Tubing, Hemingway, great white sharks: News from around our 50 states

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

Alabama

Jasper: Live stand-ins for Santa’s reindeer won’t be allowed in the state this year, as part of the state’s precautions against a deadly deer disease. So far, there hasn’t been any chronic wasting disease in Alabama, and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants to keep it that way. The Daily Mountain Eagle reports that the department’s deputy commissioner told the Rotary Club of Jasper on Tuesday that reindeer typically arrive days before a show and might bring in the disease. Ed Poolos of Jasper told the group that reindeer already in the state can stay. Chronic wasting disease is highly infectious and caused by malformed proteins called prions. Animals can spread those for a year or two before symptoms show.

Alaska

Anchorage: At least 14 cities in Alaska have employed police officers whose criminal records should have prevented them from being hired under state law, according to The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica. The news organizations reported Saturday that they found more than 34 officers who should have been ineligible for these jobs. They said that In all but three cases, the police hires were never reported by the city governments to the state’s Department of Public Safety, as required. In eight additional communities, local tribal governments have hired tribal police officers convicted of domestic violence or sex crimes. All 42 of these tribal and city police officers have rap sheets that would prevent them from being hired by the Anchorage Police Department and its urban peers, as Alaska state troopers or even as private security guards most anywhere else in the United States. Many remain on the job.

Arizona

Phoenix: Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s 1950s adobe home is being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service approved Arizona’s nomination of the house for placement on the register, which the office described as the nation’s list of properties considered worthy of preservation. The home was originally in Paradise Valley but was relocated in 2009 to a Tempe park for use by the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute. O’Connor lived in the home from 1958 until 1981, when President Ronald Reagan named the state appellate judge and former legislative leader to the Supreme Court.

Arkansas

Little Rock: The U.S. Small Business Administration says $10.8 million in disaster assistance loans have been made in Arkansas. SBA director Tanya Garfield in Sacramento, California, said Friday that the loans are to businesses and residents to help rebuild and recover from severe storms and flooding that inundated western, central and southeastern Arkansas from May 21-June 14. Businesses and residents in Arkansas, Conway, Crawford, Desha, Faulkner, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties who have damage from the storms or flooding can register for the loans through Aug. 7. Interest rates can be as low as 4% for businesses, 2.75% for private nonprofit organizations and 1.938% for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

California

Los Angeles: The agency overseeing the state’s legal marijuana market is struggling to hire sufficient staff and set an overall strategy for the nation’s largest cannabis economy, an audit found. About two-thirds of the 219 staff positions authorized for the Bureau of Cannabis Control remain unfilled, according to an audit by the state Finance Department. A shortage of staff in the enforcement unit is hindering the agency’s ability to conduct investigations. The problems outlined in the audit provide a backstory to the uneven rollout of the state’s legal pot market, which kicked off sales on Jan. 1, 2018. By just about any measure, California’s effort to transform its longstanding illegal and medicinal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry remains a work in progress.

Colorado

Boulder: Some people stayed cool on their commutes by tubing down a snow-fed creek. The Daily Camera reports that 1,000 people participated in the 12th annual Tube to Work Day on Friday, one of the hottest days of the year. The event is aimed at promoting alternative transportation and celebrating the city’s quirkiness. Organizers bill it as the “world’s greatest traffic jam.” Television helicopter footage showed people going through mild rapids as they made their way down Boulder Creek in tubes, including some dressed in suits. People gathered on bridges over the creek to watch. The event was delayed this year until the water subsided to safe levels following a winter of plentiful snow in the mountains.

Connecticut

Hamden: A new agreement will allow graduates from two community colleges to easily transfer to Quinnipiac University. The president of Gateway Community College in New Haven and Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport has reached an agreement with Quinnipiac’s president, guaranteeing Gateway and Housatonic graduates are admitted into a bachelor’s degree program as third-year students. They must have graduated from the state-run community colleges with a minimum grade0point average of 3.0 and an associate degree in arts or an associate degree in science in business, engineering science, nursing or allied health. The students must also satisfy other transfer admission requirements at the private university and requirements for their major.

Delaware

Attendees at the Delaware State Fare cool off during a heatwave on Friday.

