Sequoia toll, Daffodil Project, ferret release: News from around our 50 states


Film from WSFA is pulled from a time capsule that was sealed into City Hall during Montgomery's 150th anniversary in 1969 with instructions not to open it until the city's 200th anniversary, in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 3, 2019.
Film from WSFA is pulled from a time capsule that was sealed into City Hall during Montgomery's 150th anniversary in 1969 with instructions not to open it until the city's 200th anniversary, in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 3, 2019.

Montgomery: A television station has donated thousands of items including historic footage from the civil rights era to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, which will make the material available to the public. WSFA-TV in Montgomery announced it had given the agency materials dating to the 1950s, including footage from news conferences by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., coverage of the Freedom Riders in 1961 and original film from the “Stand in the School House Door” by then-Gov. George C. Wallace in 1963. The video also includes scenes from a visit to the NASA center in Huntsville by the President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1962 and special reports on the death of former University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1983. As the TV station was planning to switch locations, managers determined it wasn’t practical to move the large numbers of delicate film reels and boxes full of video and other items. Steve Murray, the state archives director, said archivists had long suspected the WSFA studios held valuable content for historical preservation, and his department jumped at the opportunity to add to its collection when a phone call came in late 2019.


Juneau: Members of the Biden administration have launched a series of events aimed at exploring the Arctic’s potential to act as a “living laboratory of clean energy innovation.” Officials participating in the online event, billed as “ArcticX,” spoke of the challenges faced by remote communities in Alaska’s Arctic region, such as high energy costs and impacts from climate change. During the event’s broad discussions, they said they see opportunities for sustainable or renewable energy systems. Wednesday’s meeting was the first of four planned online events, with an in-person gathering set for May in Alaska. Among the speakers was U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Offices that fall under the department co-hosted the event. “We hope to combine the world-class expertise of our national labs, of our 17 national labs, with the know-how that Arctic communities have developed over centuries of innovation in the far north so together we can get new technologies out of the lab and into the field and onto the market and support communities in taking control of their own clean energy future,” Granholm said. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable sources accounted for about 30% of Alaska’s electricity generation in 2019. Many rural communities rely largely on diesel electric generators for power.


Phoenix: The state’s Motor Vehicle Division failed to notify more than 34,000 drivers that their licenses had been suspended, revoked or canceled and also lagged for months in alerting prosecutors. The MVD notified county attorney’s offices around the state of the problem Wednesday, saying in an email that notices weren’t mailed “beginning in late 2020 and ending in March.” A glitch with the agency’s mailing process was the cause. “When MVD discovered this issue in February 2021, the first step was to understand what caused the problem, the extent of customers affected and how to resolve the problem,” MVD spokesman Doug Parcey said in an email. “Once those were known, the affected customers were immediately notified.” Some prosecutors learned about the issue from defense attorneys. Potentially thousands of drivers might have been arrested and prosecuted or paid hefty fines because they unknowingly drove with a suspended license. Prosecutors in Maricopa and Pinal counties have already flagged more than 1,000 cases. Municipal and justice courts will also have to review cases involving suspended licenses. “Our first priority is to look at convictions,” said Rachel Mitchell, acting division chief of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. “We are focusing on prison. … It is certainly scary for me as a prosecutor.”


Little Rock: State lawmakers on Friday delayed a vote on whether to allow state-run health care facilities to require employees to get COVID-19 vaccines – a move officials say is needed to protect millions of dollars in federal funding. The Arkansas Legislative Council voted to delay considering the requests by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs for an exemption from a state law banning vaccine requirements by government entities. The law conflicts with a federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health care workers issued by President Joe Biden’s administration that’s set to take effect in January. A group of Republican-led states, including Arkansas, have asked a federal judge to block its enforcement. UAMS could lose $600 million in Medicare and Medicaid funding and another $100 million in federal contracts if it doesn’t comply with the federal rule, Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson told the panel. Patterson said the exemption was needed to ensure that the university’s workers are in compliance with the federal requirement and that funding isn’t threatened. The panel did not set a date for considering the exemptions. But legislative leaders said they hoped to meet before Dec. 5.


Los Angeles: Lightning-sparked wildfires killed thousands of giant sequoias this year, leading to a staggering two-year death toll that accounts for up to nearly a fifth of Earth’s largest trees, officials said Friday. Fires in Sequoia National Park and surrounding Sequoia National Forest tore through more than a third of groves in California and torched an estimated 2,261 to 3,637 sequoias, which are the largest trees by volume. Nearby wildfires last year killed an unprecedented 7,500 to 10,400 giant sequoias that are only native in about 70 groves scattered along the western side of the Sierra Nevada range. Losses now account for 13% to 19% of the 75,000 sequoias greater than 4 feet in diameter. Blazes so intense to burn hot enough and high enough to kill so many giant sequoias – trees once considered nearly fireproof – put an exclamation point on climate change’s impact. A warming planet that has created hotter droughts combined with a century of fire suppression that choked forests with thick undergrowth have fueled flames that have sounded the death knell for trees dating to ancient civilizations. “The sobering reality is that we have seen another huge loss within a finite population of these iconic trees that are irreplaceable in many lifetimes,” said Clay Jordan, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.


Denver: The Denver suburb of Aurora has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the parents of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died after police stopped him on the street and put him in a neck hold two years ago, the city and family attorneys announced Friday. A federal magistrate judge accepted terms of the settlement after a mediation session, said Qusair Mohamedbhai, an attorney for McClain’s mother, Sheneen McClain. Outside court, Sheneen McClain said she was glad to have the agreement finalized but noted the work of fighting for justice for her son just makes her miss him more. “The money is just the world’s way of saying, ‘We’re sorry,’ but it’s not going to help me heal the hole in my heart,” she said. The settlement amount was agreed to in July but not officially disclosed until now because of a dispute between McClain’s parents about how the wording of the agreement could affect their dispute over how the money should be divided. Sheneen McClain said Elijah’s father, LaWayne Mosley, was not involved in raising him. How the money will be divided will be addressed separately. In a statement, Mosley did not address the dispute but said he hoped the settlement would send a message to police. “I hope Elijah’s legacy is that police will think twice before killing another innocent person,” he said.


