Saving salmon, Giglio Feast, humpback whale: News from around our 50 states


Montgomery: The Southern Poverty Law Center and an employees’ union have reached a collective bargaining agreement providing pay raises, expanded benefits and a $20 an hour minimum wage to workers at the nonprofit. The agreement, coming after nearly two years of often tense negotiations, represents a milestone for the nonprofit, which has waged legal fights against racial discrimination and for workers rights for five decades but has long faced allegations of internal discrimination against minority employees, especially for leadership roles. In a joint statement Monday, SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang and Cet Parks, the executive director of Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32035, TNG-CWA, which represented SPLC employees, said the contract could “be a catalyst for economic and racial justice in the South and beyond.” The contract covers about 250 employees. The nonprofit’s 2020 990 form, the most recent one available, said SPLC employed 475 people on Oct. 31, 2020. Huang said in a statement in March that SPLC had “nearly 400” employees. Messages seeking more recent numbers were sent to SPLC on Monday morning. The SPLC did not voluntarily recognize the union, and hired a law firm that specialized in “union avoidance” strategies. But nearly 76% of the SPLC’s employees voted to organize in December 2019.


Anchorage: More than 530 wildfires have burned an area the size of Connecticut in Alaska this year and the usual worst of the fire season lays ahead. Although there has not been much property damage, some residents have been forced to evacuate and one person was killed – a helicopter pilot died last month when he crashed while attempting to carry a load of equipment for firefighters. Recent rains have helped but longer-term forecasts are showing a pattern similar to 2004, when July rains gave way to high-pressure systems, hot days, low humidity and lightning strikes that fueled Alaska’s worst fire year. In 2004, the acreage burned by mid-July was about the same as now, But by the time that fire season ended, 10,156 square miles were charred.


Tucson: A pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries after being struck by a train Sunday, authorities said. Police said the incident occurred about 10:30 a.m. The name and age of the injured person haven’t been released yet. Police said they are investigating the incident and so is Union Pacific. The spokeswoman for the railroad company said the crew was not injured in the incident and train traffic has resumed in the area.


Little Rock: The state Senate stripped two senators of their committee leadership posts for the rest of the year after one sought reimbursement for a meeting at the Capitol that he did not attend. The Senate approved the sanctions against Republican Sens. Alan Clark and Mark Johnson after finding the two violated the chamber’s ethics rules. The Senate also prohibited the two from receiving per diem or mileage payments for the rest of the year. Clark sought reimbursement for attending a Boys’ State meeting at the Capitol last month, even though he didn’t attend it. Johnson signed in Clark’s name on the sign-in sheet at Clark’s request, but Senate leaders decided to deny the $155 per diem for attending that meeting after staff said they did not see him there. Speaking to the Senate separately before the votes Thursday, Clark and Johnson apologized for the violations and said they accepted the sanctions against them.


Vandenberg Space Force Base: SpaceX launched 46 more Starlink satellites into orbit Friday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket that blasted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 10:39 a.m. The satellites were deployed from the rocket’s second stage to join the Starlink constellation, a space-based broadband internet system with hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit. The Falcon 9’s reusable first stage returned from space and successfully touched down on a seagoing landing platform in the Pacific Ocean. It was the stage’s fourth flight. The launch occurred 24 hours after an initial attempt was scrubbed seconds before liftoff when the flight computer detected a problem with the position of a valve in one of the rocket’s engines, according to the SpaceX launch webcast.


Denver: A man who had been charged in the presumed death of his missing wife has pleaded guilty to forgery for casting her 2020 election ballot for Donald Trump. Barry Morphew pleaded guilty Thursday and was fined and assessed court costs of $600, The Denver Post reported. He avoids jail time as part of a plea agreement. Suzanne Morphew was reported missing on Mother’s Day in 2020 after she did not return from a bicycle ride near her home in the Salida area in southern Colorado. Barry Morphew, who pleaded for help finding his wife, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in 2021, but prosecutors dropped the charges in April. Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found.


Pourings & Passages in Danielson, Conn., was named best used bookstore in Connecticut Magazine’s July “Best of” issue.
Pourings & Passages in Danielson, Conn., was named best used bookstore in Connecticut Magazine’s July “Best of” issue.

