Fluoride wince, tsunami maps, volcanic unrest: News from around our 50 states
Tuscaloosa: A long-running festival that aims to entertain people while educating them about the heritage and culture of Native Americans returns this week to west Alabama. The annual Moundville Native American Festival will be held from Wednesday to Saturday at the University of Alabama Moundville Archaeological Park. This will mark the first in-person festival since 2019, as the event was held online only the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of visitors are expected at the festival, which began 34 years ago. “The festival is one the largest events that brings people to the park every year,” said Clay Nelson, director of the UA Moundville Archaeological Park. Holding the festival online was the best option for the past couple of years, but Nelson said there’s no substitute for seeing up close the park’s attractions, which include 29 massive flat-topped earthen mounds. “We can describe the earthen mounds as much as we want, but seeing them in person really helps illustrate what great engineering feats the indigenous peoples of Alabama were doing in the 13th century,” he said. The festival will feature artists, craftsmen and educators from around the nation, who’ll share their knowledge of Native American culture. People will be able to buy Native crafts and food, as well as traditional festival fare.
Juneau: A fall storm packing strong winds damaged roofs and windows in parts of western and northwest Alaska and resulted in flooding of roads in the far northern city of Utqiagvik, according to damage reports, with a new storm expected to hit the Arctic coast this week. Water levels dropped by midday Saturday across the region, said Jonathan Chriest, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The system forecasters are tracking is expected to bring elevated surf and strong winds to the Arctic coast Tuesday through Thursday, though water levels and winds weren’t expected to be as high as with the last storm, he said Sunday. There commonly are strong storms in northern and western Alaska between September and December, he said. But the storm that just hit parts of western and northwest Alaska and the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, which caused widespread damage in parts of western Alaska last month, were “exceptionally strong” for the areas that each impacted, he said.
Phoenix: Abortions can take place again in the state, at least for now, after an appeals court on Friday blocked enforcement of a pre-statehood law that almost entirely criminalized the procedure. The three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Planned Parenthood that a judge should not have lifted the decades-old order that prevented the older law from being imposed. The brief order written by Presiding Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom said Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate had shown they are likely to prevail on an appeal of a decision by the judge in Tucson to allow enforcement of the old law. Planned Parenthood had argued that the lower court judge should have considered a host of laws restricting abortions passed since the original injunction was put in place following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that said women have a constitutional right to an abortion. Those laws include a new one blocking abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that took effect last month. The previous limit was 24 weeks, the viability standard established by now-overruled U.S. Supreme Court cases. “Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes,” Eckerstrom wrote, mirroring arguments made by attorneys for Planned Parenthood.
Little Rock: Two deputies who were caught on video violently arresting a suspect outside a convenience store in August have been fired, Crawford County Sheriff Jimmy Damante said Thursday. Damante told Fort Smith television station KHBS that Levi White and Zachary King had been fired but did not elaborate on the decision. A bystander recorded White, King and Mulberry Police Officer Thell Riddle arresting 27-year-old Randal Worcester outside a convenience store in the small town of Mulberry, about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock, near the border with Oklahoma. Mulberry Police Chief Shannon Gregory said Riddle remains on administrative leave. The bystander’s video of the Aug. 21 arrest shows one of the deputies repeatedly punching and kneeing Worcester in the head before grabbing his hair and slamming him against the pavement. As that was happening, another officer was holding Worcester down, while a third kneed him over and over. Damante has said Worcester was being questioned for threatening a clerk at a convenience store in the nearby small town of Alma. Damante said Worcester tackled one of the deputies and punched him in the head before the arrest. The deputy suffered a concussion, Damante said.
Sacramento: The California Geological Survey has released updated tsunami hazard maps for seven counties to help users determine whether they are in areas at risk for inundation and for planning. The revised interactive maps released Friday cover San Diego, Santa Cruz, Ventura, Marin, Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties. The new maps reflect new data and improved computer modeling since an earlier series of maps was published in 2009, as well as threats from tsunamis originating far away and locally, the Geological Survey said in a press release. In one example of the updates, new modeling for Santa Cruz County shows that a subduction zone earthquake off the Aleutian Islands could unleash a tsunami 18-25 feet above the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, more than double the height suggested in 2009, the agency said. The Geological Survey said California’s shores have been struck by more than 150 tsunamis since 1800, and while most were minor, some have been significantly destructive and deadly. On March 28, 1964, a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake in Alaska smashed into Crescent City, California, hours later. Much of the business district was leveled, and a dozen people were killed.
Denver: A police officer who arrested a woman who was seriously injured when the parked patrol car in which she was placed was struck by a freight train said he did not realize he had stopped the vehicle on the railroad tracks, according to police body camera video. In video obtained by KUSA-TV on Thursday, Platteville Sgt. Pablo Vazquez told another officer he thought he had cleared the tracks when he stopped Yareni Rios-Gonzalez on Sept. 16 in a suspected road rage case involving a gun. He said he pulled up right behind her truck and was focused on her because he was concerned about weapons. Vazquez also said he did not know another officer had put Rios-Gonzalez in Vasquez’s patrol vehicle until after it was hit by the train. He said the “saving grace” was that the other officer put Rios-Gonzalez on the side of the vehicle not usually used for arrested people. Rios-Gonzalez’s injuries included nine broken ribs, a broken arm and a fractured sternum. Her lawyer has said he plans to file a lawsuit against police. Previously released video from Vazquez’s body camera shows he asks the other officer several times over the sound of the train’s rumbling whether Rios-Gonzalez was in the patrol vehicle, and she responds, one hand to her face, “Oh my God, yes, she was!”
