New Orleans revelry, overwhelming stink, ‘right to food’: News from around our 50 states

·53 min read

Alabama

Fans walk around near the concession stand on the west upper deck before the University of Alabama's Oct. 2, 2021, football game against Ole Miss at Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Staff photo/Ken Roberts]
Fans walk around near the concession stand on the west upper deck before the University of Alabama's Oct. 2, 2021, football game against Ole Miss at Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Staff photo/Ken Roberts]

Tuscaloosa: Plagued by a shortage of stadium workers and complaints about long concession lines at home football games during the pandemic, the University of Alabama has contracted with an online app. It also made other changes in hopes of speeding up service during Saturday’s homecoming game against Tennessee. With a capacity crowd of more than 101,000 expected, Alabama said fans could use the Waitr phone system to order food and drinks in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Fans using the system are notified when an order is ready and can then pick up items at windows in the stadium. The Alabama deal is Waitr’s first for a football stadium, although baseball fans have used the app in Louisiana and Mississippi, company spokesman Dean Turcol said. Alabama received complaints about long concession lines after its home game against the University of Mississippi on Oct. 2. Athletics director Greg Byrne said part of the problem was the difficulty finding workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Similar to staffing issues at the gates, an average of 40% of people who were supposed to work concessions on game days end up not showing up leaving them short-handed,” he wrote in a weekly email to supporters at the time. The athletic department said it is also streamlining menus and adding ordering technology to speed up sales.

Alaska

Anchorage: A woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of a dozen or so victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, has been identified through genetic genealogy and a DNA match, authorities said Friday. The victim was identified Friday as Robin Pelkey, who was 19 and living on the streets of Anchorage when she was killed by Robert Hansen in the early 1980s, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Investigation Unit said. “I would like to thank all of the troopers, investigators, and analysts that have diligently worked on this case over the last 37 years. Without their hard work and tenacity, the identity of Ms. Pelkey may have never been known,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said in a statement. Hansen, who owned a bakery, gained the nickname “Butcher Baker” for abducting and hunting down women – many of them sex workers – in the wilderness just north of Anchorage through the early 1980s, when the state’s largest city was booming because of construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline. Construction of the 800-mile pipeline offered well-paying jobs for workers, but it also attracted those looking for fast money and left as quickly as they came. Exotic dancers traveled a circuit along West Coast cities, making sudden disappearances commonplace.

Arizona

Phoenix: An attorney for members of the San Carlos Apache tribe on Friday asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to back a nonprofit group’s efforts to keep a copper mining company from gaining federal Arizona land that the Apaches consider sacred. “We are talking about the survival of the Apache people,” attorney Luke Goodrich told the panel, arguing that an end to religious activities on the land known as Oak Flat would help spell an end to the tribe. Joan Pepin, an attorney for the U.S. government, argued the land transfer must go ahead because it was part of legislation approved by Congress. The land has been set to be transferred to Resolution Copper, as part of a provision in a must-pass 2014 defense bill, once the final environmental impact statement is published. The three-member panel did not immediately release a ruling. The judges will now confer in private and write a decision that may not be issued for as long as three months. Goodrich said the group could take the case to the Supreme Court if the appeals court sides with the U.S. Forest Service, the agency that has planned the land transfer. Apache Stronghold, a nonprofit organization representing tribe members, sued the federal government in Phoenix federal court in January to block the pending transfer of the land near the community of Superior.

Arkansas

Little Rock: A prison transport driver convicted last year of sexually assaulting two female inmates was sentenced Thursday to life in prison plus five years. U.S. District Judge D.P. Marshall handed down the sentence to Eric Scott Kindley, 53, for the assaults and knowingly possessing a firearm to further a violent crime. Kindley sexually assaulted the women in 2014 and 2017 while transporting them between lockups on warrants. Kindley operated his own private prisoner transport company that contracted with local jails throughout the country to transport individuals arrested on out-of-state warrants. The federal investigation into Kindley began when two women, housed together at a small jail in Arizona, reported that he sexually assaulted them during two separate trips.

California

Los Angeles: Levels of wretched-smelling hydrogen sulfide gas that have plagued south Los Angeles County communities for weeks are declining as authorities use various mitigation methods in a flood control channel emitting the gross odors, authorities said Friday in an online news conference. The problem was reported Oct. 7 and traced to the 15-mile-long Dominguez Channel, which flows into the Los Angeles harbor. The smell has chiefly affected the city of Carson and several other Los Angeles suburbs. The gas is being created by a natural phenomenon called anaerobic digestion, which occurs when bacteria break down vegetation when there’s a lack of oxygen in the water, said Mark Pestrella, the county’s public works director and chief engineer of the flood control district. In addition, the investigation revealed the presence of chemicals that are contributing to the problem. Pestrella did not identify those chemicals and said he could not comment further because it may involve criminal or civil actions. Public works is spraying the channel with a biodegradable odor neutralizer called Epoleon, which converts hydrogen sulfide to a salt. Daily tides are being relied on to spread the neutralizer, and Pestrella said drones are being considered to help that process. A system of bubblers is being installed in the channel to oxygenate the water, he said.

Colorado

Colorado Springs: A day care owner convicted of keeping 26 children hidden in the basement of her business two years ago has been sentenced to six years in prison after parents said some of the children still suffer trauma including sleeping problems and anxiety. A judge issued the sentence to Carla Faith on Thursday following her August conviction of more than two dozen misdemeanor child abuse charges and other crimes. Faith was only licensed to care for up to six children at her private day care, and only two were allowed to be under age 2. But police who went to her Mountain Play Place day care in November 2019 found 25 kids in the basement, including 12 under 2 years old, prosecutors said. There were two adult employees supervising them in the basement, and one accepted a plea deal and testified at Faith’s trial, KRDO-TV reports. A 26th child was picked up by a parent while police were on site, authorities said. Many of the children had soiled or wet diapers and were sweaty and thirsty, according to an arrest affidavit. When police arrived, Faith repeatedly told an officer that no children were there and that the home did not have a basement, but the officer heard children’s music and a child’s cry from the basement, the affidavit said. Another officer discovered a false wall and moved it to reveal the basement staircase, the affidavit said.

