Montgomery: A new statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks will be unveiled at Court Square downtown Sunday at 1 p.m. The unveiling Dec. 1 will coincide with the day in 1955 when Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. Along with the Parks memorial, the city will present two historic markers for Browder v. Gayle – the landmark case that ruled segregation on Montgomery buses unconstitutional. The civil rights memorials are a partnership among the City of Montgomery, Montgomery County, the Alabama Department of Tourism and the Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts.
Anchorage: A federal agency will decide by September how much ocean and coast will be designated as critical habitat for two ice seal species found in the state. The Center for Biological Diversity announced Monday that it had reached an agreement with the Commerce Department for the Trump administration to issue a critical habitat rule for ringed and bearded seals. Ringed and bearded seals live off Alaska’s northwest coast. Both are listed as threatened. Designation of critical habitat for threatened species is required by the Endangered Species Act a year after a listing. The Center for Biological Diversity sued in June because no critical habitat has been designated. Federal agencies that authorize activities such as oil drilling within critical habitat must consult with wildlife managers to determine if threatened species will be affected.
Scottsdale: For many elementary students, this time of year is filled with lessons about Thanksgiving, often arts and crafts or plays about the Pilgrims. That’s not the case for students at schools like Salt River Elementary and Puente de Hozho. Instead, these students get lessons that give insight into and strengthen their identity as indigenous people, focusing on fall harvest traditions and the importance of giving thanks. Teaching the myth of Thanksgiving is not required in the state’s standards for history and social studies. Salt River Elementary is a Bureau of Indian Education school located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and 100% of the student body is Native American. The school incorporates cultural and traditional learning within its curriculum. During November, many teachers increase those lessons for Native American Heritage Month. As for Thanksgiving, “we only talk about being thankful and being with family,” says Clarice Garcia, a fifth grade teacher. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, Garcia said she tries to talk about the positive and negative impacts explorers had on indigenous people, letting students form their own opinion.
Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas is now the home of a photo archive containing nearly a million photos of historical figures and events. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the collection arrived at the campus in Fayetteville last month. The archive includes photos of Babe Ruth, Bonnie Parker, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King. There are also pictures documenting politics, wars, natural disasters and the civil rights movement. Dean of libraries Dennis T. Clark says the large trove is very significant in American journalism. He says it is the New York Post’s photo archive, which contains photos dating back to the 1860s. Lori Birrell, head of the special collections department at the UA library, says the collection will show the university is interested in having a national and international presence. Clark says the gift came from an anonymous donor in 2017.
San Diego: The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a pair of quirky new arrivals from Australia: platypuses. Last week the zoo publicly debuted an 8-year-old male named Birrarung and a 15-year-old female named Eve. The pair were flown to the park late last month. The zoo says it’s the first time in more than 50 years that platypuses – egg-laying mammals with furry bodies and ducklike bills – have been cared for outside of Australia. Safari Park’s lead keeper, Lori Hieber, says the pair have settled into their new, specially built habitat. She says they swim in the pools, play in the waterfalls and hunt live crayfish. An international conservation group lists the platypus as a “near threatened” species, mainly from habitat loss and the potential destruction from climate change.
Denver: The state Supreme Court has denied a request to reconsider a ruling declaring the sentences of hundreds of criminal defendants to be illegal. The Denver Post reports the justices refused to rethink whether criminal offenders could be sentenced to both prison and probation in the same case. Officials say the court ruled in September that defendants couldn’t be simultaneously sentenced. Attorney General Phil Weiser filed a petition this month challenging the decision, saying it could create extensive litigation affecting hundreds or even thousands of plea agreements and leading to numerous challenges. Officials say defendants convicted by a jury must be resentenced. Authorities say witnesses might have moved away, police investigators might have retired, and victims might not want to testify again, causing problems in the process.
