Greased climbing, school ties, bobcat tracking: News from around our 50 states
Birmingham: Alabama Public Television has chosen not to air an episode of the PBS children’s show “Arthur” because it included a same-sex wedding. The episode “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” aired nationally May 13, showing Arthur attending the wedding of his teacher and partner. APT showed a rerun instead. AL.com reports that APT’s director of programming, Mike Mckenzie, defended the decision by saying parents trust that their children can watch the station without supervision. The station had previously pulled an episode of “Arthur” in 2005 when a character had two mothers. Misty Souder, a substitute teacher from McCalla, Alabama, says she’s disappointed and is using this to teach her 9-year-old daughter about the importance of standing up for minority groups.
Anchorage: A fisherman has received the U.S. Coast Guard’s second-highest civilian honor for saving a girl from drowning when they were children over 20 years ago. George Lambert received a silver lifesaving medal Saturday for rescuing Pamela Smith, who’s now a magistrate judge, The Anchorage Daily News reports. Lambert and Smith were among a group swimming at a sandbar near Kotzebue in 1998 when he was 10 and she was 12. Smith was pulled into the current, and Lambert took a life jacket and swam out 100 feet to tow her to safety, said Coast Guard Rear Admiral Matthew Bell Jr., who told the story at a ceremony attended by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.. Smith was the first child on record saved in part because of Alaska’s “Kids Don’t Float” program encouraging life jacket use and swimming safety education. The program supplied the jacket Lambert used.
Sonoita: Native American tribes and environmental groups are fighting to stop a Canadian firm from opening a copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, arguing it could desecrate sacred, ancestral lands and pollute the air and water. Opponents of the Rosemont Mine say they worry the project will dry up wells and waterways while ravaging habitat for endangered jaguar and other species. They have asked a federal judge in Tucson for an emergency order to prevent the project from proceeding while the merits of their lawsuits against the mining company are decided. Preliminary work is set to start this summer. Supporters say the project will immediately create 500 jobs and pour $16 billion into the local economy over 20 years. “I pray to our Creator every morning that things will work out,” says Austin Nunez, chairman of the Tohono O’odham’s San Xavier District, a piece of tribal land just south of Tucson. “Our ancestors’ remains are there.”
Little Rock: The governor says more than two dozen states are participating in an inaugural summit next month on computer science. Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday announced his office is hosting the first-ever National Computer Science Summit for State Leaders on June 10. The invitation-only event will include representatives from 26 states and other national and international leaders in computer science education. Hutchinson’s office says the summit will include discussion of issues such as academic standards, teacher training, budgets and development of computer science education policy. A measure Hutchinson signed into law in 2015 required all the state’s public high schools and charter schools to offer a course in computer coding, and the state has expanded access to K-12 students.
Los Angeles: The downtown Museum of Contemporary Art says admission will soon be free thanks to a $10 million gift by the president of its board of trustees. Carolyn Powers announced her donation Saturday night during an annual benefit dinner. The Los Angeles Times says about 700 guests, many of them artists, leapt to their feet and applauded when Powers broke the news. Powers’ gift will cover the cost of free admissions for the next five years. But the museum says it intends to make the change permanent.
Denver: The state Supreme Court has ruled that police require probable cause before deploying dogs trained to detect marijuana. The Denver Post reports the court ruled 4-3 Monday that under the state constitution, a dog trained to alert officers to marijuana cannot be used before police obtain evidence that a crime was committed. Officers previously operated under the lower standard of only suspecting a crime. Officials say K9 officers are now subject to the same standards used for other property searches. Colorado’s 2012 vote to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use has caused debate over dog searches because the animals can alert officers to legal amounts. Officials say police have already begun phasing out marijuana-trained dogs in favor of animals that do not detect that drug.
