Huntsville: The U.S. Army is defending a decision to close its historic, 57-year-old space and technical library at Redstone Arsenal. Army officials say it was a joint decision made by interested parties. Al.com reports that the Redstone Scientific Information Center closed its doors Sept. 30. The center was established in 1962 by a charter between the Army and NASA. It was overseen by a board of directors made up of senior leaders and scientists at Redstone’s various missile organizations. Dr. Wernher von Braun and Maj. Gen. Francis “Frank” McMorrow agreed to build the original facility, which held information about rocketry and space science used to advance United States rocket programs.
Anchorage: A man says he rescued his family’s dog from an attack by river otters in a small lake inside a local park. Alaska Public Media reports Kenny Brewer waded waist-deep into Taku Lake and suffered a bite on his hand while pulling the dog away from the river otters that converged on the pet. The 27-year-old Anchorage dietitian says he and his wife were walking the husky-mix, which was bitten by a group of otters that dragged the dog underwater temporarily. Brewer says a veterinarian cleaned the dog’s cuts, sliced away damaged tissue and stitched a drain tube into its leg. Wildlife biologists say they were not aware of previous attacks by river otters in Anchorage. One biologist says the animals likely perceived the dog as a threat.
Tucson: Two retirement communities in the city are the launching pad for a program to see how virtual reality technology helps senior citizens with cognition, dementia, loneliness and other issues. The Arizona Daily Star reports Watermark Retirement Communities wants to eventually make the technology available at dozens of facilities nationwide. With a cordless headset system called Oculus Quest, elderly residents have been able to ride a roller coaster, visit the Egyptian pyramids and visit places they used to live. Watermark also wants to allow residents across its communities to be able to meet up virtually. Grayson Barnes, a 20-year-old Rochester Institute of Technology student, spent two years developing the Engage VR program for Watermark. He says most research suggests dementia patients are more like themselves after experiencing virtual reality.
Little Rock: A judge says he’s running for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court, setting up another potentially expensive and heated race in a state that has drawn heavy involvement from outside conservative groups. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan “Chip” Welch on Monday announced he was running for the seat currently held by Justice Jo Hart in next year’s election. Hart, who has served on the court since 2013, has not said whether she’s seeking reelection next year. Arkansas’ nonpartisan Supreme Court races in recent years have drawn the focus of outside conservative groups that have spent millions on TV ads and attack mailers. A state justice won reelection last year after two conservative groups spent nearly $2.5 million trying to unseat her.
Sacramento: The state will ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products starting in 2023. Legislation signed Saturday by Gov. Gavin Newsom makes California the first state to enact such a ban. It doesn’t apply to used fur products or fur used for religious or tribal purposes. And it excludes the sale of leather; cowhides; deer, sheep and goat skin; and anything preserved through taxidermy. There’s a fine of up to $1,000 for multiple violations. Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, the bill’s author, says there are “sustainable and humane” substitutes for fur. Opponents of the legislation have said it could create a black market and be a slippery slope to bans on other products.
Colorado Springs: A report by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative says the state’s 54 highest summits continue to see an increasing number of people seeking to climb the fourteeners, or those at least 14,000 feet high. The Gazette reports that an analysis by the nonprofit initiative estimates 353,000 people were attracted to the peaks during 2018’s hiking season, up 5.7% from the 2017 count. That’s almost 100,000 more than the first report from four years ago. Colorado Fourteeners executive director Lloyd Athearn says the heightened numbers come with his organization increasing its monitoring capabilities on the mountains. According to the report, Mounts Bierstadt, Elbert, Lincoln, Bross, Democrat and Sherman as well as Quandary, Grays, Torreys and Longs peaks all see more people. And for the first time, Quandary Peak was the busiest fourteener. Bierstadt previously held the rank.
