Too many fish, hot rocks, gun insurance: News from around our 50 states

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports


Tuscaloosa: Officials say they expect new arrangements between the University of Alabama and the city’s business incubator to help entrepreneurs and generate new jobs. The Tuscaloosa News reports that the Bama Technology Incubator, which features on-campus support for startup companies, will now be known as Edge Labs. Officials say the name change is significant, as it will emphasize the connection between Edge Labs on the northern end of UA’s campus and the Edge, an off-campus business incubator. The Edge opened in February as a collaboration among UA, the city of Tuscaloosa and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.


Anchorage: Researchers have begun questioning whether there’s too much of a good thing in the waters of the North Pacific Ocean. Wild populations of pink salmon are flourishing. Their numbers are enhanced by the annual release of 1.8 billion fish from Alaska hatcheries, and critics say they’re having an effect on other species. Biological oceanographer Sonia Batten examined 15 years of data and noticed that zooplankton was abundant in even-number years and less abundant in odd-number years. That corresponds with even-odd variations in pink salmon abundance. University of Alaska professor emeritus Alan Springer sees reproduction effects on seabirds that also feed on zooplankton. State regulators say they have no evidence the ocean has reached its carrying capacity for hatchery fish, which brought sales averaging $120 million for 2012 through 2017.


Tucson: Experts say a federal court ruling against a planned mining project in the state is expected to have national repercussions if upheld by higher courts. The Arizona Daily Star reports the mining industry has decried the ruling against the proposed $1.9 billion Rosemont Mine. The U.S. Forest Service’s approval of plans for the new copper mine in southeastern Arizona was overruled July 31 in U.S. District Court. The project was planned to spread across federal, state and private land. Mining company attorneys say the decision usurps the role of government agencies, could bring chaos to federal mining reviews and will add permitting delays. Conservation and tribal groups praised the ruling, saying it recognized the Forest Service’s failure to protect public land and resources.


Bentonville: An accident involving a ride that derailed on the last night of the Benton County Fair and injured at least two has prompted a state investigation. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the ride shut down Saturday after a cart from a miniature roller coaster derailed, sending two people in an ambulance to a nearby hospital. Their conditions weren’t immediately available. Bentonville Fire Department Battalion Chief Justin Scantlin says a third person also rode in a car to the hospital. Arkansas Department of Labor general counsel Denise Oxley says investigators will examine the ride and its maintenance records as well as talk to the owner, operator and any witnesses. Oxley says the ride was inspected before the fair opened last week.


San Jose: The mayor has proposed requiring gun owners in the nation’s 10th largest city to carry liability insurance to cover taxpayer costs associated with firearm violence. The Mercury News reports that, if approved, Mayor Sam Liccardo’s strict new measure would be the first of its kind in the nation to curb gun violence. The city of 1 million was home to two children killed in a July 28 mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Liccardo announced his proposal Monday. It would require approval from the City Council. He likened the proposal to attempts to lower smoking rates and car crashes. Gun rights groups are vowing that if the City Council approves the measure, they will take San Jose to court.


Aspen: The U.S. Forest Service has put a logging project in the state on hold as it deals with a lawsuit. The Aspen Times reported Monday that the agency had authorized the plan to clear-cut about 2.5 square miles in the Upper Fryingpan Valley, saying it would improve forest resiliency and increase the amount of young forest. The logging near Basalt was planned to begin this summer. A group of residents near the project area filed a lawsuit earlier this year, claiming logging would increase carbon emissions and harm tourism and recreation. District ranger Curtis Keetch says the project will proceed after the litigation is resolved.


Hartford: Consumers, businesses and health care providers in the state will be able to compare the cost and quality of medical care at hospitals and provider networks online. The Connecticut Office of Health Strategy has launched, which includes a quality scorecard and a cost estimator that is scheduled to be released at the end of September. OHS Executive Director Vicki Veltri says the website, which includes interactive tables and graphs, “gives people the resources to make better health care decisions” and gives providers an opportunity to improve on the cost and quality of the care they give patients. Once fully implemented, the free service will help consumers determine if the high cost charged by a particular network means good quality.