Hartford: Legislation aimed at better matching members of the state’s LGBTQ community with health and other services has cleared a key vote. The House of Representatives voted 130-6 Monday in favor of a bill that creates a new organization to recommend to state officials ways to build a safer and healthier environment for the LGBTQ community. The Department of Public Health would provide funds to help the network develop a statewide needs assessment and ultimately help coordinate care with nonprofit agencies. Democratic Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan of Bethel says that “this is a population that hasn’t been served well.” The Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition supports the bill. Executive Director Diana Lombardi recently told lawmakers not all Connecticut primary care physicians will treat transgender patients. The bill awaits Senate action.
New Castle: William Penn High School paraeducator Logan Jenkins is saving students stuck in a wardrobe malfunction at prom. New fashion trends and styles have some opting out of the traditional tie or bowtie for a chain or no tie across Delaware, but not all schools are game for the new look on prom night. “We have rules here at William Penn. You have to wear some sort of tie,” Jenkins says. Instead of boys having their night ruined over the rule, Jenkins lugged in a suitcase full of ties to save the evening. He hung around the entrance to William Penn’s prom May 10 at the DuPont Country Club to supply last-minute ties to young men. “I have every single color and every single pattern you can think of,” Jenkins says. He says he typically lets the boys keep the ties as a parting gift.
District of Columbia
Washington: The Rev. Wilton D. Gregory has been installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington following a pair of high-profile sexual abuse cases that ensnared his two predecessors. The 71-year-old Gregory was installed Tuesday in a lavish ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He was previously the archbishop of Atlanta and becomes the first African American to lead the Washington archdiocese. Gregory replaces Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who resigned in October amid allegations that he covered up multiple abuse scandals while serving as a bishop in Pittsburgh. Wuerl had replaced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked by the pope after a Vatican-backed investigation concluded he sexually abused children and adults over his long career.
Naples: More of the state’s seniors are smoking, drinking and experiencing depression, according to an annual health status report. Despite poor habits among a segment of the senior population 65 and older, the overall health of Florida seniors improved one spot from last year to rank 29 among all states, the latest America’s Health Rankings report shows. The improvement is due, in part, to increased community support, a decline in hunger and more quality nursing home care, the data shows. The analysis is a project of United Health Foundation, an affiliate of UnitedHealth Group, and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. The annual assessment looks at 34 measures that consider clinical outcomes, behavior, the community and policy.
Atlanta: Restaurants, coffeehouses and bars that once rushed to offer CBD-infused items are pulling back after a warning from the state’s agriculture commissioner. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in hemp and marijuana. Touted as a treatment for a variety of ailments, it had been making its way into products ranging from lattes to sparkling water. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a new state law allows CBD oil sales and hemp farming. But state officials recently warned that federal rules prohibit adding CBD to food or beverages because it has not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. State officials could levy fines or revoke manufactured food licenses but haven’t yet taken any regulatory actions.
Pahoa: Residents of the Leilani Estates neighborhood have met to discuss what they should name a nearby volcanic fissure. About 30 people attended the meeting last week in this Big Island community to consider a better name for fissure 8, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. The fissure was the eighth and most powerful vent to open during the Kilauea eruption, which destroyed more than 700 homes in Lower Puna. The discussion revolved primarily around what deity the name should reflect and included Pele and Ailaau, female and male volcano gods. “We want to heal our community,” said resident Piilani Kaawaloa. “We have a new opportunity to make this pono, to make this right.” The meeting organized by the state Board on Geographic Names marks the first time it has reached out to the public to name a new feature, and board members say it’s a process they want residents to lead.
Idaho Falls: The Idaho National Laboratory’s Experimental Breeder Reactor-I will open for tours Friday. The site designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 is now a museum that draws about 10,000 visitors a year. The nuclear reactor was completed in 1951 and later that year lit four lightbulbs, proving that nuclear power could produce usable amounts of electricity. The reactor operated until 1963 and was decommissioned in 1964. Starting Friday, it will be open for guided and self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week through Sept. 2.