Connecticut

Hartford: Employees in the state’s prison system make up more than 32% of state workers who have failed to comply with Gov. Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to figures released Friday by the governor’s office. Of Connecticut’s 30,623 state workers 1,482 – about 5% – have not been vaccinated or submitted to weekly coronavirus testing as required by the mandate, according to the report. Those include 483 workers at the state Department of Correction, which has about 5,400 employees. The governor’s office had given workers until Oct. 4 to comply with the order. But the state has so far fired just 22 workers and placed an additional 29 on unpaid leave. Officials are in the process of suspending or terminating an additional 70 workers, the governor’s office said. “The majority of employees who are currently out of compliance are working with the state to come into compliance and anticipate coming into compliance in the coming days,” Lamont spokesperson David Bednarz said. The department confirmed Friday that it has seen a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in several prisons, including the Hartford Correctional Center, the New Haven Correctional Center and the Carl Robinson Correctional Center. Spokesperson Andrius Banevicius said most of those are asymptomatic cases among inmates.

Delaware

Cars parked in Rehoboth Beach during an afternoon in July 2021.
Cars parked in Rehoboth Beach during an afternoon in July 2021.

Lewes: Nearly every beach town along the state’s coast made more money from parking permits and meters this past summer than in 2020, and most also beat pre-pandemic revenue in 2019. In Lewes, the total parking revenue in 2021, including fees collected from parking tickets, reached just over $1 million – a 17% increase from 2019 and about a 27% jump from 2020. In Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach, this summer’s total parking revenues increased by just over 20% each compared to summer 2019. Their recovery from 2020 revenue was even greater. Dewey Beach’s accounting clerk clarified that the collections from parking fines during a given year may not perfectly reflect how many tickets were issued that year. But even without the revenue from parking citations, Dewey made a huge comeback: Revenue from parking permits and meters alone increased by about a third since 2019. Even as crowds returned to the boardwalks and beaches, though, some signs of the pandemic remained. Rehoboth Beach, for example, maintained its Meterless Mondays – free parking from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Monday – and several parking spots were taken up by outdoor dining and reserved spaces for carryout orders. Even so, Rehoboth Beach only fell below its pre-pandemic revenue by $80,000.

District of Columbia

Washington: Area commuters will face longer waits for Metro trains through at least the end of the month and probably longer, as more than half the fleet of train cars will remain out of service over safety issues. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told reporters Friday that there was no timeline for the return of the transit authority’s 7000-series train cars, which were abruptly pulled from service last week after a derailing revealed a chronic problem with the wheels and axles. Those 748 cars are the newest and constitute more than 60% of the fleet. The derailing is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, and Wiedefeld said he couldn’t comment on it while the investigation was ongoing. In the meantime, Wiedefeld said Metro engineers were working to bring older retired cars back into service. But he said the older cars were undergoing rigorous inspections, and he didn’t expect them back in service until early November. Until then, riders can expect longer delays between trains across the system, whose six lines crisscross the city and stretch deep into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. The transit authority currently has 268 rail cars in service. There are 180 cars from the older 6000-series trains that may be brought back if they pass inspections. Currently only 22 of them are available for service.

Florida

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo

Miami: The state’s top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed. Florida Senate leader Wilton Simpson, a Republican, sent a memo to senators Saturday regarding the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, asking visitors at the building to be respectful with social interactions. Polsky, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, had not yet made public her breast cancer diagnosis. Polsky told the Associated Press about the tense exchange with state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo that was first reported by news site Florida Politics. She said Ladapo and two aides were offered masks and were asked to wear them when they arrived for the Wednesday meeting. She did not tell him she had breast cancer but said she had a serious condition. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients are at a higher risk to get severely ill from COVID-19 and may not build the same immunity to vaccines. Ladapo had asked to meet her in Tallahassee as he seeks confirmation in the Senate after being named to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month. Polsky said she asked whether there was a reason why he couldn’t wear a mask, but he wouldn’t answer.

Georgia

Atlanta: A judge is throwing out ethics charges against former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, saying state officials waited too long to pursue action. Oxendine was accused of illegally using campaign funds from his failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign to buy a house and lease cars. He was also accused of accepting campaign contributions 10 times above the legal limit from insurance companies. Local news outlets report administrative law judge Ronit Walker ruled last week that the statute of limitations on misconduct had passed when ethics officials began to pursue Oxendine in 2015. Walker also ruled that the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission can’t pursue Oxendine for accepting $120,000 in bundled contributions from two insurance companies. “No matter how patently obvious it may be that corporations are ‘affiliated,’ the legislature has chosen only to penalize the donor,” Walker wrote in dismissing the illegal contributions case against Oxendine, citing state law. The ethics complaint against the insurers was dismissed in 2014 because commission staff had made little progress. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2016 that Oxendine kept $500,000 in leftover funds from his gubernatorial campaign and kept contributions for a runoff and general election he never saw.

Hawaii

Honolulu: The number of students enrolled at the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses increased this fall for the first time in a decade. The school’s flagship Manoa campus led the way with a 6% increase, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. The university’s first-year class is its largest ever. Overall, the institution’s enrollment is the highest it’s been since 2014. Enrollment at the Hilo campus is up 2.5%. Leeward Community College and Windward Community College posted gains of 0.8% and 3.8%, respectively. Overall enrollment at UH’s seven community colleges, however, is down 3.2%. Manoa enrollment, officials said, was up in nearly every category, including resident, continental U.S, transfer and international students. UH-Manoa Provost Michael Bruno credited the university for spreading the word about the benefits of a Manoa education. The perception that Hawaii and the Manoa campus in particular have managed the coronavirus pandemic better than most places may have played a role, he said. Hawaii Pacific University had been expecting an enrollment boost before the fall semester began. It was expecting to have 4,000 students this fall, its most ever. Its first-year class was expected to climb from about 500 to more than 800.

