Louisiana haze, exploding toilet, Tombstone dustup: News from around our 50 states

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports


Montgomery: Properly educating students who are learning English as a second language is proving to be a significant challenge for Montgomery County schools. Students who don’t speak English as their primary language make up nearly one-quarter of the student population, and adequate funding and training for teachers don’t exist, causing caseloads be twice the size they should. Educators are scrambling to improve instruction and support. Montgomery Public Schools is starting a new instructional model in some schools geared toward English Learning students but meant to help the entire population. Statewide, a coalition focused on increasing awareness has been formed, and Alabama lawmakers approved an increase in funding.


Kodiak: Visitors stranded by a ferry strike in the state have kept busy by painting a church fence. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports David and Joanne Witiak of Anacortes, Washington, have been repainting the fence at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral. The Alaska Marine Highway strike by the Inland Boatmen’s Union of the Pacific began July 24 and ended Friday. The couple had to extend their RV camping trip to Kodiak due to the strike that stranded them in the island city. They offered their services to the cathedral and took up an invitation to paint. The Witiaks began work Thursday on the fence around the Russian Orthodox church in downtown Kodiak, hoping to finish the job before departing on the next scheduled ferry.


Tombstone: The demolition of a decades-old building built as a replica to one that existed over 100 years ago near the O.K. Corral gunfight has stirred up a dustup in this town known for its Wild West days. At issue is whether the replica was old enough and historic enough to merit preservation in the so-called Town Too Tough to Die. The Arizona Daily Star reports a handful of history buffs are angry at the city for demolishing the replica last year. Gary McLelland, who used to live in Tombstone and now researches the city’s history from his home in New Jersey, says Tombstone officials made “a historic mistake” when they tore down a narrow, one-story building that was put up in the late 1950s. Don Taylor, Tombstone’s official city historian, says McLelland has his facts wrong and ought to “mind his own business.”


Jonesboro: The city is grappling with how to name a street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. The Jonesboro City Council formed a committee in June to address the issue after some council members opposed renaming Johnson Avenue after the civil rights leader. The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette reports that tensions arose at the panel’s second meeting last week when some members said they wanted to preserve the city’s history by not changing existing street names. City Council Member Charles Coleman says the issue has created a “standoff” throughout the city. Opponents of the change say a new street can be named after King. Emma Agnew, president of the Craighead County chapter of the NAACP, says the city isn’t building new streets, nor does it want to rename new ones.


Sacramento: The state is giving more time to apply to an independent commission that will redraw boundaries for most state and federal elections, an effort to get more people of color involved and avoid the political gerrymandering that has caused problems elsewhere. Nearly 14,000 people have applied for the 14 positions, said State Auditor Elaine Howle, who heads the selection process. But that’s less than half the roughly 30,000 who applied a decade ago. She pushed the deadline back to Aug. 19 after some organizations sought an even longer extension for fear that too few minority residents have applied for the commission that will draw new lines after the 2020 census. In most states, legislators and governors draw and approve political district maps following each U.S. census. But a growing number have moved the remapping to independent or bipartisan commissions.


Denver: City officials have declined to renew more than $10 million in contracts with two for-profit companies that operate halfway houses. The Denver Post reports the City Council voted Monday to kill proposed contracts with CoreCivic and GEO Group, which run six community corrections facilities in the city. These companies also operate private prisons across the U.S. and have contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run immigrant detention facilities. City staff declined to comment on what would happen next. The state Department of Corrections would likely need to find prison space for more than 500 people or grant them parole if the residential-style facilities close in Denver. Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration also could try to renegotiate the contracts and send them back to the council.


Hartford: Politicians and gun control advocates on Monday urged the U.S. Senate to return immediately to Washington, D.C., and follow the state’s lead in passing stricter gun laws, including some with bipartisan support. Frustrated by news of more mass shootings since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, many at a state Capitol rally said Connecticut has managed to pass legislation since that tragedy that could be replicated in other states and nationwide. That includes an expanded ban on assault rifles and large-capacity magazines and enhanced background checks. More recently, the Connecticut General Assembly enacted legislation limiting domestic abusers’ access to guns, banning bump stocks and requiring new gun storage rules.