Plymouth: Officials believe nearly 40 drug overdoses across the state since July may be linked to marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl and are warning the public about the potential danger. State health officials said marijuana seized in Plymouth after an overdose in early October tested positive for fentanyl at the state crime lab. “This is the first lab confirmed case of marijuana with fentanyl in Connecticut and possibly the first confirmed case in the United States,” Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state’s public health commissioner, said in a statement Thursday. Officials had been investigating reports of people across Connecticut who overdosed and were revived with naloxone but denied using opioids. They told authorities they only smoked marijuana. There were 11 such overdoses in July, nine in August, nine in September and 10 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 26. No deaths were reported. Brian Foley, an aide to state public safety Commissioner James Rovella, said the state crime lab will now be testing all marijuana that police submit for fentanyl. An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in a recent one-year period – a never-before-seen milestone that health officials say is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply.


Wilmington: In October, as the state allocated $78 million in federal money to health care facilities struggling with staffing shortages, hospitals received $25 million total – only about one-third of what they requested. Health care workers, who have been fighting the coronavirus for nearly two years, have said they’re burned out and exhausted. Some chose to leave the hospital bedside or the profession entirely. Others declined financial incentives of several hundred dollars offered to fill shifts, citing mental health reasons. Many are jumping ship to other hospitals in Delaware or the Philadelphia area because health systems are providing hefty signing bonuses and significant increases in pay. Hospitals are also relying on travel nurses, who work in three-month shifts, to fill the gaps. Travel nurses can make twice as much or more what permanent hospital nurses take home in pay. ChristianaCare requested $40 million in federal aid, according to documents provided by the governor’s office. Instead, the state’s largest hospital and private employer received $12 million, the biggest sum any health system received. ChristianaCare, like others, continues to offer $10,000 signing bonuses for a number of open nursing positions.

District of Columbia

Washington: Mayor Muriel Bowser’s decision to ease mask requirements in the nation’s capital has sparked a public debate about timing, with the majority of the D.C. Council pleading with her to reconsider. It’s a localized debate that reflects a broader national dynamic in the country’s coronavirus-mitigation stance, with some leaders and businesses pushing for more normalcy after the successful reopening of schools and others preaching caution against reckless pre-winter moves. Starting Monday, masks will no longer be required in many indoor spaces in D.C. They must still be worn in multiple settings, including schools, libraries, public transportation, ride-share vehicles, and group-living facilities like nursing homes, dorms and jails. Private businesses will still be able to require customers to wear masks. Bowser has cautiously hailed the step as a “shift in where we are with the pandemic,” saying the return of the mask mandate earlier this year helped blunt the late-summer surge of the delta variant. The nation’s capital originally lifted its indoor mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals in May but reinstated it in late July as cases began to rise again. According to D.C. Health Department statistics, the current seven-day average of new cases is higher than it was in May but still well below the late-summer delta-variant peak.


Stuart: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed work on a $339 million Everglades restoration project aimed at cleansing water runoff before it flows into a troubled river. Corps and local officials held a ceremony Friday for the 12,000-acre project in Martin County known officially as the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area. It’s a key part of a broader effort to restore the vast Florida Everglades. The reservoir will capture, store and clean fertilizer-laden runoff from farms and development before it is routed into the St. Lucie River and ultimately the Indian River Lagoon. Both have been plagued by harmful algae blooms and other long-term problems associated with water pollution that threatens wildlife and human health. “I think it’s huge” for the east coast, said Chauncey Goss, chair of the South Florida Water Management District. “Not only symbolically, but it’s also going to be taking water, cleaning it up and helping to get rid of some of these discharges, which is really the goal of all of this.” The project can store 19.7 billion gallons of water, according to state water managers. It will use plants such as cattails to suck up about 35 metric tons of phosphorus every year before the water makes its way into the St. Lucie River.


Cumming: Leaders with Forsyth County Schools, Congregation Beth Israel and the OneForsyth Council have planted 500 daffodil bulbs outside the school district’s new Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center as part of the Daffodil Project, a worldwide initiative aiming to plant the flowers all over in honor of each of the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust. Thanks to the partnership, Forsyth County will now be home to 500 of those daffodils, which will bloom in the spring on Holocaust Remembrance Day. FCS Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden, Rabbi Levi Mentz with Congregation Beth Israel and OneForsyth Council Chair Kristin Cook all gave opening remarks at a Nov. 8 ceremony before county and school district leaders began planting each of the bulbs. Cook said she was proud to be there, speaking on behalf of OneForsyth, the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s diversity initiative, and modeling their guiding principles of uniting, celebrating and promoting inclusion in the county. “Our hope is that, by continuing to support events like these, we will all grow to appreciate the unique identities that embody us all,” Cook said. Metz said he was overjoyed to see the project coming to Forsyth County, his involvement feeling personal to him and his family since his grandfather was a survivor of the Holocaust.


Honolulu: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering additional protections for waters off the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. NOAA announced the proposal to designate oceanic areas of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which is already one of the largest protected natural areas in the world, as a national marine sanctuary on Friday. The agency opened the plan to public comment through January. The designation would build on existing protections meant to maintain marine habitats and wildlife. The new rules would apply only to oceanic areas, not the islands that are already part of the monument. “Papahānaumokuākea’s ecosystems are increasingly under pressure from threats such as marine debris, invasive species, and climate change,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Hawaii and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs currently co-manage the monument. Papahānaumokuākea is larger than all other U.S. national parks combined and is home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, seabirds and extensive coral reef ecosystems. The area is home to many species found nowhere else on Earth.