Danielson: In its July “Best of” issue, Connecticut Magazine named Pouring & Passages as its editor’s pick for best used bookstore in the state, with voters selecting the store as the first runner-up in the readers’ choice category. “I didn’t expect to even be in the top three in the readers’ choice voting, let alone the editor’s pick for the entire state,” owner Jim Weigel, 71, said. Weigel said the magazine article is paying dividends with new customers coming in from across the state to check out the award-winning store.


Dover: Republicans in Delaware are challenging two new laws that allow for same-day voter registration and mail-in ballots. Party officials announced the lawsuit Friday, just hours after Democratic Gov. John Carney signed legislation enacting the changes. Republicans contend the state constitution prohibits those changes, which they said could open the door to election fraud. Proponents of the changes said they improve ballot access without opening the door to fraud. The two laws passed the Democratic-controlled Legislature with just one GOP vote for each. The lawsuit is filed in Delaware Chancery Court on behalf of two plaintiffs with GOP ties. State GOP Chair Jane Brady, a former attorney general, is representing the plaintiffs.

District of Columbia

Washington: DC Health officials were scheduled to hold a public town hall Monday night to answer questions about the spread of monkeypox, WUSA-TV reported. The District is one of the hot spots in the U.S., with the most monkeypox cases per capita. “We have seen significant interest among D.C. residents in getting vaccinated,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said. D.C. currently has enough vaccinations for 70% of its eligible population to receive one dose.


Stuart: A 70-year-old woman was stabbed by the bill of a 100-pound sailfish that leaped out of the water and attacked her as her companions were trying to reel it in on a boat near the Atlantic coast, authorities said. The sailfish stabbed the woman from Arnold, Maryland, in the groin area with its pointed bill on Tuesday while she was standing in the boat as two companions tried to bring it in on a fishing line about 2 miles offshore from Stuart, according to a report from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. The companions applied pressure to the wound, and the woman was taken to Stuart for medical treatment. The woman told deputies the attack happened so fast that she didn’t have time to react, according to the sheriff’s office report. Sailfish are among the fastest fish species in the ocean and, like swordfish, are recognizable by their extended, pointed bills.


Atlanta: The Federal Highway Administration has designated two Georgia highways as “alternative fuel corridors” for facilitating the construction of electric vehicle charging stations. U.S. Highway 441 from Cornelia in Northeast Georgia south to Dublin and U.S. 82 from Brunswick west to Albany will add 25%, or approximately 330 miles, to the state’s EV charging network. The highways were selected based on such factors as their location near major job clusters, access to tourism sites, the high share of EV sales in nearby counties and their proximity to hurricane evacuation routes. The designations also are expected to enhance Georgia’s chances of landing federal funds from the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending bill Congress passed last fall. The legislation earmarked $5 billion in grants to support EV charging stations.


Honolulu: Police are investigating after a man’s left hand was severed by a sword at a Waikiki 7-Eleven. Honolulu Emergency Medical Services responders were called to the convenience store just after midnight Friday. EMS spokesperson Shayne Enright said they found the man with a severed left hand. The 40-year-old man was taken in critical condition to a hospital. A tourist from Switzerland told Hawaii News Now he witnessed the attack and saw half the man’s hand on the floor. The TV station reported police later arrested a 46-year-old man and launched an attempted murder investigation.


Boise: Gov. Brad Little has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff in honor of the two pilots who died after their firefighting helicopter crashed in Idaho. Killed were 41-year-old Thomas Hayes of Post Falls, Idaho, and 36-year-old Jared Bird of Anchorage, Alaska. Mary Cernicek with the Salmon-Challis National Forest said the CH-47D Series “Chinook” helicopter crashed Thursday in the Salmon River near the small town of Salmon. The pilots were employees of the Anchorage-based ROTAK, which owned the aircraft and was contracted to help fight the Moose Fire burning about 21 miles north of Salmon. Cernicek said both pilots were military veterans.