Hartford: A new state report shows the state’s utilities are “well aware of the increasing dangers” of cyberattacks and appear to have successfully thwarted recent threats they encountered. Four utilities participated in the third annual cybersecurity review of Connecticut’s electricity, natural gas and public water utilities. The list includes Eversource, Connecticut Water, Aquarion Water Co. and Avangrid. The report says the utilities conducted “extensive new work” over the past year to boost their cybersecurity resilience, including vetting the hiring of all employees and vendors. Phishing, spear phishing, threats to cloud information storage and insider threats are cited as some of the most worrisome threats facing the state’s utilities. The report highlights a need for better information sharing between the federal Department of Homeland Security and the state utilities concerning cyber compromises.
Newark: ChristianaCare researchers say they have created a new computer program that will allow scientists to see the impact gene editing has on tumor cells, an idea they hope to patent. It wasn’t invented by a hospital doctor or a researcher, though they did help. The idea came from Rohan Kanchana, a junior at Newark Charter School who interned there last winter. The 16-year-old is too young to do technical lab work at ChristianaCare’s cancer center, but he could code. The new computer program revolves around a technology called CRISPR, the genetic version of spell-check on a Word document. If a person has an incorrect word – or, in this case, a gene – the technology will identify and correct it, says Eric Kmiec, director of the Gene Editing Institute at ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.
District of Columbia
Washington: Plans are in the works to add potentially thousands more dockless scooters to D.C. streets, WUSA-TV reports. As of now, 6,210 dockless scooters are permitted in the district. For 2020, the District Department of Transportation is considering a proposal that would boost the number to 10,000. The comment period to add more scooters goes until the end of October. After that, DDOT officials say they will evaluate the responses and determine the next steps. The proposal also includes the addition of dockless bikes, allowing for up to 10,000 in the district. The vehicles wouldn’t be designated to one area but spread out across all eight wards.
Orlando: Gatorland has built new homes for some of its most distinctive-looking residents, thus creating an exhibit for a rare albino gator and two even-more-rare leucistic gators, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The White Gator Swamp will be the site of a baby gator boom, officials hope. Those very light-skinned residents are now being encouraged to make offspring. “It’s the largest breeding facility for white alligators anywhere in the world,” says Mark McHugh, Gatorland’s CEO. The white gators were introduced to their new digs Oct. 4. Leucistic gator Trezos hesitated to enter the waters, while his brother, Feros Zombi, dived off the side of a ramp after raw-chicken inspiration. Albino alligator Pearl did a reptilian sort of strut before making a splash. Albino gators have no pigment at all, while leucistics have some coloring in their skins. All three have separate waters and potential mates to explore.
Brunswick: Marine salvage experts seeking to remove an overturned cargo ship close to the state’s seacoast say they will haul it away in pieces because it cannot be safely righted and refloated intact. Their Unified Command said in a statement Saturday that the hull of the 656-foot Golden Ray would be dismantled, along with the ship’s other components and cargo, and taken away in what it described as a “complex situation.” The Golden Ray overturned Sept. 8 near the Port of Brunswick. Rescuers drilled into the hull’s steel plates and rescued four crewmen trapped in the bowels of the ship for more than a day in scorching heat and darkness. The Coast Guard has said it would take “weeks, if not months,” to remove the ship, which overturned while heading to sea.
Honolulu: As Rep. Tulsi Gabbard travels throughout Iowa and New Hampshire trying to kickstart her Democratic presidential bid, she is facing a serious challenge back home in Hawaii for her U.S. House seat. State Sen. Kai Kahele, a fellow Democrat, is picking up endorsements and criticizing Gabbard for not paying enough attention to constituents in Hawaii while she campaigns for president thousands of miles away. The 45-year-old Native Hawaiian is a combat veteran and pilot for the Hawaii Air National Guard. He flies passenger jets for Hawaiian Airlines and is a member of the pilots union, a helpful attribute in union-friendly Hawaii. Gabbard hasn’t indicated whether she will run for reelection.