Boise: If anyone has a good idea on how to put a nuclear fission power plant on the moon, the U.S. government wants to hear about it. NASA and the nation’s top federal nuclear research lab on Friday put out a request for proposals for a fission surface power system. NASA is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to establish a sun-independent power source for missions to the moon by the end of the decade. “Providing a reliable, high-power system on the moon is a vital next step in human space exploration, and achieving it is within our grasp,” Sebastian Corbisiero, the Fission Surface Power Project lead at the lab, said in a statement. If the effort is successful in supporting a sustained human presence on the moon, the next objective would be Mars. NASA says fission surface power could provide sustained, abundant power no matter the environmental conditions on the moon or Mars. “I expect fission surface power systems to greatly benefit our plans for power architectures for the moon and Mars and even drive innovation for uses here on Earth,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a statement. The reactor would be built on Earth and then sent to the moon.


Springfield: A new store at the Illinois State Museum will feature products from the state, along with themed souvenirs, specialty foods and toys. The Shop opened to the public Saturday. Families were invited to attend an opening event in their flannel and fleece pajamas. The store is located in the first floor of the Illinois State Museum, which owns and operates the Shop to fund programs and research. Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, the museum’s director, called the opening an important moment in the museum’s return to operations. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration shut down the museum in 2015 during an ongoing budget impasse. It reopened the following year but since then has seen closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. The museum was established in 1877 and has branch facilities in Lewistown and Lockport.


Indianapolis: A renewed push for the state to join more than two-thirds of states with some form of legalized marijuana use appears to face the same roadblock from Statehouse Republicans who have opposed such a step for many years. Legislative Democrats and the state Democratic Party united last week in urging approval of marijuana legalization during the legislative session that starts in January, arguing that it could benefit those wanting to use it for medical purposes, create new jobs and become an additional state tax revenue source. The Republican-dominated Legislature has not taken any action on bills submitted over the past decade for allowing medical marijuana or removing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of the drug, even as recreational marijuana sales have won approval in Michigan and Illinois and as medical use is allowed in Ohio. Legalization advocates haven’t yet changed the minds of legislative leaders, who reject arguments that Indiana is losing money to neighboring states and point to pot still being illegal under federal law. “I think when you make the argument about having that substantial a public policy change just because you’re trying to chase dollars makes no sense to me, so I’m in the same place I’ve been,” Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said.


The Ames City Council has renamed the park between South Maple Road and South Grand Avenue as Ioway Creek Park.
The Ames City Council has renamed the park between South Maple Road and South Grand Avenue as Ioway Creek Park.

Ames: A city park will now be named Ioway Creek Park to align with the creek’s name change earlier this year. The Ames City Council voted unanimously last week to change the name of Squaw Creek Park to Ioway Creek Park. In February, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed the name of Squaw Creek, a 42-mile-long tributary of the South Skunk River, to Ioway Creek, as the original name is considered derogatory to Native Americans. The Ames Tribune reports that an Indigenous teen, Fawn Stubben, pushed for the change in the 1990s, but the proposal wasn’t considered until Ames resident Jasmine Martin applied to the federal board in 2019. The Ames City Council and Story County Board of Supervisors both voted in support of the change. The current name honors the Ioway, an Indigenous tribe that once lived in parts of Iowa. Creek sign names have since been adjusted around Ames, but there were still remnants of the former name, including Squaw Creek Drive. The street was renamed Stonehaven Drive as part of the meeting’s consent agenda. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday formally declared “squaw” a derogatory term and said she is taking steps to remove it from federal government use and to replace other derogatory place names.


Topeka: Next year, the state will start requiring employers, individuals and health insurance companies to pay some costs associated with coronavirus testing. The state Department of Health and Environment announced Friday that it will start phasing out free screening tests for people who aren’t showing COVID-19 symptoms or haven’t potentially been exposed. The agency said it expects the policy to begin in March 2022. The department said it can’t sustain having public health agencies cover the cost of all testing indefinitely. The agency said it initially allocated $141 million in federal funds to make coronavirus tests available and support commercial and university labs to expand processing and sampling capacity. But the department said infections from the delta variant depleted the funds faster than expected. “Testing has become an increasingly important way in which those who choose to be unvaccinated may still be able to work, attend events, and travel,” Ashley Goss, the department’s acting secretary, said in a statement. The changes will mainly affect programs used by employers to test 10% of their workers on a regular basis and programs by community organizations to offer free rapid tests.


Lexington: The city has received a perfect 100 score from the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights organization, for its laws, policies, services and programs to protect and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The city received a total score of 106 for additional steps it has taken over the past few years to benefit the LGBTQ community. It’s the highest ranking of any city in Kentucky, though Louisville has received a perfect score for several years. A 100 is considered a perfect score, but cities can earn up to 122 additional points for programs and services. “We’ve worked hard to create an atmosphere welcoming all people,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said. “That hard work has resulted in the highest score received by a Kentucky city.” It’s the first time since the rankings began eight years ago that Lexington has earned a perfect score. In 2020, it received a 95 out of 100. Lexington received high marks despite Kentucky not having a statewide LGBTQ nondiscrimination law. The Human Rights Campaign evaluated more than 506 cities across the country. Other evaluated Kentucky cities include Berea, Bowling Green, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead and Owensboro. Covington’s score was 96. The lowest-scoring Kentucky city was Owensboro with 18.


Baton Rouge: State lawmakers on Friday lambasted Louisiana’s temporary housing program enacted after Hurricane Ida, saying it continues to move too slowly to help people living in damaged homes and tents since late August. “We’re moving at a snail’s pace. It’s just unbelievable,” said Sen. Mike Fesi, a Houma Republican who represents Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, which were among the hardest hit by Ida. The state has spent $90 million in federal disaster aid on more than 2,000 trailers to provide temporary shelter to residents in southeastern Louisiana. Half have been placed on residents’ properties and other community housing sites, and 653 families have moved into the trailers so far, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness told lawmakers. The program has received near-constant criticism about the time it’s taking to place trailers since Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration launched the Hurricane Ida Sheltering Program on Oct. 4. That critique spilled over into Friday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, as the homeland security agency asked lawmakers to approve $500 million in authority to spend federal disaster recovery aid. Director Casey Tingle defended the housing program, telling lawmakers: “We have a brand new program that’s never been done before.”