Peoria: The city has purchased three blocks of vacant land, about 3.75 acres, in the Warehouse District for $1.7 million to be used for future parking. Last fall, the City Council voted to allocate just over $5 million to purchase the land and build the parking lot that will sit behind several buildings on the east side of the 800 to 1000 blocks of Southwest Washington Street and west of the railroad track. Pat Sullivan, who owned the land, said he sold the property to the city at fair market value, and he believes it will help spur development within the Warehouse District. At-Large City Councilman Zach Oyler, who serves on the Downtown Development Corporation, said this will cause a significant expansion within the Warehouse District.


Carmel: Mayor Jim Brainard accepted the resignation of Police Chief Jeff Horner, the city announced Monday. Former Police Chief Jim Barlow is expected to act as interim chief of police until the city finds a replacement, according to the city’s news release. Horner was police chief for about six months after Barlow retired in January. The city did not provide a reason for Horner’s resignation.


Des Moines: Central Iowa doctors said they have seen an increased demand for vasectomies after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, even though abortion is still legal in Iowa. As more states restrict or ban abortion procedures, doctors said more men are seeking sterilization. Dr. Esgar Guarín, founder of SimpleVas, a Pleasant Hill clinic that exclusively performs vasectomies, said traffic to his website more than doubled following the Supreme Court decision, and more people requested an appointment in a single weekend than would usually sign up in weeks. Dr. Fawad Zafar of the Lakeview Center for Urology also noticed a “phenomenal” increase in patients. Demand for vasectomies took over the office, he said, to the extent they extended hours and started offering procedures on Saturdays. Zafar estimated the clinic received 90% more emails than usual after the Supreme Court decision.


Topeka: Work will begin in mid-August to identify and fix whatever is causing small amounts of water to leak through the earthen dam at Westlake in Gage Park. Tim Laurent, the Shawnee County parks and recreation director told The Capital-Journal there’s no reason to be alarmed. He said his department has learned from two contractors that “we’re not in any immediate danger of the dam breaking.” He said it’s his understanding that all dams leak, to some degree. Shawnee County earlier this year paid Topeka-based Emcon Inc. $25,820 to fix a leak in that same dam. The work began in February and ended in March, Laurent said. But soon afterward, a different leak showed up elsewhere in the dam, he said. “Obviously, we didn’t solve the problem,” Laurent said.


Louisville: Kentucky’s largest school district will require universal masking on school property as Jefferson County moves into the highest level of COVID-19 community spread. The change began Monday and lasts until Jefferson County comes out of the red level, media outlets reported. It came a little more than two weeks before classes resume in Jefferson County Public Schools. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask on district property or on school buses. District policy automatically requires universal masking whenever the county has a high level of COVID-19 community spread. When community spread in Jefferson County drops, masks in JCPS become optional.


Baton Rouge: Chief Justice John Weimer of the Louisiana Supreme Court won re-election to another 10-year term. Weimer was automatically reelected when no one signed up to challenge him by Friday’s qualifying deadline for the Nov. 8 ballot, The Advocate reported. Weimer, 67, a former professor at Nicholls State University, first won election to the state’s high court in 2001. He won reelection in 2002 and 2012. In the latter race, he ran unopposed and returned campaign checks to contributors to his campaign. Last Wednesday, he was one of the first candidates to pay the qualifying fees and file the paperwork for the fall election. Weimer’s current term ends Dec. 31.


Portland: The federal government is conducting a review of four dams on the Kennebec River that could result in a lifeline for the last wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S. The wild salmon live in a group of rivers in Maine and have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 2000. One of the rivers is the Kennebec, where Brookfield Renewable U.S. owns dams. Brookfield wants to amend federal licenses for four dams and receive a new 40-year operating license for one of them. That requires a review of the dams’ impacts on salmon, said representatives for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The federal review could result in mitigation measures Brookfield would need to take to protect the salmon, NOAA officials said. The review comes as the Biden administration is also eyeing changes to dams in other parts of the country. The administration released reports earlier this month that said removing dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington might be needed to adequately restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest.


