Child rock climber, baby doll scare, real-life RoboCop: News from around our 50 states
Goodwater: A Texas longhorn in this town has set a mark recognized by the Guinness World Records for longest horns, with a span wider than the Statue of Liberty’s face. News outlets cite Guinness World Records as announcing last week that Poncho Via’s horns measured just over 10 feet, 7 inches as of last month, beating all previous records. The 7-year-old steer belongs to a family in Goodwater, just southeast of Birmingham. Poncho’s owner Jeral Pope says he brought Poncho into the family when the steer was 6 months old. The organization says the Pope family first noticed the potential of Poncho’s horns when he was about 4 years old and his horns were growing straight out instead of curving upward. Pope says Poncho is a gentle giant with a soft spot for apples, carrots and marshmallows.
Quinhagak: Accelerating erosion is forcing villages in western Alaska to begin making plans to move. Alaska’s Energy Desk reports erosion caused by climate change threatens village infrastructure and could force the relocation of communities such as Quinhagak. A 2012 state report listed Quinhagak’s sewer lagoon and multipurpose building as top priorities for replacement or repair because of erosion and thawing permafrost. Officials say erosion now threatens Quinhagak’s airstrip, water treatment plant, and water and sewer system. An official says he does not know how they would close up the lagoon if erosion causes waste to leak into the Kuskokwim Bay, an important food source. Quinhagak has applied for a Bureau of Indian Affairs grant to help with moving and rebuilding the lagoon, which could cost $6 million.
Phoenix: The state’s housing shortage has drawn more attention than ever before in recent months, prompting a stack of dream-big legislation, newly energized activism and a mayoral race that emphasized each candidate’s plan to keep Phoenix affordable. Yet the state continues to slide deeper into unaffordable territory. An Arizona renter with a minimum-wage job must now work 71 hours to afford a modest two-bedroom home, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In the Phoenix metro area, that figure rises to 75 hours of labor. Under a widely accepted standard for affordability, a household should spend no more than 30% of its income on housing costs. The NLIHC report assumes a median two-bedroom rent of $898 across Arizona, rising to just under $1,000 in the Phoenix metro area. The state’s minimum wage is $11 an hour.
Little Rock: A federal judge has blocked a state law that prevents candidates for state office from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election. U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. on Monday granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the state from enforcing the blackout period for accepting campaign contributions. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has appealed the order and on Tuesday asked Moody to stay his ruling during the appeal. Attorneys for Peggy Jones, the Pulaski County woman who sued over the restriction, have said the blackout period prevents her from exercising her First Amendment right to contribute money to candidates she wishes to support in the 2022 election.
Huntington Park: A Southern California police force is welcoming a robot to the department. Huntington Park police says “HP RoboCop” will provide 360-degree high-definition video footage. It became an official member of the force at a Tuesday evening ceremony. The department says the blue-and-white rolling robot serves as an extra set of eyes for areas such as parks and buildings that police might not have time to patrol. HP RoboCop has been helping to patrol a park in the Los Angeles suburb for several weeks since it was previewed at a 5K run last month. HP RoboCop even has its own Twitter page.
Glenwood Springs: A 10-year-old Colorado girl has scaled Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan, taking five days to reach the top of the iconic rock formation. Selah Schneiter of Glenwood Springs completed the challenging 3,000-foot climb last week with the help of her father and a family friend. Selah and her dad, Mike Schneiter, say it took them five days last week with family friend Mark Regier to reach the top of the California icon. Selah told KFSN-TV that the group’s method was to do the climb little by little, calling it taking “small bites.” Mike Schneiter told the television station in Fresno, California, that the entire family climbs and that he fell in love with his wife, Joy, 15 years ago while scaling El Capitan.
