Dothan: A sizable increase in a state education fund is allowing local school systems to pay for school resource officers and maintenance projects, among other things. The Dothan Eagle reports the money is available after Gov. Kay Ivey this year signed off on the largest education budget to date, topping $7 billion. The Education Trust Fund Advancement and Technology Fund was appropriated $199 million – far more than last year’s $41 million appropriation. The newspaper reports most of that money is designated for school districts around the state.
Anchorage: The state is a tourism destination for a growing number of visitors from China. The Anchorage Daily News reports Alaska received relatively little notice from Chinese travelers until recent years. The number of Chinese visitors has jumped because of social media and increasing interest in winter tourism tied to the Aurora borealis. State figure show an estimated 5,000 Chinese travelers visited Alaska in 2016, compared with 2,000 in 2011. A similar count has not been attempted since then, but travel industry representatives estimate at least 10,000 Chinese travelers visited the state in 2018. Sarah Leonard, executive director of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, says that “China is definitely the emerging market right now.” Minghui Dong, a Beijing nurse and tour guide, says through an interpreter that Alaska left a “beautiful impression” on her.
Phoenix: Someone has paid to put up billboards in the city suggesting a possible 2020 Maricopa County sheriff run for Joe Arpaio. But it’s unclear who is behind the signs, and Arpaio, now 87, says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll run – or even which seat he’s considering. But he seemed to tease something on Twitter recently, saying he supported Trump’s “immigration raids,” and “I plan on returning to my fight against crime and immigration. Stay tuned.” In 2016 Arpaio was ousted from his position as sheriff after 24 years. In 2017, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court and then pardoned by President Donald Trump. In 2018, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S Senate, losing in the Republican primary. The billboard, which depicts a picture of Arpaio in his uniform, says, “Sheriff Joe One More Time 2020.” Arpaio says he doesn’t know anything about the billboards or who paid for them.
Fayetteville: The nonprofit group building and repairing most of the soft-surface trails in the city wants to put more miles of trail at Kessler Mountain, possibly on land designated for conservation. Ozark Off-Road Cyclists, whose volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours to maintain trails throughout northwest Arkansas, is in the middle of a fundraising campaign to expand the trail system. Kessler’s green space features trails for hiking and mountain biking, with soccer and baseball fields at the park side. The group bought 40 acres southwest of the city-owned land in 2017 for $280,000, according to Washington County property records. A grant from the Walton Family Foundation made the purchase possible, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
San Francisco: State regulators say Chevron has not done enough to stop a massive oil spill that dumped about 800,000 gallons of crude oil and water into a Kern County canyon, and they want the company to take further action to halt the flow. The seep out of the ground where Chevron injects steam to extract oil has been happening on and off since May. The state has issued Chevron a notice of violation ordering it to stop steam injections around the area where the seep was occurring. Chevron said the last flow was last Tuesday. KQED reports regulators took a further step Friday by ordering the company to completely stop the flow and prevent any new releases. Chevron said it will review the order and work with involved agencies.
Loveland: Wildlife inspectors have intercepted a record number of boats infested with invasive mussels as they try to keep the economically damaging shellfish from entering state waters. The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports Colorado Parks and Wildlife has found 51 boats with mussels so far this season across the state. That’s the same number for all of 2018. Officials say most of the boats were coming from Utah’s Lake Powell. Invasive mussels can quickly spread, displacing native species and damaging water supply and irrigation systems. The shellfish are found in water bodies of surrounding states including Utah, Kansas and Nebraska. Officials urge boat owners to clean and drain their boats before putting them into state waters.
Hartford: A man who was among the engineers working at Hamilton Standard in the 1960s developing the lunar module for the Apollo 11 mission is being honored by the Connecticut Science Center. Tuesday’s tribute to Ed O’Connor, a longtime science center volunteer, is one of numerous activities and exhibits planned throughout July at the Hartford attraction to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. O’Connor also developed many life support system technologies while working in the space program. Organizers plan to kick things off Tuesday with the unveiling of a Connecticut state flag that has traveled to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in September 2000. There will also be an Apollo-era space suit and real moon rock on display in the permanent “Exploring Space” Gallery.