Waterbury: Jurors concluded their first full day of deliberations without reaching a verdict Friday in a trial to determine how much conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay for spreading the lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting was a hoax. Jurors are scheduled to return Tuesday. After deliberating just briefly Thursday afternoon, the panel got back to business Friday with a request for a dry-erase easel, markers, an eraser and a copy of the jury instructions. Last year, Jones was found liable for damages. The jury’s task is to decide how much Jones and his company Free Speech Systems should pay to relatives of eight Sandy Hook victims and to an FBI agent who responded to the massacre. The plaintiffs testified they have been tormented and threatened by people who believed that one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history was a con staged to build support for gun restrictions. Jones repeatedly publicized that false notion on his “Infowars” show. Twenty children and six adults were killed when a gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. Jones testified in the trial, saying he was “done saying I’m sorry.” His lawyers have argued that he’s not responsible for the deeds of anyone who tormented the victims’ families, and that they are overstating how much harm it caused them.
Dover: New state laws allowing universal voting by mail and Election Day registration are unconstitutional, Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled Friday. In a three-page order, the justices said the vote-by-mail statute impermissibly expands the categories of absentee voters identified in Delaware’s constitution. The same-day registration law conflicts with the registration periods spelled out in the state constitution, they said. The order, which will be followed later by a formal opinion, came after justices heard arguments in the case Thursday. Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook last month upheld the same-day registration law but said the vote-by-mail law, the result of legislation Democrats rammed through the General Assembly in less than three weeks, violates constitutional restrictions on absentee voting. Both bills were passed in June, each receiving exactly one Republican vote, and were signed by Democratic Gov. John Carney in July. Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Jennings appealed Cook’s ruling striking down the vote-by-mail law. GOP attorneys representing voters, a state House candidate and a Department of Elections employee appealed Cook’s decision upholding same-day registration. The Supreme Court upheld Cook’s ruling on the vote-by-mail law but said his decision allowing same-day registration should be reversed.
District of Columbia
Washington: The National Air and Space Museum will reopen half of its flagship building to the public on the National Mall on Friday, WUSA-TV reports. When the museum partially reopens, visitors can check out eight new and renovated exhibitions, along with the planetarium on the museum’s west end. Highlights include “Destination Moon,” which will display the Apollo 11 space suit; “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery,” which will feature an immersive experience called Walking on Other Worlds; and the “Thomas W. Haas We All Fly” exhibition, which will include the Challenger III and the Lear Jet 23. The museum has been undergoing a seven-year renovation that began in 2018 and includes redesigning all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces, replacing outdated mechanical systems and other repairs and improvements. “You should be excited to engage with these pieces of history, these real artifacts, these real things,” said Beth Wilson, an educator with the museum. “Come and see them.” Free timed-entry passes are required to visit the National Air and Space Museum.
St. Petersburg: Florida officials began planning to transport migrants to other states in July and told potential contractors their task would be to relocate them on a voluntary basis, according to state documents. The documents released Friday night provide new details about the program that culminated in the Sept. 14 flight of 48 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, an island off Massachusetts. The flight has spawned an investigation by a Texas sheriff and two lawsuits amid criticism that the program was a political stunt by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to appeal to his conservative base. DeSantis is running for reelection this year and is frequently mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. According to the documents, the program as outlined in July was intended to “assist in the voluntary relocation of Unauthorized Aliens who are found in Florida and have agreed to be relocated” elsewhere in the country. It made no mention of finding migrants in Texas. Ultimately, state officials chose Vertol Systems Co., based in Destin, Florida, and has so far paid the firm $1.56 million for the Martha’s Vineyard flight and possibly for a second flight to Delaware, the home state of President Joe Biden, that didn’t happen. No other flights have been announced.
Atlanta: The Georgia prosecutor investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 election filed paperwork Friday seeking to compel testimony from a new batch of Trump allies, including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions in court seeking to have Gingrich and Flynn, as well as former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann and others, testify next month before a special grand jury that’s been seated to aid her investigation. They join a string of other high-profile Trump allies and advisers who have been called to testify in the probe. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump attorney who’s been told he could face criminal charges in the probe, testified in August. Attorneys John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro have also appeared before the panel. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s attempt to fight his subpoena is pending in a federal appeals court. And paperwork has been filed seeking testimony from others, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Willis has said she plans to take a monthlong break from public activity in the case leading up to the November midterm election.
Honolulu: Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on the planet, is in a “state of heightened unrest” but is not erupting, and there are no signs of an imminent eruption, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Friday. Earlier in the week week, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed the Mauna Loa summit backcountry until further notice, calling it a “precautionary measure” amid “elevated seismic activity.” The observatory said the heightened unrest began in mid-September, “as recorded by an increase in earthquakes below Mauna Loa summit.” The volcano, which stands about 13,680 feet above sea level on the island of Hawaii, last erupted in 1984, the observatory said. Since 1843, it has erupted 33 times, with the time between eruptions ranging from months to decades, according to the observatory. The park’s online portal says this is the volcano’s “longest quiet period since written records have been kept.” “Mauna Loa will erupt again,” Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “As long as there is heightened unrest, it is more likely to erupt. But it could be weeks or months – or it could eventually die off.” The latter happened the last time there was elevated seismic activity and summit expansion on Mauna Loa, in early 2021.
Boise: The state Supreme Court heard arguments in lawsuits over three of Idaho’s abortion laws Thursday, sharply questioning attorneys about the value placed on a pregnant person’s health, the state’s interest in ensuring that pregnancies are carried to term and Idaho’s long history of anti-abortion laws. The high court earlier this year allowed the laws to go into effect, and as a result Idaho is one of several states where abortion is almost entirely outlawed. A final ruling on the laws – including one that criminalizes all abortions but allows physicians to defend themselves by showing the abortion was needed to save the pregnant persopn’s life, one that criminalizes most abortions after about six weeks’ gestation, and one that allows even extended potential relatives of a fetus or embryo to sue an abortion provider – could be handed down sometime in the coming months. “For 50 years, generations of Idaho women have had control over their bodies and lives with respect to the most intimate personal and private decision imaginable whether to carry a pregnancy to term or whether to terminate it,” Alan Schoenfeld, the attorney representing a regional Planned Parenthood affiliate, told the court. “The Idaho Legislature seeks to upend women’s lives and strip them of this fundamental right – one that’s necessary to the exercise of numerous other rights that all Idahoans cherish.”
