Montgomery: Five companies are expressing interest in building new prisons for the state. Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that five firms responded to a “request for qualifications” to build the three proposed prisons. Ivey’s press office said the firms are The GEO Group, Corvias, Corrections Consultants, CoreCivic and Alabama Prison Transformation Partners. GEO and CoreCivic are the nation’s two largest private prison companies. In February, Ivey announced a plan to build three new large prisons to replace most state prisons. Ivey has said state officials will first gather proposals and then decide how to proceed. The administration says the state could lease the prisons. Prison system spokesman Bob Horton says the prison system will evaluate the companies’ qualifications and seek more detailed proposals in the fall.
Juneau: A majority of the state’s budget cuts are expected to come from Medicaid. KTOO-FM reports Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration has announced a final Medicaid reduction of $159.9 million, more than half of the state’s overall $259.8 million operating budget cuts. Officials say the Legislature previously cut $249 million from Medicaid, more than a third of what the state spends on the program. Officials say the cuts rely on expected Medicaid savings, which will be difficult to achieve since about half of the reduction will delayed to a future date. Hospital officials say the budget cut numbers may require the Legislature to pass a supplemental budget next year. The Dunleavy administration did not respond to a request for comment.
Page: The last trainload of coal rolled into the Navajo Generating Station on Monday, marking the closure of the mine 78 miles away and starting a countdown for the plant’s own darkening. The electric companies that own the coal plant voted in 2017 to close it, citing lower prices from natural gas plants. The last load from the electric train means the 265-person workforce at Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine will be reduced to a “smaller crew” responsible for filling in the massive holes scraped by drag lines and returning the area to a landscape suitable for native plants and animals, as well as livestock. Peabody officials say they’ll now try to move workers to other mines out of state when possible and seek to connect others to a local Workforce Development Center. Almost half the miners are eligible for retirement with pension and medical benefits, according to Peabody.
Fort Smith: The letters “KKK” that were welded on a building have been replaced with U.S. Marshals stars after one of the owners called it “offensive” insignia that’s commonly associated with “a shameful organization.” The concealment comes after the Southwest Times Record reached out to Mayor George McGill to ask about the “KKK” – letters denoting the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan. McGill then reached out to the building owners, Richard Griffin and Benny Westphal, who agreed to cover them, the newspaper reports. McGill, the city’s first black mayor, took office in January. Westphal said he and Griffin agreed to use Marshals stars to cover the letters because the city served as the agency’s regional headquarters. Griffin said he’s not aware of any evidence linking his building to the KKK. But 1920s newspaper articles show the KKK had a presence in downtown Fort Smith.
Sacramento: The state’s job growth is now in its 113th month, tying the expansion of the 1960s as the longest on record as the world’s fifth-largest economy continues its recovery from the Great Recession, officials say. The country’s most populous state needs between 8,000 and 9,000 new jobs each month to keep up with its growing workforce. But for the past nine years, California has averaged 29,200 new jobs each month, according to numbers released by the state Employment Development Department. The more than 3.2 million jobs California has added since 2010 account for more than 15% of the country’s job gains over that time. The United States’ trade war with China could put those gains in peril, though, says Michael Bernick, a former director of the California Employment Development Department.
Denver: A new online map has identified locations in the state to store firearms outside homes and away from those who may harm themselves or others. Colorado Public Radio reports the Colorado Gun Storage Map is the first online resource detailing storage options for community members and medical professionals. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus faculty members, gun shop owners, firearms trainers and the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition collaborated on the project. The map includes 62 storage locations including law enforcement agencies and gun shops, with plans to add more as they are identified. Contact information is listed for each site, where owners voluntarily store firearms. Officials say suicide prevention is the program’s primary purpose due to a proven link between suicide deaths and the accessibility of guns stored in homes.
Hartford: The Hartford Public Library is showing a documentary film this week about the life of the Puerto Rican nationalist who founded the group that carried out a record-setting heist of a Connecticut armored car depot in 1983. “Filiberto,” by Puerto Rican filmmaker Freddy Marrero Alfonso, tells the story of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, the founder of the militant group called the Macheteros. The Hartford Courant reports Marrero will be present to discuss the film at its screening Wednesday evening at the library. The 1983 heist in West Hartford was the largest cash robbery in U.S. history at the time. Ojeda Rios was killed in a 2005 shootout with the FBI at a remote farmhouse in Puerto Rico.