Dover: A fire department official says dozens of pet snakes died when a blaze ripped through a home. No people were injured in the fire that broke out Sunday morning in Dover. The homeowner told firefighters that approximately 60 snakes were in the house. All of them are believed to be dead. There was no immediate word on what kinds of snakes were being kept in the home. Deputy Chief Michael O’Connor Jr. of the Dover Fire Department says the snakes were kept in bedrooms throughout the house. O’Connor says the fire apparently started in the kitchen and caused extensive damage to the house.

District of Columbia

Washington: A D.C. Council staffer is accused of firing a gun outside a pop-up marijuana market this month. News outlets report 24-year-old DaVon Lorenzo Fuller was arrested Saturday and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm. A police statement says Fuller and another man were being robbed by two people. Both men shot at the robbers, firing at least a dozen rounds. Fuller’s attorney Daniel K. Dorsey says Fuller fired in self-defense. Police are looking for Fuller’s companion. The statement says Fuller was denied a concealed-carry permit, making it illegal for him to take the weapon outside his home. Fuller is a staffer for councilwomen Brianne K. Nadeau, who has passed several laws to help reduce gun violence. He’s been placed on administrative leave.


Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, stands at his desk in the Florida Senate.
Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, stands at his desk in the Florida Senate.

Tallahassee: Republican lawmakers from the state are postponing an immigration “listening tour,” saying a charged atmosphere after the El Paso, Texas, shootings and the Mississippi immigration raids won’t lead to a productive discussion. State Sen. Joe Gruters said Monday that the tour scheduled to begin next week will be pushed back, probably until November. Gruters also chairs the state Republican Party. Gruters and state Rep. Cord Byrd planned to lead the tour with stops across Florida. They’re the lawmakers who sponsored bills requiring local governments to cooperate with federal authorities enforcing immigration laws. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the sanctuary policy ban into law. Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said Gruters and Byrd should cancel the tour, calling it politically motivated rather than a sincere attempt to listen to Floridians on immigration issues.


Stonecrest: A local high school graduate has won a $30,000 college scholarship through the “Doodle for Google” competition. Citing a Google statement, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Arantza Pena Popo’s design was featured on the tech giant’s homepage Tuesday. The nationwide contest asked grade schoolers to redesign Google’s logo based on what they hoped for the future. Popo’s doodle titled “Once you get it, give it back” shows a framed picture of Popo’s mother carrying her as an infant sitting above an adult Popo caring for her aging mother. The Colombia native graduated as a valedictorian from Arabia Mountain High School in Stonecrest. Google says the school will get $50,000 to establish a computer or technology lab. Popo plans to study graphic design at the University of Southern California this fall.


Hilo: Geologists have measured high temperatures in rock ripped up by road crews during reconstruction of a Big Island highway inundated by lava. Hawaii News Now reports that Hawaii Volcano Observatory geologists recorded temperatures of cooling lava rock on Highway 132 above 700 degrees Fahrenheit from the 2018 Kilauea volcanic eruption. Geologists say the drill bit used to hammer the rock into pieces has changed colors from the intense heat, and rocks take most of the day to cool. Hawaii County officials say the construction will grant access to some residents’ landlocked homes and farms about 24 miles southeast of Hilo. Officials say reconstruction began in July and is expected to be completed by Oct. 5 to qualify for 100% federal reimbursement.


Boise: The state’s sage-grouse numbers have dropped 52% since the federal government decided not to list the birds as an endangered species in the fall of 2015. It’s not yet clear whether the three-year decline is part of a cyclical pattern or indicative of a more serious issue, but the Idaho Statesman reports the trend could force state and federal wildlife and land managers to take a closer look at how sage grouse are faring in Idaho and other western states. Under Idaho’s sage grouse management plan, wildlife managers must work to determine the cause of population declines and come up with an appropriate response any time numbers drop below a certain level. Idaho Fish and Game biologist Ann Moser says it looks like populations are low enough in several parts of Idaho to trigger the plan.