Chicago: Lori Lightfoot told aldermen and other city powerbrokers assembled at her inauguration Monday as the Windy City’s first black woman to become mayor that she meant what she said on the campaign trail about top-to-bottom reforms in the nation’s third-largest city. “For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform,” Lightfoot said, speaking minutes after her swearing-in at the Wintrust Arena. “Well, get ready, because reform is here.” She spoke about curtailing some powers of city council members to lessen temptations for corruption and said structural changes to reduce gun violence would be among her top priorities. Hours later, she signed an executive order limiting aldermanic prerogative, a custom that allows each alderman to direct zoning and period decisions in their ward.
West Lafayette: Cells from Tyler Trent, the Purdue University super fan and cancer activist who died in January, are being used by cancer researchers to study the disease. The Purdue Center for Cancer Research said Tuesday that it’s honoring Trent’s legacy through three new collaborative research initiatives, including one using his cancer cells. The center’s director, Tim Ratliff, says in a statement that part of Trent’s “incredible lasting legacy is that he will help current and future patients.” Trent died Jan. 1 at age 20 following a battle with bone cancer. He became a social media star with his positive attitude and determination to live every day to the fullest. Trent donated his tumors before his death to be used for cancer research. The cells will be studied using imaging technology.
Des Moines: Community leaders are steadfast in their opposition to plans for a $137 million federal courthouse on the city’s riverfront. KCCI-TV reports former City Council member Christine Hensley and business leaders held a news conference Monday on the steps of the current courthouse and questioned the need for a new building on land the city had hoped would be used for a high-profile private development contributing to the tax base. Hensley says she initially supported plans for a new courthouse but now believes the current building is underutilized. She says construction of a new courthouse is unnecessary and wasteful. It has been several years since a YMCA was demolished at the site along the Des Moines River with plans for a private development. City officials suggested other sites for the courthouse, but federal officials insisted on building on the property in the heart of downtown.
Manhattan: Kansas State plans to remove most of the 251 ash trees on its campus in advance of an expected infestation from the emerald ash borer. The insect is decimating the ash tree population as it moves west across the country. Dave Bruton, a forester with the Kansas Forest Service, says the ash borer is not yet in Manhattan. He says the university is removing the trees now so it doesn’t have to take them all out at the same time when the emerald ash borer arrives. The Manhattan Mercury reports the trees that will be removed are those with poor structure, serious defects or in poor locations. Replacement trees will be planted. The ash trees will be milled for lumber to be used in design or capital building projects.
Bardstown: A Confederate statue at a cemetery here has been vandalized with orange paint, similar to vandalism that’s appeared on a Confederate statue in Louisville. Bardstown police tell news outlets that the paint was splashed across the century-old statue sometime late last week. The statue features a Confederate soldier standing above a portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee. It’s surrounded by 67 Confederate soldier grave markers. A photo of the vandalism shows Lee’s face covered in the paint, which then drips across the statue’s embossed inscriptions. Bardstown police Sgt. Michael Medley says this may be the first time an area Civil War monument has been vandalized. Authorities are reviewing surveillance video.
Baton Rouge: A bid to increase the state’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21 narrowly escaped the House budget committee, but only after lawmakers added a long list of exemptions to the proposal. House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry broke a tie to keep the bill from being bottled up in committee. It advances to the full House for debate. Still, the measure only won passage after lawmakers exempted people in the military, law enforcement and first responders from the age boost. The legislation also would exempt anyone who turns 18 before this Dec. 31. Republican Rep. Frank Hoffmann says his proposal would save lives and cut health costs. Critics say the exemptions are burdensome to business. Anti-smoking groups say the bill doesn’t go far enough to curb smoking.
Brunswick: Bowdoin College is giving nearly a half-million dollars to a local school district to pay for a new classroom that focuses on hands-on learning. The college says its $450,000 gift to the Brunswick School Department will fund construction of a “discovery classroom” at an elementary school. The college says the 1,000-square-foot building will be a space that allows for science experiments, small group presentations, visiting programs and other activities. The college says construction of the facility will begin in the fall. Brunswick School Board member Sarah Singer says the new classroom will “provide the opportunity for the children at Kate Furbish Elementary to experience nature-based learning, science, gross-motor movement and music in a space designed specifically for those activities.”