Idaho

Hailey: The city is asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by an anti-mask group, arguing the group’s members can’t show they’ve actually been harmed by a local face-covering mandate. Hailey and other central Idaho towns surrounding the popular Sun Valley ski resort were at the epicenter of the state’s first major coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. The city enacted its mask mandate – requiring most people to wear masks in public when indoors or outside when social distancing is impossible – in July 2020, and a version of the order has remained in place ever since. Idaho remains one of the least-vaccinated states in the nation, and unvaccinated COVID-19 patients have overwhelmed hospitals. A month ago, state public health leaders enacted “crisis standards of care,” allowing hospitals to ration health care as needed to deal with the flood of patients. About a week after the state entered crisis standards of care, an anti-mask organization based hundreds of miles away in the northern Idaho city of Sandpoint sued Hailey on behalf of its members who live in and near the central Idaho town. In the lawsuit, the group said the mask mandate amounted to a “mandatory human experiment” that violates their fundamental human rights.

Illinois

Chicago: The mayor has helped launch the installation of new signs renaming the city’s picturesque Lake Shore Drive after a Black man recognized as a key settler of the city. Mayor Lori Lightfoot gathered Thursday with political and community leaders at Buckingham Fountain to kick off the installation of 12 large highway signs declaring the thoroughfare “Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive.” More than 80 smaller street signs that will mark the roadway along the city’s Lake Michigan shoreline read simply: “DuSable Lake Shore Drive,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Lightfoot, who had initially opposed renaming Lake Shore Drive, said the $500,000 cost is “worth it” to honor a man who was “forgotten in the annals” of Chicago history. “We needed to find a way to honor our founder,” Lightfoot said. Chicago’s City Council approved the name change in June. DuSable, a native of Haiti, is considered Chicago’s first permanent, non-Indigenous settler. He had a successful trading post in the late 1700s. He died in 1818. Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1833 and as a city four years later. Alderman Donald Moore initially proposed changing the name of the ribbon of concrete along Lake Michigan to DuSable Drive two years ago after a riverboat tour of the city in which he said DuSable’s name wasn’t mentioned.

Indiana

Fort Wayne: Twitter suspended a congressman’s official account after removing a post about a transgender woman over violation of the social media company’s rules. Twitter’s action Saturday came after Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks posted tweets last week regarding Dr. Rachel Levine becoming the first openly transgender four-star officer in the U.S. uniformed services. Banks had responded to the U.S. surgeon general congratulating Levine on her promotion in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps by writing: “The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man.” Now-retired Army Gen. Ann Dunwoody was the first woman in the U.S. military to attain a four-star rank. Banks’ post was removed with a reference to Twitter rules that include a ban on “targeted misgendering” of transgender people. Banks’ official Twitter account remained online Sunday, but he wasn’t allowed to add new posts. His personal account with fewer followers remained active. Banks, whose district covers Fort Wayne and surrounding northeastern Indiana, has frequently drawn attention with right-wing social media comments. He stood by his post about Levine. “My tweet was a statement of fact,” Banks said in a statement. “Big Tech doesn’t have to agree with me, but they shouldn’t be able to cancel me.”

Iowa

Des Moines: Doctors accused of doing something dangerous or inappropriate could keep the allegations private until a regulatory board makes a final determination and issues a report under a state Supreme Court decision issued Friday. In its unanimous decision, the court said the Iowa Board of Medicine should not have publicly disclosed information about a doctor under investigation, as was standard for the agency. Its ruling likely will lead to changes in how dozens of other boards handle complaints. “Read in its entirety, we do not believe the statute is ambiguous. Investigative information cannot be released to the public prior to a final decision in a disciplinary proceeding,” Justice Edward Mansfield wrote. Iowa Freedom of Information Council Executive Director Randy Evans called the decision disappointing and said he hopes the Legislature revises the statute. “Those facts and circumstances need full and timely disclosure to patients and consumers so they can make an informed selection of a treating physician,” he said. The court ruled in the case of Dr. Domenico Calcaterra, a cardiothoracic surgeon who formerly practiced in Iowa City but now practices in another state. He has long denied allegations of disruptive behavior and unethical or unprofessional misconduct.

Kansas

Overland Park: The Overland Park Police Department plans to expand its team that responds to calls involving mental health crises, with a goal of defusing the situations while keeping everyone safe. The new Overland Park Crisis Action Team will have 12 members and six co-responders, though most of the positions haven’t started yet. Currently, it has two crisis intervention specialists and three co-responders, The Kansas City Star reports. When the team responds to a mental health call, it will be accompanied by a clinician from Johnson County Mental Health. A therapy dog will also join the team. “Our whole goal is to bring them in and let them do their job, and (officers are) there to make sure everybody’s safe,” said police Sgt. Stewart Brought. In September, the Overland Park City Council raised property taxes to create the expanded unit. OPCAT also received a nearly $250,000 grant from the Department of Justice. “This OPCAT unit, it will save lives,” said Sheila Albers, who has fought for police reforms since her 17-year-old son, John Albers, was killed by an Overland Park officer during a welfare check in January 2018.

Kentucky

Bardstown: Striking workers at one of the world’s largest bourbon producers voted to ratify a new contract Saturday, a day after announcing a tentative agreement with Heaven Hill. About 420 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23D went on strike about six weeks ago, forming picket lines at the company’s operations in Bardstown after rejecting a previous contract proposal. The tentative agreement came just days after the company signaled it intended to start hiring permanent replacement employees for bottling and warehouse operations. The workers then voted to ratify the five-year agreement Saturday, according to a statement from Heaven Hill. “We look forward to welcoming our team members as we transition back to normal operations,” company spokesperson Josh Hafer said in the statement. The dispute revolved around health care and scheduling, the latter a sign of the bourbon industry’s growing pains as it tries to keep up with global demand. Family-owned and operated Heaven Hill produces Evan Williams, one of the world’s top-selling bourbons. The spirits company’s other brands include Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny and Parker’s Heritage Collection.

Louisiana

New Orleans: The high school bands played, the costumed marching groups danced, and float riders threw Moon Pies and beads to the thousands of people who turned out Saturday for the city’s first big parade since the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on New Orleans’ signature brand of frivolity. The streets were lined with thousands of residents and tourists who came to watch the Krewe of Boo parade – the first float parade since Mardi Gras 2020. The Halloween-themed parade stretches from the city’s Marigny neighborhood through the French Quarter and into the Warehouse District. Riders on the floats dress up in Halloween-themed outfits and throw ghoulish and fun trinkets and beads to crowds that pack the streets. “This is one of the best feelings in a very long time,” said Jordan Philebar, a New Orleans resident who was dressed as Wednesday Addams from “The Addams Family” as she rode a float along with four members of her family. “It’s lovely to feel slightly normal again.” Mardi Gras 2020 was largely credited with contributing to the city becoming an early hot spot for the coronavirus. As the extent and seriousness of the pandemic became apparent, parades and music festivals were canceled.