Portland: The developer of a $1 billion electric transmission line is suspending construction at the request of the governor after she certified election results Friday in which residents firmly opposed the project. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills had urged New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission LLC to stop construction on the 145-mile project until legal challenges are resolved. Thorn Dickinson, president and CEO of NECEC, said work will be temporarily halted until a judge rules on a request for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit contending the referendum was unconstitutional. “This was not an easy decision. Suspending construction will require the layoff of more than 400 Mainers just as the holiday season begins,” Dickinson said in a statement Friday evening. Mills supports the project but said she also supports “the rule of law that governs our society and the will of the people that informs it.” Funded by Massachusetts ratepayers, the project would supply up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid. That’s enough electricity for 1 million homes. Critics said the project is damaging the woods and changing the character of a part of western Maine with little if any benefit for its residents.


Frederick: With sailboats taking over Carroll Creek, a unique holiday tradition has returned to downtown Frederick for its sixth year. About two dozen sailboats were launched in the creek Saturday as part of the annual Sailing Through the Winter Solstice project. Volunteers rushed about Saturday morning, lowering the boats off the banks of the creek into the water. Some volunteers had the unenviable task of wading through the water on the chilly November morning to ensure the boats were anchored in place. Peter Kremers, who co-founded and serves as the chair of the event, said there were about 25 sailboats in and around the creek this year. Now in its sixth year, the project has quickly grown into a beloved part of the holiday season in the city. This year’s event has more sailboats than ever. “We started with one boat in ’16,” Kremers said of the project’s speedy growth. “I think last year we had maybe 19 in the water; this year we have 22 boats in the water and three on land.” The sailboats will stay on Carroll Creek until March, each fitted with lights and decorations to brighten up the dark nights of winter. But the goal isn’t just to make the downtown look nice. The project also helps raise a significant amount of money for a number of local charities.


Boston: A 48-foot white spruce chosen as the city’s Christmas tree has arrived from Nova Scotia as part of a decades-old tradition. This year’s tree was donated by L’Arche Cape Breton, a nonprofit that provides homes and work for people with disabilities. The 60-year-old tree was on the nonprofit’s property on Canada’s Cape Breton Island. A police escort brought the tree to Boston Common on Thursday, WCVB-TV reports. Nova Scotia donates a tree to Boston every year as a token of gratitude for relief efforts by Bostonians after a munitions ship exploded in Halifax Harbor in 1917, killing or injuring thousands of people. It will be lit Dec. 2. For Massachusetts residents buying a Christmas tree locally, finding the perfect one may prove difficult this year. Tree sellers are expecting one of their busiest and most challenging seasons yet, The Boston Globe reports. Last year, with many people cooped up at home during the pandemic, everyone wanted a tree – sometimes more than one, the National Christmas Tree Association said. Many local Christmas tree farms cut and sold trees they normally would have left in the ground. That means some sellers this year have fewer, shorter trees.


Lansing: Pure Michigan is marketing the state’s upcoming winter season in an advertising campaign running in key regional and state markets. The Still Pure Michigan campaign is expected to run through the end of February and use broadcast and connected television, online video and digital ads, and social media, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. said. Much of the focus of the tourism and marketing campaign will be on travel and shopping. Advertising spots will run in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Lansing, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Traverse City, Cadillac, Marquette and Alpena. They also will be seen in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kentucky. This year’s total winter advertising budget tops $3 million. The launch of the Pure Michigan campaign comes just ahead of the opening of many of Michigan’s ski resorts for the year, according to the MEDC. “As winter approaches, adventure awaits us in the form of downhill skiing, fat-tire biking or snowshoeing epic backcountry landscapes,” Travel Michigan Vice President Dave Lorenz said.


Turkeys at a Minnesota farm. Turkey prices are spiking this Thanksgiving.
Turkeys at a Minnesota farm. Turkey prices are spiking this Thanksgiving.

St. Paul: Farmers across the state who grow about 45 million turkeys annually will benefit from higher prices this year, according to agriculture experts. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said the price of turkeys has steadily increased as demand has risen following a year when there were fewer family gatherings, and restaurant traffic was down due to the coronavirus pandemic. “USDA is actually predicting this year to be a record-high price for turkeys,” said Tim Petry, a livestock marketing economist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service. “From a price standpoint, these are the best prices they’ve seen for a number of years. So, you know, that’s good news for producers.” The good news on prices is tempered somewhat by rising costs to raise the birds on more than 500 farms in the state, Minnesota Public Radio News reports. Higher prices for corn and soybeans to feed the turkeys are cutting into profits, growers said. “Those are our two biggest ingredients, and and those prices were substantially higher than last year or past years,” said Jessica Westbrock, the president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. While turkey prices are up 17 cents a pound from last year, Petry said consumers are still likely to find bargains, as many stores sell turkeys below cost.


Jackson: The Mississippi School Boards Association is joining a handful of other states in breaking ties with the National School Board Association after the nonprofit sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal support investigating harassment and threats of violence against school board members. Mississippi School Boards’ leadership wrote this week in a letter explaining the decision that the National School Boards Association’s “inflammatory language and the request for federal agencies to intervene in our communities, was just one in a series of lapses in governance.” It said Mississippi will end its relationship with the nonprofit NSBA on June 30, 2022, the end of the term for which the Mississippi School Boards Association has paid its dues to the national organization. Mississippi will then work with school board associations in other states to form a new organization that “will provide services to its member state school boards associations which are requested by and tailored to each member state school boards associations’ unique needs.” Local school boards across the country have become political battlegrounds over issues such as COVID-19-related mask rules, the treatment of transgender students, and how to teach the history of racism and slavery in America.