Annapolis: U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen have finished a traditional monument climb in a little over an hour. Midshipman Christian Schwien replaced an underclassman’s “Dixie cup” hat with an upperclassman’s cover in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 5 seconds Monday. The academy says that’s the fastest recorded time on a greased monument in more than 30 years. Each year, first-year students form a human pyramid around a 21-foot obelisk that has been greased with butter, shortening and oil. Students began the yearly event in 1940. They added the symbolic placement of the cap on its tip seven years later. In 1949, upperclassmen began smearing as much as 200 pounds of lard on the Herndon Monument to make the exercise more challenging.
Boston: The developer of a wind farm off the state’s coast is taking steps to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Vineyard Wind announced Tuesday that it’s seeking proposals for an acoustic monitoring system to detect and track the critically endangered species. The company says the system will help ensure speed restrictions and other marine safety protections are followed. It’s also expected to benefit whale researchers and mariners. The effort stems from an agreement Vineyard Wind reached with national environmental groups to assure protection of right whales during and after construction of its 84-turbine wind farm 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The company has also committed to limiting construction work when the whales are in the region, and it has created a $3 million fund to help protect marine mammals.
Royal Oak: Sculptures made from illegal snare traps that threaten wildlife in Africa are on display at the Detroit Zoo. The exhibition “Snares to Wares: Capacity for Change” is on view at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery at the zoo in the Royal Oak suburb through next March. It includes works created by artisans in Uganda who live near a national park where poaching is a serious problem. The Snares to Wares Initiative was created by students and conservationists at Michigan State University to provide alternative sources of income for people who might otherwise turn to poaching. Steel wires are often used to create the traps. Under the initiative, traps are removed, and the wire is used for sculptures of animals including lions, giraffes and elephants. The sculptures then are sold.
Minneapolis: Xcel Energy says it plans to retire its two remaining coal plants in the Upper Midwest by 2030, a decade earlier than scheduled, bringing praise from environmental groups. The Minneapolis-based utility also announced plans to expand wind and solar energy, use cleaner natural gas, and operate its carbon-free nuclear plant in Monticello, Minnesota, until at least 2040. That would extend by a decade the life of the nuclear plant, currently scheduled to be retired in 2030, the Star Tribune reports. Xcel says the utility reached agreement with environmental and labor groups on key parts of the company’s coal, solar and natural gas plans. It has a goal of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. The utility plans to retire the Allen S. King coal power plant in Bayport by 2028 and the Sherco 3 coal-fired generator in Becker by 2030.
Clarksdale: The mayor of this Mississippi Delta city says he’s willing to spend up to $10,000 of his own money to pay criminals to move out of town. Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy said Monday that if lawbreakers don’t think they can turn their life around here, he’ll pay for them to move elsewhere. Espy says that’s just part of his plan to cut crime. Clarksdale’s 18,000 residents expressed alarm last year after 12 homicides were recorded. There’s been only one homicide so far in 2019. Espy credits improvements to Police Chief Sandra Williams hiring new officers and a new investigator. Espy says getting criminals to leave town isn’t his only gambit: He’s also focusing on rehabilitation and intervention for those who want to go straight and remain in Clarksdale.
St. Louis: A new survey reveals that low pay is the biggest reason teachers in the state leave the profession. St. Louis Public Radio reports the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently shared its findings from a survey of 6,000 teachers, principals and administrators with the State Board of Education. The board’s president, Charlie Shields, says the data is powerful because every surveyed group cited salary as the No. 1 issue with recruiting and retaining teachers. U.S. Department of Education data shows that Missouri’s average salary for teachers is $48,293. The Missouri State Teachers Association says most teachers start out making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. The survey found that pay was followed by a lack of leadership and support as reasons that lead to teachers quitting. Teachers say students are the main reason most stay.