Columbia: A 12-year-old girl died after the car she was driving ran off the road and struck a tree. Howard County Police said the girl was driving a Toyota Corolla on Broken Land Parkway about 2 a.m. Sunday when the accident occurred. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene. A male passenger, 36, was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center with serious injuries. Police were investigating why the 12-year-old was behind the wheel.


Plymouth: A humpback whale breached out of the water and landed on the bow of a 19-foot boat Sunday morning. The boat operator reported no injuries and no major damage that affected the seaworthiness of the vessel following the incident, city officials said. Humpback whales can grow up to 62-feet long and weight up to 53 tons. They are popular with whale watchers because of their acrobatic displays – including spectacular breachings in which they launch their bodies out of the water and slap the surface with their pectoral fins or tails. At the time of Sunday’s incident, several boats were around the whale. Video footage from the scene showed the animal launching its body out of the water and its head slamming onto the front of a nearby boat, tipping the rear of the vessel out of the water as it slid back into the ocean. The Plymouth Harbormaster said such incidents are rare, but they can be dangerous for boaters and whales. The harbormaster recommended boaters stay at least 100 yards away from humpback whales to minimize such incidents.


Detroit: Attorneys for Michigan’s former health director asked a judge Monday to sanction prosecutors who are trying to instantly turn invalid indictments into a fresh round of charges in the Flint water scandal. It’s the latest salvo since the Michigan Supreme Court in June said a one-person grand jury had no authority under state law to return indictments against Nick Lyon, former Gov. Rick Snyder and seven other people. The attorney general’s office insists the indictments can be reinstated as common criminal complaints in Genesee County. That request by prosecutors is pending. A judge has set a Sept. 13 hearing for Lyon and others. Snyder faces a different judge on Aug. 23. They will be the first hearings since the state Supreme Court unanimously said the indictments were invalid.


St. Cloud: Metro Bus CEO Ryan Daniel was named the Gerald Anderson Member of the Year Award at the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. The award recognized Daniel for showcasing dedication to the philosophy “the success of one is contingent upon the success of all,” Metro Bus said in a news release. Metro Bus provides fixed route, dial-a-ride and commuter bus services in St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park.


Jackson: The state welfare department has fired Brad Pigott, a former U.S. attorney it contracted to claw back millions in misspent federal funds from dozens of people in the state’s sprawling welfare scandal. The termination came about a week after Pigott filed a subpoena on the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation for its communication with several notable people, including former Gov. Phil Bryant, to get to the bottom of why it received $5 million in welfare funds to build a volleyball stadium. It is unknown how Pigott’s termination will affect the welfare agency’s civil lawsuit, which promised to investigate players in the welfare scheme and answer questions that current criminal proceedings wouldn’t. Last week, Pigott had scheduled depositions with key players in the scheme, including former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. Pigott said he was not given a reason for his termination, but that Mississippi Department of Human Services officials told him it was not related to the quality of his legal work.


St. Charles: Roughly 2,500 Boeing workers are expected to go on strike next month at three plants in the St. Louis area after they voted Sunday to reject a contract offer from the plane maker. The strike is planned to begin Aug. 1 at Boeing manufacturing facilities in St. Charles County, St. Louis County and Mascoutah, Illinois, after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 837 union voted down the contract, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boing said in a statement it is disappointed in the vote but it will now use its “contingency plan to support continuity of operations in the event of a strike.” A Boeing spokesman said the company’s contract offer included competitive raises and a generous retirement plan that included Boeing matching employee contributions up to 10% of their pay.


Great Falls: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the production and placement of two homemade pipe bombs in Great Falls. On July 4, the ATF, Great Falls Police Department, and United States Air Force Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit responded to the 2000 block of 9th Avenue South to investigate a homeowner’s discovery of two suspected pipe bombs in their residential backyard while mowing the lawn. The pipe bombs were made of metal pipe containing nuts, screws, bolts and other shrapnel. They were wrapped in cellophane with an exposed fuse. Fortunately, neither device detonated, and no one was injured. Evacuations and shelter-in-place orders were in effect until the devices were rendered safe. It is believed the devices might have been placed anytime between mid-June and July 4. Tipsters should contact the ATF at (888) ATF-TIPS. Information can also be sent to or through ATF’s website at