St. Louis: A couple who gained fame after waving guns at protesters near their home in 2020 are seeking to keep their law licenses by arguing their actions were justified because they were defending their property from a violent and threatening mob. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are both lawyers, made that claim in response to a complaint asking the Missouri Supreme Court to suspend their licenses. The demonstrators went past the McCloskeys’ home June 28, 2020, at the height of racial injustice protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The couple, who were eating dinner on the patio with their daughter, responded by waving two weapons at the protesters. No shots were fired, and no one was hurt. Their actions gained praise from conservatives, including then-President Donald Trump. Mark McCloskey is now a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. They contend in their legal response that the demonstrations “involved significant unlawful and violent conduct,” KCUR reports. The response cites a report by the Major Cities Chiefs Association finding nearly 89% of protests in St. Louis in June 2020 involved unlawful activity, and 11% involved some level of violence. Still, special prosecutor Richard Callahan has said his investigation determined the protesters near the McCloskeys’ home were peaceful.


Male sage grouse strut their stuff during a courtship dance northwest of Winnett, Mont.
Male sage grouse strut their stuff during a courtship dance northwest of Winnett, Mont.

Billings: The Biden administration on Friday said it will consider new measures to protect greater sage grouse, a bird species once found across much of the West that has suffered drastic declines in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures. The announcement of a range-wide evaluation of habitat plans for greater sage grouse came after the Trump administration tried to scale back conservation efforts adopted when Biden was vice president in 2015. A federal court blocked Trump’s changes. But Biden administration officials said the attempt set back conservation efforts – even as the chicken-sized bird’s habitat was further ravaged by wildfires, invasive plants and continued development. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he believed Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning – a former aide to the lawmaker – would pursue a collaborative, balanced approach that will keep sage grouse from becoming an endangered species. But Gov. Greg Gianforte and Sen. Steve Daines criticized the action, saying states should be given deference to manage wildlife and federal lands kept open for energy exploration and grazing. Daines said state and local conservation efforts needs to be protected from “federal overreach,” while Brooke Stroyke, a spokesperson for Gianforte, said Montana already has a plan that balances conservation and rural economies.


Omaha: The state’s unemployment rate fell to a mere 1.9% last month – the lowest any state has reached since data collection began in 1976, according to labor statistics released Friday. The October rate reported by Nebraska’s labor department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics marked the first time any state’s unemployment rate dropped below 2%. Spokespeople for both agencies confirmed that Nebraska’s rate is the country’s lowest on record. Nebraska has maintained its status as the state with the lowest rate through much of the pandemic. Its 1.9% rate for October was down slightly from the September rate of 2%. Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin said total nonfarm employment has risen by more than 30,000 from October of last year. The state reported 1,031,001 filled jobs in October, which was 10,718 more than the previous month. Nebraska has struggled with a chronic worker shortage since even before the pandemic, and it has driven up wages and made it difficult for employers to hire and expand. Earlier this month, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry released a survey of its members in which 92% said finding skilled workers was a top priority.


Las Vegas: A big southern Nevada sewage pumping facility failed last year, spewing an estimated 500,000 gallons of wastewater and leaking into a creek that leads toward the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River, a television station investigation found. Officials want to spend $40 million to rehabilitate the Clark County Water Reclamation District wastewater lift station, where the January 2020 spill was blamed on a corroded underground pipe, KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reports. Most of the spilled sewage was vacuumed up from land outside the Whitney Lift Station, KLAS-TV reports, citing documents, photos and emails obtained with a public records request. But an estimated 10,000 gallons – about enough water to fill an average kidney-shaped backyard swimming pool – went into a nearby creek that feeds the Las Vegas Wash. The wash flows to Lake Mead, the drought-stricken reservoir that provides about 90% of the Las Vegas-area drinking water supply. The Whitney Lift Station is one of 24 similar facilities operated by the reclamation district, which was formed in 1956 to reclaim wastewater from unincorporated Clark County, the largest jurisdiction in the Las Vegas area. The district treats nearly 106 million gallons of wastewater per day, according to its website.

New Hampshire

Concord: State lawmakers accepted $22.5 million in federal COVID-19 vaccine funding Friday that has sparked intense debate and angry protests for the past two months. The Joint Fiscal Committee had tabled a request from the Department of Health and Human Service in September to spend the money to hire new workers to promote the vaccines and help providers comply with the state’s new vaccine registry system. Meanwhile, the Executive Council, which approves state contracts, initially rejected the money before reversing course earlier this month. On Friday, three Republicans joined the committee’s three Democrats in voting to accept the money. Four Republicans voted no, with some citing concerns that language in the grant would require the state to follow future federal directives and mandates related to COVID-19. “The action we take today will be historic,” said Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren. “It will be historic because we will either reject the notion of subservience to government coercion, or it will be historic because we accede to that notion and violate the most fundamental premises of freedom upon which our state and nation were founded and which are imperiled as never before in our nation’s history.” Giuda predicted the vote would become a campaign issue next year. At least one audience member agreed, shouting at Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem: “Treason! You will never get elected again, Morse! You’re done!”

New Jersey

Jersey City: The decades­long odyssey to find the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, a tenacious leader of the Teamsters union, apparently has turned to land next to a former landfill that sits below an elevated highway in the Garden State. The FBI obtained a search warrant to “conduct a site survey underneath the Pulaski Skyway” last month, said Mara Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Detroit field office. She didn’t indicate whether anything was removed. The FBI’s disclosure is another turn in a mystery that has gripped law enforcement for more than 45 years. Hoffa was last seen July 30, 1975, when he was to meet with reputed Detroit mob enforcer Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and alleged New Jersey mob figure Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano at a restaurant in suburban Detroit. The focus now is in Jersey City, below a four-lane bridge where the sound of cars and trucks doesn’t stop. Wild overgrown brush thrives in the gritty industrial area, and green dumpsters abound. No one nearby at Interstate Waste Services offered a comment. “I’ve been assured that the body hasn’t been dug up yet,” journalist Dan Moldea said, referring to the FBI’s work in October.

New Mexico

Santa Fe: Internet problems continue to slow down many students in the state, but a pilot project using TV signals to transmit computer files may help. On Thursday, state public education officials distributed devices to eight families in Taos that allow schools to send them digital files via television. The boxes the size of a deck of cards allow digital television receivers to connect with computers using technology called datacasting. Many rural areas of New Mexico are too far from internet infrastructure such as fiber cables and cell towers but do get TV reception. In October, local broadcasting affiliates of New Mexico PBS finished testing the technology to make sure they could set aside bandwidth not taken up by TV show broadcasts and dedicate it to broadcast downloadable digital files. The pilot program in Taos relies on a broadcast from northern New Mexico PBS affiliate KNME, while two others are planning to roll out pilot programs in the cities of Silver City and Portales. Remote learning during the pandemic highlighted the digital divide for New Mexico students, many of whom had to learn using paper packets while their peers could participate in virtual lessons via video chat.