Torrington: The man who promised to turn himself in if his wanted poster received 15,000 likes on Facebook has made good on his pledge. It just took longer than expected. Torrington police say 29-year-old Jose Simms called Enfield police Wednesday and asked them to pick him up because he was wanted. Enfield police turned him over to Torrington police, who held him on $30,500 bond. Torrington police posted Simms’ poster on Facebook on May 22. He contacted police through the site and agreed to surrender if the post received 15,000 likes. It quickly surpassed that number. Simms was being sought as a fugitive after failing to appear in court on several charges. It couldn’t be determined if he has a lawyer.
Wilmington: For more than 150 years, members of the city’s Episcopal community were baptized, married and eulogized at the imposing Cathedral Church of St. John in Brandywine Village. This year, after sitting vacant since 2012 due to declining membership and rising maintenance costs, the church will be reborn with a new purpose: housing the elderly. The Ministry of Caring has converted the historic Gothic Revival structure and a priest’s residence on its grounds into 17 apartment units for low- and moderate-income seniors. A new building adjoining the church adds 36 units to the new Village of St. John. The apartments will be offered to residents over the age of 62, with a maximum of four residents per unit and income restrictions determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
District of Columbia
Washington: A Georgetown University graduate who launched a project to trace the family histories of hundreds of black slaves sold by the Jesuit college in 1838 and a Boston-based genealogical organization have teamed up to digitize the information and make it available to people researching family histories. The public announcement Wednesday of what’s known as the GU272 Memory Project coincided not only with Juneteenth – the annual observance of the 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in America – but also with the anniversary of the 1838 sale of 272 of the more than 300 slaves the Washington, D.C., college sold over a five-year period. In addition to documents, photographs and the indexed genealogies of thousands of descendants, the project includes recorded interviews with dozens of living descendants.
Titusville: Boeing says it’s moving the headquarters of its space and launch division to the Sunshine State. The company said Wednesday that it was moving the space division headquarters from Arlington, Virginia, to Titusville on Florida’s Space Coast. Boeing official Leanne Caret says it makes sense to move Boeing’s space headquarters to Florida, where so much space history has taken place. The company also is working on several future launches. Florida is home to the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base. Company officials say the move won’t affect space operations in other states, such as Alabama, California, Colorado, Louisiana and Texas. Boeing spokesman Daniel Beck says the company isn’t saying how many jobs will move to Florida, but the number will be small.
Atlanta: Atlanta’s mayor says she hopes to improve the city’s reputation through media coverage and her administration’s initiatives. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke Tuesday at the Atlanta Press Club about her concern that the city is viewed locally and nationwide as corrupt. She asked journalists to be mindful of how their reporting affects the city’s reputation, and she encouraged news leaders to balance coverage of positive and negative stories. Bottoms mentioned launching My Brother’s Keeper in Atlanta – a program created under former President Barack Obama’s administration that pairs boys with mentors. And she spoke about opening a homeless resource center with money remaining after hosting the Super Bowl. She said these efforts and highlighting positive news will make strides in the right direction.
Kailua-Kona: Vacation rental registrations have been coming in to Hawaii County faster than workers can process them. West Hawaii Today reports the county Planning Department processed 226 registrations as of early last week. Paper application forms were stacked in several boxes awaiting processing. The applications are the result of a new law requiring all vacation rental owners in existence as of April 1 to register their property by Sept. 28. Registrants must pay a $500 fee and show that their transient accommodations taxes, general excise taxes and property taxes are paid in full. Vacation rentals are defined as dwellings that are rented for a period of 30 consecutive days or less and where the owner or operator does not live on the building site.
Boise: A citizens group is launching an initiative drive to raise the state’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage. The Idaho Press reports that while lawmakers haven’t raised the minimum wage in a decade, 26 other states have increased theirs in the past five years alone. That includes 17 that raised minimum wages by legislation and nine other states by voter initiative. Idaho is a low-wage state overall, with the average weekly wage in 2018 lower than all but two other states. The group, Idahoans for a Fair Wage, is organizing a signature drive to get an initiative on the ballot. It would raise Idaho’s minimum wage to $8.75 initially, raising it another dollar a year for the next two years. After four years, the wage would be set at $12 an hour, after which increases would be tied to the consumer price index.