Maine

Portland: A proposed “right to food” constitutional amendment is on the ballot for the state’s voters in the Nov. 2 election. Some say it would simply put people in charge of how and what they eat, while others worry it would endanger animals and food supplies and turn urban neighborhoods into cattle pastures. For supporters, the language is short and to the point, ensuring the right to grow vegetables and raise livestock in an era when corporatization threatens local ownership of the food supply – a constitutional experiment that has never been tried in any state. For opponents and skeptics, it’s deceptively vague, representing a threat to food safety and animal welfare, and could embolden residents to raise cows in their backyards in cities like Portland and Bangor. Voters will be asked if they favor an amendment to the Maine Constitution “to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.” The proposal is an outgrowth of the right-to-food movement, sometimes called the food sovereignty movement. Maine enacted the nation’s first food sovereignty law in 2017, allowing local governments to OK small food producers selling directly to customers on site. The law was especially popular with sellers of raw milk, which can be legally sold in Maine but is more restricted in many other states.

Maryland

Annapolis: The state’s highest court has disbarred retired Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly for withholding exculpatory evidence that surfaced in a 1981 double-murder case and lying about it over the years. The Baltimore Sun reports Cassilly learned of the court’s decision Friday in a phone call from the newspaper. “Oh, whatever. I’m retired anyway,” he reportedly told the Sun. The Maryland Court of Appeals found the former prosecutor lied about documents that undermined the credibility of an FBI agent on the case. The judges noted Cassilly, a Republican, served 36 years as Harford County’s top prosecutor and retired in 2019. The judges wrote that disbarring him would prevent his possible return to the courtroom and send a message. Cassilly maintains that he did nothing wrong but rather “fell into the whole anti-criminal justice movement, where the cops are the bad guys and the prosecutors are the bad guys.” “I’m disappointed, but the real answer is: Do I care? I don’t give a damn,” he said. “I wouldn’t do anything to engage in the practice of law right now because it’s such a screwed-up obscenity.” John Norman Huffington, who was released from prison in 2008 after serving 27 years of a life sentence, has said he would have won his freedom years earlier had Cassilly disclosed key records.

Massachusetts

Boston: State lawmakers are considering whether to begin allowing electric bicycles in bike lanes. Currently, electric bikes are prohibited on bike paths because they’re categorized as mopeds, though advocates for bicyclists say the law is largely unenforced. The Boston Globe reports some state lawmakers are now pushing a bill to bring Massachusetts in line with 46 other states and Washington, D.C., in regulating electric bikes as bikes. “What’s abundantly clear, whatever the law, is people are riding e-bikes in bike lanes and bike paths, as they should – they are bikes,” said state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Democrat, who is sponsoring the bill in the House. A similar bill is pending in the state Senate. The House chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, however, questioned whether it’s safe to allow bikes traveling at 20 mph or more on the paths. “These are pretty fast speeds,” said Rep. William Straus, D-Mattapoisett. “I want to be really cautious in terms of the safety issues.”

Michigan

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski, center, talks with residents about finding lead in tap water Thursday at the Town Center, where free water filters were handed out to Hamtramck residents.
Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski, center, talks with residents about finding lead in tap water Thursday at the Town Center, where free water filters were handed out to Hamtramck residents.

Hamtramck: Another Michigan city is giving filters to residents as a result of high lead results in some drinking water samples. Hamtramck, in the Detroit area, is a 2-square-mile city with 28,000 residents, many of them immigrants from Bangladesh, Yemen and other countries. Seven hundred filters were passed out Thursday, and another 900 will be distributed this week, said City Manager Kathleen Angerer. “The water itself is fine. The issue is the outdated lead services lines that in some cases are leaching lead into the water into individual homes,” Mayor Karen Majewski said. She said not every home is affected. “People don’t need to panic,” Angerer said. LaTonya Hatcher, 49, was in line Thursday. “I want to get a filter for the sink,” she said. “I live in a newer neighborhood, and the pipes might be fine, but I was walking by and saw they were giving out filters, so I thought I should ask if I need one.” Across the state in Benton Harbor, residents have been urged to use only bottled water for cooking and drinking due to elevated lead levels. The problem in both communities, according to officials, is old lines that need to be replaced. Majewski said Hamtramck has replaced 260 lead lines over the past year but needs money to remove more.

Minnesota

St. Paul: Native Americans have contracted COVID-19 at two to three times the rate of white Minnesotans over the past month, according to state health officials. There are large pockets of unvaccinated people in the 18-to-49 age range in Minnesota’s tribal communities and across the country, according to Mary Owen, director of the Center for American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota medical school. “We have some folks who are not getting vaccinated, whether it’s because they’re resisting it or because they’re not able to get access. Not quite sure. It’s probably a combination of those. But that’s impacting us again, significantly,” said Owen, who is also president of the Association of American Indian Physicians. Owen said that’s especially concerning because Native Americans have high rates of health disparities, such as diabetes, that put them at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness, Minnesota Public Radio News reports. “We have some very frail people in our communities that cannot afford to get infected. We have to protect them,” Owen said. “So please, do what’s right for our communities, not just for us as individuals.” The Leech Lake reservation has recorded its highest numbers of positive COVID-19 cases over the past month since the pandemic began.

Mississippi

Jackson: Prison employees will conduct once-a-week rehearsals as the state prepares for its first execution since 2012, according to Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain. He said Friday that the rehearsals for a lethal injection are usually done once a month at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, following a protocol that’s about 20 pages long. “Very, very detailed,” Cain said. The Mississippi Supreme on Thursday set a Nov. 17 execution date for David Neal Cox, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to killing his wife, Kim, in 2010 in the northern Mississippi town of Shannon. Cox withdrew his appeals and once filed court papers calling himself “worthy of death.” Mississippi has not had an execution since 2012, and it had six that year. Cain confirmed Mississippi has obtained lethal injection drugs, but he declined to say how. “I’m not supposed to talk about the drugs too much,” Cain said. Mississippi is still facing a lawsuit filed in 2015 by the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center on behalf of two inmates. The suit argues Mississippi’s lethal injection protocol is inhumane.