Dover: Officials with a regional fisheries management group are holding a public hearing in the state this week on a proposal to restrict the harvest of striped bass along the Atlantic coast. Thursday’s meeting in Dover concerns proposed changes to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s management plan for striped bass, also known as rockfish. The addendum to the plan proposes to reduce fishing-related mortality by 18% in response to an assessment last year that indicated that the population was overfished. Officials are proposing a range of options for both commercial and recreational fishing that are designed to end overfishing of striped bass and reduce fishing mortality to the target level next year.
District of Columbia
Washington: Neighbors are battling over what should happen to a historic site in the heart of the district, WUSA-TV reports. McMillan Park is slated to be redeveloped into a medical facility, community center and park. The old sand filtration site also sits on the National Register of Historic Places. About a week and a half ago, heavy construction equipment was spotted on the property, leading some locals to believe parts of the park would soon be demolished. The group Friends of McMillan Park has actively fought plans to redevelop the site. It is worried about possible traffic problems and displacement that could result from the project. The group believes the city has failed to meet a set of conditions that a D.C. Court of Appeals judge ruled in May must be met for demolition to take place.
Orlando: Walt Disney World is offering discounted tickets to visitors who want to sleep in. The Florida theme resort now sells two-day tickets for as low as $88 a day, as long as purchasers don’t show up at the parks until after 12 p.m. That’s an almost 25% discount from start-of-the-day tickets that cost $116 each on Friday. The “sleep-in” tickets are good for the resort’s four theme parks. Prices vary depending on the month, week and day under Disney World’s variable pricing. The deal is good through mid-December. The move comes as Disney World is set to open its much-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at the end of the month. It also just opened the NBA Experience at Disney Springs at its restaurant and shopping complex.
Atlanta: The High Museum of Art has announced a couple has gifted it a collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, including works by Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Henri Matisse. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the 24-painting donation from philanthropists Doris and Shouky Shaheen is the most significant gift of European art to the museum since 1958. That year, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation provided the base of the museum’s European collection by gifting 30 Italian works. The High announced it’ll name a gallery after the Shaheens and display the collection there later this year. A museum official declined to estimate the value of the gift but said it wouldn’t have been possible with current resources.
Honolulu: A lecture at the University of Hawaii has been simultaneously broadcast in a classroom in American Samoa using a hologram. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports University of Hawaii-Manoa faculty member Chris Shuler appeared as a three-dimensional hologram at American Samoa Community College last week. The researcher was lecturing about his study of water contamination in American Samoa. Officials say the lecture was the first use of what the community college in Pago Pago calls a HoloCampus. Officials say the two island institutions hope to expand the program, the first of its kind in the Pacific region. The project was made possible after Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP of New Zealand deployed a 9,320-mile undersea cable connecting American Samoa to Hawaii last year.
Boise: The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has reached a deal with the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation to build a new headquarters in the city. Fish and Game says construction of the 70,000-square-foot building is scheduled to begin in 2020 and be finished by 2022. Fish and Game will lease the new building for 25 years from the foundation, a nonprofit established in 1990 to bolster the state’s fishing, hunting and wildlife heritage through financial support of various projects and activities. The lease would cost up to $1.2 million annually, and when it ends Fish and Game would own the building outright. Officials say the existing building from the mid-1960s has reached the end of its useful life and will be demolished to make room for the new headquarters.
Valmeyer: Monroe County has repealed an ordinance that would enable the construction of wind farms, stalling a proposal to build 50 turbines along the Mississippi River. The Belleville News-Democrat reports the Monroe County Board of Commissioners voted to suspend the Wind Energy Conversion Ordinance after residents voiced safety concerns about the long-planned Southern Illinois Wind project. Board Chairman Robert Elmore says the board won’t accept applications for special use permits for about 18 months while commissioners revise the ordinance. Developer Joe Koppeis has been planning the $220 million wind farm on the bluffs between Valmeyer and Fults for more than a decade but has never applied for a special use permit.