Chicago: A man accused of walking into a Chicago police station and pointing a gun at officers, leading police to shoot and wound him, appeared in court Friday on assault charges, where a judge ordered his bond set at $200,000. The police department said in a news release that 43-year-old Terrick Bland, of nearby Maywood, is charged with five counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer and one felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to police, Bland walked into the lobby of the Ogden District station in the Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side and began shouting anti-police statements Wednesday. When officers ordered him to drop a gun that he had wrapped in a plastic bag, he pointed it at officers, and at least three of them opened fire. Bland was shot once in the shoulder and was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. According to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, Bland was represented at Friday’s hearing by an attorney with the county public defender’s office. An official from the office said she could not immediately determine who represented Bland. It was the second time in a little more than a week in which Chicago officers shot an armed suspect inside of a police station.
Indianapolis: Health officials are warning northern Indiana residents to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes after detecting a rare and potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus in the region. State public health and animal health officials issued the warning Thursday after determining that the eastern equine encephalitis virus was active in multiple northern Indiana counties, with four horses testing positive for the virus. State veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh said the virus “is a serious threat to both horses and people in northern Indiana” until the first hard freeze of the fall season occurs. As of Tuesday, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health said two horses in LaGrange County and one horse in Kosciusko County had tested positive for the virus. No human cases of the virus disease or mosquitoes infected with the virus have been reported in Indiana this year. But officials said that because northern Indiana contains suitable habitat for mosquitoes that can transmit the virus, “humans and horses in all northern Indiana counties are potentially at risk.” Residents were urged to avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present and take other steps, including eliminating breeding grounds for the insects. While rare, the virus can cause serious illness with long-term complications and has a fatality rate of around 33% or higher.
Cedar Falls: Paddlers on the Cedar River now will be floating on designated waters. The river, from Janesville to around La Porte City – about 46 miles – has been formally recognized as a designated water trail as part of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. A 14-mile stretch of Black Hawk Creek from Hudson to the Cedar River was also designated as an official water trail. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports members of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Black Hawk County Conservation, Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments and Partnership for a Healthy Iowa paddled from Washington Park in Cedar Falls to the Waterloo Boat House in celebration of the new identification. Kayla Lyon, director of the Iowa DNR, said there are more than 1,000 miles of designated water trails in the state. The state’s first designated water trail was the Cedar Valley Paddler’s Trail in Black Hawk County, which begins at the Fisher Lake Boat Ramp. The 10-mile trail was recognized in 2005. Peter Komendowski, executive director of the Partnership for a Healthy Iowa, said the waterway was first paddled by 26 eighth graders and adults, and it took them more than six hours. It travels through a chain of lakes, down the Cedar River and through George Wyth State Park before looping back to the start.
Wichita: A Wichita police officer was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving, becoming the city’s third officer to be apprehended within about two weeks. Police said in a release that the officer, who was off-duty, is also facing a charge of possession of a gun while intoxicated. The officer, who has been with the department for two years, has been placed on administrative leave while a criminal and internal investigation is conducted, the Wichita Eagle reports. The incident follows two other arrests of Wichita officers within five days at the end of last month. A detective and 15-year veteran of the force was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Sept. 23 after she collided with a city bus in downtown. A police recruit was arrested on suspicion of criminal threat Sept. 28 when police responded to a domestic violence call.
Louisville: Three Jewish women from Louisville filed a lawsuit Thursday to block Kentucky’s laws banning most abortions from remaining in effect, arguing they are a violation of their religious rights under the state constitution. Under current Kentucky laws, the protected human life of “an unborn child” begins when an egg is fertilized by a sperm, with abortion strictly prohibited once fetal cardiac activity is detected at roughly six weeks. Exceptions are only allowed to prevent a pregnant woman’s death or a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The plaintiffs in the case say Jewish law, known as Halakha, for millennia has not defined human life as beginning at conception but rather at birth, while the abortion ban passed into law in Kentucky “has imposed sectarian theology on Jews.” Their complaint, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, says Kentucky law particularly contradicts their constitutional religious rights when it comes to their past and intended future use of in vitro fertilization, in which a human egg is fertilized with sperm in a laboratory and then implanted in the uterus. “As a mom, as a woman, this directly affects me; it affects my health care,” lead plaintiff Lisa Sobel said. “And then it’s a personal affront to my personal religious views, on top of it.”
Baton Rouge: The Democratic challenger to U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise released a campaign ad on social media that includes video of her giving birth. Katie Darling said she was seven months pregnant when she decided to join the congressional race in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that ended constitutional protections for abortion. The 75-second video documents Darling traveling from her family farm in St. Tammany parish in September to a hospital, where she grips the side of a bed while in labor. “I wanted to share that this is real for me,” Darling, 36, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I am literally the one hooked up to the machines and the IVs in the hospital bed, going through childbirth, and nobody else should be deciding how I handle that.” In a voiceover, Darling highlights her concerns about climate change, Louisiana underperforming in education and the state’s near-total abortion ban – the only exceptions are if there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the patient if they continue with the pregnancy and in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. “Louisiana deserves better than the path it’s on,” Darling says in the video. “I want that better path,” she adds, “for you” – as the ad pans to her husband in the delivery room. “For her,” as a the video shows her 6-year-old daughter. “And for him,” she says directly into the camera from her hospital bed as she cradles her newborn.