Wilmington: A potentially fatal mosquito-borne illness commonly called Triple E has been detected in the state. The Division of Public Health has found evidence of the disease in all three counties, according to a press release. Four so-called sentinel chickens, which the state keeps in enclosures at 20 different stations throughout Delaware, tested positive for the virus. Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare, potentially fatal viral disease that can affect both people and horses. While not as common as West Nile virus, Triple E is more virulent, with a higher fatality risk, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health. Even so, there were only six cases and one death in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past decade, there have been 72 cases and 30 deaths.

District of Columbia

Washington: Mopeds are making their way to the district for a four-month trial, WUSA-TV reports. It’s part of a demonstration pilot for motor-driven cycles for D.C.’s commitment to shared mobility options. The District Department of Transportation administers multiple shared vehicle permit programs including cars, electric bicycles and scooters. The companies that want to participate in the pilot must meet the terms and conditions of a new public right of way occupancy permit. According to DDOT, current laws require drivers to wear a helmet, have a valid driver’s license and not ride on sidewalks. Those who are permitted to drive will be allowed to operate one of the 400 vehicles during the trial period.


Port Charlotte: A woman says lightning destroyed her septic tank and caused a toilet in her house to explode. Marylou Ward tells television station WINK News that the sole toilet in her Port Charlotte home was shattered into hundreds of pieces Sunday. Ward says the explosion was the loudest sound she’s ever heard, and she also smelled smoke. She says a plumber told her lightning hit the methane gas that was built up in the pipes from feces. Ward says she’ll have to get the toilet and septic system repaired, but she’s thankful no one was injured.


Atlanta: A system of cameras is being set up in north Georgia in hopes of capturing images of coyotes and learning more about them. WABE Radio reports that researchers with the Atlanta Coyote Project are working with partners across the nation to study the effects of coyotes and urban wildlife in metro Atlanta. Berry College professor Chris Mowry says 40 cameras – from Zoo Atlanta to Milton, Georgia – will be soon be in place. It’s part of a partnership with the Urban Wildlife Information Network of Chicago. Researchers say the cameras will allow Atlanta Coyote Project to make comparisons about wildlife in Atlanta and across North America.


Lihue: A school building has been built entirely out of plastic, Lego-like blocks composed of marine debris and household waste. The Garden Island reports a New Zealand-based ByFusion Company constructed the plastic blocks that now make up the athletics pavilion near the soccer field at Island School in Lihue. Officials say the 20-foot building that was revealed to the public last week is the first of its kind on Kauai and in the United States using the ByFusion products. Company officials say each block is made of shredded, cleaned plastic waste compressed into a rectangle. Officials say the blocks were used to construct the building walls, and the spaces in between were filled with traditional materials. Officials say stucco was used to seal and stabilize the blocks.


Moscow: The school district has outfitted three of its elementary schools with security upgrades designed to manage who’s allowed in. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports Pullman Public Schools has added electronic locks, surveillance cameras and an audio system to address visitors at the schools. The district says all exterior doors to Jefferson, Franklin and Sunnyside elementary schools will be locked once classes begin. Visitors will be allowed in after they speak with a receptionist. District director of operations Joe Thornton says the upgrades cost nearly $40,000. The money came from the district’s maintenance and operations fund. Sunnyside Elementary Principal Pam Brantner says the upgrades are not intended to deter visitors but are a necessary layer of protection.


Chicago: Officials say construction will start this fall on a modernization project to help speed up some city train lines. The Chicago Transit Authority will start laying new track foundations for a new rail bypass bridge at the Belmont station on the city’s North Side, where several lines converge. CTA officials say they’ll be able to increase the number of trains that can run during busy travel periods. The rail junction was built in 1907 and carries about 150,000 riders every weekday. Construction dates have not been finalized. CTA has planned open houses and sidewalk “pop-ups” to discuss the impact of the project, including fencing and landscaping. The project is part of an overall $2.1 billion modernization effort to rebuild big parts of two train lines.


Ryan White's grave in the Cicero Cemetery in Cicero, Ind.,

Arcadia: Teenage AIDS patient Ryan White is being remembered for his fight against discrimination with a historical marker outside the high school that welcomed him as a student. White was prevented from attending school near Kokomo after he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion for hemophilia when he was 13 years old. He became a prominent figure for AIDS awareness and in 1987 began attending Hamilton Heights High School in Arcadia. The Indiana Historical Bureau marker will be dedicated during an Aug. 30 ceremony at what is now Hamilton Heights Middle School. Free tickets are required to attend the program. The marker highlights White’s advocacy for education about AIDS during a time of fear and misunderstanding of the disease. White died in 1990 at age 18.