West Glacier: The National Park Service has awarded a $4.7 million contract to complete the reconstruction of the Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park by this fall. Park service officials said Tuesday that the final phase will include masonry repairs, a permanent roof and interior finishes. They say the century-old dormitory should be ready for overnight stays again next year. A wildfire badly damaged the historic wilderness chalet in August 2017. It’s being rebuilt on the original site and using the stone walls that were left standing. The contractor, Dick Anderson Construction, also won the $4 million contract for the first phase of reconstruction completed last year. The work is expected to begin in early July and continue through September.
Omaha: Registration has opened for the July 13 Owl Ride, the city’s nighttime urban cycling adventure. The University of Nebraska Medical Center says people can register online. Those who register by June 30 will be guaranteed an Owl Ride sport shirt. The cost is $45 for adults and $25 for children 18 and under when riding with an adult; it’s $50 and $30 the day of the event. This year’s ride will start at 9 p.m. at Lewis and Clark Landing on Omaha’s riverfront. There’s a choice of a 17-mile course through Midtown, Dundee, Aksarben, Field Club and downtown, or a shorter, family friendly 7.5-mile course. The ride benefits the nonprofit Meyer Foundation for Disabilities, which helps adults with developmental disabilities.
Reno: Art is the best way Erik Holland knows to fight the city’s affordable housing crisis. To protest eviction practices and “exploding rents,” he aimed to post 100 eviction notices on the HOME sculpture downtown last week. The notices read, “No cause termination notice to vacate,” for a tenant named “Ed ploited,” a twist on “exploited.” Holland tacked nearly a dozen notices on the sculpture, a 2018 piece by local artist Jeff Schomberg. Having seen Reno’s housing availability plummet since he moved here in the 1980s to escape San Francisco’s sky-high rents, Holland said he sees irony in the HOME sculpture at this time. “I once saw a homeless person sleeping right here,” he said. “For some, this sculpture really is home.” Holland, also an arts instructor at Encompass Academy, didn’t get too far before his performance art was cut short – security staff asked him to discontinue his efforts after about 15 minutes.
Concord: A bear whose life was spared two years ago by the governor has returned to her home turf near Dartmouth College after traveling thousands of miles since her relocation last June. The state’s Fish and Game Department had decided to euthanize the female black bear and three of her young offspring in 2017 after repeated problems with them feeding from trash and bird feeders culminated with two bears entering a home in Hanover. But after a public outcry, Gov. Chris Sununu ordered the animals relocated instead. Only the yearlings were moved that year, however, because the mother bear, dubbed “Mink” by locals, had left town to mate. When Mink returned with four new cubs last spring, she was captured and moved about 120 miles north, near the Canadian border. But last week, Mink made it back to Hanover after traveling a looping route through New Hampshire and Vermont.
East Rutherford: Officials have once again pushed back the opening date for a massive retail and entertainment center in the Meadowlands. The long-delayed American Dream project was slated for a late summer opening. But officials said Monday that it will now open this fall. American Dream will feature 3 million square feet of retail, dining and entertainment, including more than 450 stores and restaurants. The project includes an amusement park, an indoor ski slope, an indoor ice skating rink, an indoor water park and more. The project has been plagued by financial problems since the first contract was awarded in 2003. The immense structure, once called “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey” by former Gov. Chris Christie, has sat unfinished between MetLife Stadium and the New Jersey Turnpike for years.
Albuquerque: A Little League park is fighting a battle against discarded syringes with attached hypodermic needles amid the region’s opioid epidemic. Atrisco Park, home of the Atrisco Valley Little League, is racing to clean up syringes littering fields and the grounds to protect the children who play on them, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Atrisco Valley Little League president Hector Aguilar said earlier this month an 11-year-old girl was practicing base sliding when a hypodermic needle pierced her foot. He said the girl was taken to a hospital and tested and “will have to undergo further testing in three months to see if she was infected with anything.” He and other coaches and volunteers who walk the six baseball fields before practices or games often find 20 to 30 syringes a day, Aguilar said.