Wilmington: A group conducting an archaeological dig has found pieces of broken pottery, projectile points and other artifacts dating to the 1600s. Two University of Notre Dame professors have been leading summer volunteers on an exploration at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in northern Illinois. The project at the Middle Grant Creek Site is revealing how people of the Oneota culture lived in the area four centuries ago. Earlier this month volunteers digging in a 6-foot-deep pit found projectile points made of rock that would have been used for hunting. They’ve also found painted pottery and needles made from bones, which were likely used to weave mats from tallgrass. The group is gathering evidence to reconstruct the environment and ecology of the last prehistoric culture of the upper Midwest.


Jack Maloney looks over one of the soybean fields on his Little Ireland Farms in Brownsburg, Ind. Maloney says farmers want free trade.
Jack Maloney looks over one of the soybean fields on his Little Ireland Farms in Brownsburg, Ind. Maloney says farmers want free trade.

Indianapolis: An agriculture economist is projecting a nearly 20% drop in revenue for the state’s corn and soybean crops this year. That prediction from Purdue University professor Chris Hurt comes after Indiana farmers faced several weeks of planting delays because of persistent spring rainfalls, followed a long summer dry spell. Hurt says those troubles and the ongoing U.S. trade fight with China could lead to a $1.3 billion revenue drop for Indiana’s corn and soybean crops from last year’s $6.8 billion. Purdue agricultural experts spoke Monday during a program at the Indiana State Fair. They said the state’s farmers face a risk that late-planted corn and soybeans won’t mature before the fall freeze.


Maquoketa: City leaders have promised to work with a company they know little about – including its name – but they say it could bring up to 200 new manufacturing jobs to town. The Telegraph Herald reports that Maquoketa leaders signed a nonbinding letter of intent to the company that says if Maquoketa is chosen for the project, city leaders will propose a development agreement. The objective is to have that agreement in place “within the next 120 days, if not sooner.” Nic Hockenberry, director of Jackson County Economic Alliance, says that “this isn’t usually how it works if you’re being considered for a site, but we take all inquiries seriously.” The city would provide the land and help install utilities to the site, if the city were chosen.


Topeka: The state Department of Transportation plans to spend $5 million this year to help cities and counties repair 3,800 bridges that are in poor condition or structurally insufficient. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the department is restarting a program suspended in 2014 when state government struggled with revenue shortfalls. An estimated 20% of the 19,000 county and city bridges in Kansas need to be repaired or replaced. The department will provide up to $150,000 toward replacement or rehabilitation of a bridge on a local roadway system. The agency also offered $50,000 to a city or county in exchange for permanently closing a functionally obsolete bridge. Funding was drawn from $216 million in sales tax funneled to the state highway fund in fiscal year 2020, which began July 1.


Slade: State parks officials say a wilderness advanced first aid training course will be offered later this year at Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Officials say the five-day course will be presented Dec. 2-6 and geared toward people who work or play in remote wilderness areas. They say it’s recommended for backcountry guides, canoe trip leaders, college outdoor programs, hiking club leaders, emergency medical technicians and adventure race safety personnel. Officials say the course will focus on stabilizing patients, treatment and evacuation guidelines for patients in remote areas. Learning will take place in the classroom as well as outdoor settings. The fee of $375 covers the course only. Lodging and meals at Natural Bridge are available at discounted rates.


Then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco, left, talks with Sadie Roberts-Joseph, right, before the start of the Stand Up for Children 2004 Rally for Children on the steps of the state Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.
Then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco, left, talks with Sadie Roberts-Joseph, right, before the start of the Stand Up for Children 2004 Rally for Children on the steps of the state Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.