Wilmington: Creators of a new urban farm are aiming to provide jobs for former prisoners through the business of growing produce inside empty commercial or industrial buildings. Second Chances Farm plans to sell organic, pesticide-free lettuce, basil, kale and strawberries. The plants will grow hydroponically, under LED lights in rows stacked in a shelflike structure with a closed-loop watering system. The result is higher yields per square foot than traditional farms and a controlled environment to produce year-round fresh greens for local restaurants and supermarkets. CEO Ajit George, a former real estate developer, plans to hire farmers using “the opposite of a background check” – they must be people who have served time in prison. The farm will provide job training, a $15-an-hour wage and the opportunity after one year to gain ownership in the company.
District of Columbia
Washington: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton says the first hearing for D.C. statehood has been postponed, WUSA-TV reports. She requested to reschedule the hearing, originally set for July 24, because special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before House committees that day. “Our statehood hearing is essential to move our bill to passage, but it serves another important purpose as well,” Norton said in a press release Saturday. “This hearing will inform people of what most do not know – that the residents of their nation’s capital do not have full voting rights in the House and have no representation in the Senate.” According to Norton, the bill has a record 213 voting co-sponsors, and more than 100 groups have endorsed it. This hearing, now likely to happen in September, will be the first House hearing on D.C. statehood in 26 years.
Big Pine Key: Divers and snorkelers gathered underwater over the weekend to listen to music and coral reef protection messages in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival was staged Saturday at Looe Key Reef, an area of the sanctuary about 6 miles south of Big Pine Key. The event encourages environmentally responsible diving and preservation of the world’s coral reefs. Music and public service announcements were featured in the four-hour broadcast by a local radio station that was delivered underwater via speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef. Divers and snorkelers enjoyed ocean-themed songs including the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins” and the theme from “The Little Mermaid.”
Atlanta: The Georgia Lottery is reporting record-breaking annual profits used to pay for educational programs. Gov. Brian Kemp’s office says the lottery transferred more than $1.2 billion into the state’s account that funds HOPE scholarships and free pre-kindergarten for 4 year olds. The profits are for the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30. Kemp says it’s the largest transfer of funds for education in the lottery’s 26-year history. The lottery has raised more than $21 billion total for education programs during that time. Kemp says the news marks “a record-breaking investment in our students, workforce and economy.” State officials say it’s the fourth consecutive year that Georgia Lottery profits have exceeded $1 billion.
Mauna Kea: Hundreds of demonstrators have been gathering at the base of Hawaii’s tallest mountain to protest the construction of a giant telescope on land that some Native Hawaiians consider sacred. State and local officials sought to close the road to the summit of Mauna Kea on Monday morning to allow trucks carrying construction equipment to make their way to the top. Officials said anyone breaking the law would be prosecuted. Scientists hope the massive telescope they plan for the site – a world-renowned location for astronomy – will help them peer back to the time just after the Big Bang and answer fundamental questions about the universe. But some Native Hawaiians consider the land holy, as a realm of gods and a place of worship. Groups of activists sang and prayed at the base of the mountain Sunday afternoon.
Boise: Federal wildland firefighting authorities are increasing mental health resources following an apparent increase in firefighter suicides in recent years. Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise say it’s difficult to track the number of suicides because many federal agencies can’t tally fatalities outside of work hours, and some families don’t want the cause released. But officials say there appears to be a jump in known suicides, so efforts are being boosted to get wildland firefighters help. Experts say the high-intensity camaraderie of the wildfire season can be followed by months of isolation in the offseason and sometimes money concerns without a steady paycheck.
