Selma: Preservation work has begun on the historic Brown Chapel AME Church, the 113-year-old church that played a pivotal role in the fight for voting rights. Gov. Kay Ivey, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and other officials attended the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday in Selma, The Selma Times-Journal reported. The National Park Service has provided a $1.3 million grant for the church’s restorations and repairs. Brown Chapel was built in 1908. The restoration work will include electrical work, roof work and cupola repairs. Sewell said the grant will “ensure that America’s story lives on.” The church and its members played key roles in the marches that helped lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The church was the site of preparations for a 1965 march that became known as Bloody Sunday after marchers were beaten on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. The event galvanized support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The church was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997, and it is still in use today. “The love of Brown Chapel AME Church will forever be shared by our state to the world, to be a representative of doing the right thing even when it can be dangerous,” Ivey said
Kenai: If people want to testify at city council meetings in Soldotna, they will have to do it in person from now on. The council decided last week it would end the city’s use of Zoom conferencing, the Peninsula Clarion reported. Like many governmental bodies, the city began using Zoom as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Soldotna paid just over $3,000 for a Zoom subscription, which included a video webinar that could host up to 500 participants. The City of Seward said in April it would no longer offer Zoom for meetings, but the City of Kenai and the Kenai Peninsula Borough still use Zoom. In a memo to the city council, Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney said the need for video conferencing had decreased. Whitney also said during last week’s meeting that the council will return to regular seating.
Lake Havasu City: An Arizona State University nursing program, set to debut at the school’s Lake Havasu City campus this fall, seeks to put a dent in the state’s nursing shortage. ASU Havasu, which is still a young campus at 9 years old, got approval in April from the Arizona Board of Nursing to offer a 12-month bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. The program is expected to draw more than 30 new students, the Today’s News-Herald reported. Anita Harger, the chief human resources officer at Kingman Regional Medical Center, said she has never seen such a dearth of nurses in her 30-year career. It’s a worry for most hospital administrators across the region, she added. Hospitals in rural areas also find it hard to compete with regional hospitals or private medical practices. Amanda Goodman, a spokeswoman for Arizona State University’s Edson College, is hopeful the class of future nurses will consider planting roots. Nurses who get their education in rural areas are likelier to stay in there after graduation.
Little Rock: The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service recently issued a notice on Japanese beetles. Looking like miniature June bugs, Japanese beetles are becoming an annual nuisance. Nearly every year, about mid-June, adults appear, feeding on various ornamental plants. In the landscape, that’s most often roses, crape myrtles, hollyhocks and several others, but they will take advantage of whatever they can get. Large populations will defoliate plants seemingly overnight. Adults can be controlled with malathion, carbaryl (Sevin) and pyrethrin. The better option might be to try to control the grub stage of the beetles that will occur next year. After this year’s adults feed, they will lay eggs that will hatch this fall and over the winter as white grubs in the soil. This is often in the lawn near the host plants that the adults feed on. Because the newly hatched grubs feed on grass roots, applying a lawn grub control product, such as GrubX, that contains the active ingredient imidacloprid in late June and into July will control the grubs and break their life cycle. For information, call (870) 425-2335.
Los Angeles: Delta is now the variant of the coronavirus identified third-most often in California, according to new data – underscoring that the variant is highly contagious, a danger to people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The Delta variant now makes up 14.5% of California coronavirus cases analyzed in June, up from 4.7% in May, when it was the fourth-most-identified variant in California, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health. Experts said the Delta variant poses a greater chance of infection for unvaccinated people if they are exposed to this version of the virus. The variant, first identified in India, might be twice as transmissible as the conventional coronavirus strains. The Delta variant has been responsible for the rise in cases recently in India, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. But vaccinated people are well-protected against infection and illness from the Delta variant. One recent study found that the full course of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (two doses) was 88% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant and 96% protective against hospitalization. There is no widespread scientific consensus on whether the Delta variant is more likely to cause more serious illness than other conventional strains. Delta’s rise comes as California’s currently dominant strain, Alpha, first identified in the United Kingdom, might have peaked.
Denver: Easing the notorious rush-hour gridlock on Interstate 25 south of Denver will require controlling thousands of motorists’ access to the highway with fraction-of-a-second precision never before seen in Colorado. It’s why in the next few weeks, state transportation officials will launch the Smart 25 Managed Motorways Pilot Program, using what’s called “coordinated ramp metering” on a 14-mile stretch of northbound I-25 between University Boulevard in Denver and Ridgegate Parkway in Lone Tree. Many entrance ramps on metro Denver highways have traffic lights to control traffic flow but they aren’t programmed to respond to real-time conditions. By making constant and minute changes to the length of time cars wait on entrance ramps before merging onto the highway, traffic engineers believe slowdowns and logjams can be greatly reduced – or avoided altogether. The proof, according to Colorado Department of Transportation Smart 25 Project Manager Zach Miller, resides nearly 8,800 miles away in Melbourne, Australia. “Australia has figured out how to use algorithms to resolve complex traffic problems to prevent congestion,” Miller said. “I am hopeful this technique can be beneficial to CDOT as well.” What Australia’s second-largest city found after implementing its coordinated ramp metering program on a stretch of the M1 freeway a decade ago is impressive: The number of vehicles getting through increased by 25% during peak commuting periods, travel speeds improved 35% to 60% during peak periods and crashes went down by 20% to 50%.