Waterloo: The City Council has taken a step toward development of a $100 million theme park on the south side of the city. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the council granted a rezoning request Monday for what will become Lost Island Theme Park on nearly 160 acres adjacent to Lost Island Water Park. Theme park plans call for roller coasters and thrill rides. Gary Bertch’s family opened the water park in 2001, and he says he hopes to begin grading this fall and open the theme park in summer 2022. He says the project is still pending approval of a development agreement with the city. Noel Anderson, Waterloo’s director of planning and community development, says the project would be a major boost to the local tourism economy.


Topeka: The state’s child welfare agency has drafted guidelines urging foster parents to allow LGBTQ kids in their care to “express themselves as they see themselves.” The move has riled conservatives a little more than a year after the state granted legal protections to faith-based adoption agencies that do not place children in LGBTQ homes. The Department for Children and Families issued its draft guidance in mid-July, six months after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly took office. It called for foster homes to recognize LGBTQ children by their preferred identities. Conservatives saw it as a directive meant to reshape foster families’ lives. They also worry it’s an attempt to skirt a 2018 law that Kelly doesn’t like that protects faith-based adoption agencies refusing to place children in homes violating their religious beliefs.


About 50 former Blackjewel miners drove four hours from Harlan County, Ky., to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston, W.Va., to attend the Blackjewel coal company bankruptcy court hearing Monday.

Harlan: A foundation is donating money to miners in the state who say they haven’t been paid by bankrupt coal operator Blackjewel LLC. WYMT-TV reports Ross Kegan, a former executive with Black Mountain Resources, spoke Monday in Harlan County on behalf of the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation. Kegan says the foundation is donating $768,000, enough for unemployed miners whose last paycheck bounced to get $2,000. The money will go to miners in Harlan, Bell, Leslie, Knox, Letcher, Perry and Knott counties. Former miners said they were shocked and overwhelmed by the generosity of the gift. Chris Rowe says the donation “is greatly appreciated” and will help miners get caught up on bills.


Baton Rouge: The state has become the first in the Deep South to dispense medical marijuana, four years after lawmakers agreed to give patients access to therapeutic cannabis. Nine pharmacies are licensed to dispense medical marijuana across Louisiana, and most are expected to open this week. Louisiana joins more than 30 other states that allow medical marijuana in some form. And though marijuana is banned at the federal level, a congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with states’ medical marijuana programs. Hundreds of patients in Louisiana have been awaiting the start of the program after years of work by lawmakers, who created the regulatory framework in 2015 for dispensing the cannabis. There also have been regulatory disputes and other hurdles.


Portland: State and federal authorities are asking Mainers to keep an eye on trees this month for the Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive pest. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are both asking residents to be on the lookout for the beetle. The USDA has declared August “Tree Check Month” and is asking residents to take five minutes to report any signs they see of the beetle. The beetle feeds on hardwood trees such as maple, birch, elm and ash. The USDA says it has led to the loss of more than 180,000 trees, and active infestations are underway in New York and Ohio. The beetle is easy to recognize in part because it has antennae longer than its body.


Baltimore: The city is expected to start issuing water bills again this week, months after a ransomware attack that hobbled the city’s computer network. The Baltimore Sun reports the bills will be larger than usual because they will cover service for at least the past three months. City computer servers were hit by the ransomware attack May 7. City officials refused a demand to pay the equivalent of $76,000 in bitcoin in response to the attack. IT teams have been working to restore services since then. The newspaper reports the water bill system is the last major public service to be brought back online. The attack came just over a year after another ransomware attack hit Baltimore’s 911 dispatch system, prompting a 17-hour shutdown of automated emergency dispatching.


Boston: Gov. Charlie Baker has vetoed a bill that would allow unions representing public workers to charge nonmembers costs associated with representing them through the grievance process. In a letter sent to state legislators Friday, Baker said while he supports the overall premise of the bill, he objects to language that would provide union officials access to information such as cellphone numbers of nonmembers. The Republican said he refuses to sign legislation that would compel agencies to turn over information about “private citizens, who happen to be government employees,” without their permission. Baker asked lawmakers to remove the language after the bill was initially reached his desk last month. The Democratic-controlled Legislature later returned it without changes.