Springfield: A wet spring and dangerous flooding have created a nasty byproduct – more mosquitoes. The Illinois Department of Public Health says the flooding has made conditions ripe for floodwater mosquitoes. They’re also known as nuisance mosquitoes and don’t carry disease like other types. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of public health, says it’s always important to be protected from mosquito bites. She says mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus prefer hot, dry conditions. But nuisance mosquitoes that flourish in wet weather can still pose a threat. A bite from one of them can become infected if it is scratched and becomes a wound. Precautions include avoiding outdoors between dusk and dawn, wearing light clothing over all exposed skin and using approved repellant.
Wolf Lake: The owner of a small northern Indiana town’s former hospital that’s become a medical museum is looking for someone to take it over. The Luckey Hospital Museum building in the Noble County community of Wolf Lake dates to 1931, when it was opened as a hospital by Dr. James Luckey. After closing in the 1950s, the building was used as a nursing home and apartments before two great-nieces bought it in 2000 and started displaying their collection of medical memorabilia. Shirley Hile, 83, tells The (Kendallville) News Sun that she can’t keep up the museum anymore since her sister died a year ago. Hile hopes a buyer will keep the museum intact. A museum anniversary celebration is planned for July 13.
Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds says a new social media and advertising campaign is designed to draw attention to the state’s quality of life in hopes of attracting new workers. At the announcement of a newly branded “This is Iowa” campaign, Reynolds unveiled a state-produced video that shows New York City residents being shown photos of properties they assumed were nearby, only to learn they are in Iowa. The video records their shock at hearing the prices for such large, luxurious apartments and houses. Iowa has a chronic worker shortage, and attracting more people is one of Reynolds’ priorities. She held her announcement at a downtown restaurant owned by Alexander Hall, who sold several New York restaurants four years ago and moved to his wife’s native Iowa. He’s now planning his fourth dining location. Reynolds says Hall’s experience demonstrates that when people spend a year or two in Iowa, they stay.
Garden City: Officials in this western Kansas city are sweating over a nearly century-old swimming pool that leaks about 200,000 gallons of water every day. The Kansas News Service reports that Garden City water resource manager Fred Jones says the water loss at the Big Pool is excessive, even for a pool that holds about 2 million gallons. Assistant city manager Jennifer Cunningham says refilling the Big Pool costs $1,000 a day, and the city spends up to $800,000 on repairs, staff and water for the pool every summer. She says recoating the deep end of the pool with concrete would cost $750,000, but it wouldn’t be cost-effective. Concrete expands in heat and contracts in the cold, so it breaks down as the seasons change. She supports replacing the pool with a sturdier option.
Frankfort: A project that would bring high-speed internet across the state will be delayed because company representatives say an “abundance” of squirrels have chewed through wiring. Lawmakers in the Capitol questioned reports of ravenous squirrels Tuesday, blocking officials in charge of the KentuckyWired project from borrowing an additional $110 million. KentuckyWired was started in 2015 under former Gov. Steve Beshear to boost Kentucky’s internet infrastructure. Officials are now saying squirrels damaged cable that was supposed to be up and running in April. This isn’t the first time the project has been denied extra funds. In February, lawmakers blocked a request for an additional $20 million for “unanticipated borrowing costs.”
New Orleans: Weekend memorial services have been scheduled for singer and musician Malcom “Mac” Rebennack Jr., better known by his Voodoo-inspired stage name, Dr. John. Rebennack, a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, died June 6 at age 77. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival says memorial services are set for Saturday at the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown New Orleans. Public visitation starts at 7 a.m. and runs until 10:30 a.m. A service running from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Orpheum will be invitation only but will be broadcast on WWOZ FM. There was no immediate word on any music and entertainment stars who might attend. That will be followed by a public “second line parade” that will begin at the theater.