Hartford: The state will soon host its second inauguration of 2019. On Monday, West Hartford fifth grader Myra Stanfield will become the 2020 Kid Governor, succeeding 2019’s Ella Briggs. A ceremony is planned at the Old State House in Hartford. Like Ella, Myra was elected to the one-year position by fifth graders across Connecticut. She ran on a platform of preventing animal abuse. Her term begins in January. The civics education program was created in 2015 by the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, now known as the Connecticut Democracy Center. Participating students are given an opportunity to create a campaign platform around an issue, run for office and vote in the election. Gov. Ned Lamont, whose inauguration was 11 months ago, released a video online congratulating Myra.
Dover: The Delaware Department of Insurance is warning residents about a new Medicare tool that state officials say causes confusion and conceals the total cost of coverage. In what he described as a rare consumer alert, Commissioner Trinidad Navarro said in a press release that the department has received numerous complaints about Medicare’s Prescription Plan Finder. The tool, created by the federal government and used by millions, is supposed to help find and compare Medicare coverage options for the current enrollment period, which ends Dec. 7. Navarro said the tool’s “focus on premium costs can deflect focus from higher personal costs at the pharmacy counter.” The tool organizes responses, Navarro said, by showing lowest premium costs first. But previous versions of the tool showed it by total annual costs. And if residents enter multiple medications, they could receive search results for plans that don’t cover all those they entered, according to the release.
District of Columbia
Washington: The district is joining several states in suing e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, saying the company’s online ads and promotions illegally targeted minors. Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced the lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that Juul’s viral marketing contributed to the surge in underage vaping by teens in the district and across the U.S. The move follows similar lawsuits filed by California, New York and North Carolina. Several other states are also investigating Juul, which dominates the U.S. vaping market. Under intense pressure, Juul has suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors. Additionally, the company closed its social media accounts and tightened age verification for online sales. Representatives for Juul did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Titusville: The local school district is bringing in a crack squad of four-legged experts to deal with an overgrown patch of rough terrain, where hidden gopher tortoises, snakes, steep banks and vertical drop-offs make it too hazardous for grounds crews to handle. About two dozen goats will descend into a fenced area around a pond next to Imperial Estates Elementary in Titusville next week. Grounds services supervisor Matt Nolle says the area is too dangerous for heavy equipment or even people on foot. Goats are better for the environment and can get into places humans can’t. “Somehow, four legs is an advantage,” Nolle says. The Brevard School District is paying about $4,500 to hire the goats from Rent-a-Ruminant, a landscaping livestock company.
Savannah: Georgia Southern University has officially opened a learning center in Ireland. Savannah Morning News reports university leaders traveled to Wexford last week for the ceremonial event. A news release from the university says the center stems from a longtime partnership between the town and Savannah, as well as Georgia Southern’s Center for Irish Research and Teaching. The school says many Savannah residents claim Irish ancestry and can trace ancestors specifically to Wexford. University President Kyle Marrero met Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins during the visit. The school says it marked the first official meeting between a Georgia Southern president and a foreign head of state. The school says Georgia Southern is the first public university in the United States to open an outreach learning facility in Ireland.
Honolulu: The state Department of Education plans to offer free Hawaiian language courses to its employees. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the department’s 22,000 salaried employees, including 13,000 teachers, will be able to take courses beginning in January. Officials say the program is a partnership between the education department’s Office of Hawaiian Education and the University of Hawaii’s community colleges. The education department has incorporated Hawaiian language, culture and history in its curriculum since an 80-year public education ban on the language was overturned at the 1978 state constitutional convention. Employees can enroll in scheduled courses at seven community colleges beginning in the spring semester or join customized courses for education department staff groups. Teachers completing courses will receive professional development credits, while other employees will be given college credit.
Boise: Fisheries managers are optimistic a program to save imperiled Snake River sockeye salmon is heading in the right direction despite few of the ocean-going fish making it back to central Idaho this year. Of the 735,000 young sockeye released in the state in 2017, only 17 survived the 900-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean and then back again to arrive as adults in the Sawtooth Basin near Stanley. But John Powell of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said last week that fish raised to adults in hatcheries will keep the population going. Biologists also released 610 adults this fall into central Idaho lakes to spawn naturally. Powell also says biologists have solved problems that caused most of the young hatchery sockeye to die shortly after being released into the wild in 2017.