Missouri

Bates City: A small-town mayor resigned ahead of a scheduled impeachment hearing called after he was allegedly recorded uttering a racial slur. Shawn Fox offered his resignation last Monday to the Bates City Board of Aldermen, ahead of an impeachment hearing scheduled Wednesday, television station WDAF reports. Instead of the hearing, the board accepted Fox’s resignation Wednesday. Mayor Pro-Tem Roy Trussell said Fox’s resignation came after the city had concluded its investigation, which included a leaked recording of someone believed to be Fox uttering a racial slur, as well as allegations of sexual harassment. It was unclear when or where the recording was made or who had leaked it. Fox’s resignation was the latest in a recent exodus of city government officials amid mounting allegations of a hostile work environment. Alderman Donnie Hammond resigned Tuesday, and the city’s collector and a court clerk both recently stepped down. Bates City is a town of nearly 220 about 28 miles east of Kansas City.

Montana

Carl Old Person places silver dollars in the casket of his uncle, Chief Earl Old Person. before Friday's funeral service at Browning High School in Browning, Mont.
Carl Old Person places silver dollars in the casket of his uncle, Chief Earl Old Person. before Friday's funeral service at Browning High School in Browning, Mont.

Browning: The Blackfeet Nation honored Chief Earl Old Person with a weeklong memorial, ending with a funeral service Friday in the Browning High School gym. The gym smelled of sage, many women wore ribbon skirts, and some men wore headdresses as they remembered the life of Old Person, who was the tribe’s chief for 43 years. He died of cancer Oct. 13 in Browning. He was 92. Hundreds of people gathered in the gym as Old Person was remembered for his tireless advocacy for Native Americans and their culture, his strength of character, and his humility. He served on the tribal council for more than 60 years and was chairman of the tribal business council for over 50 years. He traveled the world, meeting Queen Elizabeth, the shah of Iran, and every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama in advocating for the Blackfeet Tribe. He also worked to preserve the Blackfeet language, songs and culture. But tribal members remember his constant presence on the reservation and his care and concern for the Blackfeet people. He would attend basketball games, community events and graduations. He served as a mentor and even a father figure to tribal members. “We’re putting one of our last chiefs to rest,” Jay St. Goddard said. “It’s not just a private event; it’s not just a Montana event – this is a national event.”

Nebraska

Superior: An employee who returned fire after a gunman killed two people at a grain elevator likely prevented more deaths, a Nebraska State Patrol official said Friday. The employee, who was not named, retrieved a weapon and shot Max Hoskinson, 61, after Hoskinson began shooting at the Agrex Elevator in Superior on Thursday. Hoskinson, of Superior, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Authorities said he had been fired earlier Thursday and returned that afternoon with a gun and began shooting in an office area. The victims were identified as Sandra Nelson, 60, of Formoso, Kansas, and 53-year-old Darin Koepke, of Hadar, Nebraska. The third person shot by Hoskinson was treated at a hospital and released. Patrol Sgt. Jeff Roby said during the news conference that authorities do not anticipate filing any charges against the employee who shot Hoskinson. “In fact, it’s likely that the employee’s actions may have prevented much further loss of life in this tragedy,” Roby said. He said he could not comment on whether Hoskinson targeted the victims, who were all Agrex employees. He said several other employees were on site when the shooting occurred.

Nevada

Carson City: Lawmakers have decided motorists who want refunds of a $1-per-transaction surcharge that courts decided was unconstitutionally authorized in 2020 will have to go in person to state Department of Motor Vehicles offices. The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee signed off Thursday on the refund program, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The move aims to comply with a Nevada Supreme Court ruling last May that said the surcharge was unconstitutionally authorized by the Legislature because the state constitution requires revenue measures to be approved by two-thirds majorities in both chambers. Senate Republicans opposed extending the DMV fee along with a tax on businesses in 2019 and filed suit after Democrats approved them. The DMV said it was collecting about $7 million per year from the fee but would provide refunds after the court ruling. The Review-Journal reports five other refund options were dismissed as more complex and costly than the amount collected, including mailing checks to all DMV customers. The rule that lawmakers adopted says people will have to present receipts in person at a DMV office for refunds. Business customers, with a larger volume of transactions, can receive checks.

New Hampshire

Concord: A legislative committee on Friday approved a proposal from the state Department of Health and Human Services to use $4.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to boost COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The last-minute proposal from Gov. Chris Sununu and Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette came last week after she withdrew the requests for the acceptance of $27 million in federal COVID-19 vaccination funding that was rejected by the Executive Council the week prior. Approval for the $27 million was needed by both the council and the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, which tabled the funds last month. Republican members expressed deep concern that accepting the funds would have bound the state to follow federal directives and mandates related to COVID-19, including “quarantine and isolation.” Attorney General John Formella said that wasn’t the case. Sununu thanked the committee for its vote, saying that “we are committed to finding alternative sources of funds to ensure our vaccine distribution can move full steam ahead, and today’s vote allows us to do so.”