Portland: The National Audubon Society is getting involved in a lawsuit over the future of a national monument in the ocean off New England because of the area’s importance to seabirds, especially colorfully beaked puffins. Fishing groups sued in federal court against creation of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which former President Barack Obama designated in 2016. The case is on appeal. Court documents show Audubon has moved to file a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of keeping the monument. Lawyers for the fishing groups have said the monument was illegally created by Obama using the Antiquities Act. But the nearly 5,000-square-mile area is especially important to Maine’s vulnerable Atlantic puffins, says Karen Hyun, vice president of coasts for Audubon. The health of the puffin population is a tourism boost for Maine, she says.
Ocean City: A carnivorous plant recently discovered by botanists is the first of its kind in the state. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday the discovery of a dwarf sundew near Nassawango Creek in Worcester County. It was reported growing in open areas with wet, peaty sand, according to a Facebook post. “Dwarf sundew is an insectivorous plant with a unique way of catching its prey. The paddle-shaped leaves of the sundew form a rosette at the base and are densely covered with hairs that exude a clear, sticky liquid, which attracts and traps various kinds of insects,” the post says. The plant is the smallest native species of sundew in the U.S., according to the post. There are other species of sundew in Maryland, according to DNR. Dwarf sundew is not in the same family as the Venus flytrap, but both are considered carnivorous.
Boston: State officials are expanding an early college initiative that allows thousands of students to study and earn college credits before they even graduate from high school. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and state Education Secretary James Peyser announced $900,000 in grants being awarded for programs involving 13 high schools and eight public colleges, starting in the fall. State officials say the early college programs combine traditional high school classes with courses offered by a local college or university, allowing students to focus on an area of study while earning up to 12 college credits at no cost. High schools in Boston, Framingham, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Lynn, Leominster and Marlborough are among those receiving grants and bring to 35 the number of high schools with early college programs.
East Lansing: Michigan State University was named the most secretive public agency in the United States by the nation’s largest organization of investigative journalists, recognizing what award committee chair Robert Cribb called MSU’s “unrelenting commitment to ensuring transparency was avoided.” Investigative Reporters and Editors named MSU the winner of the Golden Padlock Award at its annual conference in Houston on Saturday. “MSU was nominated for keeping sweeping sexual assault scandals under tight wraps, including serial abuse by disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar and hundreds of student complaints against faculty, staff and students,” IRE Executive Director Doug Haddix wrote in a May 28 letter to acting Michigan State President Satish Udpa. Udpa did not respond to the letter or Haddix’s invitation to attend IRE’s annual awards luncheon.
Minneapolis: A leaked email has raised new questions about how state and federal regulators handled a major permit for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. The email asks Environmental Protection Agency officials not to file written comments on the water quality permit during Minnesota’s public comment period, which had the effect of keeping the federal regulators’ multiple criticisms out of the public record. The Star Tribune reports the email appears to support accusations by PolyMet’s critics that the two agencies suppressed regulators’ concerns about pollution risks of the mine. The state approved the permit in December. The email from a top Minnesota Pollution Control Agency official was released Tuesday by the union representing employees of the EPA’s regional office in Chicago, which oversees Minnesota’s enforcement of federal pollution laws.
Natchez: Academy Award winner Allison Janney will take the stage at a local theater in a fundraiser for the venue’s restoration project. The Natchez Democrat reports stars from the upcoming film “Breaking News in Yuba County” have volunteered to be in a production at the Natchez Little Theatre on Saturday night. The feature was filmed in Natchez and stars Janney, Mila Kunis, Awkwafina and Regina Hall. The event will feature Janney and a few “surprise” guests. Representatives from the theater’s board of directors say the proceeds would be used for funding youth programs and multiple restoration projects, including a remodel of the theater’s Mayweather Hall. Representatives say they hope to raise $350,000 and have already received donations from “all over the world.”