Omaha: Union Pacific’s second-quarter profit improved a bit, but the Omaha-based railroad’s expenses jumped as it tried to reduce delivery delays that have left its customers waiting for trains at times. The railroad said its profit grew 2% to $1.84 billion, or $2.93 per share, in the quarter. That’s up slightly from last year’s $1.8 billion, or $2.72 per share. The results beat Wall Street expectations even though Union Pacific’s performance disappointed with two key performance measures – the speed of its freight cars and locomotive productivity – down 12%. CEO Lance Fritz said the railroad’s performance improved throughout the quarter after it imposed limits on the number of cars some customers could ship to help clear backlogs, and he said he expects that improvement to continue gradually as the railroad hires and trains more workers to handle the demand. Union Pacific is one of the nation’s largest railroads, with a network of 32,400 miles of track in 23 Western states.


Las Vegas: Authorities said they still are investigating the reported theft of an ancient Torah from a man who was staying at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Metro Police said the item was reported stolen from The Venetian last month. They said a man told detectives he left his Torah inside of a convention room that had been converted into a synagogue. Police said the Torah had been used in the convention room since June 8 and had remained in that location until it was reported stolen two days later. Hotel video surveillance showed a man walking through the property pulling a suitcase on wheels, but police said Friday they have not been able to identify the suspect.

New Hampshire

Exeter: The city recently joined 50 other communities in the Granite State to impose outdoor water use restrictions amid a statewide drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the state and more than half of Maine is under a “moderate drought” and communities along the state’s border with Massachusetts are enduring a “significant drought.” Data from the National Integrated Drought Information System showed all of Strafford and Rockingham counties are in a or moderate drought. However, 13% of Rockingham is experiencing severe drought. The dry conditions affecting the state are tied to low snowpack this past winter, an early spring melt and below-average rainfall over the past few months.

New Jersey

Asbury Park: Gov. Phil Murphy announced $60 million in incentive programs designed to increase the number of electric vehicles and charging stations in the Garden State. “There is no doubt that the tide has turned and electric vehicles are now a legitimate alternative, equal to their internal combustion competitors in price, if not superior in performance,” Murphy said during a stop in Asbury Park’s municipal building. The Charge Up New Jersey program offers up to $4,000 in incentives for New Jersey residents who purchase or lease electric vehicles. The state Board of Public Utilities’ program previously provided residents up to $5,000 off the purchase or lease of new, eligible zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric models retailing for less than $55,000. The incentive was changed to $4,000, according to the board, to “allow the existing funding to go further and provide more incentives for EVs in New Jersey.” Murphy said in its first two years the program was “maxed out” and helped put 13,000 new EVs in New Jersey garages.

New Mexico

Las Vegas: The search continued Sunday for a man reported missing after flash floods hit a wildfire burn scar in northern New Mexico. Authorities said the bodies of two women were recovered Thursday west of Las Vegas after the Cabo Lucero Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call of a vehicle being washed away by floodwaters. Officials with the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said the bodies were found in different places along a creek. A search began Friday for a missing man who was in the vehicle with the women, according to authorities. The names, ages and hometowns of the women and man haven’t been released yet. The flooding occurred in the “burn scar” area from the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. The combined wildfire has burned 533 square miles and has yet to be fully contained after more than three months.

New York

New York City: By the thousands, revelers recently returned to Havemeyer Street in the city’s Williamsburg neighborhood to celebrate the annual Giglio Feast following its first-ever cancellation in 2020 because of the pandemic, and then downsized crowds in 2021. The feast, first held in Williamsburg in 1903 by immigrants from Nola, Italy, combines two celebrations. One, typically held on June 22, is dedicated to St. Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola from 409 AD to 431 AD, and the other, celebrated on July 16, to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the name given to the Virgin Mary by the Catholic Church’s Carmelite Order. Although the feast used to span several weeks between the holidays, it has since been combined into one 12-day event. Throughout the festivities, people from the Catholic church and the surrounding community walk the streets, savoring food from pop-up stands and playing carnival games. The highlight of the feast is the lifting of the Giglio, an 80-foot, 4-ton tower crowned with a life-size St. Paulinus figurine. As 100 to 150 men struggle to walk with the Giglio on their shoulders, an older man takes the lead, clearing the way and waving a cane while shouting directions.