Wilmington: Sweltering temperatures reached near-record levels Saturday with highs of 96 in Wilmington and 98 in Georgetown — two locations where the National Weather Service collects official data. The record high temperature on July 20 in Wilmington is 100, set in 1895. Georgetown’s record-setting day, where temperatures also hit 100, came in 1977. But the heat index, which takes into account temperature and humidity, reached 109 in Wilmington and 111 in Georgetown. The weather service does not keep heat index records. A reprieve from the warm weather should come Monday as a colder front moves in and pushes out the hot and humid air mass that has lingered over the area since Wednesday.

District of Columbia

Washington: Multiple firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion while trying to put out an apartment fire in Southwest, D.C. on Saturday, WUSA-TV reports. DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services crews responded to a seventh-floor apartment fire in the 200 block of I Street. Officials reported smoke conditions on several floors and many residents were evacuated from the building. The fire was put out quickly. Two civilians were taken to a hospital for evaluation and two firefighters were taken for heat exhaustion.

Florida

Key West: A retired 68-year-old Tennessee banker has won Key West’s Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on his eighth attempt. Joe Maxey of Cedar Hill triumphed Saturday night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a hangout of Ernest Hemingway during his Key West residence in the 1930s. A judging panel of former winners chose Maxey from 142 white-bearded contenders who competed in two preliminary rounds and Saturday’s finals. Maxey said he loves Hemingway’s writing and shares the author’s fondness for mojitos and women. During his Key West years, Hemingway penned literary classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Have Not.” The contest is a highlight of the annual Hemingway Days festival that honors the author’s literary legacy and adventurous lifestyle. The celebration ends Sunday, the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Georgia

Atlanta: A private room that breastfeeding mothers can use to pump breast milk has opened in a building near the Capitol. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports the lactation room in the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Building – which houses state agencies and a cafeteria – is the second in state offices in downtown Atlanta. Another site at a different state building has been open for six years and averages about 355 visits per month. The new room is open to state employees with a badge, but visitors can access the room through security staff. Its opening came after state Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, introduced legislation requiring a lactation room be provided at the Capitol. The legislation stalled, but Republican Gov. Brian Kemp helped secure the room nearby.

Hawaii

Honolulu: A newly appointed, taxpayer-funded attorney representing a former prosecutor wants to delay her trial on bank fraud and identity theft charges. Gary Singh was appointed to represent Katherine Kealoha after her former taxpayer-funded attorney asked to withdraw from the case. Kealoha and her retired police chief husband were convicted last month of conspiracy in a plot to frame her uncle. Their fraud and identity theft trial is scheduled for October At a hearing Thursday, Singh said he needs more time. The timing of that trial will affect scheduling for another trial faced by Katherine Kealoha with her pain physician brother on drug-dealing charges. U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright wants to Singh to consult with other attorneys involved about new trial dates.

Idaho

Jerome: A music festival in southern Idaho has been canceled because organizers say they feared potential raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The music festival called the El Tour de Idaho de Los Inquietos was supposed to take place last Saturday. Event organizers with the Colombia Event Center posted the cancellation notice on Facebook. Leo Morales of ACLU of Idaho said he couldn’t confirm that any Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were in southern Idaho, but he said community members were panicked. Jerome City Police Dan Hall said he didn’t have information about ICE agents in the area. Hall said the agency is not required to tell local law enforcement that it is conducting raids. But he did say ICE would inform local police if its activity involves a case that police are already working. Ticket-holders were told to get refunds from where they purchased tickets.

Illinois

Chicago: Efforts to organize an open-water swim on the Chicago River this fall will be delayed by at least one year. Doug McConnell and his co-organizer Don Macdonald wanted to coordinate a 2.4-mile swim on the Chicago River in September. But McConnell says convincing the relevant city authorities to allow the swimming has proved to be tougher than anticipated. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events informed the team last week that they would need to postpone their swim. The organizers’ new target for the swim is September 2020. McConnell says the swim would raise money for Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine to conduct research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Indiana

South Bend: The city where Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is mayor is updating its police officers’ body camera technology following the recent fatal police shooting of a black man. Police Sgt. Ryan O’ Neill fatally shot Eric Logan on June 16, but the incident wasn’t captured on video because his body camera wasn’t activated. The shooting sparked protests, prompting Buttigieg to leave the campaign trail for several days to answer questions about public safety and race. O’Neill resigned from the department last week. The South Bend Tribune reports that the technology upgrades will mean officers’ body cameras can be activated manually or automatically when a squad car door is opened. And soon, sensors will activate the cameras when an officer’s gun when it is drawn from the holster.