New Jersey

Newark: Bucking a practice used by most law enforcement agencies in the state, the Newark Police Department, New Jersey’s largest municipal force, will stop posting the mug shots of people arrested for minor offenses. The city’s public safety department announced the change in a Facebook post Wednesday. The reason, public safety director Brian O’Hara said, is to help “safeguard individuals from marginalized communities from abuse.” In the post, O’Hara cited a spike in negative comments on a 2017 social media post regarding a prostitution arrest. “The incendiary comments fundamentally indicate that members of marginalized communities – including the transgender community – can become targets of cyber-bullying, which can lead to hate crimes and violence, simply because their photos were published online,” O’Hara said. After the spike in comments, he had the post taken down and changed the department’s policy on mug shots. From now on, the department will only publish mug shots that serve “a specific law enforcement purpose, such as locating a wanted or missing person.” Publishing mug shots can have detrimental consequences to people arrested, said Sarah E. Lageson, an associate professor at the Rutgers-Newark School of Criminal Justice who has a doctorate in sociology.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: Federal water managers warned Wednesday that like other basins across the western U.S., the Pecos River Basin is likely to experience growing water shortages as temperatures continue to rise over the next century. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation discussed the findings of a recently completed study on the basin during a virtual briefing, saying the goal of the work was to better understand the threats to water supplies in the region due to climate change. Officials also looked at what tools could be used to stretch resources to help sustain viable agriculture over the coming century as challenges grow. Reclamation Study Manager Dagmar Llewellyn said those challenges are significant. She described the Pecos basin as arid with a limited and highly variable water supply. “Drought and climate change-induced aridification is ongoing already in the basin,” she said. “We’ve been seeing less snowfall in the headwaters and more winter precipitation falling as rain. We’ve also been seeing higher consumption rates within the agricultural system.” The peak flow of snowmelt runoff into Santa Rosa Reservoir, located at the top of the system, amounted to only a trickle of about 5 cubic feet per second this year. Total volume during the runoff period was about 700 acre-feet, or 56 times less than the historical average. That meant less water for downstream users.

New York

New York: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and two other U.S. lawmakers reintroduced a bill in the House on Friday to put immigrants who cleared debris after the Sept. 11 attacks on a fast track to legal immigration status in the United States. The 9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act is a revised version of a bill that former Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York introduced in 2017 that did not advance in the House. Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley in a 2018 Democratic primary, winning the seat representing parts of the Bronx and Queens. Immigrants in New York, many of whom are Spanish-speaking cleanup workers, have long asked to obtain legal immigration status in the U.S. as compensation for their work and the subsequent health problems they suffered after the attacks. Hired informally by cleaning companies, the workers cleared debris, asbestos and dust inside lower Manhattan buildings for months without adequate protective gear. But 20 years after 9/11, only several dozen are still participating in protests and making the request, while others have abandoned that fight. Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Rep. Grace Meng, both from New York, are lead co-sponsors of the bill.

North Carolina

Raleigh: The soon-to-be successor to a state House member who died this month said Friday that he was outside the U.S. Capitol in January as an insurrection occurred. Donnie Loftis, who was chosen by Gaston County Republican activists last week to succeed the late Rep. Dana Bumgardner, confirmed his attendance at the Jan. 6 event to WRAL-TV. Loftis, a former Gaston County commissioner, said his involvement in what turned into a riot was strictly peaceful. On Jan. 6, “while I peacefully exercised my first amendment rights in front of the US Capitol, I was surprised and disappointed to watch others storm the entrance as violence ensued,” he wrote by text message to the station. “I had absolutely zero involvement in the rioting and categorically condemn the storming of our Capitol building that day.” Hundreds of Donald Trump’s supporters battered their way past police, injured dozens of officers and interrupted the electoral count inside the Capitol certifying President Joe Biden’s victory. In January, Loftis had posted a picture of himself to Facebook before the rally saying he was on a bus headed to Washington, according to WRAL. “I got gassed three times and was at the entrance when they breached the door,” Loftis, an Army veteran, posted at the time, according to a screenshot. “I spoke to many service members, and we all agreed that we didn’t want to be there, but we had no other choice. They don’t get it that they work for us. And I mean that in a respectful way.”

North Dakota

Bismarck: The state is working to extend its contract with Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel to promote tourism in his home state. The top tourism official in one of the least-visited states in the nation said the 48-year-old star of several “Transformers” movies has been effective in attracting visitors to North Dakota, better known for its brutal cold weather than as a vacation destination. “He has helped expand our image and awareness of our state,” said Sara Otte Coleman, who heads the state’s tourism agency. Duhamel, a native of Minot, has been the face of North Dakota and its pitchman since 2013. He has been paid more than $1 million from the state since then. “He’s a great ambassador for our state and cares about where he comes from,” Otte Coleman said. Duhamel was the honorary chairman of a fund that raised millions of dollars for victims of a 2011 flood in his hometown that swamped more than 4,000 homes and businesses. About 11,000 people were forced to evacuate. The home where Duhamel grew up and his sister’s family’s home were both severely damaged. He appealed to his fans on social media and on TV appearances to help the victims of the flood. His current two-year tourism deal expires in December. Otte Coleman said she expects Duhamel to sign an extension.

Ohio

Columbus: The state’s debut of its new license plate failed to take off because a banner depicted on the plate was attached to the wrong end of the Wright Brothers’ historic first plane, the Wright Flyer. The new license plate illustrates rays of sunlight beaming into the sky, with a banner that reads “Birthplace of Aviation” draped across the horizon. But the banner, which should have been trailing behind the plane, was attached to its front. After the unveiling, Ohio officials said in a statement that they were aware of the mishap and that it would be corrected to show the banner trailing the plane before Ohioans upgrade their plates. Ohio isn’t the only entity to make this flighty error. The front of the Wright Flyer can easily be mistaken for its back because the plane’s propellers were located at the back, instead of the front. The plates are expected to land on the market Dec. 29.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye unexpectedly resigned from the post Friday, effective immediately, the state health department said. Department spokesperson Rachel Klein said Frye “felt it was time to move on” from leading the agency. His departure came a day after state Republican leaders, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, expressed outrage upon learning the health department in May issued a birth certificate with a nonbinary gender designation. The birth certificate was issued as part of a settlement with an Oklahoma-born Oregon resident. The settlement was reached under the administration of former state Attorney General Mike Hunter, Frye said. In a statement released by the department Friday, Frye lauded “the dedication, resilience and tenacity of the OSDH team.” “They have worked tirelessly over the last two years to ensure Oklahomans had access to not only COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and critical information, but to other life-saving services,” he said in the statement. Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed has been named interim commissioner of health, according to Kevin Corbett, state Secretary of Health and Mental Health.