Chicago: A transgender woman who just got out of prison says she’ll continue to fight for the rights of other transgender inmates now that she’s free. Deon “Strawberry” Hampton, of Chicago, was released last week from Logan Correctional Center, which houses female inmates outside Lincoln. She was serving a 10-year sentence for burglary. She maintains her innocence. She battled the Illinois Department of Corrections to be moved from a men’s to a women’s prison because she said she faced sexual assault, taunting and beatings in male prisons. She was moved in December to the women’s prison in Logan County. She told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that she has two ongoing lawsuits against the department. A department spokeswoman says the department can’t comment on Hampton’s allegations because of pending litigation.
Indianapolis: Eighteen years ago, the state was a leader in tobacco prevention funding, one of only six to match budget recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, Indiana spends about one-tenth of what the CDC recommends on tobacco control. And, some would argue, this has been the result: Indiana maintains the seventh-highest smoking rate in the country, a reality that annually costs Hoosiers an estimated nearly $3 billion in health care costs and more than 10,000 lives. A series of legislative decisions has cut Indiana’s yearly funding for tobacco prevention and cessation more than 78% since 2001. Over that same time, the portion of adults who smoke has only dropped about 6%.
Des Moines: The Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival will be held Saturday at the Brenton Skating Plaza downtown. One of the best-known figures in cumbia music, Celso Pina, a Mexican accordion player and singer, will make his Iowa debut at the festival. In 2002, Pina was nominated for two Latin Grammy Awards and for Best Alternative Artist by the MTV Latino Awards. He is known by the nicknames El Rebelde del Acordeon and El Cacique de la Campana. “He’s played all over the world, so to get him booked for our festival is a huge deal,” says Goizane Esain Mullin, a festival organizer. Pina incorporates rhythms from his Mexican roots and sounds he’s heard on his travels throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though Pina is from Mexico, cumbia’s roots are Colombian – fitting, as Colombian Independence Day falls on the same day as the festival.
Wichita: The Wichita Police Department expects to put Clydesdale horses on patrol for the first time later this summer thanks to two nonprofit civic foundations. The pair of Clydesdales will replace two horses that soon will be retired. The yet-to-be named Clydesdales from a Goddard farm are in training. The Wichita Eagle reports that they’re scheduled to make their public debut Aug. 7 in the farmers market in the historic Old Town district downtown. One horse can provide as much crowd control as 15 officers on foot. Clydesdales are larger and more stable for mounted officers than the quarter horses the department currently uses. They also are calmer and more social. But the police department didn’t have the $40,000 for two new horses and their saddles and kit, requiring private fundraising.
Frankfort: Gov. Matt Bevin will call the General Assembly into special session at 8 a.m. Friday to consider his proposal to give relief to local health departments, regional state universities and other quasi-governmental groups from soaring pension costs they are required to pay starting this month. The affected groups saw a nearly 70% increase in their pension costs effective July 1. The General Assembly passed a bill in March giving these groups relief from the increase, but Bevin vetoed it because he said it had an incorrect effective date and contained an illegal provision. Bevin said in April that he would call a special session to pass an improved version of the bill. Bevin released his proposal more than two months ago and has been working since then to secure sufficient votes to assure it passes.
Baton Rouge: A 75-year-old woman who founded an African American history museum was discovered dead in the trunk of a car, and police say investigators are working diligently to find those responsible. Baton Rouge police Sgt. L’Jean McKneely said over the weekend that investigators were still waiting for a coroner to determine a cause of death for Sadie Roberts-Joseph after her body was found Friday afternoon. The Advocate reports Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African American Museum, which she started in 2001. The museum sits on the campus of New St. Luke Baptist Church, where Roberts-Joseph’s brother is pastor. “Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace,” the Baton Rouge Police Department posted on its Facebook page.
Westbrook: Gov. Janet Mills has signed a bill that eliminates the requirement to have a motorcycle license to operate autocycles, a cross between a car and motorcycle. Some potential buyers had been turned off by the prospect of going through the process of getting a motorcycle license to operate something that drives like a car with a steering wheel and foot pedals. States are making progress in regulating autocycles. The National Conference of State Legislatures says more than 40 states now have definitions for them.