New York

Albany: The New York Assembly’s investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s conduct in office concluded the Democrat’s administration misrepresented how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19, according to a lawmaker who reviewed the committee’s still-secret report. Assembly Member Phil Steck was among the Assembly Judiciary Committee members who were able to review a copy of the approximately 45-page report Thursday and Friday in advance of its public release, possibly as soon as this week. The report, compiled by the New York City law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, covers a wide array of allegations of misconduct by Cuomo, including sexual harassment claims and the participation of his staff in writing his book on the coronavirus pandemic. Other topics include the Cuomo administration’s manipulation of data on COVID-19 deaths as presented to the public. Gaps in the state’s statistical accounting of fatalities include the administration’s decision to exclude from its nursing home death totals thousands of patients who died after being transferred to hospitals. The Davis Polk investigators confirmed press reports that the state Department of Health wanted to include those hospital deaths in the state’s nursing home fatality count.

North Carolina

Asheville: A bear cub wandering around a neighborhood with a jug stuck on its head is running free in the forest again thanks to wildlife biologists and some observant residents. Wildlife biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission spent two days searching for the bear cub, according to a news release. The commission said the bear likely got stuck while going through some trash and was wandering around an Asheville neighborhood. District Biologist Justin McVey got the initial report about the bear Monday night. Commission officials reached out to the public to help identify its location. McVey said a combination of responses to a message posted to NextDoor by the commission and direct calls to biologists, local residents led personnel directly to the bear cub. The bear was anesthetized before the jug was taken off its head. Biologists performed a health check before relocating it to a remote area in western North Carolina.

North Dakota

Visitors to the American Museum of Natural History in New York look at a statue of Theodore Roosevelt, flanked by a Native American man and African American man. The statue is headed to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, N.D.
Visitors to the American Museum of Natural History in New York look at a statue of Theodore Roosevelt, flanked by a Native American man and African American man. The statue is headed to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, N.D.

Medora: The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library has agreed to take a controversial equestrian statue of the 26th president that has stood on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City since 1940. The bronze statue, designed by James Earle Fraser, was commissioned by the Board of Trustees of the New York State Roosevelt Memorial in 1929. The library opening next year in Medora will be getting it as a long-term loan. The statue, which depicts the former president on horseback with a Native American man and an African man flanking the horse, has been the subject of years of criticism that it symbolizes colonial subjugation and racial discrimination. Objections grew more forceful after the death of George Floyd sparked a racial reckoning and a wave of protests across the U.S. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to remove the statue in 2020, calling it “problematic,” which drew an angry response from President Donald Trump, who tweeted: “Ridiculous, don’t do it!” With the support of members of the Roosevelt family, the North Dakota library will establish an advisory council composed of representatives of Indigenous and Black communities, historians, scholars and artists to “guide the recontextualization” of the statue.


Columbus: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a map of new congressional districts Saturday that will be in effect for the next four years, despite objections from Democrats and voting rights groups. DeWine said in a statement that, compared with other proposals from House and Senate lawmakers from both parties, the Senate legislation he signed “makes the most progress to produce a fair, compact, and competitive map.” The redistricting measure cleared the Legislature along party lines with House approval Thursday after a breakneck sprint through both chambers, amid praise from majority Republicans. Democrats blasted the Republican-led mapmaking process as unfair, partisan and cloaked in secrecy. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday, only about 16 hours after the new map was released. The nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the map an F grade. The new law creates at most three safe Democratic districts out of 15 new U.S. House seats in a state where voters are split roughly 54% Republican, 46% Democratic. Populous Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties – home to Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively – are divided three ways each. Franklin County, home to Columbus, is divided two ways, and the western Cleveland suburbs in Lorain County are part of a district that stretches to the Indiana border, a nearly 3-hour drive.


Oklahoma City: The state’s building code commission has undermined the efforts of its own committee tasked with reviewing energy conservation standards by shooting down proposed changes and completing a takeover of the committee itself. Last week’s actions leave green building in Oklahoma a dozen years behind, stuck in 2009, standing pat with current minimum standards, said Kelly Parker, chairman of the committee whose months of work was spurned. The committee started its work in May as part of a state-mandated code review every six years to update the state’s modified versions of various building codes. But committee members had not seen the commission’s recommendations on energy conservation until they were presented Tuesday. Commission Chairman Cary Williamson, Ardmore’s fire chief, wondered why and argued that the energy committee, effectively shut down in October, should have been allowed to do its job. Commissioner Kyle Lombardo, an architect with Rees Associates, complained that he was not given time to review the complex, technical recommendations, which will go to state lawmakers next year. The Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission further eroded efforts to make home construction in the state more environmentally friendly, Parker said.


Portland: A man who was protesting outside the city’s federal courthouse when a federal law enforcement officer shot him in the face with a “less lethal” impact munition is suing in federal court. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the lawsuit filed by Donavan LaBella calls the unnamed officer’s actions “unprovoked, unjustifiable, and unlawful.” LaBella’s injury July 11, 2020, was captured on video and shared widely. The video depicts then-26-year-old LaBella holding a speaker over his head, pointed at the courthouse. Federal officers turn on a bright light, and then an officer fires a less lethal munition striking LaBella. Like other protesters who have tried suing federal law enforcement agencies over injuries at protests for racial justice, LaBella’s attorneys have struggled to identify the officers. The lawsuit names “John Does 1-10″ as unknown federal law enforcement officers, believed to be with the U.S. Marshals Service, present or responsible for shooting LaBella. Desiree LaBella, Donavan’s mother, said the people responsible for injuring her son need to be held accountable. “As much as we wish it didn’t have to come to this, he’s irreparably damaged,” she said. He now suffers from a debilitating, permanent frontal lobe brain injury that has negatively altered the course of (his) life,” the lawsuit says.