Springfield: There are full slates of special events and celebrations scheduled for the holiday season at two state historic sites in the city. Santa will be available regularly at the Old State Capitol to collect children’s Christmas wishes, and specially themed tours are scheduled for the Dana-Thomas House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Children and families may visit with St. Nick and play holiday games at the Old State Capitol from 1 to 5 p.m. each Saturday from Nov. 30 to Dec. 21 and from 5 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday from Dec. 4 to 18. Each day will feature a different musical group as well. A dozen variously themed tours of the Dana-Thomas House are scheduled periodically from Nov. 29 through Dec. 20. Some require reservations.
Indianapolis: The governor is facing calls from Democrats to explain his role in Amazon being cleared of responsibility for a warehouse worker’s death despite initial findings of major safety violations. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb denies any involvement in the state’s investigation of the 2017 death at Amazon’s Plainfield warehouse. The news outlet Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting reports a safety inspector ordered a $28,000 fine against Amazon, concluding it didn’t provide enough training before a forklift fatally crushed 59-year-old Phillip Lee Terry. It cites a recording the inspector made in which his boss tells Amazon officials how to shift the blame to “employee misconduct.” The death investigation happened while the Holcomb administration was bidding on Amazon’s planned second headquarters project.
Des Moines: Gov. Kim Reynolds has pardoned two tom turkeys, continuing a long-standing Thanksgiving tradition celebrating the state’s turkey industry. The male birds named Benjamin and Franklin will live at Living History Farms in Urbandale, a 500-acre, open-air history museum that demonstrates three centuries of Iowa farm life. Reynolds held the annual event Tuesday at Terrace Hill, the governor’s residence, where she says she’ll spend Thanksgiving cooking for her family. Several family members, including grandchildren, petted the turkeys after Reynolds read the proclamation freeing them from becoming a thanksgiving meal. Iowa ranks seventh in U.S. turkey production, turning out more than 12 million turkeys annually on 130 farms. The state is fifth in turkey processing with plants in Storm Lake and West Liberty.
Topeka: Gov. Laura Kelly reveled in holiday spirit Tuesday for the annual horse-drawn delivery of a Christmas tree to Cedar Crest, the official governor’s residence. The first-year governor said for years she has watched the celebration on the news with the rest of the state, and it was a “treat” to preside over the event. Every year, a member of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association donates a tree for the occasion. Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm near Lawrence donated this year’s model. Robin Dunn, of Dunn’s Landing farm near Wellsville, guided percherons Bill and Bruce as they pulled a replica Wells Fargo stagecoach up the drive to the front of the governor’s mansion to deliver the tree. Dunn said she has now delivered trees to five Kansas governors.
Louisville: The state’s politicos are getting all wrapped up in the Christmas wars this year. After the reelection campaign for Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., began selling gift wrap featuring the Senate majority leader’s face with a Santa hat and a green bow tie – reminiscent of an iconic image of Christmas crooner Bing Crosby – the Kentucky Democratic Party has shot back with its own bespoke present paper. A donation of $30 to the commonwealth’s blue party yields a roll of red “Moscow Mitch” wrapping paper, featuring yellow images of the Republican wearing a Cossack hat with the “hammer and sickle” symbol on top of the words “Just Say Nyet to Moscow Mitch,” referring to a nickname McConnell received over the summer. “Anything @Team_Mitch can do, we can do better,” the Kentucky Democratic Party wrote in a tweet.
New Orleans: The state museum system is asking for feedback as it works to update its governance, operations and attendance at its properties. The museum system wants people to fill out a five- to 10-minute survey about their interest in the facilities and their experiences at them. The survey will be available online until Saturday. The Louisiana state museum system includes the Cabildo and the Presbytere in New Orleans, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches, among other facilities. Survey participants can enter to win a membership through the Friends of the Cabildo that gives free admission for two people and any children to all public state museum properties.