North Carolina

Charlotte: Officials said an environmental cleanup company violated a county’s “objectionable odor rule” when it accidentally released a smelly chemical that offended nostrils and caused alarm across Charlotte earlier this month. The Charlotte Observer reported the area’s 911 system was flooded with calls July 14 from people who thought they smelled a leak of natural gas. Climate conditions across the city seemed to spread the smell broadly. In fact, though, a company called Legacy Environmental Services accidentally released a chemical called mercaptan while it was recycling four metal tanks. Mercaptan is a harmless chemical added to natural gas that smells like rotten eggs so that people can detect a possible leak. The Observer reported Friday that Mecklenburg County officials said the release has been classified as a violation and they are seeking more information from the company to determine next steps. The company said it is cooperating with regulators.

North Dakota

Bismarck: State officials said taxable sales and purchases for the first quarter of 2022 were up 13.2% compared to the same period last year. State Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus reported taxable sales and purchases for January, February and March totaled $4.7 billion, with all industry sectors seeing an increase, the Bismarck Tribune reported. All of the 15 major industry sectors reported increases over the first quarter of 2021. The mining and oil extraction sector rose 37%, and the wholesale trade sector was up 27.5%. Counties with the highest percentage increases were Williams at 32.1% and Renville at 34.5%. Morton County had an increase of 5.1% and Burleigh County experienced a decrease of 0.4%.


Plain City: A recent study said a new state permit that would allow Plain City to treat more sewage should include tougher standards to better protect the Big Darby Creek and its watershed. The assessment, conducted by the Hilliard-based Midwest Biodiversity Institute for the nonprofit Darby Creek Association, in particular cited concerns about ammonia, and the monitoring under a state draft permit is inadequate to protect the diverse wildlife in the watershed. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s rules regarding ammonia are not as stringent as the U.S. EPA’s regulations, said Ed Rankin, senior research biologist for the institute. He said he is concerned about the effects of ammonia on about 40 species of mussels in Big Darby Creek. Dissolved oxygen reductions from the use of ammonia in wastewater treatment can decrease species diversity in water downstream of treatment plants and result in fish kills, according to the U.S. EPA. The nutrients in ammonia also can feed plant growth along waterways, feeding algae and creating other problems, the EPA said. Rankin said any new permit for Plain City’s wastewater treatment plant should include federal standards for ammonia.


Oklahoma City: A nonprofit will open a transition home for human trafficking victims later this year, with organizers hoping to serve those affected while also educating the public about sexual exploitation. The Dragonfly Home started as a crisis center in 2016, aiding sex and labor trafficking victims by providing resources such as legal assistance and therapeutic services. Now, the nonprofit has a nine-bedroom house for women who have experienced human trafficking and need shelter, becoming the first and only transitional house in Oklahoma City certified by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office. All services provided by the Dragonfly home are free. The Dragonfly Transition Home is opening as reports of sex trafficking and forced labor multiply across the country. In 2020, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 10,583 reported trafficking cases, a 37% increase in just five years. In May, Oklahoma legislators approved using $5.3 million from the state budget to to create a human trafficking response unit. For more information about The Dragonfly House, go to


Salem: Backyard burning, agricultural burning and land clearing burns are restricted in Polk County starting Monday. In a news release sent Friday, Dallas Fire and EMS announced the ban, which is effective through late September. The burn ban was issued by the Polk County Fire Defense Board. The decision was made after the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season declaration and the upcoming higher summer temperatures. Under the ban, all backyard and agricultural burning will be prohibited. The ban does not apply to the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management regulated lands that have independent jurisdiction and regulations. More information is available at the Burn Information Line at (503) 838-2020. Anyone in violation of the ban might be held liable for the cost of putting out a fire and for any property damage that results, according to the release. There is currently no burn ban in Marion County.