Centerville: Lawmakers in Queen Anne’s County are considering a bill that would outlaw balloon releases and impose a $250 fine on those who ignore the mandate. The bill wouldn’t penalize accidental releases or those done by government agencies. The Queen Anne’s Conservation Association’s executive director, Jay Falstad, says creatures often mistake nonbiodegradable balloons as food or get fatally trapped and wounded by balloon ribbons. Local farmers say loose balloons also cause problems on their lands, with the items scaring animals and getting wrapped around equipment.
Cape Cod: Great white sharks have been spotted at three area beaches. The Cape Cod Times reports that three beaches were briefly closed Saturday after confirmed sightings of great white sharks. Police and fire authorities say the sharks were seen by the Head of the Meadow Beach and Coast Guard Beach in Truro and at Nauset Beach in Orleans. Researchers on Cape Cod launched a study last month focused on the hunting and feeding habits of the region’s great white sharks following last year’s two attacks on humans, including the state’s first fatal one in more than 80 years.
Lansing: Health officials are urging people to take precautions to avoid swine flu at county and local fairs across the state. Swine influenza is a respiratory disease in pigs that’s caused by type A influenza viruses. Swine flu viruses don’t usually infect humans, but human infections have been reported. Precautions to help avoid swine flu include refraining from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings. Symptoms in people are similar to those of seasonal flu viruses and can include fever, sore throat and respiratory difficulty.
Duluth: A young couple remains hospitalized after surviving a collision with a half-ton bull moose on a dark highway. Amaya Nelson, 17, was behind the wheel July 7 with her boyfriend, Remington Dellinger, 22, in the seat beside her when they crashed into moose with their small car. Amaya’s father, Scott Nelson, tells the Star Tribune his daughter had multiple skull fractures and numerous broken bones in her face, yet managed to crawl up the hill and call 911. He says she has undergone facial reconstruction at a Duluth hospital, where she remains in intensive care. Dellinger is in the same hospital with head, neck and arm injuries.
Biloxi: This Gulf Coast city is suing a federal agency that rejected expenses for a Hurricane Katrina recovery project. The Sun Herald reports Biloxi is seeking $15.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for drainage, water and sewer systems. The lawsuit says FEMA rejected $8.8 million in project management expenses the agency had previously approved and helped develop. FEMA also said it won’t cover $6.7 million the city says it needs for project management. FEMA is rejecting the costs because a 2015 audit concluded Biloxi awarded a $21 million project management contract without considering cost. Biloxi said the project would take four years when design work started in 2008. The lawsuit says work won’t be finished until December 2024 – more than 19 years after Katrina.
Springfield: The L-A-D Foundation, one of the state’s largest private landowners, plans to ban feral hog hunting on its property and instead trap large groups of hogs, the Springfield News-Leader reports. The foundation is dedicated to preserving land once logged too aggressively and owns 147,000 acres in southeast Missouri, much of it adjoining the Mark Twain National Forest. The state Department of Conservation once encouraged people to shoot feral hogs on sight but now believes trapping is more effective.
Hamilton: Logging work has commenced in a project intended to thin wooded areas that could provide fuel for wildfires. The Ravalli Republic reports loggers have started thinning about 5 square miles of dense forest in the area of the Bitterroot River. The Meadow Vapor project will split the work area, and the timber will be sold in two sales to area mills for various uses. The project focuses on removing diseased and smaller trees and leaving old-growth ponderosa pine and Douglas fir behind. Fires burned large areas of the region in 2000. The Bitterroot Community Wildfire Protection Plan has identified the area with an estimated 255 homes as a high priority for reduction of potential wildfire fuel.
Fort Calhoun: A traveling Smithsonian exhibit about the history of Native Americans in the U.S. military is on display at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park. “Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces” tells the story of the American Indian and Alaska Native men and women who served the country in every major U.S. military encounter since the Revolutionary War. “Patriot Nations” will be on display through Sept. 2 in the Harold W. Andersen Visitor Center.