Boise: Authorities have released plans to stop devastating wildfires in southwestern Idaho, southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada with one option creating 1,500 miles of fuel breaks up to 400 feet wide along existing roads. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Friday released a draft environmental impact statement for the Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project and is taking public comments through the end of November. The BLM says creating fuel breaks by clearing vegetation will help firefighters stop wildfires and protect key habitat for sage grouse and other wildlife on land also used by ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts. The BLM says options include fewer miles of fuel breaks all the way down to no fuel breaks at all. The region in recent decades has seen repeated giant rangeland wildfires.
Marengo: A French religious order has reached a preliminary agreement with a northern Illinois county that would allow nuns to build a winery, brewery, gift shop and coed boarding school there. The consent decree between McHenry County and Fraternite Notre Dame Inc. could end nearly four years of litigation and local opposition to the order expanding its operation in Marengo. The order sued the county in 2015, alleging that by blocking the expansion, the county was violating the U.S. Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston is scheduled to decide this month whether to approve the agreement. McHenry County State Attorney Patrick Kenneally and county board Chairman Jack Franks declined to comment.
Indianapolis: Butler University has raised more than half of the $250 million it needs for a campaign to invest in science education, increase enrollment beyond resident undergraduates and boost community outreach. The private university has pooled $171 million from more than 27,000 donors during its largest fundraising campaign, which runs through May. The university plans to add a $100 million science facility. But university President James Danko says the campaign will also help fund efforts to encourage working professionals to enroll. Melissa Beckwith, vice president of strategy and innovation, says the university could partner with local companies to provide education for employees who aren’t enrolled as undergraduates. The university will also try to offer Indianapolis public school students dual degree credits.
Des Moines: Backers of a skateboard park under construction downtown say they have reached their $6.3 million funding goal. The Lauridsen Skatepark will be the nation’s largest when completed in spring 2020. The 88,000-square-foot skate park is being built on 5 acres of land between Second Avenue and the Des Moines River. Recent gifts by the Lauridsen Family Foundation and the state’s Enhance Iowa fund enabled organizers to reach their fundraising goal. Nix and Virginia Lauridsen have donated a total of $1.6 million to the project. Besides the skate areas, the park will include viewing platforms, handicap accessible walkways, shade structures and landscaping. Organizers expect about 40,000 skaters a year will use the park. They note skateboarding will be an Olympic sport in 2020.
Kansas City: The Kansas City T-Bones are officially locked out of their stadium. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, changed the locks and padlocked the gates to the stadium Monday because the team has failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid debts. The government issued an eviction notice in August after the T-Bones accumulated more than $760,000 in back rent and utility payments. The team was given a one-month reprieve in September after making a $50,000 payment. The Kansas City Star reports team owners have said they are working to sell the team, but no deal has been reached. The T-Bones played in an independent league and have no Major League Baseball affiliation.
Winchester: Daniel Boone National Forest officials say multiple fires have burned hundreds of acres there, with almost all the fires caused by people. WTVQ-TV in Lexington reports three crews from Puerto Rico have volunteered to restore what they can in the forest. Officials want to clean up damage from fires before dry weather returns. The volunteers are working 16 hours a day performing such tasks as reseeding, preventing erosion, and knocking down trees that could fall and hurt someone. Volunteer Roberto Martinez told the station people from the U.S. went to Puerto Rico to help when Hurricane Maria struck there, and now it’s his chance to return the favor. Daniel Boone representatives say it could be a few more weeks before parts of the forest open to the public.
New Orleans: The National World War II Museum’s $25 million education and outreach building will open Thursday. After an opening ceremony, it will break ground for its final exhibit hall and hold an open house at the new building, called the Hall of Democracy. It features a research library, classrooms, an auditorium, the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, and the WWII Media and Education Center. There’s also a special exhibit gallery. The opening exhibition is about the capture, extradition and trial of Adolf Eichmann, who played a major part in the Nazi mass executions of Jews. The new building is the museum’s sixth, including three exhibit pavilions, a theater and a restoration building. Its 239-room hotel and conference center is expected to open in late fall.