Mackinaw City: Archaeologists have unearthed an 18th-century serpent sideplate from a British trade gun at a historic Mackinaw City fort. MLive.com reports the piece found last week in Fort Michilimackinac measures nearly 5 inches long and is believed to date back to the 1770s. Lynn Evans, curator of archaeology at Mackinac State Historic Parks, says only four gun parts have been found in that location in 12 years. The latest finding is part of a long-running archaeological program. Excavations take place seven days a week for 12 weeks in the summer, giving visitors a chance to watch archaeology in action. Fort Michilimackinac is a reconstructed 18th-century fur trading village on the Straits of Mackinac. Over the centuries, the area was home to Native Americans, the French and the British.


St. Paul: Data shows opioid manufacturers distributed about 842 million pills to pharmacies across the state from 2006 to 2012, amounting to 156 pills for each resident. Minnesota Public Radio News, analyzing data obtained by the Washington Post after a legal battle, reports most of the pills were circulated in urban Hennepin and Ramsey counties, but rural counties topped the list for most pills dispensed per resident. The number of opioid-related deaths in the state rose from 153 in 2006 to 239 in 2012, a more than 35% spike. Almost 1,400 Minnesotans died in that six-year period. Opioid overdose deaths in Minnesota reached a record 427 in 2017. The state required prescribers to enroll in a prescription monitoring program that year.


Seminary: A white man has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to building a wooden cross and setting it ablaze near the homes of black families in this small town. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that Graham Williamson admitted he and another man burned the cross to frighten and intimidate African American residents in Seminary in October 2017. On Monday, Williamson pleaded guilty to interfering with housing rights and conspiring to use fire to commit a felony. He faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced Nov. 5. Williamson’s accomplice, Louie Bernard Revette, pleaded guilty to similar charges in April and is to be sentenced next month. Seminary is a town of approximately 300 people, about 70 miles south of Jackson.


Michael Brown

Ferguson: The father of Michael Brown is seeking a new investigation of the white Ferguson police officer who fatally shot the unarmed, black teenager nearly five years ago. Michael Brown Sr. says that on Friday, the anniversary of his son’s death, he’ll speak at a news conference in Clayton and urge St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell to reopen the case. Officer Darren Wilson killed Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, during a street confrontation. Wilson claimed self-defense, saying Brown was coming at him menacingly moments after attacking the officer inside Wilson’s police SUV. The shooting set off months of often-violent protests. Demonstrations escalated again in November 2014 when a grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson was announced. Wilson resigned that same month.


Helena: The plane that dropped 15 smokejumpers into one of the most infamous firefighting tragedies in U.S. history once again flew over the rugged Mann Gulch along the Missouri River on Monday to mark the 70th anniversary of the fire. The C-47 now called Miss Montana dropped 13 wreaths, one for each firefighter killed in the blaze that caused the U.S. Forest Service to rethink its fire training, safety and research. Dozens of people gathered upstream from the site and took photos of the flyover. “It’s pretty moving,” Harold Hoem, a former smokejumper and Helena resident, told NBC Montana. “Especially when you’re up on the ridge looking down where the fire was and thinking how fast thing happened.”


Whiteclay: Two years after state regulators shuttered four beer stores for selling excessive amounts of alcohol near South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, public health officials are still trying to clean up the damage left by decades of alcohol abuse among tribe members. The stores in Whiteclay faced intense criticism for selling millions of cans of beer annually, primarily to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Critics blamed the stores for widespread alcoholism and cases of fetal alcohol syndrome on the officially dry reservation. The problem has drawn the attention of lawmakers and officials with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, who are traveling to Gordon, Nebraska, and the reservation this week to teach educators, health officials and social workers how to identify signs of alcohol-related disorders in children.


Scientists say removing invasive Mysis shrimp from Lake Tahoe could improve the lake's clarity by enabling the revival of algae-eating zooplankton.

Reno: Removing a tiny invasive species could help Lake Tahoe endure its greatest environmental challenge, according to a new report that says getting rid of Mysis shrimp could offset damage from human-caused global warming. Although shrimp removal won’t stop rising temperatures wreaking havoc on the Sierra Nevada and global climate systems in general, it could help preserve water clarity in Lake Tahoe. Mysis shrimp, introduced in the 1960s, are driving out native zooplankton that keep the water clear by consuming algae and other small particles. In recent years, researchers have noticed that removing Mysis shrimp near Emerald Bay resulted in dramatic clarity improvements. Now they want to expand removal efforts across the lake to help revive water-cleaning zooplankton.