South Bend: The University of Notre Dame is surrounded with “now leasing” signs for privately owned apartment units due to a school policy that requires freshman students to live on campus for six semesters. A couple of years ago, Notre Dame presented a variety of incentives – and disincentives – to keep upperclassmen on campus due to concerns about a lack of leadership from older students on campus. The freshmen policy came into force with the incoming class of 2018. Some undergraduates have complained about the loss of freedom and the higher living costs associated with living on campus, and the policy is a worry for area landlords too, the South Bend Tribune reports. Many of the apartments “were built with the anticipation of leasing to undergraduate students,” says Bryan Bennett, a manager for Kramer Properties.
Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds says she is pushing the Trump administration to restore billions of gallons of ethanol demand lost when the Environmental Protection Agency exempted 31 oil refineries from blending ethanol with gasoline to meet the requirements of federal law. Reynolds on Tuesday speculated President Donald Trump may not have fully understood the impact on the ethanol industry of granting the waivers. Now she says at least one ethanol plant in the state has shut down production. Reynolds says she has calls scheduled with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence to talk about the industry after having already talked with Trump, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Ivanka Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Reynolds says she remains comfortable telling the president about policies that hurt Iowa and its farmers even though she’s been named a co-chair of his re-election campaign in Iowa.
Topeka: Kansas Bureau of Investigation officials are warning that a system used to check prints of criminal suspects is in danger of failing. The system contains more than 2 million finger and palm prints used by law enforcement in criminal investigations and by child welfare workers for background checks on potential foster parents. The Kansas City Star reports that KBI spokesman Joe Mandala told lawmakers the database needs to be replaced. He warned that if it fails, the state’s criminal justice and public safety operations would be crippled. Kansas is the last state using the database, and the company that makes it plans to stop providing maintenance by 2025. Replacing it would cost $8 million and take about two years. The KBI hopes to request proposals for replacement this year.
Louisville: Problems with the condition of a building where an immigration court is located have caused weeks of hearings to be canceled. The court closed Aug. 15. General Services Administration spokesman Adam Rondeau says the agency hasn’t been able to work with the lessor to address issues. Officials didn’t disclose what issues contributed to the closure. Some immigration advocates say the elevators had problems. Immigrants and their attorneys will now have to handle cases in Memphis, Tennessee. Immigration cases were filed in Memphis before the Louisville court opened in April 2018. Attorneys worry immigrants may miss key deadlines to file asylum applications or motions. It’s unclear how long the court will be closed.
Baton Rouge: The state is offering new discounts on overnight stays at its 21 state parks and extending discounts from last month for military and first responders. Two new discounts apply to people 62 years old and up for stays at 1,500 campsites at 20 parks. Those have undiscounted rentals of $9 to $33 per night. The 62PLUS code offers 50% off campsite stays year-round. The SNEAUX code lets seniors book four consecutive campsite nights and get the next three free, from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31. The third discount offers 15% off on weeknight, offseason rentals of about 200 cabins at 15 parks. Without discounts, cabin rentals range from $85 to $150 per weeknight. The discount code is GETOUTSIDE. The military and first responder discounts are being extended indefinitely.
Orono: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is helping Maine get a better handle on the health of its forests. The University of Maine says NASA is providing nearly $750,000 for a three-year project that will focus on assessing and monitoring “the quality, health and value” of Maine’s forested land. Maine is the most forested state in the nation. UMaine School of Forest Resources assistant professor Parinaz Rahimzadeh is leading the effort. The university says a team of researchers will use remote sensing technology to develop models with “near-real-time data on forest tree species identification, and forest tree decline detection and damage assessment.” The work is ultimately expected to provide information on the composition of Maine’s forests and on damage caused by recent outbreaks of pests and pathogens.
Annapolis: The mental health evaluation for a man accused of killing five people at a newspaper last year has been completed. Anne Arundel County Judge Laura Ripken told attorneys at a hearing Monday that she received the report on Jarrod Ramos last week from the state health department. She said it will be placed under seal but available to attorneys. Ramos has pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible, which is Maryland’s version of an insanity defense. He had a well-documented history of harassing the Capital Gazette’s journalists. Police say he was arrested hiding under a newsroom desk after the June 2018 attack. A November trial is scheduled. If Ramos is found guilty, a second phase would be held to determine whether his mental state made him not criminally responsible.