Iowa

Des Moines: Officials have announced new inspection rules for pigs that will be shown at the Iowa State Fair. A state Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship news release says the additional exhibition requirements are designed to promote biosecurity and animal health as African swine fever continues to spread across China and other parts of Asia and Europe. All pigs must be individually inspected and identified on a certificate of veterinary inspection that was completed within seven days of the fair, which runs Aug. 8-18. A veterinarian will inspect all pigs as they arrive at the fairgrounds before they are unloaded or mixed with other livestock. Biosecurity concerns led organizers to cancel the World Pork Expo scheduled for last month at the fairgrounds. The National Pork Producers Council says African swine fever affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is no vaccine to treat the disease.

Kansas

Topeka: Electric charging stations have been introduced at the Topeka, Lawrence and Towanda services areas on the Kansas Turnpike. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Gov. Laura Kelly announced the charging station additions Wednesday, calling them “a game-changer” for electric vehicle drivers. The Topeka Service Area, similar to the ones in Lawrence and Towanda, has three charging stations. The charging station additions came as a result of an alliance between the Kansas Turnpike Authority, Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light. Turnpike officials say the charging stations will help to eradicate “range anxiety,” or the concern an electric car battery will run out of power before reaching a destination. Westar Energy officials say manufacturers expect to spend around $500 billion in the next eight years on electric car development.

Kentucky

Troops are lifted off from the parking lot of the old IBT church building on Second Street in Henderson after a training exercise Thursday night complete with flash-bang grenades and fake gunfire.

Henderson: The city’s downtown experienced a full-on military assault Thursday night — complete with a forced building entry, flash-bang grenade explosions, fake gunfire and troops being whisked away under the cover of darkness in Black Hawk helicopters. Fortunately, it was all friendly U.S. forces carrying out a supervised training exercise in cooperation with local officials. There was some minor collateral damage, though. When the troops stormed the old, empty Immanuel Baptist Temple church building on Second Street that is owned by the city, Holy Name School next door got a little roughed up by the helicopter rotor wash.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: State officials say high water means people are seeing more alligators than usual, and feeding them is dangerous. State wildlife officials sent out a news release during the week, and Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted about the subject Friday. The governor wrote, “It feels like we shouldn’t have to say this, y’all. But please don’t feed the alligators.” Wildlife biologists say feeding gators makes them view people as an easy food source, increasing the chance that they will bite someone. The statement from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries notes that throwing fish scraps into the water or leaving them on shore is a bad idea for the same reason. It says fish scraps, like other garbage, should go into garbage cans.

Maine

Portland: America’s harvest of scallops is increasing to near-record levels at a time when the shellfish are in high demand. Sea scallops, harvested mostly by boats from the cold Atlantic Ocean, are the target of one of the most valuable fisheries in America. New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the harvest topped 58.2 million pounds last year, the highest total since 2011 and the fifth-highest in history according to NOAA statistics dating to 1945. The availability of scallops for consumers hasn’t changed as the U.S. harvest has long been supplemented by foreign sources. Prices to consumers have also held about steady. NOAA says American scallops were worth $532 9 million at the docks last year. That’s the third-highest figure.

Maryland

Bowie: Roller coaster riders were stuck atop a hill for nearly two hours at a Six Flags amusement park when the ride malfunctioned. News outlets quote Six Flags America spokeswoman Denise Stokes as saying the ride came to a stop at the top of the lift hill on the Firebird ride Thursday night. All guests were escorted safely off the ride, but officials said passengers had to wait for nearly two hours on the floorless coaster as the park followed safety procedures. Six Flags officials told news outlets the ride will remain closed while it undergoes an inspection. WJZ reports this is the third time in the past three years that people have been removed from one ride or another at the park.

Massachusetts

Orleans: A family fishing in Cape Cod Bay had an up close and personal encounter with a great white shark that leaped out of the water to snatch a fish they had caught right off the line. Doug Nelson of Franklin, who caught the leaping shark on video on Saturday, told New England Cable News it “gave us a pretty good scare.” His son, Jack, can be seen on the video jumping back as the shark breaches the water’s surface. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy confirmed it was a great white, as did Marc Costa, captain of the Columbia Sportfishing vessel. Costa said the boat was about three miles west of Great Island in Wellfleet when the shark made its leap.