Albany: Legislation before state lawmakers would create a new tax break for restaurants that donate oyster shells for environmental conservation. Under the bill, the state would award a 10-cent tax credit for every pound of shells, up to $1,000. Old shells provide vital habitat for new oysters to grow and form new shells. Conservation groups around the country have used old shells for oyster restoration projects. Oysters are noted for their ability to act as natural water filters, improving water quality in polluted areas. One of the bill’s sponsors, Democrat Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, said Monday that the proposal was inspired by the work of local students concerned about protecting the Hudson River.
Raleigh: Altered rules on how student and employee identification cards must be authenticated before they qualify as voter identification required for next year’s elections are advancing through the Legislature. The Senate elections committee on Tuesday recommended bipartisan legislation already approved by the House, after the panel made slight changes. The bill surfaced after photo IDs provided by many University of North Carolina system campuses failed to meet security standards set in a law last year to implement a constitutional amendment requiring ID to vote. Without some changes, hundreds of state and local institutions can’t apply again to the State Board of Elections to have their IDs qualify for election use until 2021. The bill now heading to another Senate committee provides another chance to qualify by this fall.
Minot: Officials have begun relocating a historical museum that was evicted from the North Dakota State Fairgrounds in Minot. The Ward County Historical Society lost a court battle to keep its Pioneer Village Museum on the fairgrounds but found a new site in nearby Burlington. Society board member Dan Caswell tells the Minot Daily News the work is underway. Buildings that need to be moved 8 miles west include old houses, a schoolhouse, an automotive building, a depot and a church. Caswell says society officials are working up to 60 hours a week on the move and spending their own money. He says more volunteer help and donations are needed. The Legislature approved $150,000 for the move, and the State Fair Association will provide $100,000 if the deadline is met.
Columbus: Voters in the state will have a new “I voted” sticker to affix to their lapels, hats and laptops after casting ballots this fall. The sticker has the words “Ohio Voted” inside a red and blue outline of the state. The letter “i” in Ohio and “voted” are in red, so the sticker says “I voted” and “Ohio voted.” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the stickers will be available as early as this fall in some polling places. Stickers are bought by his office and distributed to Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections. Local elections officials will use the rest of their old stickers before transitioning to the new sticker design, so you might not get a new sticker next time you vote. The sticker was designed by Emily Legg, a senior at Teays Valley High School in Pickaway County.
Oklahoma City: The state Senate has given final approval to a bill that appropriates $8.1 billion to various state agencies for the fiscal year beginning July 1, including a 5% boost for public schools that includes money for another teacher pay raise. The general appropriations bill approved Tuesday on a 37-11 vote now heads to Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it. Lawmakers had nearly $600 million in surplus revenue to spend this year and opted to put about $200 million of that into savings, a priority for Stitt. The bill funds an average teacher pay hike of $1,220 for most public school teachers, another of Stitt’s goals. Democrats criticized the plan for huge boosts in spending for the governor and Legislature and for not doing enough for Oklahoma’s working poor.
Bend: A groundswell of public and private support for a wildlife tunnel south of Bend has generated more than half of what is needed for a $929,000 fencing project meant for mule deer and elk along a migration route. The Bulletin reports more than $500,000 has been raised for the fencing, which will funnel animals toward a crossing underneath a 5-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 97. The project is set to begin in 2020. Oregon Department of Transportation wildlife passage coordinator Cidney Bowman says the agency is planning to spend $800,000 to build the tunnel, located just north of Gilchrist. Wildlife crossings built underneath and sometimes above highways allow animals to follow natural migration patterns. On average, two people die per year and over 700 are injured in Oregon due to animal-vehicle collisions.
Harrisburg: A commission tapped by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to study how to ensure an accurate census is making a funding request of $1 per person to aid the outreach, or close to $13 million. Wolf’s office said he supports Monday’s request by the 2020 Complete Count Committee. A number of states are undertaking a similar analysis and, in some cases, devoting money to the cause. The government takes a headcount every 10 years. An undercount could have real-world consequences, since seats in Congress and billions in federal dollars for such things as transportation projects and education are allocated according to population. Wolf’s office says Pennsylvania would lose almost $2,100 a year for each person who isn’t counted. The Republican-controlled Legislature has the final say on whether to approve the money.