Hartford: Opioid deaths spiked in Connecticut during the pandemic and continue to increase in 2021, fueled by continued disruptions to recovery programs and a deadly, fentanyl-laced drug supply. The synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, was found in 4% of accidental intoxication deaths in the state in 2012 but showed up in the vast majority of fatal overdoses last year, the Hartford Courant reported. The isolation brought on by the pandemic led to more drug use, more emergency room visits and more overdoses. The state Department of Public Health reported the number of overdose deaths in the first three months of 2021 was higher than the same period in 2019 and 2020. Some recovery programs stopped offering treatment or support groups, exacerbating the difficulties.
Wilmington: U.S. Sen. Tom Carper revealed recently that he was sending his old minivan out to pasture, opting for a much younger and sportier red Model Y Tesla, which has all-wheel drive, 20-inch induction wheels and an all-black interior. Nothing lasts forever. Not even a 2001 Chrysler Town & Country minivan. In all, the Silver Bullet logged an estimated 535,000 miles. “Whether it’s your first car or some other car, I think everybody has a vehicle for which they had just a real attachment, a lot of affection or maybe even just gratitude because of what it carried them through,” Carper said. The reach of Carper alumni is vast in Delaware politics. Many are now high-ranking communication aides or elected and appointed officials. Upon hearing the news, former drivers, who consider themselves to be a part of an unofficial fraternity, immediately texted one another. The thought of getting lost while driving the van or it breaking down on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge still makes some break out in a sweat. “It’s the most famous prop in Delaware history, right?” joked Mat Marshall, a former driver who estimated he drove miles 340,000 to 390,000.
District of Columbia
Washington: Mayor Muriel Bowser said that all DMV service centers will return to walk-in service starting July 19, WUSA-TV reported. DMV officials said that they will honor all appointments made through July 7, but none will be available after that date. In addition, two DMV locations will have special weekend hours to accommodate residents. In-person service becomes available on a first-come, first-serve basis at Adjudication Services starting July 19 and at all DMV Service Centers starting July 20, Bowser said in a release. “As DC DMV transitions away from ‘appointment only’ service, the agency notes that residents can still make appointments for any available or canceled appointments through July 17,” Bowser said. Scheduling road tests for commercial and noncommercial driver’s licenses will remain by appointment only, Bowser said. Additionally, the mayor states that D.C. residents can take advantage of “special weekend hours” for in-person services at the DMV’s 95 M Street SW location and Inspection Station between 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 11 and July 18.
Tallahassee: Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida is sending 50 state law enforcement officers to Texas to help enforce the U.S.-Mexico border, though it remains unknown what their mission will be and who will be paying for the effort. “We are unable to share mission specifics at this time to protect the security of the missions they are working,” said Katie Strickland, a spokeswoman for the governor. DeSantis said funding the mission has also not been determined. “That is still a point of discussion,” DeSantis said. “Typically, if someone would help us, you know, we would pick up some of their funding and so that is how we would hope that it goes. But we do not anticipate getting any federal funds.” DeSantis’ focus on the U.S. border comes as Republicans across the country are using immigration to attack the Biden administration. As part of that effort, former President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the U.S. border Wednesday with about a dozen House Republicans. The governor, who is positioning himself for reelection in 2022 and is widely believed to be considering a run for the White House, said Friday that he might try to make a trip to the U.S. border himself.
Clarkston: Researchers at Georgia State University will use a $500,000 grant to try to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among refugees and other groups in Clarkston – one of the largest refugee resettlement communities in the U.S., the university announced. The money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help train and deploy six outreach workers to address residents’ concerns about COVID-19 vaccines and encourage them to get vaccinated. The workers will represent major refugee groups living in Clarkston, including the Burmese, Congolese, Afghan and Somali communities, as well as the African American community, the university said in a news release. The school plans to use workers who are known and trusted in their respective communities and send them out within a month, Michael Eriksen, a public health professor at Georgia State who is leading the effort, said. Thousands of refugees live in the Clarkston area.
Honolulu: Health care professionals who care for the medical needs of homeless in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood will be expanding their efforts to other parts of Oahu with a new mobile clinic. Starting in July, the team led by Christina M.B. Wang, of the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center, will take a Nissan van to help homeless people across the Haleiwa and Waianae small boat harbors. They will also go to Central Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Nessa Vierra, 60, has received COVID-19 vaccinations, a cellphone, bandage kits and repeated offers of help from a walking team in Chinatown. She called the center’s medical mobile outreach across Oahu “one of the greatest things to happen. That’s perfect.” Vierra spends time in her regular spot at River and Pauahi streets, along with dozens of her friends who have been treated by Wang’s team over the years. The van was purchased through a grant from the state Department of Health.