Eureka: An endangered wolf pup born at a preservation center near St. Louis has been named in honor of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup victory. Officials at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka said the nearly 8-week-old American red wolf is rare and worthy of celebration, like the hockey win. The pup was named Gloria after the 1982 Laura Branigan hit that became the Blues’ unofficial victory song. Gloria is one of a littler of seven pups born April 23 at the Endangered Wolf Center. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that center director of animal care and conservation Regina Mossotti says there are fewer than 30 American red wolves left in the wild and about 200 in breeding programs. Forty-five of those have been born at the Eureka facility.
Missoula: A conservation group is opposing planned races on state trails, saying the events would put runners and grizzly bears at risk. The Missoulian reports the U.S. Forest Service has granted a special use permit for a 31-mile ultramarathon in October from Whitefish to the top of Whitefish Mountain and back. The agency is considering a permit for the Foy’s to Blacktail Marathon in September. The trail course sends runner from the Blacktail Mountain ski area to Herron Park. The Swan View Coalition has asked the agency to rescind the permit for the ultramarathon and deny one for the marathon. Coalition chair Keith Hammer says granting the permits would promote risky behavior in bear habitat. Montana Trail Crew co-founder Jimmy Grant says the risks are “very minimal.”
Omaha: The Nebraska Education Department intends to provide school districts with guidance on students’ sunscreen use during the school year. Officials say various districts have wrestled with the issue and sought state direction. Rules vary from district to district. Some require the sunscreen be sent from home and require parents to sign permission notes guiding administrators on application. Some require notes from doctors, and some don’t. Some districts have no policies at all. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the state guidance says children should be allowed to possess and use over-the-counter sunscreen approved by the Food and Drug Administration without doctors’ notes, and the sunscreen need not be stored in the nurses’ office. A department spokesman says the guidance would not be binding on districts.
Reno: Silver State residents who live in areas most prone to wildfires could see their electricity intentionally cut. NV Energy already turns off customers’ power during fires when lines are damaged or aren’t working properly. But the utility announced last week that it would turn off power when there’s a high risk of wildfires, too. Chris Hofmann, the utility’s director of grid reliability, says planned outages would lower the odds that an electrical malfunction would spark a wildfire. Up to 15,000 customers in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Spring Mountains could be subject to the outages. New equipment to monitor weather, fuel moisture and soil conditions has been installed in those areas.
Concord: Visitors are expected to flock to the state this summer. The New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs says it is expecting to see a 2.7% increase in summer visitations and spending over 2018. As a result, the state is expecting to see about 3.6 billion overnight visitors and for spending to reach $1.9 billion for the summer travel season. As part of an event Tuesday to kick off the summer travel season, BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell and local tourism partners gathered in downtown Littleton. Along with announcing the summer forecast, the Portsmouth Herald reports they also unveiled their summer marketing campaign, which aims to build on the “Live Free” brand. The department will focus its campaign on the New England market, as well as Canada.
Newark: New Jerseyans are living healthier lives than their peers in other states thanks to lower rates of suicide and alcohol deaths, but opioid fatalities have skyrocketed, according to a report by a research group. The report by the Commonwealth Fund showed New Jersey could make bigger gains if its residents had more access to mental health services. “Their physical concerns are being addressed, but the mental health aspect is not,” says Linda Dayan, 23, of Allenhurst, and a medical student at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. The Garden State scored highly in the healthy lives category. For example, it had the third-lowest suicide death rate. It had the fourth-lowest alcohol death rate and the fifth-lowest adult-smoking rate. But drug-poisoning deaths have increased by 219% since 2005. They increased just 115% nationwide during that time, according to the report.
Albuquerque: A CIA intelligence officer will be working at the University of New Mexico’s campus and will carry a teaching or research load comparable to faculty colleagues, according to a new agreement. The CIA officer is scheduled to arrive at the university in August as part of an ongoing relationship with the agency and the school despites protests from students in previous years, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Under a new contract between the university and the agency, the officer will participate in the academic life of the university just like other professors. Since UNM became a signature school, very few others have publicly identified themselves. Other than the University of New Mexico, the CIA has only publicized signature schools partnerships at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Baruch College in New York City, according to CIA news releases.