Fogelsville: A man taken to an eastern Pennsylvania hospital last week after police shot a boa constrictor that was around his neck has died of his injuries, authorities said. The Lehigh County coroner’s office said Monday that 27-year-old Elliot Senseman died Sunday morning at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest. The cause of death was was listed as anoxic brain injury due to asphyxiation by constriction and the manner of death was ruled accidental. “A boa constrictor-type snake approximately 18 feet in length constricted around the neck of Mr. Senseman, thus causing the anoxic brain injury (complete lack of oxygen to the brain),” the coroner’s office said. Police were called to the Fogelsville home shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a man in cardiac arrest with a snake wrapped around his neck. Police said an officer was able to shoot the snake’s head without hurting Senseman, who was given medical aid and taken to the hospital. Upper Macungie Township police and the coroner’s office are investigating. Police told WTXF-TV the snake was the man’s pet and several other snake enclosures were found inside the home. Lt. Peter Nickischer said Monday that investigators don’t know the circumstances of the attack because “the dire situation” precluded “extended interviews … about the snake, its origin, or anything along those lines.”

Rhode Island

Providence: A high school basketball coach has been criminally charged by authorities who said he asked male student-athletes to remove their clothes so he could check their body fat. Aaron Thomas was charged Thursday with child molestation and sexual assault involving two students. Thomas coached boys at North Kingstown High School since the 1990s until he resigned last year. An attorney for Thomas said his client denies wrongdoing and the tests bettered the athletic performance of many students. Arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 19.

South Carolina

Anderson: More than 400 friends and family enjoyed food and an evening of live music at the 80th birthday celebration for blues great Dr. Mac Arnold on Wednesday at the Anderson Civic Center. In between performances, Arnold’s family presented him with a white cowboy hat as a birthday gift and as an alternate option to the signature black hat he is known to wear. “Words can’t express it,” Arnold said. “The people who are here, most of them, I’ve known over 70 years.” Earlier on Wednesday, Arnold received the Jo Brown Senior Citizen of the Year Award from the Anderson County Senior Citizens Program – an accolade that commemorates his Hall of Fame Blues career and local, Upstate impact.

South Dakota

Rapid City: Tim Giago, the founder of the first independently owned Native American newspaper in the United States, has died at age 88, his former wife said. Giago, who died at Monument Health in Rapid City on Sunday, created an enduring legacy during his more than four decades of work in South Dakota journalism, his colleagues said. Giago founded The Lakota Times with his first wife, Doris, in 1981, and quickly showed that he wasn’t afraid to challenge those in power and advocate for American Indians, she said. Launching the paper, even years after the 1973 Wounded Knee siege between U.S. marshals and the American Indian Movement, was challenging because wounds still existed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and in South Dakota, Doris Giago said. Tim Giago blamed the American Indian Movement for violence on the reservation. Windows at the paper were broken and the office was firebombed. “And through it all, Tim never backed down,” said Doris Giago, who was married to him from 1979 to 1986. The Lakota Times was renamed Indian Country Today. Giago founded the Native American Journalists Association and served as its first president. He was also the first Native American to be inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame.


Nashville: State attorney general Herbert Slatery’s office on Monday said it’s still unknown when the state’s anti-abortion “trigger ban” will go into effect, but some state lawmakers are raising alarm the ban has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Tennessee has been limiting abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights case in June. However, the state also has another abortion ban designed to restrict abortion almost entirely. But that law can’t be enacted until the Supreme Court enters a judgment on the Roe ruling, which is expected soon. Doing so will start the clock on Tennessee’s trigger law and allow it to be implemented within 30 days. Idaho and Texas have similar timelines, and a handful of other states’ trigger laws have been delayed because of legal challenges. Slatery’s office initially said the state could begin enforcing the trigger law in mid-August, but nearly a month after making that estimate, a spokesperson said they were “not sure” if that timeline was still in place.