Boise: The Boise Police Department said 28 people were sickened when an unidentified chemical was spilled at a popular Boise public pool on Friday afternoon. Fourteen people were hospitalized after the exposure, but officials said none of the injuries was life-threatening. Boise Fire Division Chief Paul Roberts said the chemical was “pool-related” and the spill happened at a maintenance building while a commercial truck was filling tanks at the site. Hazardous materials crews were sent to the pool about 1 p.m., and authorities warned people in the neighborhood to “shelter in place” for a few hours because of the risk of respiratory injuries. About 28 people who were at or near the pool reported symptoms, police said. Eleven were treated at the scene and 14 were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Officials were still investigating what chemicals were involved in the spill.
Glencoe: A famed horticultural park north of Chicago that has been free to attend for a half-century is about to charge patrons. Starting in January, the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe will start charging visitors on a sliding scale, between about $10 to $26. Jean Franczyk, the garden’s president and CEO, said the decision to charge admission was driven by popularity of the park that before the pandemic drew more than a million visitors a year. “We did a lot of modeling and anticipating and said, ‘OK, how are we going to maintain the quality of programs?’ ” she told the Chicago Tribune. “How are we going to keep up with ongoing maintenance? How are we going to meet this audience demand? And we landed on: One of the things that we could do was revise our admissions policy.” Visitors will catch a break because the cost to park will drop from $20-$30 to $8. And visitors can save money if they plan ahead or visit at times less popular than spring weekends. For example, what the park calls “plan-ahead pricing” means it will cost $9.95 for many days every year. Also, the park will add 52 free days a year.
Columbus: Unearthed bones recently discovered at a construction site in south central Indiana are believed to be thousands of years old, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Construction workers found the human remains in May while digging at the site of a new Bartholomew County judicial building in Columbus, The Republic reported. Archaeologists from the University of Indianapolis analyzed the bones, determining them to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. The bones belong to an adult male, a preteen and an infant, according to the DNR. The bones are thought to be the bones of Native American people of the Adena culture, which existed in the Ohio River Valley as far back as 1000 B.C. The human bones were found roughly 6 feet deep and mixed with animal bones. A different settlement was also found about 2 feet from the surface, consisting of glass, nails and other artifacts dating to the late 1800s or early 1900s. After archaeologists conclude their analysis, the remains will be turned over to Native American tribes for reburial, the DNR said. The county building is still set to open in April 2022, but a monitor will be onsite to oversee further construction to ensure any additional human remains discovered are handled properly.
Cedar Falls: The University of Northern Iowa has received its third and largest allotment of federal COVID-19 relief funding, which will provide additional financial assistance to qualifying students impacted by the pandemic during the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters. The $10.7 million provided to UNI as part of the American Rescue Plan and Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III is the most recent round of funding the university has received for its students since the beginning of the pandemic. The university previously distributed more than $7. million in federal funding to students who showed exceptional need because of COVID-19. Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the fall semester may be eligible for a portion of the new funding. In order to qualify, students must fill out a 2021-22 FAFSA, which the university is using to help determine individual need. Students who are referred to the office of financial aid and scholarships for HEERF III funding, yet do not meet FAFSA eligibility criteria, will have their applications considered on a case-by-case basis. The award amount will likely range from $1,250 to $1,750 per eligible student. The funding will be made available to qualifying students starting in mid-September. Additional awards are anticipated for the spring semester and will be provided based on remaining available funds.
Larned: A man has been charged with arson after a large U.S. flag was burned outside a business in Larned, Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett said. Jason Wayne Cauble, 37, of Larned was arrested Tuesday. He made his first court appearance Thursday on the felony arson charge, McNett said in a news release. Investigators said the 30-by-20-foot flag was burned in April at the Carr Auction and Realty Inc. building in Larned. McNett said that people who burn their own flags are protected by First Amendment free speech rights but arson can be charged when another person’s property is burned. He said he didn’t have information on Cauble’s possible motive. Cauble remains jailed on $15,000 bond. His preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 8.
Louisville: Army 1st Sgt. Michael Miller pulled off a surprise reunion with his family Sunday with the help of the Louisville Bats minor-league baseball team. Miller’s children and other family members were at the game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, only to find out their loved one was behind the plate after he took off a catcher’s helmet. The family sprinted to Miller as soon as they recognized him and shared a long group hug to applause and cheers from the crowd at Slugger Field. Miller had been on deployments since 2017, the Bats said. Gov. Andy Beshear’s son, Will, also threw out a ceremonial pitch at Sunday’s game, and Beshear shared a photo of himself with the Millers on social media.