Portland: Wildlife agencies are finding elevated levels of a class of toxic chemicals in game animals such as deer, prompting health advisories in some places where hunting and fishing are ways of life and key pieces of the economy. Authorities have detected the high levels of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in deer in several states, including Maine, where legions of hunters seek to bag a buck every fall. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched an effort last year to limit pollution from the chemicals, linked to health problems including cancer and low birth weight. In Maine, where the chemicals were detected in well water at hundreds of times the federal health advisory level, legislators passed a law in 2021 requiring manufacturers to report their use of the chemicals and to phase them out by 2030. The state issued a “do not eat” advisory last year for deer harvested in the Fairfield area, about 80 miles north of Portland, after several of the animals tested positive for elevated levels. The state is now expanding the testing to more animals across a wider area, said Nate Webb, wildlife division director at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Lab capacity has been challenging,” he said, “but I suspect there will be more facilities coming online to help ease that burden.”
Baltimore: The office of the state’s attorney general is supporting an appeal by a slain woman’s family after a Baltimore judge overturned a man’s murder conviction in a case chronicled by a groundbreaking podcast. Hae Min Lee’s brother, Young Lee, has asked the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to halt court proceedings for Adnan Syed, whose conviction in Lee’s 1999 killing was reversed by Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn in September. Young Lee is asking the appellate court to suspend an Oct. 18 deadline for prosecutors to decide whether to drop the charges against Syed or retry him. Lee argues that his family didn’t get adequate notice of the Sept. 19 hearing at which Phinn overturned Syed’s conviction. Attorney General Brian Frosch’s office, which represented the state in opposing Syed’s appeals, said in a court filing Friday that Young Lee has a right to appeal given his status as the victim’s representative, the Baltimore Sun reports. The filing argues that Lee’s appeal should be addressed before any circuit court rulings render it moot. Syed, who has always maintained his innocence, has served more than 20 years of a life sentence. He was convicted of strangling Lee, whose body was found buried in a Baltimore park. Syed and Lee were students at a Baltimore County high school.
Boston: Health officials said Friday that they’re concerned about elevated levels of the coronavirus in the city’s wastewater. The concentration of the virus in local wastewater had increased by 3.1% over the prior week and by nearly 100% over the past two weeks, according to new data from last week from the Boston Public Health Commission. New COVID-19 cases in Boston had decreased slightly over the prior week, though the data did not include positive results from at-home tests, the commission said. Boston hospitals had 170 new hospital admissions related to COVID-19 last week. Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, the public health commissioner, said the elevated concentration in the wastewater is “very concerning” because increases in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, combined with flu season, will cause “major strain” on Boston’s health care system. Ojikutu said it’s important to try to get ahead of the issue and recommended that people get booster shots and flu shots, wear a mask indoors, get tested for COVID-19 and isolate if they test positive to help reduce transmission. Nearly 79% of Boston residents are fully inoculated against the disease. The commission began noticing elevated coronavirus levels in the wastewater in late September.
Detroit: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed another extension of a law that makes people convicted of crimes, typically with low incomes, responsible for a portion of local court expenses. The law, which raises millions of dollars for local governments, doesn’t apply to others who use Michigan’s court system. It has been criticized, even by judges, as unfair at minimum and unconstitutional at worst. The state Supreme Court last spring heard a challenge by a man who was ordered to pay $1,200 in Alpena County. But instead of settling the matter, the court said it would hear more arguments during its 2022-23 term. The Legislature in September voted to keep the law going for an additional 18 months. Only 17 lawmakers opposed it. Whitmer, a Democrat, said she signed the extension last week. Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport, acknowledged it puts another “Band-Aid on this issue” while a long-term court funding solution can be explored. A group called the Fines and Fees Justice Center tracks how states impose fines and fees in courts. Co-director Lisa Foster said Michigan stands out because judges who preside over a criminal case are also given power to order financial penalties that benefit local government. People convicted of crimes can be ordered to pay a portion of staff salaries and building maintenance.
St. Paul: State Attorney General Keith Ellison sued Fleet Farm on Wednesday, alleging the retailer negligently sold firearms to two straw buyers, including one gun that was used in a shootout in a St. Paul bar that left one person dead and 14 bystanders injured. The lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County District Court, alleges that Fleet Farm ignored multiple red flags that should have tipped off chain officials, including sales of multiple guns in single purchases. It alleges that Fleet Farm stores sold the two at least 37 firearms over a 16-month period. Most of the guns have not been recovered, Ellison said. Ellison, a Democrat, is facing a stiff reelection challenge from Republican candidate Jim Schultz, who has made violent crime his top issue. “We comply with all applicable gun laws and devote substantial resources to training and compliance,” countered Fleet Farm spokesman Jon Austin. He said that after the St. Paul shooting Ellison highlighted, “we were told by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that our team members had ‘done nothing wrong’ and had complied with all applicable gun laws.” The Midwestern company has 17 stores in Minnesota that sell firearms. Straw buyers purchase firearms from licensed retailers and resell them to people who can’t legally buy them or on the black market.
Jackson: The city is heading off the threat of a garbage pileup by agreeing to pay its overdue bill for collections the past six months. Even as Jackson struggles with a troubled water system, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and the City Council have been feuding over the garbage contract for the city of 150,000 residents. Richard’s Disposal has picked up Jackson garbage since April without compensation. The company said it would stop collections after Saturday unless it receives payment. City Council President Ashby Foote told the Associated Press on Friday that the city will pay $4.8 million, and garbage collection will continue. Lumumba awarded an emergency contract early this year to Richard’s after the council voted multiple times against hiring the New Orleans-based company. Jackson has had water problems for years, and most of the city lost running water for several days in late August and early September because torrential rainfall exacerbated problems with the main water treatment plant. Crews are still making emergency repairs to the water plant, and questions remain about the quality of water in the city where 80% of residents are Black, and a quarter live in poverty.