Bucksport: Officials say a new partnership with the state’s farmers markets has expanded the number of people who can use the markets by making food assistance easier to access. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says it has partnered with the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets to help pay for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program processing equipment. The technology can cost hundreds of dollars, which prices many small markets out of the ability to buy it. About 1 in 8 Maine residents uses SNAP. The state says a half-dozen farmers markets have received new SNAP processing gear through the partnership since July. Maine has a total of about 35 farmers markets that accept SNAP.
Assateague Island National Seashore: The National Park Service will institute a modest increase for all parks that charge entrance fees next year, including on Assateague Island. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, entrance fees at Assateague Island National Seashore will be modified to align with standardized rates being implemented nationwide for similar national park areas at the rate of an extra $5 per category. A seven-day pass to the park will be $25 per vehicle or $20 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $45, and individuals will be charged $15 per person when entering by commercial vehicle. An entrance pass provides seven consecutive days of access to the seashore and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. The additional funds will be used for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance the visitor experience.
Plymouth: Native Americans are gathering for a 50th year in the seaside town where the Pilgrims settled – not to give thanks but to grieve. United American Indians of New England held its first National Day of Mourning in 1970. Since then, tribes have assembled at noon every Thanksgiving Day on a windswept hill overlooking Plymouth Rock. On Thursday, they’ll recall what organizers describe as “the genocide of millions of native people, the theft of native lands and the relentless assault on native culture.” That’s an in-your-feast message, but co-leader Mahtowin Munro says the group is determined to get Americans to look beyond the Thanksgiving myth of European settlers and native people coexisting peacefully. Next year, Plymouth marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in 1620.
Flint: Leaders with Flint Community Schools are considering closing four of the district’s 12 school buildings amid a $5.7 million budget deficit partly driven by rising special education costs not covered by the state. Superintendent Derrick Lopez presented the proposal at a special school board meeting last week. It also calls for the restructuring four other district buildings. The plan would decrease transportation, security, maintenance, administrative and other expenses. Lopez says the district’s special education student number has greatly risen from just under 15% in the 2014-15 school year, as Flint’s water crisis began, to now 24%. Flint’s water was lead-contaminated when officials used corrosive river water from April 2014 to October 2015. In children, lead exposure can result in serious effects on IQ, ability to focus and academic achievement.
Minneapolis: State officials have warned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that a proposal to streamline water quality laws would cripple their authority to protect drinking water, streams and wildlife from dozens of new projects each year. The EPA’s proposal targets Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which allows states to set their own conditions, conduct reviews, and approve or deny projects that could potentially pollute waterways. The change would give federal authorities power to dismiss conditions set by states or tribes and allow the EPA to overrule a state’s project denial. It would also prevent states from studying indirect sources of water pollution. But the Star Tribune reports that a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce official says some businesses welcome the changes. The EPA says states use their authority to impose conditions not related to water quality.
Jackson: Magnolia State residents don’t have to leave the state to buy lottery tickets anymore. Tickets went on sale Monday at roughly 1,200 convenience stores and other sites. The Mississippi Lottery Corporation says people bought a total of $2.5 million in lottery tickets on the first day of sales, which translates into $570,000 for the state. Democratic state Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson has been pushing for years to bring a lottery to Mississippi. She bought a ceremonial first ticket at a RaceWay store and gas station in south Jackson. “It feels great. Finally, it becomes a reality. And it just goes to show you what happens if you don’t give up,” Clarke said. For decades Mississippi was one of only six states without a lottery amid strong opposition from politically powerful churches. People often drove to neighboring states such as Louisiana to buy tickets there.