Baton Rouge: Legislation that would have allowed adults to carry concealed firearms without a permit in Louisiana was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. In a statement from Baton Rouge, Edwards said he strongly supports Second Amendment rights. “But I simply cannot support carrying a concealed carry firearm without proper education and safety training – and I believe the majority of Louisianans agree with me,” Edwards said. He added that anyone carrying a concealed firearm should have “basic marksmanship and safety training.” The bill by Monroe Republican Sen. Jay Morris passed 73-28 in the House and 27-9 in the Senate – wide enough margins to override a veto. But the Legislature is not in session. To consider overriding the veto, members of each chamber would have to agree to hold an unprecedented veto session in July. Pressure for such a session has been building since Edwards vetoed legislation prohibiting transgender athletes from competing on girls’ sports teams in Louisiana schools. Under Louisiana’s constitution, a veto session is automatically scheduled when a governor vetoes legislation. However, a majority vote of either the House or Senate can scrap the gathering. Lawmakers have never held a veto session since the current Louisiana Constitution was adopted in 1974.
Portland: The federal government has given Maine a $7 million boost to help prepare for another public health crisis. Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King said the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has received the money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About $1.8 million is for preventing and controlling emerging diseases and the rest is for preparing and responding to public health emergencies. The senators said the state “must not lose sight of other public health initiatives that protect the health and safety of the community” while it continues responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ocean City: A plane crashed into Assawoman Bay near the Ocean City airport on Sunday afternoon, according to the fire department. Maryland State Police reported that the plane, which was piloted by Matthew Cortigiani of Utah, went off the runway and into the water shortly before 2 p.m. Cortigiani reported smoke in the cabin as he attempted to shut down the plane’s engine. He then proceeded to try and land the plane at the airport; but it went off the runway and into the bay. An Ocean City Fire Department official confirmed five individuals were on board but suffered no significant injuries and were placed on civilian vessels. One of the occupants was transported to TidalHealth Peninsula Regional for treatment of injuries. Maryland Department of Natural Resource Police and the U.S. Coast Guard also responded to the scene and assisted. The Worcester County Bureau of Investigations and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident.
Boston: The Massachusetts Senate has approved legislation designed to create a more secure egg supply chain and raise the state’s farm animal welfare standards to be on a par with other states. The bill would upgrade Massachusetts’ egg production law – created by a successful 2016 ballot question – to create predictability and certainty by mirroring even stronger national United Egg Producers cage-free guidelines. Supporters of the bill said those guidelines have been adopted by leading retailers, producers, and other states. Massachusetts voters in 2016 overwhelmingly passed what at the time was the strongest law for farm animals in U.S. history, known as Question 3. Since then, retailers, producers, and other states mandated even stronger standards in the shift to cage-free conditions for hens. The legislation passed by the Senate updates existing state law to meet the new standards. The bill has the backing of the animal welfare groups that supported the 2016 ballot question. The bill now heads to the Massachusetts House of Representatives
Detroit: Residents in the Detroit area were cleaning up Sunday after flooding in the area overloaded sewer systems, damaged homes and knocked out power for thousands. Bags of trash lined neighborhood streets in suburban Grosse Pointe Farms as garbage trucks made special rounds to help pick up debris, including damaged furniture and bedding. A day earlier, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office declared a state of emergency for Detroit and surrounding Wayne County after daylong rain flooded freeways and streets. Health officials warned of hazardous conditions Sunday amid cleanup efforts and cautioned residents to stay out of flood waters. The Port Austin area on Michigan’s Thumb was also reeling from storm damage, including a suspected tornado Saturday night. There were reports of a badly damaged home, scattered trees and downed power lines, but no major injuries. DTE Energy said roughly 22,000 customers remained without power Sunday. Indiana Michigan Power said crews were also were restoring power for thousands in Michigan and northern Indiana. More than 6 inches of rain fell Friday in parts of the Detroit area, overloading sewer systems. Some streets were completely flooded, and low-lying sections of freeways saw water deep enough to cover car tires and hoods.
Minneapolis: Authorities are bracing for an extended wildfire season, saying the typical summer reprieve is looking more and more unlikely. Wildfires are typically at their worst in the spring and fall, slowing in the summer when trees and plants are fully green and rain increases. But more than half of the state is experiencing drought conditions and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects dry weather to continue through the summer. More wildfires had broken out across the state by mid-June than in all of last year. The state typically has fewer than 1,200 wildfires a year, burning roughly 39 square miles, the Star Tribune reported. So far, more than 1,425 fires have burned nearly 55,000 square miles of forest and grassland, according to the Department of Natural Resources
Oxford: The city has received more evidence that its economic outlook is returning to pre-pandemic levels. April’s sales tax collection numbers reported by Mississippi’s Department of Revenue and the city saw a new record set with $1,089,614. The city’s stadium tax for food and beverage and the tourism tax for hotels and motels also increased, The Oxford Eagle reported. The numbers are reported on a two-month delay. The sales tax was 3% higher than March’s revenue and 79% higher than April 2020, which was the first full month of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most businesses were closed or had operations greatly scaled down because of health restrictions. In April 2019, Oxford collected $856,149 in sales tax, which was $233,465 less than this year. The food and beverage tax collected $387,876 in April, a 2% increase from March and 79% higher than April 2020. The tourism tax collected was $48,215 in April, up 34% from March and 347% from April 2020.