Portland: A scientist with an environmental group says she has found what she believes is the first recorded appearance of a potentially damaging species of crab in Maine waters. Marissa McMahan of the Massachusetts-based group Manomet says she located the smooth mud crab earlier this month on a research trip. The crabs, which are typically found south of Cape Cod, can pose problems for aquaculture businesses because they prey on young oysters. The single specimen is still alive, as McMahan collected it. Other outside species of crabs already pose a threat to Maine’s ecosystem. Acadia National Park officials said earlier this fall that a molted shell of an Asian shore crab was found along the shore. It was among the first confirmed reports of the species in the area.
Adamstown: A rural fire chief says an “elusive” 3-foot-long alligator has finally been caught. WJLA-TV reports the gator was caught Saturday in a retention pond on a private property in Adamstown after animal control officers and others spent hours Thursday and Friday trying to capture it. The station reports officers ended up placing a live animal cage trap with bait on the muddy shoreline after initial efforts using a fishing line failed. Carroll Manor Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Smallwood says he found the “crafty and smart” reptile inside the metal cage about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Maryland residents are not allowed to own exotic animals, including alligators. The station reports Frederick County Animal Control says the alligator was likely abandoned by its owner due to its size.
Boston: Two state lawmakers want to make it easier for communities to purchase dormant railroad tracks to convert into recreational trails. The MetroWest Daily News reports state Sen. Jamie Eldridge and state Rep. Carmine Gentile, both Democrats, jointly filed legislation that, if approved, would allow cities and towns to use Community Preservation Act money to purchase railroad lands to transform into trails for walking, running and bicycling. Community Preservation Act money can be used to preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing and develop outdoor recreational facilities. But the state Department of Revenue has ruled it cannot be used to buy federal rail banks and rights of way. Eldridge, of Acton, says rail trails improve public health by providing safe opportunities for exercise and boost economic development.
Detroit: A church that served as a popular venue for national civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, is getting a grant for needed renovations. The National Park Service has awarded the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office $500,000 for King Solomon Baptist Church. Work includes rehabilitating the roof and preparing construction drawings. The church built in 1917 for a white congregation was bought in 1955 by an African American congregation. King spoke twice at King Solomon, and Malcolm X gave his “Message to the Grassroots” speech there in 1963. King Solomon’s pastor, the Rev. Charles Williams II, says the goal “is to continue the church’s tradition of empowerment, education and research.” The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
St. Cloud: More than 100 mannequins in blaze orange sweatshirts were set up along Minnesota Highway 23 in the city Saturday. The display, organized by Pathways 4 Youth, represented the number of youth experiencing homelessness on any given night in Central Minnesota. “A lot of people in the community just don’t know,” says Tim Wensman, board chair and president of Pathways 4 Youth. The event kicked off the organization’s “Now That You Know” campaign, which aims to raise awareness on youth homelessness, as well as highlight how people can support the organization’s efforts. Pathways 4 Youth is a resource center for youth ages 16 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness. The center helps them finish their education, find secure employment and gain stable housing. It also connects youth with a place to shower, food and hygiene products, and a warm evening meal.
Meridian: The city promises there will be sunshine Oct. 26, even if it’s a cloudy day. That’s the day Meridian will honor the late David Ruffin, one of the lead singers of the Motown group The Temptations. He sang the hit “My Girl,” which included that sunny lyric. The Meridian Star reports the city will add signs ceremonially naming four blocks of a downtown street “David Ruffin Boulevard.” Born in nearby rural Whynot, Ruffin claimed Meridian as home. Mississippi’s Arts + Entertainment Experience will also place Ruffin’s star on its walk of fame, while Jackson State University’s marching band, the “Sonic Boom of the South,” will lead a parade. LaMont Robinson, head of the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and Ruffin’s son-in-law, presented the idea to the city.