Oregon

The Dalles: The massive Google data centers on the edge of this Columbia River town are triggering concerns about water usage. Now a critical part of modern computing, data centers help people stream movies, conduct transactions, post updates on social media, store trillions of photos and more. But a single facility can also churn through millions of gallons of water per day to keep hot-running equipment cool. Google wants to build at least two more data centers in The Dalles, worrying some residents who fear there eventually won’t be enough water for everyone – including for area farms and fruit orchards, which are by far the biggest users. The Dalles is the seat of Wasco County, which is suffering extreme and exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The region last summer endured its hottest days on record, reaching 118 degrees Fahrenheit in The Dalles. The new data centers wouldn’t be able to use Columbia River water and instead would take it from rivers and groundwater that has gone through the city’s water treatment plant. However, the snowpack in the nearby Cascade Range that feeds the aquifers varies wildly year-to-year, and glaciers are melting. Adding to the unease: The 15,000 town residents don’t know how much water the proposed data centers will use because Google calls it a trade secret.

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia: The School District of Philadelphia is working to repatriate Native American skeletal remains found in a high school classroom closet this summer. A letter sent to parents of Central High School students Friday said the “human skeletal item” was previously used as a teaching aid and dated back to the 1850s. The district consulted with the Department of Interior, Temple University and other experts about how to handle the remains, Evelyn Nunez, the district’s chief of schools, wrote in the letter to parents. “The District is also working with these partners to return this person, who has been identified as a male Native American, to his home tribe,” she said. Central High School, founded in 1836, is the second-oldest continuously operating public high school in the country, but it is not alone in its history of using skeletal remains as learning tools. In a statement Friday, the district said the remains were likely used in teaching through the mid-1900s at the latest, but the district’s schools have not used skeletal remains in classrooms for more than a decade. The district has launched a search of inventories at all of its schools to make sure any other skeletal remains are identified, treated with respect and also repatriated if possible.

Rhode Island

Providence: The Legislature has created a website to post the proposals it’s receiving for spending federal funds to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Rhode Island was allocated $1.1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds. Democratic Gov. Dan McKee is urging the Legislature to start spending, saying Rhode Island is the only state in the Northeast that has not used any of its federal pandemic relief funding yet. The General Assembly created a section on its website for residents to see all of the ideas that are being suggested. The goal is to increase transparency. “With such a large infusion of federal funding, it is critical that the process of allocating these funds is done in a transparent manner that allows the public to access the information being shared with legislators,” House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, said in a statement. “We encourage the public to be engaged so we use this money to its maximum benefit for Rhode Islanders.” Submitting a recommendation to the portal should not be viewed as a formal request for funding, and it does not guarantee a response, public hearing or appropriation from the General Assembly, the Legislature said.

South Carolina

Mount Pleasant: A widow is suing Charleston County two years after her husband died following a ketamine injection he received during an arrest. The complaint filed by Tabitha Eileen Britt earlier this month says the two paramedics who injected her husband, James Britt, with the sedative drug after he was handcuffed by Mount Pleasant police in 2019 weren’t authorized to do so under state law. The Post and Courier reports Tabitha Britt wants a judge to stop county paramedics from using ketamine to aid law enforcement without a medical reason. A police report says Mount Pleasant officers were dispatched Sept. 30, 2019, for a man urinating on the roadway. According to the lawsuit, one officer initially stopped to help James Britt change a car tire before she said she would arrest him for public intoxication. According to the complaint, police forced James Britt to the ground in a prone position, where he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. One paramedic who arrived at the scene then injected James Britt with 500 mg of ketamine, the maximum dose under county guidelines. The suit says James Britt stopped breathing minutes later; although he was resuscitated in the ambulance, he never regained consciousness and died less than three weeks later in the hospital.

South Dakota

Lead: A study that focuses on ways to cool streams during the hottest times of the year in an effort to preserve the trout population is yielding positive results, officials from the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks say. Jeremy Kientz, a fisheries biologist with the agency, has been working to discover ways to cool the waters, in a study that specifically focuses on French Creek in Custer State Park. He said it’s one of a few trout streams in the Black Hills that can reach temperatures up to 80 degrees for several hours a day, increasing the chances of trout mortality. “We’ve had a couple instances here in the Black Hills where we’ve had trout fish kills because of temperatures that are too high in the summertime,” Kientz said. “When the water temperature hits 80 degrees, and it stays there for a little while, the trout will die. Even at 75 degrees, trout shut down, and they don’t eat. So now you not only have a survival issue but a growth issue.” But working on ways to cool the streams is not easy, Kientz said. Building shade takes time, and dams have become unpopular, not to mention expensive. So Kientz said he has been working with mechanical engineers from North Dakota State University to build small pockets of cooled water where trout can seek refuge when temperatures rise, the Black Hills Pioneer reports.

Tennessee

Nashville: An area school district can continue requiring students to wear masks in school after a federal judge on Friday extended a ruling blocking an opt-out provision. The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the families of two children with disabilities who attend Williamson County schools. They claim Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates puts their children at risk and violates their educational rights. In the Friday opinion, U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw found that “disabled students are at a significantly higher risk for severe infection and are exposed at a higher rate following” following Lee’s executive order. He called that “an irreparable harm” that justifies continuing to block the order. “The record before the Court establishes that temporary universal mask mandates adopted by the Williamson County and Franklin school systems have been, and likely would continue to be, effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” Crenshaw wrote. “Executive Order No. 84 violates federal law and must yield.” The ruling mirrors those by federal judges in Memphis and Knoxville, where Lee’s order is also blocked. As a result, school districts in Shelby, Williamson and Knox counties can continue to enforce universal mask policies.

Texas

Austin: The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the state law that bans most abortions to remain in place but has agreed to hear arguments in the case in early November. The justices said Friday that they will decide whether the Justice Department and abortion providers can sue in federal court over a law that Justice Sonia Sotomayor said was “enacted in open disregard of the constitutional rights of women seeking abortion care in Texas.” Answering that question will help determine whether the law should be blocked while legal challenges continue. The court is moving at an unusually fast pace that suggests it plans to make a decision quickly. Arguments are set for Nov. 1. The court’s action leaves in place for the time being a law that clinics say has led to an 80% reduction in abortions in the nation’s second-largest state. The justices said in their order that they were deferring action on a request from the Justice Department to put the law on hold. Sotomayor wrote that she would have blocked the law now. “The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now,” Sotomayor wrote. It takes just four justices to decide to hear a case.

