidation of power.” Jim Porter of the Department of Public Service, which represents ratepayers, says the department concluded the deal will not have any significant impact on how the two utilities operate in Vermont.
Charlottesville: Several University of Virginia students want to overturn a ban that prohibits sexually active gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The Daily Progress reports Austin Houck and others have banded together to create Homoglobin, a social welfare organization with branches at other schools including Virginia Tech and the College of William & Mary. The Food and Drug Administration instituted a lifetime donation ban on gay and bisexual men at the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1983. The policy was diluted in 2015 and now excludes donations from men who have had sex with men within 12 months. The agency considered ending the ban in 2016 after a mass shooting at a gay club in Florida but decided there wasn’t enough evidence supporting the change.
Spokane: The state has authorized the killing of some wolves in the Grouse Flats pack in an effort to stop the pack from preying on cattle. Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, on Tuesday authorized the incremental killing of members of the pack in southeastern Washington. The agency says the Grouse Flats pack has been involved in two cattle depredations in the past 30 days and four in the past 10 months. The agency says livestock producers in the area have taken nonlethal steps to stop the depredations, but without success. Under the incremental system, there is a period when some members of the pack are killed, followed by an evaluation period to see if the killings change the pack’s behavior.
84 Inch Fireplace Tv Stand
Wheeling: Vehicles exceeding the weight limit of a suspension bridge have led officials to close it indefinitely. News outlets report the Wheeling Suspension Bridge closed Tuesday morning and won’t be open to vehicular traffic for at least a year. Pedestrians can still walk or bike across. A charter bus weighing well over the weight limit caused the bridge to close for more than a month earlier this year. The bridge passed inspections, and officials added barriers and signs. The Friends of Wheeling organization says those changes haven’t stopped violators. Members recently observed over 100 vehicles weighing more than the 2-ton weight limit drive over the bridge. West Virginia Department of Transportation Acting District Engineer Joe Juszczak says the bridge will be closed until permanent repairs are made.
Madison: A conservative law group is challenging a Madison School District policy that prohibits school staff from telling parents if their child is transitioning genders at school, unless they have that student’s permission. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the guidance document went into effect last school year. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is asking that it be repealed. The group’s president, Rick Esenberg, says the policy instructs employees to deceive students’ families. Sherie Hohs, who oversees the district’s LGBT student support services, says outing students to families who may not accept their transition could have “devastating effects on their safety.” She says about 4% of Madison school students identified in a 2018 survey as transgender or nonbinary, or they rejected static gender identities altogether.
Laramie: The University of Wyoming has received a $15.8 million National Science Foundation grant that will provide weather instrumentation and other equipment for a new research aircraft the university plans to purchase. UW is the only academic institution in the United States that provides a research aircraft facility to the atmospheric science community. The UW Board of Trustees is asking the State Loan and Investment Board for a loan for up to $4.7 million for the purchase of the aircraft. The university’s current King Air twin-engine turboprop is 42 years old.
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