Columbia: The CEO of Dow Inc. has donated $6 million to a new University of Missouri health institute focused on personalized medicine. The university says the gift from Jim Fitterling is one of the first from an individual donor for the NextGen Precision Health Institute. The $220.8 million center is expected to open in October 2021. The state has contributed $10 million so far, with other funding coming from a combination of private and corporate support. Fitterling said in a statement that as a cancer survivor, he is “keenly interested in advancing research that helps patients and their families enjoy better outcomes and better qualities of life.” He began working at Dow just two weeks after graduating from the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering in 1983.
Missoula: State forest experts have proposed a timber harvest and prescribed-burns project to reduce the risk of wildfires in the Lolo National Forest. The Missoulian reports the proposed treatments were designed to contribute to the overall forest health and fuel-reduction objectives and make the forest more resilient to drought, wildfire, insects and disease. Forest experts say the project would cover about 36 square miles in Missoula and Mineral counties and include harvesting timber for mills, tree thinning and prescribed fires. Experts say some existing roads are expected to be decommissioned for work. Experts say they are seeking additional public input on the proposal at a meeting Wednesday. Submitted comments would be accepted by mail, electronically and hand-delivered for the next 30 days.
Norfolk: People who want to help preserve monarch butterflies can obtain free milkweed seed pods through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The pods, seeding instructions and monarch educational information will be available while supplies last at Game and Parks’ Northeast District Office in Norfolk. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch. Monarchs lay eggs only on milkweed, and it’s the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat. Scientists say the monarch population has drastically declined over the past 20 years. Contact Jamie Bachmann at 402-370-3374 or Jamie.email@example.com for more information.
Tonopah: Nye County has decided to abandon a controversial proposal that would have further limited the hours when legal prostitutes were allowed to leave licensed brothels. The southern Nevada county had proposed an ordinance that would have barred brothel workers from leaving for more than six hours during a 10-day period. Brothel owners, local prosecutors and others supporting the proposal said they were concerned prostitutes would have unprotected sex when they left brothels. The Las Vegas Sun reports Nye County decided to drop the plan after receiving criticism from sex workers and advocates who said it violated their rights. Sex workers and advocates say they also want the county to repeal an existing rule requiring prostitutes to be retested for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV any time they leave for more than 24 hours at a time.
Manchester: Shakers have long been known for the simple design of their furniture and household objects, but a new exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art explores their cutting-edge skills in brand management. The Manchester museum is featuring a new exhibit called The Shakers and the Modern World, drawn from both its own collection and the holdings of Canterbury Shaker Village. Andrew Spahr, the museum’s director of collections, says the Shakers at one time caused anxiety with attempts to convert outsiders to their religion, but then they developed a branding strategy to counter negative public opinion and were quick to embrace printed media and photography to promote a more positive view. The exhibit will be accompanied by public and educational programs developed with Canterbury Shaker Village, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Trenton: The state’s black bear hunt is underway this week. The first three days of the hunt beginning Monday are for hunters armed with bows and arrows. Archers and muzzleloading rifle hunters can participate on Thursday and Friday. The hunt is restricted to five zones. Gov. Phil Murphy has again prohibited hunting on state lands. The bear hunt for firearms only is set to begin Dec. 9. Hunters killed 225 bears in 2018, the lowest amount since 2003.
Albuquerque: Police data shows 42 Native Americans have been reported missing in the city so far this year, after 36 in 2018. Dawn Begay, the city’s Native American affairs coordinator, says the figures represent open missing persons cases in Albuquerque. Figures from U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show the metro area is home to roughly 50,000 Native Americans. Of the 36 missing in 2018, 15 were women. Begay shared the numbers Friday at an event held to highlight the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in New Mexico’s largest city. An Urban Indian Health Institute study last year listed Albuquerque among cities with the highest number of missing Native American women. Authors of the report had counted 37 missing and homicide cases total for Native American women and girls.