Baton Rouge: Police say Baton Rouge’s African American history museum has been reported vandalized exactly a month after its founder was found dead. News outlets report police are investigating the damage to the Odell S. Williams African-American Museum founded by Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Photos posted online Monday show flipped benches, windows on the ground, and other damage including torn and ruined landscaping. It’s unclear if the inside of the museum suffered any damage. It’s been closed since Roberts-Joseph’s death. The 75-year-old was found dead last month in the trunk of a car. Preliminary autopsy results showed she was strangled before being shoved into the trunk. Police later arrested 38-year-old Ronn Bell on a charge of first-degree murder. He had been renting from Roberts-Joseph and was about $1,200 behind in rent.


Augusta: A Republican lawmaker says a legislative fix would address a problem with timing of a handful of potential “people’s veto” votes. In a “people’s veto,” residents gather signatures to force a ballot question to veto a state law. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap at first incorrectly told “people’s veto” petitioners their attempted vetoes could go on ballots in June. He then announced they would go on ballots in March, alongside Maine’s presidential primary. Citizen petitioners fear a heavily Democratic turnout at the primary would doom their effort. They want to overturn laws including one that bans so-called conversion therapy for gay people. Rep. Patrick Corey, of Windham, says his proposal would exempt “people’s veto” votes from presidential primary elections. He says it’s about treating voters equally.


Baltimore: An animal rights group has filed a federal complaint against Johns Hopkins University researchers over a lab experiment in which nine dogs had to be euthanized after spinal surgeries. The Baltimore Sun reports that Stop Animal Exploitation Now wants the U.S. Agriculture Department to impose fines of $10,000 per animal under the Animal Welfare Act. The group says Hopkins told the National Institutes of Health that it ended the federally funded experiment to study gastrointestinal issues when some dogs suffered acute paralysis. Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe says that the program rigorously complies with animal welfare regulations and that the remaining dogs were adopted. Federal law requires animal testing of drugs for humans.


Nantucket: The island’s first pot shop is up and running. The Green Lady Dispensary opened Sunday on an appointment-only basis after receiving approval to operate from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. Massachusetts voters legalized recreational pot for adults in 2016, but marijuana businesses faced additional obstacles to opening off the mainland because it remains illegal to transport marijuana through federal waters or to fly it there. The Green Lady Dispensary is cultivating marijuana on the island and received permission from regulators to conduct on-site laboratory testing in lieu of the normal requirement that products be tested at a licensed independent lab. The family-run store says appointments will be required through Labor Day.


Lansing: Researchers say the state may have more than twice as many sand dune acres as previously known. Alan Arbogast of Michigan State University recently oversaw development of what he calls the most detailed and comprehensive map of the state’s dunes, which total 230,000 acres. He tells the project mapped previously unrecognized dunes on the west coast of the Lower Peninsula. It also documented dunes on the eastern side of the state along Lake Huron that hadn’t been included in previous surveys. Arbogast is chairman of the university’s Department of Geography. His team gathered and analyzed remotely sensed imagery and compared aerial photos, topographic maps and soil data. They verified the findings in the field. Roughly half of the dune acreage is publicly owned or controlled by a local land conservancy.


St. Paul: Gov. Tim Walz says he still wants Senate Republicans to hold hearings on Democratic proposals for gun control and emergency insulin supplies. The governor told reporters Monday he finds it “absolutely unacceptable” that none have been scheduled following the latest mass shootings in Ohio and Texas. He contrasted the impasse in Minnesota with states with Republican governors and legislatures that have adopted gun safety measures, as well as President Donald Trump’s recently stated willingness to consider stronger federal background checks. Proposals for tighter gun controls and easier access to emergency insulin stalled out during the 2019 Legislature’s regular session amid GOP opposition. Walz says it wouldn’t be productive to call lawmakers back if they’re not willing to do anything, but voters are demanding action.


Jackson: It’s painfully hot in the state now, but residents suffering through a blistering heat wave can take solace in the news that ice skating will be available this year at the Mississippi State Fair. State Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson says a temporary ice rink will be installed inside the Mississippi Coliseum on the fairgrounds in Jackson. Gipson announced that a Florida-based company called Magic Ice USA will build and manage the 8,000-square-foot rink. Construction will begin in late September, and the fair runs Oct. 2-14. The cost of skating will be $10 per person. Admission to the fair costs $5 for every person older than 6.