Plymouth: The owner of a now-shuttered nuclear power plant has sold the facility to a private company for decommissioning. Entergy Corporation said Monday it has completed the sale of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to Holtec International, which plans to complete major decommissioning work at the site decades sooner than if Entergy had continued to own the facility. The two announced the planned sale last year. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. William Keating – all Democrats – recently urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay ruling on the license transfer needed to finalize the sale. The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station began generating electricity in 1972 and was closed in May after producing electricity for 46 years. It was the state’s last nuclear power plant.
Detroit: The home of the city’s annual auto show and other major events has officially changed its name to the TCF Center and moved on from its original name, which honored a former mayor known for racist and segregationist policies. Officials on Tuesday announced that the Cobo Center is no more. The change follows the February announcement of a $33 million naming rights deal with Chemical Bank, now a division of TCF Bank. Officials have said the name change will save taxpayers millions of dollars and move the riverfront facility toward being financially self-sustaining. It had been owned and operated by the city until 2009, when a regional authority was created. Officials also say a name change will stop honoring a negative aspect of Detroit’s history. Albert Cobo, who served as mayor from 1950 to 1957, sought to keep blacks out of predominantly white neighborhoods.
St. Paul: Gov. Tim Walz says he’s ordered state agencies to be prepared to legalize recreational marijuana next year if the Legislature approves a bill. But Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says he’ll block the bill in the Republican-controlled chamber. Walz tells Minnesota Public Radio News he’s relying on supporters to continue pushing for legalization. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler says he plans to sponsor a legalization bill next year. Minnesota’s Senate rejected a bill last session that would have decriminalized recreational marijuana in 2022. Critics highlighted concerns about marijuana’s effect on traffic accidents, underage use and drug treatment. Legalization proponents say opposition in the Senate should be removed in the 2020 election.
Oxford: The city is taking over some plots in a historic cemetery to repair abandoned or damaged grave markers. The Oxford Eagle reports city alderman have voted to declare 21 plots in the cemetery abandoned. The city will now move to repair the damaged headstones, spending $6,800. Chief Operating Officer Bart Robinson says the city was unable to locate or contact any descendants of the people buried in the graves. Many of the graves are more than 100 years old, with headstones that have become unreadable or broken. The city plans to repair additional grave markers as funding allows.
Kansas City: A new state ban on abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy won’t take effect Wednesday after a federal judge temporarily blocked it from being implemented. U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs put a pause on the law as a legal challenge against it plays out in court. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed the lawsuit, arguing that the law is unconstitutional and goes against the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The law includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest. If courts don’t uphold the eight-week ban, the measure includes a series of less-restrictive bans ranging from 14 weeks up to 20 weeks. The policy also bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome.
Great Falls: Two men who were sentenced to prison for violating the terms of their probation in separate crimes won’t be eligible for parole until they complete a writing assignment given because they falsely claimed to have served in the military to have their cases moved to a veteran’s court. Cascade County District Judge Greg Pinski sentenced 28-year-old Ryan Patrick Morris and 33-year-old Troy Allan Nelson to hand-write the names of all 6,756 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; write the obituaries of the 40 Montanans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and send written letters of apology to several veterans groups. Once released, they must perform 441 hours of community service – one for each Montanan killed in combat since the Korean War.
Omaha: A state law requiring public school students to undergo the first of three reading assessments within 30 days of starting school goes into effect this school year. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the assessments are designed to identify children who may have a reading deficiency in kindergarten through third grade. Under the law, students who are struggling must be entered into a special reading intervention program. School officials in Omaha and Elkhorn say the new requirements will not significantly change how students’ reading skills are assessed in those districts. Gregory Betts, director of professional learning for Westside Community School in Omaha, says the district changed its curriculum in 2015 to ensure that children leaving kindergarten have the reading skills they need to progress.
Reno: The state Department of Motor Vehicles will soon start tracking the miles drivers travel each year – data lawmakers aim to use to help determine the future of infrastructure funding. The state will begin collecting odometer readings on most vehicles in October. In the most populous areas of the state, the department will gather mileage with the smog check data collected during the vehicle registration process. In other areas, drivers will be required to submit odometer readings when they register. Department spokesman Kevin Malone says the information won’t be linked to individual drivers and will only be used for reports to the Legislature. Lawmakers are looking for alternatives to the gas tax as more electric and fuel-efficient vehicles hit the roads.