Michigan

Grand Rapids: The John Ball Zoo is closing a month early this season to work on improvements. Over the next five years, zoo officials are hoping to widen the entryway to enhance accessibility and build an 18-acre playground. The parking lot will also move from the front to the rear of the zoo to make room for the playground. Peter D’Arienzo, who heads the zoo, tells WOOD-TV the zoo is also planning to offer annual exhibits. The zoo recently added toucans, a spider monkey and the popular red pandas. The zoo draws nearly 500,000 people each year. It opened 128 years ago, making it the nation’s 10th-oldest zoo.

Minnesota

St. Paul: State conservation officials say there’s a small, but noticeable increase in loon deaths and the likely cause is West Nile virus. The Department of Natural Resources says the virus was confirmed as the cause of death in two of three loons from northeastern Minnesota earlier this month. Minnesota Public Radio News says the agency is asking lake property owners and others using the lakes to contact a wildlife office if they see two or more dead loons with no obvious injury or cause of death. West Nile was first confirmed in Minnesota in 2002. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. Most people and animals fight off the virus and develop antibodies against future infection. The DNR says loons and crows, however, are especially susceptible to the infection.

Mississippi

Tupelo: Elvis Presley fans will soon be able to rent bicycles to pedal around in the city where he was born. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that a local entrepreneur, Ethan Nolan, is starting a bike rental service in Tupelo. It is called King City Cycles. Nolan belongs to a bicycle club and says rentals will make downtown more attractive to locals and tourists alike. Tupelo attracts big crowds for its annual Elvis Festival. People will rent bikes using a smartphone app, and the app will track the bikes’ location to guard against thefts. Biloxi is among the Mississippi cities that have had bicycle rental services.

Missouri

Christy Dablemont of Bolivar, Mo., photographed this unusually marked copperhead snake on the Frisco Highline Trail north of Springfield.

Bolivar: A woman who knows her snakes encountered a weird one while riding her bicycle on the Frisco Highline Trail. Near one of the first bridges on the southbound route, Christy Dablemont, 47, rode past the snake, then turned around for a closer look. The snake was a venomous copperhead, but with unusual markings down its back. Instead of “Hershey’s Kisses” markings along its side, the snake’s back was mostly a pattern of bronze-colored lines. Dablemont, who worked for 16 years as a wildlife interpreter at Pomme de Terre State Park, said it was the most unusual Missouri snake she has ever encountered. After photographing the snake, she left it to continue sunning along the side of the trail, which runs between Springfield and Bolivar. She noted that the venomous snake’s unusual appearance is a good reminder for people to leave wild snakes alone, especially if you don’t know what it is.

Montana

Helena: A nonprofit group trying to create the nation’s largest nature reserve in central Montana is planning a buffalo hunt on its land later this year. American Prairie Reserve officials say the quota will be 20 based on the approximately 800 bison in the privately owned herd. They will hold a drawing on Aug. 1 in which 16 people will be randomly selected. Six tags will go to residents who live near the reserve, four to Montana residents, four to members of the Fort Peck, Fort Belknap or Rocky Boy tribes and two more to the general public. The fee is $300. Four tags will be donated to local charities for fundraising. Reserve superintendent Damien Austin says limited hunts serve as a management tool to check the bison population.

Nebraska

Omaha: Health officials are warning those in Douglas County to take precautions after West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in the county. The Douglas County Health Department says in a news release that four local mosquito pools at two locations have tested positive for the mosquito-borne illness. The pools are located at Seymour L. Smith Park in Ralston and Zorinsky Lake Park in western Omaha. The department says high populations of mosquitoes have been reported since May. Residents are urged to apply mosquito repellant and wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks and shoes, particularly at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Residents should also remove standing water to prevent mosquito breeding. Those who contract West Nile can suffer symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to death.

Nevada

Reno: Lake Tahoe is the fullest it has been in nearly two decades. Officials say the alpine lake on the California-Nevada border is approaching the legal limit after snowmelt from a stormy winter left enough water to potentially last through three summers of drought. For three weeks, Tahoe has been within an inch of its maximum allowed surface elevation of 6,229.1 feet above sea level, It crept to within a half-inch earlier this week. Chad Blanchard, a federal water master in Reno responsible for managing the water, told the Reno Gazette-Journal it is the longest he’s seen the lake stay that high for so long. Lake Tahoe, the second-deepest lake in the U.S. at about 1,645 feet, typically holds enough water to cover the entire state of California with 14 inches of the wet stuff. Only Oregon’s Crater Lake is deeper.