St. Louis: A mother whose son died less than an hour after he was transported from a jail to a state prison has won a $1.2 million settlement in a case that helped lead to suspensions, firings and reforms. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Angela Malcich claimed in the suit that nurses and guards at the St. Louis County Justice Center repeatedly ignored the serious medical distress of her son, Daniel Stout. He was arrested June 3, 2019, on a parole revocation and spent the next eight days in the county jail. The night before his death, Stout complained of stomach pains but was told he would have to wait until the morning to see a nurse, the suit claims. That morning, though, jail staff told a worsening Stout that he would need to wait for care again until he could be transported more than an hour to the state prison in Bonne Terre. Upon arriving, he was vomiting blood and died before emergency crews could get there. An autopsy blamed complications of an ulcer that perforated his intestine. Four other inmates also died in the county jail in 2019, with an internal report finding that all of them had acted “strangely” beforehand and that most were denied medical care.
Helena: A draft report from Gov. Greg Gianforte’s housing task force details a slew of ideas to boost housing supply in an effort to tackle Montana’s affordability crunch, previewing legislation that could be advanced during next year’s legislative session, the Montana Free Press reports. Several of the task force’s recommendations involve scaling back local zoning restrictions such as minimum lot sizes, building height limits and parking requirements to make it easier to develop more dense housing developments in urban areas with existing access to services like water lines, streets and fire departments. The report released last week calls for legislation that places “sideboards” on the development restrictions towns and cities have the power to enact and also suggests providing financial incentives to local governments that implement “key regulatory reforms.” The group also suggests putting some state money toward supporting affordable housing efforts. It generally avoids suggestions that seek to address housing challenges with new government regulations, such as restricting AirBnB-style short-term rentals. The task force, which is set to formally present its recommendations to the governor in the coming weeks, is looking for public comment to consider as it finalizes its initial report by a Saturday deadline.
Omaha: The city will have a new tallest building once Mutual of Omaha completes its planned $600 million headquarters tower downtown in 2026. Mutual CEO James Blackledge told the Omaha World-Herald it recently became clear that the insurance company’s new skyscraper would eclipse the 45-story First National Bank tower. The new Mutual building is projected to be 677 feet tall. That would make it 43 feet taller than the First National building that opened in 2002. Mutual didn’t set out to build the city’s tallest building, but Blackledge said he’s proud of the impact the project will have on Omaha’s downtown and its image. “I think people see skylines, and it does create an impression of all the things we want Omaha to be perceived as – a vibrant, growing, thriving place where people can live and work and prosper,” he said. The new building will be designed to hold roughly 2,400 of the company’s 4,000 headquarters workers at any one time, reflecting the rise of working from home. It will also be a little less than half the size of Mutual current 1.7 million-square-foot headquarters complex in midtown Omaha. In conjunction with the Mutual project, Omaha leaders have pledged to build a $306 million, 3-mile-long streetcar line to connect midtown with downtown by sometime in 2026.
Las Vegas: Victims of a quick series of stabbings on the Las Vegas Strip described the shock and horror of the unexpected attack Thursday on a group of showgirls and others outside a casino that left two people dead and six injured. Police arrested Yoni Barrios, 32, after a short chase blocks from where they say he attacked four showgirls and ended up stabbing eight people. An arrest report released Friday said Barrios told police some of the victims had laughed at him, and he “let the anger out.” Prosecutors said he’ll be charged with two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder. “I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me,” said Victoria Caytano, one of the showgirl impersonators who was released from the hospital Friday after she was treated for a stab wound. “I got up, and I started running,” Caytano told KLAS-TV. “I started yelling, ‘He has a knife!’ ” The coroner’s office identified those killed as Las Vegas residents Brent Allan Hallett, 47, and Maris Mareen DiGiovanni, 30. Hallett was stabbed in the back, and DiGiovanni died from a chest wound, authorities said. DiGiovanni was part of the Best Showgirls in Vegas modeling and talent agency, according to Cheryl Lowthorp, who runs the business. She said two others with the agency were among the wounded, and a third escaped without injury.
Concord: A former juvenile parole officer has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography and trying to send an explicit image to a child. Jason Ellis pleaded guilty in June. Prosecutors agreed in a plea agreement to drop a third charge of distributing child pornography. Ellis was fired from his job as a juvenile parole officer earlier in the year after he was arrested. An affidavit said Ellis sent online messages in 2020 and 2021 to undercover investigators posing as a 13-year-old girl and her father. Detectives uncovered more than 100 images of child sex abuse material on his phone, WMUR-TV reports.
Trenton: The state would sell off all of its pension fund investments in oil, gas and other fossil fuel companies under a bill approved by a New Jersey Senate committee Thursday. The bill targets any pension money invested in 200 of the largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies based on each of their carbon content in oil, gas and coal reserves. It was passed 3-2 along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans against. “The clock is ticking, and there is not that much time left,” said state Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, the bill’s sponsor. “We’ve got to get our industry to change and our economy to change.” The pension fund was valued at $92.9 billion as of May 31, but it is not known exactly how much is invested in fossil fuel company stocks. A state Treasury Department spokeswoman did not return a request for that information Thursday. Divest NJ, a group advocating for the measure, estimates it’s between $3 million and $4 million, based on documents it has obtained. The measure had languished in Trenton for almost five years and still has a long road ahead of it. It was moved to the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday and would still need to be approved by the full Senate, the Assembly and Gov. Phil Murphy. It would take effect 12 months after being signed into law.
Santa Fe: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has asked the federal Department of Justice to assign more FBI agents to the state in response to violent crime. Lujan Grisham said Wednesday in a statement that she wants to replicate the success of a recent surge in FBI resources and agents in Buffalo, New York. The Sept. 15 letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland describes a recent spate of homicides in Albuquerque and says that “additional federal agents are needed to alleviate the current strain on New Mexico’s law enforcement offices.” Lujan Grisham sent a similar request in June to FBI Director Christopher Wray. Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said the governor’s office did not receive a response from the Department of Justice as of Wednesday evening. Concerns about crime are a prominent theme in the race for governor ahead of the Nov. 8 general election as Lujan Grisham seeks a second term in office. Republican nominee and former television meteorologist Ronchetti has painted a dire portrait of public safety conditions, railing against the state’s bail system and vowing a different approach to judicial appointments.