New Hampshire

Dover: A school district says a teacher will return to full-time teaching after being placed on paid leave when a video surfaced of his students singing a jingle about the Ku Klux Klan. The Portsmouth Herald reports John Carver will resume teaching Aug. 28, when school starts. Dover School District Superintendent William Harbron says Carver completed a “mentoring and learning program” required for him to come back to the classroom. Carver was placed on leave in December after the video went viral. It showed two students singing a jingle set to “Jingle Bells” that included the refrain “KKK, KKK, let’s kill all the blacks.” Harbron and students said Carver had given an assignment to write a song about a subject in the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War.

New Jersey

Trenton: The state has enacted three laws designed to help victims of gun violence avoid becoming hurt again by firearms or attachers seeking retaliation. The new laws add to New Jersey’s growing list of at least 10 gun-related laws enacted in the past year and come after weekend firearm attacks in Texas and Ohio left 31 dead. But the new legislation’s co-author, Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, said the timing of the enactments is purely a “tragic” coincidence. Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver signed the measures Monday at the governor’s office while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is out of the state on vacation. One measure requires the Health Department to establish a hospital-based violence intervention plan to lower the risk of reinjury or retaliatory violence.

New Mexico

Part of a collection of 425 Navajo weavings from the estate of Bob Culpepper is arranged on a table at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park on Aug. 6.

Farmington: A local museum will be receiving hundreds of Navajo weavings from the estate of former Mayor Robert Culpepper. The Farmington Museum announced the gift Monday, saying some pieces date from the 1920s, and others were done by contemporary weavers. Officials say several of the rugs, such as the Wide Ruins and Chinle styles, fill gaps within the museum’s existing collection. The Farmington Museum plans to keep the best examples from the collection. The rest will be sold to benefit the museum along with the new Museum of Navajo Art & Culture. Culpepper, who died last year, and his wife had purchased a historic building and donated it to the city in 2013 to create the Museum of Navajo Art & Culture, which opened last year.

New York

Albany: Schools in the state can now install cameras on the stop arms of school buses to catch motorists who put students at risk. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the change into law Tuesday. The Democrat says no parents should have to worry about their children’s safety during their rides to school. State transportation officials estimate motorists illegally pass stopped school buses tens of thousands of times each day in the state. In 2018, during a one-day crackdown on the problem, police issued more than 850 tickets. The cameras would be on arms that would extend automatically whenever a bus stops. Drivers caught on camera passing a stopped bus would face $250 fines. Seventy-five local officials wrote to lawmakers earlier this year urging them to pass the measure.

North Carolina

Raleigh: A state appeals court says a state trooper acted appropriately when he chased and stopped a vehicle after its passenger flashed an obscene hand gesture at the law officer. A divided panel of the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that there was no legal error in charging Shawn Patrick Ellis with resisting or delaying the trooper during the stop. Ellis initially refused to turn over identification. He argued in court the traffic stop was illegal. Judge Chris Dillon wrote for the court that while Ellis’s middle-finger wave was protected free speech, the trooper had reason to believe that the crime of disorderly conduct was being committed. Dillon wrote that it’s illegal to make gestures plainly intended to provoke violent retaliation and cause a breach of the peace.

North Dakota

Drake: State lawmakers are planning a legislative study to better understand how to ensure groceries are available in rural areas where shops have been closing. Jim Dotzenrod, a Democratic state senator, sponsored a resolution calling for an investigation into the distribution and transportation of food in the state. The Minot Daily News reports that the town of Drake is likely to lose its only grocery store beginning next year. Closure will mean customers will have to drive 30 miles to Harvey or Velva to buy groceries. Dotzenrod says he would consider the use of state transportation and excess storage to create distribution centers for small groceries to benefit food deserts. The Commerce Committee will lead the study. The first meeting is Aug. 12 in Bismarck.


Lancaster: The state’s eight U.S. presidents are the focus of an upcoming exhibition beginning this fall. “The Ohio Presidents: Surprising Legacies” opens Sept. 21 at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster and runs through Dec. 29. It features campaign posters, clothing and other items of William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding. Executive Director Elizabeth Brown says the exhibition goes beyond the typical narratives associated with the presidents to explore Ohio’s role in shaping the national consciousness. It showcases an 80-year period beginning in 1840 when Ohio was at the center of the nation’s political and cultural life. Related events include an appearance by President Taft’s great-grandson, former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.