St. Louis: Missouri’s rivers are rising, and with heavy rain possible through most of the week, parts of the state are under flood warnings and flash-flood watches. Minor flooding was happening Monday at several points on the Missouri River. Damage was minimal, though several roads and streets were under water. The Mississippi River was nearing technical flood stage from St. Louis south through Cape Girardeau, with crests expected early this week. The rising rivers followed heavy weekend rain – some areas got up to 10 inches of rain. One person died and two others were rescued Saturday when their vehicle became stuck in floodwaters in Clinton County. Forecasts call for occasional storms through at least Thursday in much of the state.
Helena: Legislation aiming to protect businesses from COVID-19 restrictions imposed by local authorities was signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte more than a month ago, but across the state, elected officials, public health officers and attorneys are left with wildly different interpretations of what the new law does. In Bozeman, officials said they will be taking a more hands-off approach to everything from food safety regulations to sanitation requirements at local businesses, as they come to grips with a new law they believe has gutted their ability to enforce even the most basic health rules, the Montana State News Bureau reported. House Bill 257 was part of a stack of bills brought by Republicans during the recent session to address what they saw as overreach by public health officials during the pandemic. The relatively complex measure mainly sought to shield businesses from mask mandates and other instances in which local government comes between them and their customers. The legislation alters the sections of state law dealing with the powers of counties and municipalities to enact ordinances and resolutions. It prevents those actions from denying customers “the ability to access goods or services” or requiring businesses to do so. And in the part of state law dealing with local health board authority, it adds that same prohibition to regulations dealing with communicable diseases that apply to an entire jurisdiction.
Lincoln: Health officials are continuing to work to persuade residents of rural parts of the state, where coronavirus vaccination rates remain low, to get their shots. The Omaha World-Herald reported that vaccination rates in the state’s rural counties tend to lag far behind the rates in the state’s urban counties, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about 40% of the adults in rural parts of Nebraska are fully vaccinated compared with more than 60% of those living in the state’s metropolitan areas. The state’s most populous counties have some of the highest vaccination rates: Lancaster County has 63% of its adults fully vaccinated, followed by Douglas at 62% and Sarpy at 58%. But 11 of the state’s rural counties have vaccination rates below 25%, including McPherson at 11%, Grant and Logan at 16% and Arthur at 17%. As part of the effort to reach rural areas. two top officials at the state Department of Health and Human Services plan to participate in a forum held by the Center for Rural Affairs on Tuesday. The agency’s CEO Dannette Smith and Chief Medical Officer Gary Anthone will answer questions about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines during the event. The state has also promoted the vaccines in rural areas through advertisements, other town hall meetings and work with local health officials.
Reno: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued a fire prevention order for all its lands in Nevada, including a ban on the use of fireworks, exploding targets and ammunition with steel components. BLM Nevada Fire Management Officer Paul Petersen said the order runs through Oct. 31. He said it’s necessary because Nevada is experiencing record dry conditions and much of the state is in severe drought. “The current national wildland fire potential outlook indicates that we could be in for a challenge this summer,” Peterson said. “It is important for the public to understand and comply with the fire prevention order to help keep human-caused wildfires from needlessly damaging natural and cultural resources.” The order makes it illegal to burn any explosive materials on BLM lands in Nevada. Several areas in the agency’s Southern Nevada District are subject to additional restrictions prohibiting building campfires, using charcoal barbecues or stove fires and smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle.
Milton: A 32-year-old man was accidentally shot in the head in New Hampshire after the bullet fired by his 8-year-old nephew ricocheted while they were shooting chipmunks, police said. The man was injured Friday in Milton and is expected to recover, the Fosters Daily Democrat reported. Police said a bullet shot by the 8-year-old ricocheted after killing a chipmunk and hit the man in the head. Milton Police Chief Richard Krauss called it a “truly just a freak accident.” “It’s not against the law for anyone to teach a child how to shoot and take them hunting, even at 8 years old,” Krauss aid. “There are kids who learn how to hunt and shoot a lot younger than that.”
Toms River: Councilman Daniel Rodrick said he will not be part of a committee set up to review whether Toms River should allow marijuana businesses in town. Rodrick said he will not change his mind about his opposition to recreational marijuana sales, and accused Council President Kevin Geoghegan of violating the state’s open public meetings act, or Sunshine Law, by making appointments to the committee during an executive session. But Councilwoman Laurie Huryk said the appointments were made at a meeting of the township’s land use committee. The committee is tasked with producing a recommendation by the council’s July 13 meeting. New Jersey residents approved legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in a November referendum. In Toms River, 63.7% of voters supported last year’s ballot measure legalizing weed for adults. The council had initially planned to adopt an ordinance barring companies that sell, manufacture or distribute marijuana from operating in town.