Dallas: Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from his 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight title fight was sold at auction on Sunday for $6.18 million. The winner of the heated competition for the belt was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, according to Heritage Auctions in Dallas. In a tweet Sunday, Irsay confirmed he acquired the belt for his collection of rock music, American history and pop culture memorabilia that is touring the country. The belt will be displayed on Aug. 2 at Chicago’s Navy Pier and on Sept. 9 in Indianapolis. The 1974 fight was one of boxing’s most memorable moments. Ali stopped George Foreman to recapture the heavyweight title in the African nation of Zaire. Ali won the fight with a knockout in the eighth round.


St. George: The city opened its ninth fire station that will serve the growing population on its southern edge. Fire Station 9 is located at 2225 East Commerce Drive. The city has been planning for the fire station for seven years and the newest addition is one of three fire stations in the works, Mayor Michele Randall said. The public was invited to tour Fire Station 9 on Friday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and fire truck push. A fire hose was used in place of a ribbon and those in attendance were offered refreshments and small gifts. St. George Fire Department Chief Robert Stoker said the new facility would make responses to fires in Little Valley much quicker.


Burlington: Ice Cream Bob’s, a canary-yellow kiosk on the Burlington waterfront, is open again after supposedly shutting down after Memorial Day. “I realized I maybe retired too soon,” owner Bob Saffi, 80, said. “I missed it, I really did.” Saffi reopened the shop on July 1 so a potential buyer could see the operation. Those talks stalled after July 4, but Saffi said he was having so much fun – and receiving so much traffic – that he decided to keep the stand open for another summer. Saffi began running the stand in 2002 as a converted ticket booth. Ice Cream Bob’s sells an assortment of hot food and ice cream and is best known for its maple creemees and sprinkles.


Staunton: The Central Shenandoah Health District has temporarily discontinued clinical services offered by the Waynesboro-Augusta Health Department as it prepares to move to a new location. A reopening date is scheduled for the spring of 2023. Health department staff will still be available until Aug. 12 at the Waynesboro-Augusta Health Department for inquiries regarding vital records or other documents. During this transition, arrangements for services can be made with the Staunton-Augusta Health Department. Information on the new site for the Waynesboro-Augusta Health Department will be shared with the public as soon as additional logistics are completed, according to a news release.


Kitsap: A carving studio that will become part of the Chief Kitsap Academy campus is under construction, opening the way for the Suquamish Tribe’s compact school to display various projects by students. The studio is planned to include a classroom for teaching Salish-style art and carving techniques, according to a statement. One-third of the building is set up as classroom space in which students and teachers can conduct educational projects, and two-third of the building would be a shop area, according to Rex Green, the principal of Chief Kitsap Academy. The studio is expected to be completed in mid-August, Green said.

West Virginia

Charleston: Gov. Jim Justice on Monday abruptly added state abortion law to the agenda for a special session of the Legislature he called to focus on his plan to reduce the state’s income tax. The Republican governor announced last week he was calling legislators to Charleston on Monday to weigh his plan for a 10% tax reduction. He made no mention of abortion in that announcement, though he has hinted in recent days that it might be the subject of a special session as well. The Senate had gaveled in for the day and the House was preparing to start work when Justice announced abortion was being added to their agenda. In his announcement, Justice asked legislators to “clarify and modernize” the state abortion laws in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month ending federal protection for abortion. West Virginia has a state law on the books dating to the 1800s making performing or obtaining an abortion a felony, punishable by up to a decade in prison. It provides an exception for cases in which the mother’s life is at risk. A week ago, a Charleston judge blocked enforcement of the ban, saying the recent laws enacted by the Legislature “hopelessly conflict with the criminal abortion ban” and that it would be “inequitable” to allow conflicting laws to remain on the books. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court.


Madison: Democrat Tom Nelson dropped out of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race on Monday and endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes ahead of next month’s primary. Nelson announced his decision in a tweet. The Outagame County executive didn’t elaborate on why he was suspending his campaign, but he has trailed in polls behind front-runners Barnes, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. The Democrats are vying to take on Ron Johnson, who is seeking a third term.


Casper: A Morning Consult poll released July 19 showed Republican Gov. Mark Gordon tied with Vermont Republican Phil Scott as the nation’s most popular governor, the Casper Star Trbune reported. The same poll showed Gordon with a 17% disapproval rating, the lowest in the nation.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 States