Utah

Farmington: A federal civil rights investigation released Thursday found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students at a school district, including hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets over the past five years. The probe also found physical assaults, derogatory racial comments and harsher discipline for students of color at Davis School District, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. The district has agreed to take several steps as part of a settlement agreement, including a new department to handle complaints, more training and data collection. Black students throughout the district told investigators about similar experiences of white and non-Black students calling them the N-word, referring to them as monkeys or apes, and saying their skin was dirty or looked like feces, according to the department’s findings. Students also made monkey noises at their Black peers, repeatedly referenced slavery and lynching, and told Black students to “go pick cotton,” and “you are my slave.” The investigation found Black students were also disciplined more harshly than their white peers for similar behavior and were denied the ability to form student groups while supporting similar requests by other students.

Vermont

Guilford: The state has erected a historical marker recognizing the life of Lucy Terry Prince, an African American poet who wrote what is thought to be the oldest known poem by an African American. The marker was unveiled this week at the Interstate 91 welcome center in Guilford. Prince and her husband lived in Guilford in the late 1700s. As a child, Lucy Terry was stolen from Africa and enslaved in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the marker says. Her poem “Bars Fight” tells the story of the 1746 attack on Deerfield settlers. The poem “endured in oral tradition for over 100 years before appearing on the front page of the Springfield Daily Republican in 1854,” the marker says. She became free after marrying Abijah Prince in 1756, and the couple settled on 100 acres in Guilford in 1769, according to the marker.

Virginia

Richmond: The city’s schools will close for the entire first week of November, including two days “in the interest” of workers’ mental health, the superintendent announced. Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras announced the change Wednesday, noting the stress schools employees are under, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. “Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard directly from dozens of teachers, principals, and support staff about how stressful this year has been,” Kamras said in a letter. “Many have shared that they’re on the brink of burning out – even leaving – and it’s only October.” Richmond schools were already set to be closed three days that week, for Election Day, Diwali and parent-teacher conferences. Kamras also announced changes to address three major stressors: doing too much, not enough time, and students “exhibiting significant trauma from the past 20 months.” There will be no new programs, initiatives or curricula, and the system is adding 100 lunch monitors to help free up teachers at lunch time, Kamras said. He also authorized principles to make changes needed to “hold independent teacher planning time more sacred.” Kamras said he aims to reallocate $3 million of federal relief funding to boost student mental health support.

Washington

Port Angeles: About 40 shipping containers tumbled into the Pacific Ocean in rough seas west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca entrance Friday, authorities said. The ship then caught fire Saturday as a result of powdered chemicals that had been spilled, The Seattle Times reports. The U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest said on Twitter on Friday afternoon that the ship lost the containers when it listed to its side. A Coast Guard helicopter from Port Angeles was sent to the area, and the crew was monitoring 35 floating containers as they moved north. The ship was headed to Canada when the incident happened, officials said. Photos from the helicopter captured containers, with one group of three linked together, floating in the water, a Coast Guard Twitter post showed. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is located northwest of Seattle. “The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas,” a navigation warning sent to area ships said, according to the Times. “Two fallen containers are floating in the vicinity of the vessel.”

West Virginia

Charleston: Top state officials on Friday said they would welcome three Maryland counties that inquired about becoming part of the Mountain State, even though the likelihood of the union is almost nonexistent. “We’re absolutely standing here with open arms,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said during a news conference that included state Senate President Craig Blair and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, who also offered their support. Justice offered to call state lawmakers back for a special session to vote on a resolution that would add about 250,000 people in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties in Maryland to West Virginia. Maryland officials representing the counties wrote letters dated Oct. 14 to Blair and Hanshaw expressing interest in joining West Virginia, news outlets report. The letters were signed by Maryland state Sen. George Edwards and Dels. Wendell Beitzel, Jason Buckel, Mike McKay and William Wivell. “The western areas of the state feel they’re being shortchanged in a lot of respects, and we had a lot of constituents approaching us … saying, ‘Why can’t we just join West Virginia?’ It’s just that simple,” Beitzel told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

Wisconsin

Madison: A judge on Friday halted the state’s fall wolf season two weeks before hunters were set to take to the woods, siding with wildlife advocacy groups who argued that holding the hunt would be unconstitutional. Dane County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost issued a temporary injunction halting the season, which was set to begin Nov. 6. The order comes as part of a lawsuit that a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups filed in August seeking to stop the hunt and invalidate a state law authorizing annual seasons. Among other things, the coalition argued that the season is illegal because the Department of Natural Resources hasn’t updated its regulations setting up season parameters and has been relying on an emergency rule put in place shortly after then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in 2012 authorizing annual seasons and a wolf management plan that hasn’t been updated since 2007. Frost said the law creating the wolf season is constitutional on its face, but the DNR failed to create permanent regulations enacting it. The law gives the DNR great leeway in setting kill limits, hunting zone hours and the number of licenses, making it all the more important that the agency follow the regulatory process to ensure it doesn’t violate the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, he said.

Wyoming

Casper: COVID-19 has hospitalized more residents than at any point in the COVID-19 pandemic, with one public health officer saying the situation is “like a war zone” at one of the state’s biggest hospitals. Wyoming hospitals had 249 COVID-19 patients Thursday, topping the previous high of 247 in November. The vast majority weren’t vaccinated. Unvaccinated people have accounted for 98% of all new cases in Wyoming since May 1, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. Wyoming’s surge coincides with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., currently about 43%. Only West Virginia ranks lower for COVID-19 inoculation. The strain on Wyoming hospitals, meanwhile, has been more prolonged than previously. Last fall and winter, hospitalizations stayed above 200 for about three weeks. This year, they have hovered around 200 since early September. Wyoming Medical Center in Casper has been treating about 30% of Wyoming’s COVID-19 patients but lately has been denying transfer requests. “It’s like a war zone,” the Casper area’s health officer, Dr. Mark Dowell, told a county health board Thursday. “The ICU is overrun, and there are a lot of patients being admitted.” Five Wyoming hospitals have at some point gone into crisis standards of care during the current surge.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Orleans revelry, overwhelming stink: News from around our 50 states

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