New York: Horror and alarm over the discovery of what appeared to be a dead baby at a city park turned to relief and probably some embarrassment Tuesday when the blue-skinned corpse was revealed to be a realistic-looking doll. Police and paramedics rushed to Crocheron Park in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens after a woman out for a morning jog found the “baby” lying face-down in the grass. Detectives descended in droves to look for evidence. A crime scene tent was set up. Yellow tape blocked off the area. Police initially reported the child was 3 months old and had been pronounced dead at the scene. At some point, a closer inspection showed it was a doll or some sort of theatrical prop, its skin apparently colored to resemble decomposing skin. One giveaway was the baby’s T-shirt, which read, “the crawling dead.” The red lettering wasn’t initially visible because the doll was on its stomach.
Southern Pines: Some rising high school seniors do not have their ACT test scores because their answer sheets were never submitted. News outlets report more than 400 students at Pinecrest High School were notified Tuesday that they were affected. School leaders say the missing scores are due to “human error,” and appropriate personnel action has been taken. The school says it plans to administer the test again in the fall at no cost to the students. All juniors took the ACT on Feb. 20 and March 13. Pinecrest High School spokesperson Catherine Murphy says the school learned the tests weren’t submitted when ACT officials said they hadn’t received the answer sheets. Moore County Schools says it’s looking into security, processes and protocols for giving tests like the ACT.
Bismarck: Officials have confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Lake Ashtabula. The state’s Game and Fish Department says an angler discovered a suspected zebra mussel last week and turned it in. Subsequent inspections found populations of zebra mussels of various ages throughout the lake. Lake Ashtabula is an impoundment on the Sheyenne River in Barnes and Griggs counties. It’s operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and open for boating, swimming, fishing, camping and skiing. The Game and Fish Department has now classified Lake Ashtabula and the Sheyenne River downstream all the way to the Red River as Class I aquatic nuisance species infested waters. Emergency rules go into effect immediately to prohibit moving water away from the lake and river, including water for transferring bait.
Cleveland: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will help wrap up nearly a week’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the famous 1969 Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio. Kennedy’s scheduled remarks Sunday come as part of Cleveland’s celebration of environmental science and sustainability half a century after the June 22, 1969, fire. The blaze became the iconic event of the U.S. environmental movement. Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, is president of Waterkeeper Alliance. The nonprofit environmental group fights to defend the fire-inspired Clean Water Act. Sunday’s celebration includes free afternoon admission to the Great Lakes Science Center, where shows will explore the properties of water and combustion. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is hosting live music. A ticket is required to tour the Rock Hall.
Oklahoma City: Mayor David Holt has declared the city’s first official Pride Week to celebrate LBGTQ accomplishments. Holt helped kick off a week’s worth of events Monday with a mayoral proclamation to “reaffirm our city’s commitment that all people are welcome in Oklahoma City.” Others who joined the kickoff included Councilman James Cooper, who became Oklahoma City’s first openly gay councilman when he took office in April. Festivities include a parade Saturday that will roll by businesses catering to LGBTQ clientele along a stretch of road that was part of historic Route 66. Pride celebrations are happening throughout the U.S. in June, which also marks 50 years since a clash with police at the Stonewall Inn in New York became a catalyst for expanding LGBT activism nationwide and abroad.
Portland: The loss of public funding at one of the city’s homeless shelters will leave about 80 women needing a new place to stay in late July. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the Salvation Army gave incomplete answers on a new application for taxpayer money, leading to the loss of funding. The Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter started getting money in 2008 from the city, but the Joint Office of Homeless Services, created as the city and Multnomah County consolidated homeless services, devised a more robust application process. Salvation Army’s Oregon and Southern Idaho operations CEO Nancy Dihle says officials were unprepared for the rigor of the process and hope to be more competitive next time. The closure won’t reduce the total number of homeless shelter beds as new shelters open this summer and temporary shelters are extended.