Reno: Authorities say strong winds blew an inflatable bounce house with three children inside into power lines, causing electricity to be temporarily cut off to thousands of people. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office says the bounce house was uplifted about 10 feet and got caught on the lines Sunday afternoon. Deputies and firefighters rescued the children, treating two at the scene and taking the third to a hospital. The child’s condition was not immediately known. NV Energy says about 3,000 people were affected by the outage. Electricity was restored about 2 hours later.
Jaffrey: Two towns are considering a plan to share their drinking water. New Hampshire Public Radio reports Peterborough and Jaffrey would buy a 500-acre parcel of land so they can manage a group of wells on the property for their municipal water systems. The towns have received approval from state environmental regulators to pump 577,000 gallons of water each day, far more than the 200,000 gallons they expect to pump. The move comes amid fears the towns might face water shortages. One of the wells in Peterborough has industrial toxins and can’t be used, while Jaffrey is expecting a spike in demand due to the expansion of a pharmaceutical company in town. Peterborough voters have approved money for the project. Jaffrey voters will consider it in March.
Teaneck: The Township Council has voted to form an advisory board to address LGBTQ issues and build a culture of acceptance and inclusiveness. The move comes after a long debate last month on whether to raise a pride flag on the municipal green. The flag was not raised; instead, the council issued a proclamation that recognized June as Pride Month and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The Pride Advisory Board was approved with a first vote last week. A second and final vote is scheduled for next month. Many residents had urged the council to raise the rainbow flag to recognize the contributions of LGBTQ residents and demonstrate Teaneck’s commitment to inclusiveness. But John Shahdanian, the township attorney, had advised officials that raising the flag of one group could expose the township to a lawsuit.
Albuquerque: Hundreds of items representing centuries of New Mexico history will be on display as part of a new exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum, from letters written by outlaw Billy the Kid to more contemporary objects that are part of the Palace of the Governors extensive collection. The Albuquerque Museum’s curator of art, Josie Lopez, tells Albuquerque television station KRQE that the exhibit is like a journey through time that starts with the 1700s. The letters by Billy the Kid involve him wanting to testify in exchange for his freedom about a killing he witnessed. Lopez says one letter was written just months before the outlaw wound up killed. Other pieces include an old penny farthing bicycle and classic dresses. The exhibit runs through Oct. 20.
Albany: The state has expanded laws against racial bias to include hairstyles and hair texture. The bill aims to ensure no employee can be fired or passed over for a job because of racially biased criticism of their hair. The change to the state’s human rights law, approved by lawmakers this year, was signed into law Friday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Supporters say minorities often face discrimination that’s couched in criticism of their hair texture or style. Specifically, the change adds to the legal definition of race to say it includes traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and styles. The change would also prohibit racial discrimination by teachers or school employees against a student based on their hair texture or style.
Kinston: Local chef Vivian Howard, known for the award-winning PBS series “A Chef’s Life,” is returning to PBS next year. News outlets report Howard will be the host of a show titled “South by Somewhere.” The six-part series will explore the intersection of Southern food with the cuisines of other cultures. During its five seasons on the air, “A Chef’s Life” focused on Howard and the restaurant that she and her husband, Ben Knight, own in Kinston.
Williston: The state’s Health Department says an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil-field wastewater have spilled from a pipeline near the city, and some of it entered an unnamed tributary to the Missouri River. State environmental scientist Bill Suess says the spill occurred about 20 miles east of Williston and about a mile from Lake Sakakawea, the largest reservoir on the Missouri River. Suess says it does not appear the spill reached the lake. He says the pipeline has been shut down, and the spill area has been dammed.
Port Clinton: Experts are puzzled over the explosion of the walleye population in Lake Erie, but anglers pursuing the state’s most popular fish couldn’t be happier. Fisheries experts at the Ohio Division of Wildlife say the bountiful supply of walleye in recent years is difficult to explain, but the $800 million state sport fishing industry has benefited greatly. The Plain Dealer reports that after a decades-old roller coaster ride with the walleye population, the number caught in the U.S. waters of Lake Erie nearly increased from 417,000 in 2011 to almost 2 million in 2018. Ohio banned commercial walleye fishing in the late 1960s to allow the Lake Erie population to recover. With the popularity and economic value of sport fishing for walleye, it is unlikely that will change.