Albany: The state police superintendent resigned Friday, days after Gov. Kathy Hochul said he was being investigated for his handling of internal personnel matters. In a statement, Hochul thanked Kevin Bruen for “his years of public service” and said that First Deputy Superintendent Steven Nigrelli will take over as acting superintendent on an interim basis. Bruen had been in charge of the state police since June 2021. A 20-year veteran of the department, he was appointed superintendent by Hochul’s predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Bruen’s resignation is effective Oct. 19, the state police said. Hochul told the Albany Times Union’s editorial board on Tuesday that she had ordered her counsel’s office to investigate allegations against Bruen. Among them, according to the newspaper, is whether he had shielded a senior human resources official from complaints about her own handling of personnel issues.
Raleigh: The state’s two top Democratic officials are urging the Republican-led Legislature to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in light of President Joe Biden’s pardon Thursday of thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” under federal law. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein, the state’s top lawyer who is considering a run for governor in 2024, shared their support for the president’s decision at a Friday task force meeting on racial equity and criminal justice. Established by Cooper in June 2020 after George Floyd’s murder, the 24-member panel of law enforcement officers, attorneys, civil rights advocates and state officials had recommended in a 2020 report that state lawmakers replace the misdemeanor charge for possessing up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana with a civil offense on par with a traffic infraction. The General Assembly did not act on this recommendation. “Conviction of simple possession can mar people’s records for life and maybe even prevent them from getting a job,” Cooper told the task force Friday. “The General Assembly didn’t pass your recommendations on this last session, but I believe they should. North Carolina should take steps to end this stigma.”
Bismarck: The state’s five American Indian tribes are seeking exclusive rights to host internet gambling and sports betting in North Dakota – a monopoly worth millions – just a year after legislators turned aside a push by one big national player to allow gambling in the state. The tribes are turning to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum to approve the idea under tribal-state agreements known as compacts, the first of which was signed in 1992. The current compacts expire at the end of this year, and only Burgum can approve them, said Deb McDaniel, North Dakota’s top gambling regulator. The tribes argue their casinos have been hurt by the explosion of electronic pull tab machines statewide after they were legalized in 2017, with North Dakotans pouring almost $1.75 billion into the machines in fiscal 2022. Their proposal, obtained by the Associated Press, is still in draft form. A public hearing on a final proposal is set for Oct. 21, McDaniel said. DraftKings, a big player in the U.S. mobile gambling market, supported legislation and a failed resolution last year to allow sports betting in North Dakota to join about two dozen other states. The company said at the time that sports wagering already is taking place in North Dakota through illegal offshore markets.
Cincinnati: A law banning virtually all abortions will remain blocked while a state constitutional challenge proceeds, a judge said Friday in a ruling that will allow pregnancy terminations through 20 weeks’ gestation to continue for now. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins issued the preliminary injunction from the bench after a daylong hearing where courthouse guards screened spectators, and one abortion provider testified to wearing a Kevlar vest over fears for her safety. In impassioned remarks announcing his decision, Jenkins knocked the state’s arguments that the Ohio Constitution doesn’t ever mention abortion and thus doesn’t protect the right to one. He said a right doesn’t have to be named to be protected. “This court has no difficulty holding that the Ohio Constitution confers a fundamental right on all of Ohioans to privacy, procreation, bodily integrity and freedom of choice in health care decision-making that encompasses the right to abortion,” he said. He said the state failed to prove that the ban on most abortions after detection of fetal cardiac activity is narrowly tailored enough not to infringe on those rights. Rather, Jenkins said, the law is written “to almost completely eliminate the rights of Ohio women. It is not narrowly tailored, not even close.” The state is expected to appeal.
Blanchard: Jody Miller, whose “Queen of the House” won the 1966 Grammy Award for best country performance by a woman, died Thursday at age 80. Miller died in her hometown, Blanchard, of complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to Universal Music Group, owner of Capitol Records, which released most of her hits. “Queen of the House” was released in 1965 as an answer to Roger Miller’s hit “King of the Road.” The hit opened up a crossover career for Jody Miller, who wasn’t related to the “King of the Road” composer and singer. Her 1965 teen protest song “Home of the Brave” was her biggest-selling single, despite being banned from some radio stations’ playlists. Another hit was “Long Black Limousine,” a song about a man’s funeral procession. In the 1970s, Miller moved to Epic Records, where she had hits with “Baby I’m Yours,” “There’s a Party Goin’ On,” “Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home,” and the Grammy-nominated crossover hit cover of “He’s So Fine.” She retired in the 1980s to spend more time with her husband and children. After her husband’s death, she recorded a 2018 single, “Where My Picture Hangs on the Wall,” with daughter Robin Brooks Sullivan and Miller’s two grandchildren.
Portland: A serial rapist is set to be released from prison in mid-December after serving nearly 36 years behind bars, almost all of his maximum sentence. Richard Gillmore, arrested in 1986 and called the “jogger rapist” because he staked out victims as he ran by their homes, admitted to raping nine girls in the Portland area in the 1970s and ’80s but was only convicted in one case because of the statute of limitations. In 1987, a jury found him guilty of raping 13-year-old Tiffany Edens, his last known victim, in December 1986. The Associated Press generally does not name people who have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly. Edens has spoken out about the assault and recently wrote on social media that she received a voicemail in August from the state’s Victim Information and Notification Service telling her of his impending release. “I have been slowly processing the reality of it all,” she wrote. The Oregonian, citing prison officials, reported that Gillmore was transferred in August from Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla to the minimum-security Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland to help him prepare for his reentry into the community. He will be 63 at the time of his release in December. KOIN reports Gillmore will remain under supervision until 2034.