Providence: The state is doing its part to wipe out skin cancer caused by overexposure to the sun. Gov. Gina Raimondo and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced Monday that Rhode Island is teaming up with sunscreen company Raw Elements USA to offer free sunscreen dispenser stations at all state-run beaches and several parks for the 2019 summer season. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than 2 million new cases diagnosed and more than 5 million people treated each year. Overexposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. Offering environmentally safe sunscreen to visitors to state beaches is a way to help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. The statewide program is based on the town of Narragansett’s free sunscreen program.
Columbia: The state House has rejected a plan to let wealthy oceanfront property owners rebuild a seawall on an eroding public beach in Georgetown County. The proposal would exempt several dozen homes at Debordieu Beach from the state’s ban on seawalls. The bill passed the General Assembly earlier this month but was vetoed by Gov. Henry McMaster. The House voted 60-43 on Monday to override the veto, failing to get the two-thirds vote needed. Debordieu property owners have fought to reconstruct the battered structure for years, saying it was built before South Carolina banned new seawalls more than 30 years ago. Supporters say Debordieu residents pay 14% of Georgetown County’s property taxes. The county has 61,000 residents. McMaster says lawmakers were wrong to try to pass the special exception.
Rapid City: The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department has created a safer way of tracking various wildlife populations, specifically bobcat kittens, through 3D printing technology. Brady Neiles, a resource biologist for the department, used 3D technology from B9 Creations in Rapid City to develop a collar to track bobcat kittens that does not require a surgical implant. “The collar also expands as the bobcat grows, so you’ll have some longevity as opposed to the traditional methods,” says Dani Mason, director of marketing and sales for B9 Creations. There are still a few issues that need to be worked out. The collar, made of weatherproof fabrics and various bolt attachments, has a limited life span of about six months. B9 Creations says it believes the company’s Rugged Nylon 6 material is perfect for the collar.
Memphis: More than 20 acts – with headliners including roots-rockers Lucero, rapper Al Kapone, R&B big band Love Light Orchestra and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Bailey Bigger – will play across five stages Saturday at Tom Lee Park, as part of the Celebrate Memphis extravaganza. The free, family-friendly event is being staged by Memphis in May, as a wrap-up to monthlong activities, which included the Beale Street Music Festival and World Championship Barbecue Cooking contest. Marking Memphis’ bicentennial, Celebrate Memphis will bring together musical acts and performance artists for a daylong festival, picnic, air and drone show, and fireworks display. The event will witness an attempt at breaking the record for the world’s largest picnic table, as attendees are encouraged to set up at a more than 1,350-foot table and break bread together in a celebration of Memphis’ communal spirit.
Austin: After emotional speeches by members of the state House’s still-new LBGTQ Caucus, a measure dubbed the “Save Chick-Fil-A” bill cleared the chamber Monday along party lines. The measure, still needing a largely routine final House vote before returning to the Senate, appeared dead in the water just 10 days ago when it was sunk by a parliamentary maneuver. And members of the caucus who had thought it was killed lamented its revival as a victory for the forces of discrimination. But the House sponsor of Senate Bill 1978 disagreed. The language in the resurrected legislation was softened take out any reference to same-sex marriage and other wedge issues, says state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth. Instead, it prevents state and local governments from acting against businesses and people because of their associations with religious organizations as defined by the federal tax code.
Salt Lake City: The state’s ski resorts set a record for visitors this past winter thanks to heavy and consistent snowfall. A news release Tuesday from Ski Utah shows the 5.1 million skier days marked a major rebound from the previous winter, when the state registered 4.1 million during a down year for snowfall. The industry association says this winter’s figure surpasses the record of nearly 4.6 million skier days set during the 2016-2017 ski season. Utah’s big year mirrors a banner season for ski resorts around the country. The National Ski Areas Association says the 59 million skier visits nationally are the fourth-most since 1978. The 24 million visits to ski resorts in the Rocky Mountain region that includes Utah and Colorado and other states were the most in that time span.