Philadelphia: Frozen vials labeled “Smallpox” that were discovered in a freezer at a vaccine research facility in the state “contain no trace of virus known to cause smallpox,” federal health officials said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that testing showed the vials contain “vaccinia, the virus used in smallpox vaccine,” and not the variola virus, which causes smallpox. The CDC had said Monday that the vials “were incidentally discovered by a laboratory worker” who was wearing gloves and a face mask while cleaning out the freezer. The CDC said no one was exposed to the contents. Mark O’Neill, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told the New York Times that the vials were found at a Merck facility in Montgomery County. It was not clear why the vials were in the freezer. The CDC said it was “in close contact with state and local health officials, law enforcement, and the World Health Organization” about the findings. Smallpox is a deadly, infectious disease that plagued the world for centuries and killed nearly a third of the people it infected. Victims suffered scorching fever and body aches, followed by spots and blisters that would leave survivors with pitted scars.

Rhode Island

Providence: The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is getting a $900,000 federal boost to develop plans for a high-capacity transit corridor to connect Central Falls to Warwick via Providence, according to the state’s congressional delegation. The corridor was one of five goals included in RIPTA’s Transit Master Plan for the next 20 years. The planning grant could enable RIPTA to complete the preliminary work needed to eventually bring a bus rapid transit or light rail project to the region. The $900,000 planning grant is made available through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity grant program, for capital investments in surface transportation that will have a significant impact on or directly benefit areas of persistent poverty. The state’s congressional delegation and RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian have scheduled a news conference for Monday at the agency’s Chafee Transportation Center in Providence to discuss the study and its potential impacts.

South Carolina

Seneca: One of the most wanted fugitives in the United States apparently died about four months ago in a South Carolina home about 16 years after he was first wanted in San Diego for sexually assaulting children, investigators said. Frederick Cecil McLean, 70, died of natural causes in July, but his body wasn’t found until Nov. 6, when someone asked deputies to check on a neighbor who hadn’t been seen in a while, Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said. McLean has been on the U.S. Marshal Service’s 15 Most Wanted list since 2006, a year after the San Diego Sheriff’s Department issued arrest warrants for sexual assaults on a child and determined he was a high risk to continue attacking girls. One girl was assaulted more than 100 times before she turned 13, marshals said in a statement. McLean had been living in South Carolina for 15 years, going by the name of James Fitzgerald, marshals said. “The discovery of Frederick McLean’s body marks an end to the manhunt, but the investigation continues,” U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis said. Investigators are now trying to determine if anyone helped McLean avoid being found by police. They have determined he used several other aliases and also lived in Anderson, South Carolina, and Poughkeepsie, New York.

South Dakota

McIntosh: The work of two wildlife management agencies has resulted in the release of 28 endangered black-footed ferrets on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which straddles the Dakotas. The push behind the effort by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is twofold: to maintain control of black-tailed prairie dogs in an area of the reservation used primarily for grazing and to save from extinction the black-footed ferret, considered the most endangered mammal in the U.S. They are yellowish-buff in color and weigh 11/2 to 2 pounds. The forehead, muzzle and throat are white, and the feet are black. They have a black mask around the eyes that is well-defined in young ferrets. The ferrets were released Oct. 20 in prairie dog towns between McIntosh and Bullhead, said Michael Gutzmer, ecologist with New Century Environmental, the Nebraska company that provides biological services to the tribe, The Bismarck Tribune reports. Prairie dogs make up 90% of the black-footed ferrets’ diet. The ferrets live in prairie dog burrows, and each eats a prairie dog about every three days, said Seth Gutzmer, biologist on the Standing Rock project and Michael Gutzmer’s son. The ferrets were considered extinct in the wild in 1987.


Memphis: Friends and associates of slain rapper Young Dolph handed out Thanksgiving turkeys at a neighborhood church Friday, two days after he was gunned down in broad daylight inside his favorite bakery. Known for acts of charity in his hometown, the hip-hop artist and label owner had helped organize the event at St. James Missionary Baptist Church and was going to participate before he was fatally shot Wednesday. Undaunted, members of his music label, Paper Route Empire, along with church volunteers and community activists, distributed dozens of turkeys, stuffing mix and cranberry sauce to people driving past the church. It was the type of event Young Dolph, who grew up in the Castalia neighborhood where the church is located, has been organizing for years, often without the reporters and cameras present Friday. Before the event, volunteers spoke quietly among themselves or sat in solemn reflection as his music played outside the church on the sunny afternoon. Label employee Bee Bee Jones, 38, helped hand out the food, honoring his friend of 30 years. “When I hear his music, I just break down,” Jones said. “The truth in all of it, and where he came from, that’s what really gets to me sometimes. This is what he would want us to do right here, still keep on giving. He came from nothing, but he wanted to make sure everybody got some.”


Big Spring: A pickup truck heading the wrong way on a West Texas highway slammed into a bus carrying members of a high school band, killing three people, officials said Friday. Two students from the bus were critically injured in the late Friday afternoon crash on Interstate 20 in Big Spring, about 250 miles west of Fort Worth, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The bus from Andrews High School was headed to a football game with 25 students aboard when it was hit by the wrong-way truck, which burst into flames, killing the truck’s driver, said DPS Sgt. Justin Baker. One of the adults from the bus was also pronounced dead at the scene, he said. A third adult and two students were airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock, 95 miles north of the crash site. The adult died at the hospital, and the two students were listed in critical but stable condition, Baker said. Other students were taken to the Scenic Mountain Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, he said. The football playoff game between Andrews and Springtown in Sweetwater was postponed.