Pittsburgh: An Italian heritage group has vowed to appeal a judge’s ruling that officials can remove a 13-foot statue of Christopher Columbus from a city park. Attorneys for the Italian Sons and Daughters of America have argued that the mayor doesn’t have the power to override an ordinance passed by the City Council in 1955 that cleared the installation of the 800-pound statue of the explorer. Common Pleas Judge John McVay Jr. ruled about a week ago that because the statue erected in 1958 is in a city-owned park, it represents government speech – citing a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a Utah city rejecting a monument proposed for a city park by a religious group. The Italian Sons and Daughters of America filed the lawsuit in October 2020 after the Pittsburgh Art Commission voted to remove the statue. Then-Mayor Bill Peduto then also recommended its removal. McVay had for two years urged the two sides to work toward a solution, including its relocation to a different location. The statue has been vandalized numerous times and is wrapped in plastic. “Based on the court’s ruling, the mayor can put up or take down any statue he wants on any city-owned property without regard for other branches of the city government,” the Italian Sons and Daughters of America argued. “Obviously, this cannot be correct.”
Providence: The Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books and Authors returns to an in-person format this year for the first time since 2019, kicking off Friday with a virtual appearance by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at Lincoln School. Sotomayor, who has written several children’s books in addition to a 2013 memoir, will speak to and answer questions from Rhode Island children. Free signed copies of her books “Just Ask” and “Just Help” will be given to children who attend the 4:30 p.m. event. The festival will continue Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lincoln School, where participants can listen to 30-minute talks by authors, purchase books and have them signed; make book crafts; and buy lunch from a variety of vendors. Authors and illustrators at the event will be Mary Jane Begin, Gaia Cornwall, Anika Aldamuy Denise, Christopher Denise, Rita Hubbard, Kekla Magoon, Juana Martinez-Neal, Oge Mora, Hayley Rocco, John Rocco, Bob Shea, Melissa Stewart, Chris Van Allsburg and Rhode Island’s poet laureate, Tina Cane, as well as members of Rhode Island Black Storytellers. Admission to the two-hour kickoff event with Sotomayor is free, but space is limited, and advance registration is recommended online. Admission to Saturday’s festival is $5.
Greenville: Write-in U.S. House candidate Lee Turner rallied in downtown Greenville on Saturday to spread the word about her campaign. Turner had no intention of running for Congress, she said, but after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, details of incumbent U.S. Rep. William Timmons’ personal life went viral online, and Democratic candidate Ken Hill dropped out of the race, Turner said: “I’ve got to do something.” Turner said she’s running a campaign based on finding solutions, common ground and bringing elected officials from across the aisle together. “I became more sure that this district needed someone like me, who was a problem solver, versus somebody like Mr. Timmons, who’s just going to tow the party line,” Turner said. While she has run for office as a Democrat in the past, Turner said she is truly an independent who believes people are more alike than they are different and hopes to create legislation with mutual benefits across political ideologies to help the masses. “Mutual benefit is the strongest glue ever,” she said. “It needs no legislation to even sustain itself, but if you do legislate it, it’s not likely to be overturned by the next party in power because it’s mutually beneficial.”
Sioux Falls: A new free online tutoring program is available for K-12 students in the state, administered by the Board of Regents and funded by the Department of Education. The Dakota Dreams Online Tutoring Program is staffed by college students at Black Hills State University and Northern State University who are preparing to become teachers. The program uses a secure online platform for students and tutors to connect for virtual sessions in English, language arts, math, science and social studies. Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson said the program will allow K-12 students to receive individualized support after the school day has ended. “Once a parent has registered their child, students can access a tutor from home, the local library or after-school program, or even their favorite coffee shop,” Sanderson said. “I think parents are going to like this one-on-one support as much as their students.” To access the free service, parents first need to register their students to use the platform. Once registered, sessions can either be scheduled in advance or on-demand, depending on tutor availability. Tutors will be available Monday through Sunday afternoons and evenings. The service will not be available on holidays and during Christmas and spring breaks.
Nashville: Country music icon Loretta Lynn was buried in her family’s cemetery on her Hurricane Mills estate Friday morning. The private ceremony of about 100 guests took place in the unincorporated Humphreys County town she bought in the 1960s after achieving worldwide fame with “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Lynn died Oct. 4 at the age of 90. She left instructions for her funeral ceremonies, including plans for a large memorial where fans will be invited. “A public memorial is being planned,” family spokesperson Ebie McFarland said. “The family did have a private ceremony Friday with no other details available to share at this time.” McFarland said details about the public ceremony will be released soon. Loretta Lynn’s Ranch is one of the largest campgrounds in the state and draws streams of tourists throughout the year to the rural expanse, where she built an event center and other attractions. Lynn, who owned roughly 3,500 acres in Humphreys County, lived in the estate’s mansion until 1988 before turning it into a tourist center and moving into a smaller house on the property. She also built a museum and replica of the Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, cabin where she grew up for tourists to visit.
Uvalde: The city’s school district suspended its entire police force Friday amid fresh outrage over the hesitant law enforcement response to the gunman who massacred 21 people at Robb Elementary School. The extraordinary move follows the revelation that the district hired a former state trooper who was among hundreds of officers who rushed to the scene of the May 24 shooting. School leaders also put two members of the district police department on administrative leave, one of whom chose to retire instead, according to a statement released by the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District. Remaining officers will be reassigned to other jobs in the district. Uvalde school leaders’ suspension of campus police operations one month into a new school year in the South Texas community underscores the sustained pressure that families of some of the 19 children and two teachers killed have kept on the district. Brett Cross, the uncle of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia, had been protesting outside the school administration building for two weeks, demanding accountability over officers allowing a gunman with an AR-15-style rifle to remain in a fourth grade classroom for more than 70 minutes. Families have said students in the district are not safe so long as officers who waited so long to confront and kill the gunman remain on the job.