Kansas City: A bidder from Nebraska has paid $920,000 for a house designed and built by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Kansas City Star reports that Heritage Auctions says the new owner wants to remain anonymous for now, but the bidder plans to honor the integrity of the Sondern-Adler house that sold Monday. Wright designed the home in 1939 for Clarence Sondern. He designed a later addition for the second owner, Arnold Adler. Heritage Auctions spokesman Eric Bradley says the winning bidder plans to keep it a national or regional destination. The home had been on the market for 11 months at $1.65 million. Bidding began at $450,000. Bids quickly soared to $775,000, with the Nebraska bidder on the phone going head-to-head with a representative for a local bidder.


Great Falls: Members of a state task force whose goal is to help various agencies work together in reporting and searching for missing Native Americans want to add more people to the panel. The Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force met in Great Falls on Saturday and decided it wanted to add representatives from Indian Health Services and the U.S. attorney’s office. The task force was created by the Montana to help state, local, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies identify jurisdictional barriers that prevented the agencies from working together. The task force members were told the Department of Justice has not yet found the right candidate for the new job of missing persons specialist to work with the various agencies and oversee databases of missing persons.


Omaha: The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office is giving people the opportunity to get rid of unwanted or unsafe guns, ammunition and leftover fireworks. People can turn in those items from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Aug. 17 at a drop-off location at the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office south parking lot garage in Papillion. The amnesty day event allows the items to be dropped off with no questions asked, but police will document all firearms. If a gun is linked to a crime or reported stolen, police will investigate. Officials say all guns, ammunition and fireworks turned in at the event will be safely disposed of by the sheriff’s office and Omaha Police Department.


Las Vegas: As students head back to school this week, the nation’s fifth-largest school district is dealing with one of its biggest teaching shortages. KVVU-TV reports the Clark County School District has more than 700 vacant teaching positions. Officials say there have not been such a large number of openings during the first week of school since 2014. Some teachers say there is no way staff and students won’t feel the strain of having fewer instructors. Teacher Maria Zuniga says she sometimes has to substitute for another class in situations like this at the expense of her break time. District officials have said that teacher recruitment and retention are top priorities in their Focus 2024 plan.

New Hampshire

Hampton: The state’s Department of Environmental Services has lifted a ban on most shellfish harvesting along the ocean coastline and Hampton-Seabrook Harbor after a drop in toxic algae bloom known as red tide. The harvest closure went into effect May 9 in response to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning detected in blue mussels. Chris Nash, the department’s shellfish program manager, said Maine and Massachusetts have been reporting similar red tide declines. He said the one exception is that surf clams along the Atlantic Coast continue to show unacceptably high levels of the toxin. He said surf clams typically retain it much longer than other types of shellfish. The DES says paralytic shellfish poisoning is life-threatening. Symptoms include tingling, burning, numbness, drowsiness, incoherent speech and respiratory paralysis.

New Jersey

Newark: Residents began picking up bottled water Monday, days after elevated lead levels were found in homes where city-issued filters had been distributed months ago as part of an ongoing effort to combat contamination. Newark has given thousands of filters to residents in homes with lead service lines. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said recent tests showed drinking water in a few locations was still testing high for lead despite the filters. Water was available at four locations Monday. The process was successful for some people, not so much for others. Emmett Coleman, a senior citizen who said he is a heart transplant recipient, said he waited an hour for his two cases of water. He lugged them down the stairs and began to carry them up the street to his car before a worker came out to help him.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: State officials say visits to museums and historic sites have fallen. The Albuquerque Journal reports New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs says overall attendance for the fiscal year that ended June 30 dipped 2% from last year. According to the agency, in fiscal 2019, 992,574 visitors were counted for the eight state-run museums and the six historic sites. In fiscal 2018, attendance was at 1,014,041 and was largely led by the blockbuster “Da Vinci – The Genius” exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. The biggest drops in attendance came at the Fort Sumner/Bosque Redondo site and the New Mexico History Museum, with a 30% and 17% decrease respectively.