Santa Fe: Home schooling nearly doubled in New Mexico last year as thousands of parents opted out of virtual learning programs offered in public schools. The unprecedented defection from the public school system is putting a strain on school budgets, which are rooted in student enrollment. Parents with the time and patience to school at home said they love the flexibility of home schooling and have learned how to give their children a more tailored education. “We had no interest in doing virtual learning through a public or charter school,” said Jennifer Fischer, 43, who moved with her partner and two sons from Los Angeles to Albuquerque during the pandemic in August. Raised by school teachers and experienced in teaching media classes, the filmmaker couple were unintimidated by the prospect of teaching their fourth-grade and fifth-grade boys. The number of children registered with the state as home schoolers nearly doubled from about 8,800 before the pandemic to about 15,400 this past school year, according to Public Education Department data. K-12 enrollment was already shrinking by about 1.1% each year following a decade of decreased births and more childbearing-aged people moving out of the state than moving to it.
New York City: Secretary Transportation Pete Buttigieg was to tour the century-old rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey on Monday as a long-delayed $11 billion project to build a new tunnel gains steam. The federal government gave the tunnel project key environmental approvals last month necessary to secure federal grants. That had been a sticking point during the Trump administration, as Schumer and others had accused formre President Donald Trump of purposely delaying the environmental approval for political reasons, a charge administration officials denied. The existing tunnel is more than 110 years old and prone to problems and delays because of aging infrastructure. Saltwater intrusion from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 accelerated the tunnel’s deterioration and forced Amtrak, which owns the tunnel, to embark on costly repairs to keep it functioning reliably. Hundreds of trains and hundreds of thousands of passengers pass through the tunnel a day, and delays can ripple up and down the East Coast between Boston and Washington. Once primary construction begins, the tunnel could take as long as six or seven years to complete. A new tunnel would allow the old tunnel to be overhauled, a process that would take roughly two years, and then returned to use. That could significantly increase rail capacity into and out of New York, though it would require additional tracks at New York’s Penn Station. A plan to expand and overhaul the station is in the early stages.
Ocean Isle Beach: A shark bit a 7-year-old girl over the weekend at Ocean Isle Beach, according to Mayor Debbie Smith. WECT-TV reported that EMS responded to the scene on Sunday morning and the girl was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening. There were no other sightings of sharks on Sunday and no additional warnings for swimmers, Smith said.
Bismarck: Wildlife officials said North Dakota’s spring pheasant population estimate is up 3% from last year, but there is worry that an extended drought could cut into hunting prospects in the fall. “The statewide number might be a bit misleading since we are notably down in the southwest, while most of the state benefited from good reproduction in 2020 and a mild winter,” said R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist with the state Game and Fish Department. Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stop at predetermined intervals and count the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a 2-minute period. The number of roosters detected this spring was up in the northwest, southeast and northeast regions. The southwest area, which is generally considered the state’s main pheasant hunting region, was recorded at 18.4 crows per stop, down from 19.6 in 2020, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Drought is causing delayed growth in nesting cover, brood-rearing cover and croplands across the state, according to Gross. Extended drought could prevent insect hatches, reducing food available to chicks.
Columbus: A volunteer picking up debris Monday morning along the banks of Alum Creek Reservoir in Delaware County found what is believed to be a human leg floating in a plastic bin. The man was in a kayak about a quarter-mile north of Cheshire Road, east of Africa Road, about 8:30 a.m. when he saw the floating tub. “As he got closer, he noticed the lid was slightly ajar and a human leg was protruding from it,” said Tracy Whited, spokeswoman for the Delaware County Sheriff’s office. The man immediately called 911. Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Delaware County Coroner’s office and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were on the scene and looking for other evidence, Whited said. Officials did not disclose other details, including what else might have been in the bin. Alum Creek Reservoir is a man-made reservoir that covers about 5 acres and is one of the main raw water supply sources for central Ohio.
Oklahoma City: Oklahomans spent more than $1.5 billion on medical marijuana since it became legal to buy in 2018, according to an analysis of the latest tax collection figures from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. That level of retail means the state collected more than $110 million from the 7% marijuana tax, and another $138 million was levied in state and local sales taxes, according to the most recent data. There were record sales in April, when medical marijuana patients spent nearly $90 million and the state collected nearly $6 million from the marijuana tax and another $7.5 million in sales tax. If the growth continues at its present rate, Oklahoma’s cannabis sector is poised to become a billion-dollar-a-year industry based solely on retail sales. That doesn’t account for the value of farms, distribution and business services offered throughout the industry. This creates a sizable revenue stream for the state.
Salem: The city shattered its heat record Sunday, topping out at a sweltering 113 degrees. Temperatures in the city rose to 101 early in the day, and skyrocketed another 10 degrees by 3 p.m., quickly surpassing its record of 108 degrees set in 1981, 1941 and 1927, according to David Bishop, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. At about 4:25 p.m. – and then again at about 5:10 p.m. – the city reached 113 degrees. Temperatures continued to fluctuate throughout the evening, but were still at 109 about 8 p.m., said Colby Neuman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. National Weather Service officials issued an excessive heat warning for much of the Willamette Valley in effect through 11 p.m. Monday, urging the public to stay indoors and hydrate to avoid the potential for heat-related illnesses.