Rochester: A woman is fighting the state Department of Motor Vehicles over her 15-year-old vanity license plate showing a common parental phrase. Seacoastonline.com reports Wendy Auger, of Rochester, has been asked to surrender the “PB4WEGO” plate. The state says phrases related to excretory acts aren’t permitted. Auger, who is appealing the rejection, asked: “Who has a mom or dad or parental figure who hasn’t said that to kids before leaving the house?” She’s one of 92 New Hampshire drivers who received vanity plate recall letters this year. A DMV spokesperson said plates must be rejected “when they do not conform to legal requirements.” The spokesperson said the state cannot comment on the specifics of Auger’s case.
Trenton: A pair of court decisions handed down hours apart Tuesday reinstated a law allowing physicians to prescribe medication to terminally ill patients to end their lives. The law, which went into effect Aug. 1, was temporarily put on hold by a judge as part of a legal challenge brought by a doctor. The pair of Tuesday rulings mean doctors can begin prescribing the lethal medication as the law allowed. On Tuesday morning, a state appellate court said agencies and regulatory boards did not need to establish rules before the law could go into effect. That reversed an earlier ruling Aug. 14 by Superior Court Judge Paul Innes in Mercer County, who had put the law on hold primarily based on concerns that the rules were not yet in place.
Albuquerque: Hundreds of beer can collectors are heading to the state for a “CANvention.” The Albuquerque Journal reports the Brewery Collectibles Club of America is scheduled Thursday to start celebrating different types of beer cans at its three-day national gathering at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The club says the event attracts collectors from around the world who trade, buy and sell vintage and craft beer cans. It is also a chance for those attending to sample beer from local Albuquerque brewers. The gathering began in 1969 after collector Denver Wright Jr. put an ad in a St. Louis newspaper asking anyone who collected beer cans to contact him. Six collectors responded, and they held an event in Denver months later.
New York: The second span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens will open to traffic early Thursday morning. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says before its opening, the public will get a chance to bike or walk over the new bridge from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday. The completed bridge features five Queens-bound traffic lanes and four Brooklyn-bound lanes, as well as a 20-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle pathway. It’s expected to handle 200,000 drivers per day. The $873 million project is the first major bridge built in New York City since the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. The original Kosciuszko Bridge opened in 1939.
Charlotte: A developer says it’s agreed to purchase Bank of America’s new tower in Charlotte in what would be the most expensive office building sale in the state’s history. The Charlotte Observer reports Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties is expected to close the $436 million deal in November as it moves into the Charlotte market. Developer Lincoln Harris and partner Goldman Sachs bought the site for $37.5 million in 2016. Bank of America employees started moving into the 33-story tower this month. Its headquarters remains in another building a few blocks away. Real estate firm CBRE says the 2016 sale of One Wells Fargo Center in Charlotte for $284 million is the largest office building transaction in the state. But the tower sale would take that place if it goes through.
Fargo: Authorities are looking to replace an 8-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty that was stolen last month. Mayor Tim Mahoney tells KFGO that authorities haven’t had any luck finding the statue, and he doesn’t think it will be recovered. The statue had about 300 pounds of metal that Mahoney thinks could have been chopped up and scrapped. He says the city is focused on finding a replacement. The statue was presented to the city nearly 70 years ago by the Lions Club.
Columbus: The state has awarded the final round of prizes in its global technology challenge seeking scientific breakthroughs to address the U.S. opioid crisis. Four winners were announced Tuesday, with each receiving $1 million as part of the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. Winning ideas included “Brave Button,” an in-home device from Vancouver, Canada-based Brave Technology Coop. It summons help and support in the event of an overdose. Two Massachusetts-based companies won prizes. Concord-based Prapela created a device to treat withdrawal symptoms in opioid-addicted infants. Boston-based DynamiCare Health created an app to facilitate testing and medical support. Cleveland’s University Hospitals developed an app to help prevent abuse and addiction. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich launched the technology plan in 2017 in response to the deadly opioid crisis.