New Hampshire

Concord: A Republican lawmaker is standing by comments made on social media that slavery was motivated by economics rather than racism, even as he was criticized by his own party. In a Facebook exchange with a former lawmaker, state Rep. Werner Horn wrote that owning slaves didn’t necessarily make someone a racist. He was responding to the former lawmaker’s comment questioning how President Donald Trump could be the most racist president when other presidents owned slaves. Horn on Saturday defended his comments that slavery was a business decision but said he was referring to the 17th and 18th centuries. By the 19th century, he said, racism was used to maintain slavery. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu called Horn’s comments racist and said the “legislature would be better off without” him.

New Jersey

Protesters outside the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack on Saturday demanding air conditioners be fixed as a heatwave hits the area.

Hackensack: Nearly two dozen protesters gathered Saturday outside the Bergen County Jail demanding that air conditioners that had been malfunctioning for weeks be fixed and warned that the weekend’s scorching temperatures create dangerous conditions for inmates. Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton says that the air conditioners were all working after two malfunctioned Friday night. Before Friday, the jail had been experiencing air conditioning problems for weeks and maintenance staff was working on installing replacement condensers. All those repairs, Cureton said, have been completed.

New Mexico

Alamogordo: Lincoln National Forest is undertaking a multiyear endeavor of creating a forest plan revision. This process is in its beginning stages and public input is needed on some criteria. Lincoln National Forest is wanting to hear from the public about its Draft Wilderness Inventory Criteria and Draft Wilderness Evaluation Criteria. Only public forest system land will be considered for wilderness designation. Privately-owned land will be exempt from wilderness designation, Lincoln National Forest Spokeswoman Laura Rabon says. Public comments must be submitted by July 31, either by email at LNF_FPR_comments@fs.fed.us or by mail to Lincoln National Forest, Attn.: Plan Revision, 3463 Las Palomas Road, Alamogordo, NM, 88310..

New York

Grahamsville: A rare dragonfly has been spotted near a reservoir in the Catskills. A New York City Department of Environmental Protection field ecologist recently found a southern pygmy clubtail dragonfly living along a tributary to the city’s Rondout Reservoir. The city agency says the species is considered critically imperiled in New York. It can only survive and reproduce in clear, clean waters, making them an indicator of water quality. DEP ecologist Frank Beres says the dragonfly hopped on his finger and allowed him to take several photos before flying off. The species’ population in New York and the Northeast has reportedly been dwindling for years.

North Carolina

Mount Pisgah can be seen in the distance from Pisgah View Ranch, the site of what is set to become North Carolina's newest state park.

Candler: Buncombe County will get its first state park, where residents will get a front-row seat for viewing Mount Pisgah and watching wildlife, hiking ridge lines, and maybe even take in a horseback ride. Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law SB 535 on Friday, authorizing the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to create Pisgah View State Park, which will be roughly 1,600 acres, sitting mostly in Candler, with a small parcel in Haywood County. Earlier in the month the governor also signed into law two bills creating the Northern Peaks State Trail in Watauga and Ashe counties, the Wilderness Gateway State Trail in the South Mountains range in McDowell, Rutherford, Burke and Catawba counties, and the Overmountain Victory State Trail reaching across Avery, Mitchell, McDowell, Burke, Rutherford, Polk, Caldwell, Wilkes and Surry counties.

North Dakota

Epping: The state’s Health Department says more than 12,000 gallons of oilfield wastewater has spilled from a pipeline in Williams County, impacting an unknown amount of pastureland. State environmental scientist Bill Suess says the pipeline operator, Polar Midstream LLC, reported the produced water spill Thursday. Produced water is a mixture of saltwater and oil that can contain drilling chemicals. It’s a byproduct of oil and gas development. Suess says state regulators are investing the spill about 3 miles southwest of Epping. He says some of the spill was contained to a well pad. Polar Midstream also reported a 21,000-gallon produced water spill on July. 14 near Williston. Regulators say some of that spill entered an unnamed tributary to the Missouri River.