Harrisburg: Pennsylvania lifted its mask mandate Monday, more than 14 months after the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf began requiring people to wear face coverings whenever they left home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Department of Health will no longer require unvaccinated people to wear masks in public, though it said businesses, health care facilities, prisons and other places may still require them. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also requires masks on planes, trains, buses and public transportation hubs. Fully vaccinated people were allowed to shed their masks in most public places in Pennsylvania last month. According to federal data, 75% of Pennsylvania residents age 18 and over have received at least one vaccine dose, with nearly 60% of the adult population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. People are considered fully vaccinated once they are two weeks beyond their last required dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Providence: The Community College of Rhode Island is holding two COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week in conjunction with enrollment events. The first is scheduled for Tuesday at the Warwick campus, and the second is scheduled for Wednesday at the Providence campus. Prospective students interested in attending CCRI will be able to apply for free, receive assistance with filing for financial aid, schedule or take the placement exam, and register for classes. The vaccination clinics, which will be administering the Pfizer shot, are open to the prospective students and their families. CCRI is requiring all students attending on-campus activities this fall to be vaccinated. This year’s high school graduates can also learn about the RI Promise Scholarship program, which provides two years of free tuition for full-time CCRI students.
Galivants Ferry: U.S. Sen. Tim Scott launched his reelection campaign Monday, arguing in a series of stops across the state that he and other Republicans represent progress and stability for voters in this deeply conservative state. “Sometimes you’ve got to go back to the future, and that’s a future I want to go back to,” Scott said in North Charleston, referencing the accomplishments of the Trump administration, as well as his hope that Republicans can recapture the U.S. Senate majority in next year’s midterm elections. Scott, 55, has said the 2022 Senate run would be his last. The chamber’s only Black Republican, he has become one of the GOP’s go-to standouts, particularly on issues of race and policing. Scott has also begun to be mentioned as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, with his name appearing in a straw poll conducted at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. He also gave the party’s response to President Joe Biden’s maiden address to Congress this year, accusing Democrats of dividing the country and suggesting they’re wielding race as “a political weapon.”
Sioux Falls: Summer camps are back in full swing this year after some limited enrollment or closed completely during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Dakota. And at some camps that stayed open and in-person last summer, COVID-19 spread in a matter of days. At Camp Judson in Keystone, the South Dakota Department of Health reported 96 cases by Aug. 3, 2020. Days before, on July 27, the department reported less than 10 cases at the camp. Camp Judson closed its doors to campers that week. This year, though, places such as Leif Ericson, the YMCA’s day camp that hosts campers from ages 4 to 15 in Sioux Falls, is seeing a resurgence of campers in enrollment numbers for its five two-week sessions throughout the summer. The camp is finally back to normal in 2021 after floods ravaged the site in 2019, and after COVID-19 limited enrollment in 2020. Camp director Mike Murphy said the camp anticipated a normal summer in 2020 until mid-March. He capped the capacity at 1,500 last year, kept a waiting list and shortened the duration of the sessions. All the staff wore masks. They also offered a virtual camp option and kept sessions limited from July to mid-August.
Sevierville: Police said two people face charges after officers found a dead monkey inside a hot car parked outside of a waterpark. According to the Sevierville Police Department, officers last Wednesday found the dead 9-week-old marmoset monkey and a 5-week old monkey that was alive in the car parked at Soaky Mountain Waterpark after the facility’s management notified police. Police said the other monkey was taken to an animal hospital and was very dehydrated but improving. One of the monkeys’ owners is charged with aggravated animal cruelty and the other with animal cruelty. Both are from Indiana. Police said additional charges are possible and the investigation is ongoing.
Austin: A group of Texans assisting each other in two Facebook groups are suing to prevent Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton from opting out of a COVID-19 pandemic relief program that added an extra $300 to their weekly unemployment pay. Abbott last month said the state was ending its participation in the enhanced benefits as of Saturday, two months before the added payments are to end nationally. Their lawsuit, filed in Travis County, alleged that the Texas constitution does not give Abbott the authority to make this decision alone, but instead requires a determination by the Texas Workforce Commission. TWC is the state agency that processes unemployment claims and pays out benefits. Abbott “exceeded his power” in opting out of the program, according to the lawsuit. It seeks a temporary restraining order to keep the benefits from ending on Saturday. Attorney David Sibley, who is working with the Facebook groups, said the case will be heard Friday afternoon. The two groups, Texas Unemployment Updates and Unemployment Petition and Peaceful Protest, contain more than 30,000 members combined.
Ogden: Reports of violations of the city’s water-use guidelines have spiked since the city declared a water shortage on June 4 and called for increased water conservation, said Matt Haack, Ogden’s water conservation coordinator. Haack said more than 200 complaints have been received, more than the 100 to 150 that had been reported in all between implementation of the city’s online water-waste reporting form in 2017 and the June 4 declaration, the Standard-Examiner in Ogden reported. The calls have generally been about excessive lawn watering, watering that causes runoff into sidewalks and streets and lawn watering during prohibited times, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day. So far, the city hasn’t issued any fines, said Brady Herd, Ogden’s public utilities manager, instead focusing on education and providing information.