Kansas City: Comedian Heidi Gardner is flipping the switch on an annual holiday lighting ceremony at the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping and dining district. The “Saturday Night Light” cast member says getting the starring role at the Thanksgiving night event once seemed “crazy” and “out of reach.” The Kansas City native was working on the Plaza in 1998 when actor Paul Rudd did the honors, lighting up several blocks of buildings. And she told The Kansas City Star that she has long had a picture of the Plaza lights on her refrigerator. The ceremony dates back to the 1930s. The only time the Plaza lights were not in operation occurred in 1973, when President Richard Nixon called upon all Americans to curtail the use of Christmas lights to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports.
Bozeman: The Board of Regents has approved a $150,000 pay raise to retain Waded Cruzado as the president of Montana State University after she received an offer for a higher-paying job. Supporters say Cruzado’s vision and fundraising ability make her worth the $476,000 annual salary, while opponents note her raise is nearly three times the median household income in the state. Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian supported the raise, saying it would allow Cruzado to continue the momentum she has created on the Bozeman campus. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports two classified MSU employees noted some workers are paid less than $11 an hour, vacancies are hard to fill, and people have left because they can’t afford to live in Bozeman. Regents on Friday also approved a 2% or 50-cent-per-hour raise for university system employees, whichever is greater.
Lincoln: The state is temporarily lifting weight restrictions on trucks carrying propane to address a shortage of heating fuels. State officials have suspended the 90,000-pound gross weight limit for motor carriers hauling critically needed heating fuels through Dec. 15. Lt. Gov. Mike Foley issued the order last week on behalf of Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is out of the state. Officials say drivers exceeding the normal weight limits must carry a copy of the executive order to document that they are providing direct support to the state. The order doesn’t apply to the interstate system. State officials say the shortage isn’t serious, but they’re monitoring it. They say more extreme shortages in surrounding states have increased the need to transport through Nebraska.
Las Vegas: A multibillion-dollar megaresort taking shape on the north end of the Strip is on track to become the most expensive hotel-casino project ever built. Malaysia-based Genting Group says the company’s Resorts World Las Vegas is expected to open in the summer of 2021. The cost of the project, initially targeted for a 2016 opening on the former site of the Stardust, was last estimated at $4 billion. Now it sits at $4.3 billion. That would make Resorts World Las Vegas more expensive than the development of the $4 billion Cosmopolitan. With the inflated price tag comes new features, according to the company, including a 5,000-capacity “state-of-the-art theater” scalable to host A-list residencies and corporate events; a 75,000-square-foot “nightlife and daylife concept”; and a 50-foot-diameter video globe to display over 6,000 square feet of LED content.
Merrimack: Gov. Chris Sununu’s advisory board has voted to eliminate tolls on one of the state’s heavily traveled highways. The Executive Council voted Monday to get rid of the Merrimack tolls at the Everett Turnpike. The highway links Massachusetts and the New Hampshire cities of Manchester and Concord. Drivers currently pay 50 cents on the on and off ramps at the exits. The tolls bring in more than $1 million each year, but a transportation commission has decided that it puts Merrimack residents under an unfair burden. The tollbooths that were built 30 years ago will remain, but starting Jan. 1, motorists will be allowed to drive through without paying a toll.
Jersey City: Officials are hoping the return of redesigned holiday decorations will keep the season bright for commuters who travel through the Holland Tunnel. A slightly larger Christmas tree than the one used last year will be placed to cover the letter “A,” and a wreath will cover the letter “O.” A menorah will be positioned adjacent to the toll plaza on the New Jersey side of the tunnel. After complaints that the decades-old decorations over the New York-bound tunnel were distracting, more than 21,000 people last year voted in a poll commissioned by tunnel operator the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Voters wanted the tree moved from over the “N” in “Holland” to cover the “A” and the wreath moved from over the “U.” The decorations go up Monday.