Sheffield: A small town in the state’s rural Northeast Kingdom plans to honor local soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The Caledonian Record reports a granite marker is going to be dedicated Friday at the Town House Museum. The push for the memorial to the service of more than a dozen local men who served in the two wars came from Sheffield native Norma L. Berry Williams, who now lives in Bennington. She spent five years studying the historical records to honor the veterans and to be sure their names would be remembered forever. Two volumes of information that Williams collected will become available for anyone to see at the museum.
Capeville: A crowd of well-wishers, including elected officials and about 60 second grade students from Kiptopeke Elementary School, celebrated completion last week of the second phase of the Southern Tip Bike and Hike Trail in Northampton County. The students hiked a section of the 4.9-mile trail to attend a ceremony marking the milestone. Craig Seaver, director of Virginia State Parks, cited the economic impact of such projects on communities and said the bicycle and hiking trail “is a great example of how (government) should work – private, public, nonprofit, all working together for the betterment of the community.” Sen. Lynwood Lewis said it is important to note that the Eastern Shore of Virginia attracts tourists from at least five nearby metropolitan areas. Tourism in Northampton alone has a $78 million annual impact.
Wenatchee: The state’s apple growers are cheering the end of a 20% tariff on apples shipped to Mexico. The demise of the apple tariff was part of a deal reached Friday between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that also involved the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs by the U.S. The Washington Apple Commission says Washington state accounts for 90% to 95% of all U.S apple exports and Mexico is Washington’s top export market with 13 million boxes shipped there annually. The apple commission says exports have been down compared to previous years, partly due to a smaller crop and partly due to barriers to trade. Exports to Mexico are down 29.3% this year compared to the 2017-18 season. The retaliatory tariffs were implemented in June of last year.
Charleston: Deer hunts will be held at six state parks this fall. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the state Natural Resources Commission approved the schedule this month. The hunts start in late October. They’ll be held at Beech Fork State Park in Wayne County, Canaan Valley in Tucker County, Cacapon in Morgan County, North Bend in Ritchie County, Pipestem in Summers County and Twin Falls in Wyoming County. A limited number of permits will be issued. Hunters hoping to participate must pay $10 to register in a lottery. State parks chief Sam England says the goal of the hunts is to bring deer populations under control. Two parks that hosted hunts last year, Blennerhassett Island and Stonewall Jackson, aren’t participating this year because last year’s hunts reduced their deer populations.
Milwaukee: State officials desperate to find attorneys for indigent defendants up north have resorted to promoting tourist opportunities for long-haul lawyers. A Monday email from the State Public Defender’s Office in Spooner to lawyers as far away as Milwaukee carried the subject line: “**We CoUlD ReALlY UsE YoUr HelP in SaWyEr CoUnTy - NEW DATES!**” It lists more than two dozen Sawyer County cases with hearings this week and into the first week of June. It says the dates are adjustable to fit lawyers’ schedules and ends with this: “If you have never been to Sawyer County, here are some top attractions as compiled by the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce,” with a convenient link. Hayward is home to the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and its four-plus-story-high musky and the Lumberjack World Championship competition.
Jackson: An elk antler auction has raised money for a wildlife refuge and the Boy Scouts. Saturday’s annual auction in Jackson brought in more than $186,000 from the sale of more than 10,000 pounds of antlers. Male elk naturally drop their antlers each year. Local scouts gathered hundreds of antlers shed on the National Elk Refuge. Bidders paid an average of almost $17 per pound for antlers this year. That’s down from last year’s average but well above the 10-year average. Refuge officials say local Scouts keep 25% of the proceeds, and 75% goes to the refuge for wildlife habitat projects.
From staff and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Greased climbing, school ties, bobcat tracking: News from around our 50 states