Albany: The state Department of Environmental Conservation is selling patches to support maintenance work on outdoor recreation facilities. The latest design of the New York State Trail Supporter Patch resembles the round yellow disks marking connector trails on state lands. The previous design was red, like markers used by DEC on east-west directional trails. The patch is available for $5 at sporting license outlets or online at the state’s fishing and hunting license portal. The patch was introduced in 2007 to help raise funds to maintain trails across the state. Sales have raised more than $41,000 to date. Projects supported by patch sales include a boardwalk in Texas Hollow State Forest, foot bridges on the Northville Placid Trail, maintenance of Otter Creek Horse Trails and lean-tos in the High Peaks Wilderness.
Raleigh: Gov. Roy Cooper aims to create a state-funded program to help residents in four counties recover from Hurricane Dorian after the federal government declined a request for assistance targeting them. The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week told Cooper there wasn’t enough damage from last month’s storm to individuals and households in Carteret, Dare, Hyde and New Hanover counties to warrant a federal declaration. So Cooper wrote Friday to the U.S. Small Business Administration requesting another kind of declaration for low-interest loans in the four counties and those surrounding them. If it’s approved, Cooper’s office said he would create a grant program to supplement the loans for individuals and businesses.
Bismarck: The North Dakota auditor says the Commerce Department broke state law on bidding contracts for the state’s new “Be Legendary” logo. State Auditor Joshua Gallion released the audit Monday. The logo sparked criticism earlier this year when the contract for it was awarded to a Minnesota firm headed by a woman who once worked for Gov. Doug Burgum’s old Fargo software business. The company was awarded the $9,500 job without competition because it came in below the $10,000 threshold required for additional bids. Gallion says the audit of the agency found another contract related to the logo, bringing its total cost to more than $87,000. The Commerce Department says it did nothing wrong.
Dayton: A local air base is facing the increasingly common dilemma of an aging workforce. The Dayton Daily News reports about half of the 30,000 people working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are nearing the end of their careers. Air Force Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr. says filling those jobs and taking care of employees is “critical.” More than a third of employees at the Air Force Research Laboratory are eligible to retire. This could be challenging because nearly 70% of the lab’s workforce has at least a master’s degree. According to a U.S. census estimate from 2017, only 10% of Ohioans 25 and older hold an advanced college degree. The president of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education says the Air Force should focus on attracting and recruiting nontraditional candidates.
Tulsa: A Republican state senator who unsuccessfully tried to criminalize abortion has announced plans to challenge GOP U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin next year. Sen. Joseph Silk, from Broken Bow, says he’ll try to unseat Mullin, who has served four terms representing eastern Oklahoma in the U.S. House. In a statement, Silk says he chose to enter the 2020 Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District because he was frustrated with what he called the “very liberal” leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature. Republicans hold overwhelming majorities in both the Oklahoma House and Senate. Mullin’s chief of staff, Mike Stopp, says Mullin intends to run for another term, but he declined to comment on Silk’s candidacy.
Portland: The frustrated owner of North Portland’s never-used Wapato Jail has announced he will bulldoze the facility unless someone comes up with funding to convert the facility into a homeless shelter in the next two weeks. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Jordan Schnitzer, president of Harsch Investment Properties, said Thursday that he planned to sign a demolition contract by the month’s end. Assuming no last-minute stakeholder steps in, Schnitzer said his company will break ground on a new warehouse there by spring. Schnitzer said he was “sickened” that a year-and-a half-long quest to convert the 150,000-square-foot jail into a shelter would end with the facility reduced to rubble. But city leaders, along with local nonprofits, had been reticent to place people lacking shelter in adapted jail cells 11 miles away from Portland’s downtown core.