Salt Lake City: A jury found two animal rights activists not guilty on charges of burglary and theft after they allegedly took two sick piglets from an industrial pig farm. Activists Wayne Hsiung and Paul Picklesimer, with the California-based group Direct Action Everywhere, had argued during their trial that nothing of value was stolen because the 3-week old piglets were in poor condition and likely to die. The not guilty verdict was delivered Saturday following a weeklong trial. The group took a 360-degree virtual reality video of the March 2017 incident at Smithfield Food’s Circle Four Farms near Milford and promoted it online, as part of a tactic known as “open rescue” that’s meant to shed light on abusive farming practices. Investigators used the video to identify the defendants and three other activists who were charged and took plea deals rather than go to trial. Hsiung and Picklesimer faced up to 51/2years in jail if they had been convicted, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. In 2017 a federal court struck down a Utah law banning secret filming at farm and livestock sites, claiming the restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
Richmond: Residents of a small community were blindsided last month by news that one official in their water department quietly lowered fluoride levels nearly four years ago, giving rise to worries about their children’s dental health and transparent government – and highlighting the enduring misinformation around water fluoridation. Katie Mather, who lives in Richmond, a town of about 4,100 in northwestern Vermont, said at a water commission meeting last week that her dentist recently found her two kids’ first cavities. She acknowledged they eat a lot of sugar but said her dentist recommended against supplemental fluoride because the town’s water should be doing the trick. Her dentist “was operating and making professional recommendations based on state standards we all assumed were being met, which they were not,” Mather said. Kendall Chamberlin, Richmond’s water and wastewater superintendent, told the Water and Sewer Commission in September that he reduced the fluoride level because of his concerns about changes to its sourcing and the recommended levels. He said he worries about quality control in the fluoride used in U.S. drinking systems because it comes from China – an assertion that echoes unfounded reports about Chinese fluoride that have circulated online in recent years.
Charlottesville: A Civil War reenactor pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he planted a pipe bomb at a battlefield in 2017 and threatened to disrupt additional events. A federal indictment against Gerald Leonard Drake, 63, of Winchester, Virginia, was unsealed Thursday. The indictment accuses Drake of planting a pipe bomb at Cedar Creek Battlefield during an annual reenactment in October 2017. The bomb did not detonate but resulted in cancellation of the reenactment after its discovery. The indictment also charges him with writing letters threatening violence at subsequent Cedar Creek reenactments, as well as an annual Remembrance Day Parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. At a press conference Thursday announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh said Drake falsely claimed connections to Antifa in his threatening letters not only to hide his actual identity but also to create additional political angst. In reality, according to the indictment, Drake was a Civil War reenactor who regularly participated in events at Cedar Creek until he was expelled from his unit in 2014. The indictment, though, does not explicitly state that bitterness over his expulsion motived his alleged misconduct.
Olympia National Park: Park officials have closed recreational fishing indefinitely because waters have reached historic lows. The National Park Service announced it would halt all recreational fishing starting Thursday on the Ozette, Bogachiel, South Fork Calawah, Sol Duc, North Fork Sol Duc, Dickey, Quillayute, Hoh, South Fork Hoh, Queets, Salmon and Quinault rivers. The Cedar, Goodman, Kalaloch and Mosquito Creeks within Olympic National Park are also closed, The Seattle Times reports. The region for months has seen above-average temperatures and low rainfall. Seattle has had 0.48 inches of rain from July to September, while the average for that period is 3.16 inches, making it the driest such stretch on record. Park officials said they hope the closure will help protect fish, especially those trying to make upstream spawning migrations in the low water levels.
Morgantown: A West Virginia University fraternity has been cleared of hazing allegations but will be sanctioned separately on other violations, the school said. Pi Kappa Phi and the school agreed to end the fraternity’s interim suspension related to alleged hazing. The chapter will be on deferred suspension through February and lose some privileges through June, the school said Thursday. “In this case, our inquiry found no evidence of hazing, but exposed recruitment and alcohol behaviors which violate our Student Conduct Code,” said Jill Gibson, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The fraternity agreed to participate in education, training and harm reduction programs, WVU said.
Madison: A Dane County judge refused Friday to issue a temporary order that would allow local election clerks to accept partial witness addresses on absentee ballots. A group called Rise Inc. filed a lawsuit in September seeking a judicial order requiring the Wisconsin Elections Commission to tell local clerks that they must accept ballots as long as the witness address includes enough information that clerks can reasonably discern where the witness can be contacted. The day after the group filed the lawsuit, its attorneys asked Judge Juan Colas to issue a temporary injunction mandating that the commission issue that guidance to clerks. Colas refused to issue the order during a hearing Friday morning, online court records indicate. The case will continue with a scheduling conference set for Oct. 17. Rise Inc., which encourages students to vote, sued after a Waukesha County judge last month sided with Republicans and said clerks are barred from filling in missing witness information on ballot envelopes. The judge struck down guidance the elections commission put in place six years ago, saying nothing in state law allows clerks to do that. The practice was unchallenged until Donald Trump lost Wisconsin to Joe Biden in 2020. About 1.4 million voters cast absentee ballots in that election.
Mammoth Springs: Yellowstone National Park is postponing the opening of a renovated road at its north entrance as it continues to repair the damage from this summer’s catastrophic flooding, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports. The park has pushed back the road’s opening date from Oct. 15 to Nov. 1, according to the newspaper, as park officials said they need more time to ensure that over 5,000 feet of guardrail are properly installed for traffic safety. “We have set incredibly aggressive time frames for these repairs, and our contractors have worked at lightning speed to get this road safely reopened,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a news release. “It’s essential that we do not cut corners and we ensure the road meets required safety standards prior to opening.” Unprecedented flooding in June severely damaged roads, swept away homes and forced the park to close as it evacuated about 10,000 visitors. The National Park Service said the most significant damage occurred at the Yellowstone’s north and northeast entrances, where access was cut off. The flooding washed out segments of the roadway between the north entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. To reconnect the two areas, authorities have paved and expanded an old stagecoach route from the 1880s called Old Gardiner Road.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fluoride wince, tsunami maps: News from around our 50 states