Beaver County: Climate change has been making droughts more frequent and intense and limiting Utah farmers’ ability to grow crops. In the past two years, a growing number of farmers have signed up for a state program that helps fund projects to increase their water use efficiency, KUER-FM reports. Among them is Trent Brown, a longtime rancher and farmer in Beaver County who’s also the county assessor, since farming doesn’t pay all the bills. It’s a family tradition: His father and grandfather were ranchers and farmers and worked government jobs, too. Brown finished the switch from growing alfalfa to grass five years ago to save water, but it wasn’t enough to overcome this summer’s drought. Earlier this year, he used a grant from the state’s Water Optimization Program to replace the cement in a ditch that brings water from the nearby Manderfield Reservoir to him and other farmers in the valley. “The concrete ditch was put in in the ’60s, and it was just falling apart, failing,” he said. “We were losing a lot of water. We figure probably 20%.” Utah established the Water Optimization Program in 2020. It got $3 million in state funding that year and another $3 million in 2021. During the latest round, the program got 81 applications totaling $10.6 million – more than triple the money available to spend, according to the program’s director, Jay Olsen.


Montpelier: Captain Snowpants; Yo Bro, No Snow; Plow-A-Tron 6,000; and Jennifer Snowpez are among the names that will be on some of the state’s snowplows this winter. Vermont school students participated in the state transportation department’s Name a Plow contest to come up with names for the plows serving their communities. The entries ranged from “creative and clever to cute and silly,” the agency said. Participating schools got a visit from their newly named plows last week. One child was so upset she had missed the visit from the snowplow named Super Snow Storm that the driver and plow will visit again, said Amy Tatko, spokesperson for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The full list of the Vermont names – including Snowbegone Kenobe, Plowy McPlowFace, Brr-rito and Steve – can be found on the transportation department’s website.


Richmond: Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order Thursday aimed at improving how the state receives and evaluates input from tribal nations when making decisions about permits related to environmental, historical or cultural resources. The order directs four agencies to draft their own policies within 90 days for working with tribal nations before a permit is approved or denied. The Northam administration said this would help Virginia identify and understand concerns from tribal nations before finalizing permits, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The directive applies to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Historic Resources, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Northam’s executive order also directs the secretary of the commonwealth to appoint an ombudsman who can work with both state agencies and tribal nations. Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin will take office a month before Northam’s deadline and could potentially cancel the executive order. The Youngkin transition team didn’t immediately respond to the Times-Dispatch’s requests for comment.


Olympia: As lawmakers prepare for a new legislative session to craft and pass a supplemental budget, they’ll have more money to work with thanks to a steady increase of state revenues over the past year. Updated numbers by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released Friday show that projected revenue collections for the 2021-2023 budget cycle are $898 million above what had been originally forecasted in September. And projections for the next two-year budget cycle that ends in mid-2025 increased by more than $965 million. Revenues for the current budget cycle that ends mid-2023 are now projected to be $60.2 billion. And projected revenues for the next two-year budget cycle that starts July 1, 2023, are projected to be about $64 billion. Steve Lerch, the chief economist and executive director of the council, said compared to the first forecast this year in March, overall revenues increased $3.6 billion for the current biennium and $4.1 billion for the next. Republican legislative members of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said in response to the strong growth, tax cuts should be part of any final plan. Democratic budget writers said nothing is off the table but expressed caution.

West Virginia

Bramwell: A 128-year-old church collapsed suddenly in the middle of the night Thursday, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports. Bramwell’s historic Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, which has stood since 1893, caved in about midnight, Mayor Louise Stoker told the paper. The church’s original congregation included many of the town’s first residents, Stoker said. The Independent Bible Church later occupied the building before donating it to the town, which had been planning to conserve the historic structure. “I’ve been in dialogue with a preservation contractor,” Stoker said. “This week, in fact, we had sent him photos.” Workers clearing the debris noted things that could be saved such as large wooden beams and the old church bell. Some of the church’s Queen Anne-style stained glass windows were also mostly intact. Stoker said the town council will discuss what to do next, but it’s possible that a portion of the building that didn’t collapse will have to be taken down. Standing outside the church Friday, she pointed out six circular stained glass windows in the remaining structure. “Not one of them has a broken piece,” she remarked.


Milwaukee: As the state kicked off its 170th deer gun season Saturday, some hunters were feeling ill-equipped for the second straight year. A nationwide ammunition shortage due to the supply chain issues affecting other products has left hunters searching far and wide for ammo in the first place and then shelling out more money if they do find it. Randy and Tiffani Rogness, who own Paddock Lake Sporting Goods in Salem, had empty ammunition shelves Friday. When a new supply is delivered, it lasts two to three hours, even with a one-box limit per customer, they said. “We search everywhere. We’ve ordered so much, and it’s just not coming in,” Tiffani Rogness said. One of the nation’s biggest ammunition manufacturers, Vista Outdoor in Anoka, Minnesota, said it’s “ramping production ahead of schedule at its Remington facility to meet unprecedented demand.” The price of almost any caliber ammunition is double what it was a year ago. Manufacturers say the pandemic created new gun buyers, along with more hunters looking for something to do outside, WISN-TV reports. More than 570,000 deer hunters from around the world are expected to try their luck in this year’s nine-day season, Department of Natural Resources officials said. Wisconsin has more than 7 million acres of land open for hunting.


Gillette: For the past four months, people have been protesting the presence of sexual education and LGBTQ books in the children’s and teen sections of the Campbell County Public Library. The movement, part of a national trend, is being led by the Wyoming chapter of MassResistance, a national group headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, that prides itself on “pro-family activism.” The local chapter was formed in July. Since then, the group has worked to get its message out to the community that the library is actively corrupting the youth with its books, the Gillette News Record reports. “It’s been hard on the library staff,” said library director Terri Lesley. “It’s been a long time, and I’m very proud of them for how well they’re doing, how well they’re holding up. It’s not easy to be in the middle of a big controversy.” MassResistance’s goal is to protect “the traditional family, school children, and the moral foundation of society.” It believes in marriage between a man and a woman and that people are not born homosexual. Library board member Charlie Anderson said he’s been called names, and Lesley said she and some of her staff have received angry emails and letters, some from out of state. Lesley said she’s also received a lot of support, which has helped balance out the calls for her resignation.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sequoia toll, Daffodil Project: News from around our 50 states