Doylestown: Some of Bucks County’s covered bridges will be getting a makeover due to a $2.5 million refurbishment project, to include all seven county-owned spans. At one point there were more than 50 covered bridges in Bucks County, but now only a dozen remain. Those still standing were built between 1832 and 1874, when horse-drawn buggies were the main means of transportation. Ten bridges still carry cars and trucks as well as the occasional walker and cyclist. The other two are in parks. While mostly made of wood, many of the spans are held up by steel structures that need to be stripped and repainted. County operations director Kevin Spencer says other work includes fireproofing interior and exterior wood surfaces, replacing cedar facing and siding boards, and other maintenance.
Providence: A statue of Christopher Columbus was vandalized Monday, on the U.S. holiday named for him. The statue in Providence was splashed from head to toe with red paint, and a sign reading “Stop celebrating genocide” was leaned against the pedestal. The word “genocide” was written in orange paint on the rear of the pedestal. The statue has been the target of vandals on Columbus Day in the past. The New World explorer has become a polarizing figure. Native American advocates have pressed states to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day over concerns that Columbus spurred centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas. Police are investigating, and a spokeswoman for Mayor Jorge Elorza said the statue would be cleaned.
Columbia: The state is adding a new area code. The latest set of digits will augment the Palmetto State’s oldest area code – 803. In the region stretching from Aiken to Rock Hill with Columbia at its center, new numbers beginning with 839 will be available in the Midlands starting May 26, 2020. The Post and Courier reports historically, the 803 area code was the only one in the state after World War II ended. In 1995, 864 came to the Upstate. The coastal 843 area code was created in the late 1990s. Ahead of the new number’s availability, millions of landline callers are asked to practice dialing the area code before every local number. Calls dialed without area codes will stop going through April 25, 2020.
Sioux Falls: Krystal Trull’s daughter went months without autism treatments after the family lost insurance coverage. Trull lost access to the therapy that first gave 4-year-old Nikole the gift of speech. She worried if Nikole would be able to recover. Months after petitioning state leaders to require insurers to cover an intensive form of autism treatments called Applied Behavior Analysis, Trull commended a decision announced Friday that Sioux Falls-based insurers would again cover the therapy for some families. Sanford Health and Avera Health will begin offering coverage in 2020 after a loophole in state law caused South Dakota families such as the Trulls to lose insurance coverage this year. Gov. Kristi Noem, Sanford and Avera announced the coverage in a joint statement Friday.
Memphis: A woman whose father was executed for murder 13 years ago asked a judge Monday to order the testing of DNA evidence in the case. The hearing in Memphis focused largely on whether April Alley can legally bring a petition for DNA testing on behalf of her father’s estate. Sedley Alley was convicted of the 1985 murder of 19-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Suzanne Collins in Millington. She had been out jogging when she was kidnapped, beaten, raped and mutilated. Alley confessed to the crime but later said the confession was coerced. He was executed by lethal injection in 2006. April Alley’s attorneys include Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck, who told the court they filed the petition for DNA testing after law enforcement officers in St. Louis contacted him about a possible alternative suspect in Collins’ murder.
Waco: The Mayborn Museum moves the outside inside to teach kids some basic lessons on the natural world in its new Backyard Ecology Hall. The Waco Tribune-Herald reports the hall, a $1.2 million revamping of the museum’s first-floor children’s space, consists of four large exhibit rooms and a spacious common area for live demonstrations – and families needing a place to sit and rest. The rooms blend interactive activities, live reptiles, insects and specimens from some of the Mayborn’s collections to shape lessons with connections to local ecosystems. The exhibits, created specifically for the Mayborn, aim at students from fourth- to eighth-grade levels but contain material for younger children, older students and adults, assistant exhibits director Rebecca Nall says.