Cimarron: One of the most spectacular properties owned by the Boy Scouts of America is being mortgaged to help secure the youth organization’s line of credit. The Boy Scouts say there is no plan to sell the Philmont Scout Ranch in Colfax County. It is being used as collateral to help meet financial needs that include rising insurance costs related to sex-abuse litigation. The move dismayed a member of Philmont’s oversight committee, who says it violates agreements made when the land was donated in 1938. The BSA disputed his assertion. The mortgage document was signed by top Boy Scout officials in March. But members of the Philmont Ranch Committee only recently learned of the development. The ranch is a popular destination for hiking and camping trips.
New York: Thanksgiving came early for a group of New York City commuters who enjoyed a holiday feast on a subway train. Video footage shows riders standing behind a white-clothed table covered with plates of turkey, mashed potatoes and cornbread in the middle of a Brooklyn-bound L train on Sunday. Stand-up comedian Jodell “Joe Show” Lewis tells the New York Post he organized the Thanksgiving dinner to “bring a little excitement to commuters” and feed any New Yorkers who might be hungry. Lewis says he chose the L train after he saw how “dreary and upset” riders were at the inconvenience of a construction project that has cut service on the line.
Raleigh: Students and employees at all University of North Carolina system campuses will be able to use their school identification cards for the state’s voter ID mandate starting in 2020. The State Board of Elections announced on Tuesday the approval of cards for students and employees at 12 of the 17 UNC schools. These IDs were rejected earlier this year because they didn’t meet standards set in a law implementing the photo ID requirement. The ID mandate was added to the state constitution in 2018. The General Assembly altered ID security rules last spring so schools with rejected cards could apply again for next year. The board says more than 150 types of photo ID are approved for use with the March primary. A driver’s license is the most common.
Bismarck: There will be a runoff election for a new state Supreme Court chief justice. None of the three justices running to lead the high court received the majority votes necessary on Monday to clinch the position. Justices Lisa Fair McEvers and Jon Jensen were the top vote-getters, followed by Daniel Crothers. McEvers and Jensen are still in the running. The ballots were cast by the state’s 52 district court judges and each of the five justices on the high court. They will now recast their votes, to be tallied in early December. The chief justice position was left open after 86-year-old Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle announced in September that he would not seek reappointment to the top post when his term expires at the end of the year.
Cincinnati: The city’s zoo has welcomed a new baby giraffe shortly after losing the 12-year-old male giraffe that sired him. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden says 8-year-old Cece delivered the calf Saturday, and mom and baby are doing fine. Zoo officials say it’s too soon to determine the sex of the 6-foot-tall calf. The calf was the seventh sired by Kimba, who died earlier this month from complications following a surgical procedure on his hooves. The calf is the 17th giraffe born at the zoo. Giraffe populations in the wild are being affected by habitat loss, trophy hunting and illegal poaching, Zoo officials say up to 75% of calves in the wild die in their first few months of life, mainly due to predators.
Oklahoma City: A new study has found that nearly 500 older, low-income Oklahomans died prematurely because the state did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The Oklahoman reports that a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis estimates 476 state residents between the ages of 55 and 64 died prematurely from 2014 to 2017 because the state declined to expand eligibility for the federal health care program. The left-leaning think tank says they are among 15,600 such deaths that could have been avoided nationally if all states had expanded Medicaid. The Washington, D.C.-based group says its estimates are based on mortality data and records and data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Social Security Administration. Republican leaders in the state dismissed the study as irresponsible and reckless.
Portland: Oregonians are being called to take pictures of the coast this week, for science. Coastwatch volunteer coordinator Jesse Jones says photos of extra high tides happening through Thursday can help scientists learn how different communities will be affected by climate change. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports photographs taken by citizen scientists and assembled by the Oregon King Tides Project can show where the water might be when the oceans rise. The Oregon King Tides project wants pictures from all along the coast to help figure out how to plan for rising seas. In particular, they need photographs of beaches as well as familiar landmarks like jetties, bridges, buildings, roads, seawall, shorelines, beach infrastructure and estuaries. Jones notes that the most helpful beach pictures are taken facing north or south so that it’s clear how far in or out the tide has come. Participants can upload the images to the Oregon King Tides website or post them to social media with the hashtags #orkingtides and #kingtides.