Harrisburg: The state is permanently recognizing Juneteenth, the cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in the United States. Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed legislation designating June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Most states recognize it, and Pennsylvania lawmakers typically recognize the day by passing nonbinding resolutions. The celebration started with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared slaves in the South free in 1863, it couldn’t be enforced in many places until after the Civil War ended in 1865. It was June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his Union troops arrived at Galveston with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Under the law, employers aren’t required to treat June 19 as a legal or official holiday.
West Warwick: The Catholic Diocese of Providence is merging two of its parishes. WJAR-TV reports that St. Mary Parish and SS John and James Parish of West Warwick will merge July 1. The diocese said in a press release Monday that a decline in attendance and key retirements played a role in the decision. The diocese says St. Mary Parish is serving 150 people, a smaller number than a viable parish should have. St. Mary has also seen a decline in sacramental practices like weddings, baptisms and First Holy Communions, and the current pastor is retiring soon. St. Mary Parish was built in 1850 and is the oldest Catholic church building in use in the diocese. It will remain open for daily Mass and other liturgical celebrations.
Charleston: Jennifer Pinckney was hiding under a desk holding the mouth of her then-6-year-old daughter when Dylann Roof fired more than 70 rounds in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, killing nine black worshippers. The new documentary, “Emanuel,” explores life after the June 17, 2015, shooting, as family members, friends and the community try to heal through faith and forgiveness. The Rev. Clementa Pinckney was killed by Roof. Jennifer Pinckney and her daughter were in her husband’s office when they heard gunshots in another room. Pinckney says watching the film is “emotional. I can’t help but to relive what happened.” “Emanuel,” which opened in theaters nationwide for a limited run Monday and Wednesday, is executive produced by Viola Davis and Steph Curry.
Sioux Falls: A year after an independent safety review of Falls Park recommended more viewing platforms, walkways and railings, construction on those amenities is nearing completion. In June 2018, three months after a 5-year-old Iowa girl drowned at the park after falling into the Big Sioux River, an outside consultant hired to study safety protocols furnished a report to city officials outlining ways to reduce drowning risks at Falls Park. That led Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and the City Council in July to set aside $300,000 in leftover cash from the previous year’s budget for the design and construction of a “lower falls viewing area” with two platforms and railings that are tied into the park’s walkways with sidewalks. Mike Patten, a park development specialist for the city, says work on the project is expected to wrap up within the next couple weeks if weather cooperates.
Memphis: The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art this week opens an exhibition devoted to a man once cherished and later scorned as “the most popular painter in the United States.” The paintings range from confectionary scenes of huggable cherubs “with cute little rosy cheeks and pudgy little legs” to a violent tableau in which “women are about to be taken away by centaurs to be raped,” in the words of new Brooks associate curator Rosamund Garrett. Titled “Bouguereau & America,” the exhibition contains 39 paintings by William Adolphe-Bouguereau (1825-1905), the French academic artist who became a millionaire in the era of the robber barons when his detailed, idealized, sentimental and teasingly sensuous canvases became prized by wealthy American collectors. Organized by the Brooks and the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition is the first major Bouguereau show in North America since 1984.
Galveston: A program meant to help restore storm-battered Galveston Bay oyster beds has gained support from a statewide conservation initiative founded by former first lady Laura Bush. The Galveston County Daily News reports Texan by Nature has picked Galveston Bay Foundation’s oyster shell recycling program as one of six programs across the state worthy of its support over the next year with the hope of expanding the program’s reach. Along with programs aimed at conserving wetlands, cleaning up rivers and preserving other natural systems, the oyster shell program has been named a Conservation Wrangler by Texan by Nature, which Bush founded in 2011. The nonprofit group’s mission is to bring together business and conservation leaders in Texas who believe the state’s prosperity depends upon conservation of natural resources.