Clearfield: Two firefighters are receiving praise after they found a creative way to keep a young girl calm at the scene of a car accident. North Davis Fire District Fire Chief Mark Becraft said the firefighters let a young girl paint their nails after she and her mother were in a car accident Saturday in the northern Utah city of Clearfield. Chief Allen Hadley and Captain Kevin Lloyd checked on the crying, screaming girl while medics evaluated her mother. Nobody was seriously injured. They asked her about the nail polish she was holding and offered to have their nails painted. Both men have young daughters. Becraft said the girl was instantly soothed. Hadley and Lloyd left the scene with purple manicures.
Wallingford: A group of outdoor lovers is working to raise the profile of the White Rocks National Recreation Area in the Green Mountain National Forest, and they’re looking for some help. The Rutland Herald reports Nate Rand, of Wallingford, says he and a friend have talked about forming the White Rocks Outdoor Collaborative, and they’ve been using a social media group to gather potential members and coordinate their efforts. Rand says about 100 people have joined a Facebook page, but the idea is still in the formative phase. Rand says many people are familiar with the White Rocks hiking trails, but comparatively few are aware that the White Rocks National Recreation Area offers opportunities to hike, snowshoe and cross-country ski.
Richmond: A federal appeals court has put a hold on two permits needed for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday issued a stay of permits from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service while it reviews a lawsuit filed by environmental groups in August. The Sierra Club said in a statement that the suspension effectively means construction must stop on the 300-mile natural gas project. The lawsuit alleges that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of the project failed to adequately protect endangered species along the pipeline’s path. Also on Friday, the company building the pipeline agreed to pay more than $2 million and submit to enhanced monitoring to settle a lawsuit brought by Virginia officials.
Spanaway: A food bank that serves roughly 1,100 people in Pierce County has been damaged in a fire. Spanaway Food Bank director Harold Smith says families in need of food showed up throughout the day Friday and were directed to other food banks for help. Smith says the food bank’s freezers and refrigerators were lost, and the food might not be salvageable. The fire was reported about 6 a.m., and Central Pierce Fire & Rescue spokesman Darrin Shaw says the structure was heavily involved when crews arrived. The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known. Smith says the facility, which has operated for four decades, hands out about 15,000 pounds of food every month.
Charleston: The state Department of Education data says more than half of the state’s teachers missed more than 10 days of school last year. WSAZ-TV reports 52.75% of teachers missed more than 10 days, according to its research of data from the education department. The prior year’s number was 52.46%. The year before that it was 51.44%, and in 2016 it was 50.83%. State Superintendent Steve Paine says teachers have a hard, stressful job, but some are missing too much school. The percentage of teachers who missed more than 20 days was nearly 11%. The omnibus education bill that passed a few months ago included a $500 attendance bonus for teachers who miss fewer than four days. Paine said the state needs to determine if that has an effect.
Milwaukee: The city’s natural history museum is hoping its new live spiders exhibit can educate visitors instead of scaring them away. The Milwaukee Public Museum is hosting the Spiders Alive! exhibit through January. It features 17 species of live arachnids from around that world, including tarantulas, black widows, brown recluses and wolf spiders. It also includes some relatives of spiders, including scorpions. The exhibit’s on-site curator, Jon Bertolas, says he guarantees that visitors will leave with a greater appreciation of spiders. Visitor Sandra Romanshek says she decided to check out the exhibit because spiders are important for the environment, even though she thinks they are creepy crawlers.
Casper: State lawmakers have advanced legislation that would help expand a network of highway crossings for wildlife. The Casper Star-Tribune reports a legislative committee unanimously approved three bills Friday creating a special wildlife conservation account to help fund additional crossings, signage and game fences in sensitive wildlife habitats. Lawmakers say the committee is expected to sponsor the bills in the 2020 session. Officials say the fund could increase federal dollars appropriated under an infrastructure bill containing $250 million for wildlife crossings at key migration chokepoints. Lawmakers say migration corridors were a means of preserving wildlife and striking a balance between energy development and conservation interests.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Assailing Columbus, VR for seniors: News from around our 50 states