Ohio

Columbus: The state is raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The new law will take effect in October after Gov. Mike DeWine signed it last week. Ohio is one of 18 states that have raised the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products. The new law also applies to rolling papers, filters and other smoking and vaping accessories. National statistics show Ohio has one of the highest rates of adult smokers at just over 21%. Backers of the new law say the goal is to prevent children from starting to smoke.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: The state’s rainy spring has provided an ideal environment for ticks. That could be bad news for people and their pets because the pathogens many ticks carry can cause serious diseases. The risk of getting a tick bite isn’t limited to hikers and campers in the woods. Plenty of the bloodsuckers live in urban parks and neighborhoods. Will Hagenbuck, head park naturalist at the Oklahoma City park system, says park visitors can avoid most of the ticks by staying on the trails, but that’s no guarantee. Tick-borne diseases can be dangerous, causing everything from a food allergy to red meat to miscarriage to death. Look behind ears, at the collar line on the back of the neck, armpits, joints, waist and groin, and on your socks and shoes. Adults may be easy to spot, but nymphs might look like a freckle, he said.

Oregon

The Amazon fulfillment center in Salem, Ore., a 1-million-square-foot packing and shipping center, is set to open in August with about 1,000 employees.

Salem: Amazon on Friday kicked off a hiring spree for more than 800 positions at its packing and shipping warehouse. The Seattle e-commerce giant is taking a staggered approach to fill its earlier promised target of about 1,000 jobs at the approximately 1-million-square-foot outpost. The warehouse opens in August. Workers can expect to pack and ship larger products including sports equipment, gardening tools and patio furniture. Amazon has adopted a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Oregon’s minimum wage in the Salem area rose to $11.25 on July 1 and will increase to $13.50 in 2022 under state legislation enacted in 2016. The company offers employee benefits such as up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave. Candidates for the Salem jobs have to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Applicants can go online at www.amazon.com/salemjobs or text SALEMNOW to 77088.

Pennsylvania

Reading: Mayor Wally Scott has reversed course and says he will allow the LGBTQ rainbow flag to fly over City Hall for the first time. Scott last week called off a scheduled ceremony to raise the “pride flag,” calling it a political symbol. But the Reading Eagle reports that Scott posted a video on his Facebook page Saturday saying he had changed his mind. Scott says his change of heart came after a “very prominent woman” he would not name visited him and spoke to him about her experience of realizing she was gay and telling her mother.

Rhode Island

Providence: Lawmakers are praising the signing of legislation that establishes guidelines for a diversion program within the Superior Court. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the legislation Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey says it’s another step forward for criminal justice reform because the program will offer supervision and services instead of incarceration. McCaffrey of Warwick sponsored the legislation, along with Rep. Robert Jacquard, D-Cranston, in the House. Jacquard says it’s imperative that the state helps people with addiction issues get healthy rather than incarcerating them at great cost to the taxpayers.

South Carolina

Charleston: An extremely rare albino alligator that lived at the South Carolina Aquarium has died. The aquarium posted on its Facebook page that the 22-year-old alligator named Alabaster died Friday morning. He had lived at the aquarium since 2009. South Carolina Aquarium spokeswoman Caroline Morris tells The Post and Courier that Alabaster was believed to be one of about 50 albino gators in the world. Staff at the aquarium said they noticed Alabaster showing signs of infection last week. The statement says workers began treating the gator and officials sought advice from other experts across the country. South Carolina Aquarium President and CEO Kevin Mills says Alabaster served as an ambassador for his species and “captivated the hearts of staff and guests alike.”

South Dakota

Sioux Falls: Gov. Kristi Noem’s approval rating has remained steady, but her disapproval rating has crept upward in her first six months in office, according to a new poll. Noem’s 49% approval rating hasn’t changed during the first and second quarters this year. However, her disapproval rating has increased from 32% to 40%, according to Morning Consult’s quarterly governor poll. Eleven percent didn’t have an opinion of Noem’s job performance during the second quarter. Morning Consult’s poll had a 3% margin of error. The latest disapproval rating puts Noem at eighth among the top 10 most unpopular governors, according to Morning Consult.

Tennessee

This photo taken on board by a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight to Atlanta appears to show the top fin of another Southwest Airlines plane clipped off after the planes collided on Saturday night on the tarmac of Nashville International Airport in Tennessee. The airline says both planes returned to the gate under their own power and were taken out of service for evaluation. No one was injured.

Nashville: Two Southwest Airlines planes collided on the tarmac of Nashville International Airport. Airline officials say no injuries were reported in Saturday night’s collision. An emailed statement from Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Michelle Agnew says the winglet of the St. Louis-bound Southwest Flight 1555 came into contact during pushback with the winglet of Southwest Flight 4580, headed for Atlanta. A photograph provided by a passenger on board the flight to Atlanta showed rainy weather and what appeared to be the top of the other plane’s fin clipped off. The airline says both planes returned to the gate under their own power and were taken out of service for evaluation.