Salt Lake City: A Utah judge says the time has come to let a community board have final decision-making authority about who is entitled to buy homes and properties in a trust that once belonged to Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect, ending court oversight that began 14 years ago. Judge Richard McKelvie made his ruling Tuesday despite hearing from attorneys for past and current members of the polygamous group who argued that court oversight is still necessary because the board picks favorites and isn’t transparent enough. Utah seized control of the trust in 2005 due to allegations of mismanagement by Jeffs and other sect leaders. A board of trustees formed in 2013 has overseen the resale of more than 200 homes and buildings to people with ties to the community on the Utah-Arizona border.
Northfield: Gov. Phil Scott has signed a bill aimed at getting Vermont veterans who have served overseas to sign up on a national registry that tracks symptoms of those who have suffered from burn bit exposure. The bill requires the state health commissioner and adjutant general to work together to develop and make available information about the possible health effects of being exposed to chemicals from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials will contact all known veterans and ensure they have access to the registry and other resources. Scott signed the bill Monday at the Woody William Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Northfield. He gave particular thanks to June Heston, whose husband, Gen. Mike Heston, died of cancer last year.
Norfolk: Experts say southeastern Virginia could suffer $40 billion in losses if it’s struck by a major hurricane. Professors from Old Dominion University said in a recent report that the damages could seriously puncture the regional economy. The June 12 report said losses could equate to 40% of Hampton Roads’ gross domestic product. GDP is a measure of an economy’s health and accounts for the total output of goods and services. The report predicted a loss of 175,000 jobs and a decline in economic activity if the region’s infrastructure and military installations suffer major damage. The report was put together by the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency. The center was established by Old Dominion University, the College of William & Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Yakima: The state’s apple industry expects exports to India to slow down even more after the country tacked on a 20% retaliatory tariff, bringing the total duty to 70%. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports India added the tariff to apples and 27 other American products Sunday after the U.S. ended a preferential trade program with the country earlier this year. India had imported 7.8 million 40-pound boxes of the state’s 2017 apple crop by June 2018. It imported a record 8 million boxes by the end of season. It has imported 2.6 million boxes of the 2018 crop since last week. Northwest Horticultural Council President Mark Powers says the apples could depress prices for all growers if the industry cannot find alternative export markets.
Charleston: Mountain State residents eat more hot dogs per capita – and fewer hamburgers – than any other state, according to a study by 24/7 Wall Street. West Virginia was served the dubious distinction with an estimated 481 hot dogs eaten per person annually, trailed by No. 2 Illinois with 317 hot dogs and Pennsylvania with 289. Meanwhile, the study found that West Virginians eat about 171 hamburgers per capita each year, the fewest among all states. The study used data from Google Trends, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to estimate the number of hot dogs and hamburgers eaten annually in each state based on restaurant sales and 2017 populations.
Madison: The state Assembly has passed a bill that would limit the regulation of 5G, or “small cell,” technology. The bill approved Tuesday now heads to Gov. Tony Evers for his consideration. The Senate passed the bill 25-5 earlier this month. The proposal creates a statewide regulatory framework for the 5G technology, including provisions about where the small wireless facilities can be placed, height and size restrictions, and other requirements. In general, the bill prohibits local governments from regulating certain communications services or charging fees on infrastructure to support it. Bill sponsor Rep. Mike Kuglitsch said Wisconsin has been at a competitive disadvantage because neighboring states have already enacted similar laws. Supporters are calling for quick action to get the technology in place, especially before Milwaukee hosts the Democratic National Convention next year.
Laramie: Nearly 100 people expressed opposition to any thought of demolishing the historic Cooper House on the University of Wyoming campus to make way for new student dormitories. The Laramie Boomerang reports that residents from across Wyoming had been mobilized in recent weeks after hearing that aask force working on a new student housing plan had discussed the possibility of tearing down the building. The task force heard more than an hour of public comment Monday, all from people who were opposed to Cooper House being demolished. Task force chairman Steve Harshman says he doesn’t think the Cooper House is in danger of being demolished. The Cooper House was built in the 1920s and was once visited by Ernest Hemingway.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Child rock climber, baby doll scare, real-life RoboCop: News from around our 50 states