New York

John Fogerty performs at Electric Lady Studios in New York City with the guitar he played at the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival.
John Fogerty performs at Electric Lady Studios in New York City with the guitar he played at the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival.

Bethel: State police are warning travelers in the Hudson Valley of likely traffic delays coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival. Troopers say traffic congestion is expected on routes 17 and 17b in Sullivan County on Thursday through Sunday. Traffic is expected to be particularly heavy on Route 17 westbound between the Thruway in Harriman and exit 104 onto Route 17b in Monticello. Peak traffic for westbound lanes is anticipated between 1 and 7 p.m. and for eastbound lanes between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. all four days of the anniversary concert weekend. Local officials expect up to 100,000 visitors to the Woodstock festival site in the town of Bethel on Thursday through Sunday. The site is hosting separate shows by festival veterans like Carlos Santana and John Fogerty.

North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach: Volunteers who watch sea turtles nest fear more than 100 hatchlings were lost because they were attracted to artificial lights instead of the light of the moon. Nancy Fahey of the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project tells The StarNews of Wilmington that 112 sea turtle hatchlings broke through their shells early Aug. 1 after volunteers had quit watching the nest. She says she found turtle tracks under a pier and other places. She hopes the city can find a way to address problems with artificial lights. Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens says most structures with problematic lighting predate the city’s lighting ordinance. He says one solution may be to ask property owners to shield bright lights when a nearby nest is nearing the end of its incubation period.

North Dakota

Bismarck: State agriculture officials say anthrax has been confirmed in a group of cows in a pasture in eastern Billings County. The case was confirmed Friday. It is North Dakota’s first reported case of anthrax this year. State veterinarian Susan Keller says producers in Billings County and surrounding areas should check with their veterinarians to see if they should start vaccinating their cattle for anthrax. Anthrax vaccines are readily available, but it takes about a week to establish immunity, and the vaccine must be administered annually. Anthrax is caused by bacterial spores that can lie dormant in the ground until they are activated by heavy rains, flooding or drought. Scattered heavy rains may have triggered the recent case. No anthrax cases were reported in North Dakota last year.


Columbus: Opponents hoping to overturn a financial rescue for the state’s nuclear power plants and two coal-fired plants have failed to clear an initial hurdle to put the issue before voters next year. Ohio’s attorney general says there were inaccuracies in the petition summary submitted by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, so it wasn’t certified as a fair and truthful representation of the proposed statewide referendum. The campaign says it will submit revised language. Lawmakers approved the $1.5 billion rescue package last month. It tacks a new fee onto every electricity bill in Ohio and scales back requirements that utilities generate more power from wind and solar. Backers say it saves jobs and protects nuclear plants that account for nearly all of Ohio’s clean energy. Opponents criticize it as a bailout.


Oklahoma City: A state district judge has blocked implementation of a new law that requires top brands of wine and spirits to be sold to all Oklahoma alcohol wholesalers. The Oklahoman reports Judge Thomas Prince in Oklahoma City ruled the new law violates the state constitution. The state Supreme Court had remanded the legal challenge launched to the new law by a group of liquor wholesalers. Currently, manufacturers can designate a single wholesaler to distribute their products. The group argued the law unconstitutionally changed the amendment passed by voters in 2016 that also allows the sale of strong beer in grocery and convenience stores and the sale of cold, strong beer in liquor stores.


Portland: Far-right groups are traveling to the city from around the United States this weekend to rally against self-described antifascists who are planning to oppose them. Portland’s leadership is mobilizing in hopes of avoiding clashes similar to those in June and in 2018 that attracted national attention. Since President Donald Trump’s election, Portland has become a political arena for far-right and far-left groups to face off. None of the city’s nearly 1,000 police officers will have the day off Saturday. The Oregon State Police and the FBI are also helping out. Mayor Ted Wheeler says he may ask Democratic Gov. Kate Brown to call up the Oregon National Guard. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the groups coming to Portland include far-right militias, white supremacists, white nationalists and other hate groups.