Oklahoma City: Gov. Kevin Stitt has appointed businessman Kevin Corbett to be director of the state’s Medicaid agency. Stitt announced Monday that Corbett will take over as director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority on Aug. 15. His appointment will require Senate confirmation after the Legislature convenes in February. The certified public accountant previously served as interim chief financial officer of an Oklahoma City-based water infrastructure company. He spent 38 years with Ernst & Young before retiring in 2017 as senior partner. The OHCA administers health care services to more than 800,000 Oklahomans enrolled in the state Medicaid program and Insure Oklahoma, which helps small businesses provide health insurance to their employees.


Portland: A woman who says she suffered chemical burns after being hit by a police flash-bang grenade during a protest is suing for $250,000. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Michelle Fawcett says she still has an imprint of the device in her arm, continues to receive medical treatment after also being hit in the chest, experiences nightmares and fears sudden noises. Fawcett was one of at least three people injured while protesting an Aug. 4, 2018, demonstration by right-wing group Patriot Prayer. All said they were injured by Portland police weapons. A flash-bang grenade is a nonlethal explosive projectile that emits a blast of noise and light meant to disorient anyone nearby. The devices are meant to be fired overhead, but Fawcett says an officer fired one into the crowd, hitting her.


Harrisburg: Bullying, self-harm and suicide were the most common concerns fielded during the first half-year of operation for a new threat reporting system for schools. The state attorney general’s office says the Safe 2 Say Something program generated more than 23,000 tips between mid-January and the end of June. The report says about 1,300 tips were determined to be pranks. Safe 2 Say Something covers all K-12 students in Pennsylvania, including charter, private and vocational-technical schools. People most commonly made reports through a mobile app that handled more than 19,000 tips. The website received more than 3,500 tips, and about 500 were called in. The annual report is required under a 2018 state law that established the program.

Rhode Island

Providence: The Providence VA Medical Center is inviting veterans to a town hall meeting to get updates about their health care and benefits. The medical center said Thursday that the town hall is planned for 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 15 in the auditorium of the center’s main hospital building on Chalkstone Avenue in Providence. The VA New England Health Care System, Providence VA Medical Center and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Providence Regional Office are jointly hosting it. Leaders from each entity plan to attend. Dr. Susan MacKenzie, director of the Providence VA Medical Center, encourages veterans, their families and community partners to go to hear the update about veterans’ health care in New England and ask questions.

South Carolina

Orangeburg: A photographer has singlehandedly opened a civil rights history museum, putting some of his work on display and offering firsthand accounts of the events he witnessed years ago. The Post and Courier reports 81-year-old Cecil Williams opened the self-titled museum in his old Orangeburg studio using about 350 photos, some taken by him. Williams says he’s waited a couple of decades for the community to build a civil rights museum but decided to finally open one on his own. The museum follows events in South Carolina that Williams says changed America, including the Orangeburg Massacre in 1986 that left three African American college students dead. Williams documented the events as a photographer.

South Dakota

The city of Sioux Falls is borrowing millions to finance the construction of a new main pump station.

Sioux Falls: Work to replace an essential piece of infrastructure got started Tuesday when the city broke ground on a $24.4 million sewer project. Nearly all the wastewater produced at Sioux Falls homes and businesses goes through the pump station on its way to the sanitary sewer plant east of town. And with the rapid growth of the city and an aging pump station, the Public Works Department is replacing the decades-old facility. When the current facility, which processes an average of 20.9 million gallons of wastewater per day, was built, the city was half the size it is today. Replacing the pump station is the first major step in an estimated $260 million worth of sewer utility infrastructure improvements scheduled in Sioux Falls over the next five years.


Chattanooga: A man who has studied and protected the state’s birds for more than 60 years is being honored by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Kenneth Dubke, known as “the birdman,” has received the 2019 Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award. A department statement says Dubke has been instrumental in the preservation of Tennessee’s golden eagles, osprey and whooping cranes. The 88-year-old joined the Tennessee Ornithological Society while a student at the University of Tennessee in the 1950s. He later studied Sandhill cranes in the Elizabethton area before moving to Chattanooga, where he established public hawk watches on Signal Mountain. Dubke later established the first formal Eagle Days program at Reelfoot Lake. And his work led to a network of wildlife viewing areas across Tennessee.


Galveston: The police chief is apologizing after two of his officers, mounted on horseback, led a handcuffed trespassing suspect by a rope through downtown streets. Photos of the Saturday incident went viral on social media. The two officers linked the rope to handcuffs worn by 43-year-old criminal trespass suspect Donald Neely and led him around the block to a mounted patrol staging area. In a statement Monday, Police Chief Vernon Hale said that “this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios,” such as with crowd control. However, he said he believes his officers “showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest.” He said his department has “immediately changed the policy” to prevent use of the technique.