Reading: The state overhauled its child sexual abuse laws Tuesday, more than a year after a grand jury report showed the cover-up of hundreds of cases of abuse in most of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses over the past seven decades. The central bill signed by Gov. Tom Wolf gives future victims of child sex abuse more time to file lawsuits and ends time limits for police to file criminal charges. The grand jury report spurred several states to change their laws and other states to begin similar investigations. Wolf said the new laws will help repair “faults in our justice system that prevent frightened, abused children from seeking justice when they grow into courageous adults.” Wolf signed the bills at Muhlenberg High School in Reading, the home district of Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a champion of the legislation who has spoken publicly about being raped as a 13-year-old by a Roman Catholic priest.
Newport: The city is working with Brown University to create a digital map of one of the nation’s largest and most intact Colonial-era African burial grounds. The city wants a high-resolution map of God’s Little Acre to serve as the foundation for future site management and exploration. Doctoral students from the Ivy League university are working on the project. The Preservation Society of Newport County says the burial ground contains about 200 professionally carved headstones for enslaved and freed Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries, a time when African graves were typically left unmarked in the United States. City officials hope the map will be ready next summer so it can be made available to the public through a smartphone app and online. Tours currently rely on a printed map.
Loris: A farm animal with unbridled ambition has given new meaning to the phrase “get off your high horse.” Horry County Fire Rescue workers say they were called Sunday to a barn in Loris, where a horse somehow managed to leave its stall and climb into a hayloft. They had to bring in heavy equipment, and large-animal veterinarians helped sedate the horse before it was lowered to the ground on a makeshift platform. The horse has moved on to greener pastures, seemingly in good spirits in a grazing field. Rescue workers still haven’t figured out how the horse managed to climb a narrow set of stairs into the loft.
Rapid City: The last living worker who helped construct Mount Rushmore National Memorial has died. Donald “Nick” Clifford of Keystone, South Dakota, was 98. His wife, Carolyn Clifford, says he died Saturday at a hospice in Rapid City. At 17, Nick Clifford was the youngest worker hired to work at Mount Rushmore, in the state’s Black Hills. He operated a winch that carried workers up and down the mountain where the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were carved, and he drilled holes for dynamite. The Rapid City Journal reports that Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln, decided in 1938 to field a baseball team and hired Clifford, who already was a veteran pitcher and right fielder. Clifford worked on Mount Rushmore from 1938 to 1940, earning 55 cents an hour.
Nashville: Federal officials are proposing removing the Nashville crayfish from the endangered species list. A news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a review has found the crayfish populations are “healthy, stable and robust.” The 7-inch crustacean lives only in the Mill Creek watershed in metropolitan Nashville. The last review of the crayfish by the Fish and Wildlife Service recommended listing the species as “threatened.” Tierra Curry says that would be a better option. The senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity says Nashville is developing rapidly, and giving the species threatened status would allow it some continued protection. The proposal for delisting was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. The agency will accept public comments through Jan. 27.
Fort Worth: An English teacher who was fired after tweeting that her high school was full of students who are in the country illegally has won an appeal to get her job back. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath ruled Monday that Carter-Riverside High School teacher Georgia Clark’s tweet was protected by the First Amendment. Clark can either receive back pay and employment benefits, or the Fort Worth Independent School District can pay her a year’s salary. District spokeswoman Barbara Griffith says Morath’s ruling was a technicality, and the district is exploring its options. Clark’s attorney didn’t respond for a comment. The district board voted in June to fire Clark. She told a district investigator that her tweet was meant only for President Donald Trump and that she didn’t realize her postings were public.