Harrisburg: The governor says at least four children from the state were recently separated from their parents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and wrote Monday to demand the agency halt the practice until it has a plan to ensure the welfare of children. Gov. Tom Wolf asked Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan to account for all children separated from their parents this year in Pennsylvania and to tell him how long they were kept apart and about any steps the federal government took to ensure their well-being. Wolf said in the letter that the four children are U.S. citizens and come from at least three migrant families. He said that “information relayed” to state officials indicated federal agents did not make sure that the children had adequate temporary guardianship.

Rhode Island

Providence: State health officials are cautioning people to avoid contact with seven lakes and ponds because of potential risks from blue-green algae. The locations are Almy Pond in Newport; Sisson Pond in Portsmouth; JL Curran Reservoir in Cranston; Mashapaug Pond in Providence; and several lakes within Roger Williams Park in Providence, Pleasure Lake, Roosevelt Lake and Elm Lake. All recreation – including swimming, fishing, boating and kayaking – should be avoided. The Rhode Island Department of Public Health also warned that people and pets should not ingest water or eat fish from the locations. Contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes and/or throat.

South Carolina

Ridgeland: The leader of the state’s health and environmental agency says putting out a trash fire that has been smoldering for months is the department’s top priority. The fire at a recycling company in Jasper County started in early June with hazardous levels of smoke particles and a voluntary evacuation of a neighborhood nearby happening earlier this month. Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Rick Toomey said at an agency board meeting Thursday the department hired an outside company to put out the fire at Able Contracting Inc. The Island Packet of Hilton Head reports Toomey also said it can’t wait for delayed federal testing of water and air samples near the fire and is paying a private firm to see if there are more hazards than just smoke.

South Dakota

Rapid City: Prosecutors in Pennington County have declined to issue charges resulting from a police seizure of hemp-derived CBD oil that contained THC, the compound in marijuana that produces a high sensation. Officers raided a health food store in Rapid City in May and seized 16 individual or bundled packages of CBD oil products worth about $3,000. The raid was the result of an earlier purchase by a Rapid City police officer who had a CBD product tested and found it was positive for THC. The Rapid City Journal reports state’s attorney Mark Vargo says he chose not to charge the owner of Staple and Spice Market because it would be difficult to prove she knew the CBD products she was selling contained THC. The manufacturer, Plus CBD Oil, says on its webpage that its products contain less than 0.3% THC.


Nashville: The state is holding events to celebrate the 99th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which ushered in women’s right to vote. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, the Tennessee State Museum, and the Tennessee State Library and Archives are collaborating on events Friday and Saturday in Nashville. Congress passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919. Three-fourths of state legislatures were required to ratify it for its nationwide adoption. Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed for ratification in August 1920. The park and museum will feature living history programs and hands-on activities. Historians will depict stories related to the women’s suffrage movement at the park. Keeping with Tennessee’s “Perfect 36” nickname, the Tennessee State Parks Run Club will host the Perfect 3.6 Race for Ratification on Saturday.


La Porte: Officials say Aug. 25 is the last date for public visits to the Battleship Texas near Houston before the 107-year-old vessel undergoes repairs. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department says staff and contractors, starting Aug. 26, need full access to the ship at La Porte to prepare for $35 million in renovations. The agency in June announced a pared-back summer schedule for visitors at the Battleship Texas State Historic Site so personnel could begin cataloging thousands of artifacts. The historic items will be put into storage before the Battleship Texas goes into dry dock to fix the leaking hull. The Battleship Texas Foundation in May announced the ship would get a new home following repairs. No site was announced.


Salt Lake City: Imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has suffered a mental breakdown and isn’t fit to give a deposition in a sex abuse case against him, according to a recent court filing. Forcing Jeffs, 63, to testify would be “futile,” said lawyers representing a community trust that once belonged to a polygamous sect run by Jeffs on the Utah-Arizona border. The trust and Jeffs were sued in 2017 by a woman who says she was sexually abused by Jeffs when she was a child. Lawyer Zachary Shields said Monday that he isn’t trying to cover for Jeffs, who he says has done many awful things, but that he doesn’t want attorneys to waste time and money traveling to the Texas prison where Jeffs is housed until he is determined to be mentally competent.