St. Johnsbury: A major construction plan at the Fairbanks Museum has been postponed because of pandemic-related pricing and labor and subcontractor shortages, museum officials said. The museum bid out the Science Annex project in the spring and planned to start construction in July until the project came in at $2 million or 68% above construction estimates, the Caledonian Record reported. “We were just honestly stunned to see the costs come out where they did,” Adam Kane, the museum’s executive director, wrote in an email to project donors and supporters on Friday. The museum has decided to postpone construction to early spring of 2022, hoping to drive down costs and do additional fundraising, he said. Kane is also hopeful that the Science Annex will be supported by additional federal funding. The project is designed as a 6,000-square-foot, three-story annex on the rear of the museum that will house hands-on exhibits for astronomy and meteorology. Plans are for it to also provide a future home for Community College of Vermont operations in St. Johnsbury.
Centreville: A Virginia man was arrested last week after police said he posed as an officer while trying to force his way into his neighbors’ homes, then fought with responding police officers. WTOP-FM reported that it happened early Wednesday in Centreville, when a 36-year-old man left his home after a domestic incident. Fairfax County police said the man tried to force his way into two of his neighbors’ homes while identifying himself as a police officer. When officers arrived, he was being “held down” by one neighbor, police said in a news release. Once officers tried to detain the man, police said he fought them. The man was arrested and charged with burglary, assault on law enforcement, two counts of destruction of property, simple assault and impersonating a police officer.
Yakima: Orchardists in Central Washington are trying to save the cherry crop as a heat wave grips the region, using canopies, deploying sprinklers and sending out workers in the night to harvest cherries. Temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees this week, with a predicted high near 115 on Tuesday. The heat wave hit as Washington’s cherries are ripening, the Yakima Herald reported. Cherry growers are moving 500,000 boxes a day, said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission. So far, the cherries appear to have good color and sugar, he said. This heat wave is a new experience, Thurlby said. “We have not been in these waters before,” Thurlby said. If the cherries get too hot, they will sunburn and dry out, he said. There are strategies to take the edge off the heat. Sprinkler systems under cherry trees can, through evaporation, knock off 10 to 15 degrees from the air temperature around the fruit, Thurlby said. But it’s not a foolproof solution. Shade netting is also another strategy that orchardists use to fight heat and birds. The large polyethylene sheets can knock down temperatures 10 to 15 degrees, as well as prevent sunburn on fruit.
Charleston: West Virginia Chief Justice Evan Jenkins has suspended many of the court health protocols that arose last year from the coronavirus pandemic. Jenkins’ administrative order contained some exceptions. Courts should continue using remote technology when possible for hearings and proceedings, Jenkins’ order said. They should also continue avoiding the use of call dockets to cut back on extended waiting periods in lobbies, common areas and court rooms, he wrote. Protocols for people in prison or jail remain in effect, and hearings for such people should continue to use video conferencing to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in a jail or corrections facility, Jenkins wrote. If circumstances change or a local outbreak occurs, additional steps can be taken.
Milwaukee: A plan to develop “tiny homes” for homeless veterans on Milwaukee’s northwest side is proceeding after an important part of the developer’s financing package was obtained. The developer, Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin Inc., has received approval for a $700,000 loan from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit business lender affiliated with the city of Milwaukee. That loan will provide bridge financing as Veterans Outreach continues its fundraising efforts to develop up to 48 homes on 7 acres at 6767 N. 60th St., according to MEDC. The Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett in 2019 approved selling the city-owned site for $35,000. With the MEDC loan, Veterans Outreach plans to complete its land purchase next week and break ground on the project soon after, said Brad Behling, the nonprofit group’s executive director. The rest of the $2.2 million project’s financing is coming from grants and donations. The project’s first phase will include 24 single-family small houses, and a 10,000-square-foot community center with a communal kitchen, showers and offices to host services for the residents. Veterans Outreach hopes to have residents moving in by spring, Behling told the Journal Sentinel. Each house would have 240 square feet.
Moose: Plans to rebuild and pave a road will close one of the driving routes into Grand Teton National Park for much of 2022. Moose-Wilson Road connects the communities of Wilson and Teton Village just south of Grand Teton, with the park headquarters at Moose. It’s one of the less busy ways to get into the park in western Wyoming. About 1.4 miles of the 8-mile road is unpaved. Park officials plan to close the road between where it enters the park and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve in the spring of 2022. They plan to reopen the road on weekends during the busy summer tourist season but close its southern stretch entirely again after Labor Day. The new road’s features will include about 20 vehicle pullout areas. A second phase of work focusing on the road’s northern end will occur in 2024-25, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported. Each phase costs roughly $13 million. The $26 million has been secured through a federal fund created by the Great American Outdoors Act.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States