Oklahoma City: A lawsuit by a Texas-based railroad seeks to overturn an Oklahoma law prohibiting trains from blocking street intersections for more than 10 minutes, with some exceptions that include letting oncoming trains pass. The Oklahoman first reported the federal lawsuit filed last week in Oklahoma City by BNSF Railway Co. of Fort Worth. The lawsuit names the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the cities of Edmond and Davis. Officials with the commission and the cities declined comment, citing the pending litigation. In July, Edmond police twice and Davis police once ticketed BNSF for blocking intersections. The lawsuit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions to prohibit enforcement of the law passed this year and says U.S. law governing rail carriers supersedes any state law.
Portland: A homeless shelter has opened with assistance from private-sector donations. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the Harbor of Hope River District Navigation Center opened Monday in Portland. Developer Homer Williams raised private funds to help cover the $3.5 million construction costs of the tentlike structure. The donations included about $3 million from Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle. Transition Projects will operate the city shelter, which can serve up to 100 people and will remain open every day around the clock. The Joint Office of Homeless Services of Multnomah County and Portland is expected to fund the first-year operating budget. Mayor Ted Wheeler was among the officials who praised the shelter as an example of a successful public-private partnership.
Pittsburgh: A man charged with killing 11 people in a synagogue should face the death penalty if convicted, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Monday. The U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against 46-year-old Robert Bowers in last year’s attack. The government filing said justification for a death sentence included allegations of substantial planning and premeditation, the vulnerability and number of victims, and a motivation of religious hostility. It also listed the injury, harm and loss caused to the victims and the choice of the Tree of Life synagogue as the site of the attack. The notice accused Bowers of targeting the worshippers “in order to maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes, and instill fear within the local, national and international Jewish communities.”
Providence: The federal government is fining the state about $2 million for problems with its benefits system. WPRI-TV reports the problems stem from the botched rollout of a computer system for benefits programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service found the state’s payment error rate was nearly 14% during fiscal year 2018. In a letter last month, the agency said most errors involved overpayments and ordered the state to pay $2 million. The state plans to appeal. The state Department of Human Services says Deloitte, the company that designed the system, is responsible for paying the fine. The state rolled out the system, which handles applications for food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits, in 2016 despite warnings from the federal government that it wasn’t ready.
Denmark: Officials say the city has safe drinking water, but a lack of trust has left residents relying on bottled water or springs outside city limits. The Post and Courier reports Denmark officials cite state and federal reports ruling the water safe, but many in the town of 3,000 still use bottled water. They reported having brown, foul-smelling, sediment-filled water last year. The founder of the Denmark Citizens for Safe Water group, Deanna Miller-Berry, says there are no quality tests residents would believe. She says her group distributes bottled water to more than 1,000 people each month. Denmark for years used a pool disinfectant not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in a drinking water well. That well was taken offline, and the chemical never touched the city’s remaining three drinking wells, but for some, the damage was already done.
Burke: High school football players have been dividing their time between training and cleaning up after a tornado and straight-line winds struck their small town. Authorities say winds of up to 100 mph destroyed a lumberyard, mangled the civic center and injured two people in Burke on Aug. 6. Burke High School coach Mike Sebern told the Cougars on Friday before the first game of the season that it would provide the community of about 600 with an opportunity to heal. The Cougars won 46-8. Four classrooms were lost in the storm. Senior receiver/defensive back Jaden Frank says he’s devastated that the school gym was wrecked. After the storm, the players resumed training in the mornings and have been clearing debris in the afternoons.
Nashville: A group of black ministers have sent a letter to the governor asking for a meeting amid concerns about police brutality. The Times Free Press reports the group wrote in an Aug. 12 letter that they wanted to meet with Gov. Bill Lee to address what they say is the “inhumane treatment” of citizens and abuse of power by law enforcement. The letter comes as they’ve called for Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond’s resignation over video showing an arrest and body cavity search of a black man. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and FBI launched an investigation. Pastor Timothy Careathers says he hasn’t heard back. Lee’s press secretary says the office “feels it would be inappropriate” to weigh in as a review of the investigation is ongoing.
El Paso: The Texas Forensic Science Commission voted to approve a final report finding professional negligence against a former state DNA analyst accused of falsifying blood alcohol test results. But defense lawyers who brought to light the allegations are asking for more to be done, including a criminal investigation into former Texas Department of Public Safety analyst Ana Lilia Romero, who allegedly reported false blood alcohol test results in at least 22 criminal cases in the El Paso area in 2013 and 2014. “We were hoping that they would have found something beyond just professional negligence,” said prominent Texas defense lawyer Brent Mayr, who was part of a team that brought to light the allegations. While the commission’s investigation found professional negligence, investigators were unable to find evidence of a more severe charge of professional misconduct.