Oklahoma City: Local businesswoman Anna King has been elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association for a term starting in 2021. King co-owns a mobile catering business and has served as president of the Oklahoma PTA, Oklahoma City PTA Council and Douglass Mid-High School PTSA, as well as in several executive positions at the national level. She’s the first national president from Oklahoma since Pat Henry, who served from 1991 to 1993. King has three children and says it takes everybody for schools to be successful.
Mount Hood: The region’s wolf population is continuing to grow. Six new wolf pups were born to the White River Pack this year, according to footage from a trail cam put up by biologists with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and shared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The White River Pack is located just southeast of Mount Hood and east of popular Timothy Lake. With five members in 2018, it was one of the few confirmed packs in Western Oregon. Now it appears the pack is growing. “It’s thrilling to hear the call of the wild from these adorable wolf puppies, in a part of Oregon that’s been missing this vibrant sound for more than 70 years,” says Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Philadelphia: Mayor Jim Kenney has asked the police department to increase its presence at parks and recreation events following the second mass shooting in a month at a city playground. On Saturday night, two men opened fire at a crowded playground where a cookout and basketball tournament were taking place. Police said seven people were wounded. On Father’s Day weekend, a 24-year-old man was killed and five people were wounded at a playground in another part of the city.
Providence: A University of Rhode Island economics professor says the state’s economy has “downshifted into first gear.” Leonard Lardaro says that although seven of 12 indicators he tracks with his Current Conditions Index have shown improvement, none is particularly strong except for retail sales. Lardaro says that after a significant, temporary contraction in February, the state’s economy remains where it has been since March. Lardaro no longer believes the state might be entering an early stage of recession but says its tepid economic performance is cause for concern.
Charleston: The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the Hutchinson House on Edisto Island and the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation have been selected as recipients of a combined $285,000 in grants by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in an initiative to preserve African American historical sites. Representatives from Emanuel AME and the Hutchinson House say they’ll use the money for big-dollar restoration projects. The Foundation says it’ll develop a five-year sustainability plan with the grant. Founded in 1816, Emmanuel AME is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South. It was the site of a 2015 mass shooting of nine black worshippers. The Hutchison house was a post-Civil War gathering space for the black community.
Sioux Falls: Dozens of workers were left jobless when a Minnesota-based trucking company with local operations abruptly closed Thursday. When LME Inc. shuttered more than 40 terminals with almost no notice last week, 600 workers in communities across the region were affected. In Sioux Falls, roughly 30 dock workers, truck drivers and clerical workers were affected, says Shawn Mason, a former employee. The closure and layoffs come after LME Inc. was instructed in June by a federal judge to pay out $1.25 million to former employees of Lakeville Motor Express, a company the judge called an “alter ego” of LME Inc., which has the same owners. The judge issued a cease-and-desist order forbidding the owners from creating additional shell companies to avoid responsibilities.
Gatlinburg: A mama black bear charged at a man who repeatedly approached her and her cubs at Cades Cove over the weekend, viral video footage shows. The man emerged unharmed but is being excoriated online for coming within feet of the bear family at the popular tourist destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “Honestly I really thought the dude was going to die,” says local Paige Marple, whose cellphone video of the encounter racked up thousands of shares on Facebook. Several visitors lobbed insults at the man, who was nowhere to be found after the encounter, Marple said. It’s unclear whether officials have identified the man or would pursue charges. Park regulations ban tourists from knowingly coming within 50 yards of a bear. The federal misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Houston: Spanish. Vietnamese. French. German. Hungarian, even. The Houston Chronicle reports animal shelters and dog trainers in the area say they’ve encountered pets that respond to commands in these languages and more. The languages to which the animals respond reflect the diversity of Harris County, says Kerry McKeel, a spokesperson for the Harris County Animal Shelter. A 2015 analysis of census data found 145 different languages are spoken in Houston. She says staff members do not have time to retrain the animals in English, so the shelter would likely encourage new pet owners to seek out private trainers for their animals to learn commands in English if needed.