The Hubbardton Battlefield was the site of a key rear-guard action during July 1777 that allowed the Americans to regroup before battles at Bennington and Saratoga that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. It was the only battle fought on Vermont soil during the war.
The Hubbardton Battlefield was the site of a key rear-guard action during July 1777 that allowed the Americans to regroup before battles at Bennington and Saratoga that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. It was the only battle fought on Vermont soil during the war.

Montpelier: Admission to state-owned historic sites will be free on Bennington Battle Day this Friday. It’s a state holiday commemorating the Revolutionary War victory over the British on Aug. 16, 1777. The Vermont Division of Historic Preservation says three sites are key to Vermont’s role in the American Revolution. They are Mount Independence, a fortification built by American troops in 1776 and 1777, in Orwell; the Hubbardton Battlefield marking the site of the Revolutionary War battle fought on what would become Vermont; and the 306-foot-high Bennington Battle Monument. Other sites that will be free to visit are Chimney Point in Addison; the Senator Justin S. Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford; and the President Calvin Coolidge Birthplace and Homestead in Plymouth Notch.


Richmond: Researchers at the University of Richmond believe a burial ground of enslaved Africans may lie beneath the campus. The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Collegian, the university’s student newspaper, report researchers say they’ve discovered evidence suggesting an unknown number of slaves may be buried behind Puryear Hall. Dywana Saunders, a research associate at one of the university’s libraries, says a history book describes campus land that once belonged to lumber plantation owner Ben Green, who likely owned slaves. A 1947 Richmond News Leader article added to the evidence, describing a small pile of bones that had been unearthed on campus. Researchers say they hope a ground survey using radar technology will provide more answers.


Seattle: A wildfire-triggered thunderstorm has provided an unusual opportunity for scientists to fly through its clouds and take photos and measurements. The Seattle Times reports information collected from Thursday’s flight could inform new research about wildfire-induced thunderstorms, which only recently have been studied in detail. Philippe Papin, a postdoctoral atmospheric scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, says such thunderstorms don’t produce much precipitation that reaches the ground but can create lightning strikes with potential to spark new fires. The research is part of a project between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aimed at better understanding wildfire smoke’s impact on air quality and the climate.

West Virginia

Huntington: Officials say the number of HIV cases in Cabell County has risen to 71. The state Department of Health and Human Resources posted the figure Monday, saying the virus has spread primarily among intravenous drug users. The cluster, tracked since January 2018, represents a drastic increase from the baseline average of eight cases annually over the past five years. Officials confirmed last month that one person associated with the cluster has died. Dr. Cathy Slemp of the state Department of Health and Human Resources told The Register-Herald that there haven’t been any indications the cases have spread outside Cabell County. The health department says it is working to find gaps in health care and prevention coverage.


Madison: Republican legislators are reintroducing a bill that would punish students who interfere with campus speeches and presentations. The state Assembly passed a bill last session that would suspend University of Wisconsin System students twice accused of disrupting others’ free speech. Students who disrupt others’ free expression a third time would be expelled. The measure died in the Senate, but UW regents adopted the sanctions as policy in October. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Sen. Chris Kapenga and Reps. Cody Horlacher and Dave Murphy reintroduced the bill Tuesday. Passage would cement the sanctions in statute.


Jackson: Under threat of legal action, federal wildlife managers are pledging to start weaning elk that winter on the National Elk Refuge in northwest Wyoming off supplemental feeding. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been talking with Wyoming wildlife managers for about a dozen years about the feeding program. But the threat of litigation by the Earthjustice environmental group has forced the agency to act. Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the federal agency has agreed to have a plan in place by the next feeding season, which typically begins in late January or early February each winter. Earthjustice contends the supplemental feeding of elk increases the risk of spreading chronic wasting disease among wildlife in the area.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: News from around our 50 states