Provo: Two of the state’s small cities tested an alternative method of voting that allows people to rank candidates from first to last during recent municipal elections. The Daily Herald reports six cities had planned to test the ranked-choice voting system, but four backed out over concerns about how to explain how it works to voters. Vineyard and Payson were the municipalities that tried out a method that allows voters to rank candidates from first to last. If none of the candidates gets more than 50% of the first-place votes, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated. The process continues for several rounds until a candidate gets the majority of votes. Vineyard City Recorder Pamela Spencer says she only received a few calls from confused voters and considered it a success.
Burlington: Four local high school journalists have won an award for their victory over censorship. Last year, the Burlington High students broke a story in their school newspaper about a school employee facing unprofessional conduct charges. The interim principal asked the students’ adviser to take it down. The article was removed, but students kept up links to it on social media, saying it was censored. Students talked to legal experts, and the newspaper cited its rights under the “New Voices” law that protects First Amendment rights of student journalists. Last week the students were awarded the Courage in Student Journalism Award, sponsored by the Student Press Law Center, the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University and the National Scholastic Press Association.
Richmond: State officials are reminding Virginians it’s not too late to get their flu vaccine. The Department of Health encourages everyone older than 6 months to receive the vaccine. State health officials gathered last week for an event in Richmond to highlight the importance of the vaccine and get a flu shot themselves. Flu season normally begins in October. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccination by the end of October is preferred, vaccination in November and beyond can be beneficial. Influenza activity usually peaks in January or later. The CDC warns the flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. The CDC also says vaccination has been shown to significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
Seattle: The City Council is proceeding with a new tax on Uber and Lyft rides pitched by Mayor Jenny Durkan to help pay for affordable housing and the delayed downtown streetcar and to give new support to ride-hailing drivers. The Seattle Times reports council members unanimously approved the 57-cent tax Monday. Durkan and the council have also promised to ensure Uber and Lyft drivers make Seattle’s $16 minimum wage starting next summer, but the city first plans to study driver pay. The new tax stops short of a more widespread tolling scheme some say is necessary to truly address congestion choking downtown streets. Durkan’s administration has explored the concept of congestion pricing, in which all drivers downtown would pay a toll. Uber and Lyft back that type of widespread charge and decried the new tax, claiming it could stymie ridership and hurt drivers. Durkan’s office projects the new tax will raise about $25 million a year.
Charleston: It’s officially buck hunting season in the Mountain State. The annual buck firearms season kicked off this week and is expected to bring thousands of hunters to the state’s vast woodlands. Officials say starting the season toward the end of November increases the chances of hunting during snowfall, which makes it easier to spot and track deer. The season traditionally opens on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Hunters can harvest two deer on the same day, but only one can be an antlered buck. Anyone who wants an additional buck must buy a stamp from the state and have additional licensing. Gary Foster of the Division of Natural Resources says the state’s deer seasons help bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s economy. Buck firearms season ends Dec. 7.
Madison: Democratic lawmakers want more diaper-changing stations in the state. State Reps. Jonathan Brostoff and David Crowley and state Sen. Chris Larson have introduced a bill that would require public and commercial buildings built or renovated after the bill becomes law to have diaper-changing stations in every restroom. Owners of commercial buildings with public restrooms would have to post signs identifying bathrooms with changing stations. Brostoff says he’s a new father, and he’s constantly struck by how few businesses have changing stations and how many place them only in women’s restrooms. Aides for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald didn’t immediately respond to emails inquiring about Republican support for the proposal.
Casper: The family of a man who was shot and killed by police officers is suing the city and the Casper Police Department. Daniel Wolosin alleges in the wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court that police officials failed to properly train officers in de-escalation techniques and failed to enforce policies that would have prevented the death of 38-year-old David Wolosin. Authorities say Wolosin opened fire first in the May 2018 shootout after two officers were called to check on a report of a man allowing children to drive a car on a dirt lot. Officer Jacob Carlson was shot multiple times by Wolosin and nearly died. City attorney John Henley told the Casper Star-Tribune he had not yet reviewed the lawsuit. Prosecutors previously determined the officers’ actions were justified.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: A subway Thanksgiving, too-high horse: News from around our 50 states