Heber City: Signs of new life are appearing in a spot where a wildfire torched more than 100 square miles a year ago. Grasses and flowers are returning to the area in northeastern Utah, with blue and yellow wildflowers blooming around the trunks of trees charred by the blaze, the Daily Herald reports. Aspens with gradient burns along their trunks grew on dark, charred mountainsides speckled with patches of new green growth. “It’s night and day difference,” says Miles Hanberg, the northeast region supervisor for the Utah Department of Natural Resources. A portion of the burn area has been re-seeded, but rest has grown back naturally, fed by seeds that survived the quick-moving blaze. Other vegetation, such as trees and sagebrush, is expected to take longer to fully return. As for wildlife, most animals didn’t leave during the fire, and those that did quickly came back.
Montpelier: The city council has rejected a call supported by local businesses for a “no loitering” ordinance designed to move the homeless off the streets. The Times-Argus reports local landlord David Kelley’s call was dismissed by Montpelier City Council last Wednesday. After consulting with police, the council says the call was legally unenforceable unless laws were being broken. Kelley and some local businesses in the area are concerned the homeless are blocking business entrances, engaging in aggressive panhandling and drug dealing. But other local residents and city representatives have spoken in favor of efforts to support the homeless population. The council agreed to take immediate action in establishing a task force that includes the homeless to address the issue.
Richmond: The state is trying to protect its longest river by launching a new program to plant 900 acres of trees, shrubs and other vegetation along waterways. Gov. Ralph Northam has announced an initiative to plant forested buffers in the James River watershed between Lynchburg and Richmond. The Virginia Department of Forestry is partnering with the James River Association on the project, which is part of a $15 million, multiyear plan to improve the river’s quality. The buffers slow flood water, filter runoff, and provide shade and shelter to wildlife. The 340-mile-long James is fed by 15,000 miles of tributaries. Eligible property owners can apply online for free buffers and installation.
Bremerton: A dilapidated fishing dock and deteriorating boat launch will be replaced under a $1.6 million facelift planned for Kitsap Lake Park. The facilities have outlived their life expectancy, says Jeff Elevado, Bremerton Parks and Recreation director. Other improvements to the park will include upgrades to the restroom, seating improvements along the lake, improvements in parkways and pathways that will make the park more accessible to people with disabilities, a new picnic shelter, and more. The improvements will be paid for in part with two grants from the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board totaling $994,400. That money will be matched with other local and state funding.
Logan: A state parks initiative is creating habitat for monarch butterflies. Chief Logan State Park naturalist Lauren Cole told the Charleston Gazette-Mail she has spent the past two years trying to make the park a more attractive place for butterflies, honeybees and other desirable insects. The Pollinator Habitat Expansion Initiative involves mowing less and planting varieties of milkweed, clover, ironweed, wingstem, columbine, joe pye weed and two-leaved toothwort. Cole says the first spring after planting, there were monarchs and caterpillars using the milkweed, and this year there are “plenty of monarchs.”
Greenville: A ram that has been spotted ambling through rural Outagamie County the past several days is no longer on the run. The Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office said in a Thursday Facebook post that the animal is safe, and a local zoo has stepped forward to give him a home. Mackville resident Debbie Reed says she was surprised by the ram at her home Tuesday afternoon when she was going to get clothespins and saw the animal standing in her garage.
Gillette: Cloud Peak Energy says it has hired some of the miners put out of work by Blackjewel’s bankruptcy proceedings. Cloud Peak said Friday that it has hired about 60 Blackjewel workers who will start work Tuesday at its Cordero Rojo and Antelope mines in northeastern Wyoming. Cloud Peak filed for bankruptcy itself in May, but its Wyoming mines and its Spring Creek mine in Montana have remained open.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: News from around our 50 states