Texas

Abilene: A park dedicated to Dyess Air Force Base personnel who died in crashes or other services to their country has been expanded to include memorial plaques. Ceremonies were held Friday at updated Dyess Memorial Park, which was a project of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee. The site previously featured a flagpole, a covered area and bricks. The expanded park now recognizes the 79 military personnel who gave their lives since what originally was known as Abilene Air Force Base opened in 1956. The design involves a sundial memorial, allowing the sun to enter and mark precise points on the grounds and shine on various monuments.

Utah

Logan: Children are honing their business savvy at entrepreneur fairs in Utah after a legal change that allows children to run a business without a license or permit. The Herald Journal reports children between the ages of 5 and 16 lined the streets of downtown Logan on July 13 to sell their wares as part of The Libertas Institute’s annual Children’s Entrepreneur Market. The libertarian think-tank hosts the event in 11 cities across Utah. Market manager Lynee Fife says it helps children gain confidence, interact with adults and learn other social skills. Some items for sale included pancakes, homemade slimes and beeswax products.

Vermont

Montpelier: The state is going to be receiving nearly $100,000 from the federal government so schools can get more food from local farms. The office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says the Farm to School grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will strengthen farm-to-school programming in 20 schools in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. Anson Tebbetts, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, says the project will help schools, students and Vermont farmers. This award was part of more than $9 million in USDA grants for 126 projects in 42 states.

Virginia

Norfolk: Gov. Ralph Northam says he could soon be rolling out a plan for free community college tuition. In a Wednesday announcement, the Democratic governor described a program that would allow Virginia residents to attend community colleges for free in exchange for a year spent working in public service or a high-demand field. Northam said it would be called G3 for “get skilled, get a job and give back.” He says he expects more details and a formal announcement to come in a few weeks. The Virginian-Pilot reports Northam’s proposal follows a plan he laid out while campaigning in 2017. At the time, he said the program would initially cost the state $37 million but would earn more than twice that amount back in income taxes after five years.

Washington

Seattle: Puget Sound beaches were temporarily closed after millions of gallons of sewage flowed into the water. The state Department of Ecology says early Friday the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant released an estimated 3 million gallons of untreated sewage over about 27 minutes after backup pumping systems failed during power disruptions. On Thursday, officials say a separate power failure at the Renton Wastewater Treatment Plant resulted in potentially limited disinfection of treated wastewater. That plant discharges into Puget Sound northwest of Duwamish Head in Seattle.

West Virginia

Charleston: A West Virginia sailor and veteran is among those honored on a recently dedicated World War I memorial in New York City’s Times Square. The monument was authorized by the World War I Centennial Commission to honor six sailors who died when the USS San Diego, the largest U.S. Navy warship, sank off the coast of Long Island. The Gazette-Mail reports Frazier Oran Thomas’ hometown was listed as Charleston in Navy casualty reports. He was among more than 1,000 sailors on the ship 100 years ago and died when it exploded from coming into contact with an underwater mine. The plaque was unveiled in May during Fleet Week New York. The commission says it’s set to be permanently placed in Ocean Beach, New York, this summer.

Wisconsin

Madison: A report shows 11 rural hospitals in Wisconsin stopped routinely delivering babies in the past 10 years. The state Office of Rural Health report shows that the closures were the result of the challenge of a low number of on-call providers and number of deliveries. The Wisconsin State Journal reports the most recent obstetrics closures were in Grantsburg and Ripon in 2017. The report, which was released last week, indicates that 56% of the state’s rural hospitals perform routine deliveries, compared with 40% of rural hospitals nationally. The report says nearly 99% of women of child-bearing age in Wisconsin live within a 30-minute drive of a hospital that provides obstetrics.

Wyoming

Gillette: Campbell County could lose out on more than $30 million in mineral production taxes owed by a bankrupt coal company following a decision by a judge. Delaware U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross ruled Campbell and Converse counties don’t have first priority when it comes to collecting from Cloud Peak Energy. The Gillette News-Record reports the ruling could make it difficult for the counties to collect. They must wait in line behind other creditors. Local officials say Campbell County alone could be owed $30 million or more. Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. The loss will be a hit for school districts across the state. As much as 75% of the tax revenue goes back to the state for redistribution to districts statewide.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 50 states