Provo: The number of expecting mothers using a doula to coach and support them during birth is growing in Utah County. The Daily Herald reports hospitals and maternity organizations across the county are seeing a rising demand for birth coaches who provide physical and emotional support to a person in labor. Doulas aren’t licensed, but many receive some form of certification or training. Some hospitals in Utah have a volunteer doula program. Birthing coach Melissa Chappell said the rise in demand for doulas can be credited to social media and younger women who are more comfortable opening up to each other about birth. She said many of her clients are first-time mothers, women in their 20s and people who have had poor birth experiences.


Montpelier: A type of fern that was thought to have disappeared from the state has been rediscovered along a power line in the Northeast Kingdom. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says the climbing fern, Lygodium palmatum, was last seen in Vermont in 1997. The presence of the fern was confirmed by botanist Art Gilman along a VELCO-owned power line. Climbing ferns typically grow a few feet tall in open boggy areas. It is the only species of fern found in the Northeast that is a vine. Though the species is considered secure globally, it is rare in northern New England. The department said it’s possible the recently discovered patch has been there right along, but it is also possible the species is moving north in response to climate change.


New Kent: Live horse racing is returning to the state after a five-year absence. Colonial Downs, which has been dormant since 2014, is launching a 15-day race meeting beginning Thursday. The live racing follows an infusion of revenue from historical horse racing machines, which function like slot machines but technically base their payouts on the results of old horse races. The Colonial Downs Group, which owns the racetrack, also operates the machines at three locations throughout the state under the name Rosie’s Gaming Emporium. In June, gamblers wagered more than $88 million at the machines. Wagering at the Colonial Downs site alone grew 10% from May to June. Admission to the New Kent County racetrack, about halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg, will be free throughout the meet.


Vancouver: Plans to treat Eurasian milfoil at Vancouver Lake have been delayed because the invasive weed has stopped growing and would no longer effectively absorb an herbicide. The Columbian reports that friends of Vancouver Lake, which has raised private and public dollars to treat the infestation, announced Monday that treatment will be delayed until the late summer or spring of 2020. AquaTechnex, a Centralia-based company that specializes in invasive species control and toxic algae management, was scheduled to treat the lake’s milfoil with ProcellaCOR this week. The company’s manager, Terry McNabb, said cyanobacteria blooms, also known as blue-green algae, likely have prevented daylight from penetrating the lake, which has halted the milfoil’s growth.

West Virginia

Bethany: Bethany College is inviting athletes to participate in the school’s first Special Olympics Field Day. Sophomore psychology major Allison Paxton is organizing the event. Paxton is on the soccer and track and field teams and is vice president of traditions for the Student Activities Council, which is sponsoring the field day. The Sept. 8 event will be at the Thomas Phillips Johnson Health and Recreation Center on the Bethany campus. The school said in a news release that special needs individuals of all ages will be taught fundamentals of soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, golf, track and field and cross-country. There is no charge for the event, and participants will receive a T-shirt. Registration is available online.


Madison: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican legislative leaders who have shown little interest in a pair of gun control measures touted by the governor are planning to meet next week to discuss the proposals, Evers’ spokeswoman said Tuesday. Evers and Democratic legislators have been calling on Republicans to require background checks for nearly all gun sales and allow courts to restrict people perceived as threats from having guns in the wake of mass shootings that left 31 people dead over the weekend in Ohio and Texas. Evers personally called Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Monday, and both agreed to meet next week to discuss the proposals, Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said. The governor has had a tense relationship with Vos and Fitzgerald, and they have met only rarely during the first seven months of Evers’ term.


Casper: Billboards drawing attention to the thousands of murdered and missing American Indian women are being placed in the state. The Casper Star-Tribune reports one billboard is off Interstate 25 in Casper, and a second will go up in Riverton next week. The billboards are part of a campaign launched by the Global Indigenous Council and other groups. The signs say that “5,712 Native women were reported murdered or missing in 2016,” and they picture a woman with a red handprint across her face. Council Senior Vice President Lynnette Grey Bull says the red handprint is a symbol for war and outcry among plains tribes that has come “to signify that we’re not going to be silent about this issue anymore.”

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: News from around our 50 states