Salt Lake City: Washington County is expected to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to build and operate a proposed water pipeline, according to a legislative audit. That audit found it will require a large fee, rate and tax increases for a southern Utah county to pay for a proposed pipeline that would pull water from Lake Powell and cost at least $1.4 billion over the next 50 years, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The 140-mile line would supply the St. George metro area by diverting water from the Colorado River across southern Utah each year to the Sand Hallow Reservoir in Washington County. The audit did not study whether the region needs the water or if Utah’s cost estimates were reliable, officials said. A population increase is central to the audit’s conclusion that the district could repay the state and cover its bills, audit supervisor August Lehman said.
Burke: Two organizations working to develop recreation trails in the community say they are going to use a $75,000 federal grant to help fund a study that will guide sustainable and responsible development of the Kingdom Trail Association. The association and the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce say their application for the grant has been approved. The association is going to contribute $25,000 to the total cost of the study. The Caledonian Report reports the study will look for possible locations for a welcome center, needed parking, safe traffic flow and pedestrian crossings, village intersections and connections to local businesses. The Kingdom Trail Association has more than 100 miles of trails. Last year there were 138,000 visitors.
Richmond: More than $1.6 million in federal grant funding has been awarded to the state to expand apprenticeships in fields ranging from computer programming to the building trades. The funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will be used for the Registered Apprenticeship Program administered by the state Department of Labor and Industry. Through partnerships with approximately 2,200 employers, the program serves approximately 12,000 Virginia-based apprentices. The goals of the three-year grant include adding 800 additional apprenticeships in high-demand areas. The apprenticeship program was established in 1938.
Seattle: Five years after the state launched its pioneering legal marijuana market, officials are proposing an overhaul of the industry’s rules. Plans call for boosting minority ownership of pot businesses, paving the way for home deliveries of medical cannabis, and letting the smallest growers increase the size of their operations and become more competitive. Liquor and Cannabis Board Director Rick Garza says the proposals are part of what the board calls “Cannabis 2.0.” It’s an effort to picture what the legal marijuana market will look like over the next five years. The board is requesting that lawmakers pass bills that would create a “social equity” program to help increase minority, female and military veteran ownership in cannabis businesses and that would allow the smallest growers to sell directly to registered marijuana patients.
Charleston: A federal magistrate judge has recommended tossing former coal CEO Don Blankenship’s misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to violate mine safety laws. U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar Aboulhson wrote Monday that Blankenship’s rights were violated under the Brady rule, which says suppression of evidence favorable to the accused violates due process. He recommended that U.S. District Judge Irene Berger, who presided over Blankenship’s 2015 trial, throw out the conviction. At issue were documents that Blankenship said were not disclosed to him and his attorneys during his trial’s discovery phase. Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, which owned a mine where a 2010 explosion killed 29 workers. He spent a year in federal prison. His conviction was upheld by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a further appeal.
Madison: A bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants to set a minimum age for purchasing vaping products and raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and nicotine. The group led by Republican state Sen. Howard Marklein has introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale of vaping products to anyone under 21. The bill also would move the minimum age for purchasing nicotine and tobacco products like chewing tobacco and traditional cigarettes from 18 to 21. The bill comes as concerns about vaping’s health effects mount. As many as 50 people in at least six states have been stricken with breathing illnesses that may be linked to e-cigarettes or vaping products. The lawmakers wrote in a co-sponsorship memo that the rising use of vaping products among young people is a crisis.
Jackson: Forest managers are planning to begin an expansive, yearslong controlled burn project on the Bridger-Teton National Forest this fall. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports the project in the Star Valley area will be done over a 10-year period and cover nearly 65,000 acres, a tract about a fifth the size of Grand Teton National Park. The project will be a mix of fuels-reduction work designed to prevent wildfires from creeping onto private lands to the west and prescribed burns that mimic wildfire’s natural role of invigorating browse for elk and mule deer. The first burn is set for the backcountry Salt Range subalpine zone. Greys River District Ranger Justin Laycock says impacts to the public are expected to be minimal.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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